Thursday, July 26, 2012

Strawberry Riesling Slush

Ready for the weekend? I don' know what the weather is going to be where you are but here is SC it is going to be in the 90s. Why not sit on your back porch with a group of friends and share a frosty summer drink? I have the perfect one here. So simple and you can prepare it before and have it in the freezer for that after work drink or the group of unexpected friends that stop in for a chat. Make extra and make it tonight!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crockpot Pulled Pork BBQ

When I moved to SC in 1999 to attend school, I quickly got introduced to BBQ.  Not the type that comes from the grill, but slow cooked, smoky, falling of the bone pork BBQ.  This was a new culinary experience for me and I fell in love!! Not only did I fall in love with the BBQ but also all the sides that came with it; Brunswick stew being my favorite.  I enjoyed the laid back attitude in the restaurants and appreciated the pride in the cooking and culture. As I met folks from this area, they all thought I was a bit of a novelty. "What do you mean you never had Fried Okra? She has never tasted Hash!! You don't know what a chitlin is?  We need to get you some Pully Bones......" What??  And so off we would go.....I enjoyed every chance meeting I had with the food of this region. OK, I did put my foot down on the chitlins and the boiled peanuts can trigger my gag reflex like nothing else. But truthfully, today, nothing is more comforting after a long day at work than a bowl of hot cheese grits.

Thanks to a very special lady here in the south, a grandma of sorts, I learned to cook a lot of the dishes that I learned to love. She took me under her wing and we started out simple. I don't think she had much confidence in me; "the girl who was not from here." But over time, I proved to her that I wanted to learn and for that she was quite proud and not afraid to tell whomever was around. A lot of the recipes she told me were not written down and still aren't.   Since her passing last year, I don't know where any of her written recipes have gotten to, but I will always rememeber the one measurement  she always used, when in doubt, "just add you a lil' bit."

She gave me more than "a lil' bit" as a newcomer to this area ....she gave me a lot of Love.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grandma Ethel's Calico Baked Beans

Slow cooking allows the flavors to really blend.
This is one of my Grandma Ethel's recipes that I remember eating every year at our family reunion. It is an old recipe that I have had forever but never made. I have had multiple parties and cookouts but I guess I never made "the occasion" to make this recipe. When I was planning my Summer Porch Party to share my new house with my best friends, I was going through recipes and thought why not use an old recipe that is new to me since I had never made it.

It has been quite a few years since I have had these slow baked, legumes. The classic recipe is really simple and the smell that fills the house while the beans cook is amazing. There is a good amount of bacon and ground beef in this recipe which makes it superfilling. It is hearty enough to eat as an entree or pair it with some chicken or a burger for a great side dish.

These beans got rave reviews at my party which made me proud. Not only was I proud of the recipe itself but I was humbled once again to make a recipe that was my Grandma's; keeping her spirit with me in the kitchen and through the celebrations of my life.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cannoli Cupcakes


Cannoli Cupcakes

This is a recipe that combines two of my favorite desserts and definitely a lot of my favorite flavors. I am a sucker for a cannoli of any type and cupcakes are one of the most indulgent things in life.

Cannoli always remind me of my Mom. That has been one of our favorite desserts for as long as I remember; no actually since our days of going to the beach in Maryland when I was a child. On one special night, we would walk down the boardwalk in Ocean City to get our cannoli fix. It was something that we did every year and I think that this became our special dessert because we only got them one time per year. As time changed and the years passed, we quit going to Ocean City and so no more "Beach Cannoli" that we looked forward to every year.

Sometime in my early college years, I think I was a freshman, I came home for the summer and wanted to make my Mom cannoli for her birthday. I sprung this idea on my Dad and explained that I needed port wine for the recipe.  At the time, I was not yet able to purchase alcohol. In his always silent, supportive way he headed off to the store to score our wine.  Before I had left school, I had purchased a set of cannoli shell forms at a culinary shop at the local mall. When Dad got home, we started our task and what a task it was!!! We still reminisce about this and just shake our heads. For two people who are familiar with the kitchen and culinary techniques, we had a cannoli frying mess on our hands!!

I jumped right in and started the production but could not get the dough to stay on the form. As I dropped them in the hot oil, they would quickly unfold and bloom almost flower like and then puff up like a giant elephant ear. My Dad stepped in thinking that he could master the concept- Fail! We both stood there with oil popping out of the pan burning our arms and fingers and not sure what to do next....

To make an already long story short, that birthday my mom got a few cannoli that we salvaged toward the end of the production when we finally got the hang of it. The rest were turned into "cannoli shell chips" which we ate with the filling -chips and salsa style. And truthfully no matter the shape they tasted great!!!

This cupcake was inspired by my love for cannoli and thank the kitchen gods, it was much more simple than my original cannoli adventure.

Ready... set... Go!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beet Hummus, Goat Cheese, Mint Crostini (plus alternative version)

Beet Hummus, Goat Cheese, Mint Crostini

OK for those of you that don't know I have become quite the "beet advocate." In the past, I never really liked beets. I always felt that they tasted very "earthy." OK that is a bit of a lie, I always thought they tasted like dirt. But, as I explained in my Beets and Sweets post, I have really found some recipes that bring out the sweetness in the beets and this recipe does just that. I will say that the addition of lemon and garlic really compliments the beet taste. There is quite a bit of lemon zest and juice in this recipe which to me upped the freshness factor.

I was kind of skeptical about making this recipe for a group with differing palates, but I am happy to say that everyone at my summer party tasted and really loved it; even the beet haters in attendance said that if they did not know it was a beet they would have never guessed.  This appetizer really is a wonderful mixture of interesting tastes and texture. The crisp crostini was the perfect base for the creamy goat cheese and hummus and the mint was the perfect "summer inspiring" topping. Great with a cold glass of white wine.

And look at what beautiful all-natural color!

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