Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

WARNING: What you are about to see may damage your eyesight with its blinding cuteness.

 Grady's first trip to the pool! That little girl in the background was so cute. She gave Grady hugs.

 When my sister first dipped his feet into the water he wasn't on board with the whole idea. After hanging out a little while he was ready for his float and liked splashing around.

 His swim shirt has an angry frog hood.

 It started off cloudy, but then the sun came out. Emily ran to get his hat.

 In the meantime he splashed himself in the face.

 Bucket hats make it kind of hard to see.

 Um, daddy? This chinstrap isn't right.

 My, my. All that swimming wears a baby out!

 But not enough not to reach for the shiny camera.

 A bottle finishes the job.

Now if that doesn't melt your heart I don't know what will.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blueberry Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

I am evidently on a breakfast kick. I do that sometimes, get really into certain foods for a while. Like the spinach smoothies I've been making for weeks (promise, you can't taste the spinach!). One time I went on a ham sandwich bender. And lately I've had a MAJOR sweet tooth. Maj.

Breakfast is my favorite meal by far. Well, brunch really is because when you can get shrimp and grits and muffins in the same meal I'm there with bells on. I tend to gravitate towards sweets when I'm eating a big breakfast...with a side of bacon or sausage. See, that's another thing I love about breakfast. You can get all the important foods: pig, dessert, fruit (sometimes), butter, and bread. At any rate, cinnamon rolls rank right up there with my preferred breakfast foods. Right under French toast.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cinnamon Toast Popcorn

This list makes me glad my mom never listened to me when I wanted to get a Glamour Shot made. I was a very...theatrical child, so it made perfect sense that I would want to play dress-up and get my picture taken. My mother is a wise woman.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Well fiddle-dee-dee. I tried to make popovers, but they came out more like pop-unders. It probably has something to do with our oven door not closing properly. They're still pretty daggum tasty with a little jam, blue cheese, and prosciutto piled on top. So hah! Silver lining.

 This isn't an Instagram picture, but is there anything cuter than a baby in a bathrobe?! I think not.

 Remember the fried green tomatoes? I'm still dreaming about them.

 Daisy: Guardian of the Legal Pad. She doesn't sit in that chair as often anymore.

Sometimes your beer gives you advice. Let a good thing happen. Thanks, Magic Hat! P.S. Their Elder Betty has a lovely floral note to it, perfect for summer!...which is why they made it their summer ale. Duh, Christina.
I made Joy the Baker's single serving lava cake from her cookbook. I ate it with a side of French Toast ice cream from the ridiculous folks at High Road Craft Ice Cream. When I was done with the cake I ate more ice cream. In all seriousness, I've found my new favorite ice cream. Next on my list is Bourbon Burnt Sugar.

 I went to a play at the local theatre. Of course I got the program some stranger had used to dispose of his gum. I say "his" because no lady would ever do that, right? Either way, EW.

 I found this cracked egg on my front steps. I think it's a robin's egg. I'm not sure if something hatched or if...the cat got to it. I'm hoping the former rather than the latter.

I'm on an ice cream kick. I've been dying to try Jeni's for months and months now. This was the brown butter almond brittle. Even though it had that cherry flavor almond extract has (at least to my taste buds), I still ate every bite and scraped out the carton. It just beats a humdrum pint of Edy's and quite frankly is better than Ben & Jerry's. Now if someone wants to get me her cookbook...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Strawberry Marshmallows

So we're finally going to talk about these strawberry marshmallows. Look at them. They're a delicate pink with specks of strawberry seeds. They have a tangy bite but are still soft as a down pillow. I just...couldn't find a proper use for them. I had grand dreams of making a toasted marshmallow milkshake, but that didn't quite turn out as I had hoped. I think they'd be a fun twist on s'mores made in the oven. I don't recommend holding these over an open flame because they're likely to just fall off your skewer. But you've made s'mores in the oven right? I kind of almost like it better because the chocolate gets melty, and I have a clinical obsession with melty chocolate. Yeah, melty is one of those technical terms. At any rate I still think these marshmallows are worth sharing because nothing beats a homemade marshmallow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes

Have you ever seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? I saw it once when I was young, probably around 9 years old. It's haunted me ever since. I won't spoil any plot points (mostly because it's all sort of fuzzy now) but don't even think of watching this movie if you don't have a full box of tissues and access to a puppy to cheer you up after watching.

Actual fried green tomatoes are much less sad. In fact, I would go so far as to call them joyful. At least that's how I felt as I was eating 7 of them. The secret is double battering the slices in a cornmeal-flour mixture. And hot sauce-laced buttermilk never hurt. Let's get to it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fig, Bleu Cheese, & Prosciutto Flatbread

Real life: I look better with a little tan, it's true. But let's be clear, I don't go tanning. I've never been in a tanning bed, and I wear sunscreen semi-religiously. Instead, I've started using a little self-tanner lotion again. Nothing cray-cray because I don't want to look like the tanning mom. Although I'm not sure that's possible with just self-tanner. I just don't want to give myself wrinkles, y'all!

Real life: I feel better when I've eaten flatbread with figs, bleu cheese, and prosciutto. With a balsamic reduction. it bleu or blue? I'm feeling fancy, let's say bleu. It's lovely for dinner and would make a delightful appetizer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Treats

Today was supposed to be about strawberry marshmallows and milkshakes. Then I changed my mind because it's my blog and my prerogative. Hah! You'll get them later, promise. Of course this might be my way of sneaking in more milkshakes. I wouldn't put it past me. Oh but guess what? Mother's Day is Sunday. You probably already knew that because you're ahead of the game. Are you having a brunch? Bringing Mama breakfast in bed? Making some awesome craft that I probably can't do because I'm not all that crafty? If you're like me, food is a primo way to go. Think about some of these gems for breakfast, brunch, or lunch!

My take on Eggs Benedict is a brunch heavy-hitter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eggs Bennett

...Do y'all watch Swamp People? I've sort of gotten into it. And Moonshiners. See, it's fascinating because these people's way of life isn't so far removed from my own, but it completely is. I didn't grow up shooting alligators in the swamp, but I did grow up with them practically in my backyard. I have what I think is a healthy respect for them. They stay away from me, and I'll keep away from them. Oh and for goodness sakes, I won't go reaching for any golf balls in a pond like that fool in Florida.

As for moonshine, I've never distilled my own liquor nor have I had actual moonshine. I've seen it in the liquor stores here now, but if it's sold in stores is it really moonshine? So many questions unanswered. I...have no segues to take us to our dish today. Do you like Eggs Benedict? Me too. Except I think it should have country ham. And while we're using country ham, let's make a gravy with it. You still get the creaminess that you would with a hollandaise, but it's a totally different flavor. This is more like a sausage gravy. Except with ham. Let's get it!

First things first are the biscuits. You need: Flour, buttermilk, butter, shortening, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and pepper.

Dry ingredients are whisked together to combine them evenly. Confession: I didn't actually use a whisk. I used the pastry blender. Same effect!

The pieces of cold fat are cut into flour. You can use your hands or a pastry blender.

You want the butter and shortening to get broken up into small pieces, about the size of peas.

 Gently stir in the buttermilk until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix!

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into a disk about an inch thick. There's no need to knead this dough.

 Cut out your biscuits using a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Or a wine glass if your biscuit cutter is all broke up.

Top each peppery biscuit with a little pat of butter, about 1/4 teaspoon worth.

Bake the biscuits until just golden brown.

The rest of the dish is pretty easy. You'll need: milk, eggs, country ham, and flour. Oh and butter, which didn't make the picture.

You want to heat a cast iron skillet and fry the country ham. The package might say a minute per side, but that's a load of horse hooey. It's more like 2.5 or 3. You should start the water in a shallow saucepan for the eggs if you want them poached now as well. Bring it to a simmer.

The ham will have crispy bits and a little caramelization. It's the business.

Now I didn't anticipate the ham not giving off a lot of fat, so the butter was a last-minute addition. No problem, dude! See all those crispy bits on the bottom? We'll still get plenty of salty pork flavor in our gravy. And when has adding butter ever been a problem? That's what I thought.

The butter melts and you add flour to start the gravy.

Whisk and whisk and whisk to break up any and all lumps and cook the raw taste out of the flour.

Whisk in the milk and keep scraping to get the good stuff off the bottom.

To the eggs. When your water is at a simmer, toss in a tablespoon of vinegar. Break the egg into a shallow bowl or ramekin. Stir the water to create a vortex in the middle and slide the egg into the pan. Gently stir around the egg to help the whites come together. Let it cook until the whites are set, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. You can repeat this process with up to 3 more eggs before you need to change the water.

When the gravy is at the thickness you like, give it a taste. Season it very lightly with salt and pepper. I didn't pepper my gravy until I'd spooned it over the biscuits for aesthetic purposes only. Oh and if your gravy gets too thick simply thin it out with a little milk. Easy peasy!

Assemble the whole shebang as such: Biscuits broken in half-country ham on one half of each biscuit-poached egg on top of ham-gravy all over everything. You can garnish with green onions if you want, too.

As with just about anything, the runny yolk makes it. This would be a lovely brunch dish for Mother's Day served with some fruit and asparagus. The country ham is salty and wonderful against the smooth, creamy gravy. The black pepper-studded biscuits provide a nice anchor for the dish without being too heavy. It's pretty dreamy. And of course, if you're wondering, I called it Eggs Bennett because Bennett is our family name.

Eggs Bennett (serves 6-8)

2 c all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbs unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 tbs shortening, cold and cut into cubes
3/4 c buttermilk

Poached eggs:
8 eggs (or one for each biscuit)
2 tbs white vinegar

Ham & Gravy:
3-4 slices country ham
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs flour
2 c whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Green onions for garnish, optional

  • Preheat oven to 450ยบ. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and soda. Whisk to distribute evenly. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until the fat is incorporated and the size of peas. Stir in the buttermilk gently until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a disk about 1-inch thick. Cut out biscuits using a 2-inch biscuit cutter. You may re-pat the dough once to get more biscuits. Arrange biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and top with 1/4 tsp of butter. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.
  • In a shallow saucepan, heat 2 inches of water to a simmer. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and stir to create a vortex in the pan. Crack the egg into a ramekin and gently slide it into the vortex. Stir around the egg to help the whites come together. Cook until the whites are set, about 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with 3 more eggs, then change the water and start the process over with the remaining eggs.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the country ham slices and fry until browned on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add the butter to the hot pan and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk it to remove lumps. Cook about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the crispy bits up. Continue to whisk until gravy thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Taste, then season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Assemble the dish by cutting the biscuits in half. Top with half a slice of ham and a poached egg. Finish with gravy and garnish with green onions if desired. Serve immediately.