Monday, April 21, 2014

From Florida with Love...and Blueberry Crumble


We just got home from our annual trip down to Tampa to see my family. Geez, time flies when you are on vacay doesn't it?
One minute you are changing your work voice mail and out of office message for your trip. The next minute....you are back at home in your mirror admiring your new beach tan and feeling a bit melancholy that it all went by so fast.

So, a few highlights from our visit....

These handsome chickens in Chuck's back yard. First time I've literally gathered fresh, warm eggs from a hen house and cooked them up the next day for breakfast. Wonderful.


Lettuce Lake Park
Jay caught this guy as he was making his way around the swampy parts of Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa {perfectly happy to have missed him.....gators give me the creeps!}. 
Great park to visit on the Hillsborough River.... with lovely big oak trees, a boardwalk for walking and observing wildlife, and a 40 foot high observation tower.
You can even rent canoes.


North Redington Beach
This is the place. Our second year staying at the Hotel Isis in Redington Shores and we love it here. My brother John got married here in 2005 and it feels so lovely to stay here and remember that day.
Charming, boutique hotel. Quiet and pretty beach. Heavenly, heated pool. And the most awesome shrimp salad and crab cakes at the Shubee Shack right down the street {the first place we hit when we get to the area!}

Mazzaro's
This is Mazzaro's Italian Market. We hit it on our way back from the beach driving through St. Petersburg. My friend Tim in Atlanta advised that we just had to go and it was so worth it! It was a mad house and I loved every minute of the Italian foodie craziness {my grandmother, Olga, was Italian - so it's in the blood}. 
Fresh produce, meats, huge cheese selection, wine, coffee bar, bakery, and large outdoor seating. The deli was THE place to people watch while they rocked out the orders like a well-oiled machine.
My vote for best panini ever - pepperoni, fresh mozz, banana peppers, marinara. Super impressed.



Oxford Exchange
We spent an afternoon in downtown Tampa, walking through University of Tampa and down by the water {yep, we saw a family of manatees too!}. My sister-in-law took us to the Oxford Exchange for lunch. Hip lil' place with a restaurant {digging their Matcha Lemonade}, spots to hang and drink Buddy Brew coffee or Tebella Tea, a bookstore, and a gift shop. Beautiful people ya'll.



Steel Magnolia's Restaurant
Jay and I always like to find some unique place to stop and eat on our drive back to Atlanta. Skipping fast food is one goal and exploring a new town is another. Plus, we kill time and miss rush hour traffic. Yay. 
This time we discovered Steel Magnolia's in Valdosta, Ga.
Cute little place {I fell for it when I spied all the little vintage dishes lined up in the window}. Loved the truffle fries a little bit too much. 







Of course, we are always grateful to spend time with my family. Talking about food and planning our next meal seems to spontaneously happen....a lot. We're just foodies I guess. 
My mom cooked up my favorite cornmeal waffle and I made a blueberry crumble for everyone one night. Love. 



Blueberry Crumble
Serves 8

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Filling:

6 cups blueberries {I used frozen}
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Topping:
3/4 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened


Preheat oven to 375 F. 
Make the filling: Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish.
Make the topping: Stir together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and sugar. Break the softened butter into small pieces with your hands and drop into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, rub the butter pieces until blended into dry ingredients and you have clumps.
Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until bubbling in center and brown on top, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 30 minutes before serving. 
*We served it with vanilla ice cream...cinnamon ice cream would be nice too.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chicken Cobbler....comfort for a friend


Whoa this is good. I mean toss-your-diet-out-the-door-for-the-day good.
I've made chicken pot pie before and it's one of Jay's favorite treats. 
Found this lovely twist of a pot pie recipe recently in the Jimtown Store Cookbook.
See those awesome little cheddar dill biscuits on top....the best!



So who was the lucky recipient of this Chicken Cobbler? My dear friend Judith and her family.
She had been under the weather following some surgery and I wanted to bring dinner over to be a help.
It was a hit, with her boys going back for third helpings.
Love that. 

This recipe takes a bit of time to make, but it is one that everybody will love and feel loved eating it. A keeper for sure.
 
Chicken Cobbler with Cheddar-Dill Biscuits
Serves 8

adapted slightly from The Jimtown Store Cookbook

Kosher salt
3 medium red-skinned potatoes, washed
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, divided
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
3 carrots, washed well, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
3 celery ribs, washed, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn
1 teaspoon hot sauce or Tabasco
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Cheddar Dill Biscuits {see recipe below}
1/4 cup buttermilk for brushing

Preheat your oven to 450F.

Filling:
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Salt the water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, till tender {about 20-25 minutes}. Drain and cool. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

In a large pot, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add yellow onions and garlic and cook till tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chicken stock, carrots, celery, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, and cook, partially covered, about 15 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, raise the heat slightly, and cook for about 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash together the remaining soft butter 
{1/2 cup} and flour until you have a smooth paste.

Lower the heat slightly and whisk in the floury paste with the vegetable mixture a little at a time. Stir in the chicken, potatoes, pearl onions, peas, corn, hot sauce, and nutmeg. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
{You can prepare this filling a day ahead, remove from heat, cool, cover and refrigerate. Re-warm before using.}

Place the chicken filling into a buttered rectangular 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish {3 quart capacity}.
Place biscuits atop the filling, spacing them evenly apart. Brush top of biscuits with buttermilk. Place baking dish on top of a half-sheet pan {in case it bubbles over} and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Serve.

Cheddar Dill Biscuits:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups buttermilk {I like using a local one}
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped finely
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Place flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk together well.

Toss in cold cubes of butter and rub butter pieces into flour with hands, quickly, until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add buttermilk and dill and stir gently until dough just begins to come together. Add the cheese and stir in to combine. 

Lightly flour a work surface and turn dough out onto it. Knead the dough a few times lightly, until it is smooth. Roll the dough into a 3/4-inch disk. Use a 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as possible.
Gather the scraps together and re-roll once. Cut out remaining biscuits. 
Refrigerate biscuits for 30 minutes. {I ran out of time and skipped this step, without a problem}.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lime and Coconut Cheese Cake


So, it's late. I should be in bed right now. But, I've been itching to share this recipe. 
I'll make it a quickie post here and then dive under the covers.
Honestly, I'm not a huge cheese cake fan. BUT, this might be the cheese cake that my dreams are made of...creamy, dreamy, limey and coconutty goodness. 
I made this for a Thai supper club recently. (No, this isn't a Thai dessert by any stretch, but I figured you can't go wrong with the tropical flavors). Got great reviews from all my peeps and one foodie friend told me it was the best cheese cake she ever had. Blush.
When I get to create something from a place of joy and careful attention and then share it with others....well, life is good.

Lime and Coconut Cheesecake
Serves 10-12

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Cheese cake:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temp

2 Tablespoons lime zest
1/3 cup  fresh lime juice 

1/2 cup of unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
 
Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2-2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/3 C unsweetened flaked coconut (fancy grade), toasted*

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover the bottom of a 9-inch spring-form pan with a double layer of foil.  Set aside.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sweetened coconut, and melted butter and mix well.  Press evenly into the bottom of the pan and about 1″ up the sides.  Place pan in oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside until ready to use.

In an electric stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar until creamy and smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down sides of the bowl.  Do not over beat mixer while adding eggs, just till combined. Add vanilla, coconut extract, lime zest, lime juice, and coconut milk and mix to combine.  Pour batter into prepared crust.  

Place spring-form pan into a larger pan, such as a roasting pan and place in center rack in the oven.  Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan until it reaches about half way up the spring form pan.  Bake cheesecake for 60-70 minutes or until center is set and the edges just barely begin to brown.  Do not over bake. Leave cheesecake in oven, but turn heat off and crack oven door.  Let sit for 30 minutes and then remove and cool completely on a rack.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the spring form pan overnight.

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake carefully from the pan and place on serving dish.  Beat whipping cream until soft peaks form and then add powdered sugar (to taste) and coconut extract.  Beat until medium peaks form. Spread cream evenly over cheesecake 
{or use a pastry bag with a star tip to pipe it on} and sprinkle with toasted coconut.  Slice and serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happily Edible tips:

{Toasting Coconut} - Place coconut in a single layer on a half sheet pan. Put into 350F oven and bake, tossing occasionally, for a few minutes until golden brown. Watch carefully, as coconut will burn quickly.

{Slicing Cheese Cake} - To make a clean slice, have a pitcher of hot water and a kitchen towel at the ready. After each slice through the cake, dip your knife into the hot water and clean off the blade using the kitchen towel.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Cacao Nibs and Sauteed Bananas


My step-grandfather ate a ham and cheese sandwich like almost daily in his later years. At least that's the story that was passed around. I guess when some folks age, having the same food everyday is comforting for them? Hmm....I'm all about comfort food, but I crave variety with my meals. 
It's funny, we'll make a big pot of vegetarian chili on a Sunday, with the grand idea that we'll eat it every day till it's gone. By day two, I'm over it. I'm bored. I need to switch things up.

That's kind of how I feel about oatmeal. I do love it for breakfast. But, I need to make it more enticing, more interesting some days. It's the perfect blank canvas to do that too!

So this is my latest version and well....it's pretty much amazeballs.


It started with an overabundance of bananas. We always have a bounty of bananas around for green smoothies, but this time I left some out to get ultra ripe. And I just bought cacao nibs for the first time. Had to get those in there.

I really always prefer cooked banana over raw ones, so I sauteed these babies up in a little butter till they became golden beauties. Added a little spice, a little sweet, some hemp seeds, and cacao nibs....so yummy. 
Oh, and you gotta use the steel cut oats. They make the best, creamiest oatmeal. Once you go steel cut, you may never go back!

P.S. {Cut down on cook time tip: boil your water the night before, add the steel cut oats, turn off heat, and cover. Let sit overnight.}

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Cacao Nibs and Sauteed Bananas
Serves 3

1 cup steel cut oats 
3 cups filtered water
Pinch of sea salt
1-2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 ripe bananas, sliced
Cinnamon, ground to taste
1 tablespoon raw Hemp seeds {I like Hemp Hearts - high in omegas and protein}
2 tablespoons Cacao nibs {it's raw chocolate...and high in antioxidants}
Coconut sugar to taste

Cooks oats by bringing water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan and add oats {unless you pre-soaked the oats overnight, in which case you can just add salt and turn on heat}. Once at a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 15-25 minutes or until you reach your preferred level of "chewy". Turn off heat.
While oats cook, heat butter over medium high heat in a skillet. Add banana slices and cook for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown. Turn off heat and set aside.
To serve, mix in some cinnamon, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and coconut sugar into the oatmeal. Toss in sauteed bananas and enjoy.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Raw Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting {No sugar, flour, dairy, or gluten}


So, here's the deal. I love sweets. 
Probably a little too much. When the new year rolled around, I made quite an unbelievable promise to myself. For 6 weeks, I would cut out refined sugar and white flour. WHAT? Crazy talk right??
Yes and no. I want to drop a few pounds and I generally just wanted to see if I could do it.
Outside of my soy coffee creamer {which I'm not planning to give up}, I've done pretty well. I've avoided cookies, cakes, pies, candy.....all the goodies I day dream about and then create in my kitchen.
My sugar cravings come and go. I get a little cranky at times.
Some days are better than others. Drinking the turmeric tea at night seems to feel like a bit of a treat. And smoothies. Gotta still find some treats...just healthier ones.



Of course, I miss baking and making dessert and waffles {got a new waffle maker for Christmas and had just started experimenting!}. So, I've been looking for alternatives. My friend Gisel gave me a pretty awesome gluten-free recipe for waffles and they turned out very tasty. Loving the coconut flour!
I had a big-time hankering for dessert a few days ago and figured I ought to make something with the big bag of carrots sitting in the bottom of our fridge. I think I'm known {at least by my husband} for frequently buying carrots with good intentions. Then they sit and go bad before I think to use them. Not this time!





I made a raw carrot cake....with cashew frosting. Some of my favorite ingredients are in it, like coconut, cardamom, and nutmeg. Ah.
The nice part is that you don't even have to turn the oven on. No flour, no sugar, and no baking!
Whirl it all up in a food processor, let it chill a bit, and voila....carrot cake!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dreamy Turmeric Tea



I've been reading a lot about the health benefits of turmeric lately. Pretty impressive stuff: "antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities"...and the list keeps going.

I always have turmeric in my pantry....I am a curry-loving kind of girl!
So, after reading on Dr. Weil's site about how the Okinawans {of the island nation} have the longest life span & drink tons of turmeric tea, 
I was definitely inspired.
I found a recipe for a creamy tea, that I love.
I make it with almond milk, ginger root, spices, and just a touch of sweetness.


Jay and I have really been digging this at night. A big, warm cup of creamy turmeric tea...it's like a healing, bedtime elixir. Yum.

Dreamy Turmeric Tea
adapted from Mark's Daily Apple

Serves 2

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
A one-inch slice of ginger root, peeled
1 teaspoon turmeric, divided
1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground, divided
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground, divided
3 teaspoons raw honey, divided

Place the almond milk in a saucepan. Slice the ginger root into 1/4 inch thick slices and toss into the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and then turn off the heat. Let ginger steep in milk for about 20 minutes. {If you don't want to wait for this....you can skip the steeping, just bring the milk to simmer with ginger slices}.
While milk is heating, take measure half of the turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon and add a half to each mug. Top spices with half of the raw honey in each mug.
When milk has come to a simmer, turn off the heat. Place a few tablespoons of hot milk into each mug and stir to blend the spices and honey with the milk. Divide the rest of the milk between the mugs and stir well.
{If you like foam....pull out your trusty frother and go to town. 
We like bubbles at our house!}
Savor and enjoy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Happy New Year!
Wow, it has been one heck of a cold start to 2014 here in Atlanta. 
Let's just be clear. I'm from Florida and dislike cold weather. 
Unless we get a bit of fluffy, pretty snow and it lasts for like one day...that's cool.
But waking up to 6 degrees the other morning was brutal.

So, it's soup time. And I'm all about rotisserie chickens right now.
I made a stellar chicken pot pie the other night for our long-awaited season opener of Downton Abbey (the best!!). 
Then I went out the next day and bought another chicken to make this lovely soup.


You know how you are flipping through a magazine and you see this gorgeous food photo that just makes you go mmmmmmmmm. Well that's what happened. I saw this soup and I just knew I had to make it. 
To try and honor my new year intentions....I did leave out the fried tortillas strips and the Mexican cheese. It still rocked.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Whole Grain Biscuits with Molasses



I'd like to thank Gregg for mentioning that he was going to make biscuits after yoga class last Sunday. He planted a seed....a biscuit-making seed.
Not that a girl like me needs convincing to get out my rolling pin and get to baking.
I will admit. I did have a bunch of lovely, local Sparkman's buttermilk that needed to be used. Brilliant.

Lucky me....I also had a new bag of white whole wheat flour and some leftover Kerrygold butter for my biscuits. Don't you love it when you have everything you need at your fingertips, when the urge to bake strikes?