Friday, January 25, 2013

Beer Bread, Beef and Cheese Sliders

That was lunch today and today’s Superbowl menu recipe.

Yesterday I tried this very simple beer bread recipe. No Sam Adams on hand, so I used Yuengling ; ) I baked two mini loaves and used a cleaned out Coco Lopez can to bake a beer bread cylinder. For lunch I sliced disks of the bread, schmeared it with Port Salut cheese and topped with some braised beef I had pulled out of the freezer. And it did not suck.

I was very hungry and did not manage to take this without a shadow. But you can tell it was really really good, right?

This bread recipe is so easy and I wanted to try a quick way of making my slider rolls. So I found a long lost can of Coco Lopez in the pantry and opened it, contemplating a rum and pineapple juice concoction. Apparently I bought that Coco Lopez in college because it was time to lay it to rest. Down the drain in went and I scrubbed the can (leaving the bottom on). Next time I will start with a new can of CL and a frothy adult beverage.

The CL can is a bit skinnier than a a standard soup can and I think more of a slider size.

I set the oven to Warm and got to pulling my bread ingredients together. Nice short ingredient list.

Then I stirred the ingredients together for three minutes or so with a wooden spoon until it was pretty smooth. I decided not to worry about having a few lumps.

And in the time it took to take my picture a few of those ‘lumps’ popped open, so I’d say get it pretty smooth and let it sit for just under a minute, stir once more and pour into a loaf pan.

This recipe is the right amount for one loaf pan, or you can do smaller loafs or cylinders for mini sandwiches. It was the right amount for one cylinder and two mini loaf pans. After drinking enough Coco Lopez beverages I’m assuming this recipe will yield three to four cans.

Just pour the batter into your greased pans and let sit in the warm oven for 15 minutes. Then pull them out, turn the oven to 375 degrees and return the them to the oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Mine only needed 30 minutes because they were in smaller pans. After they cooled I put them in tupperware in the fridge. Just pull out in time to get to room temperature, or zap in the microwave or 10 seconds to get the chill off.

Then I sliced the cylinder thinly and made one sandwich just with beef. Beer and beef. Good. Beer, beef and cheese. Really good. It will also work with ham and cheese, pulled pork, turkey and it’s great on it’s own.


Super Fast Beer Bread in Coco Lopez Can

Yield: 1 loaf or 3-4 cans

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: about an hour


3 cups self rising flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1 lager


- turn oven to warm, or lowest setting and coat loaf pan or cans with nonstick spray
- mix ingredients in a bowl with a spoon
- pour dough into pan(s) and put in the oven for 15 minutes
- remove dough from oven to the counter and turn oven to 375 degrees
- when oven gets to temp return the the dough to the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes

I found this recipe on

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dr Pepper Chipotle Pepper BBQ Sauce

Scratch kitchen smatch kitchen. That’s right, we’re cooking with sugary soda today, even as were are in the middle of The Biggest Loser season. Hey, I’m doing a crazy DanceTrance Beyonce dance marathon on Saturday before the Superbowl so I can get my fingers sticky with this sweet heat.

Good friend and cook extraordinaire, LB somehow scouted out this recipe from I made it yesterday while we prepped for her husband’s retirement party this coming Saturday. Turns out she picked a few things that are so Superbowl worthy!

You can drink this sauce directly from a champagne flute but I also recommend it for shredded pork, sliders, grilled chicken, salmon filets or burgers, french fries, ice cream, bedroom games.. you get the idea. While an iconic carbonated beverage and cherry preserves are clearly the makings of a great BBQ sauce, the MVP of this recipe (in my humble opinion) is chipotle packed in adobo.

I love using these peppers because the depth of the adobo and the heat of the chipotles bring so much flavor with just the opening of an inexpensive can (as with chipotle glaze). If you can’t find them chopped in the can, you’ll need to chop them. Minimize mess by straining the sauce and then chopping peppers. Throw every shred of pepper and last drop of sauce to the pot along with everything else and cook and taste for 30 minutes. I used the whole can and think the heat was perfect, but cut back to 2 Tbsp if you want it less spicy.

Next time I’m going to try adding some Jack Daniels or perhaps subbing it for some of the Dr Pepper. Either way, I used sugary soda, and I’ll do it again.


Dr Pepper-Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


1 cup onion, diced
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can (12 oz)
1 bottle chili sauce such as Heinz (12 oz)
1 cup cherry preserves
1/3 cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 Tbsp molasses
3 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 can (7.5 oz) chipotle chilies in adobo sauce


- saute onion and garlic until softened over medium low heat
- add remaining ingredients, turn up heat until it's bubbling and gurgling, turn heat down and allow to simmer 30 minutes

This recipe is adapted from Dr Pepper-Chipotle BBQ Sauce in Cuisine at Home

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Superbowl Indoor ‘Tailgate’

There was a really cute photo shoot going on in the caterer’s office when I spent a day there last week. In general I am very reluctant to use the term ‘cute,’ but in this case it is really the appropriate term; and I even mean that in a good way.

The shoot was a picnic theme and after reviewing my pictures at home, I’m inspired to mimic it as an indoor tailgate buffet for the Superbowl. It’s coming up quickly on February 3rd, so I’ll be cooking up a few ideas and posting over the next few days. In the meantime, here are some inspiration pix. Yes, I am the only person in the free world who takes bad pictures with an iPhone. In my defense, I was trying to stay out of the professional photographer’s way, so I didn’t get still enough when I snapped em.

Anyway, I think you’ll get the idea and hopefully I’ll do better with my follow-up recipes. Here’s the shoot, using hibachis and small grills, baskets and wheatgrass to create a tabletop picnic. In the front are watermelon cubes with pesto and cheese, small ears of corn with husks tied back and herb butter, salads in baked prosciutto bowls, flank steak pinwheels on skewers.

In the back is this basket of assorted ficelle sandwiches next to some kind of chocolate mousse cup goodness.

The pastry team made these mini macaroon hot dogs and hamburgers. See what I mean? cute.

These are displayed on the red grill. Even if you don’t want to go to this trouble, I like the idea of using the small grills to display savory food like sliders, sausages and maybe some skewers. Here are pick up mini caesar salads with the option of adding sliced sirloin.

So I’ll be working on my Superbowl indoor tailgate. What tailgate favorites that should be interpreted into our Superbowl buffet?!

Monday, January 7, 2013

leftovers love

I love making these salmon and mozzarella pinwheels with this Bel Gioioso unwrap and roll mozzarella and they’re great with sparkling wine, so I made them for brunch. With the leftovers the other day I made a grilled cheese and it was totally fabulous. To make a leaner version today I used a light Wasa cracker as the base for a salmon mozzarella melt.

Just put the roulade slices on top and stuck it under the broiler.

The mozzarella bubbles and gets toasty next to the smokey salmon and bubbling cheese is never a bad thing.

I ate half of it before I remembered I have some herb and garlic oil on hand. More fabulous, and highly recommended.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

old year’s resolutions

One of the very convenient things about not achieving any of my goals for last year is that I don’t have to think too long or hard about my goals for this year.

1) Have a successful blog and start making money from writing. In some measure of fairness, I did not have the blog until I set it up last year, so I did make that much happen, but now I’d like to have people visit, comment, make it seem like a nice place to advertise.

2) Get buff. So yes, this means while I shop, cook, eat, write about food I am also trying to get leaner (and stronger). Not easy, but that’s the goal. Again.

3) Meditate daily.

4) Be a totally enjoyable, funny, happy, healthy wife.

Ok there are some changes from last year. I’m giving up on getting pregnant. And a new goal is on the scene – I have an idea for a new business venture. So I’ll be working on that new idea while tripping over irritating, endless reports about Princess Kate’s and Kim Kardashian’s royal fetuses. I actively try to avoid, and yet… ech.

Ok, lest you think that all I’ve been doing is licking my wounds about unmet goals, I have been cooking like a mad woman. Between birthdays, out of town visits, holidays, I’ve been cooking and cooking. We had some neighbors over for a New Year’s Day brunch. I loved the menu and will do it again, but may pick a different day for entertaining. After a night of hard partying for many, there was quite a bit of attrition from the invitee list, but those who made it all had a good visit.

The main menu was inspired by a Southern Living idea for a ‘Grits Bar’ and then I set up a mimosa station, bloody mary, beer and booze station, and a coffee station. Of course we also needed black eyed peas and some greens, so I adapted a favorite Persian recipe for the black eyed peas.


Mimosa Bar

Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Sparkling Wine and Vodka with Salmon Mozzarella Pinwheeels, Bacon Rounds and Hard Boiled Eggs with Maldon Salt

Bloody Mary Bar

Martha Stewart’s Bloody Mary with Horseradish Bagel Bombs and last minute Guacamole

Coffee and Some Sweets Station

Homemade Pop Tarts, Donut Holes and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Grits and Bits Bar

Mascarpone and Cheddar Grits with Bourbon Shrimp, Shredded Beef, Buffalo Chicken Thighs and Blue Cheese Crumbles

Also some blanched green beans, salad with candied pecans and meyer lemon vinaigrette; and black eyed peas with greens. Git yer new year on!

I did the Bacon Rounds in the microwave – just twisted them into a donut shape on top of some paper towels and nuked 4-6 minutes. Guacamole I always do with red onion, seeded jalapeño, cilantro, fresh lime and coarse salt. The bagel bombs I just did cream cheese mix with horseradish, some worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pop tarts were assorted jam flavors inside a basic tart dough recipe. Any other recipes or details please feel free to write and ask! In the meantime, I’m publishing the shrimp recipe from Emeril which is somehow daring and delicate at the same time. Happy new year and wishing the gifts of patience and persistence to all.


Drunken Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

I substituted my fav ginger liqueur for the green ginger wine and served the shrimp on their own as a topping for the cheese grits rather than over watercress as the recipe suggests.


2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 Tbsp Emeril's Original Essence*
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Scotch whisky
1/2 cup green ginger wine
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup heavy cream


- melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat and cook shallots until softened, about 2 minutes
- add garlic and ginger, saute 1 minute
- add shrimp, Essence, salt, lemon juice, whiskey and ginger wine and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes
- remove shrimp from the pan and add cream and honey and cook until thickened
- return shrimp to pan and serve

Recipe from Emeril Lagasse on food

*Emeril’s Essence

Combine 2 1/2 Tbsp paprika, 2 Tbsp salt, 2 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp each of black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hot Buttered Rye

A friend posted on Facebook that he’s conducting ‘research’ on hot whiskey drinks and I have one I’d really like to share… and drink. I’ve been obsessing over it lately. My mother-in-law made it from a recipe she found in Southern Living magazine last year and in addition to using my fav go-to ginger liqueur it also calls for rye whiskey and maple whipped cream. I will be concocting one soon and hope you do too.



Hot Buttered Rye

Yield: 1 serving (enough cream for 6 cocktails)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour or to hell with it

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

An utterly effective winter cocktail topped with maple cream.


1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup rye whiskey
6 Tbsp hot water
2 Tbsp ginger liqueur
nutmeg to garnish


- beat cream and maple syrup with an electric mixer at medium speed until the consistency of softened butter (or beat until stiff if you want to serve right away); cover and chill 1 to 24 hours
- pour rye whiskey, hot water, and ginger liqueur into a 6-oz. heatproof mug
- top with 1/4 cup whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg

This recipe was printed in the December 2011 issue of Southern Living courtesy of Stacie Stewart, Bar Manager of Harvest in Louisville, Kentucky

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Come on in, Drink

While I am not actually trying to get a drink in your hand before you get your coat off when you come to my house for a visit, it might seem that way.

I had two challenges. Well, many more than that, but let’s focus on two so it will seem like I’m getting somewhere in my life. Ok, two challenges: a foyer with hodge-podged furniture that didn’t look or function right, and a kitchen workspace right under a cabinet full of booze. The result? An empty foyer and living space and a kitchen full of people who want cocktails in the middle of where I cook.

So when I sought help from the fabulous Donna Brandon, home stager and decorator, with the various and sundry items my marriage and move to King George brought, I explained what I wanted. I wanted to use custom kitchen cabinetry and refrigeration to create a piece of furniture that would inconspicuously serve as a bar in my foyer… the only place I had room for it.

While I wanted a bar in the foyer, I didn’t want it to look like I have a bar in the foyer. That, of course, would be tacky. So after many failed attempts at explaining this idea, Donna finally found someone at the Stafford, VA Lowe’s who could appreciate my boozy ‘vision.’

She worked it out exactly to my dimensions so that I’d have some good storage and two refrigerated drawers for beers, wine, mixers, juices… I put a container of lime wedges in there when we’re entertaining.  So now guests can easily help themselves  to a brew or make a cocktail while I move freely in the kitchen.

and you know how this helped with fridge space in the kitchen : )

We installed a water filter on the sink, so instead of buying lots of bottled water I fill these (bpa free) plastic carafes with lids. I usually keep two in there, and add a third one for overnight guests to take upstairs when they want it. I do the same with my workout water bottle, and also make pitchers of iced tea or green teanis or bloody marys and store them in the bottom drawer.

Some wine bottles are a little too tall, but they fit fine if I just lean them over.

There was also the matter of the facing wall in the foyer being loaded with utility stuff like switches, a smoke detector and some other ugly stuff. So I got a cool, industrial looking rod and clippy curtain rings from West Elm and then made a wall hanging to hopefully snap it up a little. Some day I’m going to get around to making a variety of the wall hangings. In the meantime, I thought it looked great with this beautiful Mexican sage a friend brought to a girls’ night dinner. Think I might have to try growing some next year I loved it so much.

After enough of this photo shoot I decided to indulge in some of Fredericksburg finest… stout from Blue and Gray Brewing Co. So here’s my ‘action shot.’ Football time – Go Redskins!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Losing the Muffin (Top)

Ok, I’ve got another tip for making your own fast food. It’s just a twist on a recipe from Jamie Eason, who is quite possibly the most ubiquitous fitness model in the world and I would like to be her. She has a perfect body and straight, obedient hair. No hope on obedient hair (I’ve got plenty of the high-maintenence, wavy but healthy, variety so I really shouldn’t complain), and it’s slow-going on achieving my figure-girl figure, but I am soldiering on.

Part of my workout routine is based on Jamie’s LiveFit Trainer on, and her Turkey Muffin recipe is a regular feature in my house because it’s economical, a good do-ahead, and is a good substitute for watery, chemical-spritzed packaged deli turkey. They’re also convenient and well, very satisfying to eat. Below is her recipe as she wrote it, but I’ve sorted out a good way to cheat. Well, really Brian did, but it’s my blog so I’m taking credit.

Following the recipe you basically make a turkey meatloaf mix and then scoop it into a muffin pan and bake it. That way you have it pre-portioned when it comes out of the oven. The only hassle – considering it’s something we’ve been making weekly or every-other week – is the time invested in scooping and then cleaning the muffin pan. So the other night Brian made the mix and spread it into a lasagna pan and baked it. Making them was faster and clean-up was much easier.

So I made a double batch this time around, with four pounds of ground turkey breast. I spread it into two 9×13 baking pans.

When they are out of the oven just cut straight down the middle lengthwise, and across five times as evenly as possible, to yield 12 portions.

Then you have 12 turkey ‘muffins’ or ‘burgers’ portioned and ready to go. I wrapped them up for a couple of days and the rest will go into the freezer so we can grab and go for the rest of the week.

Often we just throw a couple into a ziplock or tupperware and eat as-is at the desk or in the car after a workout, but the other day I had one for lunch with some sherry-sauteed mushrooms and rapini I had in the fridge.

I couldn’t actually continue to write about turkey muffins without eating one, so I carved one up and made it a burger day with an Ezekial burger bun and Green Tomato Pickles. So the picture’s a little soft… I was hungry like the wolf, okay? Come to me turkey atop carbohydrate, coooome to me.

Writing while eating a messy burger is not great for the laptop, but oh well.

Love this quotation on her page as well… ‘Never give up on anything that you can’t go a day without thinking about.’ – Tony Horton


Jamie Eason's Turkey Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Jamie suggests two muffins per serving for women and four for men, but I generally eat one at a time and send Bri along with one to two per snack.


2 lbs ground turkey (or chicken)
3 egg whites
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dry yellow mustard
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chipotle pepper (or other chile powder)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder (2 garlic cloves, minced)*
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped

* I find this to be too much garlic powder and do 1 Tbsp per recipe, or the two fresh garlic cloves


- heat oven to 375 degrees
- spray muffin pan with canal or olive oil
- mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl
- roll the mixture into balls and place in muffin pan. Muffins should be about the size of a racquetball.
- bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked

1 muffin is 280 calories

recipe courtesy Jamie Eason on


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fast Food Takes Time

I can’t believe I let this much time go by without posting. It’s not for lack of material – I’ve been cooking and cleaning like a mad-woman in between lots of menu work for the catering company and trips to the gym. I’ve been cooking a lot more lately because I am trying to avoid processed food and the hubby and I are carb-cycling (to some degree anyway). So I’m preparing food for almost every meal as well as snacks. You don’t realize how much prepared and carry-out food you’ve been relying on until you try to prepare all of it yourself. I’m exhausted!

Part of the strategy over the last few weeks has been to pack all of our lunches and plan all of our meals, while at the same time stockpiling the freezer with portioned meals so that we will have ‘convenience meals’ ready to go in the future. So far I’ve made two batches of beef stew, turkey muffins, veggie burgers, metric tons of blanched kale, sautéed spinach, vegetables and sweet potatoes. Then a balance of meat and veggies get portioned into one-meal sized pyrex dishes that can go straight from the freezer to a microwave at home or at work.

So Friday I made a double batch of Brian Boitano’s Seafood Sausage with Miso Mustard so we could have a low-carb dinner and then have some seafood meals to add to the frozen stockpile of options. It starts with blanching some savoy cabbage leaves, cooling them in ice water and removing any thick stem.

The recipe calls for a carrot and cucumber salad to go on top of the finished sausages, but my honey doesn’t like raw vegetables, so while I had water boiling I went ahead and blanched snow peas…

and grated carrot for a cooked ‘slaw.’

Here he is cutting the salmon into chunks for the food processor. Such a handsome sous chef!

I suggest pulsing half of the seafood in the processor and then just giving a coarse chop to the rest of it so that the sausage has chunks of salmon, scallops and shrimp.

My sous chef isn’t a big fan of mustard and I didn’t have the mirin, so I strayed from the recipe there as well and made a miso, wasabi dressing that I thinned and sweetened with some honey, apple juice and a little rice wine vinegar.

Then you combine all of the seafood with ginger and garlic – what could go wrong? Nothing, so roll it all up in the cabbage leaves. Put about a heaping quarter cup of seafood onto the bottom third of the cabbage leaf. I find it easiest to put the cabbage leaf upside down and start at the bottom so the seafood is contained before I get the the part of the leaf where the stem has been cut out.

Start rolling and and then fold in sides.

Steam the cabbage rolls, make a cut down the top, and sprinkle with your veg salad and drizzle sauce.

The sauce makes it.

Then I portioned them out into pyrex dishes for the freezer so that the next time I have a busy day and want to eat healthy I still might find time to get a blog post done!



Seafood Sausage with Miso Mustard

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


Miso Mustard:
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp wasabi paste

Seafood Sausage:
1/2 lb salmon, skinned, chopped
1/2 lb scallops, chopped
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 egg white
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp ginger, chopped
1 head savoy cabbage, leaves picked
1/2 cup carrot julienne
1/2 cup cucumber julienne


- for mustard whisk ingredients together and set aside
- for sausage add all ingredients but cabbage, carrots and cucumber to a food processor with a blade. Pulse until mixture is blended but still chunky.
- boil a large pot of salted water and add cabbage leaves to blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer them to cool in an ice bath. Remove leaves from the bath and arrange on a sheet tray lined with a kitchen towel.
- put a cabbage leaf onto a work surface. Halve the large stem in the middle so that it is thin enough to be rolled without the stem breaking. Spread 1/4 cup of the seafood mixture over the bottom 1/3 of the cabbage leaf. Tightly roll the leaf up half way. Fold the sides of the leaves inward toward the center of the roll to keep the filling contained. Tightly roll the sausage up the remaining way. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
- set up a bamboo steamer, vegetable steamer or a colander over a pot of simmering water. Arrange sausages in the steamer and steam until they are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- slice each sausage lengthwise 3/4 of the way through, leaving the bottom in tact. Split the sausages open and top them with the julienned carrot and cucumber. Drizzle with the mustard.

Recipe courtesy of Brian Boitano/Food Network

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Need to Clean Up This Crap!

This is what my nephew exclaimed upon returning to a basement full of toys at my parents’ house. Later my sister confessed that most likely she was the muse for such a statement from a 4 year old.

Now I hear it echo in my brain as I pass certain parts of our yet unsettled house, including this stair landing going down to the basement. Just look at it.. we need to clean up that crap!

With real estate running tight on the first floor a decided that this little area should become what else? but a wall of wine. All I needed was a way to store the wine bottles so they go flat against the wall, not sticking out perpendicular from it so that we’d still be able to navigate the stairs. After much inet surfing I finally found what I was looking for – it’s called a ‘vintage view’ wine rack. I’d like to get three,plus a smaller one for the upper part of the wall but we’re starting out with the one that was generously donated by family members Geoff and Patti. We slapped some paint on the walls, hung our first wine rack and a painting and voila! It’s less crappy!

Now I just have to figure out how to send someone to the wine wall to grab a bottle, without giving the impression that it would be ok to actually go into the basement where you just wouldn’t be able to believe that crap.