Happy Birthday, Sara!!!

Shells

I think in life that we always find that certain someone that changes the way we look at things.  They change the way we do things.  Frankly, they change our entire existence at times.  Then sometimes, they scare the crap out of us with how much they know our heart.  That’s my friend Sara.  I met her in 2004 at our then workplace.  Wherever she advanced in the company, I seemed to follow her lead (minus the management part).  She was the perfect example of what hard work and dedication looked like in the job place.

Sara and I moved to our final department together in 2009.  We shared intimate moments from our lives outside of the workplace as well as gathered inspiration to get through the day at times.  She left the workplace first, and then I followed suit.  We both took leaps of faith with leaving the security of one job to another.  She, to be a wonderful stay at home Mom to her beautiful girls.  Myself, to pursue a career path closer to my passion with food.

Sometimes we go through life not knowing what to expect in our next chapter of life.  But, it is Cobblertimes like that when it is so reassuring to know you have someone in your corner.  See, Sara moved about 4 hours away a few weeks ago.  Up until her moving time, we gathered a few last times for a few “last meals”.  Sara makes the best tuna salad, lasagna, and was holding back on these amazing stuffed shells that she makes.  I enjoyed our meals and conversations together immensely.  They always seemed to come at the right time.  I am also thankful that she is a great friend of mine that loves food as much as I do and is always willing to open up her kitchen to me! —- The last meal, when we had the stuffed shells, Sara’s daughter was so excited to give me a gift she had picked out for me.  They had a bible for me.  Not just any bible, but a pink bible.  Sara had given me explicit instructions to read a certain book in the bible for the situations I have been going through lately, and I know she was making sure I had absolutely no excuses not to read it.  Sara and her husband have moved through life with leaps of faith.  With every leap she takes, she spreads the love of God as well.  This was just another example of her inspiration to others.

In that…she is the perfect example of God’s love everyday, and that is something I hope to follow in her footsteps with as well.

Happy Birthday to my amazingly beautiful friend, Sara.  I love you.

She’s made an appearance on TheOnyxPlate.com before, and you can find that recipe for her easy Lasagna at this link here.  We normally paired our meals with a good salad, bread, and a tasty dessert.  Of course by tasty dessert I only mean brownies or Peach Cobbler.  *smile*

Below is the recipe for our “last meal” while she was in town…her Stuffed Shells.

Shells

Sara’s Stuffed Shells

  • 12 oz pack of jumbo pasta shells

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 – 15 oz cartons of Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 cups shredded Mozz cheese

  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan Cheese (I’ve used both grated and shredded before; both work)

  • 2 tbsp dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh–I’ve never had fresh on hand, so I always use dried)

  • 1/2 tsp salt (I also add about 1 tbsp basil and 3/4 tsp oregano–or roughly 1.5 additional tbsp of a mixed italian seasoning when I don’t have the specific herbs on hand)

  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Drain and let cool. Mix eggs in separate large bowl. Add Ricotta, Mozzarella, parmesan (directions say to add 3/4 cup and using reserves for top–I’ve been adding all it lately in the mix and then sprinkling extra some on top), and all the seasonings/salt. Spoon the cheese mix into each shell. Spread some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. Arrange shells in dish. Top with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with parm cheese and mozz. Bake for 25-30 min or until heated through. ENJOY!!!!

 

Surprise yourself…you’re worth it!

Shrimp

ShrimpSome days are harder than others to move forward in life.  I have had a few of those in the past few months (maybe quite a bit more than a few, to be honest).  Now that it is just me, I find it harder to invest in good meals for myself.  It seems like a waste of time to go through the trouble of cooking when it is just one person, and no one to share the outcome with just seems sad.  Unfortunately, I have thought this way for a while now.

Cooking was always about cooking for someone and cooking with love for them.

The trouble with the above statement is that I am basing the effort on someone else.  I am not basing it off of myself being worthy of a good home cooked meal.  I am not thinking about or showing love to myself.  I was judging the happiness of the meal off of someone else being there.  When in the end, it was not about who I was sharing something with, but it was about being happy with myself.  Some may say, respecting yourself and giving yourself what you deserve.

After thinking about these things this morning, I went to the grocery store with an open mind.  I promised myself that I was not going to have just something simple for dinner tonight.  I am worth much more than simple.  A little inspiration was received, and I was off to the store.  I ended up buying fresh shrimp, string beans, red pepper, basil, and WINE.  Wine makes everything better!  After the cooking process, I ended up with a white wine-butter-garlic-basil-shrimp concoction that surprised even myself!!!  It was then that I realized…I’m totally worth a good home cooked meal on my own.  Try not to forget you are worth it as well!  Now…what shall I make tomorrow?

Don’t forget to keep up with me on Facebook for much more frequent activity!  *smiles*

Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Fire in the Triad: Marisol vs. Meridian

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I had one of the most amazing experiences last night in my foodie adventures.  I was asked to guest blog over on Nik Snacks for the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Fire in the Triad.  Last night, Marisol was up against Meridian.  The two mystery ingredients were Pepsi and America’s Best Nut Co. Peanuts!  Wow!  How much more Southern can it be made?  Love it!  Enjoy!

 

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There are moments in life where you just can’t believe what you’ve been asked to do.  These are moments that you seize with every fiber of your being, and you enjoy them!  When Nikki of Nik Snacks asked me to guest blog in her place, I couldn’t have been more excited.  I was one of those people that always checked the CompetitionDining.com site to see who the Chefs were, and what they were cooking.  I wanted to be there incredibly bad!  Sometimes life finds ways of connecting us to where we are supposed to be, and this was where I was supposed to be that night; enjoying the battle between Marisol and Meridian.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.  

Chicken Salad and Spring

Green Sandwich Star

Green Sandwich Star

I guess losing someone never gets easier. Or maybe it does, and I don’t remember things being so tough after losing Paw-Paw so many years ago.  I was a teenager then, and now an adult.  The heart understands more now, and in turn I believe it does hurt more.  With that being mentioned, I’m looking forward to Spring.  I really am.  It was a gosh awful Fall and Winter.  Sometimes I think only my head understands, and not another soul can relate.  But, I know out there others have dealt with the same situations I have been going through recently.  Which is just proof that survival happens.

Which brings me back to Spring.  Spring always reminds me of renewal and a refresh on life.  From that first bird chirp waking me up in mid-January, to the ever questionable weather leading up to the first day of Spring, it’s always exciting.  For the past month at least, we’ve had snow, thunder, and 70s.  I love the North Carolina weather.  Seriously.  *smiles*  I am, however, looking forward to sunshine again.  That nice, warm, sunshine that kisses the skin (at least when I’m wearing my 5,000 SPF sunscreen, *wink*).

Sunshine reminds me of picnics.  Picnics remind me of sandwiches.  Sandwiches remind me of my favorite kind, Chicken Salad.  Now I’ll fully admit that I definitely cop out and always get Chickfila Chicken Salad Sandwiches in lieu of making my own homemade.  (It’s so good!  If you haven’t tried it, the next time you’re around one, please do.)  Sometimes though, I get the feeling like I need to grow up and make my own like any self respecting Southern lady does.  But it’s so easy to just buy the best!  *sigh*

The initial search began with a quest to find St. Patricks Day food.  I wanted something kind of green or “March” for y’all.  I then came across, somehow, a Lemon Chicken Sandwich recipe featured on one of Oprah’s Australian Outback shows in 2011.  Ummmm….no idea why that came up in that particular search.  But, I had a hankering for chicken salad recently, and something was screaming at me to make them!  That, and the photograph featured was beautiful to me.  So I had to accept the challenge to duplicate it.

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…their photograph…

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you should know that I don’t always follow recipes (unless dough is involved…I suck at dough) in my kitchen.  I take them under advisement.  It’s just more fun that way.  *smiles*  The version I came up with was basily delicious.  Honestly.  With NO lemon and NO mint as the original recipe suggested.  I’m not that dainty when it comes to cooking.  Just seemed like I could find a better use for the lemon juice and mint by making a cocktail later.  *wink*

After it was all said and done, and the photo was to my liking, I decided I couldn’t possibly eat all of the Chicken Salad sandwiches I had made, and they were deconstructed.  As you see below, one outside edge was decorated with chopped chives.  I scraped those off into the Chicken Salad as well and mixed everything together before storing it in the fridge.  It was best the next day, and even though you may feel it was a lot of chives to include in the recipe, the basil and chives balanced each other perfectly.  Don’t forget, salads like this are always better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together in the fridge.  Hope you enjoy!

Green Up Close Sandwich

Basil and Chive Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 chopped cooked chicken breasts (I chopped mine very fine for a less chunky consistency)
  • 3/4 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise (plus extra for spreading)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped chives
Directions
To make the Chicken Salad: Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, basil, salt and pepper.  If you do NOT want to garnish your sandwiches, throw the chives in the mix as well.  Set aside in the fridge until ready to eat.
To garnish the sandwiches: Cut into small triangles and brush one side with extra mayonnaise. Press the mayonnaise into the chives and serve.  On a side note: to prevent getting too many chives caked on to one sandwich, I spread a thin layer of chives on a cutting board, and then pressed the mayonnaise smeared edge into them.

*For the original recipe that includes the Lemon and Mint on Oprah.com click here.

To go along with the green and March theme, I did make candy coated Jumbo Marshmallows that day as well.  *big smiles*  Jumbo marshmallows that I dipped in Vanilla candy coating and pressed Lucky Charms marshmallows into.  Easy and magically delicious!  *wink*

Green Marshamallows Lucky Charms

Changing the way we cook: Dialysis friendly recipes

20131128_121551What a crazy month it’s been!  Four weeks ago tomorrow, Maw-Maw was first admitted to the hospital for kidney failure and a myriad of other things.  Two weeks before that approximately she had a pretty bad fall, and that started the downhill roll for her kidneys.  Between work, home, and hospital (or rehab center for 4 days) we’re all exhausted and ready for a break.  

Good news is that she came home Friday – hopefully for good now.  All of us are tired of hospitals to be perfectly honest. 

The bad news….

She is now on permanent Dialysis.

We’re a family that eats together a LOT.  I grew up around the dinner table and have wonderful memories of everyone being together with a warm meal.  Chicken Pie, Roasts, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, brownies, cakes, pies, etc.  We always had a delicious meal.  Well, times have changed a bit.  With Maw-Maw’s dietary restrictions, we really have to think outside the box.  Things that were once second nature to throw together for a decent meal, now have to be prepared special ways, or have many normal foods that we cook with excluded.  Needless to say, it’s been a challenge.  But, it’s a challenge we’ve all accepted and are determined to conquer! 

We’ve been looking at this site, http://www.davita.com/recipes/.  It’s been able to provide us lots of recipes and ideas for meals that Maw-Maw can enjoy.  Below are a few that I have found tasty.  If I made any substitutions, I listed them in parenthesis.  I’ve also linked each recipe from the actual site if you want to read other people’s comments and suggestions.

As a whole of any situation we’re handed, we have a choice.  We can lie down and pity ourselves and feel like life is over as we know it, or we can pick ourselves up by our boot straps and make the most of it.  In the end of this hurdle, it’s not really bad news.  If only for the simple reason, that she IS able to do Dialysis and continue living with us. 

One person’s health may impact the entire family with holiday meals and all, but it takes that entire family’s support to help one person’s health.  We do what we have to do, and we do it out of love in this family.  Love of one another, and love of our time spent together.

 

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 All-American Meatloaf

These were actually really tasty when I made them in the Muffin pans.  This was one of our  items we had in the hospital on Thanksgiving.  The review from the patient was that they would be best served fresh.  Unfortunately, hospitals don’t just have microwaves near the rooms.  *smiles*  Unfortunately, we ate these before I could snap a photo.  *wink*

Ingredients

    • nonstick cooking spray or oil to grease pan
    • 1 pound lean ground beef (10% fat)
    • 1 egg (I used Egg Substitute)
    • 20 squares saltine-type crackers, unsalted tops, finely crushed
    • 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped  (I used minced onion)
    • 2 tablespoons liquid nondairy creamer  (Coffeemate)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup catsup  (no-Salt added)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon milk (Coffeemate)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray or oil (I used a muffin tin to make mini meat loafs since I was carrying them to the hospital for us to eat there on Thanksgiving.)
  3. In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, finely crushed crackers, onion, nondairy creamer and black pepper. Mix well.
  4. Form into a loaf and place in loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. To make topping sauce, mix catsup, brown sugar, vinegar and milk in a small bowl.
  6. Remove cooked meatloaf from oven and cover with sauce.
  7. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  8. Slice into 6 portions before serving.

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Soft Ginger Cookies

THESE ARE AMAZING!!!  I didn’t change a single thing about the below recipe.  Not being a huge molasses fan, I was surprised I loved these so much.  They were good for a few days after, but were honestly best the first and second day.20131128_094120

Ingredients

    • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 3/4 cup butter 
    • 1-1/8 cups granulated sugar(divided use)
    • 1/4 cup liquid low cholesterol egg substitute
    • 1/4 cup molasses

Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
    2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in 1 cup sugar.
    4. Add liquid egg substitute and molasses; beat well.
    5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.
    6. Shape dough into 1-1/2″ balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each.
    7. Roll balls in the remaining sugar to coat.
    8. Place balls about 2-1/2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed. (Do not over bake.)
    10. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

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Cranberry  Muffins

I’ll be honest…these were ok.  Just ok.  The flavor was spot on, but instead of using sugar, I used Splenda.  That may have impacted how bad they stuck to the muffin liners.

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Ingredients

    • 1-3/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 7 tablespoons sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3/4  cup cranapple juice
    • 1/4  cup cooking oil
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries coarsely chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease twelve 2-1/2″ muffin cups or line with baking cups; set aside.
  2. To prepare streusel topping, combine 3 tablespoons of the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
  3. To prepare muffins, combine remaining flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.
  4. In another bowl whisk egg, juice and oil together. Pour egg mixture all at once into flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chopped cranberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. 

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Pancakes

That’s right….I said Pancakes.  These were absolutely perfectly fluffy and tasty!  I ended up with a  VERY happy Maw-Maw this morning for breakfast, and I was quite pleased myself.  Don’t be alarmed at allowing your milk to sour with the vinegar.  It was easy.  *smiles*

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Make sour milk: add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 2 cups milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes until soured.
  2. Sift flour; add baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Beat eggs with mixer until fluffy. Combine with “sour” milk and oil.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle or heated frying pan, greased with nonstick cooking spray until bubbly. Turn only once for fluffy, light pancakes.

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Sundays with Friends: Kelli and her Crawfish Soup

Crawfish soup

I’ve had this one in my back pocket for a long time now, and frankly, I have my usual story about being incredibly busy in life.  However, I’ve also been waiting for colder months.  A very dear friend of The Onyx Plate sent in this recipe back in June, and I couldn’t wait for it to get a little colder to share it.  It’s finally cooler, and I’m finally sharing your recipe, Kelli!  Thank you so much for your patience, and I love the story attached.  It’s all about improvising and making a dish your own!  You are one cool foodie in my book!  :)

Don’t forget to follow The Onyx Plate on Facebook as well….. https://www.facebook.com/TheOnyxPlate

Take it away, Kelli!

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About a month ago, I bought this massive amount of live crawfish and did a crawfish boil just for my family. My extended family all seemed to be busy and couldn’t make it so it ended up just being my mom, my two kids, and me, so there were plenty of leftovers. I knew they would never get eaten before they went bad and that it would be blasphemous to allow such a delicious crustacean to go to waste, so I froze them.

Thursday evening, I decided to thaw some out for dinner but I couldn’t decide how I wanted to make them. I threw suggestions at my 6-year-old daughter and she got excited about the soup suggestion. She just adores soup, you see. So, I naturally headed over to Pinterest.

First, I looked through my soup board and found a Crawfish and Corn Soup recipe but I didn’t have everything for it. I left it open for reference but went back to the main Pinterest page and typed in “crawfish soup.” I found many recipes for Crawfish and Corn Soup. I looked at a couple more of them and they were all quite similar but a few had different ingredients. Either way you sliced it, I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I kept looking. Then, out of nowhere, there’s this different crawfish soup called Crawfish Broccoli Cheese Soup. Broccoli Cheese soup is one of my favorites and adding crawfish just sounded like heaven. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients.

I refused to go to the store so I improvised. I sort of combined the two recipes and added my own flair.

First, since my crawfish were already cooked and frozen, I thawed them out and had to shell them. I have a raw spot on Crawfish soupmy thumb where shelling that many crawfish ripped skin off. I would recommend purchasing live ones and boiling them in Swampfire, but only if you like yours a little spicy. If you can’t get or don’t have swampfire, crab boil will work. I steamed broccoli and chopped it up, reheated leftover corn, then gathered these things around my soup pot.

First, I put in a can of broccoli cheddar soup with a can of milk. Then, in went a can of cream of asparagus soup with a can of milk. (I know some people don’t use condensed soup and I’m sure this soup would be better with homemade broccoli cheese and cream of asparagus soup but I didn’t have the ingredients for those so canned it was!) I added another cup of milk and whisked it. Then I dumped in the crawfish, corn, and broccoli and turned on the stove. After that, I had no idea what I was going to put in it but I knew it needed something else.

While the stove was warming up and I stirred the ingredients into the soup base, inspiration struck. I wanted this to be oh-so-creamy and cheesy so, I had my little helper (my daughter) go get a block of cream cheese from the refrigerator. After cutting that up, I put each little piece in and pushed them down to the bottom to help them melt. I threw in some spices and some shredded cheese (because, let’s face it, what’s a cheesy soup without cheese stringing cheese?) When I was throwing in the spices, I realized I had forgotten to sauté the onions so I just threw in some onion powder. I let it simmer for a few minutes then served it. As an afterthought, it would be good with some sliced carrots in it, as well.

My mom added salt and pepper to hers. My kids and I decided it needed a little shredded cheese on top. My son doesn’t usually care for soup but he ate two bowls, my daughter had her usual amount, and my mother ate 3 bowls and wanted a fourth but her stomach was exploding so she stopped. My son thanked everyone who had taken part in the production of the soup because it was so good. I win!

Crawfish Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of cooked crawfish tails, shelled (add more if you want)
  • 16 oz of broccoli florets, steamed and roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cups of warm buttered yellow corn
  • 1 can of condensed broccoli cheese soup
  • 1 can of condensed cream of asparagus soup
  • 2 cans of milk + 1-2 cup(s) of milk
  • 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed
  • 2-3 cups of fiesta blend shredded cheese
  • 1 yellow onion, sautéed (or onion powder, to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, to taste
  • Fiesta blend shredded cheese, to taste

Directions:

1.   Clean your live crawfish, boil them in swampfire (or crab boil if you want it less spicy). Then shell them once they’ve cooled.

2.   Steam the broccoli then roughly chop it.

3.   Heat your corn with butter.

4.   Get a soup pot, put in the can of broccoli cheese soup and a can of milk.

5.   Add the cream of asparagus soup and a can of milk.

6.   Measure a cup or two of milk, add it, and whisk.

7.   Add the crawfish, broccoli, and corn and stir.

8.   Turn the eye on to high and let the soup warm up a bit.

9.   Add the cubed cream cheese and stir.

10. Lower the temperature to medium-low and push the bits of cheese to the bottom.

11.  Stir frequently.

12.  Add shredded cheese and stir.

13.  Add spices (and onion if you went that route) and stir.

14.  Reduce heat and cover to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite warm bread. Enjoy!

Sundays with Friends: Wild Turkey in the Crock Pot

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I hit my two-year Anniversary this week since TheOnyxPlate.com was started. Woohoo!  What an amazing two years it has been with new places, new foods, and wonderful people I’ve met along my journey that has only just begun.  I can’t wait to reflect further on it for you in a post coming up (you know how I get all mushy about reflections and such). But, for now, we have a special Sundays with Friends to get to…Thanksgiving themed!

My very good friend surprised me with a Sundays with Friends centered around her son’s first kill of a Wild Turkey. She was so very proud, and I don’t blame her one bit! Good parents, good kid, good hunter. *smile* You might remember her first submission when she taught us about making Salsa. If not, you can read that one by clicking here. So on to her second Sundays with Friends! Welcome back, Jen! Can’t wait for your Peanut Butter Balls post either this year…hint hint. *wink**wink*

***Sidenote: I’m always happy to feature any of you on here. I just need a recipe, a short story about the recipe, and at least one photograph pretty please. You can email it all to TheOnyxPlate@gmail.com. Frankly…I’ll take any recipes! *smiles*

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In April 2012, my seven year old son and husband went turkey hunting. When they came home, my son had killed his first turkey. My son was so excited and wanted me to cook the turkey right away. I promised him that we would save it for Thanksgiving. He was happy and couldn’t wait to eat it at Thanksgiving. By him killing the turkey it saved us money from having to buy a turkey this Thanksgiving.

A week before Thanksgiving, I got a call from my mother-in-law inviting us to go out to eat on Thanksgiving. I told her that we already had plans to stay home and cook because I promised my son that I would cook his turkey.

The weekend before Thanksgiving my sister-in-law called to say that they would be able to attend our Thanksgiving gathering, and she asked if her husband could fix the turkey. I told her that was fine; however, I was still planning to cook my son’s turkey.

I was determined that I would cook this turkey regardless, which was all for my son that I love and adore.

Wild Turkey Crock Pot Recipe

  • 2 large turkey breasts
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix
  • 1 small bag of baby carrots
  • 1 container of fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup of water
  • 1 can of turkey gravy

Directions:

Clean the turkey breasts and place them in a large crock pot. Add all of the ingredients on top of the turkey, except the turkey gravy. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until done. Check the crock pot often to see if more water needs to be added. Poor turkey gravy on top once done. Enjoy!

Sundays with Friends: The Hungry Irishman

Irishman2 copy

I know! I know! I know! I’ve been away for way too long, and my sincerest apologies to you, because I love you all dearly and have missed you! Don’t forget you can always keep up with me daily at my Facebook Page, The Onyx Plate. No telling what I will update next with on there (yesterday was my Bacon loving cat, Cinder).

Things have been absolutely fantastic here in the Food portion of my world with another magazine article published here in November, and another one on the way in December. (I’ll post the November article shortly for you on here.) I’ve bought new dishes to take photographs with (so excited!), and have been looking for newer recipes that have a healthy twist to put in them (it’s time). My two “Foodie” part-time jobs are going great as well! Did I mention I get to meet Curtis Stone Thursday??????????!!!@#$!%!#%!@#$!#$^#&???? *enormous smiles!!!* (I’ll post photos, no worries. *wink*)

With all of that going on (including meeting a handsome Aussie Chef on Thursday), the most important thing about today is introducing you to a Chef/Caterer/Blogger that has become a good friend of mine and a source of inspiration (who just happens to be quite the handsome Irish Chef). I always like to think that if someone can provide me inspiration in my own life, just by being themselves, then that is someone I want in my life. It’s time to share him with The Onyx Plate, and I’m so proud to feature his writing.

Thank you, Brandon, for all of the inspiration you have provided me, and for writing this thought provoking article for us. Take it away, Brandon….

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Hello everyone!

My name is Brandon O’Sullivan, and I run a catering company and food blog by the same name The Hungry Irishman.  My friend here at The Onyx Plate and I have been discussing guest posts for about 8 months now, and I finally got a concrete enough idea to share with you. But first I want to introduce myself a little more thoroughly. I have been working in kitchens for almost a decade, and started off as a dishwasher, have climbed the ladder at each restaurant, and moved on to bigger and better locations. My culinary career, though, really got its start, at Andiamo. This was the first “real” kitchen I worked for, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by such generous talent, and picked up my passion for food as an art form. I currently am working at The Toasted Oak, in Novi, Michigan, where my craft continues to grow under some excellent guidance. I started this catering company by accident, really, and it has led me to a job that I love and an opportunity to connect with some truly amazing people. We specialize in private dinners and wine tastings, which as some of you may know, draws a crowd of a different sort, like me and Jennifer here :).

There has been a lot of negative buzz going around lately, regarding genetically modified foods and all sorts of other things. I wanted to take the time to share some solutions and options that are readily available, for those who are concerned and wish to put the absolute best fuel in their bodies.

I want to start with the importance of eating fresh, local ingredients. If I go to an average run-o-the-mill grocery store, and buy a six dollar bag of spinach, in three days, it’s slimy and inedible. Or, I can go to a local farmers market, prices of course depend on where you go, but for example, I can go to Detroit’s Eastern Market, and get a larger bag of spinach, for four dollars, that will last a week to a week and a half before showing signs of spoil. Not only does local food last longer, but by supporting the few remaining farmers, who aren’t making their living specializing in massive crops such as corn or soy, you are helping your local economy, and perpetuating community. I don’t know if you have had the pleasure, but if not, try this: eat a tomato, grown industrially, harvested mechanically, and then eat a tomato grown by an individual, who put his life and energy into the nurturing, care, and harvest. Tell me there isn’t a very clear difference in taste and texture. Here is a great resource for finding local farmers markets in your area: Local Harvest.

There is also the very feasible option of gardening. Most people don’t have land they can till to put food on the table, but there has been a huge surge in popularity for Urban Farming. There are also plenty of community gardens, way more than one might think. Many churches and similar establishments have gardens you can rent plots from, or trade a little time for charity, or by helping clean up the community garden to pay for your space. And if even that is too much, grow some fresh herbs on a balcony or a windowsill. Fresh herbs are, in my opinion, a chef’s best arsenal. The right or wrong fresh herb absolutely can make or break the best of cuisines. Farm to Table is a great page with tons of information on getting your own project started. I am also a fan of the growing “farm to restaurant” community, where restaurants are joining forces with many local farmers, to provide the freshest ingredients possible and help support local business.

Some of you may be looking for a better way to utilize the food you do have, or will acquire, and I feel Sprouting and Preserving are some of the most cost effective and healthy ways of getting to most out of your food. Sprouting consists of germinating seeds and grains, and unlocking all the nutrients inherent within, and turning it all into a much easier to eat (and digest) vegetable. Preserving can mean anything from jarring, canning, pickling, curing, smoking, etc. but for today, we will just discuss the basics. I would like to start by saying that ANYTHING can be preserved. There are just different techniques and steps, whether its a fruit, vegetable, or protein. The above link has all the information you will need to get started. But imagine having, say, three jars in your fridge, one with jalapeño pickled garlic, one with your favorite bread and butter dills, or perhaps some balsamic pickled cippollini onions, to bust out the next time you are entertaining guests. Imagine their surprised faces when you tell them it’s all homemade! Also, I feel it goes without saying how great it is to have your own homemade jellies, preserves, apple butters, pumpkin butters, and whatever tasty condiments you can devise at your disposal.

The biggest part of a healthy diet is greens, dark, leafy, delicious greens. This is the hard detail for most to swallow, since the American philosophy on salads seems to be 10% lettuce, 75 % toppings and cheese, and 15% creamy dressings. Many studies have shown greens to be the most incremental part of your diet, and should make up the bulk of what you eat. The nutrients abundant in greens are also great for your Heart. Most people are intimidated by greens, some are bitter, tough, etc. so here is a very useful source on where to find greens and how to cook them.

And I feel this last section won’t be quite as far reaching, but deserves an honorable mention nonetheless, but for those of you who are starting to question your dietary habits, I urge you to look into incorporating Raw Foods into your diet bit by bit, as thousands of people have testified to its ability to dramatically increase energy levels, and help with all other manner of health concern. Here’s another website with some great Raw Recipe’s.

Another heated topic for most, is protein. We have millions of vegan and vegetarian humans on this planet, who are living happy, healthy, successful lives, but the biggest argument against these dietary choices is the misconception that your body requires animal proteins and byproducts to do what it has done so well since birth. We are the only mammals that consume milk after infancy, not to mention the only mammals consuming milk from another species. If milk is so good for you, and detrimental to your bones’ ability to fortify themselves with calcium, then why don’t we drink human milk our whole lives? If it was the best, most natural way to gain nutrients, it would be a part of the natural order of things, and to me, consuming milk formulated by nature for calfs, doesn’t seem very aligned with nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ribeye or burger every now and then, but I prefer vegetables. I recently made a vegetarian Mushroom “Brie-ger”, that as a good friend of mine (an avid carnivore) said was the best burger he has ever had.

The point I’m trying to make, is everyone should be more open with their diet, see what feels right to you. But for those who are interested check out Happy Cow, a good resource, and a list of proteins that are non animal byproduct. I would also highly recommend the documentary Forks Over Knives. Keep in mind, an elephant is a vegetarian, how do you suppose he survives and nourishes all that mass without eating other animals? Then there is always the fact that the cattle industry, as it stands, produces a very large portion of the air and water pollution we are experiencing the effects of everyday…

But anyways, here’s a site with a few Lighter Cooking Techniques for those just looking to make small changes to their cooking habits to effect large health changes over time.

I hope some of this information has been helpful! Also, I must recommend the book that made me look at food as a livelihood, and not a compulsion, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

Till next time,

The Hungry Irishman

CONTEST: Who loves BBQ Sauce???

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I do! I do! I do! Who loves supporting local companies and businesses??? I do!

So with that said, I am pleased to bring you my first ever contest. Woohoo!!!  On top of that, what better thing to kick off the first contest with than some of the most amazing BBQ Sauce ever!

I’m so in love with Tay’s BBQ Sauce that I would like to give you two bottles of it. One is their “Sweet and Smoky”, and the other is their “All Purpose”. I think they both should be labeled all purpose because I use them each on everything! Below are a couple of links for you to check out two posts I’ve already written about this culinary delight called Tay’s Southern BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Sauce Makes Life Sexier

Quick and Easy Dinner Alert!

Gosh I love this stuff!

A little tidbit from Tay’s website…“Tay’s Sauce, LLC was created by Doug Hankins and his daughter, Taylor, from Cameron, NC. One year, they made BBQ sauce as Christmas gifts for their family and friends. Everyone loved the sauce, and it became a common request for them to make more. They were encouraged to bottle and sell their sauce, so in the spring of 2009, the “All Purpose Southern BBQ Sauce” was made available for purchase. After the all-purpose sauce took off, people started requesting a sweeter and smokier flavor. After months of trying to find just the right flavor combination, Doug introduced the “Sweet ‘N Smokey” flavor in the spring of 2011. We know that you will love this sauce just as much as their friends and family do. Doug and Taylor discussed that a percentage of all proceeds will go to their home church.”

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How to Enter:

The only thing you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below that tells me why you love BBQ Sauce.

***For extra entries***(once you complete each one, comment below and let me know you did it)

Good luck everyone, and I am so incredibly excited to share Tay’s with you!

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Contest ends Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 11:59pm ET. 

Tay’s Sauce, LLC is part of the fast growing “Goodness Grows in NC”, a department of the North Carolina Agriculture and Consumer Services.