Friday, January 31, 2014

Blackberry Chia Agua Fresca

Blackberry Chia Agua Fresca | www.girlichef.com
Why yes, yes I did strain the seeds from my blackberries only to add other seeds back in. I'm crazy like that. But the thing is, blackberry seeds are annoying. They're hard and annoying and they get stuck in your teeth. Chia seeds, on the other hand, are suspended in their own gel orb - that makes them fun and the opposite of annoying. Endearing? Enchanting? Pleasing! Okay, they also occasionally get stuck in your teeth...but they're much easier to wiggle out.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know my affinity for chia. I have affectionately dubbed it my #DailyChia, but I stopped sharing it all the time, because I'm sure people were fairly irked at seeing my bottle filled with various hued liquids with those pleasing little bubbles suspended inside. You know - daily.

Now, my "regular" daily chia is a mix of the seeds, coconut water (with or without pulp), and a random juice or tea. It's easy. I shake it up in a bottle in the evening and stick it in the fridge. Come the next day, my omega-3/calcium/fiber-rich beverage is at my fingertips. It's said that chia seeds boost both endurance and energy, and I totally agree. Whether real or psychological, I drag on the days when I forget it.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rum Runner Sangria #CaptainsTable

Rum Runner Sangria #CaptainsTable | www.girlichef.com
I'm tempted to tell you all about the 4-foot mounds of snow in my front yard. Or maybe the fact that if I sit at my computer without my slippers on, my feet don't unthaw for at least 3 hours - while under a blanket! But I know you're sick of hearing about the cold. And you  know what? So am I. So, let's think tropical!

There's not much that I wouldn't give to dig my toes into some sun-toasted sand right about now. Throw in my Jackie-O sunglasses, a good book, and a fruity cocktail and I may build a sandcastle and take up residence.  Enter the classic fruity cocktail: the Rum Runner.

The Rum Runner was developed in a Florida Tiki Bar (Holiday Isle in Islamorada) in the 1950's by a bartender looking to use up some of his inventory of rum and liqueurs in order to make room for a new delivery. So, a little bit of this, a little bit of that and ba-da-boom - the rest is history. It was named after the first rum runners who lived in the Florida Keys during the time of prohibition.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sticky-Sweet Caribbean Wings #CaptainsTable

Sticky-Sweet Caribbean Wings #CaptainsTable | www.girlichef.com
For the past week or so, I've been testing out football food. You know, game-friendly food. Food that can be eaten in front of the t.v. while the big game is on. Food that can be held in one hand while the other one is raising the roof or balled into a fist of fury. Food that can be done in advance so that viewing time is fully optimized.

The funny thing about so many things we consider football food...or finger food...is that it is actually messy. Think dips and salsas (I'm a notorious dribbler), nachos (hey, things tumble off, if can't be helped), and of course wings (sticky, glorious, sauce-on-your-cheeks wings)! But there's a solution to that, and it's called the paper towel value-pack. Or a stack of cloth napkins. But these foods tend to stain, and I'm weird in that I like to minimize stains on my cloth napkins. I'm such a study in contradictions.

But back to the matter at hand. Game Day food. Namely, chicken wings. I've been in a wing frenzy this year, which is funny. Some years I can take 'em or leave 'em, but this year I can't seem to get enough. I've been experimenting with all sorts of fun flavors. I've got a couple more to come (and yes, you may even see some after the big game this Sunday - because we all know that there's not enough time in my day to get things done in advance).


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites {she made, ella hace}

Jalapeño-Cheddar Pretzel Bites | www.girlichef.com
Due to the craziness of the holiday season, Leslie and I missed a couple of months of she made, ella hace. We're back in the swing of things this month...and not because things have necessarily slowed down or gotten less crazy. Simply because we've just missed our time cooking together. I need time with my foodie bff!

Since it's the week leading up to the Super Bowl, our theme for the month was an easy pick: Football Snacks! Now, I hear tell that there are people out there who could care less about football. I am not one of those people. I absolutely love it! I scream at the television. I call in plays from the sofa. I've even been known to knock over a t.v. tray in the heat of the moment - something my kids will never let me live down. Kind of like the time I forcefully told a team to "suck it" when we beat them...long live the underdog! I cannot be held responsible for my actions when my team takes the field.

But just as important to the football experience is the food. Be it something you buy from the vendors during halftime at the stadium, or a glorious spread laid out in front of you at home (okay, that's almost better since you don't have to wait until halftime), food and drink go hand-in-hand with football.


Monday, January 27, 2014

"Magic" Brownies ...inspired by The Breakfast Club {food 'n flix}

"Magic" Brownies | www.girlichef.com
Sometimes it's good to go outside of the box. Take for example this month's Food 'n Flix pick. Our host, Debra, chose one of my all-time favorite movies, The Breakfast Club. Yes, it has the name of a meal in the title, but the movie itself is not really a foodie-movie. We don't let that stop us. No, not the royal we, the food 'n flix gang we.

I don't even know where to begin on this one. First of all, I don't think that there's a single person out there who has not seen The Breakfast Club. Right? Please don't answer if you're going to say no. Just go watch it and come back; we'll pretend like the "never seen it" part didn't happen. Of course, I'm an eighties child. Maybe it's just a prerequisite of my generation. And being a parent, I have now also seen the 30-minute "re-do" in the form of Victorious. I'll admit, it was cute. I love the kid's shows that are made as much for the parents as they are for the kids.

But anyway. I contemplated making a good breakfast for them to eat in detention. Or perhaps some sushi for Claire. I even toyed with the idea of using Pixie Stix and/or Cap'n Crunch in honor of Allison's lunch. Maybe a hearty meal fit for Andrew, the high school athlete. I'm thinking Brian may have happy with a typical 80's brown bag lunch of a sandwich, Doritos, a piece of fruit, and a juice box. And Bender...well...I could have thrown a Coke and cigarettes in front of him and I'm guessing he'd be totally okay with it.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos #SundaySupper

Game-Day Pulled Pork Nachos | www.girlichef.com
When I hear "game day food", my mind conjures up images of things you can eat with your hands. Burgers, sliders, and brats. Spicy, garlicky wings. Sticky Carnitas sprinkled with salt and waiting to be scooped up with a warm corn tortilla. Dips and spreads, both hot and cold, being scooped up with crackers, chips, and crunchy veggies. A baking sheet piled high and wide with crispy tortilla chips smothered with melty cheese, spicy meat, and a plethora of tasty toppings.

And then, when I think about what I want to drink with that type of food, cold bottles of beer inevitably take first place. Beer and messy food (food eaten with your hands is inevitably messy, right) just sort of go hand-in-hand.

But, what if I was to take a spread like that, and set out a few bottles of wine in place of (or alongside) the normal offerings of beer and soda? How would the wine be received? Well, no better place to start testing that out than at  home. With myself.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Balsamic-Honey-Fig Roasted Butternut Squash {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Balsamic-Honey-Fig Roasted Butternut Squash | www.girlichef.com
When this post goes live, I will be in the air somewhere between Chicago and New York City. This makes me happy for oh-so-many reasons. One of them being that while I'm in New York, I'll be meeting one of my long-time blogging friends, and 12 Weeks of Winter Squash co-host Joanne, in person! Can. Not. Wait.

But that being said - this week is the FINAL week of this round of the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash. What at first seemed like weeks of endless possibilities, flew by in rapid fashion! I used tons more pumpkin this year than I did last year, but that seemed to come at the cost of sacrificing some of the usual spaghetti squash and butternut squash that I love the most. Seriously, I blinked and week 12 was here.

If you've been following along with my posts, you probably know that I semi-swore that I was going to use that darn Blue Hubbard squash that's taken up residence in my kitchen this week. What you probably didn't know was that I totally had my fingers crossed behind my back. That thing is glaring at my from the kitchen table as I type. It's mocking me, really. But don't worry, I'll teach it a thing or two before long. I think.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tomato Bread (Tapas) #SundaySupper

Tomato Bread (Tapas) | www.girlichef.com
One of the things that fascinates me the most about any subject, is history...roots...origin. Learning about a culture through its traditions. Finding out how a person or a place got its name. Reading about how a food or dish "came to be". I thrive on that stuff.

So, while I was already familiar with Tapas, when they were named our theme for this week's edition of Sunday Supper, I decided to dive a little deeper and find its roots.

Sure, I knew that tapas stemmed from the word tapar, meaning "to cover". I knew that they were "small plates" and that they are normally associated with Spain. I knew that they were normally served as a bite or two alongside alcohol. I knew that just thinking about them makes me long for a glass of sherry in my hand, just so that I could eat some serrano ham along with it. And I don't even drink plain sherry.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

No-Knead Chocolate Bread Dough (+ Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread and Chocolate Prune Bread) for Bread Baking Babes

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread (no-knead) | www.girlichef.com
There's a moment early in my marriage that I will never forget. Okay, plenty of moments, but...

We were living in our first little house. It was probably the first year of our marriage. Our kitchen was ridiculously tiny. My total counter space was 12-inches by 13-inches. That made not only cooking and baking things hard (the prep part), it also meant we had limited space to put things. So, our loaves of bread were stored on top of the refrigerator - right next to the cereal, of course.

I was in the kitchen doing dishes, or something equally exciting, when I heard the crinkle of a cello bag.  The hubs was going in. He reached around me to grab a clean plate, then plopped a couple of slices from the bag onto it. Thirty seconds later I hear sounds of protest. This isn't chocolate. I thought it was chocolate!

Nope. It was Rye-Pump Swirl.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The BEST Biscuits and Gravy (w/ All-Natural Honey Hype Spice)

Biscuits 'n Gravy (w/ All Natural Honey Hype Spice) from www.girlichef.com
A few weeks ago, I unwittingly made THE best sausage gravy. The. Best.

It all started with a yearly swim-brunch. It's a tradition. In case you didn't know, swimmers work their butts off! Swimmers are a special breed. Two-a-day practices. In before the sun rises, and out as (or after) it's setting. And they burn calories like a furnace in the middle of a cold, harsh winter. All of the parents bring in a dish. The kids swim 100 - 100's, and then they eat together before going home to celebrate the holidays.

I knew that I wanted to bring biscuits and gravy this year. They're one of my son's favorites. And who doesn't love stick-to-your-ribs comfort food after a work-out like that on a cold morning? Well, I'm sure there are many who might not - but I'm guessing they're not swimmers.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Lamb and Butternut Squash Stew {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Lamb and Buttternut Squash Stew | www.girlichef.com
Is there anything more comforting in the middle of winter than a big bowl of stew? I'm thinking, not a whole lot. From the heady aroma escaping through the cracks of the oven door, to each hearty stick-to-your-bones spoonful, stew is the embodiment of comfort food.

This particular stew came about when I found two carefully wrapped packages in my freezer that I'd sort of let slip my mind. A month and half or so ago, I found a nice little (and I do mean little) lamb shoulder at the market. I can't remember what I thought I was going to make with it, but I took it home and separated the meat from the bone. Chunks of deep red lamb meat went into one freezer bag, and the bone went into another.

I remember them sitting in the fridge for a couple of days, and then I must have gotten busy or decided not to make whatever it was I had in mind, because I transferred them to the freezer.  They were pushed to the back of both the freezer and mind mind in short order.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Key Lime Pie Martinis {#SundaySupper Turns Two!}

Key Lime Pie Martinis | www.girlichef.com
Today the Sunday Supper crew is celebrating TWO years with a menu packed with celebration food, and posts packed with Sunday Supper memories and favorite moments. To be completely honest with you, I can't remember how I "discovered" the Sunday Supper Movement. I think it may have been through Jen at Juanita's Cocina. My very first Sunday Supper post was in July of 2012 (about 6 months after its conception) for the theme Beat the Heat. Guess what I made? Yup. Popsicles. Blackberry Lavender ones to be exact. Some things never change.

It's really amazing to me the things that have come about in my life since I joined Sunday Supper. First and foremost, I believe in the mission. Spending time around the family table with our family can start on Sunday, but extends into every day life. It's more than just a movement, it's a way of life. A time to connect and share, laugh and sometimes even cry, enjoy food and make memories.

I have participated in 70 Sunday Suppers and hosted 4 times, and I was recently named Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Supper Movement Online Community Magazine (!!).I've met so many amazing people because of it, as well. Yes, many of them I only know through our time together on the internet, but I had the pleasure of not only meeting many in person at the Food and Wine Conference last summer, but also dining with, rooming with, drinking with, laughing with, and giving/getting a good hug from them also. These include Isabel, Renee, Karen (roomie), Amy, Cindy, Carla (roomie #2), Susan, Nicole, Lane, Kim...and surely I'm forgetting somebody (I'm sorry - just yell at me). But not only did I meet Sunday Supper friends, I met other friends from the food blogging world like Lora, Chef Dennis, Betsy, and Pam to name a few. I hope that I get to hug all of them again AND meet even more of the Sunday Supper family this summer.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Pumpkin Power Smoothie {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Pumpkin Power Smoothie | www.girlichef.com
So, it seems that 2014 is not about to slow down and give me any time to catch my breath. It's been less than a week and I already need to pick up my pace. So, while I said (okay, implied) that I was done copping out and using pumpkin in my 12 Weeks of Winter Squash posts...I'm doing it one last time.

But fortunately, this is a POWER smoothie. So, you know, now I have the energy to power through a few tasks that need doing. Case in point: I actually already have my dish for next week done. And there isn't a can of pumpkin anywhere in sight.

Of course, there are only two...TWO!...weeks left of our 12 week journey. But hey, every week counts. I'm hoping that I get my bootie in gear and bust into that Blue Hubbard that I mentioned weeks (months?) ago for our final week.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Our Love Could Light the World + Onion and Black Olive Naan Pizza {book tour}

Onion and Black Olive Naan Pizza inspired by Our Love Could Light the World {book tour} | www.girlichef.com
Our Love Could Light the World
author: Anne Leigh Parrish
publisher: She Writes Press
source: TLC Book Tours
paperback: 192 pages

"foodie" elements: Though I wouldn't consider this a foodie novel, food references run rampant throughout the book. While some authors tend to overlook the amount of food in everyday life, Parrish represents it well.

And as I'm wont to do, I'll list some of the food (and drink) that pops up in the book: spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, tuna casserole, beef stew, chili and beer, soup with a slice of buttered bread, steak 'n potatoes, key lime pie, green salads with goat cheese and roasted red peppers, pot roast, hard-boiled eggs and sandwiches, cookies and milk, whiskey, chicken soup, Chinese food, cold pizza, homemade tomato sauce, pear & brie tartlets, roasted vegetables with tomato basil dipping sauce, lamb sliders with caramelized onions, and leg of lamb.

See?  Foodie elements.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Orange-Fig Jam #SundaySupper

Orange-Fig Jam | www.girlichef.com
When it comes to my slow cookers, the thing that they are most often filled with is meat; big roasts or a pile of chicken thighs. Or it's filled with soups, stews, or chili. Unless it's the holidays, then there is probably some mulled wine taking up residence. I have made cake in my slow cooker. Once. And okay, my small one often holds some sort of warm dip. But they are capable of so much more!

And since our Sunday Supper theme for this week is Slowly Bringing in the New Year, I decided that now was the perfect time to veer off the path, and use my slow cooker for something that I've never used it for in the past - jam. It makes sense to make jam in a slow cooker, if you think about it. The low, steady heat prevents scorching.

Figs and oranges go together like peanut butter and chocolate. And the scent of them doing their thing in the corner of the kitchen is bound to put a smile on your face. And warm you right up if it's as cold where you are as it is where I am (it's supposed to be anywhere from -40 to -56 overnight with the wind chill). You know, as long as you don't actually set food outside.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pumpkin-Oatmeal Cookies {12 Weeks of Winter Squash}

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies for the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash on www.girlichef.com
It's funny, because last year during the 12 Weeks of Winter Squash, I don't remember doing a single recipe that contained pumpkin puree. I used whole varieties of other squash all the way through. This year, I've used puree more often than not. It may have something to do with the ridiculous stock of it lining my pantry. Apparently I went a little nuts at the end-of-the-season sale last year.

It kind of feels like I'm cheating. Or using Cliffs Notes instead of reading the book. I'm sliding by with a C-. But fortunately, I've always been able to plead my case convincingly. Take these cookies for example.

They are soft without being cakey, and studded with bits of pepitas, toasty pecans, and tart dried cranberries. Plus, they have oats. Oats means that they are totally acceptable to eat for breakfast. And that beautiful orange hue? It comes from the addition of pumpkin. Also healthy.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Balsamic Brown Sugar-Glazed Pork Tenderloin {slow cooker} #WeekdaySupper

Balsamic Brown Sugar-Glazed Pork Tenderloin {slow cooker} at www.girlichef.com
Sticky glaze with crispy bits on the outside. Fork-tender on the inside. Pork doesn't get much better than that. Well, unless it's bacon. Upon presenting this dish, your family might think that you spent the entire day working on it - if they didn't know better.

In reality, the hands on time is 30 minutes or less.  It starts with a simple pork massage consisting of garlic paste, sage, and some simple salt and pepper.  Pop it into the crockpot. Swoon every time you walk back into the house from being gone for a while (the smell!).

After that, it's just a matter of preheating your broiler and brushing and turning the pork tenderloins a few times once you've lifted them from the slow cooker.  The hardest part is convincing them not to fall apart until they've been properly glazed.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sparkling Pomegranate Margarita

Sparkling Pomegranate Tequila from www.girlichef.com
It's pretty much tradition to welcome in a new year with fizzy drinks, the most obvious choice being champagne or sparkling wine. Lately, as I've been growing older more mature, I've been forgoing the nighttime bubbly for a little "first day of the year mimosa madness". I mean, I found myself popping the celebration cork at midnight, drinking a glass, and then immediately going to bed. What a waste of bubbles.  Thus, my tradition began.

But this year, I decided that there was absolutely nothing wrong with popping that cork earlier in the evening. I was in the mood for margaritas, actually.  I'd received some samples of Partida tequila and was eager to give them a try.  So, I thought, why not combine the two?

Though all of the varieties were nice for their own reasons, I was drawn towards the Añejo to use in the margaritas for its nose of cherries and dried fruit with undertones of chocolate. It would make the perfect partner for the bold pomegranate and silky Licor 43.