Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peach, Maple, and Bourbon-Glazed Ham Steaks

If you're looking for a tasty last-minute addition to your Easter table this year, check out my Ham Steak Glazed with Peach, Maple, and Bourbon over at Food Fantatic! Just as delicious as a whole roasted or baked ham, but it cooks in mere minutes; perfect for smaller families (or last-minute "planners").

Plus, it's easy and quick enough to make any time of the year. And of course, it's boozy!

What's on your holiday menu this year?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pretzel Croissants {Bread Baking Babes}

Pretzel Croissants | www.girlichef.com
Guess whose turn it is to be the Bread Baking Babes Kitchen of the Month? Yes, mine! As the host, it's my responsibility to choose what we will be baking. Now, I like to choose a bread that is one (or more) of these things:

a) a challenge - something that takes a while to make or introduces a new technique
b) a favorite - something that I already love and think that everybody should know how to make
c) new to me - ummmmm, self-explanatory

The bread that I chose this month is sort of a combination of all three of my self-imposed requirements.


Sweet 'n Tangy Beer-Glazed Chicken #BeerMonth

Sweet 'n Tangy Beer-Glazed Chicken #BeerMonth | www.girlichef.com
If it's not your first time here, you probably know that I enjoy cooking and baking with booze. I'm even the resident Boozy Food Fanatic over at Food Fanatic. While I usually turn to my liquor cabinet shelves, I also include wine and beer in that category. Yes, I also drink booze, but bring it into the kitchen with the same fervor. I love matching the nuances of a particular drink with smells, flavors, and ingredients to turn them into something tasty.

These simple chicken breasts are one example. I started with an amber beer. Or should I say, una cerveza ámbar - Dos Equis Amber Lager. Mustard and beer are natural companions, but I also wanted some sweet and tangy flavors to add to the sauce. For the sweet, I turned to Piloncillo; those lovely brown cones of unrefined cane sugar. To balance out the deep, rich flavor of that, I added some cider vinegar.

Once all of those flavors bubbled and thickened a bit, I finished with handful of cilantro for a little brightness in every bite. I found the perfect accompaniment to be just some plain white rice, because it soaks up the juices and sort of mellows out the whole thing perfectly.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pizza Pockets #SundaySupper

Pizza Pockets | www.girlichef.com
One might think that pizza pockets are just a smaller version of a calzone. Smaller and shaped differently. Oh, and they have sauce on the INSIDE. I've heard tell that real calzones would not be caught dead sporting sauce on the inside. Plus, the only cheese acceptable in a real calzone is ricotta. So actually, pizza pockets and calzones really are two entirely different beasts.

Just like pizza, they make a great family meal because they are versatile (customizable), fairly simple to make (especially if you keep a few balls of pizza dough in the freezer), and let's face it - delicious.

This time around, I used sauce, cheese, and sweet Italian sausage in all of them, but to half, I added some onions, mushrooms, and black garlic that were sauteed in the fat left in the pan from cooking the sausage. So. Ridiculously. Good.

You could really shape these in any way that you like, go in half moons if you like, but if you do, be prepared to suffer the scorn of the connoisseurs who think you're trying to make calzones. I shaped mine the same way that I do my Pretzel Pockets (aka Hot Pocket-style). Due to the folding, the edges wind up being a bit thicker, like soft breadsticks, but as a crust-lover, I like the bonus crust. Everybody seems to.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Corn and Smoked Sausage Fritters + $50 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Florida Sweet Corn in conjunction with Kitchen PLAY. All opinions are my own.
Corn and Smoked Sausage Fritters | www.girlichef.com
I would like to personally thank the Sunshine State for sitting pretty with temps in the 80's at the beginning of April. Sure, I may shake my fist at my Florida friends when they share their pics of the Palm trees, foamy waves, and sunny weather map - but that's because I'm jealous.

Take our your violins. 

I'm pretty sure that I have a case of seasonal affective disorder going on. Our long, harsh winter was filled with 5-foot mountains of snow-ice (which are decidedly NOT as fun as simple mountains of snow) and unforgiving negative temperatures with even worse wind chills. It seriously is the worst winter that I can recall. And the last of our snow just melted last week. That would be after the first day of Spring. Or as we're calling it in the Midwest, "Spring".

Okay, bows down.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Beef Pho inspired by The Frangipani Hotel {book tour}

Beef Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup) inspired by The Frangipani Hotel - book tour and giveaway | www.girlichef.com
I've always loved the chill that hearing or reading ghost stories and urban legends gives me. My body literally shakes and tears involuntarily roll from the corners of my eyes, but I love every minute of it. The fact that they translate best when the air is murky and dark doesn't hurt. A bit of those feelings set in as I read short stories within The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith.

The Frangipani Hotel is a collection of stories revolving around Vietnamese culture, in some form or another. Some are haunting. Some make you think. Others leave you wondering what in the heck you just read. All hint at a bit of the supernatural. Kupersmith managed to weave humor and terror equally well into these cultural tales. And guess what else she did (because you know I can't help but look for it)? She successfully wove food and eating into the stories. But I'm not surprised, because I do think that food is an essential inclusion when spinning tales steeped in culture, history, and human emotion.

This book contains 9 stories, each of which I enjoyed for what it was. Looking back, however, I'm not surprised that ones that I remember best were the ones that contained food as a main element. At least that's how I saw them. Reception, Skin and Bones, and The Red Veil were my 3 favorites. They were definitely the most foodcentric. Following close behind were Little Brother and Guests; both also had food involved. I don't purposefully do it, I naturally gravitate towards the foodie aspect of anything.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Grilled Goat Cheese w/ Tomato & Tarragon on Olive Bread + No-Knead Olive Bread {#SundaySupper}

Grilled Goat Cheese with Tomato and Tarragon on Olive Bread | www.girlichef.com
Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese Month? If ever you needed an excuse to eat a grilled cheese sandwich every day for 30 days straight, this is it! Personally, I don't really think excuses are necessary when it comes to grilled cheese. It's been one of my favorites since I could chew.

During my sophomore year in college, some of our closest friends from our brother floor freshman year moved off campus. They moved into an ever-coveted house. But since we all got pretty tight the year before, they still dropped by the dorms to visit pretty often. Now, I ate the majority of my meals in the cafeteria - which I actually didn't mind. I thought the food was pretty good. Heck, we even had King Crab legs on special occasions. But sometimes, I just missed a home-cooked meal. Even if it was something as simple as a grilled cheese.

So, being the awesome guy that he was, Mike (one of our "brothers") used to make grilled cheese sandwiches and bring them to the dorm for me. I can't remember if he used the stovetop or a grilled cheese maker, but it didn't matter. It was the highlight of my day every time. Perfectly golden, crispy bread encasing ooey, gooey melted cheese. I don't think that I ever expressed how thankful I was to him for taking the time to do that, but it's a gesture that sticks with me to this day.