Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Healthy, Holiday, Homemade, Leftovers, Lunch, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potatoes, Quick cooking, Turkey, Veggies, Winter

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Merry Christmas readers!

I don’t know about you but I’m pooped!  Every year I tell myself that I’m going to simplify the holidays but then somehow one party turns into three, the number of presents to wrap keeps growing, I’ll bake just one more batch of cookies, the holidays in non-profit world keep getting busier (not that I’m complaining about all the people we’re helping!), traveling gets more hectic.  And then all of a sudden it’s over and I realize I didn’t stop and remember the reason I feel compelled to do all that to start with.

I’m challenging myself over the next couple days before Christmas to slow down, enjoy time with family, remember to take a little “me” time and don’t forget to breathe.  One way I’ll do that is to relax and enjoy some of the little traditions we do this week.

One of my absolute favorite things to do during the holidays is curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa (and homemade marshmallows), a fuzzy blanket, and my husband and watch classic Christmas movies and cartoons.  Each time I settle down to watch Charlie Brown, White Christmas or Claymation Christmas I feel a calm settle on me.  I get super sappy and nostalgic when I watch those things.  I remember the childlike wonder and amazement of the Christmas season and at least for a few minutes all is right in the world.

My very favorite Christmas cartoon is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Not only do I love everything Dr. Seuss, I love the reminder that Christmas isn’t about things and being busy, it’s about the quality time we spend with family and friends celebrating the season.

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

Let’s all take our queue from Mr. Grinch and Whoville and remember…

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.


Hash is a great way to use up leftover meat and veggies that are hanging in the fridge around the holidays.  I love to make hash and every time I do I can’t help but think of the Grinch slinking through Cindy Lou’s house stealing everything including the Who hash!

This hash combines sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and homemade turkey chorizo for a filling breakfast fit for a Christmas morning full of opening presents!!

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 Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos’ feast, he took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast. He cleaned out that ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took their last can of Who hash.

Image result for how the grinch stole christmas who hash

The Grinch’s Who Hash

Olive oil
Garlic
1 cup red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 cups sweet potato, pre-cooked (this is a great way to use leftover roasted potatoes)
2 cups brussel sprouts, sliced thin
Homemade chorizo (recipe below)
Fried eggs
To finish: salsa, cilantro, cotija cheese (all optional)

Turkey Chorizo
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Splash of apple cider vinegar

To make chorizo: Mix all spices and apple cider vinegar together to make a paste.  Mix it with the turkey until thoroughly combined.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add a big glug of olive oil and let heat. Add chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Heat a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add onion, bell pepper and poblanos and cook until slightly charred around the edges. Add sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts and cook another 5 minutes or so until all the veggies are cooked through and a little crispy around the edges. Add the chorizo back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: top the hash with two eggs any way you like them. I prefer over easy with all their yolky goodness. Top with a little of your favorite salsa, cilantro and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Yum!

Source: Ruth’s Table

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch / You’re the king of sinful sots / Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots / Mr. Gri-inch! / You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

I bet if the Grinch started his day with this hash he wouldn’t have been so Grinchy!  🙂

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Posted in Bread, Breakfast, Cajun, Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Comfort Food – Day 2 Beignets

“A good cup of Creole Coffee!  Is there anything in the whole range of food substances to be compared with it? And is there any city in the world where coffee is so delightfully concocted as in New Orleans ?” – The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (1901)
Cafe au Lait

On this rainy, lazy morning in Nashville I could not agree more!

Bourbon Street

From a culinary perspective, this time of year (i.e. Mardi Gras) is one of my favorites.  I have an affinity for Cajun food. I think that has a lot to do with the family vacation to New Orleans we took when I was a teenager.  We stayed right on Bourbon Street and totally immersed ourselves in the culture and history of the city.  As a naive teenager, there were many eye opening experiences and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have had them!  This was a trip that continues to bring me happy memories and teaching moments!  NOLA is definitely on my list of places to return to as an adult.  Can’t wait to see and taste New Orleans as an adult!

One of many mimes

I have lots of great memories from this family vacation but I think my favorite memories are all the colorful characters we met on our exploration of the city.  During the day, there were mimes, men & women painted up as statues that would stand still for hours, sweet boys with bottle caps on their shoes tapping away for loose change and best of all the incredible musicians.  After dark on Bourbon Street, the atmosphere became even more fantastical.  The people of the night crawled out of whatever dark hole they lived in during the day to decorate the streets with mystery.  As a teenager, I enjoyed gothic literature and tales of horror: vampires in particular (and they are still my guilty pleasure).  Bourbon Street at night was literally stepping in to the pages of whatever Anne Rice novel I was reading at the time!

La Madeleine

But back to the food! Ever since taking this trip 15 years ago I find myself craving Cajun food.  I crave fried alligator tail and etouffee from the Cajun Cabin while listening to zydeco and people watching.  Some of the best pastries I have ever had came from La Madeleine, a French bakery and cafe.  I was a teenager the last time I was in New Orleans but now I have discovered a love for Hurricanes, the ever present libation on Bourbon Street.

http://www.cafedumonde.com/

But the food from NOLA I crave the most has got to be beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde overlooking Jackson Square.  I dream of fluffy fried donuts and chickory coffee with steamed milk.  I still remember the sticky tables and trumpet player that never seemed to take a breath (you can see him in the far left in the pic above).  Since they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Cafe du Monde was always there to satisfy our sweet tooth!  There were a few days we went for breakfast and for a late night snack!

Since Cafe du Monde is over 500 miles away and I can’t make a quick run on Saturday mornings (although I can order coffee and beignet mix by mail!) I had to figure out a way to bring Cafe du Monde to me!  Bon appetit!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (4 cups for beignets, 1/2 cup to roll out dough)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for frying
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • 5 cups of Chickory Coffee, hot
  • 5 cups whole milk, hot

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, sugar, shortening, and milk, mix for 2 minutes.  Add the egg.  Mix well.  Add 4 cups of flour and pinch of salt.  Beat at low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute.  Then beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook.  Remove the dough from the bowl.  Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball.  Lightly oil a bowl.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the vegetable oil in a deep fat fryer or pot with deep sides to 360 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick.  Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour.  roll out the rectangle to 12 1/2 inches long by 10 inches widee and about 1/4-inch thick.  With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twenty 2 1/2-inch square beignets.  Fry the beignets, a couple at a time until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle the beignets with powdered sugar and serve.

Fill each cup with 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of hot milk.  Stir well.

Serves 10.

Source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/beignets-and-cafe-au-lait-recipe/index.html


Posted in Baking, Bananas, Bread, Breakfast, Goat Cheese

I’m Bananas for Banana Bread!

I am not a breakfast person.  Wait, I take that back.  I’m not a morning person.  I LOVE breakfast food: frittatas, crispy bacon, french toast, fruit, pastries of every kind and COFFEE.  Give.  Me.  Coffee.

I guess I’m a brunch person or a breakfast for dinner kind of girl.  Those extra few minutes in bed in the morning are worth more to me than getting up and eating breakfast before I go to work.  I know, I know.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It’s been scientifically proven that people who skip breakfast are more likely to have problems concentrating, a slower metabolism and weigh more.  Blah, blah, blah.  I get it, really I do.  But when I’m all warm and cozy in my bed I can’t help but hit the snooze button “just one more time.”

Sometimes I feel guilty about not eating breakfast.  There’s a little voice in my head (that sounds strangely like my Mom) that tells me I should.  Most of the time I ignore it.  I grab my coffee (in my hot pink travel mug of course) and head to work.  I drive to the office, check my voicemail, return a few emails.  9:00am, I’m feeling pretty good as I pour my second cup of joe.  10:00am rolls around and I’m wondering when it’s time for lunch.  By 11:00am I’m starving and I take the last shot of coffee hoping that it will hold me over until lunch at noon.  11:58, 11:59, geez hurry up already!

I’m only going to say this once.  Mom, you were right.  I should eat breakfast.  

We don’t have kids.  We don’t have a dog to walk before the crack of dawn.  I will continue to love the snooze button and my pillow until one or both of those life events occur.  Challenge: Come up with a breakfast that is quick and will fill my tummy until lunch rolls around. Enter the banana.  On their own bananas are heart healthy, rich in potassium and best of all (in my opinion) come in their own portable travel case!  My favorite way to eat a banana (besides perfectly ripe and smothered in peanut butter) is in a thick, moist slice of Banana Bread.

Banana bread has become a ritual for me.  It starts with selecting the perfect bunch of bananas.  I can stand in front of the banana display in the produce section forever trying to decide which bananas will make the best bread. You’re laughing right now.  I can hear you!  Who chooses a bunch of bananas with the express purpose of making banana bread?  Me!  That’s who!  I buy a large bunch of bananas with a few more than I know I can eat in a week just to make banana bread.  I love the anticipation, the wait for them to be just ripe enough but before they bite the dust (there is a fine line you know).

Will today be the day?  No, not quite ready yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  Yes!  Yes!  They are perfect!  Let’s do this!

This is the easiest, best Banana Bread recipe I’ve found.  My cookbook falls open right to this page.  I don’t even know why I bother opening the book anymore.  I could make this bread in my sleep!

Banana Nut Bread

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I prefer walnuts, that is another blog!)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.  Combine egg, mashed banana, milk and oil; add mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in pecans or walnuts.

Spoon batter in to a greased 8 ½ – 4 1/2-inch loafpan.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove and cool completely before slicing.

Banana Nut Muffins:  Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.  Bake at 400° for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from pans immediately.  Yield: 1 dozen.

Source: The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook 1999

Could Banana Bread get any better?  I’m glad you asked that question because the answer is YES!  I recently discovered a totally new idea for banana bread.  I don’t remember where I read it (whenI figure that out I’ll give them proper credit) but as soon as I did I knew I had to have it.  Toast a slice of banana bread, smear it with soft goat cheese (you will soon learn about my addiction/obsession with goat cheese!) and a little orange marmalade.  Don’t ask questions.  You will never look at any of these ingredients the same way again.  Just trust me.  Your life will be changed forever.

This is a breakfast I would take an extra 5 minutes for.  Good Morning World!

-Yep, that’s homemade Orange Marmalade.  Another recipe and another story for another day!  My Grandmas would be proud!