Sunday, September 28, 2014

NYC Day 2

Day two we slept in just a smidge. I woke up first because my stomach doesn't care if I'm tired; it demands food. So I ate my leftover Carbonara and just relaxed for a little while. We had some pretty intense standing/walking stuff planned on day 2, so the rest was good. 
I say we because OBVIOUSLY Casey and I helped a ton with the planning/prep for this trip. 
I'm almost sure we did SOME work.


Okay we did nothing. But in our defense Laurel likes to plan and she has fancy spreadsheets with ratings called Smith Stars so like really what can these two idiots contribute to that?
The answer is nothing. We can contribute nothing. I mean look at us. Ewww no don't.

While we were on our way to go to the Statue of Liberty we stopped in to a little deli named Stir for lunch. I got a sandwich called the Broadway and it was very interesting. It had tiny chopped up sweet pickles in it, which I HATE. I HATE sweet pickles. But was incredible. It had tiny thin fried onion strings and pastrami and OMG Italian panini heaven.

After that we did a full day of touristy activities. Ellis and Liberty Island were SO fun, especially as we tried to guess how often people per day fell down the stairs of the ferry or dropped their phones in the water. We are super cool people. 
I wish I could explain to you this photo. But I can't. Not the venue. Just enjoy your own questions and laugh.
Did you know ferry rides are windy and impossible to look cute on?
After Jen got off work, we met up with her for dinner. We went to S'MAC, an awesome mac and cheese place.
Watch out for the giant hole in the street. By the door.
I ordered 4 Cheese: Cheddar, Muenster, Gruyere and a touch of Pecorino. Can you blame me? Did you READ that line up? Cheese addicts everywhere rejoice. However, after sampling everyone's, I had a touch of order regret. Don't you hate that? It was only a mild case but still. The thing that was my favorite out of what I tried was Alpine: a Swiss Mac that keeps you coming back for more. Gruyere coupled with its partner in crime, slab bacon. I didn't order because sometimes, and I know there will be naysayers, I think stuff has too much bacon. I love bacon. I really really do. But I don't want all my food to taste like bacon every single meal. The Alpine, however, had the perfect amount of bacon. I should've ordered it. Or built my own. ANYWAY, the 4 Cheese was great too.

After dinner, the four of us split up for the night. Casey and Jen went to a soccer game, and Laurel and I did a random assortment of funtivities, most of which will probably end up on her blog. Some are not fit for the masses on the interwebs. Just kidding. Mostly. Anyway, that night was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip because not only did Laurel and I have SO much fun, but we saw the sun set over the city from the Empire State Building. Absolutely magical. There are no words. We were exhausted and looked like death and they wouldn't let us sit down inside while we waited on sunset but oh my gosh you guys. SO worth it.
Best. Night. Ever.
A little bit mesmerized.

Day 2 ended with me watching Friends (my ALL TIME favorite show) IN NEW YORK, on a couch, eating hummus, with one of my favorite people on the couch next to me. It was one of those times where you just love your life more than you thought you ever could. Tell me some surreal and simple moment where you were unbelievably happy! Not when you won the lottery or something crazy, just one of those blissful sweet moments.
Empire State Building

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Freezer Meals

My life is crazy. My schedule is crazy. I help take care of a lot of people. Even though I wish I could just spend 3 hours cooking dinner ever night and experimenting with new flavors and techniques and ingredients..I have way too much to do for all that. I took a little leaf of out my friend Laurel's play book and decided to make some freezer meals (basically I want to be just like her when I grow up. That is not an exaggeration. Go read her blog.)
Gelato break in NYC
The main resource I used was I wanted this process to be as fast and painless as possible, so I was looking for things that required no cooking ahead, and could be made in the crock pot. Basically, I wanted to assemble things in a bag and then be able to eat it with zero work later. But you know me, I can't follow instructions. Like at all. So, visit their website for their ideas, and you can see which ones I loved and modified here. I won't be posting anything until I actually eat it, so more will come later.  First up, Pineapple Beef Teriyaki.

Pineapple Beef Teriyaki
20 oz pineapple chunks (if you use canned, don't drain it)
1 1/4 cup red onion, diced
3/4 cup of teriyaki sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup green bell pepper, sliced
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2.5 pounds of sirloin tips (Original recipe calls for beef stew meat, but we had sirloin tip roast and I cut it up. Use whatever is on sale that week.)

Combine all ingredients and put in gallon freezer storage bags. Label your bag with your instructions: "Thaw & cook on low in crockpot for 7 hours"

A few notes:
-This recipe serves 6, so I divided mine into two bags.
-My pickiest friend in the world loved it so much she made it after she had it when we went to the beach.
The pickiest most wonderful human alive, my friend Jen.

-I served it over rice.
-It tastes better if you freeze it. If you just follow the instructions and cook it, it's good, but not as good as when you freeze it first.
-The first time I made it, I cooked it on high for 4 hours. It was fine. 
-I absolutely, under no circumstances, can I spell teriyaki without spell check/autocorrect.
-Do you have crock pot liner bags? If you don't, I'm about to change your life. Go buy some. You will never have to wash your crock pot again. You will want to abandon any and all stove cooking for a while. Enjoy your crock pot honeymoon.

What do you do when you need to prepare for a busy season of life?

NYC: Intro & Day One

This summer, I was invited on a trip to NYC with some of my very favorite people, Casey & Laurel Smith. The trip was insanely wonderful and busy, and Laurel took crazy amounts of time out of her life to make sure she planned a trip with everything that I wanted to see! I hope you will go read about our adventures on her blog, like that time I made Casey throw the plate. 

On the way home from the airport, Laurel and I decided that I would blog food and she would blog..everything else. That girl takes care of everything. Love you! It was the most fun time and I don't think I can ever say thank you enough to either of you for letting me third wheel your vacation. I mean seriously. Who does that? The Smiths.

Enough with the non-food words. I think the easiest way to explain to you how much awesome food I ate is to tell you about all of it. I literally wrote down EVERYTHING I ate on this trip on a note in my phone. Most of my days revolve around food anyway, but I took it to a new level in the Big Apple. So, without further ado, Day One. 

Breakfast/Travel Food:
Bagel at Starbucks
My free pretzels from airplane. Plus someone else's pretzels because I don't say no to free food.

We were in line for the Daily Show the entire day pretty much, so we took turns going to this little store on the corner to get lunch. Think a gas station but with no gas pumps. A convenience store I guess you'd say. But it was nice, and they had basically a full sandwich shop. Plus air conditioning. I got an Italian panini that was pretty good but I couldn't finish it because it was sooo hot outside. Good pickle though. 
The Daily Show where we saw MELISSA. MCCARTHY. Just ignore our precious exhausted faces.

Absolutely, without a doubt, in my top three favorite meals on the trip. See how definitive that was? We were at Mario Batali's Otto restaurant. So incredible. The entire meal was divine from start to finish. For our appetizer, we had a cheese plate that Laurel and her friend Jen (our super generous hostess) had already tried several times. If I went back, I would probably just order cheese over and over until I was full.  It was served with the most AMAZING peppered truffle honey and bread. Since my return, I have literally dipped sliced bread in honey with plain black pepper in it. It's no where near as good..but it's still better than no honey. Just trust me here.
Let's see if I can pull myself out of fantasizing about cheese plates long enough to finish this post.
My entree was Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It was SO good and different from any carbonara I've ever had. The pancetta added this deeper salty flavor that blew my mind. The scallions kept all the flavors from being too was perfection in a bowl.
I'm checking flight prices to go back right now.

After dinner, we went to Laurel's favorite place in NYC, Molly's. This is where the infamous plate/shoe throwing occurred. I don't have a giant sweet tooth, but I like cupcakes pretty well. I liked the atmosphere of Molly's more than anything. It was so fun and cute! I had a Lemon Meringue Cupcake, which I didn't even eat until the next day. But Oh. My. Gosh. The icing. It was like if meringue and marshmallow creme (two of my favorite sweet things ever) had a baby. A delicious baby. Incredible. Someone get me a jar of Marshmallow Creme stat.
My eyes are open but it's like I'm not there.
I think this HAS to be pre-plate throwing based on my smile. I don't look embarrassed yet.

Several more NYC posts headed your way...but for those of you who've been, I want to hear the best thing you've ever eaten in NYC!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


A lot of sweet girls from the student ministry that I work for are growing up. It's so cool because I get to see them turning into these awesome young women who doing some super cool stuff with their lives. Some are starting to cook on their own away at college, some are starting to try their hand in their mom's kitchen. Because we all know food is my love language, I've really wanted to put together a cookbook for them of some of my first ever recipes that I made for myself when I first started cooking. But we also all know that I will never actually get around to that. So girls, you get a blog series. Hope you love it and all it's non-grand gesture glory.

I always grew up around cooking. Both my grandmothers are ridiculously skilled in the kitchen. I've always helped. I even cooked a few things on my own. But I really didn't find my way in the kitchen until about February of my first year of college. I pretty much had eaten all the frozen ravioli, ramen, popcorn, and carrots and ranch that a person can eat. You can't just survive on carrots and ranch. *JIm Gaffigan audience member voice: Hey that's the name of this blog...* While most people in college probably ignore this feeling, the fat kid inside me couldn't let it go. I NEEDED some real food. So, I would call my grandmother, and tell her what I was craving. She'd tell me how to make it, I would write it down. Grocery store run (in my backyard basically. How obsessed do you have to be with food to practically live in a grocery store parking lot? I digress.) Once I had the ingredients, I basically made Mamaw talk me the entire time I cooked it. Kind of like having a cooking instructor. This was critical because she didn't usually have measurements or anything official. Mostly it was, "add in this until it starts to look___" or "just pour a splash of milk in" or "you know, until it looks right." I blame her for my terrible instruction giving skills. Which is funny since I try to WRITE YOU PEOPLE RECIPES.

That's the short version of how I learned to cook back on ol' Reed Street in Tuscaloosa in 20…you don't need to know the year.  Now, my lovelies, I will attempt to help you fill the void in your hearts and stomachs left by moving away from your momma's kitchen. These recipes would be great for any beginner/busy person. If you have already obtained your degree, you are still 100% allowed to make them.

Two Ingredient Pork Chops
1 lb. of pork chops
1 can of sliced peaches

Season your pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat a non stick skillet over medium high. Once it is hot, place the pork chops in. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they get a little golden color on them. Don't mess with them while you wait. Just leave them sitting there until you get ready to check for color/flip. Once you flip them, leave them for about another 10 minutes.
Then add your peaches in with juice and everything.

Turn the heat down to medium, or even low. This depends on your stove. What you want is a steady simmer. Tiny bubbles. What you DON'T want is huge bubbles threatening to overflow the skillet. Let that cook, covered, for another 15 minutes to 30 minutes. The longer you can let them simmer, the more tender they will be, and the more concentrated the peach flavor will get. Just trust me, fruit and pork is a winning combo.

Make a packet of instant mashed potatoes and a steamer bag of veggies, and you are DONE.

Home cooked meal for the win.

This phase of life is so fun. I wish I could come stand in all of your kitchens with you and see you finish each and every meal you attempt. If you try and fail, that's fine. That's why you have Buffalo Phil's and Momma G's and Dominos. I can't wait to hear how it all turns out!

P.S. If this girl can learn to cook over the phone, you can too. Clearly I knew what I was doing in life.
Red hair. Guitar hero. Oh, college.