Saturday, November 21, 2009

Breakfast Omelette

Breakfast Omelette

Ahhhh, Saturdays. While the rest of the world gets to enjoy a lazy Saturday at home, sipping coffee, reading the paper, I'm off to work. Sometimes I wake up early enough to have a little breakfast with my family, and this week we made omelettes!

An omelette is a fear of many people and I don't know why! It's such a simple thing you can whip up with whatever leftover ingredients you have in your fridge! Ours today was leftover ham chopped up, green onions, and diced mushrooms.

For delicious and fluffy omelettes, you'll take two or three eggs, add a splash of heavy cream, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and whisk them in a bowl. Set aside. Spray a nonstick frying pan with some Pam spray or if you're feeling naughty, add a tablespoon of butter. Sautee your diced ingredients in your pan, and then add your egg mixture. I like to swirl the eggs around to provide even coverage. Don't stir! Put that spoon down!

Let this sit until your eggs are no longer runny, and add a sprinkle of cheese of your choice. Ours was shredded cheddar this morning. Carefully flip one side on top of the other, and you've got a delicious omelette! I like to let mine sit just a minute in the pan so it gets crispy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nigella Lawson's Rapid Ragu

While browsing some cooking blogs, I caught wind of a cooking group called I Heart Cooking Clubs and saw that they will be featuring Nigella Lawson recipes for the next 6 months. Well, Nigella Lawson is one of my favorite personalities on the Food Network, I make sure to DVR whenever she's on. Watching the way she cooks and describes things makes me want to curl my hair, put on a cute outfit and get in the kitchen. She's so lovely and I'd like nothing more than to sit and gossip with her.

Anyways, this week's recipe was for "Man Food". Could be a number of things, steak, hearty stews, etc. I quickly browsed through my collection of Nigella cookbooks and decided on the "Rapid Ragu" It looked so hearty and delicious, I knew it'd be perfect to make. I adjusted the recipe a little to use ingredients that I had on hand. For Nigella's exact recipe, click here.

Here's what I used:
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 small container of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatos
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of small cubed pancetta ( you could also use diced bacon)
  • 1/3 cup of Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Grated cheddar (optional)

First you will cook the pancetta with the oil until it's crispy. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Add your sliced onions and sautee them with the tablespoon of sugar until they are a beautiful golden shade. Nigella uses onion confit in her recipe, which I can't seem to find here. I made to make due! Add the mushrooms and garlic clove to the onions and cook until they have gotten soft. Add the ground beef, stirring it to break it up, also add the pancetta back into the pan at this time. Cook until beef is no longer rare.

Then you'll add the can of tomatoes, tomato sauce, Marsala, and water to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. You can serve it as is, or be like me and serve it on top of buttered egg noodles.

Trust me on this, it's a perfect man food. It'll stick to your ribs and is perfect for the chilly winter months coming up. Make it for your man this weekend and he may wash your floors and do the laundry for you :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spicy Chicken and Black Beans

I love having recipes that take me such a minimal time to make and don't end up costing me a fortune. This one I just pulled together this morning before work, and it's so fabulous. Let's discuss. But first, a back story.

I normally do my grocery shopping at Publix or SuperTarget, they always seem to have what I need a pretty reasonable prices. But sometimes I head down to my local Super WalMart. I was walking up the Hispanic Aisle, and I saw a section of products I've never really noticed before. There was an entire section of these sauce bases, bouillons in so many different flavors. Since I'm always looking for more ways to add flavor without adding fat, I picked up a few. I picked up a jar of Sofrito, which is a tomato cooking base with green peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and olive oil. I also got a box each of onion, garlic, and parsley bouillions. Each little bouillon is equal to 1 TBS of the actual thing.

Okay, back to this morning. I'm wanting to make something to bring for lunch, so I browse through my pantry to find stuff I normally keep on hand... a can of black beans, and a can of chopped tomatoes with green chiles. I'm in a spicy mood, so I take these out, along with 2 chicken breasts, and get to work.

The back of the bottle of the Sofrito says to "Use 2 teaspoons of Softrio per 15 ounce can of black beans", so I opened the beans and dumped them into the sauce pan along with the 2 tsp of the Sofrito. I also throw in one of the onion bouillon cubes for good measure. I then put the lid on and turn the heat down to simmer.

I defrosted my chicken breasts, then cut them into semi-thick slices. Just even enough so they all cook for the same amount of time. I put them in a pan that I had put about a tablespoon of olive oil in, and got them cooking. I added 2 tablespoons of the the Sofrito, along with a teaspoon of dark chile powder, a teaspoon of cumin, and half of the can of chopped tomatoes and green chiles. The other half of the can, I then added to the beans for additional flavor. I let this all cook together until the chicken was done.

You can pretty much add whatever you have on hand, chopped peppers, diced onions, just make it your own dish! I was literally done within 15 minutes, and I had a cheap, low-fat, and delicious meal ready to take for lunch!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: Cozy Tea, Jacksonville

Recently, my co-worker and I were discussing how Jacksonville has such a lack of small cozy cafes in which you can get around with your gal pals, have a little snack, and a little bit of gossip. She then told me of a tea shop in 5 Points that she stumbled upon with her sister while shopping in the area. She said they had a huge selection of tea, and great lunch foods! We planned a trip for the next week for a visit!

Walking into the shop, I was immediately put in a better mood. I could see the selection of chocolate truffles and fresh baked scones in the glass counter. Our hostess then led us to a table. As I looked around the cafe, I noticed how cute and quaint the eating area was. The tables were all set with mismatched china and chairs. This isn't a bad thing! It just made it seem that much cozier. We then browsed through the massive selection of teas, and I finally decided on a black strawberry tea. (around $3.50 per pot, includes 1 refill)

When the individual pot of tea arrived, I was totally smitten. They even had a tag telling me it was my tea. Once I poured the first steaming hot cup, I could immediately smell the fragrant strawberry scent. The menu recommended adding sugar to the black teas to bring out the fruity flavor, so I added a teaspoon. I took a sip, and it felt like my world had just been rocked. I had never tasted a tea as exciting as this one before. I savored cup after cup of that tea, as each teapot holds 3 teacups worth, and a refill is also included in the price.

We then checked out the lunch menu, and after a hard decision, I finally decided on getting the sausage pastry roll, served with a Sour Cream Potato Soup and side salad with my choice of dressing. Other things on the menu include tea sandwiches, like turkey, chicken salad, or cucumber. You also choose just a salad, just soup, or their selection of savory pastries, which are the sausage roll, curried chicken salad, broccoli cheddar quiche, and a few others. My combo was only $8.95, a bargain for the amount of food I got! Most of the items range from about $6.00 to the $8.95 combo. The dessert menu include bread pudding, carrot cake, scones, blueberry pound cake, and chocolate tuffles, and those range from $1.25 per truffle, to about $4.99 for the cakes.

If you'd like to visit Cozy Tea, it's located in Riverside at 1029 Park Street. They are open for Brunch on Sundays, and have a full British High tea service in the afternoons. Once a month, the owner hosts an Indian dinner for $25, reservations are highly recemmonded.

Cozy Tea on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 26, 2009

Seared Sesame Ginger Tuna with Curried Quinoa

Just so you know, in my house, I'm always the adventurous eater. I'm constantly trying new things that I see in stores, especially when I come home from Whole Foods. It's a magical place for me, that Whole Foods. Just standing in front of those bulk bins makes the wheels in my head start turning, and I always think of the things I can make with the contents. Then I spied the quinoa.

For those inquiring minds.... quinoa is a grain. People think it's like cous cous (which is a pasta), but it's actually not. Quinoa is gluten free, and has a very high protein and fiber content, making it popular with the Vegan crowd. It's great option for those that are looking to eat healthier, and works as a good substitute for white rice or cous cous! But enough on quinoa.... let's get to the cooking.

I also picked up a bag of frozen yellowfin tuna steaks when they were on sale at Whole Foods a few weeks back. Dad's been nagging me to cook the last one from the freezer since then. I thawed the tuna steak for about an hour before it was ready to cook. I patted the fish down, removing the moisture from the outside. Then I started pressing on this "Sesame Ginger Crusting Mix" that I picked up at TJ Maxx in the gourmet foods aisle. I used it previously on my Seared Tuna Salad recipe. I seared it in a hot pan for about 45 seconds to a minute on each side, including the sides of the steak! Remove from the pan and set aside.

Before you use the quinoa, make sure that you give it a good rinse or a short soak.. Quinoa is covered in a bitter coating called Saponin that you will need to remove if you bought it in bulk. Most of the Quinoa that is in a box has been pre-rinsed.

You will use a 2 part liquid-1part quinoa ratio. I used a cup of quinoa, so I use 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth as my cooking liquid for more flavor. I also added a teaspoon of curry powder, a small bit of chopped shallots and parsley, and garlic pepper and salt to taste. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed into the quinoa, and it is tranluscent.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Martha Stewart's Perfect Roasted Chicken

Consider this one an essential recipe. Everyone should know how to make a roast chicken. It's such a simple meal, most everyone will love it and the directions couldn't be any easier. And you can make it YOURS just by changing the flavors.

What you'll need:

  • A roaster chicken ( these were on sale for 2.99 each at Target a few weeks back!)
  • 2 TBS of unsalted butter, softened
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • herbs of your choice ( I used rosemary and thyme)

Once thawed, let your chicken come to room temperature by letting it sit out for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the bird. Pre-heat your oven to 425°. Wash the chicken, and then you will need to dry it. Why dry it? Because meat browns better when it's dry!

Your next step is to remove any of the giblets, etc party favors inside the chicken. Then salt and pepper the cavity. Throw in your lemon wedges, garlic, and herbs. Then you'll need to truss the chicken. (Click here for a video showing you how to do that) Once trussed, grab that softened butter and give the chicken a good rub down all over. Liberally sprinkle the buttered surface with salt and pepper, and place the bird breast side up in a roasting pan.

I like to have some sort of root veggies cooking along with the chicken, so I found some yellow creamy new potatoes, chopped them in quarters, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. I put them in the pan surrounding the chicken, and added a splash of white wine. Sounds weird, but trust me on this, it's a great step not to miss.

Roast the chicken in your 425° until the skin is golden brown and the juices run clear when pierced, and that took me about an hour and a half. If you're not sure, use a thermometer and the breast should read at 180° and the thigh should be 190°.

As tempting as it may seem to cut right into that chicken, WAIT. Let that beautiful bird sit for 10-15 minutes so the juices have time to re-distribute throughout the chicken. This is a mistake many people make after cooking meat and they wonder why it's dry. Remember this step!

Slice and enjoy, and turn your leftover chicken into a delicious chicken salad the next day :)

Recipe was from Martha Stewart's Cooking School, which I HIGHLY recommend if you're a new or semi-pro home cook!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Easy Grilled Pizza

Recently, a close friend invited me over to visit while she was housesitting. She warned me before I got there, that the kitchen was something of dreams. Well I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself.

Walking into the kitchen, my mouth dropped and I started to drool. DUAL OVENS. GAS COOKTOP. WALK IN PANTRY. Be still my heart. And what's even sadder is that most people that have kitchens like this don't even COOK IN THEM. For shame.

Well I decided to put it to good use. I was inspired by my gal pal Ina Garten to make a grilled pizza. It turned out so perfect and it honestly was so simple!

Things you'll need:

Package of pizza dough from your supermarket (mine sells it in the bakery)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Toppings of your choice

Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. Make sure your grill is clean, because you'll be placing the pizza directly onto it.

Prep your dough by letting it sit out for an hour before using, giving it time to rise. Once the hour is up, shape into individual sizes.

Place it down on the grill. Cook for 1 minute on the 1st side. While it's cooking, brush the uncooked side with EVOO.

Flip the bread over and start to layer on your toppings. I used tomato sauce, caramelized onions, pepperoni, fresh buffalo mozzerella, and fresh basil. Cover grill for 5 minutes to let cheese melt. Remove and enjoy!

I tried it for my mom's birthday the following week and expiremented with pizza toppings. The crowd favorite was the BBQ chicken pizza made with caramelized onions, leftover roast chicken, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hills are Alive.... with the Sound of Americans

Just wanted to share some pictures from our Sound of Music Tour today in Salzburg!

Across this lake is the back of the house they used in the movie, many scenes were filmed here, including the children coming out of the lake!

The famous "16 Going on 17" Gazebo! One of my absolute favorite scenes in this movie! They had the doors locked and you can't get in :( I wanted to leap from bench to bench like Leisl did in the movie!

The inside of the church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp got married, it's so beautiful inside!

The Pegasus fountain that Maria and the children march around while singing Do Re Mi

The stairs that Maria and the children hopped up and down in the ending of Do Re Mi

Monday, August 17, 2009


So sorry for the lack of updates, my wi-fi locations have not been available as I once thought. Right now I'm writing this from Munich, Germany and we're having such a great time!

I'll just update with a few pictures for now, just so you can see what I've been up to. We had two great days in Gothenburg, a night out in Stockholm, and we're on our way to Salzburg tomorrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stockholm Day 4

Tuesday morning, we woke up and Joakim told us that he would take us to a bigger grocery store to do some of our shopping for our American dinner, since we may not find what we need at his local store. He said that "It's just around the corner, not that far" Well, 45 minutes later we were still walking around, and happened to be in the same spot that Jennah and I were at playing on the playground on Sunday! Joakim was so excited to find this huge hill with stairs and stuff, so he's like "There's an observatory on top, let's go explore!!!" Um, let me think. I've got a dress on. With sandals. Not necissarily climbing/exercising clothes at all. After a little huffing and puffing, we all finally made it to the top, and we were rewarded with such a wonderful view. I guess the few minutes of pain was worth it in the end. All of a sudden, we felt drops of rain, so we headed down to the grocery store.

The grocery store was an adventure in itself. We partly had a menu planned out with some things we wanted to make, so Joakim helped us find what we needed. I had orginally wanted to make some BBQ pulled pork, but pork is really expensive in Sweden, so we settled for BBQ chicken breasts. We purchased a huge block of cheese from the huge cheese section, they are VERY into cheese here. We couldn't find a good cheddar, so we had to settle with a white traditional Swedish cheese. This cheese would end up going into the baked mac and cheese. We headed over to the other side of the Dairy section to pick up some butter and heavy cream, because hey, nothing screams American like a pound of butter and a gallon of cream, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stockholm Day 3

When I woke up, I had a momentary freak out, because I forgot where I was at this point. Just a little early morning confusion! After I had shuffled sleepily into the kitchen we fixed a great breakfast of Special K Dark Chocolate and Strawberries.... something they don't have in the States but is seriously yummy. We even sliced a few fresh strawberries to put on top for an extra boost of deliciousness. I sat down with a mud of hot tea and the girls and I planned out our day of shopping. Ange wanted to find some walking shoes, so that was the mission of the day.

We headed back to the Central Station area to check out some more of the shops in the area. We went in all kinds of great little and big stores! It's crazy because the stores are multi-level and you have no idea what is on each floor. Bottom level could be accessories, shoes, basically anything. We just keep cracking up at the insane fashions here. I keep pretending to be the Fashion Patrol and take pictures of the out there fashions.

The girls and I stopped for lunch at a Thai Buffet called Pong on Drottning Gatan. They had some great choices like Pad Thai, Coconut Chicken Curry, Spring Rolls, Chili Chicken, glass noodles, and some great shrimp wontons. Included in the price of our meal were big bottles of icy cold water that was so refreshing to us after walking around the stuffy stores downtown.We ate our fill, and drank all that delicious water we could before heading back out to the shops.

Ange finally gave in and purchased the 1995 kickback White Keds that everyone seems to be wearing here. They seem really clean and bright compared to everyone else's shoes, haha. When we got back to Joakim's place, he ended up making a taco dinner for us, with help from Daniel. It's great having a Taco Bar for dinner because it's very socialble and we had a lot of fun sitting around the table chatting about everything in general.

The girls and I got all cleaned up and we went out to Gamla Stan to go out to a lounge/bar. Since it was only a Monday night, the place was not that crowded. We still made it a fun time and had a blast while enjoying a few drinks. We got back to the flat and called it a night. The next night we would be hosting our All American Dinner.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stockholm Day 2

Day two, we sleepily awoke to the sound of my iPhone alarm. Gathering the stuff we threw around the place in the few hours we were there, we put our luggage into some lockers and head out to go shopping. We stopped for a bite of breakfast at our supermarket, I got a chocolate croissant and Jennah got a cheese danish... so yum!

We started walking around this quaint little neighborhood, which was great because it was a Sunday and you'd see families just heading out to have a little fun. Sitting in cafes with the morning paper, some coffee, and some pastry is how most of them were. We stopped in a gorgeous park just to enjoy the weather and sunshine, and watched some kids play on the playground..... even big kids get to play sometimes too :)

After our little break, we hopped back on the metro to the Central Station area where we found the huge shopping area of Stockholm. Stores galore! Topshop, H&M, fantastic shoes, makeup, accessories, and we even found a vintage store! The vintage store had mannequins outside dressed up in different color schemes.... Jennah told me to check out the one dressed in all orange. I looked up and what do I see? A FLORIDA GATORS visor sitting on the mannequins head! AH! How cool!!! Who knew that there were Gator fans in Sweden?

After buying some great things in the vintage store, Jennah and I shopped around for a little while longer, and stopped at McDonald's for some lunch. I got the "Italian" burger, which was topped with a basil mayo sauce and arugula!

Full from our tasty lunch, we headed back to our Hostel to go pick up our luggage so we could meet up with Angelina when she flew in from the UK. I was not looking forward to lugging around my 40 pound suitcase again, up and down stairs in the metro. At all. Somehow we made it to our meeting point and had a great greeting with Angelina, and Joakim led us back to his place in the Ostermalm area of Stockholm. Once we made it to his flat, I knew it felt like such a comfy place to be. Gorgeous crown molding, chandeliers in pretty much every room, huge windows letting in that fantastic sunlight. It was Joakim's grandparent's flat and they left it to him when they passed away. The rooms are filled with such interesting pieces from all sorts of different eras. There's a set up table and chairs from the 1800's that is in the sitting room, not to mention there's a framed picture of his grandma shaking hands with the Dali Lama in the living room. We made a short trip to the grocery store, and it was nice to have someone who actually speaks Swedish to tell us what was everything in the store. I picked up a package of lunch meat that I thought was Roast Beef, and it ended up being HORSE MEAT. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I don't want to eat any HORSE! AH! Joakim got the fixings to make some dinner for us, we had requested Spaghetti and boy it was fantastic! It had some sauteed mushrooms, peppers, carrots, and ground beef. So good to have some home cooked food!

I called it an early night after dinner, I had a pounding headache and went to go sleep it of for a little while. I took a few extra strength Tylenol, and put on my sleeping mask and crashed. Ange and Jennah headed out to a bar with Joakim just to go grab a drink. When they came back, I was feeling a lot better, and we all had sandwiches for a snack. I made mine with smoked salmon and herbed cream cheese on some brown bread. The first real Swedish food I've had!

We all went to bed around 1, knowing we wanted to do a little more shopping in the morning!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stockholm Day 1

Arriving at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport at about 11am, Jennah and I hopped on the Arlanda Express to the Central Station here in downtown Stockholm. We followed the directions to get to our hostel and found it with very little effort. Well once we got inside, there was a misunderstanding with the booking, and lucky for us they had a room. Mind you, it was two floors underground, with no windows, and only one bed, they still had a room. So we threw our luggage in there, ready to be rid of it for a little while, and headed out to explore and to grab some lunch.

We hopped on the metro, using our awesome 7 day pass we purchased, we rode the line and got off at Hötorget. As we reached the surface, we were greeted with plenty of fantstic shops and some crazy looking people! The outfits here are unbelieveable, it's like they don't care what kind of outfit they wear! You see people dressed up so great one moment, then another moment looking like they just stepped out of Goodwill. And EVERYONE is wearing like little white Keds sneakers, it's wild. We stopped at a Pizza place to grab some great lunch... I got a ham
and cheese calzone, and it was freshly made and so yum!

After enjoying our pizza and calzones, with an ice cold coke, we proceded to keep walking around the downtown area of the city. It opened up into this beautiful city square and garden area, as well as the waterfront. Listening to a local jazz group peform in the middle of the garden , inhaling the scent of the blooming flowers, hearing a child giggling while being splashed in the fountain, it was kind of real, that I really was in Europe. Work just seems like a million miles away right now, and all that stress I had to deal with last week was so worth it all, just to be here now. It feels so amazing.

So after walking around all afternoon, Jennah and I headed back to our hostel, making a quick pit stop at the grocery store around the corner from our hostel. I grabbed some rotisserie chicken, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water a coke. I've only been here a few days and I'm DYING for a sweet tea. We both crashed at about 9pm, the jet lag finally settling in. We both woke up at around 3am and ended up Skyping my parents for a little bit. Well with our first day done and over with, we know we had to meet up with Angelina the next day!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

And so it begins....

EuroTrip '09 is now underway! We (meaning Jennah and I) began our journey in Jacksonville, where we boarded out plane to head to Philly. After a bit of struggle with her carry on, our nice cabin steward let her keep it as a cabin valet with the strollers and the first class carry on luggage! What a nice man he was! We landed in Philly and were starving so what better way to eat in Philly than by enjoying a Philly Cheesesteak? So Jennah and I split that and a side of fries and it was so scrumptious!

After polishing off that sandwich, we started strolling over to our international gate, only to find them announcing "Last boarding call for Stockholm!" *insert crazy running with a 20lb messenger bag* I can still hear FLAP FLAP FLAP as the bag hits the back of my legs running to the gate. Heck, I'm not suprised that I don't have bruises there today. Entering the plane, I felt like it was such a let down. The plane was a 757 and only had 3 seats to a row, and only two rows. All of the international flights I have ever been on normally have 3 aisles with plenty of room to get up and stretch. On this flight, however, you had to shimmy down the aisle to get to the bathroom, PLUS wait 20 minutes in line for restroom. Oh well.

After we had dinner of some sort of chicken with cream sauce, roasted potatoes, mixed greens, and a chocolate cake, they began to play the in-flight entertainment. Lucky for me, that entertainment was a hot man double feature.... a.k.a. Star Trek. I actually stayed awake for most of the movie, then passed out for the majority of the remainder of the flight.

I awoke to the brightness of daytime in the cabin, plus the sound of people murmuring as they also became awake. They served us breakfast about 30 minutes before we landed, and it was some sort of hot pastry thing with orange marmalade in the middle. I honestly didn't care for it, but I'm not a huge orange marmalade fan to begin with.

I'll begin my 1st day in Stockholm post tomorrow, because it's about 9:30 here and I'm about to pass out. More food and pics to come! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coming soon....

I know I haven't updated in over a month! I can't believe it.... but I've been really busy with my new side business, check it out here! Every spare moment has been taken up making cake balls for people.

And in other news, I'm leaving for Europe on Friday, August 7th... in a little over a week! I'm planning on updating my blog on a daily basis when I'm over there. I know that I love taking pictures of my food that I eat, and I can't wait to share with everyone! I'll be there from the 7th through the 25th and I'll be visiting Sweden, Germany, and Austria. I am so busy until then, but I can't wait to leave!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Visiting the Farmer's Markets

With the economy as it is now, more and more people are encouraging to by local products and services, rather than mass produced. Support your local businesses by heading out to your nearest farmer's market! It's a great activity on the weekends, and you're sure to find some of the freshest produce around!

I picked up some peaches, sugarplums, and blueberries at this farmer's market!