Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I've tried making calzones before, and failed. I can't remember what went wrong the first time, but I do remember that neither Dave nor I was impressed. Tonight: redemption.

These were by no means perfect. Notice that the filling is starting to spill out? That's not really supposed to happen. Despite my best efforts to seal the calzones, the ricotta/ham/fresh herb/mozzarella goodness oozed out during baking.

But. Don't you think they look like cute little monsters? Just begging me, "Eat Me! EAT ME!!!" instead of "Feed me, FEED ME!" like the venus fly trap in Little Shop of Horrors?

Luckily, Dave and I ate the calzones before they ate us. Well, except for the one leftover calzone we're splitting in half for lunch tomorrow... hope it doesn't come to life overnight and eat what's left in our fridge... and then try to eat us...

Anyway. I wish I'd taken a picture of the homemade marinara sauce (something I also finally nailed, yay) that I served in my cute little red Emile Henry ramekins that tend to make me happy whenever I pull them out of the cabinet. Aren't they cute? And happy? I look for excuses to use them. Anyway. The marinara was tasty. To make it:

* sautee about half a large onion in some olive oil with salt and a little bit of pepper, about 10 minutes.
* right before the onion is done, throw in some chopped garlic. Couple of cloves will do the trick. Or more. Whatever you like.
* add about 1/2 cup white wine. Cook several minutes until the liquid has reduced by at least half. You may want to add about a tablespoon of sugar at this point... depends on what kind of wine you use, and how sweet it is. Or how acidic you expect your tomatoes are.
* throw in some tomatoes. I took one fresh tomato (all I had left of the fresh veggies this week) and a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes and gave them a whirl in my blender, then dumped in the onion/wine/garlic mix. Add some more salt and pepper.
* fresh oregano, basil, parsley, thyme... any sort of fresh herbage is excellent to throw in at this point. No fresh herbs? Use dried, but I cannot stress how delicious fresh herbs are in this recipe.
* simmer as long as you can, over low heat, uncovered. Stir often.
* taste it a couple of times and make sure it doesn't need more salt/sugar/pepper. Adjust accordingly.
* if you want a non-chunky sauce - give the whole thing a good mix in the blender or food processor. Personally? I like the rustic, chunky feel of the sauce, so I left it alone.
* freeze whatever is left over and use it on pizza, bruschetta, pasta, or more calzones.

I finally know my favorite pizza dough recipe by heart (use about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt though). I generally make it and do a cold rise, just leaving it in the fridge until I need it (it's magic!). Today, however, I had just enough time to let it rise on the counter. Oh, and I added more fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme and oregano, from my garden and from the Farmer's Market Basket I picked up last week. I wish I could've captured the smell of my kitchen while they were baking.

For the stuffing, I loosely followed what my man Mario Batali suggested here, in his ricotta & ham calzone recipe. One of my favorite parts of the day this summer has been waking up and eating my cereal and drinking my coffee to Molto Mario. And every morning, I get new ideas for where and what I'll eat when I finally make it to Italy. I'm hoping 2011 is the year. And by hoping I mean, I'm going in May. This is a trick I call "speaking my world into existence."

Oh, and I added more fresh herbs to the filling- basil and parsley this time. And I put extra mozzarella in there before baking.

So that we'd have a little green on the side, I chopped up some romaine and lightly dressed it with my homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Washed the whole thing down with an icy cold SweetWater in a frosty mug.

Dave and I both had really long days today. Normal people would just want to go out instead of standing in the kitchen and cooking. But, it was one of those nights for me where making dinner - creating a tomato sauce, picking fresh herbs to use, playing with food, rolling out a dough that I made from scratch, tasting and retasting to make sure I liked how things were progressing, wondering if it would taste as delicious as it was smelling - was exceptionally therapeutic for me. Despite having stressful days, we got to enjoy a delicious, pretty cheap, easy and not completely unhealthy dinner. It was a good night at Casa Dawmilam.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tilapia with Shallot & Pinot Grigio Jam Sauce

Jayme, who's become the newest member in my arsenal of foodie friends (she's gotten several shout-outs here already), tipped me off to something amazing at the Marietta Farmer's Market that I'm glad I tried for myself: Emily G's Jams of Love. If you're in Marietta on a Saturday this summer, just stop by the farmer's market and sample them. I dare you to go home without a jar! I picked up the pinot grigio jam because it was tasty, really unsure what I'd do with it until the nice lady who sold it said it was good on fish.

Inspired to do something healthy for dinner last night to combat the effects of eating large spoonfuls of pre-chilled lemon curd before dinner (that recipe's coming later), I came up with this little gem I can't wait to make again. I'm usually not one to blog about recipes necessitating specialty ingredients, but this one's worth it!

Serves 2

3 filets tilapia (from frozen is fine, what I used)
salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
1 shallot, fine slices
some butter (about 3 tablespoons)
some olive oil
juice of half a lemon
about 1/4 cup Emily G's Pinot Grigio Jam

Thaw tilapia if starting from frozen (submerge, still in plastic, in cold water for about 45 minutes), rinse & pat dry, then sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Add about 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to a nonstick pan, heat over medium-high heat. Once butter has melted and mixed with the oil, add tilapia, cooking about 3 minutes on each side, turning only once. Remove tilapia from pan, set aside, and cover with foil to keep warm. Return the pan and all remaining drippings to the heat, add shallot, salt, pepper, and sautee about 2 minutes, until shallots become translucent. Add in jam and lemon juice. Once jam has melted, stir in 2 tablespoons butter, one tablespoon at a time, to make the sauce velvety and creamy. Serve immediately over fish, and enjoy!

The lemon juice is key here, as it really balances the sweetness of the jam. Jam is an excellent sauce-maker here, as the pectin gives the sauce a heartier feel than just using plain wine. I imagine it would be just as tasty over some shrimp or other delicate whitefish.

I served the fish last night with plain jasmine rice and green beans. Paired with a little glass of white wine, it was a perfect summertime dinner!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Flip Burger

It's a busy weekend for Team Dawmilam. Our adventures started yesterday with an outing to Flip Burger with Laura (ADPi sister who's known me since I was the quiet girl with bad bangs & scrunchies) and her husband, Heyward, who happen to live dangerously close to Flip. I've been to Flip twice before - once with Christy, once with Lindsey - and both times I was impressed. Dave was getting a little upset that I'd been without him; last night, halfway through what he thought was the best burger ever, he said, "I'm officially mad that you've eaten food this good twice without me." If you're ever in Atlanta, and wanting a burger, this is the place to go.

As my official review of the restaurant, I'd like to start out with the negative: the waitresses, waiters, and hostesses look like they need to eat a few cheeseburgers or drink a couple of the amazing milkshakes there. Really, I'd like to sit down with them and force them to partake of the greasy goodness they're serving up. Upon being seated by a size 00 bleach blonde young woman who didn't know how to smile or make eye contact, Heyward pondered aloud if it hurts to be that trendy all the time. I have to agree: the people who work there aren't so much welcoming or warm. They're pretty, but they don't look happy. My guess, again, is that if they'd just eat a cheeseburger, they'd feel better. But, that's coming from a non-size-00, so maybe I'm totally missing the point.

But, there really isn't anything else negative about this place. We started our meal with the "duck nuggets," ordered primarily because it's not often you can say the words "duck" and "nuggets" in the same sentence and be taken seriously. I'd never actually had duck before, and it's a shame, because there's no way the next time I eat duck it will be that delicious. Anything cooked in its own fat, fried, and topped with a spicy sauce is bound to be delicious. The outside was crispy; the inside was a nice, creamy texture contrast. And the blood orange chili sauce added a delicious sweet kick.

We got one of all the "fried" items last night. My parmesan zucchini fries were delicious, even without their special mayo. Laura's whole pod fried okra was yumtastic, especially with the Sriacha mayonnaise. Heyward got fries, and Dave got onion rings, which apparently were just "mediocre," but this place's mediocre is like everyone else's "good." Our burgers were to die for. I relished every greasy, delicious bite of my bacon cheddar burger that had some sort of special sauce on it. Lemme tell you: it was special. Dave was in burger heaven with his chosen creation, which had a red wine jam, caramelized onions, and blue cheese. And, for dessert, we all got milkshakes.

My favorite thing about Flip WAS the Nutella & burnt marshmallow milkshake - a sweet treat that cannot be missed. But, Dave and I split a different milkshake last night, and it's my new favorite. The turtle was divine. The ice cream was a perfect vanilla, and the caramel was delicious, especially when combined with the lightly salted, toasted pecans atop a cloud of whipped cream.

To add some excitement to the night, we were so happy to run into Frank, Steve and their friend who was visiting from out of town! Great minds definitely thought alike for dinner last night. They were on their way to the Liza Minnelli concert at Chastain. Expect a similar restaurant review after our meal together next weekend at Ballenger's in Rome... a place that Frank insists is one of the best places ever.

After we gorged ourselves, we went back to Laura & Heyward's and enjoyed a relaxing evening out on their screened in porch, chatting mostly about our animals, other funny animal stories and food (welcome to life as married-without-children!). We're definitely glad to have these guys close by and are already planning our next foodie adventure together.

As for the rest of the weekend? Today, I'm preparing for the Peachtree Road Race with Lindsey, who'll be running with me. This is our second year to run, but this year, neither of us is in really good condition to run 6.2 on a hot summer day. Our motivation for running sort of waned after the half marathon in March. It really took a lot out of us! I ran 5 yesterday, so I theoretically *should* be able to run 6 tomorrow. But, neither of us expect to run at our best pace, nor have we ruled out giving up about mile 4, taking one of the beers that so many spectators try to push on the runners, and just walking the remainder of the course. Maybe I should make sure to run with a koozie? Our preparations for today will include laying out by the pool, drinking lots of water, and eating a carbo-heavy dinner tonight. I'm rather excited about getting some relaxing pool time in this weekend!

The adventures will continue tomorrow, as after the Peachtree, we have a fun day at Lake Allatoona planned with the Changs, some of their friends, Genay, Amy & Lindsey. We'll be celebrating lots of things: the fact that Lindsey and I will have survived the race, Independence Day, and Genay's birthday. Pictures & stories will follow soon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Third Tri's a Charm

I am spent. I did my third triathlon today, the Iron Girl Atlanta. It was my second Iron Girl event, and I'm glad I registered for it. I had a different experience than last year, when I was like a Muppet on crack - SUPER excited, all day, even after the race when I was really, really, really tired. Today, however, was a day of high's and low's. I still enjoyed the experience, but it was a completely different one than last year's.

Let's start at the beginning: yesterday. We attended a pool party, at which I (smartly) decided not to partake in any alcoholic beverages or food (burgers, hot dogs, the usual... although it looked super tasty), but Dave rather enjoyed himself. So much so, in fact, that he was awake all night dealing with "stomach issues." Thanks to his being awake at 3:40 am, he noticed that I wasn't up at 3:30, as he thought I was supposed to be, and he was able to wake me up in time to get on the road by 4 am. Didn't you set an alarm, you ask? Of course. But on the iPhone, you can set the DAY you want to wake up at particular times, not just the time. So, I made a huge error yesterday in setting my alarm for 3:45 am on SATURDAY instead of Sunday. How many PhD's does it take to set an alarm clock?

When things like this happen, it reminds me that everything always works out the exact way they're supposed to. High point!

Before jumping in the water, I was crazy nervous. Terrified. It was the same feeling I had at Iron Girl last year; oddly enough, I wasn't that nervous before the triathlon I did earlier in the month. Maybe it's because Karl was freaking me out yesterday with talk of crocodiles in Lake Lanier, or maybe it's just because I realized that I've trained for 2 years for triathlons, and the event day is the culmination of all the hard work I've done for the year, so I felt extra pressure to meet my goal of finishing in under 2 hours. It's also super easy to become insecure waiting around to jump in the lake, especially if you're like me and prone to social comparisons. There are people of all body types who compete in triathlons, and I think part of the process if you're an athlete of any kind is accepting the body that you have - the one that God has so graciously provided for you to use while you're here on this earth, the one you've spent countless hours training with in order to prepare you physically for the day, the one that you've hopefully fueled properly with good nutrition - and trusting it to do its job for you on race day, which is to finish strong, in the very best time that you possibly can. Still, it's sometimes difficult to accept that all the training in the world won't necessarily translate to a stereotypical, ripped physique. I'm looking at you, fellow 29-year-old who was about 6' and 115 pounds with incredible muscle tone... or 46-year-old who was closer to my height but had abs of steel... Here we have a "low point" as a result of nerves, self-doubt, insecurity and social comparison.

Related side note: I weighed myself on Friday for the first time since December 31. It was my new year's resolution to stop obsessing with how much I weighed, and start focusing instead on how I felt, listening to what my body told me it needed as far as food goes, and letting biology figure out the rest. I will say that I've gained weight (I'm now at 131) and lost body fat percentage (hanging in there at 22.2%). I have felt better, mentally and physically, the past 6 months than I've felt in a long time, I've had time to worry about more important things in life, and I've finally stopped trying to calculate how many calories I've burned versus how many calories I should consume every day. And, my husband thinks I'm hot. So, I'm happy with that.

The first real "high point" of the day was the swim. I swam hard today. I courageously stayed in the middle of the pack as much as possible, swimming over and around people. I was winded within about 4 minutes, but eventually found my pace and finished the 1/3 mile swim in 11 minutes - exactly on target! I ran, ran, ran to the bike transition, feeling great.

Then, there was a "low point" on the bike. Actually, the whole bike ride was a big downer. The front part of my shin started hurting. I was going at a slow pace. I wasn't passing as many people as I hoped. 52 year olds were zooming past me. My gears weren't shifting smoothly. I was wishing I'd been courageous enough to get clips before the race (everyone I know who uses clips has one major, epic fall, usually resulting in some sort of serious injury requiring an ER visit and stitches, and I wasn't prepared to handle that before this race). I dropped, and lost, my water bottle at about mile 3 of 17. It was hot. There were near vertical hills to conquer. I was getting tired, and focusing too much on the fact that I wasn't pedaling fast enough and was worried I wouldn't have any energy left for the run. It was just a downer, all around. In hindsight: I should've corrected my thinking. I should've stopped beating myself up and fretting, and instead should have focused on smiling more, having a positive attitude, enjoying the course, and having fun. Lesson learned, because today's bike was no fun at all.

Finally, I made it to the run transition. I threw off my helmet, took a few swigs of water from my emergency reserve bottle at the transition station, and went for it. For those of you who have never experienced running after riding a bike for an hour and 11 minutes and swimming 1/3 of a mile before that, lemme just tell you: it's weird. Your body says something like "under no circumstances are you going to run right now," but your mind says something like "RUN! GO! FASTER!" The run, I will say, felt like another low point, but ended up being the best part of the day. First of all, when you start running in the tri, you feel like you're crawling. Or, at least I do. Low point. My pacing is completely screwed up. I feel like I'm barely jogging, but I'm always going faster than I expect. Today we had a definite "mind over matter" situation. I would not let myself walk until at least mile 1, where I knew I'd have the chance to drink some water and walk for a little while. Sure enough, the mile 1 water/Gatorade station came, and I took one of both. I sipped the Gatorade, which was risky since I never drink Gatorade during a workout, and dumped the water all over my head. Heavenly! I told myself that if I could run the first mile, I could definitely run until mile 2, and I nearly made it. My body shut down going up a hill, and I had to walk up to the top. On the walk, I turned the "low" into a "high," promising myself that I was going to run the remainder of the course after I got to the top of the hill, and I did!

During the run, when I usually focus on something like staying healthy, or motivated, or rainbows and kittens, I told myself something kind of shocking: it's time for a break. I have the Peacthree Road Race next weekend, and I think I'm taking a serious break after that. I'll still be working out, but probably not as much for a while. I get the sense that I need some recovery, and that thought actually motivated me more. So, sort of a "low point" was realizing that I needed to rest for a while. I made up my mind that I probably shouldn't add on to my swim, or run, and probably shouldn't sign up for an Olympic distance tri next spring.

But then, after the race was over, I noticed a man who'd had his legs amputated, above the knees. When he turned around, I noticed that on his prosthetic leg, right where the back of his knee would have been was a bumper sticker that said "Iron Man Finisher." And I thought, well, crap. If he can do an Iron Man, with no legs, who am I to say that I can't do more than I just accomplished? High point: inspiration to do more. Eventually.

I felt the greatest when I realized that my pace on the run was 8:07, which is crazy fast for me. Yay, endurance! And I also felt pretty great when the race was finished.

Other assorted high points for the day: that ice cold Aflac sponge you get as you walk through the finish chute; the week of June 23, 1973 was an incredible week for music, as I found out on a rerun of Kasey Kasem's American Top 40 on XM 70s on 7, during the drive back; La Parilla with the Baesmans for lunch; 2 1/2 hour nap; dinner with the Changs at Taco Mac.

Low point: soreness and exhaustion. Lots of it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some Things that Actually Happened Yesterday

Two non-food-related stories.

Story 1. Yesterday, I went into Office Max to pick up a case of printer paper. I walked right past the post-it notes, the ink pens, the Sharpies, the calendars, the colored notepads, and all the other office supplies I hold dear, and picked up a 20 pound box of copier paper, placed it in my cart, and wheeled on up to the cashier to check out and go on my way. The following conversation ensued between me and a male employee. We'll call him "Max."

Max: (looks in my cart, with disbelief, and looks at me) You mean you lifted that box ALL BY YOURSELF?
Me: (thinking to myself... oh Lord... here we go.) Yep. I sure did.
Max: (staring in disbelief, still) Well, you don't have to worry about picking that up again; I'll bring it right out to your car for you!
Me: Ok. Thank you.
Max: I mean, *laughing & grabbing my arm* look at that, you've got such little arms!
Me: (infuriated and offended) Hey. I might be little. But I'm strong. I swim. I've got muscles. I can handle it. But since you offered so nicely, I'll LET you bring this box out to my car.
Max: So do you have a rewards card with us?
Me: No. Is it free?
Max: Heck yeah it's free! Here, sign up for it.
Me: Ok. (note: not even creepy Office Max employees can stop me from the potential for office supply discounts.)
Max: (observing me as I fill out my Office Max rewards program form, where I'd just written my name) Laura, how are the kids?
Me: (thinking: is he talking to me? I'm going to ignore him.)
Max: Laura, how are the kids?
Me: (continuing "ignore" phase, failing to look up.)
Max: LAURA! How are those kids?
Me: Are you talking to me?
Max: *dumbfounded look*
Me: First of all, I don't have any kids. I have a cat. And second of all, I don't even go by Laura. Anybody who knows me, knows that.
Max: (nervous laugh and sorry excuse about how he thought he knew me)
Me: That's ok.
Max: That actually worked on a girl one time.

Story 2. Last night, Dave and I went to SweetWater for Jack's birthday party. It's the first time we'd been back to the brewery since our wedding day. Lots of nostalgia ensued.

We retrieved our first beers, and walked outside. I put on my sunglasses, reached into my purse and whipped out a beer koozie for my beer glass. Here's interesting conversation of the day #2.

Dave: (shaking his head, like "NO") Really? You can't be serious.
Me: Of course I'm serious.
Dave: (hanging head and shaking it in disbelief)
Me: Why else would I carry around an emergency koozie, in my purse, if I wasn't going to use it at opportune times? It is hot out here. And my beer will get warm if I don't use the koozie. And my hands will get cold. Besides, I guarantee you I won't be the only person here tonight who uses a koozie for their beer glass.
Dave: Alright. I bet you WILL be the only person here who has one.
Me: Fine. Bet on.
Dave: Awesome.

(we go back to drinking and eating our pizza, never actually determining what I'd win, or he'd win, if either of us won the bet.)

2 hours later...
Me: OH MY GOD can I just tell you how excited I am to see that you have a koozie on your beer glass like I do?
Random Stranger Woman that I Do Not Know: (odd look) Well. Thank you.
Me: I mean, really. That's awesome.
Random Stranger: Cheers to that! (cling glasses)
Me: Can I just point you out to my husband? We have a bet going.
Random Stranger: Well...
Me: DAVE! DAVE! LOOK!! (pointed at Random Stranger's koozie-covered beer glass as she holds it up)
Dave: Oh. Wow. Guess you won!
Me; Thank you. That's all. Rock on.
Random Stranger: You're welcome.

Dave offered to take me out to La Parilla for margaritas and drive us home afterwards... but he does that anyway on a regular basis. I'm still trying to figure out what he owes me for his disbelief.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Best Little Marinade Ever

Dang. Thought I had come up with this delicious little marinade on my own, but as it turns out, I've made it before.

Here is Giada's roasted chicken with balsamic vinaigrette recipe. Anyone else wish Everyday Italian would come back? Anyway. I somehow did this one from memory, almost exactly, when I was getting ready to grill some chicken tonight that would adorn the top of a big plate of angel hair dressed in my makeshift pesto.

My marinade (which I think would make a dang fine salad dressing) was to squeeze into a bowl the juice of half a lemon, about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, good pinch of salt, pepper, some honey, and some dijon mustard, whisking in some extra virgin olive oil at the end (yielded about 2/3 cup of marinade/dressing... adjust ingredients to your liking).

Pour over some chicken breasts (may want to save some of the marinade to dress chicken with post-grilling), marinate in fridge for 30 minutes. Grill. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Phil's has the Best Butts

It was Team Dawmilam vacation week, and we spent the past 4 days in beautiful, sunny, lovely Panama City Beach, Florida. Look how pretty!

To answer the first question everyone's been asking: NO, we neither saw nor smelled oil, thank God. The beaches were pristine, except for kelp that had washed ashore, which is common this time of year. The water was as clear and emerald green as I've ever seen it. Calm, too! I got to do some open-water ocean swimming for the first time ever, which was awesome! I'm sure I looked super hot out there with my reflective anti-fog goggles while everyone else was in sunglasses. The only non-awesome parts of the swim were (a) major sunburn because I'm an idiot and forgot to reapply on my face after being out in the water for so long, and (b) nasty salt water lips upon emerging from the deep. Bud Light and water seemed to fix the latter problem, but the sunburn lingers. Terrified to swim even in the shallow water alone, Casey was my wing-woman, keeping a general watch for where I was and floating nearby on her noodle, except for when she saw a jellyfish and swam the other way, which resulted in a pretty funny conversation about whether it would be better to save me if I was drowning, or for her to save herself from an impending jellyfish sting.

But, this isn't a philosophical, life-death debate blog. It's a food blog! And food was plentiful on this trip. Like, way too plentiful. There was a moment yesterday morning, packing my cooler for another 6 hour beach day, when I realized just how much I had eaten/drank since Wednesday and... I was sort of mortified. However, tomorrow is a new day, and I start a new week of being healthy and super active, so... let me tell you about the amazing food I ate!

Of course, we had our usual: dinner (twice!) at Schooner's, which was coincidentally only half a mile from our condo (yes, we'll be staying there again). The crab, peel & eat shrimp, and grilled grouper were all delicious, as were the hush puppies. Mmm, hush puppies. Then we went to Sharky's, and I enjoyed some delicious Mahi-Mahi (grilled, again), and everyone else got yummy plates of "fried" that I picked off of. The fried popcorn shrimp were delicious this time! Lunch every day was turkey sandwiches and chips, snacks were beer & Cheetos (baked, thank you), our nightly board-game-time snacks were cheese & wheat thins, pizza, cookies, or whatever else we wanted, and our nightly drink was a traditional "Sex on the Beach," something I didn't realize I was good at making! (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry, orange, and pineapple juice for those of you keeping score... the more pineapple, the better...just ask Casey!).

So, it was a fairly typical beach vacation, food-wise, except for Phil's BBQ in Eufaula, Alabama. That particular restaurant made it an exceptionally good foodie beach trip. On the drive down, we were *this close* to stopping at a Mexican restaurant near Columbus, but I was driving and missed the turn (typical) so I kept on going, thinking we'd make it to Dothan before our next good food chance. Then, I saw it.

One glance, and we knew: Team Dawmilam would have our beloved barbecue for dinner on the way to the beach.

What we found, readers, was a hole in the wall place that had THE BEST ribs either of us had ever tasted. Dave ordered a plate of them with baked beans and cole slaw, and I ordered my usual: pulled pork sandwich with a side of potato salad. Oh. My. Goodness. It was heaven on earth. It was at that moment, when I bit into one of his ribs that was so perfect it didn't even need sauce, that I realized I love eating meat, and can't imagine my life as a vegetarian. I would miss low & slow cooked pork products too much.

Sides were STELLAR. They tasted like my grandmother would make. I wouldn't doubt it if there was a grandmother back there somewhere, cooking the potatoes until they were the perfect amount of "done," stirring them with copious amounts of mayonnaise with no guilt or shame or second thought about the fat content. The baked beans had a deep molasses taste, and the cole slaw was perfectly dressed. Oh, and the sweet tea - the sweet tea! It was sweeter than any tea I had ever tasted. This is coming from a girl raised in a family full of diabetics who refuse to quit the sweet tea habit... you can only imagine the level of sweetness that tea jug contained. I was super happy. We gorged ourselves, and enjoyed it so much, we decided to stop back by on the way home today. We both ordered a rib platter, and we ate nearly every single bit of food on our plates (which was a lot). Doesn't that look amazing?

omnomnom nom nom nom

That little side of macaroni salad? Tasted JUST like something that I would have eaten at a family reunion, potluck, or church supper years ago. That macaroni salad was a masterpiece. Perfectly balanced ratio of mayonnaise to other seasonings. In fact, I was so inspired by it, that whenever I got home, I pulled out my very own edition of Calling All Cooks, the compilation cookbook that any self-respecting Southern woman has in her kitchen. Both grandmothers have it, my mom has it, my aunts have it, and come to think of it, it might be the one thing all my female relatives have in common, actually. Lemme tell you something: people like Willadean Cooley and W. D. Cameron and Mrs. Robert Adams (yes, many contributors submitted their recipes under Mrs. Husband's Name...) don't have a thing over Paula Deen. Look at this page of cornbread recipes I stumbled upon while browsing for the macaroni salad recipe (unsuccessfully):

Cookbooks that have recipes calling for "Golden Flake pork skins" and just straight up "fat" are alright by me.

My point? Go to Phil's next time you find yourself in Eufaula. Get you a rib plate with any sides you want. And tell me they don't kick Dreamland's "butts."

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Tzatzikis

I am on a Greek kick lately, with no real explanation as to why. I bet Dave's getting tired of having some variation of a yogurt-dill-lemon-garlic sauce at least once a week, but that's just the price he has to pay as I'm becoming comfortable with a new set of ingredients/flavor profile.

I have never been to Greece, but I hope to go as soon as things calm down over there. Until then, I'll play with Greek-ish food and pretend I'm on the Mediterranean coast. Although nightly entertainment on this particular Mediterranean coast involves a 17-year-old cat who likes to torment chipmunks that hide in the gutter... and a husband who tries diligently to "rescue" the chipmunk by flooding him out with the water hose (to no avail, I might add)... and while we're dining on our "lanai" (read: tiny little concrete patio) every few minutes we hear a frantic sound of little chipmunk claw on metal gutter, while Chloe sits patiently, just outside of the chipmunk's view... yep, my life is pretty awesome!

Tonight, I present to you a Tale of Two Tzatzikis. No shame: I am so proud of coming up with that title.

I researched several yogurt-dill-sauce recipes, and decided to try two versions tonight. The first one (on the left, above, in the yellow bowl) is the chunky version, while the one on the right is the food-processored version. The ingredients were the same, and they are as follows:

1 7-oz container Greek yogurt made with 2% milk
juice of half a lemon
one big garlic clove, minced finely with salt into almost a puree
couple tablespoons fresh dill
some salt
one cucumber, seeded, diced, salted and drained of excess water (dice up the cucumber into small pieces, toss it with salt, and allow to sit in a colander for 30 minutes to drain)

For the chunky version: just mix all of the above together, cover with plastic wrap, chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

For the food processor version... take a guess... throw it in the food processor!

Tonight's sauce was served with a sweet potato that I diced into bite-size pieces, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, fresh thyme, and dried oregano, then roasted in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, as well as cedar-plank grilled salmon, that I marinated for 20 minutes in a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, dill, thyme, and lemon zest. I preferred the pureed version on my fish (which was pretty tasty), but plan on snacking on the chunky version tomorrow. It's a whole lot like a very southern cucumber salad, made with mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, salt, and dill. The yogurt version is much healthier.

I think in the future, if serving as a sauce to top fish or chicken, I'll definitely be pureeing it. However, I am anxious to see how both hold up in the morning, after they've been in the fridge overnight.

And I also hope that overnight Chloe has sweet dreams of catching that poor little chipmunk she's been chasing for 3 days straight.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Eat like a Triathlete

I competed in my second triathlon yesterday, along with Amy (one of Lindsey's roommates) and Jayme (a colleague - history professor at GHC, to be exact). We all survived, and made great time, too! It was Amy's third tri, my second, and Jayme's first. Jayme and I are already scheming about ways to get our fellow GHC co-workers and everyone we know, basically, to join us next year... if you're reading this blog and not currently in triathlon shape, you should just make up your mind to be in that sort of shape by this time next year.

Anyway, I thought it would be neat to tell you how I ate for the tri and afterwards, since this is a food blog and all. Prepare to laugh, as I'm pretty sure I violated every rule out there about proper nutrition. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think that I totally negate any healthiness that might be associated with triathlons in the way that I eat after the race is over. I'm seeing a pattern here... the half marathon was the same way...

First: hydration. I ramped up my water consumption to 2 1/2 - 3 liters a day, for the 5 days leading up to the tri. This was up from my usual 2 liters a day. I figured with all that water going in, I had a little room for alcohol: one glass (a small one, 5-6 ounces) of wine with dinner every night. I did have a beer and a fruity drink at the impromptu pool party on Wednesday... but pool parties don't count towards regular food/drink consumption, right?

Second: fuel. I really did eat pretty healthy stuff all week, for the most part. You saw what I posted last week: salad, salad, salad. I focused pretty heavily on fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbs. The night before the race, I had a small salad with a little bit of leftover chicken, along with a ginormous bowl of penne with tomato sauce that I made out of onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil and parsley.

Third: race morning. I am a creature of habit, to a fault. So, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I ate my usual breakfast: frosted mini-wheats (exactly 25 bales) and coffee - as soon as I woke up at 4:30 am. I drank an iced coffee with soy milk instead of a hot coffee, though; then I inhaled a banana as soon as I got everything sufficiently set up in the transition zone, about an hour before the race started. Some people strongly disagree with coffee before any athletic event. I strongly disagree with me not having coffee upon first waking, no matter what I have going on that day. I may have been the most cheerful person Jayme's ever seen at 5 am...

Fourth: post-race. Hydration is pretty important, so I chugged a liter of water between the time the race was over and arriving back at home. I also had half a peanut butter sandwich and a Gatorade. It got super hot on the run - and I thought I might die. But I also thought I might die in the lake, too, and then the song "You Might Die Trying" came in my head, and I did just fine after that. Dave Matthews Band is a good luck charm, apparently.

But, I digress. When I finally got home, I was in desperate need of a shower, and famished. Fearing I might pass out if I didn't consume something fast, the very first thing I did was hit the blender for a fruity drink: soy milk, some sort of fruit juice (I don't even know what I grabbed; whatever I saw first!), leftover pineapples, and frozen blueberries. That provided enough protein and sugar to get me through a shower, and by the time Dave and I got to the barbecue restaurant for our anniversary lunch, I was still starving so I pretty much inhaled a plate full of pulled pork, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and Texas toast. Oh, and a big glass of sweet tea washed it all down. Did I mention the macaroni was swimming - literally, swimming - in melted butter?

But wait! There's more! We went to visit Dave's parents in Cumming immediately after. Needing a little fuel to get me through the 45 minute drive, we stopped at Chick-fil-A for a chocolate milkshake (hold the whipped cream, as if it mattered at that point). More water was consumed on the way there and back, bringing my total water consumption to at least 2 1/2 liters for the day. That milkshake was SO worth it, by the way. No talk in the comments section about how many calories those babies contain. As a reformed, obsessed calorie counter, I know, and I do not care.

Then, I crashed. I was suddenly soooooo tiiiirreeeddd. I don't know how I made it from the car to the couch, but I did, and slept for 2 hours. This is very unusual for me, as I generally dislike naps, especially those that may threaten my usual sleep schedule - as one from 4:30-6:30 pm may do.

As soon as I regained coherence, it was time to eat again! I had a larger than usual bowl of the leftover pasta, this time topped with extra parmesan and goat cheese.

And a glass of wine.

And a piece of leftover wedding cake.

Today, still in "I did a triathlon, yay! Let's eat more!" mode, I had my usual breakfast (see above), a banana, half an omelette (I had many moments of FAIL in the kitchen today; while I wanted more for lunch, it just didn't happen... I'll leave it at that), and then since it was such a bad day for me to do anything (I was seriously failing at everything today), Dave and I went to Taco Mac at 3:30 and had beers, chips and cheese dip, and wings.

And I had another piece of wedding cake.

And I'm about to eat dinner. :)

Reason #1 to do a triathlon: they are awesome for your self esteem. Reason #2: you eat ALL weekend long, without giving it a second thought.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Corn Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Yesterday, I picked up my very first basket from the local Farmer's Market Basket warehouse (props to Jayme for suggesting it!). I signed up to get a small basket every other week, but I may have to increase either the basket size or delivery frequency, as I was so super impressed with what I got for $10: a bunch of lettuce, bananas, apples, peaches, green onions, a HUGE sweet potato, 3 ears of corn, a super delicious tomato, and a cucumber. It was worth it to have someone else assemble a basket of goodies for me, and save me the time of perusing different market stands or the produce section to figure out what I wanted to cook with that week. Plus, a lot of the produce was from local farmers. After what felt like a super long day at work, I was revitalized just by making dinner, since I challenged myself to use as much of the basket as possible last night. I came up with the following:

Yes, I realize I am on a major salad kick. Don't be fooled into thinking I'm super healthy, though. The healthiness of dinner is sufficiently balanced with my nightly post-dinner snack habit: chocolate truffles (if I have them), ice cream (probably the healthier option, as at least it's Edy's Slow-Churned low-fat) or graham crackers covered in Nutella with a glass of milk.

Oh, and I was halfway done with this salad at the point I took the picture. Oops!

I realized that I had some chicken breasts in the freezer, and some nearly-bad avocados and a half can of black beans hanging out in the fridge, and I knew that I wanted to grill that precious corn, so I did a little cookbook scouring and came up with a dressing that I thought would match everything else I'd have going on in the salad. I ended up with a little lettuce and tomato left over - which will go to good use in my carbo-loading dinner tonight (triathlon tomorrow!). Here's how I made my tasty noms salad.

Grill the following:
* 2 chicken breasts, butterflied or split into portions of equal thickness for uniform grilling time, that have been marinating in Dale's sauce (or soy sauce if you don't keep Dale's in your fridge)
*grill them until they reach an internal temperature of about 155-157, remove from grill, cover with tin foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes before chopping or shredding with your fingers to go on top of the salad

* 3 ears corn, husked, drizzled with olive oil and tossed with salt (throw on the grill and rotate about every 4 minutes until all "sides" are sufficiently cooked)
* once the corn is cooked, allow to cool slightly, then remove the kernels from the cob with a knife so you can add it to the salad

In the meantime, prepare the rest of the salad:
* dark green lettuce, rinsed and rough chopped
* diced tomato
* diced avocado
* some black beans, out of the can, drained and rinsed
* green onions or scallions, diced

Set aside and make the dressing in your blender, mini food processor, a sealed container, or a bowl with a whisk:
* couple tablespoons of cilantro (yay, herb garden!)
* zest of one lime
* juice of 2 limes (anyone else noticed that the limes this year are just not that juicy?)
* twice as much extra virgin olive oil as there is lime juice
* generous pinch of salt
* about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon chili powder

Assemble and enjoy!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caprese Salad

I love Caprese salad. Don't let the fancy-sounding name fool you: it's one of the easiest and most delicious things you'll make all summer. I brought Lindsey some basil from my overflowing plant yesterday, and she put me to work creating this masterpiece that I think both Ina AND Giada would approve of:

I had a little too much fun being a food stylist yesterday, if you can't tell...

Here's how you make this basic LBDelicious summer staple.

fresh tomatoes, your choice of variety
fresh mozzarella (either in water or vacuum-packed in plastic... just don't even bother if you're using shredded)
fresh basil leaves
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Slice up tomatoes so they're about 1/2" pieces. Slice mozzarella in a similar way. Make sure your basil is rinsed and patted dry. Arrange tomatoes on a plate, top with the mozzarella, then the basil, then lightly drizzle the oil and vinegar over the salad. Top with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

There are a few variations that you may want to try out, like my particular favorite: Caprese sandwich. Yummmmy. One of Team Dawmilam's favorite memories centers on this sandwich, and is from the day that I moved to Lexington. We happened upon the Lexington Farmer's Market downtown, and we purchased some delicious tomatoes and basil. I think I ran to Kroger to get the remainder of the ingredients, and we made ourselves a tomato, basil, and mozzarella sandwich topped with the oil and balsamic combo (let it get all nice and soaked in the bread before you assemble the sandwich... yum!). We devoured those sandwiches and felt nice and refreshed for the big move, and also felt like it was the best sandwich either of us has ever eaten. To this day, I sometimes think about just how good that sandwich tasted! And, I often recreate it at home in the summer. French bread is really the key ingredient there.

Having a party? Make Caprese skewers! Purchase bocconcini, which is fresh mozzarella just in little balls (usually purchased in water), and grape tomatoes. Skewer the tomatoes and mozzarella balls, set aside. Make a dressing out of the balsamic and oil (whisk together briskly in whatever portion you think tastes good, with salt and pepper), and drizzle the dressing over the skewers. Top with the basil, after it's been chopped finely (the dressing will help the basil stick to the other ingredients. Want a heartier appetizer? Dice up that leftover French bread and put a piece of it on each skewer!

See? I love Caprese salad. It's fresh, healthy, delicious, and one of my favorite things about summer. I hope you make it and enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Greek Summer Salad

Day #2 of "official summer" brings perhaps even less productivity than Day 1. Yesterday, I ran several errands and was "domestic," turning that delicious leftover pork into a hawaiian pizza with caramelized onions and pineapples (my ohana loved it, mahalo!), watched a fascinating documentary about North Korean gymnasts, and fell asleep on the couch at 9:30. I told myself that today, I would work on articles. Alas! Lindsey called yesterday and suggested an impromptu pool party/run. I need to run, and I also need a pool party, which means I should take advantage of these activities as suggested. Articles can wait until later.

As my contribution to the impromptu pool party for people who can have random pool time in the middle of the day in the middle of the week (ie: teachers/grad students on break... so sorry, Amy & Anna, Lindsey's roommates who have to work all year round), I'm bringing my favorite side dish/snack item for the summer: a Greek vegetable salad. It is in my fridge about every two weeks, as it's easy, cold, refreshing, healthy, and tasty. Oh, and it's pretty! Look at how colorful:

Whenever I feel the need for a snack, this tends to be what I reach for if it's available. I'm sure this is not an original recipe, and I can't remember where I pieced it together from, but here's my version, perfected over multiple tries, with a few optional ingredients.

Greek Summer Salad
1/4 cup really finely diced red onion (optional)
1 large cucumber, diced and seeded (scrape seeds out with a spoon)
1 tomato, diced
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered
handful of kalamata olives, diced
1 cup cooked orzo pasta OR 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained (I like both, depends on if I feel like cooking pasta or not)
some feta cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon plain vinegar
dried oregano
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
handful of chopped parsley

Place diced cucumber in a small plastic container, sprinkle with a little salt and about a tablespoon of plain vinegar. Make sure cucumber is coated in the vinegar/salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then drain the liquid. It's amazing how much liquid comes out of those cucumbers.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, tomato, artichoke hearts, olives, and pasta or chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl. Make the dressing by combining the oregano, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and maybe some pepper. Add drained cucumbers to the veggie mixture, then top with parsley, then combine with the dressing. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving - this salad gets a little better with each passing day. Top with feta (optional) immediately before serving.

This is perfect for summer outdoor gatherings because there is NO mayonnaise involved in the recipe, which means it doesn't matter so much if it sits outside for family picnics/potlucks/reunions/concerts/pool days. The vinaigrette is so light and refreshing, and it's perfect for the vegetarian friends in your life. Heck, the whole dish is healthy, yet super delicious. Can you tell I love this salad? :) Anyone else make a similar salad with other things I haven't thought of yet?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Maple-Mustard Glaze

Really? It's been since February that I've blogged? How sad and pathetic. Of course, I've cooked since February - guess I've just kept all my recipes to myself.

But, it's summer, and my teaching load has been reduced from 6 sections to 1 for the months of June and July. Hooray! More time for, well, everything. So what am I doing with myself all summer? In typical LBD fashion, here's a list:

1. Reduce dissertation into neat little articles and publish
2. Revise & resubmit that thesis article that just won't go away
3. Update the blog as much as possible (both here, and at Adventures of Team Dawmilam)
4. Get a tan (laugh)
5. Maintain fitness enough to get through two triathlons, a 10K, and begin preparing for the next half marathon this fall
6. Travel, a lot
7. Work on an assortment of school-related stuff
8. See Dave Matthews Band at least once
9. Watch as much Mad Men, 24, and other worthy tv shows via Netflix
10. Continue to figure out what happened on LOST this year

Yep, that should keep me busy until at least August.

In the meantime, how about a recipe? Of course, again, with no picture. This one falls into the "sounds fancy but was super cheap" category. At my local Kroger on Sunday, I picked up a small, 1.5 pound pork tenderloin (plain - what's up with Hormel shoving all those marinated versions in our faces lately?), for $2.93. Score! Manager's special. I just had to make sure I used it or froze it by yesterday. Sometimes, I like buying food "on condition" that I'll do something with it or to it by a certain date. It's like a game.

I followed the directions provided in my trusty America's Best Recipe cookbook that truly is the very best recipes for everything. And, they did not lead me astray on this one. The grilled roast was delicious - perfectly juicy (thanks, I'm sure, to the brine) and had a tasty, tangy crust on the outside. I served it with leftover rice and some grilled asparagus, and it provided 4 portions. After we ate dinner last night, and I fixed Dave lunch with some of the leftovers, I still have some of the pork in the fridge for me... the next challenge is coming up with how to use those leftovers!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Maple Mustard Glaze
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine/heat the following until salt and sugar are dissolved:
-about 1/4 cup salt
-about 2 tablespoons sugar
-some black peppercorns
-some allspice
-some crystallized ginger
-about 3/4 cup water
After that's all dissolved, dilute it in 2 1/2 - 3 quarts of ice cold water. As soon as the entire mixture is sufficiently cold, soak a small pork tenderloin (mine was about 1 1/2 pounds) in the brine for at least 8 hours/up to overnight. Make sure your pork is neatly trussed as such:

(if you're like me, and mechanical engineering isn't your strong suit, you'll stand there in the kitchen for about 10 minutes trying different ways to truss the pork, knowing full well you won't be able to do it the way you want to because you forgot to look it up before you started to handle the raw pork, and by the time you realize you should just quit and look it up, you decide instead to whine/curse loud enough so that your husband comes in to check in to see what's wrong but ends up taking over & doing it for you because he's an engineer and is much more efficient at knot-tying than you are... which is okay because I'm much more efficient at, like, cooking than he is. Division of Labor FTW!)

Preheat grill to at least 400. While grill preheats, generously salt, pepper and olive oil the meat (discard the brine). Also prepare the mustard/maple glaze:

equal parts grainy mustard and maple syrup
about a teaspoon of soy sauce
whisk together, use most of it to baste the pork during grilling, and reserve some to serve on the side if needed

Throw the meat on the grill, searing both sides for at least 4 minutes. Turn off one of the burners, leave the meat over one active burner, and roast until cooked through. After it's been seared on each side, start to baste it with the maple-mustard glaze until it's cooked.

Now, about "cooking through"... USDA regulation suggests that pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees before consumption. Foodies will tell you that if you leave the meat on the grill until it reaches 160, the pork loses all its juiciness, and instead you should remove the pork when it's reached 135. I am more conservative with pork temperatures, so I cooked mine until it reached about 152, then covered it and allowed it to rest for 5 minutes, and it turned out perfect, in my mind. True foodies might have complained it was overcooked. However, neither Dave nor I felt that the meat was dry or overcooked, and neither of us got trichinosis either.

We sliced it up into small medallions and really enjoyed this grilled treat. Hope you do too!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

King Cake

Yesterday, @katieanthony42 tweeted about how badly she wished she was home in Mobile celebrating Mardi Gras. I love Katie for many reasons - not the least of which is that she is from my home state, as just about anyone I meet from Alabama these days is an instant friend, especially those that also work at GHC and also happen to be Auburn fans (ahem, Carla & Frank) - but I loved her even more yesterday for giving me the wonderful idea to make a king cake.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, 2010 is the Year of the Bread for LBDelicious. So far, my pizza crust turned out just okay and ended up better as a baked cinnamon/sugar pastry. The cinnamon rolls I made from scratch for Valentine's Day were tasty, but dry and not worthy of being shared with others. I'm not exactly on a roll with the yeast breads (I'm so punny), so you can understand my apprehension about making a king cake, which looked (and was) complicated. I have very little experience with the king cake in general - I've only eaten it once, when my friend Jennifer G. from New Orleans brought in a sample to the TA office one year. I've seen them in the bakery section of Kroger for a couple of weeks, but never given any thought to how it might be constructed or baked. So, on a whim yesterday, per Katie's tweet, I found Emeril's recipe for a king cake, and decided that I'd go home and attempt it.

I followed the directions exactly. When I removed the dough from the dough hook, I didn't expect it to be *that* sticky, but it was! A little vegetable oil on my hands would've made the "shape into a ball" part easier. After the dough rose for about 2 hours, I turned it out onto my prepared surface and tried my best to make a perfectly even 30x6 rectangle. Neither geometry nor numbers are my strong suit, so you can imagine the intense concentration this part required. I kept tearing holes in the dough and figured that, at that point, it was going to turn out disastrous. Getting the filling on the dough wasn't difficult, closing it up proved slightly challenging as the dough kept trying to break apart, but the most difficult part of the whole endeavor was forming it into a cylinder.

I had no clue how to go about morphing this flimsy, persnickety log filled with cream cheesy goodness into a cylinder. And it still had to rise again?! Sheesh. After fumbling around with the dough for a while, I finally figured out that it needed to be a *circle,* not really a cylinder. This still provided quite a challenge, as the dough was still being flimsy and filling was starting to ooze out from random patches.

To make things more nerve-wracking, I swear that the dough didn't rise AT ALL for the next 45 minutes, as Emeril said it should/would. It stayed pretty flat. Disheartened, I wedged in a pecan half (Emeril said it was an acceptable substitute for a plastic baby) somewhere in the middle, placed it in the oven at the appropriate time, and made my sugar-lemon glaze. The taste of it brought me right back to being a little girl, when my mom would make a Lemon Supreme cake in a bundt pan and top it with the exact same glaze. Being the hyperactive sugar-holic I was, I would wait until the icing ran off the sides (usually only took a few seconds) scrape off the excess with my little fingers and eat it by basically the handful. Mmmmm. Handfuls of icing. Classy. Not that I did that yesterday or anything...

I got the cake out of the oven just in time to grab sushi with Dave. With all that cake-baking going on, I was in no mood to cook dinner. Bad wife, I know. When we got back, the cake had cooled somewhat, so I topped it with the glaze and had a little too much fun decorating it with the colored sugar.

I took a quick picture:

and dug in. Surprisingly, it was really, really good!

I have a new Mardi Gras tradition. Maybe next year I'll make some in time to share with y'all.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


(subtitle: yes, I just invented a word, and somewhere in the greater Chicago area, Rick Bayless is having a heart attack, since I would have the audacity to maul the words for two different yet delicious Mexican treats.)

Before I tell you the recipe, I must say that this half marathon I've signed up for is going to be LAUGHABLE. I know I get worried about upcoming races, but seriously y'all. I'm nowhere near where I think I need to be in order to run a half. I'm sure I'll run it just fine, and I'll probably even finish somewhere just over 2 hours (which is my goal), and when I finish and am inhaling my third bagel, I'll think, "wow, that was awesome, let's do another one!" But right now, training is really tough. I ran 8 miles today, which is the longest I have ever run in my life. I am sore. I actually required a *nap* this afternoon, and I don't like naps.

But the good thing about constantly training for a half marathon or triathlon? I use it as an excuse to eat whatever the hell I want.

Tonight's carbo-loading took the form of homemade pizza. I should first say that 2010 is the "year of the bread" in Casa Dawmilam, as I am committed to learning how to cook breads of all sorts - quick breads are easy, but those involving yeast? They give me trouble. I also don't know how to make biscuits. Admitting this publicly probably embarrasses my mother and might result in the loss of my "southerner" card if I don't hurry up and learn how. Pizza dough seems easier, so that's what I did tonight. Rosalie used to make it all the time while we lived together (and it was dang tasty). But for some reason, I just don't have the hang of it yet. I think I'm not rolling it out properly.

Anticipating a potential disaster, I chopped off a little bit of my ball of dough and reserved it to "play" with. I thought that if the pizza sucked, at least I'd have a couple of breadsticks or - light bulb! - dessert breadsticks. I call them "churropillas" because they are a cross between churros and sopapillas. Dave had the genius idea to dip them in honey. They are a low-fat version of the fried sopapillas we used to get at Rosie's as dessert, and they are also a lower-fat version of churros, which I think are the same thing as these little guys, just fried.

First: make some pizza dough. And get some melted butter ready.
Then: roll it out really thinly.
Next: Slice the dough into strips. Brush with butter, and top with cinnamon and sugar.
Last: Bake it at 350 for about 15 minutes, top with honey and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Good Salad

I really, really wanted to take a picture of dinner last night to share with y'all. But, I was just so tired, and so hungry, and it just didn't happen. I sat down and dug in. To compensate, here's a picture of a kitten.

Because this sounds like more fun than finishing my NCA submission, here is the recipe for what Dave called "one of the best salads [he'd] ever eaten." It's got a long title. Ready?

Apple, Walnut & Bacon Salad with Warm Bacon Dijon Honey Vinaigrette, served with a Whole Wheat Baguette and Homemade Honey Butter

For the salad:
First: make bacon! I prepared about 4 slices, and make sure to save the bacon grease.
In the meantime, prepare the other ingredients as follows:
Take some greens (darker the better - I used a bag of spring greens and some spinach), rinse them, place in bowls.
Top with the following:
diced apple
some toasted walnuts
gorgonzola cheese
bacon (whenever it's finished)

For the dressing:
Whisk together about a tablespoon of the reserved bacon drippings, and about a half tablespoon of each: red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey. Salt and pepper to season. Taste, and add more: honey (if you want it sweeter), vinegar (if you want it tangier) or dijon (if you want it spicier). If needed, add either more bacon drippings or olive oil if you run out of bacon grease.

For the homemade honey butter (which I plan on making ALL the time now)
Let about 2 tablespoons of butter come to room temperature. Mash together with about 1/2 tablespoon honey, and a dash of salt (if you're using unsalted butter). Try not to eat it all at once.

For the bread: HA! Did you really think I'd make a whole loaf of bread from scratch just for dinner? Well, ok, I would, but I didn't last night. Thank you, Kroger.

It's only Wednesday? Really?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Words with Friends

As I type, I am playing 8 different games of "Scrabble" with: my husband (in the next room), a favorite cousin (in Athens), 2 friends from UNA (a former communication major who now lives in Texas, I think? and a former fellow LaGrange Society member/Lafayette Hall resident who now lives in New York), 1 person from Arkansas who currently lives in Kentucky and 1 person from Kentucky who currently lives in Arkansas, a former student (who I advised in UPC and taught in Public Speaking, and who used to make me and the other students laugh so hard that it was difficult to get through class), and a pilot I met at Auburn who taught me how to hug.

Just sayin'. Not only do I have awesome friends all over the place and really funny stories for all of them, but I love playing Scrabble. So, if you don't have the "Words with Friends" app on your iPod/iPhone/iTouch yet, for the love of Scrabble please download it, and start a game with me, LBDelicious.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Perfect Carrots

On Monday, I treated myself to a trip to Harry's Whole Foods in Marietta. I don't know who Harry is but he surely does have a nice little market there on Powers Ferry! Even if you don't live in the greater Atlanta area, you are probably familiar with this store because one of the last remaining good people on Food Network, Alton Brown, frequents Harry's to film for Good Eats. I have this hope, every time I go to Harry's, that I'll run into Alton while I'm there. Well, ok, running into Curtis Stone would be better. Remember that time I met him?
From LBDelicious: Recipes and Rants

*sigh* I digress.

While in Harry's, where I usually go when I want some expensive cheese, really good bread, imported French chocolates, exotic fruits & vegetables, fresh herbs, seafood, or anniversary dinner steak, I happened upon some organic carrots. They looked something like this:

and they were just so dang cute I couldn't resist.

I passed them by twice, and both times, I heard them calling out to me, just begging to be taken home and eaten alongside my roasted chicken (which is another, lengthier post I'm working on). For this one, I didn't use a recipe at all. I just went with what I thought might work. And they were the most delicious and simple carrots I've ever eaten.

Sauteed Carrots
Wash and peel some carrots, and trim off the greens, leaving the tip of the stem. Melt about 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sautee pan (make sure to use a pan that has a lid). Add carrots to the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover, cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Then, turn carrots so the other side cooks in the butter, cover, and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Tell me they aren't the most delicious, sweet, perfect carrots you've ever had.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

OMG Brownies.

Oh. My. Goodness. I made these brownies to take to a friend's house for a low-key New Year's Eve gathering that involved lots of Scrabble, tv and catching up on life. They are sooooo gooooood. Leave it to Nigella to come up with an amazing brownie recipe. Now, I love a good brownie mix in the box (Ghirardelli is really superior to any others), but I'm going to be hard pressed to go back to the box now that I have this little gem in my arsenal. They took work - mise en place, or setting out all your ingredients ahead of time, will serve you well here - but I cannot emphasize enough just how worth the effort these brownies are. I copied and pasted this recipe from, but I have annotated it with a few additional tips/tidbits of information.

Triple Chocolate Brownies - Nigella Lawson (from
3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chips)
6 eggs
1 3/4 cups superfine sugar (LBDelicious note: don't go buying superfine sugar. Put 1 3/4 cups of regular sugar in the blender, and turn it into "superfine" in a few seconds.)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate buttons, chips, or morsels
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate buttons, chips or morsels (I used Ghirardelli for both white and semi-sweet chocolate; brand loyal, I know, but I swear it makes a difference.)
Approximately 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar, for garnish (totally missed that step and they were still tasty.)

Special equipment: Baking tin (approximately 11 1/4 inches by 9 inches by 2 inches), sides and base lined with baking parchment. (I used my regular old brownie pan, and actually did take the time to line the bottom and sides with parchment, then sprayed them with cooking spray.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the baking tin.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan over a low heat.

In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the superfine sugar and vanilla extract. (LBDelicious note: I may have added a few tablespoons of leftover coffee at this point because I love coffee and chocolate together.)

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. (LBDelicious note: worried I'd end up with chocolatey scrambled eggs, I tempered the egg mixture first by whisking in, very slowly, about a cup of the warm chocolate/butter mixture to bring up the temperature of the egg/sugar mixture. Then I slowly whisked in the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Turned out great.) Fold in the flour and salt. (LBDelicious: used a big ol' whisk, added the flour all at once and nearly lost half of it. Add flour gradually!) Then stir in the white chocolate buttons or chips, and the semisweet chocolate buttons or chips. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin. (LBDelicious note: no one will judge you if you purposely don't scrape all the mixture into the pan because you want to eat a good 1/3 cup of the brownie batter.)

Bake for about 25 (LBDelicious note: 30) minutes. You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey.

Allow to cool, cut and enjoy.

And, for added fun, after they've cooled, pop one in the microwave for a few seconds, then top it with a scoop of ice cream (we happen to have Edy's Slow-Churned Low-Fat Caramel in the freezer).