Thursday, September 30, 2010

Party Like It's My Birthday!

Just a tiny peek at what's to come...he, he.

Wait, it actually is my birthday. Yes, I turn the big 33 today. It couldn't have come at a better time to create a "luxury dinner party"...ehmmm, which would be even more fabulous if I could use it for the next round of Project Food Blog. (Hint, hint. Or wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.) Yes, I am going to ask for your vote again, just in case you forgot.

What could be a better birthday present?

I know, you all are probably so tired of hearing me beg and gravel for votes, dress up in stupid outfits and act accordingly.  It just shows how much I really love doing this! I feel so alive and excited because I'm doing stuff I've never done before! Like a dinner party.

I've been working 2 days already on just this party. Menu planning, table scaping, shopping, crafting, cooking and photographing. My kids are bored and annoyed, but it's my birthday. (I'm going to milk this, 'til it runs dry).

It will be a small, intimate party with a three course meal. I didn't want to kill myself with work or kill the budget, but somehow I managed to still spend too much. I told the Hubs to take me to Taco Bell for our night out together to celebrate, somehow thinking that would lessen the blow of what I spent, but also hoping he wouldn't agree. Unfortunately, he said something to the effect, "Okay." Hmm. Why did I say Taco Bell? I hate Taco Bell.

So here it is Foodies, and hopefully not for the last time. You have until 6PM Pacific Time today!:


Thank you so much to everyone who has voted already and your kind comments. I try to visit each one of your blogs in return for your comment, instead of posting comments on my own blog. Not quite sure of the etiquette on that. But thank you again, and whether I make it or not to the next round, this next post will be a rockin' one (that's the plan anyway!).


Monday, September 27, 2010

Vote Away, Me Hearties!

Let's hope I don't forget that moustache and end up at the grocery looking like a pirate.

What's with the pirate shenanigans? I know, it has nothing to do with Danish food. Blame, my kids. I do. They've been on a pirate kick and every night I read the same pirate story, in the same pirate voice. My husband laughs, as I read, because I always end up sounding more like a leprechaun than a pirate.

So, all that to say VOTING HAS BEGUN! If you liked my Danish Delights for Challenge 2, then CLICK HERE TO VOTE! Voting ends Sept. 30th!

If ye be a liver-lovin' landlubber than this be the choice for ye! ARRRGH! Send me ship a sailin' on to the next challenge, me hearties!

Thank ye much!

Love ya, Foodies!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PFB Challenge: Danish Delights


For challenge number 2 of Project Food Blog, we were asked to delve into our uncomfortable zones and create a classic dish from another culture. Oh how I went around and around, but ultimately my culinary, globe-trotting finger landed on the chilly country of Denmark.

That's Grandma Helen with her orange Slug-bug, my Dad and my Aunt (holding me).

I have only a handful of memories of my Danish Grandma Helen. Through the years, what I heard most about my grandma was her ability to create delicious pies, breads, cookies, roasts, name it she could make it. I never got to cook with her, but I do have fond memories of her teaching me to knit. I can still hear the metal needles scraping together as we looped baby pink yarn over and over again. I loved the feeling of being tucked in next to her in her big arm chair.

So for the reasons of sentimentality and curiosity, I chose a Danish food art form: Smørrebrød. What's that? Well, it's an open-faced sandwich, hailed by the Danes as an absolute must for their regular diets.

Delightfully tangy Icelandic butter.

Qualifications for the smørrebrød are as follows:

Must be made on rye bread
Must have a layer of Danish butter, as a moisture barrier, from edge to edge- no scrimping!
Must always be open-faced
Must be eaten with a knife and fork

The extent of my experience with Danish food has been whatever IKEA was offering for the day. I think I actually ate a smørrebrød before, but I had no clue that it was an iconic food of Denmark. So I'm walking into this challenge with the culinary equivalent of being legally blind.

The liver in all it's wobbly glory.

I was definitely uncomfortable with my choice and purposely made sure I was. I found myself calling the meat counter at Whole Foods and inquiring about pork liver (which they didn’t have, but they did have beef liver) and if they could grind pork fat for me (which they could). I then perused the baking/bulk aisle desperately seeking, no not Susan, but rye flour. And guess what? They just discontinued it! Fabulous. But what’s more fabulous was that one of their employees, Carlos, called two different stores for me, then went and personally picked it up and brought it to my neighborhood store for me so I could pick it up there! Can you believe the service? I love Whole Foods.

Here’s the menu:

3 Classic Varieties of Smørrebrød

Curry Herring – Karrysild with hard boiled egg and fresh dill

Liver Paste – Leverpostej topped with pickled cucumbers, red onion and red leaf lettuce

Smoked Salmon and Baby Shrimp topped with thinly sliced red onion, lemon dill mayonnaise and hard boiled egg

Now, the smoked herring is for the curry herring, which is sinfully creamy. It's sort of a Danish version of tuna fish salad. I thought curry was a surprising element, as I don’t really think of curry when I think of the Danes, but it gives the salad a lovely color as well as taste.


Cradling my "liver baby". Well, maybe not 'cradling', more like tolerating.

The beef liver is obviously for the liver paste. This was, by far, the most daunting of all the components for me to make and try. I’ve never had liver. I’ve never pulverized it into a gelatinous paste before. I’ve never smelled its smell- it smelled very intensely beefy with a bouquet of vitamins. Not quite my cup of tea, but I forged through like any good Viking would- minus the head on a stake.

And then the quickest to make of the trio, was the smoked salmon and shrimp sandwich. All I had to do was boil the shrimp and make the lemon dill sauce. The sauce was something born out of my need for moisture on this particular smørrebrød. I mean, dill and lemon on salmon and shrimp? Lush.

The two-ton bread wad.

Then there was the bread. It certainly ran a close second to the liver paste, as far as anxiety goes. I let the bread “rise” for the recommended 2 hours and then some. Because of the monstrous amount of flour and yeast, I was expecting to walk into the kitchen and see that the giant dough ball had taken over the kitchen. I lifted the towel and it was as if it burped a giant, "wah, wah". Not much had happened, if anything.

I lugged it into its new home, the loaf pan. I said a Danish rye bread dough prayer and threw it in the oven.

The dough.

I baked it, cooled it and then commenced the slicing. I felt as though I needed a chainsaw to get through the densely formed rectangular loaf, but instead I quietly emitted four-lettered words as I wielded my dull serrated knife. The slices fell like trees in the fjords of my motherland.

The best part of all the cooking and planning was the composition of the sandwiches. Layering the textures and colors was like making a culinary collage. What I enjoyed most was knowing that I was making something that connected me to my family- family I didn't get to have that much time with. I'm pretty sure grandma would have enjoyed one of these after our cozy knitting session.

All of these recipes were adapted from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark, Embassy of Denmark, Brasilia

I was told to enjoy a beer with the sandwiches. Trust me, I enjoyed it.

Curry Herring - Karrysild

4 marinated whole herrings (I used smoked herring)

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 chopped onion

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablebsp. cream

2 teasp. curry powder

lemon juice

salt and pepper

hard-boiled eggs and parsley for garnish

Cut herrings into small pieces. Slice eggs. Layer herring and eggs in bowl. Put chopped onion on top. Mix mayonnaise with cream and curry powder. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over herring and decorate with sliced hard-boiled eggs and chopped parsley. This can be artfully arranged in a clear glass bowl to show the layers. (I didn't do the arty part. I just mixed it all up together.)

A darling duo.

Liver Paste - Leverpostej

1 lb. pork liver ( I used beef liver)

3/4 lb. pork fat (the butcher ground it for me)

2 tablesp. butter

2 tablesp. flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 chopped onion

3/4 teasp. pepper

1 tablesp. salt

½ teasp. allspice

Put liver and fat through meat grinder (I used the food processor) about 5 times. Melt butter. Add flour, stirring to blend. Add milk and cook until smooth. Add this cream sauce to liver mixture. Add eggs, chopped onion and spices. Beat well. Bake in a loaf pan set in a pan of shallow water for 1¼ hours at 350oF. Serve cool as a sandwich spread decorated with pickles or pickled beets.

Cucumber salad - Agurkesalat

1-2 cucumbers

3 teasp. salt

2 tablesp. vinegar

2 tablesp. water

1 tablesp. sugar

Pinch of pepper

Wash and slice the cucumber finely. Sprinkle with salt. Place in a marinade previously prepared by boiling the vinegar, water, sugar and pepper together and allowing to cool. Leave in a cold place for about two hours before serving.

If, instead of vinegar, lemon juice is preferred, do not boil the marinade but stir in the sugar until dissolved.
These are what I put on top of the liver paste sandwich.

She's a brick...houzzzzze. Or just a brick, really.

Rye-bread - rugbrød

3 ½ oz (100 g) yeast

1 pint (5 dl) buttermilk

3-4 tablesp. (1 dl) water

About 1 3/4 lb (850 g) rye flour (I would say ¾ of my flour ended up being whole wheat flour)

1 teasp. salt

All the ingredients should be at room temperature before baking.

Heat the buttermilk and water until lukewarm (35° C), stir in the yeast and gradually add the salt and flour. Knead until smooth and shiny, adding a little more water if necessary. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours with no draft.

When risen, knead lightly, transfer to a greased form and set aside for 1 hour to rise again, covering with a damp cloth. Brush with water and bake at 400° F (200o C) for about 1 1/4 hr, brushing now and again with water during the baking.

My addition:

Lemon Dill Sauce

¼ cup mayo

¼ cup sour cream

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. fresh dill

salt and pepper

Blend it all up into a smooth creamy sauce. Drizzle it over the smoked salmon and tiny shrimp and top with hard boiled egg and thinly sliced red onion.

The Aftermath.

The Hubs devouring the post-photographed Danish delights.

So, my Foodie Friends, I would love your continued support! Vote for me to go through to the next round: Luxury Dinner know there will be champagne! Voting begins Sept. 27th! (If you haven't already signed up with, it's super easy and a fun community to be apart of, even if you don't have food blog. But you must sign up in order to vote.)

Thank you!

Love ya, Foodies!

Friday, September 24, 2010

One Down, Nordic To Go!


Serious posing for a serious competition. The kids just think mom's weird. Could someone please take the time to straighten that painting in the background?

Hey Foodies, just a quick note to let you know I made it through the first round of Project Food Blog! Dee-deet-de-de! (that was a triumphant trumpet.) I was so very excited to see that little trophy next to my name and do you know who I have to thank? You of course! So thank you to those of you who voted and supported me through this first round. Now, stay with me as we travel north into the next challenge. 

I have something brewing...something Nordic in nature. Yes. I said Nordic. I don't think I've talked much about my Norwegian and Danish heritage, actually, not at all. I tend to focus mostly on my Italian heritage simply because I've had more exposure to it than the Viking vittles on my mother's side.

That is why I'm delving into my roots full speed ahead! The next challenge is to make a classic dish from another culture. I spent hours yesterday sorting through different classic dishes of many different countries and then it dawned on me. Why not explore my Danish roots? (and I'm not talking about the dish-water blond roots that I am rockin' on top of my head right now). Since I've never made anything Nordic in nature, I am quite enthusiastic about it. Intimidated, but enthusiastic.

If I were Iron Chef Danish...not the pastry, silly.

Just so you know, according to Yahoo Education, this is what Nordic means. I found it informative in so many ways.

Nor·dic (nôrdk) KEY

-Of, relating to, or characteristic of Scandinavia or its peoples, languages, or cultures.

-Of or relating to a human physical type exemplified by the tall, narrow-headed, light-skinned, blond-haired peoples of Scandinavia. Not in scientific use. (bold and italicised is my addition)

So please think of me (and my narrow head) tomorrow, as I wade through new flavors and proteins (ehmm, think organ meat) and experiment with new cooking techniques. I will don my best Swedish Chef attitude and hopefully knock out some Danish delish! -Danish, Swedish, Norwegian...I know, I'm clumping countries.

Stay tuned...

Love ya, Foodies!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marisa's In 'Da House...Foodie House That Is!

I am happy to announce that today is our guest post with Marisa Musto at Cook's Book. She won the "Name My DSLR" contest, with the adorable name "Snaps" for my newly acquired Canon, and for her creative efforts she won a guest post here at Foodie House. You are soon to find out, that not only is she creative in the culinary arts but her writing and story telling brings an added comfort factor to her skillfully crafted recipes. I'm super excited to share her post with you. Get ready for some serious delish...

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Loaded Baked Potato!

Thank you, Lauren, for choosing the name “Snaps” for your new camera and for kindly welcoming me into the Foodie House for this guest post.

There is barely a soul in my bloodline that I can trace to the cooking gene. I’m related to a few good cooks and a handful of good recipes, but nobody loves it like I do. In my family, now and in generations past, time spent preparing food has overwhelmingly been done out of necessity rather than desire.

I come from a household where grocery stores and kitchens are avoided at any chance and the best excuse for a home cooked meal is survival. Microwavable, canned, and frozen shortcuts are often welcomed with open arms, but not nearly as much as ordering out and eating at restaurants. So, where the heck do I come from with my dirty apron and weathered collection of recipes?

I actually learned to love food through these meals; in addition to other things, they played a large role in helping to spark my curiosity for exploring all that food can really be. Still, what beckons this inner desire and allows it to maintain its strength? I must have inherited at least some of my love and ability for cooking from someone.

My grandma and me making potatoes croquettes.

Grandma Tina, my dad’s mom, is the only one I’ve known to be a great, raved about cook in my immediate family. Although she is no longer here, her food is the kind that never fades from the memories of those she’s prepared meals for; they live on, just as her personality, in the stories that are so fondly told of her.

Fried eggplant and sauce, homemade macaroni, lamb roast, and her legendary manicotti are some of the specialties my grandma was known to whip up on the fly. There were no recipes, just pure instinct. She lived in Florida, and we would visit each other as much as we could and she would cook. I was too young to really remember her food, but one of her famous dishes is still made at my house on special occasions: potato croquettes.

Mashed potatoes formed into small logs breaded with seasoned bread crumbs and fried: that’s all there is to a potato croquette, and it is so good. We usually make about two dozen on holidays or when there are a lot of people coming over. They don’t last long. A while back I was watching Paula Deen and she was making something very similar to potato croquettes, except in true Paula Deen-style the potatoes were tricked out with all the fixings of a classic loaded baked potato. I kind of feel like it might have all been a dream now, because I have looked to reference the recipe on several occasions since and I just can’t seem to find it!

Here is my own recipe for loaded baked potato balls. Breaded with panko breadcrumbs, mashed potatoes mixed with butter, sour cream, scallions, and bacon are formed into balls and stuffed with a big chunk of sharp cheddar in the center that oozes out like the “yolk” from a Cadberry Creme Egg when fried. They are the Mini Me of the baked potato and the Americanized version of my grandma’s Italian classic. Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Balls:

Yield: 20-25 balls

- 4 large russet potatoes, cut up and boiled until tender

- 3 strips bacon, diced and cook until slightly crispy (reserve fat)

- ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced

- 1 pound butter

- ½ cup sour cream

- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes

- Salt and pepper to taste

- Breading: 3 eggs, panko bread crumb, flour

• Mash the boiled potatoes. Add butter, sour cream, and reserved bacon fat while still warm and continue to mash until smooth. Fold in scallions, bacon, salt and pepper.

• Roll potatoes into golf ball sized balls; insert cheddar cubes into the ball and seal with potato.

• To bread the potato balls: roll in flour, dip in egg, and cover in bread crumbs.

• Fry at 325 degrees until golden brown. You want the breading to be crispy on the outside and the cheese to be melted on the inside. You may need to adjust your fryer temperature to achieve this result.

Thank you Marisa! Hope you all enjoyed this snippet from Marisa's plethora of creative endeavors. Make sure to stop by and check out her blog. Her current post is all about making adorable marzipan fruits with step-by-step instructions. Click here to see how to do it!
Love ya, Foodies!
P.s. Remember, today is the last day to vote for this round of Project Food Blog!!! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Introducing My New (And Cheap) Campaign Managers!

Hey Foodies! I've enlisted my two oldest kiddos to do my dirty work for my campaign managers. They are quite creative, as you can see, and while they are occasionally distracted, they kept on-point for most of the poster-making session.

All work stops as a helicopter flies overhead.

Hey, at least its cheap. All they require are goldfish and water for payment.

Of course I am going to use their cuteness to get you to vote for me. I've got my wheels turning and burning in this foodie-licious brain and I really want to make it to that next challenge: Reinventing the Classics.

You do have to register with Foodbuzz to vote, if you haven't already, but no worries, it's super easy. You don't have to have a blog to be apart of It's for anyone who loves to eat or cook or both! It just chuck-full of great recipes and ideas, I promise you'll never get bored on in this community!

I mean, could you say "no" to this face? I rest my case.

So CLICK HERE to go to my submission and click the heart to vote for me! Remember, you only have until the 23rd!

Thank you!!!!

love ya, Foodies.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whoopie Frickin' Do!

What’s the big deal with Whoopie Pies? If you asked me three months ago, what a whoopie pie was, I would tell you it was a dessert, but that I had no experience whatsoever with it. Now that I’m on the foodie blogging circuit, I see them everywhere. EVERYWHERE! What’s all the whoopie about?

(Minor irritation side note: Microsoft Word keeps trying to get me to spell it “whoopee” not “whoopie”.) Anyway, so I see all these recipes for whoopie pies popping up all over Foodbuzz and elsewhere with combinations such as pumpkin with cream cheese frosting, red velvet and cream cheese, chocolate and marshmallow, blah, blah. They look so yummy and I was definitely intrigued, but there is something inside of me that goes a little like this then I see a trend…

Me: Ugh, yet another culinary (or otherwise) trend. So, what’s the big deal with whoopie pies?

Anti-Trend: It’s all about throw back. Even if it’s butt ugly, like a 1960’s orange and green owl pendant, it’s cool because it’s vintage (and an owl).

Me: I love vintage. I always have…before it was cool. By the way, that brings me to this question: Why does it seem that when I find something I think is unique and cool and start collecting it, it suddenly gets popular and is no longer as unique as it once was and then I have to find something else obscure to collect?

Anti-Trend: Firstly, it’s obvious that because you start collecting it that it suddenly becomes popular. (rolls eyes) Secondly, you’re talking to me. The mere fact that your imagination thought up a character called “Anti-Trend” is pretty amusing.

Me: Oh, shut up! You’re only here to confirm my stubborn nature to be faux-opposite of trends.

See what I put up with on a daily basis? Okay, so I like to think that I am against trends, but back to the pies. What gives? Well apparently, I do. I just had to make them.

I think what did it for me was the episode of Just Desserts on Bravo. If you didn’t know, I am a huge Bravo fan. HUGE. I love almost everything on that channel…almost. Padma, I’m going to have to say, Gail is showing you up in the hosting category. I personally don’t believe starting every show with Padma blandly saying, “Hail to the chef!” in her classic, bored-to-tears, monotone/robotic manner reflects the fire and excitement of Top Chef. Sorry, Padma.

So, again, back to the whoopie pies...and Just Desserts. Being a die-hard Top Chef fan, I didn’t know if this sweeter version was going to have the guts-n-glory of it’s big brother. Boy, I was wrong! I was completely glued to the T.V. The creativity spilling out the tube was so inspiring! Gorgeous colors and amazing dessert concepts (even if they didn’t pan out) were definitely on the menu. And guess what somebody made? Yes, a damn whoopie pie.

Well, that did it. If it was on a sugar-jacked version of Top-Chef, then I was so there. It was as if that whoopie pie burrowed itself into my psyche and gnawed away until I sorted through several online recipes for whoopie pies until I found one. I just HAD to make them.

So I did. We had the family over yesterday to eat a Mediterranean spread of “kebab burgers” (The hubs came up with that one, which was a great idea. They turned out fabulous…and giant), with all the traditional sides and then for dessert, a big plate of whoopie pies.

I chose to do chocolate cakes with peanut butter frosting…because that’s what was in the pantry. I wanted to do pumpkin ones but I wasn’t running to the store to do it. I used the recipe from the book Whoopie Pies. Amazon has it for 11 bucks or something. I may be purchasing it. (Anti-Trend: You're right, that'll show the trend who's boss.)

The frosting, well, I kind of botched it. It’s Ina’s recipe for peanut butter frosting and it’s so wonderful. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough so I just started adding more sugar and more peanut butter and my ratios got off. So it was more like the filling in a Reese’s peanut butter cup than frosting, but honestly, who cares?

I think for my first attempt they turned out well. I will make them again, just because they are fun to make, NOT because they are trendy (sheepish grin).

Knock yourselves out…oh wait, you already have. I forgot, I’m the one who’s late to the Whoopie Pie Party.

Chocolate Whoopie Pie

Adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour

 ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 1½ teaspoons baking soda

 ½ teaspoon salt

 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

 1 large egg

 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 1 cup milk


Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening and brown sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.

Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until incorporated. Add the remaining flour mixture and milk and beat until combined.

Drop by tablespoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the rounds spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Kathleen’s Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipes

I would double this. Whoopie pies seem to use up a lot of frosting. The Whoopie Pie recipe made about 18 total pies. Yeah, definitely double this recipe.

• 1 cup confectioners' sugar

• 1 cup creamy peanut butter

• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Now put a nice blob of the peanut butter frosting between two of the cakey cookies and squish- but delicately, because they are fragile.


OH! Don't forget! Voting for Project Food Blog has, ya know, I would love your vote. I appreciate all your support thus far. So CLICK HERE to go to my voting page and click the heart to vote for me! Thanks a bunch!

Love ya, Foodies.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pickle Me Yellow

She pulled into the parking space closest to the front entrance. Then she put the car in park and sat for a moment. The kids were chattering in the backseat, peppering her with questions that they knew the answers to.

“Okay.” She sighed. “Let’s go.” She slide her well-organized grocery list into the bag she affectionately called The Pit. As she opened the car door, the Houston atmosphere hit her face like a large shaggy dog belching right between her eyebrows. “Ugh!” she moaned and then proceeded to empty her wonkster mini van of its passengers.

Finally inside, the cool air and weird grocery smell assaulted her senses. Visions of perfectly stacked bunches of romaine and green onions greeted her on her left and fennel bulbs and cherry tomatoes on the right. Her list started to lose its authority. No longer was she focused on what she must buy, but more on what she wanted to buy. Distraction was on the menu.

And then she saw them – the beets. The yellow beets were small and tender, vibrant and fresh. Their dew glistened under the florescent lights. Beets weren’t on her list. Regardless, they found their way into the basket, with no destiny to speak of and acquired mainly for their good looks.


My little story above was inspired by Monet at Anecdotes and Apple Cores. If you haven’t visited her, you really must. She writes the most entertaining stories in her posts.

I never liked beets when I was little. It was the overwhelming “dirt” taste that I couldn’t get past. Pickled, cooked or canned, it didn’t matter, I was not eating beets.

As you grow older, I think you may agree, that certain foods lose their “gross” factor and come into a new light and taste. Just the same, some things you thought were awesome as a kid, let’s say Twinkies, now have a “gross” factor all their own.

So, when did I let my beet wall down? I would have to say, it was official on a trip that me and the Hubs took to Mexico about 5 1/2 years ago. (Yes, that was the last time we went on a real vacation, you know that little thing called “kids” happened…) At the resort, which was lovely, they had a salad that just blew my mind. I mean, it’s a salad for Pete’s sake, but it was unlike anything I had had before. It was called Tres Colores Ensalata (don’t judge me if my Spanish is bad). To be honest, I can’t tell you the three colors but one was the purple-y red of raw, julienned beets. I think there was carrot and some sprouts…whatever, the point is, I fell in love with beets. Maybe it’s because they were presented to me in a new way. I had never had them raw. I had never had them in a salad. And though they still had the “dirt” factor, I was starting to like the dirt taste.

Back to when I was a kid…So my Grandma Elsie would make pickled beets. Of course, I didn’t like them, but now that I have let go of my beet woes, this recipe is actually a nod to her pickled beets.

I did a couple of things different: I left them raw and didn’t can them. These pickled beets will keep for a couple of weeks in your fridge. Also, they are spicy and have onions…okay, I changed it a lot.

Of course you can use red beets, but as the above states, I was pleasantly distracted by the yellow beets, so I used those. Big plus with the yellow ones, they don’t stain your hands!

These are so delicious. They are spicy, sweet, crunchy and tangy. Serve them with salads or along-side fried foods, but do you know what I served them with? Shredded beef tacos. Yup. I know that sounds weird, but it works.

These are so easy you will just laugh yourself into a pickle. (That was dumb and since I don’t feel much like editing tonight, so I’m leaving it.)

Beet Pickles

1 cup white vinegar

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp. salt

Cracked pepper (to your liking)

1 jalapeno pepper

¼ sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 yellow beet, cut length-wise and into half moons approx. ¼” thick

Enough ice cubes to cover the beets in the brine

In a glass bowl, microwave vinegar, salt, sugar and black pepper about 2 minutes. Stir until dissolved. Dump in beets, onions and jalapeno. Stir, let set 5 min. then top with enough ice to almost cover the pickles. The reason behind the ice is to dilute the brine and chill your pickles all at the same time. Let it set out on your counter until the ice dissolves. Give it a good stir and serve. You can make these a day ahead or eat them right away.


Cheers, Foodies!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Challenge: What Defines Me?


That's me hangin' in my favorite apron.
Our first challenge for Project Food Blog (to see more about that click here) is to post about what defines us as a food blogger and why we should be the next food blog star.

I really haven’t taken a breath since I started this blog, so the time for an inward glance at why I do this, seems pretty appropriate. I think like most food bloggers, it comes from a deep passion for cooking and eating. For me, it’s that plus working in my love of art, expression and family into each story, recipe and photo. It also comes from knowing that in order to keep this Mama happy, I absolutely must do something creative that involves only me. Not that I don’t love doing “craps” (a.k.a “crafts”) with my kiddos and lunging enthusiastically at loads of laundry, it just that Mommy needs something that is completely her, for her and by her. When I express myself, either through my photographs, a recipe I’ve come up with in the fury of dinnertime countdown, or writing a story about why the waiting room smells at the local doctor’s office, when I press that “publish” button, I feel so good. I’ve sent something out there into the world that is a piece of me and hoping others will want to share in it.

"craps" in action

Around the age of 8 or 9, I became enthralled in the art of cooking. It was becoming clearer to me that it was something I deeply wanted to pursue. I had been envisioning myself as an artist for some time, since around the age 3, but when I became aware of the art of cooking, something new awoke. I think it’s for the fact that cooking is a craft. The process of crafting and construction is my favorite thing about art and also my favorite thing about cooking. It’s art you can eat.

My mom was my first window through which I viewed cooking and food. She always included me in her cooking adventures. Even though she started out married life labeled as one who “could burn water”, she has, over the years, turned into a fabulous cook. I feel honored that I was included in her journey.

This is my grandma Maria. That smile tells me there's meatballs in that pot.

Next to my mom, I would have to say my grandmother Maria was most influential. Though I never got to actually cook with her (only eat her food), her Italian heritage that came through in her cooking is still engraved in the corners of my culinary mind, but more importantly, in my sentimental heart. I am particularly enamored with Italian and Mediterranean food, for the flavor and for the comfort factor.

Lastly, I owe much of my awakened culinary love to the kings and queens of PBS cooking shows, that is, before Food Network. Graham Kerr to Julia Child, Jeff Smith to Martin Yan, they all filled me with wonder and joy as I watched them throw loaves of French bread over their shoulders (Julia) to furiously chopping green onions as they counted aloud (Martin). After a Saturday morning “breakfast” of their culinary wisdom, I would stand on my little green stool in front of the kitchen sink and profess that I was going to be a chef (as I talked to my T.V. audience).

Years later, I did take a community college food prep course, after I graduated high school. I did well in execution and following directions and memorizing recipes, but I did not enjoy the pressure of the clock breathing down my chef whites. I found that I wanted to cook out of pleasure. So I did not continue on to becoming a chef, but I did learn what I wanted…which was just to cook because I loved it.

The "Hubs".

My husband has been my greatest cheerleader over the years (in the most manliest of ways) by his constant encouragement and adventurous eating habits. Since day one, cooking has been my number one way to say that I love him. He happily receives this love language.

My kids (though they have no clue as to what blogging is) cheer me on by picking up their Fisher-Price toy cameras and clicking away as I photograph a plate of cupcakes. And even though they turn their adorable noses up at some of my kitchen shenanigans, I don’t mind, because I know, in time they will grow to love a myriad of flavors.

My handsome Bubba.

My spunky 'lil Boo.

And my precious Tiny.

And then there are my parents, who show me they believe in me (which they have since I was a wee one) by picking up interesting kitchen props as they make their way through flea markets on the weekends and send them to me parcel post in a giant computer box…that is love.

The box.

The loot. Nice, huh?

Those who know me best, see the sparkle in my eye, see the wheels turning, know to stay out of the way and let me continue my train of thought (well, those who are over 3 foot high anyway) as I plan for a post. They patiently tolerate the endless photography sessions with a loaf of bread, refrain from digging into their highly anticipated cup of lobster bisque so I can capture it in its undisturbed form, and know not to throw away any scrap of paper from the kitchen counter as it may contain the perfect ratio for the perfect iced mocha.

Basically, I do this because I love it. As far as why I should be the next food blog star, well, I think the above says it all. If I become the next food blog star, I will have won because of who I am as an individual...that and I can make a mean meat-a-ball.

Thanks for taking a mini tour of my culinary past and present.

Love ya, Foodies.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Meet my buddies, Remote and Crackers.

What a week. My hiatus is not one that I intended, rather one that was forced upon me.

Monday evening I came down with a horrible stomach virus. All night long I was up retching myself into oblivion, even into the next day. Thankfully, the hubs was able to stay home and help me with the kids...for a while. Less than 24 hours later he joined me in the ranks of, well, rank. Poor guy. I had to call my neighbor Teri to come and put the kids down for bedtime because the hubs and me were laid up in our bed like two sick, sad sardines.

Next day his mom came over to help. Thank God! We were still both in bad shape. We resembled less of ourselves and more like Charlie's grandma and grandpa from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. You know, the first one? Yeah, it was pretty bad.

It's hard being sick and having three little ones. We banned them from our room. A quick "hi" here and there. We could tell it was taking it's toll on them, but we didn't want them to catch it. So we remained, in our bed and took turns whining our choruses of discontent. Boy, were we big babies. But it really did suck...a lot.

Now we are healed. Bouncing back. I felt so bouncy yesterday that I cleaned 4 bathrooms, did a load of laundry, dishes, made binoculars out of paper towel rolls and then proceeded to go on a "jungle safari" in the living room with the kids. This involved crawling on the floor, peeking around  the recliners and whispering as we pointed at the "lions" sleeping by the fireplace. Then I looked at the clock and it was only 10 a.m. I sighed because now I was no longer bouncy but I still had 3 hours to burn before nap time. So we went off to Chick-fil-a, Hobby Lobby and then dropped off some overdue videos at the library. Finally it was 1 p.m.

After nap, I took off my daughter's diaper and out rolled a little "surprise". For whatever reason, I exclaimed, "Oh, a little nugget!" My daughter then replies, "Just like Chick-fil-a, Mommy!"

There it is, in a nutshell. We're back in action.

P.s. I wanted to say, to all of those who lost ones they loved on this day 9 years ago, that my heart and prayers are with you.
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