Get Off The Couch and Cook

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Hoisin Slaw


Homemade hoisin sauce mixed with a little mayo makes for a sweet and salty Asian fusion of an American classic.

I know that it’s Autumn now and I should be craving Fall foods but sometimes it’s flavors that I crave more than types of foods.  After making the hoisin egg rolls a couple of weeks ago, I was still craving them but didn’t want to go through the hassle of rolling more egg rolls. As I was thinking about them, I realized that the shredded cabbage and carrots are also the main ingredients of cole slaw.

Hmm…. would that work?


Yes, it did.

Mr. O was skeptical, especially when I mixed a little mayo in with his beloved hoisin before adding it to the veggies.  After letting the slaw sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes while I cooked up some chicken for dinner, it turned out to be an amazing Asian-inspired side dish.

I also love that it was quick to put together with the help of bagged preshredded cabbage.  I’m definitely in need of quick meals lately.  Work is beyond stressful right now as we are down a few people and I am picking up a lot of the slack.  K is on leave of absence for a couple more weeks, B quit on 10/17, and N was supposed to quit 10/24 but was nice and has stayed on part-time until K returns.  I am covering the work for B and helping cover for K as well.  So I’m basically doing the work of 2.5 people while staying within my 40 hours for the week.

I have no idea how I am keeping up!


When I get home, though, cooking is not high on my list but quick easy dishes like this certainly help!

When making this, don’t make it too far in advance.  I tried to eat it the next day for lunch but the cabbage was pretty soggy.  Flavor?  Still amazing.  Texture?  Not so much.

Hoisin Slaw
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: about 6 cups
  • 10 oz bag finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded, deveined, and cut into thin strips
  • 6 oz can water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • ½ c reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ c natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chile sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ c mayonnaise
  1. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrot, red bell pepper and water chestnuts. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil, chile sauce, and pepper. Whisk until smooth then whisk in the mayo.
  3. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve the same day you make this, if not immediately after 30 minutes.


 Are you doing anything fun for Halloween?




Crispy Baked Mushrooms


Whole button mushrooms are coated with lots of herbs and panko then baked for a healthy crunchy alternative to fried mushrooms.


Back in my vegetarian days, I absolutely fell in love with mushrooms.  They were hearty and even meaty plus they would take on the flavors of whatever sauce they were in.  Mushrooms played a huge role in my diet. I still love ’em, too.  They are practically a staple on the weekly grocery list.

Mushrooms are amazingly nutritious, as well.  Not only are they low in calories and sodium, they are high of things like potassium and vitamin D.  Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption which is important for everyone but especially women.


Mr. O was craving fried mushrooms the other day which are pretty dang tasty, I won’t lie.  But so many places make them in such a way that the mushroom themselves end up absorbing so much of the oil that they are fried in.  That is just not good.  In many ways.  Forgetting about the bad health reasons, no one really likes a mouthful of hot oil.  Well, maybe a few do but I’m pretty sure they are masochists.  But, hey, YKINMK.

These are not the same as fried mushrooms but they helped with the craving.  They were certainly crunchy and didn’t have the risk of second-degree mouth burns.  And the ol’ arteries were happy as well.

I just pictured cartoon arteries sighing in relief.  It made me giggle. 🙂


Crispy Baked Mushrooms
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp cold water
  • 16 oz whole button mushrooms, cleaned with soft damp cloth
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Or line with foil and lightly spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the panko, garlic powder, all the herbs, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water. Set aside.
  4. Place the mushrooms in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in the egg wash and seal the bag. Shake and massage the egg wash over the mushrooms. Pour in the panko-herb mixture and shake to coat.
  5. Pour in the melted butter and continue to shake until the mushrooms are well coated.
  6. Place the mushrooms in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the mushrooms. A sharp knife should poke into the mushrooms with little to no give.
  8. Serve immediately.


Taste of Atlanta 2014


I had so much fun on Sunday!  Taste of Atlanta (#TasteATL) was an absolute blast, even though it was crazy hot out that day.  Mr. Onion-hater came with me and served as my food holder while I took pictures. 🙂  We really enjoyed seeing all the different patrons and restaurants that were there.  I didn’t get as stuffed as I thought I would but that’s because we tried to be smart about it.  For the most part, we shared everything we tried so it ended up being only a bite or 2 of the different foods.

Taste of Atlanta runs on a coupon system.  Each food item costs between 1-3 taste coupons.  You automatically get 10 coupons with your event ticket and then you can purchase more for $1 a piece.  We used up our joined 20 tickets about halfway through so I got us 20 more, 6 of which we gave away on our way out.

Here are the highlights followed by a bunch of pictures.

  • I tried ceviche for the very first time and LOVED it.  It ended up being my favorite food item out of all we tried.
  • We found a handful of new BBQ places we need to check out, like G.C. Barbecue.
  • We rediscovered some old favorites, like Mr. O’s beloved Figo.
  • There was a wonderful variety of people there to enjoy the tastes Atlanta has to offer,  People watching was lot of fun and we got to joke around with some of the other patrons while standing in line.  I was happy to see so many kids there as well.  They even had a family area with workshops, etc. for the young food fans.
  • All of the chefs and cooks and servers at the tents were amazing.  Everyone was so friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be there.  Even if it was an act for some of them, they hid it really well.
  • I vaguely got mentioned on the radio!  As we were walked past the booth for my favorite radio station (97.1 FM The River), Steve Craig mentioned that there were even people with umbrellas to help stay out of the sun.  (The sun is not my friend.)
  • I did really well as far as the crowd was concerned.  I only had 1 moment where I started to feel overwhelmed so we just stepped behind the tents and onto the sidewalks.  Problem solved!

I apologize for the massive picture dump…if you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a handful of these already.  But here are some pics I took throughout the day.  These are also in the same order that I took them.

If a restaurant is mentioned in a photo, click on the picture to go to the restaurant’s website.





















Balsamic-Garlic Marinated Chicken


Be sure to poke your chicken several times with a sharp knife before putting it in the marinade to be sure it gets completed infused with flavor, especially if you are cooking chicken with the skin on.


This past weekend was one of those where I had planned to get a lot done around the house and in the kitchen.  I was going to get through a bunch of laundry, start cleaning out a room that’s unintentionally become  storage room over the years, do a little baking, and do some prep work for the coming week.  Instead, on Saturday, my body decided that my back and shoulder needed to really hurt and that I needed to have a low grade fever which caused me to nap quite a bit.

Fortunately, dinner plans for that night were very simple so all I had to do was get the chicken marinating in the morning and Mr. O took care of dicing and roasting potatoes as a side.


So even though I spent much of Saturday sleeping, it still tasted like I spent a long time cooking.  And since I needed to be rested for Taste of Atlanta on Sunday, I didn’t feel too guilty about it.  (Check back tomorrow for my #TasteAtl recap!)

This chicken turned out SO good.  Because I poked each piece of chicken several times with the tip of a sharp knife, the marinade got into the meat instead of just the skin.  Yeah, I cooked the skin and we ate it.  It was good and I make no apologies for it because I found 10 lbs. of chicken leg pieces (thigh and drumstick) for just $4.90 total at my local grocery store with no added broth or weird solution.  That was too good of a deal to pass up and lets us eat crispy chicken skin which is kind of a treat. 🙂


Just look at that skin… how could you pass that up?

The balsamic flavor wasn’t too strong but lent a nice sweetness that also created a beautiful carmelization in the oven.  I know it might look like the chicken was burnt but it really wasn’t.  Brown = delicious!

The garlic plus tiny bit of red pepper and dried basil played with the sweetness of the vinegar by lending an earthy flavor that just went together really well.  It was a great way to get my taste buds warmed up for the next day.  Fortunately, I did feel better on Sunday.  Not 100% because my shoulder was still really sore for some reason but the fever was gone!  Yay!


Do you or your family eat chicken skin or do you always remove it?


Balsamic-Garlic Marinated Chicken
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 chicken legs (thigh/drumstick pieces)
  • ½ c balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c olive oil*
  • ¼ c canola oil*
  • 2 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 chicken legs (thigh/drumstick pieces)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together everything but the chicken.
  2. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. If the chicken is too large to put all 4 in 1 bag, divide the chicken into 2 pieces per bag.
  3. Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken (half in each bag if the chicken is divided).
  4. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to 24 hours.
  6. Take the chicken out of the fridge while preheating the oven to 450°.
  7. Place the chicken on a baking rack that has been set inside a rimmed baking sheet (or cover a baking sheet with foil and place directly on the foil).
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the chicken reaches 160° and the juices run clear when poked.
  9. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
* You can also use ½ cup of either oil instead of both.

The marinade could also be used for boneless, skinless chicken. Just bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

Adapted from For the Love of Cooking



Loose Meat Sandwich with Cuban Slaw


The sweet subtle citrus of this messy loose meat sandwich is taken above and beyond when paired with a zesty Cuban slaw.  By using lean ground beef and no oil in the slaw, it’s a healthy sandwich you can indulge in with zero guilt!


I am so excited!  I mean *e*x*c*i*t*e*d*!  On Sunday, I am going to my very first Taste of Atlanta which is kind of a big deal for me.  There will be many restaurants there that I’ve always wanted to go to and this will be a great way for me to get a taste without committing to the $$$ many of these places charge.  (I love fine dining but my wallet…. not so much.)

I’m also getting media access which means I get to go for free in exchange for blogging about my experience.  That’s one of my favorite perks about being a member of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society. It’s like getting backstage passes to great food.

Also, this is a HUGE step outside my comfort zone.


You see, I have medically diagnosed ochlophobia which is an abnormal fear of crowds.  For much of my adult life, I had to do my grocery shopping late at night because more than once I had panic attacks in the middle of grocery shopping during “normal” hours.  Restaurants were left in the middle of meals because it was their dinner rush and forget about going to clubs or concerts.

I hated it.  I hated missing out on fun things just because there are other people there.  🙂

So rather than continuing to live my life in the shadows, I’ve figured out ways to make crowded events less traumatic.

Here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

  • Remind myself there is plenty of air for everyone.  I know that sounds silly but one of the issues I have is I start to feel like there is not enough oxygen which is what brings on the panic.  When the feeling starts to set it, I’ve realized that looking up helps.  When I “see” the air, it helps.
  • Navigate the crowd by looking for small gaps in the people and taking a moment to pause there and breathe.
  • Don’t go by myself, if possible.  Bring someone I trust who is not afraid to ask people to step aside if I really need to find an air pocket.

I am now able to go grocery shopping right after work with minimal issue.  If an area I need is crowded, like the meat section or dairy, I just stand back and wait or come back after hitting a few other aisles.  I’ve even been able to go to bars or night clubs on a Friday or Saturday night with little issue.  I just get there early and find my air pocket before it gets busy.


Taste of Atlanta will get over 45,000 visitors over the weekend.  That is a heckuva lot of people BUT: the event is outside so there will be PLENTY of air.  🙂  Mr. O is also coming with me so I have my personal security with me as well.

I am a little apprehensive about going but overall, I am just really excited.  I can so this!

Working on conquering that fear has helped me conquer other things as well.  For instance, 2 or 3 years ago, I would have never made the Cuban Slaw recipe I found over on Back To Her Roots.  Shredded red cabbage and raw jalapeño were 2 ingredients that always scared me a little bit.


If you’ve been paying attention, you can tell that I’ve certainly gotten over the fear of raw jalapenos.  If you deseed and devein them properly, they aren’t too spicy, in my opinion.  Raw red cabbage, however, looks pretty but always seemed too tough to use raw.  The secret: let it soak up the juices.  Derpity derp.  Sometimes things are too easy and logical for me to figure out right away. 🙂

Here is big tip if you decide to make this: if you have a food processor with a shredding blade, use it!  My food processor broke a while back so I had to shred the red cabbage by hand.  I definitely got a good upper body work out and my kitchen was decorated with purple confetti.

Sidia and Rustle, 2 of my kitties, weren’t sure what to make of that.


Not only is this Cuban Slaw beautiful to look at but the slaw is pretty tasty on it’s own, like a fiesta in your mouth.  I loved, loved, loved how it tasted on top of my Cuban-inspired loose meat sandwich, though.  I ended up mixing some of the slaw in with the leftover meat and just ate it like a salad for lunch.

Wish me luck on Sunday and keep an eye on Twitter for updates while I’m at the Taste of Atlanta!

Cuban Slaw
  • 1 small head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and deveined, finely minced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, deseeded and deveined, finely minced
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup finely minced cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Toss all of the vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together everything for the dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 3 or more hours until ready to serve.
Adapted from Back To Her Roots

Cuban-inspired Loose Meat Sandwich with Cuban Slaw
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 8 sandwiches
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 hamburger buns, split
  • Cuban Slaw (above)
  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up large pieces until cooked most of the way through with very little pink left, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together the 2 juices and vinegar. Set aside.
  3. When the meat is mostly cooked through, stir in the garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the juice-vinegar mixture.
  4. Continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Serve on buns topped with Cuban Slaw.


Garlic-Ginger Wings


Sweet maple syrup combined with salt soy sauce and spicy garlic and ginger give ordinary chicken wings a reason to fly with flavor.


I think most people – well, most Americans – would agree that pizza and wings pretty much go hand-in-hand.  That’s why most pizza places also serve wings.  So when I made the delicious mushroom, bacon, and balsamic pizza the other day, it needed a pairing that also went above and beyond.

I wanted something that would have the salty/tangy/sweet experience as the pizza but would complement rather than mimic.


My immediate thought went back to the honey garlic chicken I made previously.  Instead of honey, my mind wandered to maple syrup… maybe because it’s finally Autumn around here.  The ginger and garlic just made sense from there.

I think fresh ginger would be *A*M*A*Z*I*N*G* in these but I had to work with what I had on hand.  Neither Mr. C nor Mr. O like to get their hands dirty when they eat and often avoid messy foods like wings because of their beards.  There were no complaints when I put these out on the table, though.


As I’ve mentioned in the past, I really, really dislike dry chicken.  When baking wings, you really do run that risk, especially if you like crispy skin.  Which is why I use the Alton Brown method of cooking wings, even though it does take longer.  With his method, you steam the wings for 10 minutes first then refrigerate them for at least an hour.  When I’ve made wings for parties, I usually steam them the say before and refrigerate until I’m ready to bake them.

Juicy tender wings are almost guaranteed this way.


Garlic-Ginger Wings
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 36 wing pieces
  • 18 wings or 36 wing pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ c maple syrup
  • ¼ c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place a large sauce pan with 1" of water and a steamer basket over high heat and bring to boiling. Reduce heat to keep the water at a simmer.
  2. Place a layer of wing pieces in the steamer basket with about ½" - 1" of space between pieces. Cover and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings to a baking rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or on paper towels laid in the baking sheet. Continue until all the wings are steamed. I can only fit 6-7 wing pieces in my rack so the whole process takes me about an hour.
  3. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. If making these ahead of time, you can put them in an air tight container after the hour and refrigerate overnight. Place back on the baking rack or a foil lined pan to bake.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°.
  5. Sprinkle the wing pieces with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the pieces then bake another 20-25 minutes or until the skin is golden brown.
  6. After the wings are back in the oven for the last half of the cooking time, whisk together the syrup, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and pepper in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until reduced slightly, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Remove the wings from the oven and place in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over all and toss to coat.
Wing cooking method by Alton Brown


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