I just realized that it was just over a year ago that I won a contest to go meet Paula Deen and Bobby Deen in Savannah. There was a promotion called “Diabetes in a New Light” and they were asking people to write in 200 words or less what positive steps they were taking to manage their diabetes. I entered the contest on a lark then pretty much forgot about it.
A number of months later, I received a phone call saying I was 1 of 6 winners chosen out of 10,600 entries. I honestly thought it was a telemarketing hoax but nope! I’d won! So Mr. Consumer and I flew out to Savannah with the other winners and had a fun weekend.
The highlight, of course, was getting to meet and talk with Ms. Paula and her son Bobby. N-word controversy aside, they are both very sweet people and very real. I wasn’t at all star struck by either of them and wish I could have spent more time just chatting with either of them
Bobby Deen and I talked about cooking which was an amazing experience. And I gave Paula Deen a couple sets of my note cards that I designed. 🙂
During the dinner we got to have with them, we had lightened versions of some of Paula’s favorite recipes, including her Down-Home Coleslaw. It was really good. Of course. I mean, it came from the Deens. How could it NOT be good?
When the guys and I went on our picnic, I decided that cole slaw was sort of a no-brainer. It’s pretty much a staple for picnics and barbecues, in my opinion. And while I love Ms. Paula’s version, I wanted to simplify mine a bit.
The dressing is just some mayo, buttermilk, vinegar, honey, and seasoning which is then mixed into a bag of coleslaw mix. It’s important to let it sit for at least an hour before serving so the flavors have a chance to meld but, to be fair, I ate that little bowl in the picture which was only about 10 minutes after making it.
There’s something magical about eating food outside. I can’t explain why but taking a meal and eating it on a picnic table makes it seem all that more special. As a kid, when I would babysit my little sister in the summer, we’d make Velveeta, ketchup and sweet pickle sandwiches (don’t judge… they were delicious!) and put them in our lunch bags from the school year along with a thermos full of red Kool-aid. We’d go for a bike ride up and down our rode for a short while before returning to the house to eat our lunch on the deck.
On summer evenings when it was just too hot to be in the house (yes, it gets hot in the summer in northern MN), we’d eat on that same deck as a family. Sometimes Dad grilled, sometimes we just had cold sandwiches with tuna pasta salad and cold baked beans from a can. But as the sun would set and the air would cool off, that weeknight meal seemed like a great event to my sister and me.
In college, my friends and I would sneak sandwiches from the cafeteria and go eat them under a tree somewhere. Or we’d pick up food from someplace cheap then climb to the top of the only hill in the only park in the prairie-land town where my university was. This was especially fun at night when no one could see us up there and we’d make fun of the cars “parked” there for a while.
As an adult, I still love picnics, though they’ve sadly become fewer and far between. For one, we still have no furniture on our slowly decaying deck. And the nearest decent picnic spot to where we are now is a 20 minute drive with a $5 parking fee. A couple of weekends ago, though, we decided it was worth it!
It was raining that afternoon but we didn’t mind. As it happened, we were at the park between showers so it worked out perfectly. The pavilions are pretty nice and a good size for a group so we’re thinking of having a potluck picnic later this summer.
For our first picnic of 2014, I decided to do a play on the Cuban sandwich. I admit I’ve never had a “true” Cuban on Cuban bread but the Americanized versions I’ve had have made my taste buds do the conga. Moist roasted pork, thin slices of salty ham, sweet and spicy mustard, dill pickles, and Swiss cheese pressed and grilled on a crusty roll… what’s not to like!
Other than the ham which usually has migraine-triggering sodium nitrites.
So when I found a nitrite-free roasted ham at the store, I *knew* what I wanted to make for the picnic. And the best part about the ham that I found is that it’s NOT deli style ham that’s pressed together from goodness-knows-what. It’s REAL sliced ham. I wish I could remember what brand it was but I’ve already thrown the package away. (*sigh*)
I took the beloved Cuban up another notch or two and added bacon (mmm… bacon) and garlic mayonnaise.
The ham and bacon are free of sodium-nitrite, of course, and I used low-sodium pickle planks. The garlic mayo is just real mayonnaise mixed with minced garlic and garlic powder. Rather than making a pork roast like I did just so I could make these sandwiches, you could be smarter and make these with leftover pork. 🙂 If we’d been eating these at home, I would have pressed and grilled them, but they were just as good cold.
I wasn’t sure what to call this sandwich since it’s technically not a Cuban. Since it’s got three kinds of pork, I thought Tres Cerditos was funny since it means “Three Little Pigs” in Spanish. I had a story in my head about how the big bad wolf captures and eats the little piglets, but the guys thought my macabre sense of humor was maybe a little too much for this venue.
Check back on Friday for the super easy cole slaw recipe!
Every other Tuesday, my husband has standing plans with a friend of his so Mr. Onion-hater and I often have what we call “Foodie Night.” Foodie night will sometimes entail going some place that Mr. Consumer* doesn’t particularly enjoy. Like FLIP Burger**… it’s too trendy for his down-home tastes (I don’t disagree) and he had to wait 20 minutes for a table the one time we went there for dinner. He’s not good at the waiting. 🙂
Foodie night usually involves cooking, though. It can be something one of us is especially craving that Mr. Consumer isn’t a fan of, like chorizo and corn tacos (to be posted at some point), or something that is more cooking intensive for a normal weekday meal like the cottage pie.
For the most recent Foodie Night, Mr. O and I were going to make pork dumplings for the first time and were going to try making baked egg rolls again since I wasn’t 100% happy with our last attempt. We were also going to do my take on these mushrooms so he got those started in the slow cooker before I got home.
I ended up leaving work early that day for a doctor’s appointment which took a lot longer than I expected and got me home later than expected. Plus, I forgot to grab my lunch that day so only had a yogurt for lunch. By the time I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was spend an hour or more forming egg rolls and dumplings. We ended up just cooking the ingredients together for some weird stir-fry hybrid which was pretty tasty and still went well with these mushrooms as a side.
The mushrooms completely absorbed the flavors and had that perfect sweet-salty-tangy-spicy-earthy combination. My taste buds were confused for a second with all the flavors that were going on so needed a 4th and 7th bite to just be sure. They really weren’t confused. Just greedy.
Dinner that night was very satisfying and made for a good lunch a couple days later as well. It’s good to be adaptable in the kitchen, especially when menus are planned out. I just have to figure out what to make with the egg roll and wonton wrappers now. 🙂
In a medium bowl, whisk together everything but the mushrooms. Set aside.
Using a damp cloth, wipe the dirt off the mushrooms and place in a 4-qt slow cooker.
Pour the sauce over the mushrooms and stir to coat.
Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or high 2½ - 3 hours.
I like to make my own hoisin sauce instead of getting the bottled kind which often has artificial ingredients and preservatives in it as well. Plus, after figuring out my own hoisin sauce recipe, I’ll never enjoy the bottled stuff the same way again!
* Someone once asked my husband if he cooked. He laughed and said, “No. She’s the cooker. I’m a consumer.” 🙂** If you live in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend FLIP Burger. They make as much as they can in-house and locally source much of their food items. They have a handful of standard items on their menu but it seems to change monthly and everything I’ve had there has been incredible. The chef and owner, Richard Blais, is incredible at putting flavors together between 2 buns. For your first time, I recommend their sampler of 3 mini burgers so you can try more things. Also get the side sampler. The fries are cooked in beef tallow which is unlike anything I’ve had before. It brings them up to another level, like french fry angels slam dancing on my tongue. Or do like Mr. O I do and split 2 different burgers. Their food isn’t 100% unprocessed/”real” so my stomach still hurts after eating there but it’s nowhere near the degree it hurts after eating at most restaurants.
Hi… my name is Sashi and I am a collector. (Hi, Sashi!) I’m not quite to hoarding status but I definitely collect. My crafting area is full of random pieces of another man’s trash but my treasure tidbits that I’ve collected because I might be able to make something out of them, like a collage piece or birthday card or mask. My sewing room is full of thrifted and donated t-shirts, clothing, and fabric because I might be able to refashion them into something cool, like bags or skirts! My house is full of books and cookbooks in multiple piles all over the place, depending on what I was voraciously reading about at the time I was sitting in that particular spot. I’m not alone in my collecting, though. The guys have their own piles. Mine are just…. more exuberant and wide spread.
I also LOVE kitchen gadgets and appliances and I like multiple sizes for multiple different needs. Which is why I have both a stand mixer and a hand mixer. I used to have a large food processor but it broke so I’ve been able to get by with my mini one or the blender. I don’t think any of these is too crazy, at least compared to some of the other cooking blogs I follow.
And then we have my slow cooker obsession. I have either 4 or 6, depending on how you look at it. I have my big 6-qt one which is perfect for large roasts or chicken. The 4.5-qt one gets used the most and the 1.5-qt one is perfect for hot dips, etc. I also have a triple slow cooker with 3 ~ 2.5-qt crocks all in one unit but with separate controls. This one is perfect for big dinners and parties and only gets used a couple times a year. It was a splurge I did for myself after getting a bonus at work right before my husband’s birthday party.
I am fully aware that I don’t *need* so many slow cookers but we do have an average of 1 meal per week that’s been cooked in one. A lot of my Sunday meals are slow cooked and it’s a great way to cook a chicken if all I want to do is pull or shred the meat.
But chicken is not the only thing that comes out so tender that it falls apart in shreds. Pulled pork is all but a staple at our house and this shredded beef is going to be added to the rotation as well. I think this was the simplest entrée I have ever made in my life that didn’t come out of a package. It literally took me 5 minutes to put together and 11 hours later, we were eating the most delicious beef sandwiches I have ever had in my life. Even better than my po’boys which is saying something.
The original recipe called for cheese and lettuce but we all agreed that they were perfect the way they were. The spiciness from the Rotel was just enough to dance on my tongue while the beef practically melted, leaving the mild twang from the spices and tomato. I ate the leftovers over roasted potatoes with corn for lunch and even heated them up! Shock and awe! No cold leftovers this time!
Because of how long this cooks, you can very realistically throw it together before work and have a hot meal when you get home so this doesn’t have to be relegated to being a weekend meal and I foresee it coming a potluck with me some time soon as well.
This is not a cupcake. I repeat: this is not a cupcake. Just keep repeating that as you eat one of these for breakfast. I did. So did at least one woman when I brought them as my breakfast contribution for a retreat I went on the weekend before last. These aren’t as sweet as cupcakes and are just a little more dense but still give that oh-I’m-being-so-naughty feeling.
I love that feeling. 🙂 Especially when it’s really only costing me about 200 calories. Plus, dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and all that other good stuff. Naughty and nice all baked into one luscious muffin. Yay for winning!
Even though these did turn out super moist, the dark chocolate cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips still dried out my mouth the way dark chocolate does. It’s like all my saliva wanted to follow the chocolate flavor all the way down into my belly instead of staying in my mouth where it belonged. I don’t typically drink milk often (I get the hiccups from dairy and with milk, it’s even worse) but having a milk chaser was really delightful. Like when you eat a rich piece of chocolate cake… but these muffins are not cake. They. Are. Not. Cake.
I am okay with drying factor from the cocoa in these muffins, though, because regular milk chocolate makes me gag a little when the sweetness hits the back of my throat. If you don’t like dark chocolate, just use regular cocoa and regular chocolate chips and I’m sure these will still be good.
I’d made these ahead of time for the retreat and froze them. Unfortunately, freezing them did dry them out a bit so I suggest either eating them within a day or two of making them or heating them up with just a little smear of butter. Plus, when they’ve been heated, the chips melt a little
I do not recommend eating them with cherry yogurt, though. It seemed like a good idea at the time because hey! Cherries and chocolate go to together like < insert famous celebrity couple that you like here > but, well, I was wrong. Just trust me on that one. Unless, of course, you like that orange-juice-after-teeth-brushing effect. 😛
⅔ c. dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
1¼ c. all-purpose flour
½ c. white wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour)
1¼ c. light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
10 oz. bag dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
2 lg eggs
1 c. skim milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp white vinegar
¼ c. unsweetened applesauce
¼ c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray 2 muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: cocoa powders, both flours, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar, applesauce, and canola oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently just until everything is wet. Do not over mix the batter.
Scoop or pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling about ¾ of the way full.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Because the batter is so dark and you can't check these visually, check with a toothpick every minute or 2 after the 12 minute mark.
Remove the pans from the oven and let sit on a baking rack for 5-7 minutes before removing the muffins from the pans. Let cool completely before serving and/or storing in an airtight container.
This is one of those recipes that I thought I would try, check off in my recipe book, and move on without much comment made. That happens a lot, actually. A number of recipes I try are okay but nothing to write home about… or blog about. Even with my tweaks I make. The flavor profile of this recipe, though, was so far outside my cooking experience that I followed it pretty darn close to the original.
I’m glad I did because this was goooooood! And quick to put together. 🙂
The chicken and the veggies are cooked at the same time but on separate pans so once you have them in the oven, you have a half hour to do something relaxing, like catching up on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. You’ll just need to pause it after about 15 minutes to flip and stir and switch pans around.
I love Netflix. I watch so much more TV and movies now, though, thanks to the big red screen but I am becoming a master at balancing being lazy and cooking good food that we shamelessly eat in front of the TV for a number of reasons, most of which are logistical.
I originally saw this recipe in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of “Cuisine at Home” but I found an online version as well. I didn’t veer away from this recipe very much but I did make a couple minor changes to it.
The next time I make this, I’m thinking the 10-Minute Tzatziki would be a great addition on the vegetables. I’m also going to split this recipe up for you so you can quickly and easily just make either the chicken or the vegetables without having to resort to simple math. 🙂
Roasted Curried Chicken with Spicy Potatoes & Cauliflower
By: Sashi @ getoffthecouchandcook.com
Makes: 5 servings
For the chicken
1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
10 chicken drumsticks
For the vegetables
2-lb head of cauliflower cut into large but bite-sized florets
2 lbs red skinned potatoes cut into ¾" pieces
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
¼ tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp olive oil
Cover 2 large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Adjust the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Place the pans on each rack and preheat the oven to 475°.
If only making the chicken, place a single pan in the center of the oven while the oven is preheating.
In a large resealable bag, combine the curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and seal the bag. Toss to coat the chicken well.
If only making the vegetables, place a single pan in the center of the oven while the oven is preheating.
Place the cut up cauliflower and potatoes in a large bowl. Toss the vegetables with the spices and oil until all are well coated.
As soon as the oven is preheated, remove the pans from the oven. Add the chicken to one pan and the vegetables to the other. If making both, place the vegetables on the top rack and the chicken on the bottom.
Bake for 15 minutes then remove the pans from the oven. Flip the chicken pieces and stir the vegetable. Place back in the oven, this time with the chicken on the top rack and the vegetables on the bottom.
Cook for 15 minutes longer or until the chicken juices run clear when poked.
From pg 10 of "Cuisine at Home" Jan/Feb 2014 issue