Over the summer I was invited by the Keys Tourism Board to tour the beautiful and oh so sunny Florida Keys. I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it. You can imagine that when the invitation arrived, it took me all of two seconds to say yes and thank you. Thank you very much. I had actually never visited the Florida Keys prior to this visit and I can honestly say that it was better and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I’m actually thinking that now would be a VERY good time to pack up and go for another visit. The people, the food, the restaurants, the hotels, the WATER, seriously I fell in love with the colors of ocean. So much so I bought a necklace off a gallery owner (true story) that reminded me of the water and my trip.
Are you ready for some tailgating? You all know that I’m not actually a big football fan. I don’t keep that a secret but I do enjoy tailgating. What’s not to love about sitting on the back of a tailgate with your boot (cowboy of course) covered feet swinging away with your favorite cold beverage in your hand and a slider or two in the other. Right? Right. I’m already thinking about recipes for this season. Wings and SLIDERS are some of my favorites. This Pork Tenderloin Slider with Cranberry Sauce and Caramelized Onions might be my new all time favorite slider and could possibly be yours too. It’s cooked to perfection and without worry too. Want to know the secret?
Puff pastry is something I ALWAYS keep in my freezer. It’s like a bag of frozen peas, we just need them (most of the time those are to actually eat but with 3 kids in the house they’re more than often used as ice packs, ehem). Puff pastry is so versatile and has saved my patutie on more than one occasion. It can go sweet OR savory, meaning we can whip up an appetizer and/or dessert on the fly. Now I COULD make homemade puff pastry but on most days I certainly don’t have all day (and have you seen the price of butter lately. I’m seriously considering buying a cow, sigh) to do that so it’s boxed for me 99.9% o the time.
I’m all for low and slow cooking. Set it and forget it if you will. Now that it’s finally fall (happy dance) I’m doing a lot more of that type of cooking. I’m excited to share with y’all that I’ve partnered with Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers to bring you a few recipes using their new Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker WeMo Enabled. What does that mean? It means that it works with your smart device (Android and Apple) to let you easily adjust cook settings … from virtually anywhere. Pretty smart, right? Right!
In case you haven’t heard, my friend Susan and I organize a food conference called Mixed. It’s a small boutique conference for approximately 100 food lovers bloggers that is held at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia. You might recognize it from the movie Dirty Dancing. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading right now and look it up on Netflix, or Amazon Prime (what would I do without that) and then come back when you’re done because you don’t want to miss out on this GIVEAWAY! Not to be pushy or anything (because I would never ever do that would I) but it is one of the best movies of all time right underneath Pitch Perfect of course. We will actually be showing Dirty Dancing and another chicken flick (what’s your favorite? We’re open to suggestions) each night at the conference because we like to have just as much fun as we do learning. Pajamas and pillows are encouraged.
Did you know that October is National Pasta Month? To be honest, I actually didn’t – every month is kinda pasta month around here ; ) But I’m glad for the pasta-bration never the less. Any chance to bring on the bowls o pasta is a good thing in my book. In honor of National Pasta Month, Dreamfields is celebrating with a new blogger pasta recipe EVRY day this month. That’s 31 new recipes coming at ‘cha. 4 weeks of themed pasta dishes using different cuts of pasta. Heck to the yeah. This week is vegetarian and we’ve plucked a few red peppers out of garden and put them to good use with an easy dreamy creamy sauce that will twirl your socks off.
So we’re just going to get it over with a sing a chorus of “Oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine …” because naturally that’s what pops into my mind when I hear the word clementine. Sorry we can all suffer together. Misery loves company or something like that. What I should be thinking about is clementine marmalade. Ours is a small batch recipe. This means that once you’re finished whipping it up you’ll have a few jars to keep in the fridge and slather on just about anything and everything you like. Not 2 dozen jars to store or give out to each and every one of your neighbors (not that that’s a bad idea, especially with the holidays coming up. Okay scratch that maybe we should double or triple the recipe) Did I mention that in this recipe there’s absolutely no canning to deal with? It’s pretty much a win win situation.
I’m kinda crazy for all things squash (I eat it, every variety I can get my hands on, and often) so it was only natural that I looked to the gourd family to inspire a little fall table-scape. I don’t like to go to any grand effort to dress up my tables but I do like to do something small and in season. That something for me needs to be: easy and LOW profile. There’s nothing more irritating to me during a meal (other than over cooked food and that’s just a given) than to have to bob and weave around a large centerpiece to try and have a conversation with your family or guests. Hence LOW profile.
Meatballs. You gotta love ‘em. I mean come on. They’re fun sized spheres of meat. Okay we’ll just stick to calling them meatballs, that’s much more appetizing. Whether you like to bake them, fry them or stew them in sauce. Totally up to you. Want them made with multiple types of meat? Press on. Want to stuff them? Have at it. Options. You know we love those. A lot.
If you’ve been around my little corner of the web or have known me for more than 5 minutes you know my absolute two hands down favorite things to eat are Spaghetti alla Carbonara and Tiramisu. Hands down. No need for me to even think about it. Those will always be my answers. Always. I get glossy eyes and glaze over just at the thought of them. At this very moment I’m contemplating making Carbonara for lunch. ^&**(!)%). If I didn’t have to get into this little black dress this weekend I would be all over that. Sigh. I’ve been trying to be better about portions, which isn’t my strong suit. These little jars of individual Tiramisu are the perfect pick me up dessert and help me keep my sweet tooth in a proportionate check. Well mostly.
We eat a lot of chicken. So it goes without saying that I have a REALLY large repertoire of chicken recipes. We have our favorites of course, everyone does but if I served the same ones week in and week out I’d probably end up with a mutiny on my hands (ain’t nobody got time for that). This was one of my “clean out the refrigerator” ideas for chicken. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don’t. Obviously if its making it to our corner of the web here Mikey (aka the family) liked it. Woot. Glazes are a great way to go with chicken. Making a glaze is super easy. You take a liquid and reduce it. My soon to be eight year old could do this, he calls it sauce and I just don’t have the heart to correct him, being the baby and all, and well let’s be honest he’s cute. Real cute (for the record, and just in case they might read this – my other two children are equally adorable.)
I have a confession to make. I’m kind of obsessed with chicken wings. The saucier the better. If you’re not getting sauce on your face while you eat wings then you’re not doing it right. It’s not a first date kind of food. Best eaten amongst friends. Just saying. I also recommend not wearing a white shirt. It’s just a bad idea. Sauce stains and those just don’t come out. I also prefer the legs over the wings so it’s good to pair up with someone who likes the opposite so you can scarf down all the legs (or wings) that you like. Or is that just me? I suppose I could just make all legs but then I couldn’t call them wings. Seems I’m quite particular about this aren’t I. Ha.
I’m a big fan of chicken thighs, bone in (flavor baby) it’s the cut that I gravitate to first. Sometimes I need a cut that’s going to cook up much much faster. Say when I have a herd of hungry people in my kitchen screaming what’s for dinner, MOM I’m hungry, and the other dozen or so statements that I block out after the first two. Am I the only one? Surely I can’t be. That’s where chicken breast tenderloins come in. They cook up in lickety split and help keep the peace and my headaches at bay.
I like organization. I wish my family had the same like of organization as I do but unless I break out the drill sergeant voice sigh they do not. I try to keep our main living area in order (not necessarily spotless mind you because who has time for that – just tidy and picked up, everything in their places) and I simply avoid the basement and upstairs as much as possible. It helps keep me sane. You can call it avoidance if you want. Lets not split hairs. A small thing I’ve done in my kitchen to keep my grocery list organized (no more notes laying around) is to paint a raised section of our kitchen door with chalkboard paint. I can’t tell you how much this has saved me from forgetting ingredients. When we’re out of something we grab the chalk and add it to the list. Done. It’s on the door so it’s not taking up any coveted counter space or my lack of kitchen wall space. Besides being used primary as our running GROCERY LIST, it’s a creative way to showcase your DINNER MENU or even DOODLING for the kids. Multi-purpose. It’s a good thing.
Tarts sound so fancy but in actuality they’re super simple to make. Especially if you start out with a prepared pie crust. It’s not that I don’t know how to make my own, because I do, but sometimes a girl needs a shortcut. Well unless you’re Wonder Woman and then you probably don’t need any. I however do, thank you. I found gorgeous black plums at the market and knew I wanted to turn them into a deliciously decadent dessert. If you can’t get your hands on plums, peaches would be loverly as well.
Summer is winding down. I’m not sure I’m ready to let it go yet though. I love the warm weather, riding around with the top down music blaring (yes I’m that girl. I do however turn it down at stoplights because otherwise it’s just obnoxious), long sunny days, flip flops, sun kissed skin, and the smell of food cooking on the grill. Pretty soon I’ll have to default to my grill pan but until then we’re going to keep the cover off our grill and the charcoal stocked. In fact (for those of us living in the states) I’m betting that a lot of you (us included) will be firing up your grills today and tomorrow to celebrate Labor Day. Work hard and play hard right? Right.
I think from now on I might actually put candied bacon on everything. It’s so good it’s should probably be illegal. So good I’m pretty much willing to put up with the inevitable sticky fingers that come with. A word to the wise, you’ll want to wait until your newly candied bacon is cooled before you go diving into a slice. Let’s just say I learned the hard way and I may or may not be speaking with a lisp today because my tongue is burned. Silver lining the cool panna cotta helped.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is my FAVORITE dish on the planet. Hands down. It’s not even close. Every single time you ask, that’s the answer you’re going to get. I do love food (hello food blogger) so naturally there are MANY MANY foods that I love. Dishes that make me swoon practically lose my balance fall off my chair and even roll my eyes back into my head but there’s only one that’s always twisted around the top of my trophy fork and that’s Carbonara. It’s not a complicated dish to make but it does take a little finesse. It’s about the timing and this isn’t a meal that you step away from when it’s done. It’s meant to be eaten straight away. Which for someone who doesn’t like to wait on much, is a very very good thing.
Next to pasta the most consumed food in our house is probably rice. We keep a variety on hand because you know how much we like options around bell’alimento land. White, Basamati, Jasmine, Yellow. You get the picture. We like to be prepared. That’s the girl scout in me. We didn’t even cover the fact that rice is incredibly versatile and can be used in a plethora of cuisines. Extra points for that (and for using the word plethora – too bad we’re not playing scrabble). It’s also kid friendly.
We’re celebrating today. It’s not any particular milestone or event we just felt like celebrating. Happy Monday. Happy End of Summer. Happy almost Labor Day. Happy Un-Birthday. Happy Happy Happy. Do you have that song in your head now. It’s kind of addictive. Know what other song is addictive? Kenny Chesney’s new one “American Kids”. That my friends might be my new favorite KC song. It’s snappy, and sassy. Kind of like me. Yes, since I’ve been developing recipes for Kenny Chesney’s Rum Company – Blue Chair Bay Rum, over the past few months we’ve developed this friendship (even if it’s only in my head but whatever just roll with it).