Buttery Pretzel Bites

note: the pretzels were delish but cheese dip was NOT a success.

note: the pretzels were delish but cheese dip was NOT a success.

Is it just me, or is everyone in a bigger rush than ever this year?  It seemed like we hadn’t even turned the Halloween corner into November and I was getting Christmas catalogues and seeing lawns already decorated with Rudolph and Santa.  I went to the mall at the beginning of this month and it was INSANE, like, frenzied with early holiday gift shoppers.  Everyone’s in a big ass rush this time of year; apparently even my doctor is in a rush.  I was told by her last week, depending on my health, that my baby will probably deliver anywhere from three to five weeks early (remember, I’m considered an advanced age preggo).  It was like a preverbal slap in the face – I thought I had ALLLLLLL this time to still prepare for Baby P’s arrival.  I mean, three months is a long time to prepare, but cut that down to two months, a mere eight weeks, possibly even only SEVEN weeks?  After the numbness of her verbal slap wore off, I frantically began checking on-line for the parenting classes and hospital maternity ward tour availability that my doc had told me to look into at the end of my seventh month (a week from now).  I mean, I haven’t changed a diaper since my niece Nicole was a baby and she’s turning 30 next month if that tells you anything.  ALL the parenting classes were full, not just full through November, but full through the end of January.  What about daycare?  I have to go back to work 90 days after he’s born and every single daycare place has a waiting list that is years (plural, as in multiple yearS) long.  Next I discovered the rocking chair I wanted is three to four months for delivery!  My goodness, had I failed already?  I couldn’t even sign up for the parenting class in time!   Where’s our kid going to sleep, in a drawer (?), because we surely hadn’t yet bought a bassinet.  Cripes, I just found out a few days ago that cribs do not come with mattresses.  You can’t even take your baby home from the hospital unless you have a car seat!  Thankfully, my husband saw my wild-eyed onset of a full body panic attack, told me to breathe, gave me a hug, and went with me that very instant to purchase the car seat and bassinet.  We finally picked up the (backordered – of course) bassinet today and set it up in our sun-filled bedroom.  I know this probably sounds silly but I felt such a sense of calming relief.  He has a place to sleep, it’s beautiful and looks comfortable and is portable so I can wheel him around the house from bedroom to kitchen to office if necessary.  A space in a really good daycare opened up yesterday and I managed to secure it!  I made plans to attend parenting classes at a different hospital and got a spot through a doula’s tour of the maternity ward.  I think everything is going to be ok.  I feel like I accomplished a lot in baby world this week, and deserve a baby pat on the back.

can you hear angels singing?

can you hear angels singing?

Speaking of The Mall, is it as hard for you as it is for me to pass the buttery pretzel place and not buy them?  Especially pregnant; me want crusty, doughy, buttery, salty pretzels!  I was surprised how easy these suckers were to make.  And the taste?  One bite and I blurted out Holy $@!&!! so loudly that the Hubs called down from his office upstairs to ask if everything was ok.  OMG so good and they taste just like the ones in the mall.  If you own a bread maker, I suspect they will be even easier for you to make and you should follow this recipe.  If you do not have a bread maker but own a stand mixer with a dough hook, please follow the below recipe.  If you only have your hands, I hope you are rested up because you’ll need your strength to knead all this business together. Continue reading

Saveur’s December Cover: Apple Pandowdy

skillet apple pie!

it’s skillet apple pie, y’all!

This is a wonderful recipe to bring to Thanksgiving.  It’s great because it will stay warm for an hour after you remove it from the oven!  Apple Pandowdy, what a silly name, eh?  I had to look up what the hell a pandowdy was, and frankly I think this old timey dessert was definitely before my time and also out of my region.  Wiki states pandowdy hails from the New England states and our Canadian neighbors to the North.  Pandowdy supposedly gets it’s name from the noise the dough makes while it’s baking.  I didn’t hear any dough noises, but I sure did grunt a lot while lifting this heavy cast iron pan in and out of the oven!  This recipe is from Saveur and it seems the trend is still all old things are new again, so pandowdy it is!

note the melty ice cream rivers...

note the melty ice cream rivers…

People, if someone makes this recipe for you, it means they really, really LOVE you.  I mean, peeling, coring and chopping 12 apples made my hands cramp!  My preggo swollen feet were pretty tired when all was said and done.  However, it’s totally worth it, especially because I made it in celebration for my own veteran today, my special guy, my smarty pants, my cooking inspiration, the love of my life; my hubs.  He said it was @#&*!@! amazing and especially liked that the apples were soft yet solid and not sour.  He also noted: the crust squares were buttery, flaky and are melt-in-your-mouth-delicious!  I served it to him warm with vanilla ice cream, then watched as the vanilla melted little tributaries of cream into the apple juices.  YUM. Continue reading

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

scary pumpkin seeds!

scary pumpkin seeds!

Ask my husband and he’ll disappointedly tell you I am NOT a fan of Halloween.  He LOVES Halloween.  He came home from school today and immediately put on his halloween skeleton shirt.  I blame my mother for my dislike of all things Halloweenish.  I do not like the scary movies, haunted houses, face-painting, and creepy teens too old to beg for candy wearing scary murderers masks with regular clothes!  I’m sorry teenagers, but it’s not a costume if you wear mask with jeans and a sweatshirt!  My mom still doesn’t like all that stuff either and I guess she passed it on down to me.  I can remember the pressure of finding that “perfect costume” as a kid and then pleading my mom not to paint up my face.  I was a painfully shy kid and running to stranger’s doors and asking for candy; it simply went against all the principles I’d been following since birth!  But I did it for the candy and the sugar rush.  Had there been no sweet reward, I probably would have passed on Halloween altogether.  I am sure, come next October, I will be embracing Halloween with newfound zest, dressing my little tot in whatever adorable costume is currently the hottest on pinterest (adorable cowardly lion onesie, anyone?).

note Tari's parka beneath her Superman costume.  No doubt it was snowing outside.

Halloween 1980: note Tari’s parka beneath her Superman costume. No doubt it was snowing and miserable outside.

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Grilled Potatoes with Mustard-Garlic Dressing

these are the jazziest roasted potatoes you'll ever eat!

these are the jazziest roasted potatoes you’ll ever eat!

The in-laws visited last weekend so to celebrate we decided to grill a serious steak and potato meal for Sunday Supper.  Everyone agreed the potatoes were to die for, so much so, that they almost stole the steak show.  These tubers taste zingy, tart, tangy and salty. The skins are split and cracked on the outside, anew reveal fork-tender potato on the inside.  The whole mustard seeds pop in your mouth with each bite.  This potato recipe could very well replace french fries for me.  And that’s saying something.  YUM.

hi mama!

hi mama!

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Skillet Lasagna

YUMMMMMM

YUMMMMMM

Italian, Italian, Italian, it’s all I’m pregnantly, I mean presently, craving at the moment.  I want noodles with tomato sauce and CHEESE, cheese, and more cheese.  Not just any old crappy cheese either, it’s got to be fresh mozzarella!  I stumbled across a few different recipes for skillet lasagna and thought, “lasagna from start to finish, in less than 40 minutes?  SIGN ME UP!”.  As fast as you can chop an onion and sauté your choice of ground meat, you are almost ready to eat lasagna, it’s that simple and quick.

the usual Italian suspects

the usual Italian suspects, are you seeing a trend here?

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BA’s September Cover: Grandma’s Pizza!

it was worth the waiting!

it was worth the waiting!

Bon Appétit’s September cover recipe is homemade pizza with “grandma style pizza crust”.  I don’t know about your grandma, but my Slovak Nana never made pizza dough.  Pierogis, halupki, layered jello, and a mean pot roast, yes.  Pizza dough, no.  I think what constitutes this pizza dough as “grandma style” is the fact that you have to be patient, like a grandma, and wait a seemingly endless 24 hours for it to cold-ferment and rise in the fridge, then another 40-60 minutes for it to be stretchable and rise again in the pan, and finally 20 minutes of bake time in the oven.  Once it’s finished, however?  It’s damn good pizza.  A healthy layer of olive oil on the sheet pan lends a golden buttery brown crunch on the sides and bottom, and the crust with nooks and crannies is like a springy sponge.  We liked it.  A lot.

beautiful, right?

beautiful, right?

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Housewarming Gift – Curried Lentil Soup!

a pretty present to give and receive!

a pretty present to give and receive!

My good friend, beautiful Melissa, recently moved and held a housewarming party.  I wanted to bring something different and fun.  Knowing she’s a vegetarian, I opted for a “meal in a jar” of curried lentil soup.  It looks impressive and is helpful to new homeowners for throwing together a quick meal.  Step 1.) pick out a pretty jar (3/4 liter size is recommended) and you are halfway to making your soupy housewarming present.  (Melissa, FYI, it’s recommended you hand wash these fancy French jars.)  Step 2.) Simply layer lentils, alternating colors, then sun dried tomatoes, chili pepper, spices and bay leaves.  Step 3.) tie a ribbon on it, make a recipe card and you are good to go!

layer for aesthetics' sake!

layer, for aesthetics’ sake!

We moved about the same time Melissa moved and we have been renovating our kitchen for the past 3 weeks.  It’s been trying (I type this as I sit in my office amongst every single kitchen item I own surrounding me on the floor) but also going smashingly and I can’t wait to publish some before and after photos.  After years of cooking on electric stoves (ok, the induction cooktop WAS pretty nice, I’m not going to lie), I’m finally getting my dream kitchen, complete with a gorgeous gas range and electric stove combo that I’ve always wanted!!!  I’m seriously looking forward to cooking with FIRE.

Curried Lentil Soup in a Jar (inspired by Food Network)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Print This Recipe!

Ingredients for jar gift:

  • 3/4 liter sized jar
  • 1 cup green lentils (divided)
  • 1 cup yellow lentils (divided)
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes, not oil-packed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 good pinch of chile pepper flakes
  • 1 dried chile pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions for layering jar:

  1. Place 1/2 cup of green lentils alternating with 1/2 cup of yellow lentils until 4 layers of lentils are made.
  2. Next place the sun-dried tomatoes on top of the yellow lentil layer.
  3. Mix the chile pepper flakes with the curry and turmeric powders and pour into a small zip-top bag.  Layer the spice bag, chile pepper and bay leaves on top of the sun-dried tomatoes.

Ingredients needed by gift receiver for Curried Lentil Soup:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves and onion.  Let sauté for 6 minutes.
  2. Add the contents of the spice bag, the bay leaves and chile pepper from the Curried Lentil Soup mix and cook about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the soup mix and 8 cups water or vegetable stock.  Bring to a simmer and let simmer until the lentils are soft, about 1 hour.
  4. Season with salt to taste.
  5. Serve with crusty bread or pita!

Poppy Seed Banana Bread

mmmm buttery banana bread

mmmm buttery banana bread

The Hubs told me the other day he’s been buying SOME OTHER LADY’S banana bread on campus lately as a mid-morning snack.  I felt as if I’d been slapped.  Ok, so I haven’t baked in a while, but still!?  I definitely had some rotten bananas on hand this week.  Couple my rotten bananas with The Hubs eating some other woman’s bread and I definitely wanted to make banana bread!  It only takes a couple of rotten bananas and an hour or so worth of your time to make delicious warm homemade banana bread.  Totally worth your extra effort.  I like to add Greek yogurt and poppy seeds to my banana bread.  I’m not a nut fan but poppy seeds give it that extra little pop and tiny crunch that is just perfect.

when life gives your rotten bananas, make bread!

when life gives your rotten bananas, make bread!

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Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

so thin, so delicious

so thin, so delicious

I went to the doctor earlier this week for my 17 week pregnancy checkup and found out I haven’t gained ANY weight, (like, to the ounce!), since my last visit over a month ago.  So what’s a preggo to do?  Why, make chocolate chip cookies of course!  I watched a clip from Martha’s main guy Thomas on his web series, Kitchen Conundrums, about how to make your cookies 3 different ways cakey, chewy, or thin and crispy.  I opted for thin and crispy and oh boy, are they ever!

yes, please and thank-you

yes, please and thank-you

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Elote (Mexican Street Corn)

it's sooooooo good

it’s sooooooo good

It’s no secret, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Nashville is Mas Tacos Por Favor.  I would choose it over all the current critically acclaimed Nashville restaurant names: Husk, Etch, even Rolf & Daughters (the latter two being my other favorites when money isn’t too tight)!  Mas Tacos is located in a “currently-it’s-going-through-a-regentrification” neighborhood across the river in East Nashville.  This means every fourth house on the street is a renovated gem of a bungalow, and all the others are in desperate need of love.  The area is a tad bit sketchy and I’m pretty sure The Hubs would have declared the location somewhere to avoid if only the food wasn’t so dang tasty!  Mas Tacos is a food truck turned brick and mortar with tattered, mismatched, junky seats and tables from various decades.  The menu is colorfully written in chalk on a board above the ordering window.  The tiny building is NOT air conditioned and you’d better bring some paper money because it’s cash only, baby (an ATM is located in the back in case you forget).   A line of hungry customers almost always weaves through the place and out of the front door.  No other place in this city (planet?) exists where I’d wait in line outdoors in Tennessee’s 95% humidity only to dine off of paper plates on second-hand furniture with no a/c in sight.  This is that one and only place; the food is that good.

Elote: $3

Elote: $3

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