Sunday, January 30, 2011

Real Buffalo Sauce

As I did my research for this recipe, even the homemade versions all started off with a pre-bottled red sauce & that's just not what I call homemade at all. No offense to those who came before me creating this masterpiece but in order to be truly homemade, I feel like you really need to start with the basics. After 2 yrs of not being able to eat anything spicy, I have finally found a perfect way to enjoy the things I used to love dearly. This is perfect for anyone who can't have spicy foods, like me. All the flavor but none of the heat!!!  This sauce is perfect tossed with wings or even with tenders.  It would also be great as a dip, really your options are endless & you could substitute also anything for the paprika & come up with an entirely different sauce.  ENJOY!!

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 T sweet Hungarian paprika (could use Cayenne for a spicier version)
4 T red wine vinegar 
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp white pepper (could definitely add more)
1/4 cup flour 
1/4 cup sour cream

1.  In a saucepan, over med heat, melt butter. 
2.  Meanwhile in a small bowl combine, paprika, vinegar, celery salt, garlic, salt & pepper. Add mixture to saucepan once the butter had melted. Stir continuously. It's not supposed to come together yet so it will look seperated but bare with me. 
3.  Now add the flour & stir continously & allow it to thicken. Finally add the sour cream. It should start to look more like sauce that is only seperated slightly. 
4.  Add all this to a blender or food processer & pulse on high til fully incorporated. Now ya get it?

Trolley Stop Market

Welcome to TSM!!!!!

In our quest to find all things Locavore, yesterday my hubby & I decided it was time for our intro to Trolley Stop Market (TSM).  The plan was to head downtown after the lunch rush to check out everything & both of us having worked in restaurants off & on for the last decade or so thought we had it all figured out.  But when we walked in the door at 2pm we found out that it was still packed!!!  The moment you step in the door (the above pic) is on your left.  Well of course I am in love, they have Christmas lights everywhere!!!  People were everywhere, tables full of smiling happy patrons & we were surrounded by fresh ingredients.  We had no idea where to start, you should have seen us...we couldn't move, stood there in the middle of GREATNESS, completely consumed by this unbelievable experience of knowing that we were right where we belonged.    

Just beyond the bar is this stand...
Fresh fruits

The sign gives you all the prices, very reasonable & there was definitely Organic options

Hydroponically grown tomatoes, which for the Winter is a GREAT option
To the right of this stand, you can see Winter squash that I somehow missed getting a pic of...I was clearly caught up in having all these farm fresh ingredients under one roof, that I felt like a kid in cheese factory (I have never been a huge candy fan so cheese is mine substitute for that).

Neola Farms is where TSM gets all their beef from, it's in Brighton, TN...we can actually say we know where our meat comes from.  Isn't that the way it should be?  It doesn't have to be a secret farm in the middle of nowhere, guarded by the CAFO Goblins.  

This is where TSM gets all of their beef for their burgers & Lasagna 
Ready & waiting for you to come buy & ENJOY!!!
"Don't make me bootleg, my RAW MILK" -it's what their t-shirts say : P
Evergreen Farms - talk about farm fresh milk, well here it is folks!!!
Towards the end of our journey we made it back up to the front of the market to check out.  We were able to snag some delicious local honey from Wolf River Honey in Moscow, TN.  And of course the t-shirt that reads, "Don't make me bootleg my raw milk" from Evergreen Farms.  I love this t-shirt, not only does it make me laugh but it's the softest t-shirt ever & I will proudly wear it around town in hopes that my eyes will fall on someone else who looks at me & gets it.  I also looked for Top of the World Farm (an old friend from high school owns this farm & we have been itching to get our hands on some of their goodies) but they were sold out...maybe next time. Not only does TSM feature local farms & all their goodies but they are also featuring local artists & their crafts.  It's really encompasses the locavore movement all under one roof.  

Big southern hugs,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ghost Chili

My husband & I took one bite of this, looked at each other and instantly knew this was a keeper.  I really love those moments, when no words are spoken but looks say it all & it's part of why I love cooking so much.  When I was a kid, my mom made her famous Hog Heaven Chili all the time & it was the best stuff in the world.  I can remember gathering around the stove while it was simmering to catch a sniff of all the yummy ingredients coming together in her soup pot.  And this reminded me a lot of her recipe but in Ghost form.  I love that there's chicken in there but you could add sausage to this, green chilies (ya'll know I can't eat chilies unless they are in powdered form so that's why they were left out but please feel free to add a small can, if you like).  I love both sweet & smoked paprika, they both have a lot of that great smoky flavor you would find in green chili or a jalapeƱo but none of the heat, so great substitution for anyone who can't eat chilies like me.  I know ya'll will love this recipe, cause we fought over who got to eat the last of this & I WON!!!

1 lb chicken thighs, diced (breasts are fine too)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (15.5 oz) cans great northern beans (w/juice)
1 (14.5 oz) can unsalted chicken stock
Salt & Pepper to taste (suggestion 1 teaspoon Salt & 1/2 teaspoon white pepper)

1 (4oz) can green chilies (added 11/27/11)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (added 11/27/11)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon mexican oregano, dried
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup sour cream
½ cup milk
Garnish with avocado, cheese, paprika

In a dutch oven over med high heat, place oil & butter, allowing to melt.
Saute onion, and garlic until browned. Then add chicken (mine had already been cooked so I was warming it up, makes it much easier) if yours has not been cooked add it first & brown it.  Add beans, broth, chilies, and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for at least an 1 hour, of course the longer the better.  Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and milk.

Inspired by:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Farm-tastic Frittata

My sweet hubby got me a mandolin for my birthday, last week.  He got it on sale (I was sooo proud) from Williams Sonoma & it was the last one in town. So, naturally I have been just itching to try it out.  I figured since I have no clue what I am doing I better start off simply slicing & work my up to the fancier cuts down the road.  Well, I love it!!!  What I was hoping to accomplish here was for the slices of potato to be the crust so I sliced them accordingly & it worked like a charm.  When you cut into this dish the potatoes are layed up in the bottom & hold up perfectly.  Oh, the things I am going to be able to create, can't wait!!!  So, this is one those dishes you can go to when you have leftover veggies or you are just looking for a comforting breakfast for dinner. And it works no matter what ingredients you have on hand.  

2 T butter
1/2 cup mushroom, sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 small zucchini, sliced (mandolin did not work well w/this one)
2 small yukon gold potatoes (sliced on #2 w/mandolin slicer)
5 eggs, whisked
1/2 cup shredded provolone 
Garnish with dried chives

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. In a 9 in cast iron skillet, over med high heat melt butter & add mushrooms (just remember not to crowd the pan) Cook til brown & remove from heat & set on paper plate to drain. Salt & pepper to taste. 
3. Meanwhile, add onions & garlic to skillet & saute for several minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for several more minutes until they begin to soften. Then, add the potatoes & allow them to cook for 5 to 10 mins. They are going to completely cover the bottom so but you are just wanting to warm them so they can begin cooking, they will finish in the oven. 
***Be sure to add just a little salt & pepper to taste with each layer, this helps build flavor 
4. Crack eggs in a separate bowl & whisk together (seasoned w/salt & pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sunny paris, sweet paprika, cumin) 
5. Place mushrooms back in the skillet, spreading them out on top of potatoes, then add cheese & finally eggs.
6. Place skillet in oven & cook for 15 mins or until fork comes out clean. Allow it to rest & ENJOY!! Served w/a salad 

No worries, if you don't have a mandolin, you can use thawed shredded potatoes or even diced hash browns..whatever you have if fine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Original Macaroni & Cheese

In the south, this is the ultimate comfort food that gets introduced to us from a very young age.  As kids, when our parents and grandparents laid out that beautifully wrapped blue and orange box we knew we were in for a very special treat...we also knew that all other versions were merely impostors.  As a teenager, I recall discovering the creamer version of Mac and Cheese that had a very special cheese packet that when I opened it, the creamiest cheese would come pouring out and all was right with the world.  As I grew into my 20's, my palette began to grow as well & almost like a right a passage I began experimenting with creating my own version of this dish.  My very first experiment was passed down to me by a sweet & spunky lady that was the Executive Housekeeper at a hotel in Brentwood, TN.  Now, in the south there is no secret about the kinds of people us young folk want to get recipes from and I knew that she was the kind of lady that would be passing something onto me that I would never want to let go of and to this day this is the MOST requested recipe I have on hand.

12 oz elbow noodles
1 stick butter
12 oz Velvetta Cheese (cubed)
1 can evaporated/whole milk (this is a great alternative to Heavy Cream)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups cheddar (reserve 1 cup for the top)
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Cook noodles according to directions in large pot (don't forget to salt your water), drain & return to the pot. Reduce heat to medium low, add butter & stir to melt. Add velvetta & continue to stir to incorporate (be sure to watch it carefully, it can burn easily).  Once velvetta is almost melted, add milk, garlic, & 1 cup of the cheese.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Transfer everything into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese & sprinkle with paprika. 

Bake for approx. 15 mins or until bubbly & cheese has melted on top. 

Makes about 10-12 servings.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mac & Cheese Muffins

In celebration of my 34th birthday this week I wanted to take my favorite comfort dish and create something NEW.  As I searched for inspiration I came across a blog that featured a restaurant (not here in Memphis) that was making mac and cheese into muffins.  Now they got pretty fancy, adding bacon, bell peppers and such..which is great but to me the simpler the better.  Just a few key ingredients and a muffin pan works just fine.  Plus this dish is super easy clean up, especially with the liners.  Another great aspect with these little babies is how these are pre-portioned out for you.  A typical serving of pasta is 1/2 cup of cooked pasta (unlike what you would find in a restaurant) so you don't have to feel guilty for having 1 or 2 because they are only about 1/4 cup each.  It's really all about portion control & this is a great example about what I am all about.  You can still enjoy things like mac and cheese when it's done sensibly.  ENJOY!!!

All you will need is:
1 (3-5 quart) pot
muffin pan and liners (suggest paper ones)

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 - 2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (dijon works great too)
1 T dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (recommendation: 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon white pepper)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners (paper or foil)
2. Cook the macaroni, drain and immediately return to pot.
3. Add butter, garlic, dry mustard, parsley and about 1/2 the cheese.  Stir briefly until it begins to slowly melt (I had the stove on medium low at this point). 
4. Whisk eggs & milk together, add to pot with the macaroni. Add remaining cheese slowly til it comes together, it will be soupy consistency. Don't worry you are doing it right. 
5. Ladle macaroni mixture into muffin pan & bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly & Serve. You can allow them to cool a bit before serving, I think it makes it easier to remove the liners but if you are like me & can't wait that long don't feel bad & just ENJOY!!!

Inspired by

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blueberry Cream Oat Bars

These little bars are spectacular, you have to make some, TODAY!!!  A friend was stopping by yesterday to drop something off & like a good southern girl, you know I can't allow anyone to leave empty handed.  I was able to put these little goodies together in about an hour & only had to pick up 3 things that I didn't already have in my pantry.  You can also feel good about eating them even for breakfast since they are loaded with whole grain oats, fruit & dairy.  I reduced the sugar a bit (that shouldn't come as any surprise..never been a huge sweets fan) but feel free to add more if you like. In my opinion, it doesn't need it & that's just adding extra calories.  Plus, we wouldn't want anyone bouncing off the walls before 9am, especially me..cause I do come with a WARNING label, that reads, "May become increasing entertaining with too much sugar" ;) Here they are, ENJOY!!!

1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Blueberry Filling: 
1 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice (1/2 teaspoon lemon powder plus 2 teaspoon water)

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Pinch salt
1.  Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick foil or parchment paper.

2. Prepare crust: In a mixing bowl, stir together add oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Add melted butter and stir together til crumbly.  Reserve 1/2 cup crumb mixture for topping.  Place remaining mixture firmly in the bottom of a parchment or foil-lined pan. Place pan in oven for appromimately 12 minutes, until crust sets.

3.  Meanwhile prepare blueberry filling: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon powder & water.  Stirring until mixture begins to thicken slightly & juices of blueberries have combined with the cornstarch (maybe 5 mins).  Remove from heat & set aside.

4.  Prepare Cream Cheese Filling: In bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, egg, almond, salt and beat til incorporated.  Pour cream cheese filling over baked crust, then add blueberry mixture on top of cream cheese then top with remaining crumb mixture.

5.  Place it the over for 30 minutes until top is browned and filling is bubbly.  Allow this to cool  completely.  Once cool, place in fridge for about an hour to let it completely set up for serving.  Lift it out of the pan by the ends of the parchment paper & place it on a cutting board. Depending on how you cut these, it makes up to 16 bars. Best if served at room temperature if you can wait that long, we didn't make it so I am here to say it's amazing even if they are straight out of the fridge. ENJOY!!!

Adapted from

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Homemade Pita Bread

I have to admit I have been going a little bread crazy lately.  I have been researching bread recipes in hopes of finding the best of best out there & hit the jackpot today.  To me there is just nothing better than homemade pita bread & with some type of bean dip to go along side it.  Today I was bouncing around on FoodBuzz & came across a lovely lady from England named Debbie, at Pencil and Fork.  This is her recipe & I merely converted what she did to make it work in the US.

Ingredients (makes 8 pita breads):

400 g bread flour
2 tsp yeast
1 T honey
1 1/2 cup warm water (110F)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
Garnished with dried parsley

1.  Mix the warm water, honey & yeast.  Let it rest til the bubbles form on top.  Add the oilive oil.
2.  In a seperatate mixing bowl, combine the flour & salt.  Gradually add the yeast mixture above & stir with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated.  It will be very sticky at this point.  Dump out the dough onto a well floured surface & knead for several minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Keep adding small handfuls of flour until the stickiness is gone.  Place the dough back in well greased bowl then cover and leave in a warm place to proof for approximately 1 hour & 30 mins or until it's doubled in size.
3.  Punch the dough down, this will remove all excess air bubbles.  Re-flour your work surface & then divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Roll each dough pieces into a ball & allow them to rest (covered by a damp towel) for 20 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 410F.  Place a stone in the oven to allow it heat up as well.   Roll out each piece of dough til it's flat..size nor shape really matter.  The more rustic the better, in my opinion.
5.  Place them on the stone or baking pan and bake for about 4-6 minutes. Feel free to fit as many as possible (my round stone took 3 at a time). Once they puff up they are done, remove them & allow to cool or eat right away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spanakopita Pie

My love for Spanakopita is very real & runs deep.  But the traditional dish is not as easy to assemble, as this one is.  So, I hope this recreation has you loving to prepare it & as much as we love to eat it.  

10 oz bag of fresh spinach, placed in food procerssor in batches to chop up (you can shortcut this by purchasing 10 oz bag of frozen spinach but I just prefer the fresh)
1 pie crust (mine was homemade but prepacked frozen works just fine)
5 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
1 cup of shredded monteray jack 
2 green onions, finely chopped
1-2 clove garlic, grated
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 tablespoon dried parsley 
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 F
2. Take the chilled dough, press it into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Dock it & place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove & set aside. 
3. Turn it up to 400 F
4. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook spinach in 1 to 2 T olive oil & squeeze out excess water, remove from heat. Salt & pepper to taste
5. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs & milk
6. In the skillet add spinach, cheeses, garlic & spices.
7. Take the spinach mixture & add it to eggs, season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour everything into the prepared crust (it's ok if it flows over the crust). Place the pie in the oven for approximately 35 - 40 mins or until the filling is set.  ENJOY!!!

Note: I did not get the entire mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, what was left over I just placed in the fridge & we will use later.

Inspired by 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Pesto (Arugula)

Each time I make a new dish, I research as much as I can trying to learn from others.  I develop criteria that pertains to the dish & then go in search of ideas & inspirations.  With this particular creation, my heart was really wanting a traditional pesto but with it being the middle of Winter, that just wasn't the best option.  I wanted something that still had a burst of flavor but that was relatively easy to assemble, in a matter of minutes.  And then it hit me...Arugula (my favorite lettuce of all) & my Winter Pesto was born.  Unfortunately my hubby has nut allergies so that's why I omitted the pine nuts.  But this was hands down the quickest sauce I have ever made.  It probably took me less than 2 mins to prepare this.  And what makes this even better, it doesn't need to simmer on the stove like a marinara sauce.  You can just toss it with fresh pasta & dinner is served.  ENJOY!!!


1 cup fresh Arugula
1 to 2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a food processor (I used my small one), add first 4 ingredients above & pulse til blended. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Warm & serve over pasta.  Serves 2.

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