Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cabin Fever

A few weekends ago, I took a long weekend and met up with some old friends in the Smoky Mountains just outside of Asheville, Tennessee. After a few insanely insane weeks of school, it was just what I needed. Plus, I hadn't seen most of them in 4+ years, which is just ridiculous.

We all came from different states (Florida, Georgia, and Virginia), which made it even more special. And, it being the beginning/middle of October, the weather was perfect.
This trip did not revolve around food, which is unusual for me. But that didn't mean that we didn't eat well...

shopping trip no.1

We started with a college favorite, baked ziti and salad. Budget friendly and delicious.

Sarah's parents' cabin is on the side of the mountain, with beautiful trails and an incredible view.

our view from the cabin

We spent one day in Asheville, and had lunch at the Early Girl Eatery. The wait was long, but it was worth it... the food was so good. Everything is served with grits.

Fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and grits...

fried cat fish with pear chutney, broccoli salad and grits...

Josh ordered some barbecue pork scrambled eggs with gravy. Sorry, I lied. No grits on this one.

Afterward we went to Double D's coffee bus for some joe.


And it wouldn't be a weekend in the mountains without a hike.


and foliage

the boys

On our last day, we went up to Cataloochi, an old settlement which has since been turned into an elk refuge. The original house, school, church, cemetery and barn are still standing, along with a bunch of wild elk. The guy in the front was 17 years old. The ranger said they didn't think he would last through the winter.

Also, the ranger pointed out a squirrel whom she said had been scurrying across a fence all day long. It was kind of funny that she noticed this. She said that when they start collecting food this early, we're in for a bad winter. Just a head's up...

It was the perfect weekend for my vegetarian chili...

I have a couple more trips to see some cooler weather before I settle in for a real Florida winter. I can honestly say that I'm not going to miss the snow this year. I might even get one more beach day in before it starts to "cool off" here. And I'm not mad at that.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Return of the Spicy Sausage

Hey, how's it going? Where've you been and whatcha been eatin? I've missed sharing my cooking adventures with you, but to be honest, there haven't been too many of them lately. You know... life. But I'm here now, and I have a really delicious recipe to share, so don't be mad!

This is another recipe from that BU sausage class I took a while back that I've always wanted to try. Well, I finally did try it out a couple weeks ago. It was a great success, so I thought I'd share it. 

Caution: raw meat photos ahead.

I used the same hot italian sausage from Publix that I used for the last recipe. I opened the casings and crumbled the sausage into a bowl with some ice water. I also chopped up some onion (maybe 1/4c) and fennel seeds (a tablespoon or two...). I mixed all of that together, covered and chilled it for about half an hour.

After the sausage chilled, and all those flavors mixed together, I sauteed it in some oil, until about half of the liquid cooked out, and the sausage started to brown.

Then, I added some sauce. Normally, I would try to make my own sauce from scratch, but I had a jar in the cabinet, and honestly, I was feeling a bit lazy/hungry. You understand.

I believe this one was a Publix brand spinach and parmesan

We also wanted to get rid of the rest of the sausage before it went bad, so I added the rest of them to the sauce, whole.

Whenever I use jar sauces, I'll still doctor them up with some herbs and a splash of whatever wine we're drinking with dinner. Tonight it was this cab sav from Naked wines. I got a case of assorted wines with a groupon a month or so ago.

The recipe called for small shells, which I cooked until al dente and then finished off on the sauce, with a spoonful of pasta water. I love this because its so unexpected. The sausage incorporated in the sauce is a nice, spicy alternative to regular old fashioned meat sauce. And the spicy sausage has such a nice kick to it, which I love.

Happy fall, y'all! What kinds of autumnal recipes would you like to see?

Monday, October 1, 2012

dirty thirty

Every birthday growing up, my mom would cook whatever we wanted for dinner. Every year, I chose the same meal: steaks on the grill and baked potato, with homemade chocolate cake for dessert. Clearly, I've always been a traditionalist. This year, I decided to go back to my roots for my Big Birthday. That's Big with a capital '30'.

I knew I wanted to have a few non-traditional dishes to go along with these awesome steaks, and after a little research, found the perfect recipes.

The first was something that I saw on Take Home Chef. Curtis Stone made steaks for a fellow Aussie, topped with this chipotle cilantro butter. I finely chopped 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, a bunch of cilantro, and mixed it with a stick of room temperature butter.

Once everything was well incorporated with the butter, I rolled it in some parchment paper and set it in the refrigerator overnight.

I also chopped and marinated some veggies in olive oil, s+p, and rosemary sprigs.

The following day, the boys fired up the grill while I started on dish number two: grilled feta! I finally made a trip to Hala, the mediterranean store for some Bulgarian feta. I sliced it up, drizzled some olive oil, cracked a little pepper and wrapped it in foil with a few tomatoes and a sprig or two. I found this recipe in Real Simple, where it said to grill the packets over medium-low heat until they are tender in the center.

regular veggie kabobs

Once the steaks were ready, I topped each one with a slice of the chipotle butter. It melted beautifully, and now I don't think I will have steaks on the grill without it.

I put a little of that amazing butter in my potato, too. And it was good.

cheese + grilled bread = nothing better


the best cake you will ever put in your mouth

The following day was my actual birthday, and I walked into work to find a beautiful bouquet from my co-teacher, a ton of cards from my students, and a variety of sweets.

edible arrangement from my mom, and my student Maurice

love, Colby

red velvet cupcakes from my sister

The weekend before, I had a fun night out with some friends. We had an amazing dinner at Orsay, and then headed downtown...

lobster pot pie

mussels and frites

Thanks to everyone who made my day(s) so special! Here's to the best year ever!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

dinner with friends with kids

This past Monday, I went over to cook for some friends. It was the only cooking I did all week.

Madaline suggested pizza. Knowing her kitchen, I figured I would have some feta and greek olives to work with, so I decided to grab some artichokes, tomato and red onion and put together a mediterranean pizza.

She also had some pesto, so after I sauteed the chicken in some oil, I added the rest of the ingredients and baked the pizzas on my favorite flatbread (found in the Publix bakery) for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

It was probably one of my favorite homemade pizzas to date.

Dimo is not so sure...

And with my leftover feta, I toasted some italian bread and topped it with the cheese, tomato, a little cracked pepper and olive oil.


That's pretty much it. I also made some brownies from a box. Most of my pictures are of kids doing school-ish things. Maybe I should make a blog about that?

Now I have a question for you-- If you were celebrating a big birthday next week, what kind of dinner would you want?

Just wondering. :)