Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Southern Food Revolution

I was inspired for the name of this post from a comment someone posted on my facebook of my Southern Chips. He said "Southern without it being fried. Someone is starting a food revolution." My Southern Chips are made from Mustard Greens which I toss in olive oil and salt and bake until cripsy.
His comment inspired me to post some of my Southern recipes that are on the healthier side.  I want to show others that Southern food doesn't have to mean using a pound of butter and deep frying.

I made kale chips for the first time this week. I tried them at Hundred Acres restaurant the last time I was in New York.  After making the kale chips, I decided that I could substitute mustard greens for kale. Mustard greens have a similar flavor to kale. My Southern Chips (Mustard Green Chips) are a healthier alternative to potato chips. This is a fun way to get your kids to eat their greens.

Southern Chips (Mustard Green Chips)
3 cups chopped mustard greens, washed & dried
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a bowl, toss mustard greens, olive oil, and salt.  Place onto a baking sheet.
Bake at 300 degrees for 16 minutes.
Let cool slightly and carefully remove from baking sheet.

Brussel Sprouts, "little cabbages" as my mom likes to call them, is a vegetable that not very many people are a fan of. I can say I have converted many "finicky eaters" to brussel sprout fans. As I was in line one day to pay for my groceries, the lady behind me asked me what I was going to do with the brussel sprouts. I described to her how I was going to roast them in the oven. I toss brussel sprouts and onion slices in olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. I then roast them in the oven on 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The result is carmelized sweet brussel sprout goodness. Needless to say, she and the lady behind her got out of line to get some brussel sprouts.

So I have a new recipe using brussel sprouts. It is Sauteed Brussel Sprout, Leek, and Green Apple with Candied Pecans. The combination of ingredients is unique but works so well together. The flavors are slight bitterness from the sprouts, sweetness from the leek, apple, and candied pecans, and slight tartness from the apple. All the flavors and textures make for a great tasty dish.  So without further ado I present my brussel sprout dish......

Sautéed Brussel Sprouts, Leek, and Green Apple with Candied Pecans

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
About 10 large fresh brussel sprouts, sliced thin
1 leek, sliced thin
1/4 granny smith apple, halved and sliced thin
½ tsp. hickory smoked salt
Candied Pecans (recipe below)

Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add sprouts, leek, and apple slices to skillet. Season with salt and cook for 8-10 minutes. Gently toss vegetables during cooking time to coat in butter and oil and prevent from cooking on only one side.
To finish, top with candied pecans and serve immediately.

Candied Pecans
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. cane sugar
¼ cup pecan halves, cut in half lengthwise

Over medium-low heat, bring water, sugar, and pecans to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue simmering for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sugar and water should turn into syrup. Using a fork, remove pecans onto wax paper to cool.

Did you know that brussel sprouts grow on a stalk?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


What I love about holidays are that I have an excuse to bake a lot of sweets ha ha! I have a big sweet tooth. Easter is coming up soon. I am looking forward to Easter this year because last year I was filming Masterchef. I really missed spending Easter with my family.

My family's Easter lunch has always been spent at my great grandmother's house but the past few years my great Aunt has hosted the lunch. There is always a lot of good food and fun fellowship. I like to contribute delicious springtime desserts to my family's Easter lunch. This year I am planning on making cupcakes. What I love about cupcakes are that they are easy to decorate and transport.

Speaking of decorating my favorite "icings" are glazes and whipped cream. One of my new cupcake creations is Balsamic Strawberry "Short" Cupcake. It is a light flavorful vanilla cupcake topped with strawberry slices, tossed in sweet balsamic vinegar, and "iced" with homemade whipped cream. Not only do I like the top of my cupcakes to look impressive but I like to present my cupcakes in impressive liners. When it comes to liners, Sutton cupcake liners are my number one choice. They come in so many colors and patterns but the best part is that when you bake your cupcake in Sutton liners, the colors and pattern shows up. Every cupcake liners I've used will fade after baking. This is frustrating and disappointing after I pick out cute liners to use and then you can't even tell what the cute design looks like. Look at this cute design of Sutton's Scroll in turquoise & red.  I want my cupcakes to look their Sunday best no matter what day of the week I make them.

You can serve my Balsamic Strawberry "Short" Cupcake at your Easter lunch. When you order a sampler pack of Sutton's cupcake liners on my Open Sky account, you will receive my cupcake recipe. Click on the link to follow me and purchase now!

Food is a big part of my family's Easter lunch but fellowship is too. I have a large extended family. There are usually more than 30 people at our lunch. It is always so much fun and entertaining whether we are flying kites or cheering the kids on in their fun activities. One year my younger cousins did something called "Mutton Bustin" or sheep riding. This was the funniest thing I have ever seen! ha ha!

Fun times are always found at my family's Easter. I am really looking forward to spending Easter this year with my family.
The most important thing to me is my Faith and family. Easter is a time to remember what Christ did for us on the cross and then rose on the third day. Thank you Lord for loving me enough to die on the cross to save me from my sins.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Traveling Palate

I have been so blessed with all of my travels lately. In the month of March, I went from California to Chicago and then to New York. One of my favorite things about traveling is the opportunity to experience food from the different cities.

I was in Chicago for the 2011 International Home + Housewares Show. I was honored to have been asked to do a cooking demo on the main stage.
Click on the link above to view my demo!

Other chefs doing cooking demos were Rick Bayless (Top Chef Masters), Paula Deen, Michael Symon (Iron Chef), Cat Cora (Iron Chef), Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), and Curtis Stone (Top Chef host, America's Next Great Restaurant). I was very star struck at meeting Guy Fieri and Curtis Stone. I was among many women waiting in line to get my cookbook signed my Curtis. He is so CUTE!
I was even able to go to Curtis's premiere party for his America's Next Great Restaurant show.

So back to restaurants I visited in Chicago. Graham Elliott (one of the Masterchef judges) set my family and I up to a 19 course meal at his restaurant. I enjoyed the Caesar salad- gem lettuce+ brioche twinkie + white anchovy and "lobster" atlantic monkfish + cheddar hushpuppy + slaw vinaigrette.

Chicago pizza oh my! How I now love Chicago style deep dish pizza. I ate at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. My favorite pizza was the "Malnati Chicago Classic". The crust was crisp and crunchy, tomato sauce was so fresh and flavorful, and the sausage was surprisingly, to me, good. I am usually not a sausage fan but I could tell their sausage was homemade and it was good.

Art Smith's restaurant Table Fifty-Two was really good. It was a comforting Southern style meal that reminded me of home. I felt like a celebrity in which the table we sat. I was told Lady Gaga and President Obama had sat at the table we were seated. His fried chicken was delish! I tried the side of three cheese mac which was served piping hot out of the wood-fired oven.
Now on to dessert, my favorite part of the meal which I always save room for ha ha!
We were treated with real Southern Hospitality. We were given a taste of every dessert on the menu. They were as follows Art's Hummingbird cake (huge slice, really good), Southern Pecan Pie (loved it & I'm not a pecan pie fan), 12 Layer Chocolate Cake (my dad's favorite), and Bananas, Bourbon & Bacon (very unique).
Thanks Chef Art for a wonderful meal!

One suggestion for Chicago travelers, go in the summer! I know I will be making another trip.

Well I have ran out of time and room to include all the wonderful restaurants I ate at in New York so this blog post is to be continued......