What a Mess in the US

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Jackson-Pollock-650x404Yes, I said it, we’re a complete mess, and not in a lovely way like my friend Jackson Pollack. Benghazi, IRS, tornadoes in Oklahoma, bridge collapsing in Washington state, one lottery winner in Florida. Get it together America. Also, New Orleans is being briefly affected by termite swarms. The only good thing I heard this week was that boy scouts have finally agreed to allow gay members.

Before I go on a complete rant, I decided that I should share a recipe with yall, and find that eternal calm that foods gives me. So what’s better than messy food? Right now, absolutely nothing.

Here’s my recipe for the ultimate messy food, the sloppy joe:

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mustard (whatever kind you prefer)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup bbq sauce of your choosing (be careful of brown sugar content you may need to adjust)
1-3 teaspoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Brown the beef, onion, and pepper.

2. Then stir in and incorporate the remaining ingredients with the beef mixture (make sure everything is mixed well). Simmer for about 30 minutes to let the ingredients meld, and season with salt and pepper before serving.

3. toast up some buns and eat up!

This also good as a hot dog topping or maybe with some eggs in the morning. Get creative!

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Festival Season + Picnic Specials

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So, I haven’t been posted since Mardi Gras, and NO I have not been partying or still recovering since my last post. I promise I’ll get better at this whole blogging at a decent amount of time between posts deal.

So right now in New Orleans its festival season, we just wrapped up Jazz Fest, which is nice cause I can leave my parking spot on the street, and not have to worry about competing with tourists for a spot 5 blocks away from my place. This weekend is the Bayou Boogaloo, which is 2 blocks from my place and involves bike rides, food, music, and all sorts of good stuff. This is literally my favorite time of the year (even if I complain about parking the entire time).

What I love to do is go picnic at a festival…claim my space with a blanket, open up a bottle of wine, and bust out a baguette and cheese, and maybe whatever jam or preserves I’m feeling. Image So today I was going to discuss my favorite cheeses, wines, and jams for a picnic.

Wine: Usually around this time of year it’s quite hot so I usually go with a rosé.

Cheese: I try to find one hard, one soft, and one semi soft cheese and I try and get different milks (cow, goat, sheep) as well. Soft Cheese: go for something decadent, goat cheese or brie of the triple creme variety, brillat savarin (which is essentially butter). Semi Soft/Medium Hard: go wacky, let your cheese monger choose for you, I’ve had Gouda, Gloucester….or even a bleu cheese like Roquefort. Hard Cheese: go traditional, I usually end up getting Manchego or Comte, something I’m familiar with because it’s easy to pair.

Jams: I never really go the berry route; I actually avoid them. I usually try to get fig (which goes great with bleu cheese) or apricot. I like to accompany my cheeses with fresh fruits too if I have them around, such as grapes of pear slices. Another great accompaniment is some walnuts or if you’re looking for a simple sweetener maybe bring along some honey and forget all fancy jams.

Anyway, what I’ve posted are just my guidelines, there are no cheese plate rules in my opinion, no matter what you’re having tons of cheese and that’s what really matters. What cheeses do you like to use in your cheese plates?

Quick and Easy Party Food, Mardi Gras Edition!

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downloadSometimes you have a party for a parade that passes by your house, you invite some friends and then end up with a beer pong table in the middle of your living room. I can’t say this was completely unexpected. In addition, I was well aware that most of my party-goers would be hungover from the night before, and wouldn’t be picky about whatever food I decided to serve them….I would also probably be hungover so I need to do something easy that would require any attention.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken wings….just need an hour on the grill over indirect heat. Also its any hungover person’s dream, who wouldn’t want to stumble into those.

  • 1 big ass pack of wings (around 10-12)
  • 1 pack of bacon (thinly sliced)
  • black pepper
  • Toothpicks
  • If you’re feeling ambitious bbq or hot sauce or other seasonings you like.

Soak your toothpicks for about 30 minutes to an hour in some water, prepare and light your grill for cooking over indirect heat. While the toothpicks are soaking, cut the tips off of your chicken wings and then cut the inside of the wing joint (don’t cut through all the way) to help straighten out the wings.

Now wrap your wing with bacon and secure with toothpicks, I kind of spiraled the bacon around the wing, just to ensure everyone gets a bite of chicken and bacon. I also used 2 toothpicks per wing. Add freshly ground pepper then throw these babies on the grill for about 30 minutes each side or until done.

After they were cooked I waited about 5 minutes for them to cool and pulled out all the toothpicks for my drunk guests. (this is where you can add extra sauce or seasoning if you like)….while these were cooking I made some chicken quesadillas.

Chicken Quesadillas – this recipe is embarrassingly easy and my mom and I have been making the recipe for years….its probably going on 10 years at this point but lets not talk about that.

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces (Tyson does make fajita chicken strips if you want to be super quick)
  • garlic powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • cheddar cheese soup (I usually use Campbell)
  • 1/2- 3/4 a jar of your favorite salsa (I use herdez medium)
  • Flour tortillas (8-10)

Preheat your oven to 350 (you can skip this step). Brown chicken on a non stick skillet, add garlic and red pepper while cooking. Once cooked add cheddar cheese soup and salsa…judge how much salsa you want depending on cheesiness level you want to have, color, and spiciness. I like spicy so I tend to use more salsa. Mix together until the sauce is consistent.

**Here you can fill the tortillas and just cut them up into finger food sized quesadillas OR you can fill the tortillas put them in a baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. I really the like the crispiness it adds and it makes them easier to cut up in to bite size pieces for guests.

Sometimes I’ll add beans, rice, or some spinach when I’m pretending to be healthy, but these are plenty filling without the extras.  Also any leftover sauce is good as a dip for chips!

There you go in a little over an hour you have pretty easy food for drunk party guests. What are your go to party recipes?

2013 So Far

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Here’s a post that will have a little bit of palates and a little bit of politics. So here’s the news that I’ve been paying attention to this month.

congress-women

2013 will have a record number of women in Congress, 98 out of 535 members are now women. This may not seem like a lot, but it’s an improvement. Honestly, I won’t be content until Congress is representational of our population, so a half male and female Congress, but that is still far off. Until then I will be happy with our record number of women this year.  Also, in an interesting aside, New Hampshire now has complete female representation with their governor, representatives, and senators!

159965632.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-largeOn January 23, the Secretary of Defense removed the military’s ban on women serving in combat. It hasn’t been fully implemented yet, but it will be interesting to watch. Also, I wonder if this will eventually lead to women having to sign up for selective service.

glasses-of-juice

Now, on to the palates section of this post! This month I did a cleanse. I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone and I’ll admit I accomplished that part. I got my cleanse offline and it consisted of 3 juices a day, and I could have any raw fruits of veggies as well. I definitely felt good after, some increases in energy, felt that I was watching my portions a lot more, and I’m still craving fruit (which is unusual for me).

The only bad part was, my tolerance to alcohol was gone, and when I finished the cleanse the next day was the first parade of the Mardi Gras season….let’s just say there was a video of me on stage singing the theme song to Green Acres (I wish I were kidding). Anyway this cleanse made me a lightweight, so  if I do it again, I need to be more conscious of events coming up that I will be drinking at…not so convenient in New Orleans. Other than that, it’s something I’d do again if I’m feeling the need to start fresh and give my body a break from all the bad foods I tend to eat.

 

Old School Holiday Recipe!

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Most families have a signature holiday dish. For my family, it was my grandma’s oyster dressing. The whole family, extended cousins and all, would rave about it. I’ll be honest, I hate it. I’ve tried at least once a year and I still don’t like it–I love oysters, I love dressing…but for some reason they don’t go well together for me. It might be that a couple years ago I found out it contained chicken livers, but I still hated it way before that incident. I’ve loved every other dish my grandma made, except that one.

There’s only one other cook in the family that would match up to my grandma’s talent, and that was my great aunt. Her and my grandma cooking together was heaven sent and really only happened three times a year. So I’m going to include her recipe for what she called “shrimp and bell pepper dip”

  • 5 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped (some green onions don’t hurt as well)
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 8 springs of parsley chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic-minced
  • 5 slices of white bread, soaked in water w. 2 bay leaves and 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter or margarine
  • 2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 can tomato paste-adding water if necessary (some family members say she used ketchup)

Preheat oven to 350 F

Melt butter. Saute peppers, onions, celery, green onions, and garlic until soft. Add shrimp, thyme, basil, oregano, and tomato paste. cook over low heat, stirring frequently for about 15 min. (add water if necessary, white wine probably isn’t a bad idea either)

Squeeze water out of the bread and crumble over the pepper mixture. add parsley. Stir to blend all ingredients, then add breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Place in a 2 quart dish, add more breadcrumbs if you like, and bake for 15 min.

please note that my great aunt made this different every time and didn’t write down recipes, but this is the closest consistent recipe my family can agree on. Please feel free to make changes and send me your recipes as well

Gratuitous Election Post!

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I’m back! My trusty macbook of 6 years died and left me, therefore I too have left the blogging world for a few months. So much has happened over election season I just decided that I would wait until it was over before I posted anything.

clearly you all do not need me to tell you who won or to point out all the crazy strict bipartisanship on Facebook and Twitter posts. However, I am here to tell you that I’m beyond excited about the other changes that were voted on last night.

Last night we saw significant victories for LGBT movement, and in my opinion the human rights movement in general (but that’s another post).  If you think back to 2008 and the passage of Prop 8, there has been a lot of change with this election. Last night, we saw the election of Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator. We also saw the passage of equal marriage in Washington, Maryland, and Maine, and the defeat of the man-woman marriage amendment  in Minnesota.

Also, we saw the legalization of marijuana in 2 states, and 18 states voted for medical marijuana usage.  Basically, last night, we saw the country make a big turn for socially liberal policies, and I’m quite excited to see what else comes next.

Back on the Blogging Wagon

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Hey Everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything and I do apologize. I had this beautiful post planned out about an engagement party I put on at my house, and I was going to talk about cooking for 20+ people and how to prep for an invasion of hungry people. However, shortly after this party Hurricane Isaac hit, and I was 4 days without power, and I’ve been very busy with work and my family since the storm.

After the storm I decided that I liked the  idea of posting some “roughin’ it recipes,” as I like to call them. I figured you can find plenty of engagement party recipes on pinterest. One of my favorite things about when the power goes out for an extended period of time is that I’m forced to eat. All those steaks and meals that were in the freezer for a special occasion are going to go bad, so call over your neighbors and dig in. For the first two days, we feasted on grilled steaks and pork tenderloin. So, glad my mom finally bought a grill after years of urging.

I relied heavily on my white bean and tuna salad recipe as well and used red wine vinegar instead of my usual lemon. You can find that recipe here.
You’d also be surprised what you could make with canned chicken as well, I needed to use up some sour cream that my mom was about to throw out, and I made a chicken salad with sour cream (you could probably use plain greek yogurt in it’s place) some mayo, and curry powder. throw in whatever crunchy items you have such as celery, almonds, cashews, basically anything you have if you’re big on texture. My mom had cherry tomatoes and grapes in hers.

Don’t underestimate the power of canned beans, my dad made a bean burrito with canned pinto beans, some rotel, and cheese whiz. Trust me it was not as bad as it sounds.

Anyway get creative, and if the power does go out you’ll be surprised with how many options you can come up with. What are some your power outage meals?

 

Louisiana Does It Again!

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I’ve been feeling lots of love towards Louisiana lately, the Saints season is starting back up, there’s a couple of festivals going on each weekend, and then BAM, I read about a Louisiana high school that has adopted a policy of not letting pregnant students or students who refuse to take a pregnancy test attend class (1).

My love for Louisiana came crashing down, and I remember I live in a place that still needs to learn a thing or two about education and human rights. Honestly, what chance do these girls have in life if they can’t get a high school degree? This also punishes their children too, what kind of job is a high school dropout with a kid going to be able to get, how will she support herself and a child?

If a girl is pregnant and is still attempting to go to school, shouldn’t educators do all they can to help, not hinder or punish her for her decision? In my opinion, this policy encourages abortion as well, and I don’t think that was this socially conservative school’s goal. This school is setting up pregnant teens for a poor, uneducated, and most likely government assisted life which is something schools should be trying to prevent.

Luckily this policy is under review now that it’s received national attention, but it’s already been in place for 6 years.  With Louisiana’s high teen pregnancy rate, who knows how many girls have been affected by this rule. This school should focus it’s policy towards preventing teen pregnancy.

Anyway, now that I’ve already got myself all riled up and disappointed in my home state again, I should try and bring some joy to all the pregnant ladies out there with a fantastic recipe for fried pickles!

  • 1-2 cups peanut oil
  • 1 jar dill pickle slices
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, I usually go Italian
  • 1 teaspoon or less cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Ranch dressing for dipping!
  1. Heat the oil in deep skillet, over medium heat.
  2. Dry off pickles as best you can. Put all the dry ingredients together (spices and crumbs) and then dip the pickles into the beaten eggs and then coat with the dry mix.
  3. Then fry your pickles in the oil until deliciously golden brown, try to turn them over only once. constantly flipping will make you lose your batter.
  4. Enjoy with some ranch dressing!

What policies do you think this school should implement?

The Underrated Peach!

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Sorry I’ve been away from the blogging scene for longer than usual. I celebrated my birthday last week and when possible I like to extend celebrations beyond one day.

So the point of this post is essentially to talk about my new found love of peaches. I must say the peach does not get as much attention as it should. I know a peach will never be a delicious summer berry, but personally I’m blueberry and strawberried out. Peaches are a great change and very versatile as well! Here are some great ways to enjoy peaches:

1.) Have you ever had a grilled peach? Please try it immediately, if you don’t want to heat up your grill, you can kind of fudge it on a George Foreman grill just don’t push the other side down at all or for very long. Slice them up thin and throw them on a salad with some nuts, goat cheese, and a sweet dressing (I usually use a honey balsamic dressing). It’s an awesome light and summery treat.

2.) Peaches + Salty Pork Product + Flavorful Cheese, is my new favorite combination. I’ve made a peach, bacon, and gouda grilled sandwich that’s changed my life. Also, peach, prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese pizza with a drizzle of honey is an awesome change from the continued pepperoni pizza flow that is usually happening in my apartment.

3.) Peach quesadillas! my mom mentioned that when she was younger she used to get peaches and cheddar cheese as a side with her school lunches. I used to think that was insane until I thought about making a peach and cheddar cheese quesadilla. Caramelize some red or yellow onions (depending on preference) and in separate pan with some melted butter or oil layer your half of your tortilla with shredded cheddar cheese, peach slices, and cooked onions (and some more cheese for good mesaure and cook on both sides til golden brown.
do you have any other ways of bringing peaches beyond the realm of cobblers and crisps? I’d love to hear other people’s peach recipes!

American Nuns Getting Spicy with the Vatican!

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This will be the second time I’ve written about nuns on this blog, but at least this time it doesn’t involve underage dancers dressing as nuns.  I don’t want to tell you the disturbing amount of people who search for “nun strippers” and stumble across my blog in disappointment. Anyway to get back on topic, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is currently under investigation by the Vatican and it is being led by 3 bishops. The question is Why?

Apparently this group, which represents about 80% of U.S. nuns, was not spending sufficient amount of effort and time on sexuality and gender issues and too much time on social justice issues (1). I usually find that social justice issues tend to encompass issues of gender and sexuality, so this accusation seems quite baseless to me. It seems that the Vatican is afraid that these nuns are too feminist or radical, and they need to spend more time combating abortion and gay marriage instead of feeding the homeless. These nuns are smart enough to realize that if they start promoting their an anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda over the charitable work they do, they will alienate and scare a huge proportion of the population they wish to serve.  Who will come and ask for help when they are afraid of moral judgement and punishment? I certainly wouldn’t be in line for that; I hope these talks between the Vatican and LCWR will allow these women to still be considered faithful, and feel safe to ask questions of their faith.

As some of you know I was raised Catholic, and I went to Catholic school and was taught by nuns, I even had a former nun teach me. I think it’s a complete shame for them to be lambasted like this.  They already lead a life that is questioned and made fun of by most of society, but when their own Church that they have dedicated themselves to deems their actions inappropriate it is truly saddening.

On a lighter note, if this situation gets you very fired up, and makes you want to get spicy with the Catholic Church for the sake of some questioning nuns, then I have a recipe for you! This one is super easy too!

I’ve been really into making flavored butters lately, hence the last post about possibly making a bone marrow butter, so this is my spicy butter.

  • 2-3 tbsp of softened butter
  • 1 chile from canned chipolte peppers in adobo sauce, minced. *

*If you’re afraid this chile will be too spicy, you can always seed it and then mince it. The seeds carry the majority of the heat. I like to leave the seeds, but this is just my preference.

This goes great on an array of goodies. I like melting this on top of some grilled shrimp along with a good squeeze of lemon juice.  i think this would be a good with some grilled corn the cob as well.