Welcome to my Food Journey

Curious Southern Cook on a journey to learn...and to create exceptional dining experiences. I love entertaining and preparing food for loved ones & friends and sharing those experiences with others. My wish is that you will be fed too. Bon Appetite!







Friday, March 21, 2014

Margarita Mixer Base



Necessity IS the "Mother of Invention".  I needed not to have bought so many limes for what was required in a recipe... but they were only available in none or beaucoup, so what to do? 

Also, it's getting to be the time of year when we yearn to be outside grilling, gardening or having sand between our toes.  Nothing goes better with the latter, during the first and after the middle than... a Margarita.  You can make the base mixer and keep it in the refrigerator until time to celebrate.  I recommend using it within a week, so invite a few friends over and Enjoy!












Make sure to wash the limes before squeezing.












Each lime should yield about 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice.


Margarita Mixer Base
Yield: Makes 5 cups

2 cups water
1 cup sugar*
Dash of salt
2 cups fresh lime juice (about 8 limes)
Zest from 1 lime

To make the simple syrup - combine water, sugar and salt in a large saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil.  Cool syrup.
Mix simple syrup, lime juice and zest.  Store in refrigerator covered, chill until cold. 
*May substitute Splenda…if making this substitution, no boiling required.



For 1 drink mix 3 shots margarita mix, 1 1/2 shots tequila, 1/2 shot orange liqueur.  Serve over crushed ice, with or without a salted rim and garnish with a lime wedge.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Cream


Who knew you could make Irish Cream?  It's a cream liqueur that we all have added to our coffee or sipped in front of a crackling fire.  I have forever been a fan and when I started running across recipes that seemed relatively simple...
it was on. 
I found several interesting ones and after getting home this evening began searching out the ingredients.  Not in one recipe...did I have every item.  You have done this and I have many times before: substituted this and that, so if you are shy of something... get creative and the result will be delicious!
Irish Cream
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 c strong coffee (We used Camellia Coffee
3/4 c high proof whiskey (I used 128.5 proof, the guide recipes called for 2 cups Irish Whiskey)
1 c half and half (I used fat free)
1 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until fully combined.  Chill.  Serve and enjoy.  Keep in an enclosed container in the refrigerator.
Here I sit sipping the richest most elegant of concoctions.
Happy St. Patricks Day
~CGJ

Southern Colcannon


Colcannon is a tradition Irish dish made from mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage, cream, salt, pepper, butter and often ham or bacon.  In a mood to repurpose leftover "Greens", I thought I would make Colcannon and "Dixie it up a bit".  I had previously cooked a pot of combined turnip and collard greens...spiked with smoked ham.  If you do not have access to fresh greens, I would recommmend a canned option such as any made by "Glory Foods".  


This week everyone that isn't Irish is for one day and everyone that is... celebrates even harder.  My heritage inspired me to reinterpret this Irish classic and in using greens... brings it home even more. 
Oh, my Gleason (Gleeson) roots lead me back to Tipperary, in "Southern" Ireland. 
Happy Lá Fhéile Pádraig!



Southern Colcannon
(4 Main Servings or 6 to 8 Side Servings)


2 pounds washed, cubed potatoes (I used Yukon Gold, unpeeled)
1/4 c salted butter
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups drained cooked greens with ham or (1) 27 oz. can drained, *finely chopped
1 1/2 t Kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 c fat free half and half
More butter




Place cubed potatoes in a microwave safe dish with a splash of water and cook covered on high for 10 minutes.

In the meanwhile, place 1/4 c of butter in a pan, heat until melted.

Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes, until soft.

Add greens, salt and pepper, continue to saute stirring until fully heated through.

Add cooked potatoes plus half and half.  With heat on low use a hand held mixer or stick blender to combine all and until potatoes are smooth.  Serve with additional butter.

*Tip - I use a pizza cutter to finely cut the greens and ham

Enjoy

~CGJ




Saturday, February 22, 2014

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, still recovering from a recent surgery and unable to leave the house, what does one do... why make cookies of course.  This recipe makes about 60 cookies so we will be sharing some plus a homemade chicken pot pie with dear friends that are also home-bound due to a recent illness.  I modified a recipe from Ina Garten...love her!

 

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies
Inspired by Ina Garten’s
Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

Total Time: 49 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 39 min

Yield: 56 to 60 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups pecans
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes. Set aside and when cool coarsely chop.

In a bowl beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until combined. With the mixer on low, add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper or a
silicone baking mat (12 per half sheet pan). Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Enjoy,
CGJ


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Black Eyed Pea Dip

We are all conscious about being frugal
and not wasting food these days. 
A New Years tradition for us is to always have Blackeyed Peas, Cabbage or Greens and Cornbread. 
My peas are full flavor made with Tasso and am sure that the way your family likes them will work just fine.  If you have any left from New Years or anytime...try this delicious dip. 


3 cups cooked Black Eyed Peas (divided)
1/2 Onion, diced
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Add 2 cups of the Black Eyed Peas, Onion, Dressing and Olive Oil to a pot and heat on low until warm.
With stick/immersion blender begin processing til almost smooth (I like it a little chunky).
Add remaining cup of Black Eyed Peas and continue heating until heated through.
Serve with crackers of your choice.
Enjoy!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Camellia Coffee Rub



Camellia Coffee Rub

Yield: 1 cup

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup Dark Roast Camellia Coffee (or ground Dark Roast Coffee of choice)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup smoked sweet paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

METHOD 

  • Grind coffee in coffee grinder until it becomes a fine powder
  • Combine coffee and the rest of the ingredients, stir until well combined
Use with "BBQ Birthday Brisket" recipe or your favorite BBQ recipe 
calling for a rub 
 


~CGJ 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Oysters Napoleon



 

Having just returned from Maine with the family, I found that as in previous trips to this same beautiful island with very rustic accommodations... I wanted to challenge myself to stretch the ole culinary horizons.  

In all of my previous visits there had been a red tide ban on foraging for mussels and oysters, but not this time.  Each night we had either a lobster dish using lobsters purchased from the lobster-man or one using fresh oysters and/or mussels that were picked at low tide by husband Neil and son Bradford.  

There was no power, no plumbing... just nature and family.  The tiny kitchen in the cabin where we stayed had a small stove and refrigerator that ran on propane and water from a cistern that collected rain water.  

On this evening we called "Bisque Night" family and guests gathered for happy hour.  Prolific Gin and Tonics, cheese and crackers and a surprise... an oyster appetizer that I created just to precede the main event, Lobster Bisque.  There were unbelievers among us though... those that would turn up their noses and proclaim that they "did NOT like oysters".  I had prepared enough for everyone, so when the unbelievers heard the praises proclaimed from the others...they became brave and their status quickly changed to believers.  

I had no name for this glorious dish and asked for recommendations.  My daughter Sara's beau Michael, who is a writer, suggested Oysters Napoleon and so we have it.  

From our island family: Neil, Sara, Michael, Hannah, Bradford and Yours Truly, plus Margo, Larry, Lea, Anne and family visitors Martha and Jim... we implore you to try Oysters Napoleon.  If you do, you certainly will love it! 
 
Oysters Napoleon
INGREDIENTS

12-18 fresh oysters (cleaned, shucked just before ready to bake)
8 slices of thick slab bacon
10-12 green onions, washed and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups chopped parsley
7 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 t worcestershire sauce
10 shakes hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon, cut in half

METHOD

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Shuck oysters, place on baking sheet and set aside

Topping: 

  • Fry bacon in a skillet, remove to cool, chop and set aside
  • Pour off most of the bacon grease retaining about 1 T
  • Place green onions, parsley and garlic in the skillet with heat on medium, sauté stirring for about 7-8 minutes
  • Add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and chopped bacon, continue to cook and stir until thoroughly combined

  • Spoon Topping on each oyster, then parmesan cheese followed by a squeeze of lemon juice
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes
  • Place on a serving platter, serve and enjoy
~CGJ