A Love Poem to a Daily Lunch Fax

Oh Christina’s your daily lunch fax has seemed so archaic over the last 2.5 years I’ve received it, from office to office. But how I look at you every day creating new wonderfully unhealthy combinations that would surely send me into a 2 hour nap. I long for the Lent menu change …. fax number 2 moving fish to Friday & stuffed peppers to Thursday…those months of waiting will seem long.

ChristinasMenu

The oven was hot, the breads were baking.

The first real weekend that felt like fall in Louisiana, I got a little baking happy. Hello fall and winter, let the yeast rise, the oven stay on all day and make me all the breads!  Honestly I super miss making my bread of the week and am trying to get back into the habit of having all “in house bread” baked fresh by me.  Stocking up in this venture I went for the grand-daddy of breads…..the traditional french baguette. Plus the next day was jambalaya on the menu and I was going to need some bread to go along with that. It does mean a day of baking but in the end after 7 hours and 3 rises pass you get 3 delicious loaves of bread. Bon appetite my friends!

baguettes

 

Blueberry-Lemon Mascarpone Crepe Cake — Crepe off continues……….

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I want to start off by saying this at one point was an utter disaster.  BUT it got saved.  As in a previous post by my sis, she let you in on that fact we are in the mists of a crepe off and this is round one.  One sis making a savory crepe the other sweet and then the switch.

My attempt at sweet crepes is in cake format.  I’ve been dying to try this lemony layered cake that I found in Martha Stewart some years ago.  As with all new recipes you learn what works and what doesn’t and this recipe diffidently had some issues that may or may not of gotten corrected in the test kitchen before going to print. (if brave try the recipe here.) 

Lets just say at one point lemon curd and crepes were all sliding off a cake stand.  All went into the trash as I talked to my mother who provided encouraging words including…”you know those photos they do a lot to them to make them look good”  and “are you making this for company? don’t worry about it”

Round 2 ( here’s the secret…combine all mascarpone, lemon curd and whip cream together) and I had a pretty good looking crepe that not only was eaten for dessert but breakfast too.

 

Roasted Pumpkin Seed Beer Bread

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Beer + Pumpkin + Bread ….. it just works

Here’s a little easy fall bread recipe for you…I recommend making some yummy ham and cheese melts or simple slicing this bread with some yummy gouda and apple slices.

RECIPE

1 Loaf

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups bread flour

1 TBSP baking powder

Pinch of salt

12 oz pumpkin beer

1 egg

1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

 

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Form a well in the middle of the flour mixture, crack egg in flour well.  Beat egg gradually adding in flour from sides, slowly pour in beer as you mix together flour, egg and beer.

Dough will be very sticky, sprinkle in 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, knead in seeds.

Shape dough into a loaf on either a coated baking stone or non-stick pan. Top loaf with remaining pumpkin seeds.  Bake at 375 for 50 minutes or until you hear a hollow sound when you knock on the bread.

 

Savory Goat Cheese Apricot Melt

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I’m sorry in my opinion goat cheese is nectar from the gods.  It is always available in my kitchen in a variety of formats.  Here’s the latest!  Taking grilled cheese to the next limit with this goat cheese, apricot and thyme spread. Served this delicious melt with some Acorn Squash Soup.  mmmmmmmhmmmmmm

Recipe

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices whole grain bread

3 TBSP butter

6 oz softened goat cheese

1/2 TBSP fresh thyme

2 TBSP chopped dried apricots

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 1/2 tsp whole milk

 

In a bowl mix together goat cheese, apricots, thyme, black pepper and milk till a smooth paste forms. Divid paste in half, spread one portion of the mixture on one piece of bread, remaining on the second. Top bread & goat cheese paste with remaining slices of bread.

Heat butter in a skillet over med-med high heat.  Let 2/3 of the butter melt and coat the pan.  Ad in sandwiches.  Soak each of the sandwich sides with melted butter.  Toast sandwiches to preferred grilled preference ( some of you love to almost burn it.. I know you do)

Slice and enjoy melty savory sweetness.

 

Inspiration needed…..

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Life forces of late seem to be pushing me into what I’m calling “a Life Rewrite” Needing some tweaks, edits, revisions to get me back on the ultimate life journey.  To help me get some inspiration with this rewrite, I consulted my Instagram account…what do I like to document in my life and share with the world???  The answer turned out not to be to shocking……food and cats.

BUT that did inspire me to look at some foods I don’t spend a lot of time cooking or have wanted to cook more of.  So I raided the cookbook section of my local library.  Libraries have great cookbook collections.  Not sure if you want to try Indian cooking, check out a book, try a few recipes, like it…go buy the book, don’t…. just return it and try another. The only thing from stopping me from checking out almost the entire section….remembering I had to cary these books to my car and then up to my house.

What was I most attracted too?  Grilling and marinades (I’m ready to make my tiny charcoal weber my bitch), Thai cuisine (I have 3 whole ducks in my freezer that seem to be whispering “cook me with peppers and thai spices”) Cuban (stand by for me when I need to get out of a funk), and grilled cheese (I’m ready to have my mind BLOWN AWAY by melted goodness).

Lift your spatula..here’s to my rewrite and maybe just maybe one of these cookbooks changing my life.

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Tahini Roasted Chicken

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Just Say No To PB&J that was the title for this Instagram pic.  Why?  Because it was my lunch for the day.  Now don’t get me wrong PB&J has its place.  But I had to start making my own lunch when I was 9.  Which means over the years I’ve started getting really creative with always bringing my lunch. This lunch were some yummy leftovers from my Sunday Night Dinner:  Tahini Roasted Chicken topped with Hummus and Olives and Cucumber-Tomato-Feta Salad on the side. Yay I got excited about that meal.

Part of adult-ing is not only planning meals, but sticking to the plan and learning how to maximize leftovers.  Hello budget savviness becoming apart of my everyday.  Here’s the breakdown — a not so intricate system of rotating when and what leftovers you eat.  (I know I’m preaching to the choir but 3-4 times in a row of the same meal just becomes depressing.  Thus has entered my system. ) Sunday Night dinner becomes Monday lunch,  Monday Night dinner Tuesday lunch and Tuesday Night dinner are Sunday Leftovers.  See that pattern developing.   I’ve become almost so OCD with my system I rarely eat out any more.  I catch myself sometimes seeing a favorite restaurant and think “that sounds good I should do that for dinner!”  But then I remember my meal plan and I head home for what’s in the fridge.  Here’s to all us trying to save a dime and brown bagging that gourmet meal for lunch!

Hey it was really good so you should make it too!  Try my Tahini Roasted Chicken (also great on the grill but it was super hot outside so I wasn’t about to do that)

 

Tahini Roasted Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/4 cup white wine

1 TBSP greek seasoning

1 clove garlic minced

1 TBSP minced fresh basil

slat and pepper to taste

Hummus — your favorite. I used white bean basil for this

Green and Black Olives chopped

 

*mix tahini, white wine, greek seasoning, garlic, and basil together in a bowl to form a marinade.

*Wash chicken breasts and pat dry.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken breasts to marinade and allow to marinate for 4-8 hours.

*For roasting cook chicken breasts at 375 for 1 hour.

*For grilling cook chicken breasts till meat reaches 165 degrees.

*Serve chicken with a spoonful or 2 of your favorite hummus and a sprinkling of chopped olives

 

 

just a cookie or two

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What to do on a rainy afternoon?  Bake cookies and have a friend over for tea!  That’s how I spent my Saturday afternoon a couple a weekends ago.  After having spent the morning slowly drinking coffee while reading the paper at the local coffee shop (yes I have accepted the fact I have hit that age. In fact the other couple setting reading papers and drinking coffee was easily 70…mmmhmmm I’m old and I like it.) I decided the best way to spend the rest of the day was baking goodies for a tea date with a friend.

Back in the day (yeah told you I’m ok with being old now) I was the queen of cookie baking.  Any band that stayed at my house left with some fresh baked treats for the road.  My recipe collection started to become a bit extensive. I mean I couldn’t give the same cookie to everyone or let alone give the same cookie twice to the same group of musicians.  Yet as the bands faded away and my life got busier with work, learning bread making, pasta making, whiskey infusing, the cookie baking fell to the wayside.  Now when I randomly bake up some treats I get excited. I forgot how easy most cookies are.  And how nobody can eat just one.  So what’s now on the cookbook shelf?  But yes of course a cookie cookbook.  Once that final pasta has been made I’m ready to go with the next cookbook challenge…Cookie of the Week here I come.

Coffee on the Porch

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In my free time I cofounded a non-profit. Yes us Hearty Eaters we like to have a to-do list a mile long most days. For the last 2 years my non-profit has been running a monthly event called Coffee on the Porch.  Its a simple concept.  Have your morning coffee with your neighbors.  The idea is to get people talking to one another in one of the most economically diverse and racially diverse areas in Baton Rouge, Mid City. Because if you read this blog you know that Hearty Eaters see food as the connector.  We all love to eat and drink and once that starts happening stories, laughter all flows.

My organization, Mid City Studio,  floats around this 40,000 peopled area, picking a new porch or stoop or yard to setup in each month and serve free coffee to anyone who shows up.  This year we added a little extra component, a map.  We like maps.  Maps help tell the story of a place.  And frankly you can live your whole life somewhere and not know a lot about it.  We’ve made maps so far that feature bike-able public art tours, homeless services, and local civil rights history.  In June we made one of my favorites so far.  The Soul Food Map of Baton Rouge. The qualifier for being on this map?  Can I get something smothered with mac & cheese as my vegetable.  And for desert check out our August Map tracking the best and tastiest Snoball stands.   mmmmhmmmm tis good.

I’m Getting the Hang of This

 

I’ve got about 40 pasta recipes under my belt as I work my way through the Pasta Bible.   Making one recipe out of each chapter before starting back at the beginning again.  When I hit the stuffed pasta section I have the same thought every time…….”wait what was it that worked really well last time”  Ravioli, man, if you don’t do it all the time you forget the little tricks that really helped stuff, hold together, cook them, etc from the last time.  But I must be remembering a thing or 2 that’s working.

This last go around were spinach-ricotta ravioli in a butter cream sauce.  To me the ravs were too big, sloppy looking and I was praying they would hold together as they boiled.  However I got a huge complement which made me realize I have been over obsessing with making super perfect ravioli every other month. Friends were over to dine on these guys, when one friend looked in her bowl and exclaimed “wow look at how consistent these are in shape!”  Bo-ya consistent shaped ravioli…its the little things y’all.