September 27, 2011

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

These weren't as buttery sinful as the Ritz Bits peanut butter sandwiches I first thought to chocolate cover, but they have the same salty-chocolate, peanut butter flavor delight and are still plenty decadent. Plus, there's nice crunch to each bite—more crunch if you can make them last more than one bite.

The ingredient list and process is super simple to make these, but they do require tedious assembly. Hence, they are either a teamwork project with good company or something to busy your hands while you become completely enthralled in a British countryside family uppercrust drama circa 1910s (What will happen to the money? Who will she marry? How will they adapt to social changes? Ooo.) a.k.a. my latest addiction, Downton Abbey.
So, if you happen to have chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels in your pantry, you should make better-than-packaged-candy while you escape into a good show or conversation at the same time.

September 20, 2011

Three Things: Farmers Market Veggies Make Easy Meals

This is a tale of my Pepper Place farmer's market veggies, some of the last tastes of summer, from last week. The idea was to prep veggies on Sunday and then make fast, veggilicious meals throughout the week.
Step one: Cook  yellow quash and pink-eyed peas. Chop bell pepper and tomatoes (they didn't make the photo).
Step two: Put 'em in a container.
Step three: Play with 'em for a little meal variety.
1. Tortilla Pizza
Crisping up a tortilla and throwing toppings on top is one of my favorite quick, one-person meals because it tastes like something from a restaurant. My veggies tasted all the better with some Parmesan and basil. No sauce needed.
2. Lunchtime Salad
Toss veggies with Greek spices, red wine vinegar and olive oil for insta-salad. I brought it for lunch at work with a half of my new PBJ cousin, Big Sky raisin bread with almond butter.
3. Veggie Scrambled Eggs
I had grand ideas of trying to make a frittata for my final meal of the week, but on a late weeknight scrambling some eggs and cheese had all the same flavor and texture. One bowl, one pan and 10 minutes later, I was eating my dinner. I need to make eggs into dinner more often.

September 18, 2011

Food Thoughts: Southern Food Documentaries

Because we are food nerds, Hannah and I spent last Thursday watching documentaries made by the Southern Foodways Alliance and eating (free!) Jim 'N Nick's tacos, including their new mayonnaise-vinegar white sauce for chicken. Birmingham keeps winning cool points for events like this as part of Eat Drink Read Write Festival, because combining celebration of food and books is just delightful.

Here are some interesting things I learned:
Ribs ala family Fourth of July.
1. Scott of Scott's BBQ in Hemingway, SC is really serious about smoking pigs. As in he spends all week splitting word for the pit and then slow cooking whole pigs overnight, finishing it off by mopping (literally) the pig with vinegar-pepper sauce. He also sells crispy pig skins, which does not sound appetizing to me.

2. How cows digest grass is gross (regurgitate "cud" and rechew it multiple times) but the natural way to go; how cows live in mass-meat-production facilities is even grosser. Part of me just wants to stay ignorant to our messed-up food system so I will like meat more.

3. A ridiculous number of people have a beach party each year in Florabama to toss mullets (fish) across the Florida-Alabama state line in the sand. Really. And they get really into it, which is entertaining to watch.

I left the films with my eyes opened to just how much our food is tied to our land, its vegetation and animals, something that's easy to not fully comprehend when our food comes from big-box stores.

As if Southern Foodways Alliance wasn't cool enough for celebrating and preserving Southern food traditions, they also have all their documentaries available to watch on their website.

September 13, 2011

Lemon-Raspberry Muffins

I needed muffins to go with my batch of Creamy Pesto Pasta salad and wanted something different, something sweet and fruity. Idea: raspberries. Very. Good. Idea.
I used frozen berries, and they all got smooshed up in the batter with cream cheese and lemon juice and sugar. The end result was pretty much dessert.
It reminded me of the Entenmann's Raspberry Danish Twist sweet roll that was always our special breakfast treat at my grandmother's beach condo.  We bought Entenmann's at the beach this year for old time's sake, and the memories made it taste good. But the muffins taste way better (duh, homemade always wins).

September 6, 2011

White Texas Sheet Cake

It's rare that someone expresses anything but happiness over cake, but this is the kind of cake that takes that happiness to the next level for an oh-my-goodness, sinfully sweet and buttery jubilation in the mouth that you can't stop talking about.

White cake with icing makes me think birthdays+family, a hint of almond extract makes me think weddings+friends and that combo in this cake especially makes me think of excuses to gather special people for a cake-worthy occasion, which is pretty easy to find in my book.

The cake is not tall in its jellyroll pan, meaning there is more icing-to-cake than usual for a sheet cake. And then you cut it into bars for eating with your fingers, or a fork if you like things extra tidy.

This cake's cousin also so worthy of trying in the easy-cakes-from-scratch realm: Chocolate Sheet Cake, known to some people as Texas Sheet Cake. For both you cook butter in a saucepan with other goodness for the cake and the icing; this might be the secret to why both cakes are the most moist and delicious I've made.