Friday, May 27, 2011

The Deep Fried South

Ok, look.  I love fried food as much as the next guy, but there comes a time when I crave something that has NOT taken a bath in hot grease. And even more so...when I'm at the beach, the last thing I want is something fried.  Logistically it just doesn't make sense to eat fried food, while walking around mostly naked in the hot ass sun.

So last week, some friends and I took a vacation to the lovely Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We had sooo much fun.  I saw some of my favorite bands play on the beach, laughed so hard at times I would hurt the next day, walked for miles and miles on the soft, white sand, got beat up in the big, blue gulf. Gulf Shores is a beautiful place. The people are extra friendly, it IS the South of course, staying on the beach is relatively cheap,  there are a lot of fun things to do and see, and they have an abundance of fried seafood.  That's right.  If you want fried shrimp, fried clams, fried fish, fried oysters, fried onions, fried fritters, fried tomatoes, fried crab, fried scallops, then LA or Lower Alabama (LA is what the locals call it, makes it more Paris Hilton-y) is the place for you.

In fact, they love their fried food so much that they will UPCHARGE you if you want yours steamed or grilled.  Yes, I said that correctly.  We went to a restaurant in Gulf Shores, and they had an All You Can Eat clam special.  Well, I can eat about 1,000 clams by myself, so I was happy as a clam, you might say.  Until our waitress informed us that the clams were fried, but they would gladly steam them for more money.  Hmmm....So, let me get this straight.  You are going to charge me MORE for taking a clam, in its happy little clam shell, putting it in a steamer until it opens and bringing that to me to eat, than you are going to charge me to take the clam, pry open its shell, scrape out the clam, bread the clam, fry the clam, put the clam on paper towels so it's not dripping with grease, and THEN bring it to me.  Hmm....makes NO damn sense to me, but does explain why Alabama was named the second fattest state in 2010.

So here's an EASY recipe for grilled zucchini.  I guess what my point is, is that your food tastes so much better in the state closest to its original form.  Why are you always trying to hide what you're eating with grease?  Just don't eat it, if you don't like it.  It's that simple.

Here's What You Need:
1 zucchini
1 squash
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Here's What To Do:
Cut your zucchini and squash lengthwise into about 1/2 inch slices.  Put slices into a ziplock bag.  Add olive oil to lightly coat each slice, then salt and pepper each slice.  Grill zucchini on medium heat, flipping so as to not burn the squash.  Once you have a nice carmelized look to them, they are finished and are juicy and are sweet and they still taste like zucchini and squash.  And I like zucchini and squash. 

Yes, fried zucchini and squash are delicious too...but if you request fried zucchini and squash at my house...I'm going to upcharge you one bottle of wine to make it for you, because that is just WAY more difficult and a lot more work than the recipe I just gave you, and it's not nearly as tasty.

Oh and in case you were wondering.... No, you couldn't see oil streaks in the Gulf of Mexico, though I still boycott BP...(If you'd like to donate towards disaster recovery in the Gulf, please go to this site - oh, and my best friend designed the website...kudos to Muscle + Bone for their efforts on doing the world some much needed good!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chicks & Dumps

Sunday was unseasonably chilly for Memphis in May, and by chilly I mean like 65 degrees, yes my Yankee blood has turned Southern.  Normally this is when the unbearable heat begins.  I had plans to grill some chicken and some veggies and use up my delicious chimichurri, but instead I decided to make Chicken n' Dumplings.  I needed a.) a little comfort food, b.) a recipe to use up some of my chicken stock that is now taking up all the space in my freezer, and c.) something other than the health food I've been eating to tone my ass up for the Hangout Festival this weekend, so that the only "hanging out" I'll be doing is attitudinal, rather than having my ass hanging out of my bathing suit. 

Here's What You Need:
2 Chicken Breasts (cut into bite sized chunks)
1 cup of flour
Poultry Seasoning
Salt n' Pepper
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into bite sized chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pints of chicken stock (or enough to cover all your meat and veg and boil up some dumplin's)
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of Bisquick (I know, I know, I should be making my own dumplings at this point, but I had just one cup of Bisquick left and I couldn't justify not using it up before leaving for my vacation.)
1/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of thyme, chopped

Here's What You Do:
In a stock pot, on medium high heat, add in two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add 1 cup of flour to a bag or bowl and season with the poultry seasoning and salt and pepper (about 1 tsp. of s&p).  After you cut the chicken, add it to the bag of seasoned flour and coat each piece.  When the oil on the stove is hot, add in chicken.  Brown chicken on all sides.  If you need more olive oil, use it.  Don't be greedy with the olive oil.  Remove chicken and set aside.  Add in 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan.  Add in your onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  While you're stirring the veggies around, make sure you're scraping all the browned, floury bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add in garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Add in chicken stock and bay leaves and chicken back to the soupy mixture.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Make your dumplings by adding the Bisquick, milk and thyme (you can use parsley if you like, but I have a ton of thyme outside, so I used I think it makes the soup more homey tasting).  Stir until all the Bisquick is mixed in.  Bring your soup back up to a boil.  Drop dumpling mixture, by the spoonful into the bubbling broth.  They will grow to be like 3 times the size of what you drop in, so remember that as you drop. Drop your heat back down to a simmer.  Cook dumplings for 10 minutes.  Then cover your pan and cook for another 10 minutes.  I usually flip my dumplings over before I cover and cook for the ten more minutes.  So you can do that, or don't...It really doesn't matter.  It's just one of my manic kitchen moves (more on these later).

Enjoy your delicious, homey, make you want to snuggle up with your momma chicken and dumplings.  I know I did.  I ate 2 bowls.  And now I have to go do 2 workouts so that my ass doesn't resemble a dumpling at Hangout Festival.  Dumpling ass is NO BUENO!!   

Oh yea, and apparently the world is going to end on Saturday.  So hopefully I'll be going out with either the Avett Brothers, the Flaming Lips or the Foo Fighters.  Any one of them should be fun to hang with on our last day on Earth (do people really believe this shit?  I mean, seriously??)  See ya on the flip side, bitches!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pasta Primavera-Good

Here's another recipe to get rid of any veggies in your refrigerator that are about to go bad.  Pasta Primavera.

What You Need:
Pasta (I'm a fan of stringy flat pastas.  Angel Hair, Spaghetti, Vermicelli, Tagliatelle.  Something about tubed pastas pisses me off.  They never seem be cooked enough for me).
Veggies (Tomatoes, Spinach, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Asparagus, Arugula, Peppers - whatever you have on hand).
Garlic (2-3 cloves, minced usually does the trick)
Chicken or Vegetable Stock about 1/4 cup
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
Olive Oil (a few tablespoons)
Salt & Pepper

Here's What To Do:
Cook your pasta according to package instructions (using a good amount of salt in the water to flavor your pasta).  Chop your veggies into uniform pieces.  Don't have a huge tree of broccoli next to a slither of a mushroom because obviously your mushroom will cook first and may even be in overcooked mode while the broccoli is just starting to get tender.  Make everything about the same size.  If you're using something that takes a little longer to cook, like asparagus or broccoli, steam these items until JUST slightly cooked.  If you cook it until it turns that ugly army green (no offense army green.  I love you as a color...I just don't want to eat you as a color), you've defeated the whole point of eating veggies....because you've just cooked out all of the good vitamins and idiot!!  I kid...but seriously, just until they become that beautiful vibrant green...then take them out.

Next, get a saute pan on medium heat and add olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add in your veggies, leaving out the garlic and the leafy veggies that just need to be wilted.  Salt and Pepper your veggies now.  When your veggies are just tender, or soggy as all get up, if that's how you like em, add in your garlic and your leafy veggies, your spinach or arugula.  Once the spinach starts to wilt, add in your chicken broth.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Add pasta to the pan with the veggies...mix everyone around together so everyone gets to party in the sauce.  Put it in a pasta bowl, top with Parmesan cheese and add a drizzle or two of olive oil and maybe some more pepper and maybe even some parsley if you're feeling really adventurous!  

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Make You Purr-y Chimichurri

Chimichurri, chimichurri, you'll be gone in a hurry, you make me all purr-y, chimichurri, chimichurri.  This is the song I sing to my chimichurri as I blend up all its delicious ingredients...ok, so I'm not the best song writer in the world, but chimichurri might just be one of the best sauces in the world.  Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce (What up, my loyal Argentinian readers!!) that is used for marinades and also as an accompaniment to grilled meats. It is so effin good, it makes me feel like new money.  All fresh and crisp and alive!  You must try this now that grillin' season has arrived.

There are a billion different ways to make it, but this bitch does it like this:
1 cup of parsley, just the leafy part, cut off the stems
3-4 cloves of garlic     
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar (though I'm sure you can use red wine vinegar if that's what you have)
1/4 cup (maybe more) of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (I was out so I used cayenne, worked just as well)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Take all your ingredients and blend them up in a blender or food processor.  Put in a bowl when you have a saucy consistency.  Cover and refrigerate to get all those yummy flavors to make out with each other and serve with grilled chicken, fish, beef or pork.  I have added in red onion, oregano and basil in the past, all adding a slight variance to the flavor, but each time it still tastes amazing.

Oh...and you're welcome.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I have been hearing about this wonder grain, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) a lot lately.  I see it on menus, I hear my friends rave about it on Facebook and in emails, and I read about it constantly in magazines.  Apparently it is heaven-sent.  And it should be, because a 1-pound bag of it costs $13 bucks.  But I bought it because I just had to see what the fuss was all about.

Here's What I Did: 
I cooked the quinoa as directed on the package.  I then made a lemon vinaigrette, by adding the juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper and about 1/4 cup of olive oil to a jar and shaking it, as I danced to the Beastie Boys.  I love cooking with the Beastie Boys.  They're my boiiiiiii's!  I then grabbed a handful of basil and parsley and chopped it up.  Then I toasted about 1/4 cup of pecans and chopped them up.  Then I added all of this to a bowl of quinoa and tossed it (add in the vinaigrette a little at a time and taste don't want to overload it).  And I must was delicious.  Very earthy.  Very nutty.  Made me feel like I was eating a really healthy dinner.  And I was, actually.  The texture is sort of like couscous.  It pops when you bite into, which I dig.   

I'm not craving quinoa on a regular basis, but maybe if I had a better recipe, I'd learn to love it more?????  I'm just not doing back flips when I see the word quinoa.  Anyone????  Come on.  I've got reader's all over the world at this point, I'm DYING for one of you to share your delicious recipes!  I'll try anything, if I can find it in Memphis!   

Oh and those of you in Cyprus who read my blog.  I would LOVE to come visit you.  I have an idea...You fly me to your house, and I'll cook for you the entire month that I plan on soaking up your gorgeous island!  Deal??  Have your people call my people!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Stock Rocks!

Chicken stock.  I used to spend a butt load of money on it.  Until I decided to make my own.  The reason I never made my own is because it just seemed more convenient to grab a box of stock.  But at $5.99 a pop, I decided to buy a $5 chicken and use up veggies that I always have on hand to make some stock.  Today I made $25 worth of chicken stock for about $9 bucks.  And I also have enough chicken leftovers from said stock to make 2-3 more meals.  And it was probably one of the easiest things I've ever done in the kitchen.

Here's What You Need:
1 whole chicken (rinsed...liver, heart, other bloody, slimy stuff removed, but keep the neck, )
1 large onion
1 head of garlic
1 lemon
4 carrots
4 stalks of celery
(excuse my measurements) A handful of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (great song)!
3 bay leaves
Salt & Pepper
Enough Water to cover the chicken 

Here's What To Do:
Cut the onion in to quarters.  No need to peel it, but if you want to, go ahead.  I did, just because I'm weird like that.  Cut the head of garlic in half.  Again, no need to take off the paper.  And no, I wasn't weird like that with the garlic.  Screw peeling the paper off of all those cloves!  Cut the lemon in half.  Rinse the carrots and celery and cut into large chunks.  Wrap up the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme in some cheesecloth, or don't...see how easy this is?? 

Now, get a large stock pot on medium heat.  Add in the onion, garlic, lemon, carrots, celery, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, chicken and water (add in enough water to JUST cover the chicken).  Add in about 3 tablespoons of salt and a TON of black pepper.  And by a ton, I mean crank your pepper mill until your arm gets tired.  Bring this little witchy concoction to a boil and cover and simmer for about 3 hours, until your chicken is 180 degrees when poked and prodded with a digital thermometer. 

Get a large bowl and put a colander in it.  Now dump everything in your stock pot into the strainer, being careful not to overflow the bowl, losing all your delicious stock.  At this point, you can put your chicken aside, wait for it to cool and then shred it or chop it up and make about 1 million things with it.  Chicken tacos, chicken Enchiladas, chicken salad, chicken pasta, chicken and rice casserole, chicken lasagna, chicken noodle soup, chicken milkshake...whatever you want, really.
 Chicken soft tacos
Let your stock cool for about 30 minutes and pour it into whatever freezable container you have.  I fortunately am addicted to hot and sour soup, so I have a ton of plastic containers from the local Chinese restaurant that I used.  Fill them up, once the stock has cooled, and freeze them.  Or you can fill ice cube trays and just pop out the stock in cubes as you need them.  I usually just pour hot water over my container for about 5 minutes and plop a big old chicken stock ice berg into whatever I'm cooking.  It usually only takes a few minutes for it to thaw. 

Stock ready to freeze

But there you go.  I just saved you about $17 bucks.  Feel free to mail me a check if you don't need it!  Gas is freakin' outrageous these days!   

Sunday, May 08, 2011

My Mom's Da Bomb

 Cookies - my stepping stone to Bitchdom

My mom worked a lot when we were growing up.  Who am I kidding, she works a lot now, she's the definition of a workaholic.  I remember her being gone a lot, working hard to take good care of us when we were little.  She was an RN then.  She worked in the ICU (Intensive care unit).  My sister and I would call her unit on a daily basis, and when they'd answer, "ICU", we'd reply with, "ICU too!"  We were easily amused.  Still are.   

We had some crazy babysitters.  There was the one who would leave us at home alone while she went off to the mall with her boyfriends.  There was the one who farted on my pet skunk stuffed animal (making it smell like an actual skunk from then on).  There was the one next store, who was a good babysitter, but she had 6 kids of her own to look after.  She was the one who tortured us with cream of mushroom soup when we were bad.  She is also the one whose wooden furniture I decided needed a makeover, so I dug my own special designs in it with a safety pin.  I ate a bucket of cream of mushroom soup that day.  There was the babysitter missing fingers.  The one who used her nubs to rub me down with Calamine lotion when I had the chicken pox.  We all learned a great lesson that day...never get a babysitter out of the phone book.

I LOVED it when my mom had a day off.  Especially when we'd make cookies and pies.  This woman can make the tastiest pie crust in the world and I don't even like pie, but I'll eat hers!  I was her sous chef.  I mixed, poured, stirred, plopped, pressed, licked and tasted everything we made.  We had so much fun in the kitchen together.  I ate raw dough with great pleasure (still do).  I created mini cinnamon rolls with the leftover dough from our pie crusts.  It's how I learned to cook.  It's why I love to cook.  My sister and I would always concoct these excellent recipes.  "The Love", as we so originally name it, was our favorite.  It was chocolate ice cream, slightly microwaved so that it was soupy, with sugar added to it.  It was delicious.  When I got older, and my mom was away at work, I'd try to make new things to surprise her with when she got home.  French fries were the most memorable.  NEVER make french fries when you're 8 years old and you don't know what oil does when it gets too hot.  You WILL catch your kitchen on fire.  And that is the scariest thing in the world for an 8 and a 12 year old to deal with!  But scarier yet, is when your mother comes home after seeing the kitchen after said fire.  Now THAT is scary as hell! 

When I was in high school in West Virginia, my mom would work some 13 hours a day.  Some days I'd have dinner waiting on her and my step dad when they walked into the house, zombified from their long day on the job (hmm...I'm starting to realize why a "real job" never seemed to blow my skirt up - it's all making sense now - damn this blog thing really is like going to a psychiatrist - my prescription, being delicious food!)

Long story, short...I love my mom.  I love that she taught me how to cook, was patient with me when I would mess up the kitchen, always encouraged me to try new things, taught me that it wasn't the end of the world when something didn't turn out like I hoped, never said the words, "you can't", worked so hard to provide us with all the stupid brand name clothing we desperately needed to have as teenagers, dealt with my disgusting, truck driver mouth that no amount of soap would cure (I learned to love the taste of soap), always told me I was beautiful, even with a pound of black mascara around my eyes, let me listen to NWA and 2 Live Crew, and always told me she loved me.  I love you mom.  I couldn't ask for a better mom.  The only thing I'd change is that we lived closer to each other so that I could see your beautiful face every day and make you dinner every night.  You are my favorite Bitch in the Kitchen. 

I made a batch of cookies today in your honor.  They are delicious.  I got the recipe here, but used M&M's because the local Quickie Mart didn't have Chocolate Chips.  I'd mail them to you, but there aren't any left.  Selfish bastard kids!  Hrmph!    

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Grandbitch in the Kitch

Granny Annie

I am very lucky to have the coolest grandmother in the world.  She just turned 80 in March and she is one hip chick.  She's got an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop, a flatscreen television and she knows how to use them all.  She'll kick your ass in Scrabble.  She goes and sees just about every movie that comes into the theaters, whether it be a silly comedy, like Hall Pass, or a more serious thriller, like Lincoln Lawyer.  She is 100% committed to her "stories" (soap operas), and slept in her clothes with her purse, money, and checkbook during the tornadoes in Alabama last month.  She's fun, smart, feisty, strong-willed, gorgeous and hilarious and seeing her smile makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  And she loves my blog!  It makes her laugh.  And I love to hear her laugh.  And when she read my Chicken Caesar Sandwich blog, she immediately emailed me (yes, she keeps in touch via email...I told you she's hip) and told me that I needed to come visit her so she could give me her glass dinnerware.  They have a name.  I can't remember it.  I just sent her a text to see if she knew what it was.  She just googled it because she forgot and then texted me back to say that they are the Candlewick Clear pattern made by the Imperial Glass Company in Ohio and that they go for a TON on ebay (even though I'd never sell 'em).  This woman is absolutely amazing, I tell you!   

So I took the trek (which is only about 3.5 hours from Memphis) to Birmingham to visit ol' Grannie Annie.  And I must admit, I don't have much room for storage in my house, and I really don't throw formal dinner parties.  And I already have my everyday dinnerware filling up my cabinets.  So when we went through all her dishes, I had to turn some things down that I just don't use.  I mean, really, I won't ever use cups and saucers.  I'm just not a cup and saucer kinda gal.  So we're in her bedroom and I'm on a step ladder, pulling down these dishes that she has ever-so organized in these zippered bags and she says to me, "I mean I'm never going to use them and you're all going to have to deal with this shit when I die anyways, so you might as well just take it off my hands now."  Shit my Grandma says!  Love her for it.  Because she's right.  I love her honesty.  I love her realism.  And I love the fact that she's not afraid to speak of death.  I love that I'm thirty four years old and I have lived my entire life with this beautiful woman in it.  I realize that I'm a very lucky girl and I hope I'm just as awesome when I'm 80 years old!

So this is my thank you grandma, for the lovely dinnerware.  You may not know this, but you taught me a lot about the kitchen.  How to respect it, mostly.  You always kept the cleanest kitchen.  I remember waiting FOREVER to open Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve because we'd have to wait for the kitchen to be clean after we had dinner.  It was torture.  It drove us insane.  But I understand it now.  My kitchen is always clean.  Once dinner is finished, it's "clean the kitchen" time.  I can't rest until it's done.  Sometimes I even find myself cleaning the kitchen BEFORE I'm done eating.  You will forever and always be one of my most favorite Bitches in the Kitchen!  

Here's the first thing I made that I put into the new glass dinnerware:

 Isn't it pretty??

Here's What You Need:
4 pieces of pancetta, diced
A bag (forgive the lack of measurement...I just stuffed some Brussels in a bag and bought 'em) of Brussels Sprouts - halve or quarter them if they are really big.
1/4 cup of onion, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup of chicken stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

Here's What You Do:
Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan and brown up your pancetta on medium-high heat.  Set aside.  In the same pan, add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and get it hot.  Add in your onion and cook until translucent.  Add in Brussels sprouts and salt and pepper them.  Let them cook for about 3 minutes and flip them over so they get a little browned on both sides, cook for another 3 minutes.  Add in garlic and stir until the garlic is fragrant.  Add chicken stock and bring heat down to a simmer and cover.  Cook for about 5 minutes, you should have very little chicken stock left and your sprouts should now be tender.  If not, just put the lid on and keep checking on them.  Add the pancetta back in. 

Put the Brussels into your Candlewick Imperial glass bowl...oh wait...your grandma didn't give you awesome Candlewick dinnerware.  Well, then I guess just put it in whatever bowl you have and serve.

You Want A Fortune Cookie?

You can't go wrong with stir fry.  It's the fastest dinner you can make, short of pushing a few buttons on a microwave and ingesting horribly-bad-for-you food.  It requires a bit of prep, like having everything sliced up and ready to be wildly thrown into an extremely hot wok, so as to avoid dilly dallying around...overcooking your food or starting fires, but prep work is the therapeutic part of cooking, for me, so I don't mind.  This was one of those "I have 2 filet mignon steaks about to go bad if I don't cook them, but it's raining outside and I don't want to grill and we have a few veggies and a little bit of rice left" moments that make cooking history.  Here's what I did to prepare this red pepper beef tenderloin stir fry.

Here's What You Need: 
1 pound of beef, chicken, pork or tofu (I used beef tenderloin steaks and just sliced them into strips)
1 red pepper cut into thin strips
1 jalapeno minced
1 2-inch knuckle of ginger (cut off the bark) and minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5-6 green onions, cut about 1 inch thick
Cilantro chopped
Rice or Noodles, whatever floats your boat
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Beef Stock (or chicken or veggie) about a cup
vegetable oil (2-3 tablespoons)
sesame oil (1 tablespoon)

Here's How You Do It:
Make rice/noodles according to package.   Mix together cornstarch, soy and rice vinegar and add beef to mixture.  Marinate beef for 30 minutes to an hour.  Heat up a wok on medium-high heat.  Add in vegetable oil and sesame oil.  Add beef (not all at once...don't overcrowd your about 1/2 at a time).  Stir beef constantly for about 2 minutes until it's just cooked (I like my tenderloin medium-rare, but if you like yours all means).  Take meat out and set aside.  Add in more oil if you need to and add red peppers.  Stir about 3 minutes until just fork want them to have some crunch.  At least I do.  Take peppers out, set aside with the beef.  Add in ginger, green onion, garlic and jalapeno, cook for about 1 minute.  Add in beef stock and scrape your wok to get all that caramelized goodness off the bottom, it should make a slightly thick sauce due to the cornstarch in the beef marinade.  If it doesn't throw it out and start over.  JUST KIDDING....if it doesn't mix a little cornstarch (about 1 tbsp.) and water (about 3 tbsp) and add that to the wok and you should get a nice little sauce.  If it's too thick add in more stock.  You just have to play here...that's the fun part.  Add everyone back to the wok to cover everyone with the yummy sauce and serve over rice.  Garnish with cilantro.

You can add in mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, cashews, peanuts, whatever you want.  But this is what I had on hand and it turned out to be better than anything I can get at a take out restaurant, minus the fortune cookie.  You want a fortune?  I see very delicious stir fry in your future.  There.      

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Screw a Bowl of Wheaties

Farmer's Market season has hit Memphis.  And I love going to the market to see what little gems I can find.  Last week...I found these: 

And if you're wondering what "these" are, they are THE best tasting tortilla chips in this city, if not in the world.  They are made with love...and are now sold with love at local farmer's markets (or you can find them at Las Delicias restaurant on Park Avenue OR, if you're really sweet, I might send you a bag.)  So I bought a bag.

Now recently, a friend of mine and I went and ate brunch at a local place in walking distance from my house, The Beauty Shop, actually, there are about 10 restaurants in walking distance from my house that are absolutely amazing (Young Avenue Deli, Do, Sweetgrass, Tsunami, Cortona, Cafe 1912, Central BBQ, name a few) and it's total figure suicide living so close to these places.  My only saving grace is that I can walk, or ride a bike to get to them, which is at least a LITTLE exercise.

But back to the Beauty Shop.  Their brunch is awesome.  And they make a mean Bloody Mary.  Again, I'll go so far as to say the best in town.  And they have Chilaquiles on their menu (pronounced Chee-la-KEEY-lays, for you non-Spanish speaking readers).  And I've never eaten a chilaquile, but they kept walking platefuls of them by me, delivering them to ravenous guests, who would smile a smile SOO big when they received this plate full of food.  And my friend ordered the chilaquiles for brunch that day.  And from that day on, I will order chilaquiles shall they appear on any menu I'm presented, because they are EFFIN' AWESOME!  So after I tasted chilaquiles and after purchasing these tortilla chips, I had to recreate them.

Here's how I made 'em:
1 bag of tortillas (slightly stale is better)
1 can of tomatoes or fresh, but we didn't have any great looking tomatoes that weren't from a country 10,000 miles away, so I went with canned
1 serrano chile
1/2 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno
bunch of cilantro
Then the following to garnish...(or use whatever you like) - green onion, cotija cheese (it's Mexican...and it's awesome - try it, it's kinda like feta), avocado, cilantro.

Put your can of tomatoes with the juice, a serrano chile (this sucker is hot), the jalapeno, garlic, onion and a handful of cilantro in a blender and blend away until you have salsa.  Season with salt and pepper and add in more garlic, onion, etc...whatever it needs to make it taste good to you.  Seems like everyone likes their salsa slightly different.  I like spice, so I ended up adding in more jalapeno and more garlic.

Take your salsa and put it in a saute pan to heat it up.  Once it's heated, add in a handful of tortilla chips.  A handful in this case is one serving.  So this will be for one guest.  If you have a bird eater guest, I'd say add about 10 chips.  If you have a elephant eater guest, double it.  Toss the chips in the salsa until the chips are well coated and start to turn slightly soggy.  In another pan fry up an egg (if you don't know how to make an egg, you probably aren't interested in cooking, and therefore shouldn't be the hell did you get here???).  Put the chips on a plate, add the egg, top with a little more salsa, and add avocado, cheese, green onion and cilantro to garnish.

PS - this is an awesome hangover will have you up and movin' in no time! 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Grow Some Herb

 Sage with the purple flowers on the left; rosemary in the back and thyme with the pink/whitish flowers on the right.

You know the first thing I wanted when we bought our house in Midtown Memphis??  An herb garden.  I have always wanted one.  In college, I tried numerous times to grow herbs (legal ones...yes) in pots in the kitchen, but I was too busy gettin' my party on (hey, I did go to a professional party school..I had to live it up) to take care of them and they always died.  I did graduate from WVU by the way, in case you wondered.  Of course I was on the 5-year plan.  Ok, we'll make it a 6-year plan because I did do that one year at Marshall University...but I's easy to go back to those years and get sidetracked.  Those were some of the most memorable times of my life.  Ok, back on track.   My first project when we moved in, was to plant some rosemary, cilantro, sage, parsley and thyme.  Best decision I ever made.

The parsley didn't make it.  I didn't really research it to know that parsley likes a little shade and I planted everything in the hottest spot in my yard.  So it died.  It's in herb heaven...with all the other herbs from college that I killed.

The cilantro grew great.  It even flowered, turned into coriander and seeded new plants for next year, but it never came back after that second year.  Though we threw one helluva Cinco de Mayo party when we found out it replanted itself that second year.

The rosemary is a tree now.  It's about to knock my house off its foundation.  It's a crazy bitch.  And I use it all the time.  For chicken, pork, lamb, marinades, I cut it up and put it in goat cheese, butter, etc.  It's versatile.  It's piney.  It makes a great centerpiece, it makes an awesome wreath and it makes a gorgeous gift!  And if you want some, come get some, because it's out of control, but I love it.

The sage is also a crazy bitch.  It blooms these beautiful purple and white flowers every year.  I don't use it much for cooking, though I have thrown some under the skin of the chicken or turkey I cook.  And I add it to any stock I ever make.  And every time I walk by it, I rip off a leaf, rub it between my fingers and then smell like I'm smart all day.  I can't explain why, but sage reminds me of the smell of smart people!  Maybe I should make a sage perfume and dab some behind my ears.  Couldn't hurt right??


The thyme, is nuts too.  It blooms these teeny, delicate pink flowers, that remind me of little flower girls walking down a wedding aisle.  And I use the HELL out of some thyme.  I use it in everything.  I might just put some in my cereal tomorrow...don't tempt me!  I use it for everything.


I save so much money having herbs in my yard.  Herbs are expensive little suckers.  And they don't last very long after you get them home.  So this year, I've planted parsley, basil, oregano, lavender and chives in a 5-gallon planter.  I can't wait to see how they turn out.  And I should get some more pretty flowers from the chives, lavender and oregano!

 parsley on the left, basil on the right

 lavender on the left, oregano (with really tiny chive sprouts you can't see) on the right.

GROW SOME HERB!  You won't be disappointed, you'll save money, it will force you to experiment and it will make your stinkin' ass smell a whole lot better!