Happy Mother’s Day and Weathervane in Chapel Hill

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I know that you all know how much I truly love my mother.  The things she and I have been through the last two years have made us stronger than ever.  She is indeed my best friend, confidant, and amazing beyond words.  She is my rock and the reason I go out everyday and try to be the best version of me that I can.  I owe that to her for all of her sacrifices, heart ache, and money spending that I have put her through.  I owe it to her to continually pay back in life what she has given to me.  I owe it to her to always treat others with kindness even though they may have hurt me.  I owe it to her to always take the high road and choose my battles, because she has taught me that I can choose how I react to situations for the best.  I owe it to her to be thankful of where I am in my life and recognize that life is always going to improve beyond where I am at in the present moment.  I owe it to her to hold my head high with confidence as a beautiful woman that she has created from her own beauty.  I owe it to her to be the best daughter she could possibly have prayed for all those years ago, because she has been that mother that God knew I was going to need.  She has shown up every single day for me, and I owe everything to her.

So when it came time to think of a Mother’s Day gift, it became difficult.  I knew she was missing her own mom, and I remembered that we didn’t make the traditional birthday cake at her birthday earlier this year.  It was time…yes time…to make Bishop Bread.  It seems almost sinful to be making it any other time than on her birthday.  I mean, it has been a time honored tradition for an incredible amount of years to be made only on her birthday (that’s me not telling you how young my mom is).  Sometimes life calls for throwing tradition out the window!  But wait, the recipe calls for candied cherries, which makes complete sense why this cake was only made around the holidays.  Grocery stores always had an abundance of candied cherries during Christmas.  If only for those god awful fruit cakes everyone seems to make.  I had to find them somewhere, right?  Very wrong.

After running out of time and places to hunt them down, there was only one option.  I had to make candied cherries myself.  One of my friends had suggested I make them out of Marschino Cherries.  Bleh.  Sorry, folks, I am not a fan of these artificially brightened treats.  However, I needed my candied cherries.  I took to Google, and Google came through with flying colors.  It landed me on ShaunaSever.com.  Thank goodness there was a recipe out there.

They were incredibly easy to make, and here is the link to her post… http://shaunasever.com/2010/12/how-to-make-candied-cherries.html.  Her recipe is below.

  

Candied Cherries

This is a full recipe that will yield about 8-9 ounces of candied cherries. It’s easily scaled up or down, even if you just need a tiny amount for a recipe.

  • 1 16-ounce jar maraschino cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Drain the cherries, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Combine the reserved juice and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the cherries, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes-1 hour, until the cherries are slightly shriveled and firm to the touch. Remove from the heat, uncover the pan, and let cool completely.

When the cherries have cooled, remove them to paper toweling (leaving the syrup behind, your recipe doesn’t call for it) and pat dry. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six months.

  


Weathervane

We were originally headed to Fearrington Village for brunch, but considering the weather, Mom decided she would rather go to Chapel Hill and visit A Southern Season and Weathervane.  Love love love going to A Southern Season.  It should really be named A Southerner’s Food Heaven.  First, we ate!  

We lucked out and got a seat in the cafe area.  It’s really not that bad, but if you are more than two, you should ask for an extra chair when sitting at the booths. We were immediately advised that their regular menu was not available, and they were only offering a $34 Prix Fixe menu for Mother’s Day.  Which isn’t a bad thing.  I just missed their main menu.  Overall, it was a great experience because I was with my Mom/parents.  It is Mother’s Day afterall.   

They had a beautiful menu and a fresh daisy on each table.  It was set nicely, just as would be expected.

Mom ordered the baked baby brie, orange blossom honey, fig preserves, and toasted country bread for her starter.  I’m not the biggest brie fan, but this had a really nice flavor with all of the elements combined.

 I ordered the Grilled Summer Squash Soup as my starter with charred peppadew peppers, and a sweet corn crem fraiche –  No, I didn’t shake it up or stir it before taking the photo.  It was presented this way.  You eat with your eyes first, and although this ended up tasting decent, it certainly wasn’t plated well.  A little bit of a let down for as amazing as this place normally is. 

 

My Stepdad ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes with a buttermilk cucumber, green tomato relish, and crispy greens.  He said the greens were so soaked in grease, it was hard to enjoy them.  However, they were indeed fried, and we came to the conclusion that maybe that’s the only way some people can eat healthy greens…fried.  The dish was perfect otherwise.

They both ordered the out of this world Weathervane Shrimp and Grits with heritage Andouille Sausage, redeye shrimp gravy, shitake mushrooms, and pimento grits.  Even though we never saw actual pimentos in the grits, this was the best dish of the entire meal at the table.  Very thankful this is on the regular menu!!!


I ordered the Tea Glazed Organic Salmon with heirloom pea succotash, preserved lemon, skinny bean salad, and a green tomato vinaigrette.  This was probably the best cooked piece of salmon that I have had in an extremely long time.  Delicious and buttery.

They copied each other again at first with both ordering the Salty Caramel Apple Cobbler with a brown sugar streusel and buttermilk ice cream.  However, contrary to what your brain tells you, this cobbler was served cold.  I asked the server if it was supposed to be served cold (we were kind of early in their lunch service so maybe they just hadn’t had time to warm it thoroughly), and after going to the back and returning, she informs us that it is supposed to be served cold.  Hmmmm…if this is a new trend, you can have it.  Ice cream (especially such tasty ice cream like the one on this dish) should be melting gently over the HOT apple cobbler.  Maybe next time put that it is served cold on the menu?


After the Cobbler debacle, Mom ended up with the same dessert I had chosen – 11 Layer Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate ganache, roasted strawberries, and a peanut butter mousse.  This was a win in the richness of the cake and the perfection of the peanut butter mousse.  I’ll take a pound of that to go, please!

The few little things that I wasn’t pleased with didn’t outweigh the stellar service, the ambience, or the overall enjoyment of being with my family at a nice restaurant.  It truly was a good experience.  I can’t wait to go back and order my own plate of Shrimp and Grits!

If you’ve made it to the bottom, I hope that you have all enjoyed your Mother’s Day.  If you’re like me, and have only been blessed with being a mother to a cat, then Happy MeowMa Day to you (as I refer to the day).  If you’re not able to be with your Mom, then I hope that she left you with wonderful memories that you can look back on today, and know that you are a better person because she was in your life.

With love to my own Mom,  J

Happy Birthday, Sara!!!

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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!!!!

 

USS North Carolina and Copper Penny

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Wow!  Life has really been showing up to play lately, and that has given me a little reason to not be so present here on the site.  I did want to find the time to tell you about the most recent adventure.  We took a trip with the neighbors to Wilmington, NC.  The neighbor called and suggested to go to Wilmington and see the USS North Carolina.  Of course I jumped at the chance.  I hadn’t seen the Battleship since I was little.  At least I think I did see it at one point?  I don’t know that I would remember seeing it when I was young after seeing everything this last time.  It would be for the simple reason that as an adult I would take different things from seeing the memorial.  

Because this is what it’s about….

Do you see the reflection?

World War II era was a completely different time than now.  This was the way to connect to it.  The men were so young in the photographs posted.  The memories that were posted around the memorial from the various crewmembers were haunting at times.  You could picture their memories as if they were your own.  Maybe that’s how it was supposed to be, and if it was, perfection.  Even down to the current crew cleaning on the ship.  The one’s I spoke to were ex-military, and had a connection to their duties.  Now I won’t claim to know a ton about the military.  I’m not the type to go through life BSing around a subject to sound knowledgeable.  What I do know…I have a magnificent love and respect for our military.  That’s something I’ve developed in my adulthood, and I owe a lot of that to my Stepfather.  He’s USN through and through, and I am thankful everyday for his service.  Go Navy!

All of the old GE products on board were fantastic to see!

I can’t help but look at this photo and think about food….Do you see all the food relations?

Now being a food blog, you have to know something else was coming on this trip….

The food!  The other deal about going to see the memorial was that we had to eat at Copper Penny in Wilmington.  The hub and I had already been to Copper Penny a couple years ago, and we couldn’t wait to go back.  However, once again, life had happened, and we hadn’t made it back yet.  

You know that one place that you just can’t stay away from in your memories?  Think about going to that place in your mind.  Walk through the door, sit at the same table, find that one menu item you just must have again on the menu, and order it.  It gets delivered to your table, you take your first bite, and it hits you.  It’s just like you remembered it.  Isn’t that the sweetest experience?  Those moments are when you know you’re at a good place.  Consistency is the key. 

I ordered the same thing I got last time, with the same sides.  The “DW” Burger, sub a Black Bean Patty.  For the record here, I have YET to find a Black Bean Patty that is as good as this one.  The burger comes topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, and fried onion straws.  I leave the tomato off and add guacamole.  There is something to be said about piling on delicious toppings.  This is where it comes in handy that I have a big mouth.  *smiles*  The sides were homemade chips and Asian Slaw.  I love the addition of the Ramen in the slaw – always unexpected and always tasty.

DW Burger

The hub got the Ridiculously Good Pub Burger, which is a ½ lb. chopped shortrib and chuck burger topped with cheese of choice, bacon, mushrooms, and he added fried onion straws.  Also at our table was the Black Bean Burger topped with cheese, Lettuce, tomato, onion and a Lemon Dill Aioli, and the Grilled Steak and Bacon Sandwich.  This sandwich is a NY Strip topped with bacon, white American cheese, and chipotle mayo.  It looked amazing!  To start the table off, there was a big appetizer of Cheese Steak Nachos.  You read that right…sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream all piled high on a bed of tri-color tortilla chips with a side of jalapenos.  YUM!!! 

Sometimes you just feel safer eating a burger of this magnitude with a tattooed gentleman beside you.

Cheese Steak Nachos

When it comes to dessert at Copper Penny there is one option only.  The “Soon to be Famous Bread Pudding” is the sole option, as it should be.  When something is this good, you don’t need another option.  After all of the food consumed at the table, this topping on the meal is worth being miserable over.  It satisfies every bit of your sweet tooth with each sweet and chocolaty caramel bite.

We finished off the day with a short walk on the beach, and then a 3.5 hour drive back home where we had begun just 16 hours ago.  Between the stellar history lesson, the delicious food, serene beach walk, great company, and a perfect Sunset most of the way home, it was a glorious and satisfying way to spend a Saturday.  

We determined this was a real mermaid, but she dried out in the sun…

Sundays with Friends: My friend Jen and her Peanut Butter Balls…

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022Do you remember my good friend, Jen? She last wrote for us about Wild Turkey Stew, and this time she’s bringing us a very near and dear to her heart recipe for her Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls. I meant to get this to you before Christmas, but we all know how busy the Holidays can become. However, you have to forgive me….I AM bringing you one of the most delightful recipes I have EVER put in my mouth. From my friend that understands the importance of loving her mother and hanging onto handwritten recipes, all the way to your kitchen, please welcome back Jen!

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I love Christmastime and one reason why is because I love making my mom’s peanut butter balls. My 020mother passed away over eight years ago from cancer. We used to make Peanut Butter Balls together every year before Christmas. When my mother became sick she didn’t have the strength to make Peanut Butter Balls with me. I had to make them on my own. She passed away in October 2006, and that Christmas I went to her house. I made the Peanut Butter Balls like I usually did, except that year she wasn’t present to help; however, I felt her spirit there with me.

I try to make my Peanut Butter Balls every year because it was me and Mom’s Christmas tradition. I didn’t make them last year because I was trying to eat healthier and knew if I made them I would about eat all of them. I promised Jennifer that I would make them this year and write for her Sunday’s with Friends. I hope that you can take this recipe, make your own Christmas tradition, and enjoy it like I do.

Oh and by the way I still have the handwritten recipe that my mother wrote.

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  • 2 cups of Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1 lb of powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter melted
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts
  • 4 oz of flaked coconut
  • 12 oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • 12 oz or more of chocolate candy wafers

Mix first 6 ingredients in order given. Form into balls, which may need to be chilled for a while. Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler and dip balls into melted chocolate. Place dipped balls onto wax paper until hardened. You can put them in the fridge or keep them on the counter. But, let them sit out on the counter for a bit before eating if you’re storing them in the fridge.

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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

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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

Featuring: Iron Hen Cafe – Brunch til 4pm. Check!

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This morning I went to Iron Hen Cafe in Greensboro, NC, to photograph some Brunch menu items for my other blog, Fresh.Local.Good food group. Then….I captured this masterpiece!

It’s a stunning dish called Peanut Butter Banana French Toast……Are you drooling yet?

Follow the below link for a few other tasty selections they serve at Iron Hen Cafe for Brunch on Sunday until 4pm, and Breakfast every other day…

Click me!

Brunch til 4pm. Check!.

Sundays with Friends: Getting your Rhythm Roll on with GurlBye!

GurlBye Dinner1

Happy Easter, everyone!

We all come across people in our lives that we know are supposed to be there. We struggle to find where they can fit in to our busy lives, and sometimes we are only able to maintain that thread of communication through social media. But these people, we aren’t going to lose them in our lives, no matter how much life separates us. Today’s Sundays with Friends comes from one of those people. I used to work with her, and I have always had a fondness for her. She is beautiful, talented, and has one of the most amazing and giving spirits I have ever found in a friend. We may not see each other, or talk to each other regularly, but there’s still that connection, and I like that about our friendship. With that said, today’s Sundays with Friends (and next weeks) comes from my friend, Nikki, and her girls at GurlBye. Welcome to The Onyx Plate my beautiful new friends!

What? You haven’t heard of GurlBye??? Who is GurlBye? Well let me let her go ahead and start…

We are women on a mission to aid in the mental transformation of young girls from their days of Barbie dolls and dress up, to a whole new world of getting to know self. Our focus is on middle school aged girls, because for many of them this is the first time in their lives when they will actually take notice of changes in their environment. Middle school is a time when questions begin to require better answers than “Because I said so” and “That is just the way it is.” Our girls are growing up fast. Many of them are much more intelligent than what is shown in the Media. They are taking charge in front of and behind the scenes and realizing the importance of divine wisdom, love, trust, compassion, and reaching far beyond the limits the world sets for them. GurlBye encourages young women to put aside judgmental ways that could cause negativity and begin to embrace each human as an individual.

Let’s start with the Rhythm Rolls this week.

RHYTHM ROLLS

The girls titled this dish Rhythm Rolls because just the thought of how good it was going to taste made them dance.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast (thawed) cut into thin slices
  • Bacon (optional or turkey bacon)
  • 6-8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 tsp Adobo Seasoning
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Mozzarella Cheese (block preferred over shredded)
  • 1 lb Frozen Spinach
  • Toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine spinach, adobo, and garlic powder in small pot. Cover and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Drain and combine with cream cheese.
  4. Spread thin layer of spinach mixture over chicken and add desired amount of mozzarella cheese.
  5. Roll Chicken tightly into a roll and secure with toothpick.
  6. If using bacon, wrap chicken roll in uncooked bacon and secure with toothpick.
  7. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until done.
  8. Garnish chicken with any left over spinach mixture.

Tip: Soak toothpicks in water before use to prevent overheating!

***GurlBye is a non-profit organization that fosters our young women in Greensboro, NC’s middle school and high schools to say “GurlBye” to immaturity and negativity, and “Hello” to wisdom and growth.

If you would like to support GurlBye, you can follow this link that will also take you to their webpage…”The evolution of the woman will always be ongoing. Your donation will help the young ladies of GurlBye in all areas of their lives. Your donation will help provide things such as school supplies, reading material, and travel accomodations to local attractions such as museums and cultural arts centers.”

Sundays with Friends: St. Louis Country Chicken Soup with Lynda

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Today’s Sundays with Friends comes from a fellow Weight Watchers friend, Lynda. This recipe looks amazing, and it certainly seems like it should be more than 6 points for this serving of soup. *smiles* I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I plan on enjoying it when I make it this Winter. Welcome to Sundays with Friends, Lynda!

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I got this recipe over 20 years ago when I was visiting St. Louis, Missouri, as part of a volunteer leadership team. We went there to assist a large Presbyterian church with their four day renewal event. Every evening, the ladies of the church served a light supper to the team members…this soup was one of those dinners.

I really liked the flavors of the soup they served us, but found it a little ‘thin’ for my liking. I’d never had chicken soup with apples and cloves in it so I started playing with the recipe and found this version to be more to my taste. I haven’t changed the ingredients in the original recipe, just adjusted the amounts…guess playing with your food can pay off!

According to the Weight Watchers Recipe Builder, one serving is 6 points…I add 4-5 saltines and another point.

St. Louis Country Chicken Soup

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced (I prefer red or yellow)
  • 1 medium leek, diced (white portion only)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts, roasted, meat diced or pulled apart
  • 2 large apples, cored and peeled, then diced (I prefer one tart apple and one sweet apple)
  • ¼ C. all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp. curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/3 C. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 C. diced tomatoes
  • 4 C. chicken broth
  • 2 ½ C. 1% milk

Sauté carrots, celery, pepper and leeks in olive oil until veggies are softened; stir often. Add chicken and all other ingredients, except parsley and milk.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Uncover; add parsley and simmer 3-4 minutes.

Add milk and simmer just long enough for milk to heat; do not boil.

Makes six servings.