Monday, June 10, 2013

Music City Eats

If you follow very many food bloggers, especially on instagram & Twitter, you may have seen buzz from two recent food blog conventions.  I’ve been to two food blog conventions myself, BlogHerFood in Atlanta, and a Food Blog Forum here in Nashville.  And I must admit, what I took away the most isn’t what I learned in the seminars & learning sessions.  It was the food eaten and friendships made at social events.  One response I often hear from non-food bloggers is “Oh, I wish I could go to something like that, but I don’t have a food blog!”  Well friends, I’ve got the perfect event for you!  I’m so excited about a new festival coming up in September here in Nashville called Music City Eats.  From their website: “Music City Eats: Nashville Food, Wine & Spirits Festival is the brainchild of Grammy award winning artists (and Nashville residents) Caleb and Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, world renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, Austin-based C3 Presents — producer of Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, and Lollapalooza — and Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn.

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This event is going to be a truly unique Nashville event.  Not only will there lots of glorious food to eat, there will be informative panel discussions, cooking demos, book signings, and musical entertainment.  Local & regional chefs & restaurants will be represented including the nationally acclaimed City House, Etch, Catbird Seat, Merchants, and more.  But this is more than just a celebration of Nashville, as famous chefs from across the country will be coming including John Besh, Tom Colicchio, Giada De Laurentiis, Tim Love, Aaron Sanchez, and more more more!  Seriously, there are too many *power* names to name!  (Go to the Talent page of Music City Eats for the full list.)

Oh, and I mentioned music right?  What else would you expect when the festival is being thrown in part by global rock stars?  Well, you can expect a rockin’ good time at Petty Fest!  From the website: “Petty Fest Nashville is an all-star review of the legendary music of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Celebrating all things Petty, the night will be hosted by the Kings of Leon and the Cabin Down Below Band, along with many other very special guests.

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I’m so excited an event of this stature is coming to Nashville.  If you love food, love to cook, love to eat, you truly MUST come!  Don’t think this is an event for Nashvillians only.  Nathan and I are already arranging a babysitter so we can enjoy ourselves all weekend.  (No one under the age of 21 is permitted, including infants & children in child carriers.)  The Nashville group of food bloggers & food enthusiasts is a great group and I look forward to seeing all my local friends attend.  But, I would LOVE to see & meet my out of town food friends, readers, & followers as well!

The full schedule of events & lineups have not been announced, but tickets are already on sale now.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Slow Cooker Banana Steel Cut Oats

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Our weekends often begin with pancakes, biscuits, or waffles, and plenty of my dad’s homemade sausage and bacon.  But as we all know, weekdays are all about business.  My most frequently eaten breakfast is oatmeal.  Sometimes I do a cold/raw oat muesli, as it’s quick & easy for me to prepare in the mornings.  But I must admit I get a little tired of it if I eat it too many times in a row.  Lately I had really been missing warm oats, which I used to have time to prepare, before Elliott came along.  But our mornings now are very busy, as I have to get myself ready, him ready, walk the dog, etc, etc.  There’s no time to cook a warm breakfast on a weekday morning.  I’m so glad I realized I could cook steel cut oats overnight in the slow cooker.  This has solved my dilemma!

Whether I am eating warm or cold oats, I certainly like my variety of mix-ins.  I just can’t eat the same exact thing every day.  I love that oatmeal is so adaptable.  It’s delicious with a variety of fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, and different sweeteners.  I’ve been able to give my morning oatmeal a different spin each day!  One day I topped it with sorghum, the next a large dollop of nutella, another day fresh strawberries, and another day chopped walnuts and a touch of maple syrup.  Making a large batch of steel cut oats during the day on Sunday, or overnight Sunday night, ensures I have breakfast ready for the entire week!  The best part is that these steel cut oats really help me feel full for hours.

Click More for the recipe! Read more

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

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This peanut butter pie was originally envisioned for Nathan’s birthday in early March.  But the weekend I was supposed to make it, Elliott was diagnosed with the flu.  So this got pushed to the back burner.

Easter came along at the end of March, and because we were not visiting family in Kentucky this year, Nathan invited our neighbors over for a gathering.  He knocked it out of the park with lamb cooked on the grill, along with lots of grilled veggies.  Our neighbors rounded out the meal with some awesome sides.  One of my contributions to the dinner was this atypical Easter dessert, rich & delicious Peanut Butter Pie.

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(Our Easter meal.  All these veggies make me very happy!  Asparagus, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, & fennel!)

This pie is rich and creamy, but it is NOT overly sweet.  That is what I loved about it.  It has the richness so you know that you are indulging, but it doesn’t give you a toothache or tummy ache from the sweetness.  I even cut back on the sugar in the graham cracker crust, because I honestly felt that the graham crackers are sweet enough themselves.

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(DO YOU SEE ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER GOODNESS INSIDE OF THERE?!)

Peanut Butter Cream Pie probably isn’t your first thought when it comes to Easter desserts.  Unless you begin to think about the popularity of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, right?  Well, forget that, because I’ve got a better peanut butter chocolate candy for you to try.  It just so happens that my good friend Beth of Eat.Drink.Smile is the marketing genius for Goo-Goo Clusters.  She is a primary reason Nathan got hooked on Peanut Butter Goo Goos!  (They make 3 varieties of Goo-Goos: original, a supreme made with pecans, and peanut butter.)  So, when I originally envisioned this Peanut Butter Pie for Nathan’s birthday, I knew without a doubt I’d be topping it with one of his favorite candies.  You could certainly top it with Reese’s Cups, chocolate covered peanuts, Reese’e Pieces, or whatever your favorite peanut butter candy is.  Alternatively, you could just leave it be with the drizzle.

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(In case you are wondering, I am apparently incapable of drawing straight lines.)

This pie was a big hit!  Nathan even said “We should have not told the neighbors about the pie and just kept it all for us!”  I think he was only half kidding.

(Click “More” for the recipe, and also to see Elliott in his snazzy Easter attire, I PROMISE it is worth clicking over!)

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Red Lentil Curry Soup {Food Bloggers Against Hunger}

I am writing today as part of a large movement.  Food Bloggers Against Hunger was organized to help spread awareness about the food situation in America, inspired by the documentary A Place at the Table.  1 in 4 children in the US don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  I’ve not yet seen the documentary (though a screening is scheduled in Nashville, more on that later), but the trailer itself is moving enough.

I have always found the imbalance of cheap food vs healthy food to be very sad.  It’s cheaper and easier to buy empty calorie junk food, than it is to buy fresh produce.  Many people live in “food deserts” and don’t have easy access to fresh foods.  Many people do not have the time or knowledge to prepare simple, healthy foods.  And, SNAP—the nation’s food stamp program—is at risk for severe cuts that would impact millions of families, especially children, that rely on school meals and food stamps to survive.

There are many contributing factors to hunger in America.  I am writing to urge you to learn more about this cause.  And speak up, tell Congress not to cut our federal nutrition program.  Click here to sign an online petition.

If you are in the Nashville area and would like to watch a screening of A Place at the Table, mark your calendar for April 29th, at the Downtown Presbyterian Church.  Details are still being worked out.  For more info as it becomes available, I suggest following Jennifer Justus of the Tennessean on Twitter, as she is our local “call to action” person on this event.

Now, onto this soup.  This soup is a GREAT example of a healthy, affordable meal that is simple to prepare.  While the ingredients & effort are pretty minimal, this is a soup that has a lot of flavor, and makes a lot using a little.  Canned tomatoes, onion, and spinach provide a rainbow of color.  The red lentils provide a cheap source of protein, but are also loaded with fiber.  I personally enjoyed this soup a lot, as did Elliott!  This soup will be in regular rotation in our house, as it’s incredibly tasty, yet easy to prepare.

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*Please note, this time I made the soup, I halved it.  Making the recipe as stated below would make twice the amount pictured*

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Winter Squash Quinoa Chicken Stew

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Blue Hubbard Squash.  Cucurbita Maxima (the latin term, which sounds much cooler).  Ever heard of this variety of winter squash?  If you’ve ever been a member of a CSA, or frequent farmer’s markets in the winter perhaps you have.  These babies are huge.  I received this in my winter CSA box from Delvin Farms, and it occupied quite a bit of real estate on the counter for more than a couple months.  Back in February my friend, local Nashville food blogger, Fearless Homemaker posted a delightful looking stew using butternut squash, and I was finally inspired to tackle this daunting vegetable.

Let me just tell you, peeling this sucker was a pain in the you know what.  I just attacked it with my peeler like a ninja.  Anyone who claims peeling a butternut squash is difficult, I dare you to try this one!  After I finally got this thing peeled, I scooped the seeds and chopped it.  I had way more than enough for this stew, so I froze the other half.

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(What’s up… impromptu photoshoot on my windowsill at work…)

This stew came together pretty easily, and it was a really great “Sunday stew”.  Saturday and Sunday are the ONLY nights of the week I can cook.  That’s part of the reason for the lack of non-dessert posts these days.  We have it down to a science, where I meal plan for the week, shop for the groceries, and do as much prep work as I can.  I often do a slow cooker meal, or a meal that Nathan only has to turn on the oven and put it in.  So, I certainly enjoy when my Sunday cooking project is a hearty soup that we can eat for dinner more than one night a week, and I can also take for my lunch.  Also, Elliott LOVED it.  Like, loveloveloved it.  I already knew he was a fan of butternut squash & sweet potatoes.  He loves soft cubes of veggies he can pop in his mouth.  The squash and tomatoes in this stew were perfect for that.  He avoided the chicken, as he just doesn’t seem to be a fan of the texture, so I am glad he got protein from the quinoa.  I think he found it’s texture very interesting!  I served this to him a few nights in a row, and each night he gobbled it up and made the most glorious mess.  These days a meal that will please him, as well as us adults, is a definite win!  I apologize for waiting so long to share it with you!

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