October 31, 2011

Stirring and stirring and stirring...

...my strew! Sometimes, the best laid dinner plans don't always work out. As YJDKIY headed out for a doggy walk on a chilly Sunday morning, someone pointed out it was the perfect day to use the new slow cooker, and an idea was born!

It's about this time of year that I crave Brunswick Stew. Not having access to any church fundraisers, I set out to concoct my own.

First up, 24 oz of tomato sauce, NO SALT ADDED! Mix with about 2T Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, boil some chicken breasts, cool, and shred. Into the pot.

Combine 2 tiny-cubed baking potatoes and 1 diced medium sweet onion with 1-2T flour, 3/4 t chicken bouillon granules and 2t poultry seasoning. Shake well and into the pot.

Last add some frozen limas and corn. Mix it all up.

Slow cook for 4 hours, adding water and extra tomato sauce if needed. Add pepper to taste.

The resident sniffer will let you know when it is ready.

It wasn't made by RUMC, but it also wasn't full of unhealthy ingredients.

And bottom line, it was tasty. PLUS, I was cooking dinner while I was doing 12 other things.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2011

Half the work

Last week I was feeling froggy and planned ahead, so YJDKIY only has half the work to do today (well, 4/7 the work)! Good way to start a new month.

SATURDAY: Linguine with Creamy Tomato Cauliflower
SUNDAY: Mama Pea's Tamale Pie & Brussels sprouts
MONDAY: Halloween Candy
TUESDAY: Spaghetti Squash with Pesto & Pine Nuts; Lemon-Basil Fish
WEDNESDAY: Quick White Bean Stew with Chard & Tomatoes
THURSDAY: Eggplant-Artichoke Panini
FRIDAY: Chicken Hash with broccoli

October 29, 2011

Small Stuff: The Tables

Are you getting tired of wedding posts yet? Too bad! Another one of those little Etsy details that YJDKIY fell in love (harhar-you'll get that in a second) with immediately were tiny round magnets from Buttonhead. For $60, I got 100 custom design 1" magnets.

See? The design was a no-brainer. And I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them.

Placed on top of a simple white napkin at each seat. A useful wedding favor for once. Shop Owner Ali Puckett was great to work with, from placing the order, submitting my files, reviewing a proof, and fast delivery!

For rustic elegance in our outdoor tent, I immediately decided on family style seating - two long rows of tables instead of traditional rounds. Things were a little tight, but hey, we're all friends here right?

The next decision I made was the runners and cloths. I started with plain white linens, in tea length. Trying to maneuver a floor length cloth in a nice dress, especially in the grass, with folding chairs is just awkward. (It also save a couple of dollars). For the runners, I considered burlap but didn't love the smell and mess that it brings. A better, cheaper option was found with a roll of brown kraft paper extended the entire 40' of the table line.

The vases were an IKEA find! The galvanized look was perfect for the theme. Each one cost about $2 and was filled with 10-12 of my scarlet red Gerbera daisies, ordered in bulk from a local grocery store. Note: test IKEA products for quality. Although I did a test arrangement with silk flowers, I didn't actually try putting water in the vases until the morning of the wedding. What could have been a disaster was saved by simply placing a plastic wine/punch cup (the short kind) in the bottom to hold the water. The table numbers were small white doilies with house numbers from Lowes Hardware laminated. I repeated those under faces and place cards.

I opted for a contemporary flatware instead of traditional even though it cost a little more, and used one style of hi-ball glasses for all beverages (except wine), which made up the cost difference.

The folded doilies were excellent place cards and were super affordable. In addition to the tea lights (also from IKEA), I found $1 plastic white frames perfect for menu cards (stay tuned for that menu!). One side was menu, one side was a photo.

I could have spent a lot of money on fancy linens and flowers, but in the end it just really didn't matter. There were a few details that made it personal, but I wanted it to be easy and comfortable, just like a family dinner at some one's home. The food and the fun would be the feature. Success!

October 26, 2011

Squash Worth Squealing For

Who doesn't love a good Southern-made summer squash casserole? Paula Deen's recipe calls for, among other things:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon House seasoning, recipe follows (i.e. salt)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed butter crackers

Not the healthiest ingredient list is it? And, sort of defeats the purpose of eating a vegetable in the first place!

blog post photo

Enter my revamped recipe that features the squash instead of smothering it (served with local kale and bbq tofu steaks, below).

blog post photo

Green Kitchen Squash Casserole3 medium yellow (or summer) squash sliced in thin rounds
3/4 c chopped sweet yellow onion
5.3 oz plain Greek yogurt (Oikos)
1/2-3/4 c grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
8-10 crumbled crackers (I had a fancy pants version of club crackers)

Preheat oven to 400. Mix first three ingredients in a bowl, add all but 1/4 c cheese, and stir well. Fold in half of cracker crumbs. Transfer to greased (non-stick spray) baking dish, top with remaining cheese and crumbs. Bake 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Stonyfield's organic plain Oikos has just 80 calories, 0 fat, and a whopping 15 g of protein for the entire 5.3 oz. cup. Just for comparison's sake, a 5.3 oz serving of sour cream would have 307 calories, 26 g of fat, and only 5 g of protein. Now that is an improvement (and there's no butter!).

October 25, 2011

Sweet Treats

It's sort of funny that the wedding cake gets it's own post. Especially since YJDKIY barely even tasted it! :P
Photo by Shelton Wilder
A little background...I really don't love cake. Especially traditional yellow or chocolate plain ol' wedding cake. And icing doesn't fall too far behind.

Photo by K. Drew Sumrell
So, I wanted something with flavor, character if you will. And, since I also don't like frilly cakes with sugar-formed decoration and goofy fondant, the focus was on flavor. It's cake...something you eat, it shouldn't require fancy packaging just to get to the good stuff.

Photo by Shelton Wilder
Hallmark Cakes nailed it with a "wedding cake comprised of 6-inch and 12-inch torted single layers and a 10-inch double layer pumpkin spice cake filled with pumpkin spice cheesecake, all topped with vanilla mousseline buttercream."

Photo by K. Drew Sumrell
That one bite was heavenly (literally the only one)!

Photo by K. Drew Sumrell
The topper was a simple Robert Indiana-inspired LOVE sculpture replica, which was a theme for the wedding since that is where we got engaged (NYC not Philly!).

Photo by K. Drew Sumrell
The homemade look was complemented by a few flowers and a grapevine wreath to achieve rustic, simplicity and elegance. Since neither of us really got a taste, and it was all gobbled up, we've decided a remake is necessary for our 4th (fruit & flowers) or 6th (candy) anniversary (those are the closest traditional gifts!).

Photo by Denny Shortt

To make a long post even longer,  a sweet treat sweeter, and the night cheerier, I used a popular local pop. YJDKIY doesn't really drink soda, but there is nothing like a cold Cheerwine (made in our hometown) in a glass bottle.

Photo by Denny Shortt
These served as favors and Cheerwine was also a pinch hitter for our dainty and elegant toasting glasses, that were also a gift. Next time you stop by an old Southern country store, have some cheer!

Photo by Shelton Wilder

October 24, 2011

The right tools for the job

YJDKIY acquired some new gadgets as a wedding gift (I speculate you're going to be seeing a lot of those featured here!) to aid in the preparation of one of our favorite meals.

Pizza night is almost always on a Friday night (unless it is my FFR version) at our house and I always think I am going to come up with some ultra-groovy new topping idea, but in the end, I always revert to my tried and true (and well-loved) veggie supreme!

But a good pizza starts with a good crust and a good crust starts with a good pan! This one from Calphalon Essentials has lots of tiny holes that allow air to reach the bottom of the crust in the pan so it can breathe.

It turns out crispy on the outside and gooey right where it its the sauce. I have to say, the very first time I used it, it worked wonders for my recipe. (Note: if you are using a store bought crust, I recommend a well-seasoned baking stone for crisping).

We call these zucchini-ronis because they look like green pepperoni!

Hot out of the oven after about 14 minutes.

Using a pizza wheel to slice it was so much easier than trying to cut with a knife or kitchen scissors. The key is a very sharp blade and a large diameter. (hello white balance where are you?!)

YJDKIY Easy Crust
1 packet Fleischman's Pizza Crust Yeast*
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c white flour
1 t sugar
pinch of Kosher salt
2/3 c hot tap water
2 T olive oil
3-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Combine 1 c flour, yeast, sugar and salt in large bowl. Add water and oil, mix until blended. Gradually add flour and mix until a dough ball forms. Gently knead for a few more minutes in the floured bowl, until soft and elastic. Spread evenly into pan with fingers, or roll out on a flat surface and place in pizza pan. Top with garlic and bake 2-3 minutes before topping with pizza ingredients.

*I always use the quick yeast specifically for pizza. You can use regular yeast, but will need to follow instructions for that brand (usually on package or website).

Topping suggestions: jar (low sodium) marinara sauce, fresh basil, zucchini rounds, broccoli, olives, bell peppers (any color), sliced mushrooms, onions, red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic, crumbled tofu, fresh or (thawed) frozen spinach and of course, MOZZARELLA! 

October 23, 2011

October Finito

How can this be!? My favorite month is over. It was such a pretty month, too.
Photo by Denny Shortt
Photo by Shelton Wilder
Photo by Shelton Wilder
Photo by Drew Sumrell

A weird-meal week up in here.

SATURDAY: That bok choy recipe that didn't happen last week recycled to this
SUNDAY: That squash casserole, bbq tofu, and kale that didn't happen last week
MONDAY: Sweet Potato Curry
TUESDAY: Black Bean Quesadillas
WEDNESDAY: Tortellini Soup
THURSDAY: DIYD (do it yourself dinner)
FRIDAY: Shredded Brussells Sprouts with Shallots and Roasted Butternut
SATURDAY: Linguine with Creamy Tomato Cauliflower
SUNDAY: Mama Pea's Tamale Pie
MONDAY: Halloween Candy

October 22, 2011

It's all small stuff

YJDKIY doesn't really aim to turn this into Style Me Pretty, but I did want to share a few details from the most expensive 48 hours of my life. Kidding! (sort of). It was possibly the most scrutinized 48 hours of my life, so it deserves some blog love. Lucky for you, I'll try to space it out between (annoyingly less frequent) regular posts.

In planning the small stuff, I spent a lot of time on Etsy (and somehow managed to refrain from favoriting wedding items, therefor displaying them on the right over there!). One of the first things I loved and purchased was a detail perhaps no one but YJDKIY would see:

Custom cake forks commemorating the day. These came from WoodenHive and arrived just a few days after placing the order. Love personal service!

Who knows if anyone else noticed, but for a foodie, this is a perfect "keepsake" of the day. A little tease from the main event:

We also had an adorable cake plate for the first slice from a special family member that traveled from Florida to celebrate with us. But, now that the festivities are done, I am debating their future. Option A: use the forks for a special treat on each anniversary. Option B: frame the forks in a shadowbox for kitchen art (like this) so I can see them every day. What's your vote?

Next up: the tasty confection we put those forks into!

October 15, 2011

In the kitchen

YJDKIY hasn't been in the Green Kitchen in quite a while. We did play around in someone else's kitchen though....

More about that later, lest this turn into a wedding blog. ;)

SATURDAY: Homemade Pizza
SUNDAY: Garlic-Parm Fish, sweet potato fries, broccoli
MONDAY: Better'n'Mac and Cheese
TUESDAY: Black Bean Soup
WEDNESDAY: Squash Casserole, BBQ Tofu
THURSDAY: Veggie Burgers
FRIDAY: Shrimp Stir Fry with Bok Choy

October 1, 2011

Balsamic Birthday Beets

Someone in this house just had a birthday!!

It wasn't that one.

Happy birthday other someone. I asked what he wanted to dine on for his special day. Turns out, he likes everything. It's a tough problem to have. So we settled on a new recipe: Balsamic Beets & Kale with Whole Wheat Gnocchi (which does not photo well, but it was tasty!).

Super easy to make. Just boil the beets and dice. Steam the kale. Boil the gnocchis. Mix it all together with a little EVOO, balsamic, rosemary, garlic powder, and pepper. Super easy, but there were a bagillion dishes leftover. Convenient day to get out of clean-up duty, huh?

There might have been some triple-chocolate cupcakes involved too. 

Lest you be confused, he's not 4.

Neither is this one.


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