Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ice Ice Baby

Only in Charleston can it be in 29 degrees and 70 degrees in the same week. We got several 'snow days' this week ('ice days' would have been more appropriate) because of slick conditions outside. I worked from home and used the extra time to rest, hug my puppies, and cook up some tasty comfort food while the fireplace was going. Baby, it's cold outside!

Quinoa Salad

I was kind of missing couscous, orzo, and bulgur, because I like to make cold 'salads' with them, but when I ended up with some leftover red quinoa (thank you steamer!) I decided it would work just as well. I sauteed some zucchini with garlic paste and threw it in with a can of drained navy beans, shredded spinach, sundried tomatoes, sliced green onions, quartered cherry tomatoes, feta, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt/pepper. Greeky goodness!

Brevard Trip

My Christmas/anniversary present from the husband was a long weekend in Brevard, NC. We rented a dog-friendly cabin (with a huge fenced yard) and spent some time exploring. We started downtown, where there were lots of cute little shops and restaurants.

We stopped at several local parks and hiking trails to take in some nature.

Including the beautiful Connestee Falls, right across the street from where we were staying.

We also went to Looking Glass Falls and did some hiking at Pisgah Forest, but not before meeting some of the locals :).

Gnocchi with Yogurt Sauce

1 package of gluten free potato gnocchi
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons of orange juice
1 heaping tablespoon stoneground mustard
Salt and pepper
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 bunch of broccolini, ends trimmed

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions; drop broccolini in the last 3 minutes and cook. Drain everything and set aside.

2. In a pan, saute leeks in a tablespoon of butter or olive oil until tender (about 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, mix yogurt, orange juice, mustard, and salt/pepper, and taste. Add more seasonings as needed, then add in leeks, broccolini, and gnocchi. Combine until everything is well-covered. Dig in!

Cheerleading Season

Competitive cheer season is underway and boy is it weird not being a part of it this year. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends, not being poor, and having more time for my family, but the sport and these kids were part of my life for a long time and it's tough being on the sidelines. It is, however, super fun to see how well they are doing in their new training center with the awesome coaches and new teammates they've gained. They are kicking butt this season and I can't wait to see how far they can go!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Second Sunday

Downtown Charleston blocks off one of its major streets the second Sunday of each month to allow street vendors and outdoor sales/seating from local stores. Weather was in the 60s so it was the perfect day for it.

We tried a new Lebanese restaurant, where I got several eggplanty dishes and some good lentil soup.

And of course I couldn't leave downtown without stopping by the Godiva store to get my free monthly truffle (free membership = awesome).

Dark chocolate and salted caramel...perfect end to a good day.

Ringing in 2014

We're old and not exactly in to staying out all night, so New Year's consisted of drinks at the local pub with some good friends and cheap champagne in Bill and Sunnie's 50th Anniversary glasses (promptly followed by a 12:30 a.m. bed time). Cheers!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cheesy White Chili with GF Cornbread

Movie night with our friends Laura and Adam always spawns good food and lively discussion. This time it was 'High Noon' so we felt like chili would be a good nod to the old West. My hubby made traditional tomato-based beef chili and I tried out a new white chili with gluten-free cornbread. Yee-haw!

Chili Ingredients
    1 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    4+ cloves garlic, minced (I like my garlic, so I had more)
    1 tbsp cumin
    1 tbsp dried oregano
    1 tbsp chili powder
    1 tsp sea salt
    ½ tsp cracked black peppercorns
    3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
    4 cups vegetable stock
    1 head of cauliflower chopped
    1 carrot, diced
    1 green bell pepper, diced
    1/3 cup dried quinoa
    2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    8 oz cream cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
    1 can (4.5 oz) chopped mild green chilies
    Finely chopped green onions (optional)
    Finely chopped cilantro (optional)

1. In a skillet, heat oil or butter over medium heat and cook onions, carrot, garlic, and pepper until softened. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt, and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add beans and stock and stir to combine.

2. Cover and cook on a simmer for about 30 minutes. Add in chopped cauliflower and quinoa and cook about 20 minutes, until everything starts to get tender and quinoa turns clear.

3. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, and chilies. Cover and cook on another 15 minutes, until everything is well combined and heated through. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.

Cornbread Ingredients
    Recipe to come...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas, Part 2

After driving home from Georgia, I repacked and went with my mom and sister for round 2. First stop was Asheville, NC, normally a super fun city but we hit some rainy weather and a lot of people out shopping because of the holidays so I actually spent more time reading at the hotel and relaxing. Can't beat the views though.

Then it was on to visit my aunt in Tennessee. She recently retired from running a B&B in Jonesborough, and we were lucky enough to stay in the beautiful old historic house (where there were deer in the back yard!).

The first night we met my cousin and his family for dinner in Johnson City, then the next day we wandered around the cute little main street and did some antique hunting.

I also did some chocolate hunting :).

Then it was back on the road to Charleston!

Merry Christmas Ya'll

Christmas this year was in north Georgia, visiting my in-laws in the mountains. What was really cool was that we got to bring our dogs along, and they LOVED it. There was a fenced in yard for running and lots of hiking trails near by. We had a blast.

First of all, I figured out how to get the panoramic function on my phone camera to work. Score!

Puppies enjoyed lots of frenzied running around in the cold, and finding new favorites, like sticks.

There were parks to hike, and streams to cross (and drink out of).

And at the end of the day everyone was exhausted and ready for cuddles with my husband's parents. We're looking forward to them moving to that area so we can do this more often!

Peppermint Bark

Peppermint bark is one of my favorite holiday treats and it's so easy to make. First get a package of candy canes and crush 'em up really good.

Next melt dark or milk chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler. Spread it out thinly on a metal (not glass!) pan. Then melt a smaller quantity of white chocolate and drop it in globs on the first layer. Use a butter knife to swirl it out so it's evenly mixed. Finally sprinkle on the crushed candy canes and stick it in the fridge for 30-40 minutes. Use a knife tip to crack the bark into pieces and serve.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Break out the mini-muffin pan, things are about to get REAL! The secret is the amazing dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe's. They totally make these and are already unwrapped and ready to go.

1 3/4 cups GF all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.

2. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Original recipe at

Mexican Egg Bake

I'm in love with eggs in ramekins, they make perfect little bite-sized meals and can go in so many fun directions.

This week it was Mexican. In a bowl mix a can of pinto or black beans, a jar of salsa, any chopped veggies you like (peppers or broccoli work well) and shredded cheddar. Smoosh this mixture into four ramekins and crack an egg on top. Add some salt and pepper and top with a little more cheese. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes and you're all set!

Rice Rice Baby

I've been making lots of rice/bean/veg/cheese combos lately (they reheat well for lunch) and kind of have a formula going now. First, saute up a bunch of veggies. I've found that shredded brussel sprouts (Trader Joe's) work really well with rice, and this time I added some chopped sweet potatoes, roasted garlic, yellow carrots, and a pack of shelled edamame. Add in your steamed rice (any variety).

Once that's looking good, throw together a cream sauce (cream + salt + cheese) and mix it in. That's it!

GF Ravioli

Oh how I have missed my dear friend ravioli. After doing a little online research I found Conti's Gluten Free pasta had glowing reviews. Got some on Amazon (thank you, Amazon Prime!) and two days later was enjoying some with a nice Trader Joe's marinara. Definitely a splurge, but totally worth it.

GF Sugar Cookies

My new friend Jenn (who is also GF) introduced me to an awesome sugar cookie recipe that holds up well enough to cut out shapes and decorate. Definitely got me in the holiday spirit! Aren't they cute?

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
2 1/4 cups King Arthur GF all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine wet ingredients, then add in dry. Chill dough for 20 minutes.

2. On floured surface, roll out chilled dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut using cookie cutters and bake shapes for 6-8 minutes. Cool, decorate, and enjoy!

Sushi (Let's Roll)

I contemplated taking sushi making lessons but after a little Googling (and the purchase of our new rice cooker) I thought we could handle it. And we could! Spoiler alert--it's really not that hard!

We got our fixins at Whole Foods and steamed up some rice (mixed with white rice vinegar). I used a cutting board and put down a bamboo roller covered in saran wrap. Then you press down a layer of rice as thin as you can get it and top it with a sheet of nori (seaweed). Then comes the fun part--just put your favorite toppings on there, and roll it up! You seal the top with a little water so it stays shut, then cut into slices with a sharp knife. I made mostly veggie, and my husband made some with shrimp and avocado. Will definitely be a fun group activity once we invite some friends over to try it out!

Movie Night

Our friends Laura and Adam had us over for 'movie night' (we're working our way through the AFI Top 100), and they served this delicious meal to go with 'Rocky'!

I'm hoping I remember the instructions correctly:  cabbage, onions, and carrots were roasted for about 2 hours at 200 degrees with just a little salt and balsamic vinegar. They were out of this world. Adam also whipped up a pumpkin risotto using pumpkin from their CSA. I didn't get a picture of it, but Laura made amazing little flourless chocolate cakes with mint cream on top that were rich and delicious. We're so lucky to have friends who not only can cook, but who put up with all of my weird dietary restrictions and watch movies with us!

Mexican Casserole

Was looking to use up some leftovers and make something easy and Mexican. This is what I came up with.

Fill up a casserole dish with refried beans, red enchilada sauce, sauted carrots and kale, and cheddar cheese. After it gets bubbly and hot, scoop some in a bowl and topped it off with fresh pico de galo, Greek yogurt, and a fried egg. Nice weeknight dinner.

Holiday Market

Early December marked my 7th time being a vendor at the Lowcountry Artist Market at the Music Farm. With my baking partner out of town, I focused on jewelry and collage prints for the holidays. I had an upstairs spot this time, with an incredible view of the rest of the market down below.

Sushi Bowls

I saw this idea on a blog somewhere and ran with it. After investing in a rice steamer (only $28) and making sushi rice with about a 1/4 cup of white rice vinegar and sesame seeds mixed in, cut up your favorite sushi toppings (cucumbers, tomato, roasted sweet potato, shrimp, cream cheese) and put everything in a big bowl with some spicy mayo and seaweed salad on top. Also found some torn seaweed snacks to get the taste of the sushi wrapper. Fast and yummy!