B is very funny (most of the time)...or at least, he thinks he is, anyway.
So when we were sitting having dinner one night, he said something along the lines of, "You know what would be funny? If we took the ground venison from Joe and made sloppy joes...it would be sloppy does!"
Now, to be perfectly fair, I have no earthly idea whether the ground venison in our freezer was a doe or a buck, but it was too comical NOT to make them after that. I mean, with a name like "sloppy does," we pretty much had to.
We hunted down a good standard sloppy Joe recipe, and found this one here. We then took it and kicked it up a notch, adding diced tomatoes, mustard powder instead of regular mustard, and my spice addiction, Trader Joe's South African seasoning grinder.
Luckily, sloppy does are as good in actuality as their name might suggest. We both thought it was a little too sweet and could use more mustard, salt and pepper, but it wasn't bad by any means. It was delicious, just a little sweet. We served it with roasted broccoli and fresh strawberries, and it was a delicious AND easy meal.
If you have any ground venison in the house or just want to make a recipe with a funny name, I highly suggest you make these bad boys.
B's Sloppy Does
1 package ground venison
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
Trader Joe's South African Smoke Seasoning
Brown venison in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink.
Stir in water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, garlic powder, minced onion, salt, and a squirt or two of ketchup. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so until most of the water has evaporated.
Serve on buns.
Y'all, I have done it. I have surpassed my own expectations for myself. I have reached the pinnacle of yarn perfection and alumni pride.
I figured out how to crochet a Tar Heel.
I would like to say this is the product of toiling and working and figuring out a pattern over many years, but frankly it occurred to me in a flash of brilliance while I was at work. And as my Mimi always said (and even cross-stitched onto a pillow), "Even planning can't beat dumb luck."
My Phi Beta Chi big sis, former roommate, and one of my dearest and best friends is having a baby, a sweet little boy due in August. I know this baby's mama well. I lived with her for two years, after all. But I also know this baby's father. He went to college with us, too...and he will undoubtedly raise his child an avid Carolina fan (and future alumni). I LOVE when I see parents raising their children correctly...
But I digress. I was looking for THE perfect baby hat to make for this kid. When our other best friend had a baby, I made her the very first of my adorable owl hats that are so popular. But she had a girl, and this new little one is going to be a boy. Plus, I wanted an excuse to try a new pattern. I poured over my Pinterest crochet board, trying to decide on THE perfect hat...when I saw a pattern I had pinned for crocheted baby booties.
And the sole of a baby bootie looks awfully like the main part of the Tar Heel foot...
Just goes to show, you never know when inspiration will strike.
And CLEARLY my new "nephew" is going to need a Carolina hat. What sort of remiss auntie would I be if I did not instruct him in the ways of light blue from the moment he was born? So I made a Tar Heel. I made a hat. I sewed them together. And voila.
The best part is, the Tar Heel can be added to anything...blanket, scarf, hat, diaper cover. Any plain flat crocheted surface, really. I could put it on hair clips, a pin, you name it. Any and all crocheted orders will be a while because of the wedding coming up, but if you need an order for next fall, let me know...
...my master plan to take over the world with Carolina fans has begun. :-D
Much like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, or Papa John's Pizza, you may wonder who exactly Katie is. Well, I don't know. Keep on guessing.
Katie's Cole Slaw
Head of cabbage cut into slices (not chopped)
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Combine everything except cabbage in a bottle or jar so you can shake it up.
Let sit for an hour, shaking periodically to dissolve the sugar.
Pour over cabbage right before serving, and toss.
Only toss desired amount, or it will get soggy.
You may not expect a sorority to have pork chops, but obviously you aren't a Phi Beta Chi. Once upon a time, in the beautiful town of Chapel Hill, my sorority sold cookbooks comprised of various sisters' recipes for a fundraiser. One of the recipes became a staple when four PBX sisters (hint: I'm one of them) lived together in a tiny apartment on Airport Road.
We had cooking nights; every semester, each of us was assigned a night of the week to cook dinner, Monday through Thursday. Weekends were for going out, or fending for ourselves. As a strategy, it was marvelous. We only had to cook one night a week each, but we got fed for four nights (and there were often leftovers). One of my roommates made this out of the cookbook on a whim, and it became a staple.
Even though we all graduated and moved out and moved on, this still remains a staple in my recipe repertoire. It's tasty, it's easy, and it looks fancier than it is. The only caveat to this recipe is that it takes an hour and a half to bake - it's not an ideal weeknight dinner. Save this one for a night you're not in a hurry, and you'll be nicely rewarded.
If you're reading a Phi Beta Chi's blog, raise your hand. If not, raise your standards. AVVIC :)
Phi Beta Chi cookbook pork chops
4 boneless pork chops
1 8-ounce bottle of French dressing
1 packet onion soup mix (I prefer Trader Joe's kind)
1 can whole cranberry sauce (NOT the sliced jelly stuff)
Brown pork chops on stovetop.
Mix French dressing, onion soup mix, and cranberry sauce in a bowl.
Place browned pork chops in a baking dish. Cover with sauce mixture.
Bake for an hour and a half at 350.
The little things are always the ones that get me most - the unexpected card, the surprise candy bar, the little gesture to show me someone cares. So it's no surprise that when it comes to food, there are a few little things lurking around my kitchen and pantry that make my gustatory life a lot more satisfying. Check out the list below for the edible must-haves in my home.
Publix Roasted Garlic Bread
This ain't your average garlic bread. It's a delicious sourdough-type loaf with whole cloves of roasted garlic. You barely need any butter or olive oil with it. Because the garlic is roasted, it has almost a sweet flavor, but there's still enough flavor for it to stand up to fragrant Italian foods. It keeps really well, also. We have the Publix deli slice it for us, and we put it in the freezer, only pulling out what we need for each meal. Simply pop in the toaster oven, and you're good to go. We have been known to stop by Publix to pick up a loaf "just in case," even when we know there's half a loaf already in the freezer - it's that good. Do yourself a favor and check this out the next time you're having Italian.
Runner up: Publix's Sunflower Bread
Light Champagne Vinaigrette
I'm a big fan of salad dressing, but here's the caveat: I LOATHE mayonnaise. I do not keep it in the house (poor B!), and I have very few mayo-based dressings. I like blue cheese with wings, and ranch with fries, but on a salad? Mayo dressings are too heavy on lettuce. This dressing, however, is not. The perfect mixture between tart and sweet, with a good blend of spices, this stuff is wildly addicting. You can't tell it's "light" dressing. If your salads are a little blah, keep this on hand to spice things up.
Runner up: Newman's Own Light Oil and Vinegar.
Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea
With my Lorelai-esque obsession with coffee, it's probably a surprise that I actually drink and enjoy hot tea, but I do. A lot. But good tea is hard to find. Some tea is too sweet, some too bland, and some you just don't like. This is both tart and sweet, very flavorful without being fake-tasting. It's decaf, so you can have it any time of day. When coffee just won't do, grab a mug of this and warm yourself from the inside out.
VERY CLOSE runner up*: Yogi "Bedtime" Tea
*This was a truly impossible choice. The only reason the orange won is that I have some hesitancy about drinking tea to relax you in the middle of the day. I have enough trouble staying awake as it is. But flavor-wise, it's a tie.
Trader Joe's South African Spice Blend
What is there to be said about this that I haven't already said (like here, and here)? It's smoky. It's spicy. It makes a delicious addition to meat, vegetables, soups, chilis, and side dishes alike.
Runner up: freshly cracked black pepper. I go through TONS of the stuff.
La Crema Pinot Noir
My two criteria for a good wine are, 1) that it be red and 2) NOT be sweet. I can't stand sweet wines. Bleh. Give me smoky, leathery, spicy, oaky, whatever. If I wanted something sweet, I'd be having one of those dippy girly cocktails. I don't want sweet wine, and this wine isn't. It's subtle and light so that it doesn't overpower fish or chicken, but it has a really fantastic spice to it on the back end so it stands up to hearty or strongly spiced foods. At $18 at Costco, $22 at Green's (cash or debit), and $24 or so at Total Wine, it isn't exactly an everyday kind of wine. But we always try to keep a bottle in the house because you never know when you're going to cook a meal that just DEMANDS a good wine.
Runner up: Alamos Malbec. It's the anti-sweet wine, and I love it.
Trader Joe's Crunchy Cookie Butter
I was extolling the virtues of cookie butter to a coworker, who, for some insane reason, does not like Nutella (seriously, how do you not love Nutella?). She asked, "But what do you EAT the cookie butter stuff on?" Honestly, a spoon works just fine. And much to B's chagrin, I frequently just dip a finger into the jar from time to time. It's good with pretzels or crispy breadsticks or anything savory, to balance it out. But my favorite is on apples. Just crunchy enough, just soft enough, just juicy enough, apples make the perfect pairing for cookie butter. You have to get the crunchy kind, though - it's the best. Cookie butter with crumbled cookies IN it? Um, hello. But then again, I'm the girl that likes extra-crunchy peanut butter. If you're one of those weirdos who insists on smooth peanut butter, maybe you should stick with the regular cookie butter, too. Amateurs... ::shaking my head::
Runner up: Nutella. Duh.
Prima Pasta Spinach-Mozzarella Ravioli (aka "Crack")
Yes, there are days (a LOT of them lately, it seems) where I just cannot get my ass in gear and cook a legitimate dinner. Sometimes we get takeout. Sometimes we eat leftovers in the freezer. Some days I just eat Girl Scout cookies. But when we need something fast, cheap, and NOT dessert, this is my go-to. It's been my go-to well before I met B. Back then, it was even more crucial, because I NEVER cooked. Spinach mozzarella ravioli every single weeknight, and takeout on weekends, that was the routine. My mother nicknamed it my "crack" because I had to have a bag. Truly. Back in those dark and lonely single-girl days, it was pretty much all that stood between me and starvation (or diabetes). Now, it's just a useful and easy filler for those days where we don't want to spend money on takeout but need food easily and quickly. Boil for 6-8 minutes, drizzle with a TINY bit of olive oil, and sprinkle the parmesan cheese/spice blend on top. Done.
Runner up: Girl Scout cookies. What, you think my taste buds changed just because my relationship status did? Huh-uh.
There's one of those Some eCards floating around on Pinterest that says, "Today's hairstyle is called 'And I didn't brush my teeth, either.' "
That about sums up my week (and definitely my morning). I don't know what the deal is, but everything has seemed to take twice the normal amount of time and energy. I blame Daylight Saving Time. We are not an agricultural society anymore - please stop torturing the American office-working population by messing with their sleep schedule! Seriously, ain't nobody got time for this.
What we do have time for, however, is healthy food. Bridal portraits are Friday, y'all - crazy! Can you believe we're down to 45 (!!!) days? And we gotta get lookin' good.
So. Healthy food. Need. Easy. As another Pinterest meme goes, "I cannot brain today. I haz the dumb." This also accurately sums up my week. If you're on my blog because you're looking for some sort of complex recipe, I suggest you just make yourself a note to check back after April 26th. Actually, if you're looking for cohesive writing that makes sense and flows well, I also suggest you try again later.
But I digress. Food. Right. I was looking for some kind of vegetarian recipe on Pinterest, and I happened across these beauties. My B loves Southwestern-style food, so I knew I could get him into this.
What's better, I got myself into it, too. This was GOOD. It was sweet, spicy, savory, warm, filling...pick an adjective, because it probably applies. It's not been the greatest week sous mon parapluie, so it was nice to get a win. Brownie points because said win involved food, and food has incredible power to make you happy (or maybe that's just me).
This recipe is vegetarian (Seester-In-Law, I'm looking at you!) and also is probably Weight Watchers-approved. I'm not entirely up and up on the whole gluten thing, but it SEEMS like it would be gluten-free? There's no bread in it, anyway. A super-easy, warm and comforting weeknight meal - don't take my word for it, MAKE it!
Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 sweet potatoes (I used two, because they were GIANT)
Cooking spray (or olive oil)
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed well
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 cups fresh salsa
Cilantro (we used scallion onions)
Cook potatoes (either in microwave or oven, you choose - I personally prefer the oven).
Heat nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray or a drizzle of olive oil.
Add onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder, and saute for 3 minutes.
I also added a dash or two of paprika, some red pepper flakes, and some Trader Joe's South African Smoke Seasoning. What can I say, we like it hot.
Reduce heat to low, then add beans, corn and salsa. Cook 4 minutes, or until hot.
Cut cooked potatoes in half and fluff with a fork.
Spoon about a cup of bean mixture over each potato (or half-potato, depending on size).
Top with cheese and scallions.
I'm surprised B and I are even still awake right now. We spent the weekend cleaning the carpet in my place in preparation for him moving in soon. This sounds like a good and practical idea in theory, and it is just fine...until you realize that you have furniture - a LOT of furniture - that has to be worked around. Add in a Labrador that is dying to "help" and a neighbor that leaves nasty letters in the mailbox when we so much as cough, and you have a SUPER fun weekend going. NOT.
But we got it all finished. Finally. And the house looks amazing. So we decided to grill up some steak tonight and treat ourselves, and what goes better with steak than baked potatoes? Twice baked potatoes with a lot of stuff thrown in, that's what. And we had a handy-dandy recipe all nice and safe in the cookbook of family recipes that B's mom gave me for Christmas. Perfect.
Luckily, it's an easy recipe. To begin, take some potatoes and bake them however you normally do. I usually coat mine with a teensy bit of olive oil, then sprinkle generously with freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper. Bake them for about an hour at 375.
Once the potatoes are done, take them and very carefully cut an oval in the top of each potato and scoop out the potato innards. Try not to destroy the potatoes as you do this. I personally think I did pretty good.
Now it's time to take the potato mash and mix in the good stuff. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter per potato and 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream per potato. Now, I only used 4 tablespoons sour cream total, but I'm not a huge sour cream fan. You can add more if that's your thing.
Next, mix in any other savory goodness you want. We used freshly cooked and crumbled bacon (LOTS), green onions (lots of those as well), and Mexican blend shredded cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
Once you have the filling created to your satisfaction, very carefully put it back into the potato. If you broke the potato while you were scooping the mush out, use foil to hold it back together. Put the re-stuffed potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the insides are warm and gooey.
These were absolutely delicious, and much-needed (as was the glass of wine we had with the steaks, but that's another story). The moral of the story is this: home improvements are overrated. Momma-in-law's potatoes are not. Get cooking, not cleaning, my friends!
B's Momma's Twice Baked Potatoes
Potatoes (however many you think you need)
Any other toppings you want.
Bake potatoes for about an hour.
After potatoes are done, gently cut an oval out of the top of each one, scooping out potato pulp into a bowl.
Mash potato pulp.
Add about 1-2 tablespoons of butter per potato and about 2-3 tablespoons sour cream per potato.
Add the rest of the toppings of your choice.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
Carefully put the mixture back into each potato. Put potatoes onto a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes until thoroughly heated.
Devour, and enjoy!
Don't get me wrong, I love winter. I love fireplaces and scarves and coffee and hot chocolate and cute coats and boots and jeans and all the goodness that comes with winter. However, there is a point every year where it tips, and believe me, it has tipped for 2014. If it doesn't turn warm soon I'm going to go batshit crazy.
Plus, we've had these little teasers - 70-degree days here and there - but it never sticks around. However, during one of our nice days last week, I made this salad (with a few modifications - I HATE parsley).
The irony is, I don't really like the rest of the salad either. I don't like raw cucumbers. I like them marinated with onions, and I like them marinated as pickles, but I don't like them raw. I didn't eat any of this. I was being a good wifey-to-be and made it for B instead.
And he LOVES it. He had an entire BOWLFUL of it as a "side dish." And when I say bowlful, I mean heaping, mounded FULL BOWL of salad. I cannot adequately express to you how quickly an entire mixing bowl of this salad disappeared. If I didn't know better, I would think the dog had gotten into it.
So whether it's warm where you are, or you're just wishing it was, make this salad. Spring will be here soon...I hope.
B's Favorite Tri-color Salad
4 Persian cucumbers (I used 5, cause that's what was in the package)
3 Roma tomatoes (I used 4)
1 small white onion
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop. Combine. Eat. Enjoy.