2012…It’s me time!

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Nothing reminds you more that your life is a fleeting moment in the history of the world more than passing an old cemetery. The bodies that were once vibrant and alive all had aspirations and hopes just as we do today. The human hasn’t changed much folks… just our priorities may have shifted a bit. I believe we have begun to focus more on material items anddigital connections and less on the human interaction and emotion.

As 2012 approaches I have to step back and evaluate my personal well-being. I will be turning 30 this year, and I don’t believe I can honestly say I have focused on myself much in my adult years. As cliché as this may seem to some…this is the year of me. I have health goals, mental goals, and career goals that I must make strides towards this next year. It’sso true that we aren’t promised tomorrow, and all too often that statement has hit home for me.

So I am going to write my list out…not a list of “resolutions”, because you know as well as I know that those are meant to be broken. We’re rebels at heart. *smiles* It’s going to be a list of hopes for my 2012. I have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and I need to start believing in the fact that I am good enough for those to all happen.

And don’t fret…along with the upcoming healthier recipes in 2012, there will surely be good Southern classics mixed in.  You know me and my Southern roots can’t be parted.  *smiles*

To be blunt:  Complacency can kiss my …… in 2012. I’m done with it.  Time to shake things up a bit…Agree?

First thing on my list… 1. I hope for you – love, happiness, and joy in the coming year.   You have been my loyal reader, and I appreciate you for all of the joy you have given me by coming back time and time again for my posts.  You…I cherish.

Next year’s quote for The Onyx Plate…”We write to taste life twice.”

Happy New Year everyone! 

With love,

Jennifer

More Bacon Please! Bacon Biscuit Muffins

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Confused? Yeah…me too. But, I couldn’t find a better name for these little guys. I posted very recently about the BEC Pockets, and the day before I had made these Bacon Biscuit Muffins. Don’t worry, I don’t eat like this normally. It sure is nice though to get up on the weekend and have time to actually prepare and cook a warm breakfast. The humdrum 5am buzzer and lucky to grab a pack of oatmeal workday mornings are gruesome. Nothing better than getting to cook in my opinion. *huge smiles*

I believe I have posted about these previously. Honestly though, I just want to drive home the point that it is so easy to get creative with breakfast. We get so tied down to processed “crap” for breakfast on our busy work mornings that we forget about the other options. Sure, you can make this healthier and all…but the point still stands. Simple, homemade, and warm in the morning is good for the breakfast soul.

Bacon Biscuit Muffins

  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese (your choice of cheese) + a little extra
  • 6 pieces of bacon (more or less, this is 1 pc per jumbo muffin)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Spray muffin tin with baking spray. I used a jumbo muffin tin.
  2. Put one biscuit in each muffin hole.
  3. Next, cook bacon to desired doneness. I preferred crispy since it was going to be mixed with the eggs. It would hold it’s own better in the mix.
  4. Add the eggs, onions, salt and pepper to the skillet with the bacon and cook until the eggs are soft set (just before the doneness of how you would serve them).
  5. Stir in cheese, and spoon the mixture evenly amongst each biscuit.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. You are looking for the biscuit to have risen and the edges to be golden brown if you can see the edges.
  7. About 5 minutes before being done, sprinkle the extra cheese on top of each one to have a melty golden topping. *smiles*
  8. Finish baking and serve with your favorite cup of coffee! Enjoy!

***Adapt this recipe for more people by increasing the ingredients. I have faith in you…eyeball it. *wink*

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Poppin’ for Popcorn!

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For Christmas Eve with my family, I decided to have a Popcorn Bar with different selections of seasoned popcorns.  I, being the stellar daughter that I am, had to call Mom and make sure she had her braces off so she could enjoy the selection.  Needless to say…they have been off for a few years.  Oops.  *smiles*

I had all of the recipes selected and saved to my favorites online, and then the hub decides to hook up the Xbox to the wireless internet the day before…guess who loses internet connection for a couple days because someone changed something on the router settings???    Needless to say, I had to wing it. 

To make it easier, I used microwaved popcorn bags (come on folks, you know I take the easy way out when I can…especially on rushed holidays).  I ended up with these five mixes….what they are called is what is on them….

  • Butter White Cheddar
  • Parmesan Garlic Sea Salt
  • Cajun Red Pepper Parmesan
  • Cinnamon Sugar Butter  (this was Mom’s favorite)

AND

  • Chocolate Marshmallow!  YUM!

The Chocolate Marshmallow was pretty interesting, and was the most involved to make because of the oven time.  However….still SUPER EASY and DELICIOUS!

Chocolate Marshmallow Popcorn

  • 3 Milk Chocolate Hershey Candy Bars (Go bold if you want Dark Chocolate…your choice!)
  • 1 cup (or more *smiles*) mini marshmallows
  • 1 family size bag of popcorn

Directions:

  1. Pop the popcorn according to package directions.
  2. Poor popcorn in a pan and break the chocolate bar in pieces on top of the popcorn, and sprinkle the marshmallows on top.
  3. Place in the oven at 325 degrees and watch until the chocolate melts a bit.
  4. Pull out of the oven and stir together.  It will slightly be like a Rice Krispies Treat sticky, but I pulled them all apart so they didn’t clump together.
  5. Lay out on a piece of wax paper to air dry a bit or serve immediately.  I let mine lie out on the paper for a bit over an hour so the marshmallow and chocolate wouldn’t be so messy.  Enjoy!

Now to put down the leftover marshmallows in the bag beside me before I eat them all.  They are fat free though….isn’t that alright?  *wink*

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BEC Breakfast Pouches–Perfection!

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It’s no secret that I LOVE bacon…however, I try not to keep it around so often, because I could literally consume so much it would be very bad for my health. It’s also no secret that I like to experiment with wrapping food in doughs for breakfast.

Sooo…this leads me to today’s recipe.

I had a small can of biscuits, bacon, cheese, and eggs…what other option than bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits was there? Ahhhh, my own homemade version of the classic breakfast hot pouch. As I typically say…why not?

This was so simple, and I encourage you to try it next time you want to mix things up a bit for a weekend breakfast.

BEC Breakfast Pouches

  • 1 can of biscuits (Your choice of brand and style…I would probably recommend buttermilk biscuit though)…Or make your own. *smiles*
  • 1 strip of bacon per pouch you are making
  • 1 tablespoon of cheese per pouch you are making
  • 1 egg for every TWO pouches you are making
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Flatten out each biscuit as thin as you can get it without breaking the dough. Refer to the picture below for approximate thickness.
  3. Cook bacon in strips, and drain on paper towel to get rid of the majority of the grease.
  4. Scramble eggs with salt and pepper to taste , just until the soft set stage – just past the runny stage (use a tidbit of the bacon grease to keep the eggs from sticking and for more flavor if you would like, or keep it healthy and use cooking spray)
  5. On top of each biscuit dough round, divide the eggs amongst them.
  6. Then break each bacon piece into fourths and put the equivalent of one bacon strip per biscuit on top of the eggs.
  7. Sprinkle each one with cheese, being careful to keep everything in the middle of the biscuit, and leaving an edge of dough for folding.
  8. Next, fold each side of the dough over like a pouch (see below photos), and set them on a pan, lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray, seam side down.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You might want to watch them when you get to the 18-20 minute mark. The biscuits that I had were flaky, and may brown different than some of the other types of biscuit doughs. You want them to be a nice golden brown, just like a normal biscuit when you bake them. Enjoy!

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Hot and Sour Soup soothes the soul…

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This one will be short and sweet, or hot and sour, depending on how you look at it. *smiles* I’ve been sitting here the past few days coughing my head off, attempting to nurse myself back to health, and at my wits end with a Rudolph nose. A good friend suggested to me that I should have some Hot and Sour Soup. They said it’s always helped them when they were sick and should do the same for me.

So, on to the easy Hot and Sour Soup recipe hunt I went.

I don’t normally have to go far for an easy recipe. I go to my Smart Phone App or online to All Recipes, and type in “easy hot and sour soup”. A few different ones came up, and I thumbed through them to make sure I had all of the needed ingredients. In the end, the one I found was quite easy and quite good. Next time you’re feeling under the weather, try this recipe…it just might help.

I didn’t do the recipe below to specs, because I didn’t have bamboo shoots and mushrooms. I also opted not to use chicken to have more of a broth, so I eliminated all of the steps and ingredients relating to the chicken prep. I also ended up putting quite a bit more red chili flakes in it than it called for, because I like it hot!

Hot and Sour Chicken Soup

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • 3 slices fresh ginger root (I grated mine fresh over the pot)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I ended up using about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped (I keep green onion diced and frozen in a bag for times like this when I need some)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) (This was just for garnish, so I didn’t mind not having any)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I only had Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, combine the chicken broth, water, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Place the chicken slices into a bowl and toss with the sesame oil to coat. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornstarch and vinegar, and set aside.
  3. Increase the heat under the broth to medium-high, and return to a rolling boil. Add the chicken slices. Return to a boil, and then drizzle in the egg while stirring slowly to create long strands of egg. Stir in the vinegar and cornstarch. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and the broth has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Serve garnished with green onions (I put the green onions in the soup broth while it was boiling) and cilantro.

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Vesuvios Pizzeria! And no…I’m not talking about the group from Guitar Hero…that’s Vesuvius

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very much into local restaurants, and supporting local businesses. I really thought I had heard of them all here locally, but there was one that I discovered on UrbanSpoon that I had not been to yet. Vesuvios Pizzeria is located on Church Street in Burlington, NC.

It’s a handsome Italian man that is married to a beautiful local woman…classic love story. Something about a man with an accent…I’m sure he said the same about her and hers. We Southern women do have nice accents. *smiles*

The first experience we had in there consisted of pasta and bread. Oh…My…Gosh! The bread was absolutely amazing, and when the Mrs. confirmed that this was the same bread their pizza crust was made out of, we were surely going back soon. Um….yeah…the next day for lunch in fact. And, we have been there three times in the last two and a half weeks. *shameful but happy smiles*

For the second visit, it was of course Pizza, and we took our wonderful neighbors with us! We adore pizza, we really do, and when you can find a good pizza place, you hang on to it and frequent it often! The pizza was fantastic, and you can see pictures of it with the steam coming off of it perfectly. The crust was great, the sauce was great, the toppings were sliced to the perfect thickness…perfection!

The third experience, it was a Philly Cheesesteak for me….love me some cheesesteak – one day I will actually make it to Philly for a real one. But, this one was really tasty even if I weren’t in Philly.

But, you know what I admired most…it’s when I asked the Mrs. (the owners have been in there each time, which I love that fact!) if she had any “housemade” desserts, she was honest and said no. I appreciate honesty, and that was great to hear! She did recommend the Limoncello Cake that was brought in direct from Italy…so, we couldn’t resist. Needless to say…super glad we didn’t resist. *big smiles*

Do yourself a favor and check out Vesuvios Pizzeria. It really was a wonderful experience…all three times in the last two and a half weeks! *smiles*

Also…if you’re not using UrbanSpoon on your Smart Phone…you should be! My favorite Foodie App!

Vesuvio's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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Old Mill of Guilford – a great Foodie Adventure!

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There’s a lot to say about different kinds of Foodie Adventures. It can be as simple as a new store/restaurant or as elaborate as touring a processing facility. If it involves food, it can be turned into a Foodie Adventure. We should all try to have these more often so that we can take pride in the culinary world around us everyday. It’s something we all have in common, so why not embrace it and enjoy it!?

My wonderful Uncle was in recently for Thanksgiving, and his friend back home loves grits. What better place to buy grits for him to take home than an a fully operational, water-powered, 18th century grist mill? On to the Old Mill of Guilford we went!

If you’ve seen any stories about the Old Mill of Guilford on PBS, or other news stations, you will notice that they are careful to make you feel as if it is deep seated in the country, peaceful, etc. Don’t be fooled…it is literally seated right off of Hwy 68. In fact, the mill was there before the highway, and when planning was done for Hwy 68, they ran it right between the mill and it’s millpond causing necessary modifications to be made in order to stay functioning. Now I’m obviously not from the time when that happened in 1932, but I do wonder if there was any controversy. It seems a shame for beautiful history to be disrupted in that manner.

Their website gives the best summation of the mill…

“The Old Mill of Guilford was founded in North Carolina on Beaver Creek in 1767 to grind grain for the early settlers of what is now Guilford County. Today, the mill continues to produce all-natural, stone-ground, whole grain foods, just as it has for over 250 years. The mill produces all natural corn meals and grits along with a wide range of mixes including: sweet potato and oat bran muffin mixes, gingerbread, Scottish scones, Scottish shortbread, and heidesand cookie mix (a German shortbread). Visit the Old Mill Store for these products and other fine foods and crafts from North Carolina.”

The little store inside the mill had a ton of mixes it seemed, along with many North Carolina crafts and a few pottery items, and I surprisingly only walked away with two Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffin Mixes, and two Corn Muffin mixes. One of each went to a good friend, so I wasn’t being that much of a pig. *smiles*

I have tried both mixes at this point, and my friend has tried the blueberry muffin mix. She felt the blueberry muffin mix came out a bit dry. She made them to specs, and when I made them, I added more blueberries and chopped pecans (you know I love my pecans). I didn’t find mine to be that dry, but a little butter never hurts a muffin in my book. To be specific, that Land o’ Lakes Cinnamon Sugar Butter never ever ever ever ever ever hurts a muffin or anything for that matter. *huge smiles*

But, the real star of this story, and sadly I don’t have photographs of them quite yet, is the Corn Muffin Mix! In my book, this beats Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix hands down – I know, I’m sounding like a crazy person now. It was the perfect amount of coarseness, of heartiness, of sweetness. It was just perfect and worth the $4.95 for two pounds of mix.

You can view all of their products by clicking here. They ship their products and a lot of local fresh restaurants use their products. I know my favorite Ironhen Café is one of them! Look at those Shrimp and Grits (I’d bet money they are from Old Mill of Guilford) to the right! They were delicious at Ironhen. I know another restaurant that is fantastic, is J. Pepper’s Southern Grille. They have been on television a lot using their products. Love them as well!

Most every bag of goodness you get from Old Mill of Guilford will have a recipe tucked inside of it. It really is a wonderful little place full of history and the highway isn’t that annoying. *smiles*

Here are a few shots of the muffin mix…if you’re local, give them a try and pick up some goodies straight from the South for your loved ones this Christmas!

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Magically Delicious! AVOCADO SPICE MINI CUPCAKES WITH AVOCADO CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

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Sometimes we just need to write to keep our minds off of things…so I write to you this morning. *smiles*

If you have been following my posts on the Facebook page (which you all should be *smiles*…So just click that link there *wink*), you know that I recently made some cupcakes that raised a few eyebrows. They were made with Avocado. Oh sure. Be like the majority of people I mentioned these to and turn your nose up in disgust. But, if you’re like me, and you truly believe that the avocado’s soul purpose on this Earth is not just for Guacamole, then this recipe is for you! It is delicious, and the icing could be eaten on a variety of items…from dipping a butter cookie into it, a fruit dip, to putting on other cakes and cupcakes.

This is one you need to trust me on. And, I’ll be honest, since I didn’t have the highest hopes for this little surprise gem of a recipe, I didn’t get photographs throughout the process. However, I did take one before I carried them to work. If you haven’t figured it out yet by reading the above…everyone loved them!

Please try…you won’t be disappointed!

It seems like a lot of work (I’ll admit that fact), but it’s the prep that is intimidating. In the end it’s worth it, and the green tint to the icing makes for a perfect holiday treat. The recipe was found on this site…If you love Avocados, you might find many more recipes to try and tips to store your Avocados.

When I made them, the recipe yielded 24 mini cupcakes, and 12 regular cupcakes. So there is the potential for 48 minis. I followed the instructions almost exact, and as usual, if there is anything I adjusted, it will be written beside it. As a side note: Each mini cupcake is 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus. Just in case any of you needed that. *wink*

AVOCADO SPICE MINI CUPCAKES WITH AVOCADO CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 eggs – I used egg whites, and added 1 tsp. of oil per egg required as a substitute.
  • 1 cup (2 for me) Fresh California Avocado, peeled, seeded, mashed (Of course I don’t have California Avocado, so I just used the regular Avocado from my grocery store.)
  • ½ cup buttermilk – I never keep fresh buttermilk, but I do keep powdered buttermilk for these kinds of odd recipes or when I want to make biscuits. *smiles*
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg – for the spices…sadly, I didn’t have all of them, so I used the equivalent amount for the three, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice.
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup raisins – Ummm…yeah, I just used mini-snack boxes of raisins. It looked about like 1/2 cup. *smiles*
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped – I used Pecans, but Walnuts would be much more perfect!
  • 1 tsp. additional flour

Avocado Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. Fresh California Avocado, peeled, pitted, pureed – I just mashed the crap out of it.
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. sour cream
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream together sugar and butter. Add the avocado and eggs and beat to incorporate. Mix in the buttermilk.
  2. Mix together the flour, spices and baking soda. Add them to the batter and mix well.
  3. Toss the raisins, walnuts and small amount of flour together. Add to the batter and mix in.
  4. Pour into mini cupcake pans lined with holders and bake at 350 until done and golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool to room temperature before frosting.

Avocado Cream Cheese Frosting Preparation

(The frosting isn’t really a “piping” frosting. At least mine wasn’t. It’s more soft, as you can see in the photograph.)

  1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in the pureed avocado.
  2. Beat in the powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Refrigerate. – I refrigerated mine overnight, and since it was a softer icing, just spooned a dollop over each cupcake and let it do it’s own thing.
  3. Shelf life of the frosting is 3 days.

Would you like some Pudding, Puddin’?

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A shot of the Banana Pudding I made for Thanksgiving...

I know a lot of you have been asking me for my Banana Pudding recipe, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to give that up yet. Instead, I have a very easy Corn Pudding recipe you must make for your holiday dinners this season!

I took this two places this year for Thanksgiving, and both households absolutely swooned over it. Honestly though, it’s so simple, and it’s a Jiffy recipe. Beautiful food doesn’t have to be from scratch. It can be found in any recipe that your family loves, as long as it’s prepared out of love.

Of course you know I made a Banana Pudding for one Thanksgiving meal, but it may be a bit before I make another one. I made so many of them preparing for the Washington, D.C. trip. A recipe that was maybe made once or twice a year, became once a week for the month of October and beginning of November…too much sugar, and maybe why I started back on Weight Watchers last week. *smiles*

I truly hope you will try this delicious Corn Pudding that is so easy to make when everything else seems to be a hassle at most Holiday functions.

Jiffy Corn Pudding

  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix

Directions:

Beat eggs. Add melted butter, add sour cream, corn, and Jiffy mix. Put into 2 1/2 quart casserole. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

*Variation: Try adding some of these items…1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 fresh jalapenos (seeds and all), 1 chopped bell pepper (any color), or maybe even a minced fresh garlic clove. Get creative with it, and enjoy!

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Best tip I can give you for your food prep this season…Utilize your cooling racks in your fridge to maximize space.  They allow you to stack dishes in there that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to stack on top of each other.