An Evening with Paula Deen!!!

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Friends, Food, and Paula…can’t get better than that!

Life has been very active lately…good, bad, all the above! That’s why when the opportunity presented itself for me to go and see the Paula Deen Live tour that was coming through Charlotte, I was NOT going to pass that up! What made it even better? My good friend, Amy, was going to be able to join me. We both are huge Paula Deen fans, and since we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like, this was perfect.

First thing is first – the staff at the Belk Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center was amazingly hospitable considering the amount of foodies that had piled into their waiting area. Then you had the Deen Crew in their special shirts that were able to give you more information about the Paula Deen Network and get you signed up.

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A gameshow within a show – What did Paula Deen just put in your mouth?

I was amazed at the different walks of life that were there to support Paula and see her. It was a very cool feeling to be amongst them. When we got to our seats, there was a goodie bag waiting for us. Wait, it wasn’t just us, every single person there had one waiting for them. It was an extra special touch that was well noted and appreciated.

While we waited, I noticed many “grandparents” taking selfies with their smart phones and such. I ended up giving a couple tutorials on selfies to a couple around us, and also took a few photos for some other “grandparents”. In exchange, I met some very nice people. It was quite refreshing

...and that combination of tuna fish and chocolate sauce resulted in this...poor woman.
…and that combination of tuna fish and chocolate sauce resulted in this…poor woman.

seeing the selfie craze being appreciated in the older generations. My grandmother was one of the first “grandparents” I ever knew to start using the Internet, and I truly believe that if Maw-Maw were still around, I would have been giving her the same tutorial.

The show was phenomenal. Her husband, Michael, was there. Both Jamie and Bobby were there as well! It was nice to see them, because I’ve always been a huge fan of the sons and their own shows. It was just a quadruple treat to meet them all! Yes, that’s right….I said MEET! There was a meet and greet after the show for a select few, and Amy and I were right in the thick of it. We also got to speak briefly with Paula, Michael, Bobby, and Jamie. That was a nice surprise!

Lee Greenwood's performance was inspiring.
Lee Greenwood’s performance was inspiring.

Wait…there’s more!!! Did I mention that Lee Greenwood was there as well? He came out and cooked just a little with Paula and spoke about his own charity work that he does with our wounded veterans and ‘Helping a Hero’. Of course he sang God Bless the USA. The feeling in the crowd was immense patriotism as every single one of us stood and sang with him. Wow, just wow.

In the end, I am always amazed at these wonderful television chefs that are actually quite phenomenal in person. Paula was superbly witty, and that fact raised my appreciation of her to a level I didn’t think possible. It was tons of fun, and it has me super excited about everything with the Paula Deen Network. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be on there! *fingers crossed*

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The amazing Cooper Boone and his band

You can gather more information on the Paula Deen Network by clicking here. It promises to have tons of classic Paula Deen shows, money saving tips, fun reality shows with her friends and family, and even more new cooking shows with some new faces and new friends! One of which is with this amazing man and his music! Check out Cooper Boone by clicking here!!! He and his band opened up the show with some beautifully written music. Definitely got the show started on the right Southern path!

It was another phenomenal foodie experience for the books. Thanks Paula and team!

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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!

Believing in Humanity…and Curtis Stone, too!

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I am a firm believer that people come in and out of our lives for a reason. I also believe that the kindness of strangers is still alive and kicking. Whether it’s the person you pass in the street you exchange smiles with, or it’s the server at your dinner table…we all meet for a reason. That’s why it’s important to show kindness to everyone you meet, because as the old phrase goes, you never know what struggle someone has in their own life.

All through life, I have tried to do my best to share my smiles (what’s the point in hanging on to them?). I will always try to make you laugh (with clean or naughty humor). I will always believe in you (even when you doubt yourself). Also, I will always respect you (because you’re human, and you deserve it). I don’t care where you came from, where you live, what you eat (unless I need a recipe), or how you prefer your steak cooked. You are you, and I will respect you and do my best to inspire you.

Onto today…

There were quite a few people that came into my life today, and I am very grateful they were brought into it.

Today was the day I got to meet Curtis Stone. *big smiles* Mom and I started off early for the hour drive to A Southern Season (one of our favorite gourmet stores!), and were completely expecting a large crowd waiting. We were the fourth car in the parking lot…*smiles*. We made it inside the store and walked towards the area Curtis would be demoing some of his items. The first person we met…Johnnie. Johnnie was a true delight and knew food like the back of his hand. It was great spending time with him and hearing some of his great recipe ideas. Next, we went to the “gathering” area where we were first in line. Luckily for us, Katy was there to greet us. We had no complaints at all with spending time with this vibrant and kind woman. There were quite a few things we could relate to: her brother has a food blog, she loves fashion, she does design for your home, life, or wardrobe, and she smiled warmly. What wasn’t to love about this woman?

Elaine joined us shortly thereafter with a super warm smile as well. She told us about a movie called Strictly Ballroom…an Aussie film that she loves. She also educated us that she had heard the Julie person in real life from Julie and Julia wasn’t actually the most amazing person you would want to know. Hmmm….that sucks. Then flew in Stacey. Stacey, Stacey, Stacey. We had to let the Security Guard Ryan know that he might want to watch her. For the simple reason that she knew where Curtis had stayed. *wink* With her pearls and sparkly personality she was sweet to bring us tastings as we waited. By the way, the Peppermint Bark at A Southern Season is simply delicious! I adore a good and smooth Peppermint Bark.

Now to back track a bit. All of the above were employees of A Southern Season. There was one more key player in today’s events. About 30 minutes after we had been standing in line, a young gentleman began standing in line with us…Ap. When I say gentleman, he really was one. Well dressed, well groomed, articulated his words, polite, and he knew his food! Oh yeah, and he loves a good steak (can’t fault him there). We exchanged contact information and are definitely planning on keeping in touch. He also let me know about Anthony Bourdain coming to Richmond, VA, in April 2013. Woohoo!!!! *big smiles*again* I always love a new Foodie friend. Might start watching Top Chef Masters because of him, too. *wink*

Right behind Ap, stood a mother of two toddlers and her friend. She had a blog as well. Shamefully, I didn’t catch her name, but I definitely got her blog address. *wink* Go check her out at The Stir Crazy Moms Guide to Durham. It has tons of great ideas to do with your children in Durham. I believe I just saw where they do giveaways once in a while also!

Enter…Curtis…

I had flashbacks of meeting Gordon Ramsay when Curtis Stone walked behind his curtained area to get ready for us salivating women (and a few men). I believe the organizers thought we would be a stampede mess, because a few of them kept telling us how to stand and where to go. But, we knew what we were doing…Curtis couldn’t see us acting like fools. *wink*  By the time 8:30am-11am was gone, we had already “adopted” Ap as one of the family, and we stuck together to make sure we all made it to the front row. Of course we did (it’s the Southern way to look out for your neighbor).

We finally were let in, and now we were standing in front of Curtis Stone while he was showing us a few of his cookware items. I found it to be a little pricey for the average home cook with an average job (like myself), but I can see where everything was practical, great quality, and would be worth the money with some saving. Just as a note…his basic 12″ NonStick FryPan was voted #1 by Good Housekeeping magazine, and his Oil Can was featured in O magazine as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things. I’m not sure you can get better than those two things.

Let’s be honest here. It was hard to focus on much, as he was so damn attractive. *smiles* He shared cooking tips, stories, history, joked around (there’s a naughty side there ladies and gents), and smiled a lot. It was obvious he was passionate about his craft, and I can appreciate that greatly. He took pride in the product he was presenting to us, and he knew how to make you feel important when you met him. Towards the end of the presentation, he sat the plates of food that he had prepared out for us to see as we waited in line for him to sign our cookbooks. But, come on, if you know me, I’m not afraid to ask for what I want. I also don’t believe in just LOOKING at food. So, without hesitation, I proclaimed to him…”I want to try that!” He kindly handed me a fork and the plate, and Mom, Ap, and I enjoyed a bite of his stir-fry dish (which was stunningly flavored). Such a sweetie.

We continued to wait in line for our book signing, and with each person, he took a quick moment to talk to them while signing their cookbook. He got to me, and saw that I already had his autograph in my cookbook (a friend had obtained that one for me, thanks Andrea!). I told him this time I wanted to see it being signed myself, and we could have it signed to “Jennifer” this time, instead of “The Onyx Plate”. He obliged, acknowledged my Fork Bracelet I was wearing, and listened to me briefly jabber about him being an inspiration in my own food passion. We shook hands and he took a photo with Mom and I…damn he’s attractive. Oh wait…did I already say that? Oh well, it bears repeating!

We said goodbye to Katy as we shared a hug, and goodbye to Ap as we recommended he dine at The Weathervane before driving 2 hours home. Unfortunately, they were on a wait for parties larger than one, and we headed back towards home. However, we did stop at a nice little place in Hillsborough called Saratoga Grill. Quite tasty on Churton Street. Delicious Honey Almond Salmon, a light salad, sweet Scones, and a sliver of Caramel Walnut Torte made a nice cap to the day with Mom.

There’s nothing I love more than going on Foodie Adventures with Mom, and even though she says she only goes on these things because it’s for me, I think she secretly enjoys them. Simply put, she got a little too excited when we got to put our arms around Curtis for a photo. And I quote “Ohhh, we get to touch you!” I love my Mom. When I can’t seem to get the words out, she always knows exactly what I’m thinking.

So…in closing…

  • From Johnnie – fantastic recipe ideas for Collards and Fish
  • From Katy – TwentyFiveBucksAWeek.com is her brother’s blog, and her company is Katy Delaney Design. Beautiful Woman/Beautiful Website
  • From Elaine – a new movie to watch!
  • From Stacey – a new brand of Peppermint Bark to indulge in
  • From Ap – a future meeting with Anthony Bourdain (hopefully Ap will be there as well), and a new show to watch – Top Chef Masters
  • From Blogging Mom – a cool website to introduce you Moms to…maybe one day I’ll need it as well.
  • From Curtis Stone – INSPIRATION, INSPIRATION, INSPIRATION and another reason to save money. *wink*

Life is about the people you meet in it as well as the small things you’re surrounded by every single day. When you meet someone, make sure you leave their lives just as enriched as they left yours.

Aspire to inspire.

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Rambling on my way to my 30s and a Cooking Class on 9/5/12!!! Yay!

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First, I must apologize for all of the “reflection” posts lately, and lack of recipes. I’ll be back on the recipes shortly, I promise. I’m just in a very pivotal moment it seems in life. By no means is it a bad thing, but it is definitely causing me to think a lot about the future. A LOT.

For instance…let’s go through my current To-Do List…or should I call it my “What I’m Involved in while trying to maintain my sanity” list? *wink*

  • I have my regular day job – 10 hours a day/4 days a week.
  • I go to the gym each of those above 4 days I work, at 6am in the morning.
  • I write the blog for Iron Hen Café in Greensboro, NC.
  • I work part-time for Darryl’s in Greensboro, NC, managing a portion of their Guest Relations.
  • I have been submitting articles to various magazines, and one of which should be published in the month of September in our local Alamance County Magazine.
  • I also (you’re my witness) maintain my own baby the best I can, TheOnyxPlate.com.

Last but certainly far from the least…

  • I have been asked by Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC, to do a cooking class for them. YAY!

Not only is this a great month of September coming up for me with the magazine publishing me, and the class happening…but, I’ll be turning 30 on September 4. 30! I’m excited about it. I’m not where I expected to be in life, honestly. By now, I expected to have a child…maybe two if the birthing process didn’t gross me out too much. Seems God had other plans though, as we’ve been trying for around four years now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ok with this for the time being. He’s brought so much more our way, and I have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. I also expected to not be in marriage counseling (however, I do believe it’s good for anyone to do…this is a good thing that we’re in counseling, folks). Sometimes you have to reach out and admit that you need a little help reconnecting. *smiles* I also expected to be stuck in a dead-end job (sorry, but I did)…and I’m truly not. Now, I’ll admit it, I want to be out of my current job by the end of the year. That may or may not happen. It’s not because I dislike the company I am working for…it’s because my passions in life are leading me elsewhere. I have been given so many opportunities to pursue in life, that I would be a fool to give up on this and stay stagnant in my ever-evolving life. There’s food to taste…people to meet…lives to inspire! *smiles*

So as I get ready to turn 30 in a little over a week, I will be preparing for my trip to Savannah, GA, with my Mom. She and I are going on a Mother/Daughter trip for a week to see the beauty, sights, and food of Savannah for my birthday. I can’t wait! What more could you ask for than going on a road trip with your best friend?

But, before the trip…I’ll be kicking off the first day of my 30s by exploring yet another avenue of my passion of inspiring people with food by doing the cooking class on September 5. I am so dang excited, y’all!

If you’re near the Greensboro, NC, area, I’d love to see you there! It’s going to be held at the Savory Spice Shop location in Friendly Center. The class is from 7pm-8:30pm, and the cost is $10/person. You must pre-register by calling them though, as there is a space limit for the shop. However, if more than a certain amount are interested, I get to do a second class! Woohoo!

With all of this being said, and thank you for listening, I’m going to trek on to my 30s. My 20s were absolutely amazing (with a little heartbreak and sorrow mixed in, as life does continue to happen), and I learned a lot about myself and life in general. I can only imagine where I’m headed in my 30s….but, you know what?….I’m ready!

A few shots of the advertising for the cooking class. I need to get my hands on some of these for mementos. *huge smiles*  There’s also some shots of the very rough draft prep work below while I was formulating some of the recipes yesterday.  I love taste testing!

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

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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.

Sundays with Friends: Dreaming with Dannie and his Godiva Dream Cheesecake

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Wow! It’s been a little bit of time since we’ve had a Sundays with Friends to post (so send me more to theonyxplate@gmail.com *wink*)…and there’s no better way to bring it back than with a Triple-layer GODIVA Dream Cheesecake. Yes….I said GODIVA! This post comes to us from Dannie, a new friend and long-time fan of The Onyx Plate. He seems to be as sweet as this cheesecake probably is. His main comment is that he went by the directions exactly, and it all turned out perfect. See, some recipes don’t need altering when they’re already perfect. *smiles*

Thank you, Dannie, for sending this one in, along with the pictures! I can’t wait to try it! Welcome to The Onyx Plate family!

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The first time that I met Chad, I made a white chocolate cheesecake, and the other day he said that I haven’t made him one since. Well both of us love Godiva, and I have been looking for something new to cook and found this recipe. The only thing that I will say about it, if you don’t have the callets, just go to the store and buy the bars and use them. They work just as great and make it really good!

Triple-layer GODIVA Dream Cheesecake

Yield: 14 servings

Difficulty: Intermediate

Preparation: 2 hours plus chilling overnight

Special Equipment: 9″ springform pan

  • 2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers (about 12 crackers)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (2-8 ounce packages)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 ounces GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets (these appear to be their version of large chocolate morsels)
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream, divided
  • 1/3 firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 finely chopped pecans 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

GODIVA Dark Chocolate Dream Glaze:

  • 6 ounces GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, 1/4 cup white sugar, and butter. After thoroughly mixing, place into 9” springform pan and press firmly into bottom and up the sides. In one bowl, combine 8 ounces cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar together; blend well with mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, melted GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets, and 1/3 cup sour cream. Mix the two bowls together and blend well. Spoon evenly over chocolate graham cracker crust.
  4. Combine the last 8-ounce package of cream cheese in a bowl with the brown sugar and flour; beat until the mixture is fluffy. In a separate bowl blend together 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and finely chopped pecans. Mix the two bowls together and blend well. Spoon over the chocolate layer of cheese cake in the springform pan.
  5. To create the final layer, combine 5 ounces of cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar; beat until well mixed. Add the remaining egg to the mixture and beat again. Stir in 1 cup of sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and the almond extract. When all ingredients are mixed thoroughly, add to the pecan layer of cheesecake. Bake in the preheated over for 1 hour. Let cool for 1 hour on wire rack.
  6. To make the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Dream Glaze, combine the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets and butter in a double boiler. Bring the water to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium. Begin to stir the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets and the butter until smooth, in order to prevent burning. Remove from the heat. In a separate large bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, add the melted chocolate mixture, and stir until smooth. After the cake is completely chilled (4-6 hours), spread the warm chocolate glaze over the cheesecake.

Find the above recipe at it’s original location by clicking here to be redirected to the Godiva Chocolate website. *drool*

Picky Eaters: Are they really that Picky?

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Since I am on vacation for a few days coming up, I asked a few of the fans on The Onyx Plate’s Facebook page (click here to go and become a “fan”) what they wanted to see me write about. One wise individual suggested Picky Eaters. I thought and thought about how to write about it. Then suddenly it came to me.

Here is my take on Picky Eaters.

It’s no lie. You can look at my beautifully curvy body and recognize immediately that I know how to eat. I indulge in good Southern items, fusion items, good carbs, bad carbs, and – surprisingly to my form – good home-cooked fresh and healthy meals. On top of that, I’ll try anything at least once. Well, I’m not quite sure about miscellaneous body parts yet, and some of the things Anthony Bourdain partakes in are still questionable to my tongue (no wonder he drinks so much in his shows). One day…maybe I’ll try Blood Sausage. But, regardless, by NO MEANS am I a picky eater….or so I thought.

In this post, I’m not referring to young Picky Eaters. I am simply talking about adult Picky Eaters. Children are a whole different story with picky eating, and you DON’T want me to get started on that. With that being said, I do have a friend that proclaims himself to be a Picky Eater. Let’s think about this folks, what exactly is a Picky Eater?

The WWW describes a Picky Eater as someone that has a lot of food dislikes….

If we look at this simple statement, who is the one judging here? Who says you’re a Picky Eater? Who’s to say that it’s just not someone that knows what they want, and isn’t afraid to tell you? Someone that knows what their palate enjoys, and what it doesn’t? Someone that knows their body and the reactions it has to certain foods? What in the world are we saying to these people that we are labeling as “Picky Eaters”?

Apparently, we are telling them that what they want and desire is WRONG. You shouldn’t dislike tomatoes. You shouldn’t dislike onions. You shouldn’t dislike spaghetti. You shouldn’t dislike fish. You shouldn’t dislike eggs. Who are we to tell these people what they are SUPPOSED to eat?

If being a Picky Eater means knowing what you want and not taking no for an answer, then I’m a Picky Eater. If being a Picky Eater means saying exactly how you feel and sticking by it, then I’m a Picky Eater. If being a Picky Eater is being in tune with your likes and dislikes in flavors, then goodness me, I am definitely a Picky Eater.

In conclusion, I never thought I would say this…I guess I AM a Picky Eater, and I bet some of you are as well. To me, it sounds like being a Picky Eater is the foundation of how we should live life – Don’t be afraid to say what you want. Don’t be afraid to explore your heart and find what really makes you smile. Don’t be afraid to pay attention to your gut feelings. Don’t be afraid to be YOU.

With love,

From one newly proclaimed Picky Eater to another

No worries, I’m not going to leave you hanging without a recipe that is sure to please everyone….Check it out!

The Grown-Up Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Roll

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Sundays with Friends: Getting Hot with Jen and her Picante Salsa

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Today’s Sundays with Friends comes from a true Southern Belle that I met at my real job. *smiles* I feel very blessed to have met her, because she has been there when I have needed her in the past couple of years. She swears that her Southern accent has rubbed off on me, and I’ll admit it…it has indeed. I believe I have brought out a few traits in her as well…my redheadedness has rubbed off on her a bit I believe. She does have a redhead for a husband, so she needed to learn a few tricks to deal with him. *big smiles* Just kidding. They are a loving couple that are the epitome of a hard-working Southern family. With two adorable kids, huge responsibilities in life, and a beautiful home, somehow they figure out how to make it all work in their everyday lives and still eat good every night. Including finding time to write this entry for The Onyx Plate. From your Jennifer to you…Welcome to The Onyx Plate, Jennifer!

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I am doing this blog for a special friend and ONLY because she is a special friend. My days consist of getting up at 5:30 am, getting two kids ready for school and daycare, and clock in at work from 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. I have to commute two hours a day four times a week. I get home around 7:30 p.m. to fix dinner and get two kids ready for bed to start the routine all over the following day. I am free on Wednesdays; therefore, this is how I made time to do this blog about picante salsa.

Last year my husband’s cousin’s wife, sent us some homemade picante salsa. It was so good. He would ask for more and more because it was so good. Each time we would get a jar it would be spicier than before. We decided that this year we would grow our own tomatoes to make our own salsa so we didn’t have to keep eating all of their makings.

We planted five plants and had around 35 tomatoes the first round, which of course they were not all ready to be picked at the same time. I had to go to my daddy’s to get some from his garden, which was just enough to make my 5 quarts and 1 pint of picante salsa. I also had to borrow my daddy’s water bath. My mother-in-law gave me some cans to use. The Onyx Plate thinks that my southern way of saying cans instead of jars is cute. That is right, I am a southern girl that lives in Stokes County with a little accent and all, which has actually rubbed off on her. LOL!

As I was preparing to start my salsa, and taking pictures of my ingredients, I thought to myself this is fun. Now I know why she likes doing this kind of thing. If I only had more time on my hands, this could be a hobby for me also. I put my camera on the desk computer when I was through taking pictures. My husband came home and got on the computer. He picked up the camera out of curiosity to see why it was on the desk computer. He turned it on and seen my blog pictures. He asked, “ Are you taking pictures like your friend Jennifer now?” I said, “I am helping her out with her blog for Sunday’s with Friends.” He laughed.

Picante Salsa

You will need:

  • pint jars with lids and rings (quart jars work too)
  • canning funnel
  • large cook pot
  • water bath canner
  • ladle
  • towels to use for hot jars, cleaning and cooling
  • jar tongs

Notes: Cut a small X on the bloom end of the tomatoes and drop them in hot water and then immediately put them in cold water so the skin will remove easily. It also works to fill up your sink with the tomatoes you want to use, make sure the drain stopper is closed, then pour a pot of boiling water into the sink with the tomatoes. Immediately use a long spoon or knife to open the drain stopper and drain the hot water out. Add cold water to the sink to cool tomatoes. Repeat until the tomatoes are cool enough to peel.

 

 

For Mild Picante Salsa:

  • 18 cups tomatoes, peeled (approximately 3-4 per cup)
  • 4 cups onion, chopped (approximately 2 onions)
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped (approximately 2)
  • 1/4 cup heaping jalapeno pepper with seeds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed and chopped (optional)
  • 2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup canning salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

For Medium Picante Salsa:

  • Use recipe above and instead of 1/4 cup jalapenos, use 1/2 cup jalapenos

For HOT Picante Salsa:

  • Use recipe above and instead of 1/2 cup jalapenos, use 1 cup of jalapenos (approximately 10)

Directions

  1. Simmer mixture for 10 minutes on medium heat. Don’t let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pot.
  2. After 10 minutes, put mixture in hot jars with hot lids. Wipe off jar top and make sure nothing is on the top ring before putting the lid on the jar, or the jar will not seal properly. Do not overfill jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from hot water bath, place on a towel until cool and lids seal. You will hear a pop for each one. Do not tighten lids until the jars are completely cooled.
  4. Do not let a fan or air conditioner blow directly on the canner or on the cooling jars because they will crack!
  5. Makes 6-9 pints (always varies)
  6. Doubling the recipe saves a lot of time!

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Sundays with Friends: Don’t like Ricotta? No Problem with Sara’s Lasagna!

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Today’s Sundays with Friends comes from my very good friend, Sara. I met Sara through work six years ago , and we have remained close friends ever since. Sara is the friend everyone needs in their lives. She’s the one you go to when you need advice. She’s also the one you go to to tell the funny dirty joke you just heard. Most of all, she’s the one you go to when you need that extra pick-me-up, or to feel the presence of God close by you in the form of an angel that is named Sara. As her writing advises us…she does take food to people…”such as a friend who just had a baby or someone who had surgery and can’t cook for themselves yet”.

I love my Sara (and her Rockstar hub and baby), and I think anyone that knows her would agree that we are all blessed to know her. With love to you, Sara, and thank you for joining Sundays with Friends on The Onyx Plate!

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While growing up, my mom would make this lasagna every Christmas Eve. It was the perfect meal, with salad and garlic bread, to fill our bellies as we prepared to attend a Christmas Eve Service and then wait for Santa to make his appearance. As an adult, I carried on the tradition last year when my husband and I spent our first Christmas Eve alone, and, although it didn’t contain my mom’s touch, it was still delicious.

This is the lasagna for lasagna lovers who don’t necessarily like Ricotta cheese. Personally, I love anything with noodles, sauce and mozzarella, but I just never got into the consistency or flavor of Ricotta, so this is the perfect lasagna for me.

This lasagna is also a great meal to carry to those in need, such as a friend who just had a baby or someone who had surgery and can’t cook for themselves yet, because of the amount it makes. The recipe usually makes enough to have left-overs…and believe me…you want left-overs of this! It’s even better the next day! Enjoy!

Mom’s Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 large Onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped (or ground to a pulp as Sara likes hers done in her Magic Bullet, hehe)
  • 2 10-oz cans Spaghetti Sauce with green peppers and mushrooms
  • Oregano,Garlic Powder & crushed Red Pepper to taste
  • 1 8-oz package Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 8-oz packages Mozzarella Cheese slices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown ground beef & drain.
Beef. Yum.
  1. Put chopped onion & green pepper in water & heat in microwave for 5 minutes. Drain the water out after heating.
This is what I meant by Sara likes her peppers in a pulp through her Magic Bullet. I did ask her what that was all about. She said it needed to be more like a soft sauce consistency with no chunks. Now, it all makes sense. *smiles*
  1. Add spaghetti sauce to ground beef & mix in onion & pepper combination. Mix sauce with oregano, garlic powder & red pepper to taste. Bring mix to a boil. Turn temperature down to a simmer & cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Look at that beautiful color! So hungry just putting this post together for you guys this morning!
  1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil & add noodles. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Layer ingredients in this order: sauce (bottom), noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles,cheese, sauce.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.
When I saw this picture Sara sent me, I immediately felt like saying, "Roll that beautiful Lasagna footage."
So bubbly and golden! I love the super brown spots on the cheese on top. I'm calling dibs on that part!