Friday, March 27, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Cashew Corn Chowder

Chilly weather is returning briefly to our area this weekend, which has me wanting to make soup.  I have been craving a good corn chowder, but one without potatoes so that the sweetness of the corn will dominate the flavor without being diluted by the starchiness of the potatoes.  In my search for a corn chowder recipe without potatoes, I found one called Cashew Corn Chowder with Cilantro Cream.  The recipe calls for making your own cashew cream by soaking cashews overnight and then pulverizing them in a food processor, but I decided to substitute a new product from Silk I bought recently called Cashewmilk.  I got the unsweetened version, and this nut milk is quite thick.  It worked just fine for the soup, but unfortunately the cilantro cream was not a success.  I think next time I would just mince some cilantro and let people stir it into their own servings if they like.

If you are not opposed to dairy products, you could dollop a bit of sour cream or plain yogurt on the top, but the soup really is excellent on its own.  I changed up the spices, so feel free to do the same to suit your taste.  The original recipe calls for three ears of fresh corn, but since corn season is months away I just used frozen corn.  I happened to have a can of crabmeat in the pantry, so I stirred it in for added protein, but it is not a noticeable flavor in this well-spiced soup.  For a higher-protein vegetarian version, I might add some shelled edamame next time.  Or I might just add nothing extra, and enjoy it plain once again!

Cashew Corn Chowder

1 T. coconut oil*
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. frozen corn (no need to thaw)
4 C. vegetable broth
1 C. cashew milk
juice of 1/2 lime
minced cilantro (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the spices and cook for about a minute, until fragrant.  Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  If the bottom of the pot becomes dry, add a little broth instead of oil to moisten.

Add the corn kernels to the pot and stir to coat with spices.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the remaining broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes.  Once the corn is cooked, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly.  With an immersion blender, blend the soup until relatively smooth (you can also use a regular blender).  Stir in the cashew milk.  Adjust the seasonings to taste.  Stir in the lime juice.  Serve with minced cilantro on the side for those who like this herb.  Serves 4.

*Use butter or any oil you like if you do not have coconut oil.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: The Eggstractor -- Friend or Foe?

"It peels your eggs for you!"

I don't consider myself either a lover or hater of gadgets -- I am mildly interested, but would not go out of my way to acquire supposedly helpful household inventions.  The other day my husband mentioned something called the Eggstractor, a gadget which he found fascinating because it forces air into the empty space at the base of an egg to pop a hard-boiled egg right out of its shell.  Out of curiosity, I decided to learn more about the Eggstractor.  The first bit of information I found was an article on the Huffington Post website entitled "The Eggstractor Cannot Possibly Work, As Confirmed by Amazon Reviews (VIDEO)".  Oh dear, not good!  I read the article, which basically declared any and all egg separators to be useless and dumb ideas, despite the claims of the typically overenthusiastic informercial video included in the review.

Thinking that perhaps the author of this piece had some sort of bias against gadgets, I went to the Amazon website to read the Eggstractor reviews.  With a 1.8 out of five stars rating from 44 customers, the Eggstractor continued to lose credibility.  Almost all of the reviews were negative, and some were positively hilarious, with the general consensus being that the Eggstractor should be renamed the Eggsploder!  It seems that very few eggs escape this implement unscathed, with most either losing the yolk but retaining the shell on the white, or just ending up splitting into an unappetizing mess of egg fragments still stuck to bits of shell.  Herculean strength also seemed to be a prerequisite, as less muscular users complained that the bellows portion of the device was impossible to compress.

I was thoroughly intrigued now, and had to check out some YouTube videos of the Eggstractor put to use by the average person.  The first video I watched, called "Re: Eggstractor for the rest of us", just cracked me up (pun intended).  A very ordinary woman matter-of-factly explains the woes she faces in her attempts to use the Eggstractor.  She pushes and pushes and pushes on the bellows, to no avail, as the egg stubbornly remains unpeeled on the stand.  Finally, after the sixth try, out pops the yolk, the white remaining behind in the completely undamaged shell!

The fellow in the second video I viewed had much better luck.  Despite the fact that he was a bit disorganized, and distracted by a parrot in the kitchen as well as a very loud television set in the background, he managed to get the eggs properly boiled (only breaking one in the process) and ready to be extracted.  On a rather small and slippery countertop, this man managed to extract all but one of the undamaged eggs.  He got a bit overconfident at one point and did mangle one egg, but the rest were perfect, with just a tiny bit of shell left adhering to the bottoms which was easily removed.

After watching several more Eggstractor videos, I came to two conclusions:

1) If you are a young healthy male you will have few problems using the Eggstractor; everyone else will usually either be unable to properly push the bellows or end up creating an unusable egg mess.

2) Buy this gadget if you want to have a bit of fun and don't mind wasting a lot of eggs, but don't expect it to make peeling hard-boiled eggs easier for you.

Easter will be here in less than two weeks, and that means lots of hard-boiled eggs.  If you and your family are not really fond of eggs and are looking for entertainment, by all means get yourself an Eggstractor.  However, I really don't think there is an Eggstractor coming into my life anytime soon.  I've learned that if you boil fresh eggs they will be hard to peel, but older eggs are easily peeled after boiling, so I will just continue to boil older eggs and peel them manually.

On the other hand, there is a nifty little gadget called the Dreamland Egg Mold that somehow creates amazingly shaped yolks within the whites of hard-cooked eggs that you then cut into decorative slices.

I may just have to get myself one of these contraptions.  After all, how hard could it possibly be to use?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wish List Wednesdays: Serengeti Jumpsuit

Very rarely do I find myself obsessing over stylish outfits, especially those with a high price tag, but the Serengeti Jumpsuit ($256) from Anthropologie is one of the exceptions.  With its casual good looks and relaxed fit, even I would be comfortable in this jumpsuit.  However, it is the somewhat subtle but striking running zebras print that has me wanting to own it!  I like an outfit that is unique without being outlandish, and I think the Serengeti Jumpsuit fits that description admirably.  This is one time that I may decide a splurge on clothing would actually be worth while.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Seasonal Style: Spring Yellow Art Deco

From Decorating Theme Bedrooms

At long last spring has arrived, and not a moment too soon as far as I am concerned!  Our winter was so gloomy and rainy that I am in the mood for a sunny look, so my interior design style choice for the new season absolutely glows with yellow.  I liked the restrained yellow hue in the sophisticated art deco-inspired living room shown above, which is given a slightly exotic look with touches of black and white animal print fabrics.

From Trend Mafia

While my fashion selection has no animal print, the bold black and white geometric accents provide a similar contrast to the mellow yellow of the elegant dress, which is also art deco-inspired.

Bring on some sunnier days this spring, please -- I am so ready!

Foodie Fridays: Spring Beet and Pea Salad

Today is the first day of spring, and the warmer weather we have been having lately has me longing for lighter dishes, preferably ones that require little to no cooking and can be served chilled or at room temperature.  I recently found a recipe for Spring Beet and Pea Salad that meets these requirements with a little modification.  I made preparation much easier by substituting unsalted canned beets for fresh ones (I am not thrilled about ending up with red-dyed hands after preparing fresh beets).  The salad is substantial enough to serve as a light lunch, especially if some crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese and/or even perhaps diced ham is added.  And best of all is the fact that the rather somber combination of dark red beets and medium green peas becomes a gloriously pink springlike concoction when the white dressing is added!

Spring Beet and Pea Salad

1/2 C. dill relish
1 carton (6 oz.) fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1/3 C. mayonnaise (I used low-fat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried dill (or 1 T. minced fresh dill)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cans (15 oz. each) unsalted sliced beets, drained and diced
1 bag (16 oz.) frozen peas, thawed

Combine the first six ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir the beets and peas together in a large bowl.  Gently fold in the dressing until the mixture is uniformly pink.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serves 6.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: Ben & Jerry's Core Ice Creams

Have you tried Ben & Jerry's new Core Ice Creams yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  I am not a fan of chocolate in ice cream, but I found two flavors without this ingredient added, and they were heavenly.  The first one I tried was the Salted Caramel Core flavor (sweet cream ice cream with blonde brownies and a salted caramel core), and it was amazingly good.  The new line of Cookie Core flavors that I have been impatiently awaiting did not arrive at our local stores until just last week.  As soon as I saw Peanut Buttah Cookie Core (peanut butter ice cream with crunchy peanut butter sugar bits, peanut butter cookies, and a peanut butter cookie core) in the freezer section of our nearest Publix, I snatched up a carton.

I managed to wait until after dinner to try it, and was it ever worth the wait!  It was so delicious I was seriously tempted to eat the whole pint, but since I only had the one carton I didn't want to be left with no more ice cream for the next couple of days, so I restrained myself.  I even shared a smidgen with our terrier mix, Ruby, and I swear we both felt as if we had dined and gone to heaven.  I do believe little Ruby actually swooned with delight, but I have never seen a dog swoon before so I can't be absolutely certain.  I do know that she wanted more just as much as I did!

There are four other Core flavors (all of which have chocolate in them) as well as two other Cookie Core options (Boom Chocolatta! and the non-chocolate Spectacular Speculoos, which I must try).  Now that our weather is finally warming up, I'm ready to indulge in ice cream once in a while, and these new Ben & Jerry's offerings will be my top choices!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wish List Wednesdays: Birch Lane Easter Napkin Rings

Easter falls on April 5th this year, and the holiday will be here before you know it.  Last year I started a bunny theme for my Easter table with the purchase of some napkins and a table runner decorated with the fluffy lagomorphs, and this year I thought I would continue that theme by acquiring a set of Birch Lane Easter Napkin Rings.  The set of four white hand-painted earthenware bunnies costs just $19.00, so I can add a whole lot of cuteness to my table for a very reasonable price.  I guess I had better hop to it and get my order in now!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On the Homefront: Irish Farmhouse Breakfast Table

Dalmatian Dally O'Malley with his treasure and little bird friends!

Many years ago I bought a tiny cookbook called A Little Irish Cookbook (1986), which was part of a series of little books featuring different national cuisines:

From Amazon

In the very first section of this book the author describes fond memories of an old-fashioned farmhouse breakfast suitable for country folk who spent their days laboring in the fields.  The generous meal included citrus fruit, porridge, rashers of bacon, sausage, white and black puddings, fried eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms, soda bread and/or potato farls, honey, preserves, fresh butter, and a pot of tea.  Not many of us engage in strenuous manual labor on a daily basis, but for those special occasions when vigorous activity and/or a special celebration are on the agenda, the morning repast described in this small cookbook would be ideal.  I think that St. Patrick's Day would be the perfect time to indulge, although since it is on a Tuesday this year the meal may end up being dinner instead of breakfast!  I've set a green and white table for the holiday feast:

Dark green velvet placemat; square white dinner plate (from HomeGoods last year); dark green porridge bowl and tea mug (from Target ages ago); small white appetizer plate as saucer (from Target a few years ago); stainless steel flatware; off-white fringed cotton napkin; pale green juice goblet; green glass votive holder with flocked shamrock design (from Hobby Lobby several years ago); small glass sheep (from Pier 1 last year).

The large green bowl in the center of the table will hold
the Irish Soda Bread Muffins.

Small pitchers will be filled with light cream for the porridge,
and the tiny bowls on the small square plates will hold individual
servings of preserves and butter for each place setting.

A closer look at the shamrock votive holders and glass sheep
at each place setting -- my husband is the lucky(?) recipient of the
only black sheep in the bunch.

My version of a full Irish breakfast is not entirely authentic.  Even if I wanted to serve white and black puddings (which I don't!), I have no idea where to find them.  I do happen to have a tin of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal so I will be able to make authentic Irish porridge, but I would have substituted regular oatmeal if necessary.  Because of my red meat allergy, our bacon and sausages will be turkey or chicken rather than pork (sad, I know, but what can you do?).  Incidentally, a "rasher" of bacon can mean either a slice or a serving (which is typically several slices), so choose your preferred definition!

Rather than frying the tomatoes and mushrooms, I opted to roast them so that I would not have to cook so many items in the frying pan, but also because the flavor of this simple roasted vegetable combination is utterly delicious.  I usually bake a loaf of Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day, but for something a little different I decided to try a muffin version instead this year.  These muffins are savory, not sweet, and the texture is chewy rather than crumbly, so they are more like dinner rolls than muffins.  Be sure to serve them with generous lashings of butter, preferably Irish!  And there is a box of Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea bags on the table, even though tea bags are frowned upon by serious tea drinkers.  Since I will be the only one drinking tea, I did not want to make a whole pot just for me, so the tea pot will hold hot water and I will just use a tea bag in my mug.

Irish Farmhouse Breakfast Menu:

Hot Tea (or coffee if you must)
Orange Juice
Oatmeal Porridge/Light Cream and Sugar
Rashers of Bacon/Sausages
Fried Eggs
Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms*
Irish Soda Bread Muffins**
Fruit Preserves and Irish Butter

*Roasted Tomatoes and Mushrooms

8 oz. sliced cremini (brown) mushrooms
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 T. oil (I used extra light olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/4 tsp. salt and no pepper, which I dislike)

Place the mushrooms and tomatoes in a baking pan.  Toss to coat with the oil and seasonings.  Roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Toss the vegetables with a spatula and roast for another 10 minutes.  Serve warm.  Serves 4.

**Irish Soda Bread Muffins

1 1/2 C. flour
1 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. buttermilk
1 egg
1 C. dried currants or raisins (optional)
1/2-1 tsp. caraway seeds (optional)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  Stir in the egg and buttermilk just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  The batter should be wet and sticky.  If it is dry, add more buttermilk to moisten (I used an additional 2 T. of buttermilk).  Fold in the currants/raisins and caraway seeds, if using.  Spoon the batter into a greased muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the muffins have risen and the tops are golden brown.  Makes 12 muffins.

The chocolates on the table are Hershey's dark chocolate Mint Truffle Kisses (actually a seasonal flavor for Christmas that I saved just for St. Patrick's Day!).

Jolly Dally O'Malley is here,
Bringing lots of St. Paddy's Day cheer.
Proudly guarding his bowl,
He will make sure you know
That the bounty inside is quite dear!

Faith and begorrah, could that be a hidden cache of gold
 underneath all of the chocolate?

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

"May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Potato Farls

From Tesco

Even though I am not Irish, every year I like to make a little something special for St. Patrick's Day.  If possible I try to make a recipe I have never used before, and this year I decided to try Potato Farls. I got the idea from a cookbook I own called A Little Irish Cookbook (1986), which is part of a series of tiny cookbooks focusing on the flavors of different nations (I also have the one for Scotland).  According to the book's author, potato farls are often served as part of a traditional Irish farmhouse breakfast, and are an essential component of the Ulster fry in northern Ireland.  A full Irish breakfast is a hearty meal, usually consisting of bacon, sausages, white and/or black puddings, and fried eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms, accompanied by potato and/or soda bread and lots of strong Irish tea.  I must admit that I am not brave enough to consume the white pudding or especially the black pudding, but I will enthusiastically try just about any potato dish, so potato farls it is!  The word "farl" is apparently a derivative of a Gaelic word for "quarters", as the bread is shaped into flat rounds and then cut into quarters before frying.

Potato Farls

2 lbs. (2 large) baking potatoes, like Russet or Idaho (about 2 C. mashed)
2 T. butter, melted (I use unsalted)
salt to taste
1 C. flour

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks.  Place in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potato chunks are tender, about 20 minutes (this is one of the few time I add salt to the water, about 1/2 tsp.).  Drain off the water and return the pot to the stove (turn off the heat for an electric stove, or set the flame to low for gas).  Shake the potatoes in the pot over low heat until the chunks are no longer moist.

Mash the warm potatoes until quite smooth.  Add the butter with the salt (I used about 1/4 tsp.) and stir until combined.  Mix in the flour quickly but thoroughly (I added about 1/4 C. at a time, mixing each addition in completely).  Knead the dough gently on a floured surface (it will be soft and slightly sticky, a bit like pizza dough but not as sticky).  Divide into two parts.  Roll or pat each half into a flattened round about the size of a dinner plate and cut each round into quarters.  Fry the quarters for about three minutes per side in a little butter or oil* and serve.  Serves 4.

Note: You will probably have to knead the second ball of dough on a floured surface again before shaping and cutting.  This may not be necessary if you have room to shape and cut both halves at once, but I could only do one at a time.  I found that in the short time it took to fry the first batch, the next round of dough had already absorbed all of the flour and become very sticky.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the finished product, but farls are like warm mashed potatoes on the inside with a firm but not especially crispy crust on the outside.  I like soft and doughy carbs, but if you prefer crispy and crunchy then potato farls may not be for you.  I put a light coating of butter on the pan for the first batch, and left the pan dry for the second.  Between the extra flour and the dry pan, the second set of farls had a slightly tougher and chewier crust, but not in a bad way, so either cooking method works fine.

*In some variations of the recipe, no grease is added to the pan, and the farls are cooked over medium heat in the dry pan.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: Rainbow Stripes for the Home

There I was, cruising the internet in search of green interior décor suitable for St. Patrick's Day, when all of a sudden the image above caught my eye.  Green will have to wait for another day, because now I am absolutely obsessed with rainbow-hued stripes (at least the sofa in the picture is green)!  I love that wall treatment, but if vertically striped wallpaper is not your preference, perhaps horizontal stripes would work:

From Arcadian Home

If you don't care for wallpaper, there are also colorful striped rugs, for both indoors,

From Hometalk

and outdoors:

From The Decorator Guild

How about a spectacular striped glass tile backsplash in the kitchen?

From JK Kitchen And Bath

Or colorful curtains and accessories in a breakfast nook?

From ctwotop

Striped curtains add some pizzazz to this bedroom:

From Houzz

And colorful striped bedding will really make a statement:

From Debenhams

Shower curtains bring rainbow stripes to the bathroom in both vertical and horizontal patterns:

From Idecorist

Now let's check out a few furniture options, shall we?  This Marks and Spencer loveseat is a beauty, although unfortunately no longer available:

From A Passion for Homes

A wild and crazy chair with wild and crazy stripes may not be for everyone, but it is certainly a conversation piece:


Or why not match your brightly hued striped wallpaper to your brightly hued striped sofa?

From Evolvlove

Okay, maybe that is going just a little bit too far!

But wouldn't it be just grand if there was a leprechaun's pot of gold at the end of this design style rainbow of colorful stripes?

From Shutterstock

Well, what do you know -- there it is!  May your St. Patrick's Day be full of colorful rainbows and pots of gold (and a bit of Irish green for luck as well)!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wish List Wednesdays: Irish Soda Bread Dish

Irish soda bread is a quick and easy treat to bake for St. Patrick's Day, and this 9-inch Irish Soda Bread Dish ($35) makes it even easier.  The recipe is printed right on the dish, so just mix up the ingredients, place the mixture in the baking dish, and bake until done!  A lovely Celtic knot design surrounds the recipe in this green-rimmed stoneware dish, which is oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.  It is also pretty enough to go straight from the oven to the table, so you can serve up your bread in style!

From Isabella

Friday, March 6, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Spicy Turkey Chili with White Beans

Slowly but surely our weather is becoming more springlike, but for now we are bouncing back and forth between mild sunny days and chilly rainy ones.  On one of those wet and dreary days, I felt the need for a nice warm bowl of spicy chili, and Turkey Chili with White Beans was my choice.  As usual I modified the original recipe, and I have to admit that this dish is at the very limits of my spicy heat tolerance (but I am a wimp when it comes to hot foods, so don't be afraid quite yet!).  Like most chilis, this one just gets better the longer it sits, and the spiciness mellows a bit as well.  As is also the case with chili, the recipe is easily modified to suit personal tastes, so feel free to experiment with more or less heat, different meats, beans, vegetables, and/or seasoning, etc.  Make the recipe any way you like, but just be sure to make it when you too need a pick-me-up for a gloomy day!

Spicy Turkey Chili with White Beans

1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 lb. lean ground turkey breast
2 T. chili powder
2 T. cocoa chili powder blend*
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 C. (1/2 of a 16-oz. jar) hot salsa**
3 C. chicken stock (I used unsalted)
3 cans (15 oz. each) white beans, rinsed and drained
2 C. frozen corn, thawed

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook one minute longer.  Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground turkey.  Cook, stirring often, until no longer pink, breaking it up into small chunks with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the chili powders, paprika, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt, and sugar. Add the tomatoes, salsa, and stock, stir to combine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans and corn to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes longer.  Discard the bay leaves.  Serve the chili topped with sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and diced red onion or sliced scallions, if desired.  Serves 8.

Note: This chili freezes and reheats well.

*If you can’t find the cocoa chili powder blend, substitute 1 T. cocoa powder and one more T. of the regular chili powder.

**I used Frontera Hot Chipotle Salsa.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: Zoë's Kitchen

From Athens World

Earlier in the week I met a friend for lunch in nearby Athens, Georgia.  She suggested eating at a relatively new casual restaurant called Zoë's Kitchen, which I had noticed but not yet tried.  It was an excellent choice!  The focus is on healthy Mediterranean food with just a couple of Southern favorites on the menu as well (their motto is "To deliver goodness from the inside out.").  My husband and I love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food, and have always lamented the fact that there were no restaurants offering this type of cuisine in the Athens area.  You would think that a town named after a classic Greek city and supporting a significant Greek community would have at least one Greek or even Mediterranean restaurant, but sadly that has not been the case.  Now, however, Zoë's Kitchen has at least brought a taste of this cuisine to our location, and with a healthy spin that is an additional advantage.  The restaurant makes a point of letting customers know which menu items are vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free, and also provides a list of options for under 500 calories.

My friend recommended the Gruben Sandwich, a leaner version of the classic Reuben, and we both ordered that.  The sandwiches come with a choice of one side dish, so I got the Roasted Vegetables while my friend had a Greek Side Salad.  Interestingly, we both have the same preferences for a Reuben variation, preferring turkey to pastrami or corned beef and mustard to Thousand Island dressing, which is how the Gruben is served.  Zoë's Kitchen also substitutes their marinated slaw (made without mayonnaise) for sauerkraut in the Gruben.  The combination is quite tasty, and I would happily order this sandwich again.  Next time I think I will order the Braised White Beans as a side dish (as pictured below), because the description on the menu sounds intriguing.

Gruben Sandwich with Braised White Beans
(from Foodspotting)

I am already planning a trip back to the Athens location this week with my husband, as I know he will be as enthusiastic about this new restaurant as I am.  For those who need their Southern food fix, Zoë's Kitchen also serves chicken salad as well as pimento cheese sandwiches, and you don't get much more Southern than that for lunch!  Check out the menu here for the Athens location, or enter your zip code and find the menu for the one nearest to you here.  If you are lucky enough to have a Zoe's Kitchen nearby, stop in and give their food a try.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

On the Homefront: Mexican Flag Day Table

From Taringa!

February went by in a flurry of celebrations, with many holidays as well as birthdays.  We pretty much ran the gamut of culinary flavors during the month, with one notable exception, namely Mexican food!  We have an excellent local Mexican restaurant in close proximity to our small rural town, so I started looking for excuses to celebrate with Mexican cuisine.  One of the many Dalmatian calendars in our home mentioned that February 24th was "Dia de la Bandera".  A quick Google search informed me that this translated as Flag Day in Mexico, and a reason to party was found!  While we planned to eat at the restaurant itself, I decided to set our table appropriately just in case the weather forced us to eat at home.  Since the Mexican flag (shown above) has color blocks of green, white, and red, my table was set with color blocks in the same color scheme (the green does not photograph well, for some reason, so you will have to use your imagination a bit as you look at the images).

Dark green velvet placemat; square white dinner plate from HomeGoods last year; red Waechtersbach bowl from Pier 1 years ago; stainless steel flatware; red napkin; clear water and stemmed beverage glasses.

A large red bowl for tortilla chips, small green bowls for salsa, and small
red bowls for guacamole.

The Mexican coat of arms in the central white portion of the flag
represents an Aztec legend concerning the location of their capital city
Tenochtitlan (Mexico City's current location) at a site where an eagle
holding a serpent was seen perched on a prickly pear cactus.  I had no
eagle or prickly pear, but I did have some cactus candle holders and a cute
little red ceramic hen, so they stood in for the originals (I guess the tall
white candle would have played the part of the serpent!).

The weather stayed decent enough for us to eat at the restaurant, but we could easily have gotten our order to go and eaten at home if necessary.

Mexican Flag Day Menu:

Tortilla Chips/Salsa and Guacamole
Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
Camarones al Chipotle/Corn Tortillas
Mexican Rice
Refried Beans with Cheese
Sopapillas/Honey and Chocolate Sauce

The sopapillas
(from Facebook)

Of course a bowl of chocolates was on the table, this time just red foil-wrapped milk chocolate Lindt Lindor truffles in a white bowl on a dark green placemat (and yes, I admit I have been recycling those truffles on the past few tables recently):

Even though my sweet little red ceramic hen is only marginally significant for this table, I couldn't resist including her, as she is a recent purchase from HomeGoods and one of my favorite decorative pieces right now!

I would have posted this table sooner, but the weather has been atrocious recently so I wasn't able to take any photographs until a couple of days ago.  We did have a great meal for Mexico's Flag Day, though, and got to support another local business in the process.  Now on to the next holiday, and a new tablescape!