Thursday, March 31, 2011

Excuse me, I'm having a moment

I'm a pretty vocal person. I call 'em like I see em. I belt out songs in the car, possibly offkey. I actually talk back to the news programs and have started a bad habit of conversing with my audio books during my daily commute. Whoopsie. But one even "worse" vocal habit I have is moaning. And no, I'm referring to in bedroom, you wonderful little perverts.

No, I subconsciously moan, groan and even purr over my meals. And while that is a little embarrassing when out with new dinning partners, my friends and family think it's hysterical. They giggle, snicker and point saying, "Look out! Jess is having a moment again." 

Consider yourself warned then, the wonderful dinner I enjoyed with Stephanie at The Top was chock full of moments.

Staring with few bitingly hoppy moments alongside Swamphead's Stump Knocker.

I wasn't the only one having a moment at the dimly lit, eclectically decorated bar. It looks to me the lobster table pager was getting a pretty friendly with my beer as well.

Seated in the intimate and smokey dinning room sweet potato fries arrived at the table.

The garlic dipping sauce, Old Yeller and I certainly had a moment.

Then the pork bellied up to the table.

Szecuan pork belly with roasted mixed vegetables and gold fingerling potatoes.

Countless moments. I'm surprised my eyes aren't still rolled back in my head. Yes. It.was.that.good.

I'd never had pork belly before, it's not a common menu item at most of the restaurants I frequent, but with my new focus on animal proteins and fat this beautiful, neglected cut of pig was just screaming my name.  Chewy in the best way possible, rich with fat, but not greasy, and packed with flavors, this small portion was perfect in every way. Each bite was a never ending moment.

And just when you thought a meal couldn't be filled with yet another blissful moment, something on the drink menu caught my eye.

Handcrafted gin with hints of lavender? Yes please. The bartender suggested I enjoy the artisan liquor as a St. Reggis Gimlet.

 The perfect dessert. Every bright, icy, fragrant like a garden, sip made for a perfect moment.

This was a night chock full of memorable moments and was truly a meal worth sighing over.

Love to all,
~the "let's get vocal about food" gal, Jess

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ADD Rubens

Wow! What an amazing weekend. I have tons of blogging to catch up on, not to mention laundry, bills and all the other "homework" I left behind for 4 amazing days of spending time with some of my favorite people in the whole world. I will have some of the memories made this weekend for the rest of my life...and perhaps a few I can't remember either!

For now, as my writing and photo editing is crazy backlogged and overwhelming it's only fitting that I share with you a quick and easy meal that works when I'm having food ADD after a grocery shop, when I want to eat everything that I just purchased!

So, without further ado, here is my take on a Ruben Sandwich, Attention Deficit Disorder style!

Start with pumpernickel bread and slather on a homemade 1000 Island dressing of mayonnaise, ketchup and pear relish. 

(honestly I could have just chowed down on this and called it a night!)

Layer up with your favorite meats (or other protein source), cheese and sauerkraut.

I used one slice of deli ham, two slices of deli turkey and 1 and 1/2 pieces of my beloved sweet munchee cheese. The trick to a good Ruben is to put cheese on both sides of the 'kraut.

Grill it up on your choice of sandwich press and serve with leftover dressing.

Now that is what I call a quick and easy dinner and it certainly satisfies my ADD tastes. 

Love to all,
~the "I really love weekends that make me feel ADD" gal, Jess

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Off the Grid

It's my bestie's wedding in t-minus 1.5 days, so yes I will be off the grid for a while.

Have a wonderful weekend in my absence, as I will be drinking, dancing and bridesmaiding it up!

Love to all,
~ the "I really can't believe that my best friend is getting married!" gal, Jess

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner!

So, I don't really cook chicken.

Actually, I hadn't been cooking any meat at all until I started working with Leah and Your Nutritionista Counseling, unless you count grilling pre-cooked apple chicken sausages. However, as I have been gingerly reentering the world of cooking with protein that once roamed the ground, I am also expanding my cooking repertoire. Win-win.

Enter Rachel Ray's Stir-Fried Chicken Paprikash.

This Hungarian inspired dish was twisted by the Rachel Ray team turning it into a wok stir-fry. However, I don't have a wok that plays nicely with my smooth top stove, so I whipped up this chicken dish in my big, non stick skillet.

If you follow the recipe you will:

Marinade chicken.

Thicken with a cornstarch and sherry slurry.

Saute and sear.

Add spices. 

Thicken things up with sour cream and add parsley for a fresh bite.

Serve over a bed of spinach and egg noddles (this was my deviation).

Enjoy. Yum.

So, if you are a chicken eater and are looking for a fun new "winner", give this recipe a whirl. It will be a much cheaper option than give the slot machines a whirl and far more satisfying too! (come on, 21 anyone? Winner, winner chicken dinner?)

Love to all,
~the "I'll only gamble with my meals" gal, Jess

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You Tease.....

Details coming later....

Until then, this Irish Lassie is wishing you a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Love to all,
~the "I will pinch you mercilessly if you are not wearing green" gal, Jess

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Chilly Lenten Chowder

Well, it's official, we have sprung forward, and the first day of spring is a mere week away. I love spring time, as all the flowers bloom, the weather stabilizes and the number of picnics, pool days and any other excuse to get outside increases dramatically.

I have truly enjoyed the winter season though; I love dressing in layers, snuggling under blankets and making warm, comforting meals. In Florida we have blazing hot summer weather for 3/4 of the year, so I try to savor every goosebump and chilly breeze!

Needless to say, I wasn't terribly upset when another cold front rolled in at the end of the week, after all our crazy bipolar weather as of late. The last chill down of the season came at the perfect time, the first Friday of Lent, which means along with all the other Catholics of the world, I am abstaining from meat on Fridays for the next 40 days, until Easter arrives. And honestly, if yet another cold snap gave you the excuse to make a hearty, flavorful fish chowder you would welcome the 30 degree plunge in temperatures too!

If you are ready for a season bridging, meat free, soup as well, try this take on Leah of Your Nutrionista's Arctic Char Chowder.  It is chock full of veggies, plus protein and healthy fats, the latter two Leah has been helping me incorporate into my meals more often.

My chowder included the following:
a chopped mirepoix (carrots, onions and celery), about 2 cups total
quartered Yukon gold potatoes, 4-5 small potatoes
1 quart chicken stock 
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 large bunch red kale, rough chopped
1 lb salmon, cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream
spices: sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried marjoram, chopped fresh sage, chopped fresh basil

Put it all together now:
Saute the mirepoix and quartered potatoes in butter until the onions turn translucent and the potatoes begin to brown (about 10 minutes over medium heat). Then add the stock and tomatoes.

Bring the mixture up to a rolling simmer for about 10 minutes, to soften the root vegetables. While everything is simmering, add the spices. 

Lastly, add the kale, salmon and cream.

Bring the fully assembled chowder back up to a gentle simmer for another 10ish minutes, to fully cook the fish, without it getting tough. 

This rich broth was surprisingly light, but extremely satisfying.

I had my parents down for dinner, to prevent them from eating fish stick sandwiches for a second time in one week and my Dad went a little crazy over how good this soup was. First he nearly tipped over the table to kiss my cheek after the first bite, and then got a little misty eyed, as he kept commenting "this could be served in the islands at the resort" (He and Mum go to an all-inclusive resort every summer, which is where most of their "gourmet" dining occurs). Thanks, Daddy!

So, whether you are looking for a rich soup, a meat free meal or the chance to make your father cry, this chowder is the way to go!

Love to all,
~the "I'm making the most of the chilly weather for as long as I can" gal, Jess

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drink It Up, Coconut

In continuing with the season confusion, I'm going to tell you about a summer fruit inspired smoothie while it is 30 degrees outside and sleeting. (I told you Mother Nature was out of wack, I was sunning in a bikini over the weekend and now it's freezing again, literally).

Now, I'm not a big "smoothie" gal...and I don't really do frozen "girlie" drinks at the bar...but this quasi pina colada inspired smoothie really does the trick when lying poolside. Errr, pondside rather, since my pool is still closed for the season and has about 4 inches of rainwater and leaves floating on top of the cover. Sexy.

The real inspiration behind this smoothie was the contents of my fridge: one about to go bad banana, a peeled mango on it's last leg (well, if mangos had legs), some chopped pineapple leftover from prepping a bromelain enzyme lab for my biology brats wonderful science students and my beloved coconut milk (my pantry is never with out a can or two or four)

Peekaboo in the blender

Topped with a little lime zest for an extra touch of zing.

The end product was just the thing I needed in my glistening (a lady doesn't sweat) hand: light, bright and punchy with flavors. I'm a very picky banana eater, so the banana flavor was a touch strong for my personal taste, but I think a repeat of this combo with a 1/2 banana would be just right.

Love to all,
~the "I'm longing for my recipes, cravings and weather to match" gal, Jess

PS. the volume of fruit/coconut milk above makes two large smoothies

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Seaonally Confused....

....and it's not just me, both Mother Nature and my damned taste buds are confused. As in bipolar opposites confused.

See, it's March, and hello Mother, it is still winter, but we have had highs in the upper 70's and even 80's for the last 2 weeks. Not that I'm complaining. Oh no.

But in typical Semi-Abnormal fashion, while everyone one else is jonesing for microgreens, fresh berries and grilled fish tacos I have a craving for squash and hash? (The sweet potato kind, thank you very much. What were you thinking?).

Maybe it's not my tastebuds that have the problem, but the fact that I still have my Christmas decorations up and a basket of mini pumpkins and gourds spending some quality time alongside an out of control onion on my kitchen counter. Oppsie. 

Whatever the reasoning, this sweet potato, beef and egg hash was just what I needed to satisfy a wacky harvest craving.

If you are having out of season cravings too, give this a whirl!

Start with (for two dinner sized portions):

1 large-ish sweet potato, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
Leftover Beef Roast with green peppers, shredded (I "borrowed" this from my parent's kitchen....they made a Spanish roast earlier in the week)
2 eggs
A camera shy spice mix consisting of: sea salt, black pepper, dried garlic and parsley mix, and smoked paprika (<-- my serious obsession since the epic birthday shrimp and grits)

Saute the onion and sweet potato in butter (or your "fat" of choice) until the onion is translucent and the potato is starting to soften, then add the spices.

Now comes the only "tricky" part of making hash. Spread out the seasoned veggies evenly on the bottom of the skillet and leave.them.alone. I'm a hands on gal, so this is tough for me.

If you keep your hands to yourself, a lovely brown crust will start to form. Then, and only then, "flip" everything over (I just stir it up, honestly) and let the other side brown for a few more minutes.

Add the leftover shredded beef and pepper. Once the meat comes up to temperature, spread the hash mixture evenly on the bottom of the skillet again. Crack two eggs over the top and cover.

The goal is to "set" the white of the eggs, but don't overcook the will see why in a moment!


I served my hash over a bed of spinach and heirloom tomatoes.

Love the runny egg, ahh. So worth hovering over the stove impatiently!

But, let's be honest for a moment:

Yeah, you know the condiment queen can't go without ketchup and hot sauce.

Out of season craving? Done and done. Now if Mother Nature would make up her damn mind!

Love to all,
~the, "I don't care what the weather is like, if I have a craving I'm going with it" gal, Jess

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thought you should know...

....that the TLC's What Not to Wear episode tonight is about a blogger!

A blogger who is a lazy dresser.

Not be be confused by this lazy blogger, who actually dresses pretty well.

Speaking of lazy, I'm going to bed to spend some quality time with The Help.

Love to all,
~the "lazy little blogger" gal, Jess