Halloween Spread

October 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Entertaining tomorrow night? Here is a last minute solution for what to serve. The sake needs to be done the night before but everything else can come together just a few hours before people arrive. So even if you didn’t have plans, why not throw something together last minute? Menu taken care of.

Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing, Spider Web Fiesta dip with chips, more cupcakes, Devils on Horseback, Pita chips with cheese and apple, Veggies with Greek yogurt dill dip

I would start with the cupcakes first (of course). I used the recipe here and they were delicious. The batter even started tasting like pumpkin before I even added the pumpkin (yes, I tried the batter).

Cream Cheese Icing (Pre-food dye)

An easy way to dress these up is to add food dye halfway through icing the cupcakes. Add diverse toppings like chocolate sprinkles on some, crushed pecans on others, some plain and some with candy corn for a really decorative look that let’s your guests choose what tempts them most!

This fiesta dip was sort of inspired by a few different versions of 7 layer dip and other Mexican dips. I just tried to simplify the best I could. I think one version that is topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomato and cilantro could be delicious.

Layer 1- 1 can refried black beans mixed with 1 package taco seasoning
Layer 2 – 1 can Rotel Tomatoes mixed with 1 package cream cheese
Layer 3 – Guacamole. The top it all of with a sour cream spiderweb by piping the sour cream through a small hole cut into a zip-loc bag.

I used the Devils on Horseback recipe here. Mine turned out a little more well done than I would have preferred but I am always someone who would take my bacon overcooked rather than undercooked. The grease from this bacon gets your oven really hot so keep an eye on them.

Slice pitted prunes in half without going all the way through. Stuff with blue cheese. Wrap half of a strip of bacon in half and secure with a tooth pick. Voila easy as 1,2,3

Slightly well done

The rest of the apps are just slicing and dicing! If you don’t have a full bar already stocked, a good way to cut down is by serving a signature drink. Then have a few standard options like beer, wine and whiskey.

After a delicious cocktail in California last weekend, I scoured the internet to find how it was made–turns out it was infused sake. In a glass, air-tight container, pile in any fruit of your choice (we chose watermelon and pineapple). Make sure it is cut and cored with no bruised spots/blemishes. Mix in 1.5 L Sake and .5 L Pear Vodka and let sit for 24 hours


The Ultimate Homemade Pizza Crust

October 26, 2012 § 8 Comments

In this case “ultimate” means easy, quick, and extra thin and crispy. If you are looking for deep dish, be gone with you, call Jet’s. I came across the goodness that is the recipe whilst browsing Lesley Eats who in turn learned of it from Fearless Homemaker who adapted it from The Kitchn (so goes the blogosphere), so this thing is tried and true. I followed the original instructions here which were simple and produced great results (no equipment other than a rolling pin needed). And now I pass this wisdom on to you!

3/4 cups (6 ounces) lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active-dry or instant yeast
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go and let stand for a half hour. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the lower-middle part of the oven now. Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl, and stir to dissolve the yeast.

Looks like miso soup

Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix until you’ve formed a shaggy dough.

Shaggy Dough

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface along with any loose flour still in the bowl. Knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough should still feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to your hands and counter-top like bubble gum, work in more flour one tablespoon at a time until it is smooth.

Dough ball

If you have time at this point, you can let the dough rise until you need it or until doubled in bulk (about an hour and a half). After rising, you can use the dough or refrigerate it for up to three days.

Cover the dough with the upside-down mixing bowl or a clean kitchen towel while you prepare the pizza toppings.

When ready to make the pizza, tear off two pieces of parchment paper roughly 12-inches wide. Divide the dough in two. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, form it into a large disk  and lay it on the parchment paper. Gently press and stretch the dough until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick or less. For an extra-thin crust, roll it with a rolling pin. If the dough starts to shrink back, let it rest for five minutes and then continue rolling.

Now here come the toppings. Use the back of a spoon to spread your sauce out to the edges, then add the rest of your goodies.

Slide your pizza (still on the parchment) onto the baking stone in the oven. If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the pizza on the back side of a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes and then rotate the pizza, removing the parchment from under the pizza as you do so. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese looks toasty.

Remove the pizza and let it cool about five minutes before slicing on a wire rack. Repeat with the second pizza.

Ours was a little different from the original magarhita style since I had been eyeing this recipe on the back of Chobani’s Greek Yogurt for a few weeks now. It combines sauteed onions and garlic with a mix of greek yogurt and ricotta cheese topped off with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Delizioso!

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Want to know the recipe for the perfect Sunday morning? Early bike ride through Venice canals, up on the boardwalk and along the beach, through the pier then down Main Street in Santa Monica. Pull over when you reach the Farmer’s Market for tunes, people watching and perfectly fresh food.

The tomatoes out here were TO DIE FOR and I grew up on Jersey tomatoes…

Apparently October is squash season even on the West Coast

They have everything. Literally ponies

so fresh

The lighter choice

California staple, the breakfast burrito

Why do I leave every time?

Superba, Venice Ca

October 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

This weekend, the stars aligned to create the perfect time for a quick trip to California. Since my brother lives in Venice Beach, we always have a vacation and place to stay at our fingertips there. The flight out from Nashville is much easier than from the East coast so even leaving after work on Friday, I landed in time for dinner. I’m so glad I did because the restaurant was fantastic. It was an Italian spot with a Southern Californian twist called Superba that invites lingering late outside over wine (they have blankets table-side if you catch a beachy breeze). We chose the tasting menu which was served in a totally unique way- small plates style. Instead of everyone getting their own mini portion of each dish, plate after delicious plate was set down before us to share. It’s my favorite way to eat and with pastas made in house, the food was four stars.

I am not one for terrine (center) but I do love me some pastrami and this was some o the best ever (left)

elderflower persimmons, burrata, pistachio crumble, butter greens & hibiscus jelly. I have a confession to make, before this trip, I had never heard I burrata. Have you tried it? It is smoother, creamier, yet somehow lighter mozzarella that I then continued to nine on all weekend. I can not imagine it not going with anything.

black kale salad, parmesen, pickled raisins, pine nuts, croutons & olive oil. Perfection.

broiled hamachi collar, thai bbq glaze, apple & celery leaf salad. I love the way it’s served with the tail on, gorgeous!

crispy brussels sprout, bacon, dashi broth & poached duck egg. Oh this broth was heaven. You could put anything in there, chicken, beef, etc but it just made the Brussels sprouts even more succulent.

brown butter gnocchi, burrata, spigarello, chestnuts & pomegranate. Believe it or not there were two other pasta dishes as well but I didn’t want to gloat. More burrata, and some beautiful gnocchi.

In other news, today is Food Day celebrating real food!

Tennessee Brew Works, Nashville’s New Kid on the Block

October 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love to have the inside scoop and this past weekend I got the first taste of one of Nashville’s newest brewers. They specialize in craft beers and started with one pot on a stove. What they’ve come up with though awesome, really unique and great-tasting beers. We had an absolute blast tasting them this weekend and it’s so refreshing to actually be able to smell the ingredients in a beer just like wine (unlike some other beer varieties I’ve been known to throw back). My favorites were a light, floral-y beer that had a secret farm ingredient (!) and a subtle IPA that I actually enjoyed since I am not a crazy hop head. They are planning to do a bunch of dinners and pairings before opening up shop so be sure to keep an eye out for Tennessee Brew Works events! The logo below is still in the works but the beer is ready for action.


Turkey Chili Taco Soup

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night at a friend’s pumpkin-carving party, I had chili that was everything it should be and more. So thick and creamy with rich spices topped with sour cream and fritos (yes, those fritos–when was the last time you had those?). While the original is definitely a must to indulge in once in a while, I like chili enough to know I need an alternative that I can feel guilt-free about. Enter this turkey chili taco soup. Even if the texture wasn’t as rich and creamy as the original, all the spice and flavor was there and I was more than satisfied with it.



1 1/3 pounds 99 percent lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
10 ounces RO*TEL Tomatoes and Green Chilies
15 ounces canned or frozen corn, thawed and drained
15 ounces kidney beans, drained
8 ounces tomato sauce (I used leftover homemade with had Italian spices and that was great)
16 ounces fat-free refried beans (I used black instead)
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
2 1/2 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken broth

While the turkey is browning in a large pot, slice up your onions and veggies.

Make sure to break up the turkey continuously with a large spoon as it browns. Once cooked through, add the onions and peppers.

Cook with onions and peppers 2-3 minutes or until softened. Then add RO*TEL tomatoes, corn, kidney beans, tomato sauce, black beans, taco seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

I actually forgot the corn, but it was fine without it

Top with Non-fat plain greek yogurt, scallions and cilantro. Perfect on chilly day!

Plus it’s one pot! I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker but I wonder if that will thicken it up?


Germantown Street Festival

October 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Oktoberfest. The name alone conjures up images of lederhosen, steins of beer and good cheer all around. That’s exactly what we found this weekend in Germantown at the 13th annual street festival to commemorate the holiday. All that, plus tents of food blockading streets in every direction, fun bands around every corner and a healthy 5k to kick off all the merry-making. Throw in the fact that it’s mid-October and I was in sandals and I just may choose this over a flight to Munich.

The honey stand brought their very own live bees

Brat + kraut + beer. Ideal

Oh street meat, how I’ve missed you

Totally burned off all those beers/meat sticks

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