Monday, October 27, 2014

This is Halloween!

Those who know me know that I LOVE Halloween.  It's hard to say it's my favorite holiday since I love Christmas too, but Halloween is right up there!  There's nothing about this time of year that I do not adore.  The weather is amazing, dressing up is always fun and I'm all in for anything spooky or scary!  Last year, Halloween was the first holiday we missed out on being overseas.  So this year, I made it my main goal to have the new house ready for visitors so we could have a Halloween party.

Thankfully, I got it all done and a blast was had by all who attended.  As usual, I had a blast putting together all the theme food and finding the perfect outfit for the hubs and I to dress up as.  There's too many recipes to list them all, so here are the pics...and perhaps a few recipes to come soon!  Everyone have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Bloodshot Deviled Egg Eyeballs

Green Slime (Green Goddess) Dip with Vegetables

Crunchy Haystacks (Cookies)

Red Velvet Brain Cupcakes...though they look a little more like skeletons

Spooky Smoked Gouda Pimento Cheese

Roasted Rack of Ribs

Bat (Chicken) Wings

The Robber and his Bag 'O Loot

Our sweet little Rapunzel


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fishing for a New Fish

No, I'm not a big fisher but I do love to find new and interesting ingredients that I've never heard of before and play around with them.  One of the things I love about the area we live in now is all the Farmer's Markets.  Not that there weren't any in Charlotte, but there's something different about the ones here.  They are smaller, quaint and everywhere!

We came across one a few weeks back and, of course, had to check it out.  My poor hubs has been drug to markets all over the world and still, most of the time, puts on a good face knowing that something yummy is probably coming his way at dinner that night.  Today was no exception.

One of the vendors at this particular market was a small, almost traveling grocery store.  Aside from the fact that their trailer was set up on a hill making it impossible for me to stay inside for more than a few minutes without feeling sick, it was wonderful!  Tons of fresh produce, meats, dairy and breads lined the small walls.  I was intrigued looking at the multitude this little gem had to offer when the owner happened by telling us that all the frozen seafood they had was 40% off today in order to make room for new product.  Sold!  I was getting something for dinner.  The only question was what to choose.

I ventured over to the cooler seeing things I had seen elsewhere, scallops...flounder...grouper.  All good choices, but I really wanted something new.  That's when I saw a single pack of Sheepshead. 
Having never heard of it before, I asked what it was like.  "Kind of buttery, almost along the lines of lobster" the lady told us.  Sold again!  Time to go home and play.

Of course, I had to google the fish as soon as I got home.  I wanted to know more about it.  When I looked up pictures of the fish in the wild, I was pretty shocked.  Ever seen a fish with teeth before?  Me neither!?!

I learned these are saltwater fish found in the Atlantic Ocean whose diet consists mostly of oysters, clams and other crustaceans.  Their teeth help crush the shells of their prey, since they eat everything whole.  It's commonly nicknamed the fish with the human teeth...and I can definitely see why!

For this preparation, I decided to keep things very simple.  Having never had the fish before, I wanted the natural flavor to come through as much as possible without being over shadowed by a bunch of spices.  I seasoned the fish with salt and pepper.  I then threw a stick of butter in a pot with 1/4 c of white wine and some dry roasted garlic flakes.  I let this cook down until the butter was slightly browned and reduced a bit and used is to baste the fish as I broiled it.  I severed it up with a side of roasted asparagus. 

The result? was sooo good!  The fish was buttery, rich and super moist.  Even the little one gobbled it all up with out so much as a peep.  I can only hope that I will be able to find this fish again since it has now become one of my favorites!  Guess that's the only real danger in trying ingredients you don't come across very often.  Oh well, this time I've come across a gem and you can bet that I won't pass it up if I see it again!

So what's your favorite thing to play around with in the kitchen?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Forging for Brownies?

So a good friend of mine is a blacksmith...or in contemporary day terms...a metal worker.  Cool, huh?  She's really talented, and I love seeing all her new projects!  Currently, she is working on a really big project called ShopSpace where she and some of her friends are striving to create a communal space for current metal workers as well as an area they can teach others the craft.

A few weeks back, they had an open house at the space.  It's pretty amazing.  I even had the opportunity to do a little forging myself.
 I was pretty stoked to have the opportunity to make something and, I have to say, pleasantly surprised how well I did for the first time.  More than that, I think I was surprised that more people didn't want to take a turn hammering away on red hot metal.  I mean, who wouldn't right?

My contribution to this little event was some brownies, my go to quick and easy recipe that I have been making for people since I was about 10 years old.  I even had a babysitter at the time who wanted me to make them for her ever time she watched us overnight.  They are super quick, super yummy and always a hit.  Nowadays I even have an adorable little helper to assist in all the mixing.
Isn't she the cutest?!?  Of course her favorite part is licking the whisk after she's done!  Try out these no fail treats.  They are sure to put a big 'ole smile on your face!

The Best Brownies EVER! - Makes about 16 (Adopted from the Hershey cookbook)
4 oz butter; melted
1 c sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon

1 - In a bowl, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate before adding the next one. 
2 - In a separate bowl, combine flour, coca, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Add to egg mixture in three different batches, incorporating each batch before adding more.  Pour batter into well greased 9x9 pan.
3 - Bake brownies at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the middle is almost completely set.  Cool completely, cut into squares and ENJOY!