Cheese Course Pizza

You ever look at something and think, “why can’t you be pizza?” That’s essentially what happened with this dish. I wanted to take a classic French-inspired cheese course and make it a little more fun and approachable.

I topped the pizza crust off with caramelized shallots and thyme, mozzarella, boursin, brie, chèvre, and a rosemary red wine reduction. The end result was creamy, tangy, fun enough to go back for more, and fancy enough to make you feel like wearing a monocle. This would make a killer appetizer for a dinner or cocktail party. Continue reading “Cheese Course Pizza”

California Roll Salad

Poké, a bowl a la free form sushi, found all over Hawaii, has become my favorite thing to eat lately. I have already created one variant, but let’s be real, finding sushi grade fish can be tricky or downright expensive. Enter my ride or die, imitation crab, or krab if you’re tight like that.

This dish is not only affordable and accessible. It’s also light, flavorful, and perfect if you’re lazy because there’s a seven minute cook time. The only thing you make is the ginger soy dressing. And of course the best part of any salad or poké situation, CUSTOMIZATION. So go nuts with your toppings!

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Beer-Battered Fries

I’m going to keep it real with y’all. I’ve been all about going healthier lately and finding healthy substitutions for carb and fat heavy dishes. But when it comes to fries I say screw it. My hot take is that there is no perfect fry substitute. Sweet potato fries? Close, but they’re always kind of flacid. Zucchini chips/wedges? I’d eat it, but don’t give it to me and tell me it’s supposed to fill my fry craving. Those breaded cauliflower sticks in the freezer section? Bro, no.

Eating healthy is great and awesome, but sometimes you just need some potatoes and a pot of grease. To up the anty we’re also going to dunk these babies in a spiced beer batter for optimum crunch and flavor. Everything in moderation, right?

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Churro French Toast with Chili Chocolate Drizzle

This recipe was born of two realizations: 1. The blog had a gross and negligent amount of both sweet and breakfast items, not to mention sweet breakfast items. 2. My life had a gross and negligent amount of churros in it.

So in other words, creating a recipe that encourages the flavors of churros and Mexican hot chocolate for breakfast, but with all the ease of French toast was my destiny.

For me this recipe 100% works even if you don’t have the biggest sweet tooth because the chocolate drizzle uses dark chocolate and enough spice to balance out the cinnamon sugar the toast is dipped in. This recipe was totally experimental for me, but seeing my boyfriend inhale 3 super-sized slices in one sitting told me everything I needed to know.

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Macaroni for Margaret

I really struggled on if I wanted to post today, or even post a blog this week. Yesterday my grandma Margaret passed away and it’s left me with a lot of thoughts and emotions. I thought a lot about how delicious her cakes were, and how her macaroni and cheese pie was so phenomenal it set my brother on his own personal quest to make the perfect macaroni.

The more reality set in and I thought about it, the more I felt a need to cook the things she cooked. Maybe it was a way to honor her. Or maybe it was a way to feel close to her again after that privilege was taken from me.

Part of me even thought maybe it would be too hard to create something based in memories that come with a sepia-toned glow when all you’re facing in the present is a stark sense of grief. But as I spent the day making her rum cake recipe and doing my best to figure out hpw to make her macaroni pie I felt a sense of therapy.

Even though I never got the chance to know her exact macaroni recipe, as soon as I tasted the fruits of my guess work I had that moment in Ratatouille where the food critic immediately is warped to his childhood, and without realizing it, I smiled.

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Eggplant Lasagna with Mushroom Ragu

In an almost Garfield level consistency my boyfriend and I crave lasagna. Do I really need to explain why??? I’m no stranger in trying to find slight ways to “health up” lasagna. But I wanted to take it even farther. So I came up with this version that promises no carb bombs or meat sweats.

Instead of a classic bolognese I made a mushroom ragu to give that meaty texture and flavor, and swapped out noodles with layers of roasted eggplant. The end result is kind of like eggplant parm meets lasagna. And. Im. Am. Into. It. And the best part? Despite eating a bowlful I still feel ready to take on the world, or in this case my house cleaning.

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Southern Fish Fry Tacos

Growing up my dad would take my brother and me fishing during the summer. He always had these grand ideas of catching a huge catfish and us eating it for dinner. Every time he would bring a cooler with this goal in mind, and every single time we didn’t catch a catfish to cook. A couple of times someone downriver had more than enough and gave us some, but we as a family weren’t looking so hot.

I like to imagine these tacos are the dream scenario of what we would have cooked if our family fishing skills were worth a damn.

They consist of cornmeal crusted catfish, tartar sauce made with southern chow chow relish, and a honey mustard lemon pepper slaw on a yellow corn tortilla. All these flavors are so classic summer in the deep south, and the harmony between spicy and crispy fish, creamy and tangy tartar sauce, and the little bit of sweet from the crunchy slaw gets more R-rated noises out of me than any dish I know.

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Shrimp Fra Diavlo with Cacio E Pepe Grits

A trip to Charleston, South Carolina had the power to turn anyone into a shrimp and grits eating fool. Most traditional shrimp and grits recipes use a kind of tomato-y peppery sauce on top of the shrimp. I wanted to take that idea and cheesy grits and kick it into overdrive.

Shrimp fra diavlo keeps the kind of spicy tomato goodness on a classic shrimp and grits, but amps up the garlic and herb content to make it sing. And the cacio e pepe grits? Ohhhhh those grits. Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish that is essentially the real Italian version of an Alfredo. Cacio e pepe translates into cheese and pepper. So think parmesan cheesy grits with a huge black pepper punch. Even my friend Mike who lived in Charleston called them the best grits he’s ever had. Put simply, this shrimp and grits goes beyond classic Charleston into nirvana.

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Hoisin Pork Belly and Vegetable Stir Fry

I feel like this dish was one of those when the planets and stars align situations. The recipe I originally intended to post tonight failed me so I had to think on my feet fast. I needed something fast, so I thought stirfry. Then I remembered we just entered Chinese year of the pig, so I had hoped and prayed the Walmart next to my work would have a good cut of pork I could create a Chinese inspired dish with. I thought the best case scenario would be hacking up dome pork chops. But then the clouds parted and the angels sang because I saw the crown jewel, pork belly. In that moment I knew this dish was meant to be.

My main inspiration for the flavors of this dish was one of my favorite things, char siu pork, which is a preparation utilizing hoisin sauce. Hoisin is almost like the bbq sauce of China. It’s sweet, a little funky, and sticky. I can’t get enough. The sweet and fatty pork belly with the massive bounty of veggies make this dish an excellent start to the new year!

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Spaghetti Vongole

I think my ultimate food happy place is any kind of pasta and shellfish. Something about the sweet, briny flavors on top of a bowl of noodles gets me going every time. A particular favorite of mine is spaghetti vongole. This os a dish that clasically consists of clam and chili. What’s not to love??

Like my pasta puttanesca this dish uses the classic aglio olio consisting of anchovy and garlic as the flavor base for the sauce. The anchovy not onoy enhances the ocean flavor of the clams, but also adds a huge savory kick as well. So all in all we have sweet, salty, briny, spicy, savory, and bright. Just talking about it I wish I had a bowl in front of me.

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