Taking a Little Thyme: Lemon-Thyme Cake

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The other day Mr. Foodie surprised me after a bad day with a little thyme plant for our wall herb planter. So luckily we had it on hand today after I received the bad news that my former laptop would never again turn on. Yes, our bad luck streak continues (seriously, did we step on a mirror somewhere?). Even more annoying than losing the laptop was the big dent (haha, see last week’s posts) in my productivity. I planned on spending a lot of time checking things off my list. I did not plan on spending hundreds of dollars to replace a stupid laptop. But a little Sunday baking (and laptop shopping) does wonders for the weary soul. Mr. Foodie’s thoughtfulness came in handy, and so we made this lemon-thyme cake bread.

I seriously adore anything that showcases lemons. Is there anything better than a lemon? They work well in savory and sweet dishes. They are incredibly fragrant, excellent as a cleaning agent, delightful in cocktails, and one of the happiest colors on earth. Our next urban gardening project has got to be a lemon tree!

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I am especially excited about lemon in baked goods. Remember those lemon cookies we made? This is the loaf cake version of those with even the same lemon-sugar glaze for the top. The addition of thyme in this not only adds a little color drama, but also a punch of herby flavor that pairs so well with the sweetness of the powdered sugar and tartness of the lemon. Thyme reminds me of oregano, but more subtle and delicate. Because it is not an herb I would usually buy, it being more rare than other herbs in the recipes I use, I did a little research on it. Apparently thyme has medicinal properties. It was also traditionally used to give courage and ward off nightmares. Sounds like the perfect little darling for the week we are having.

Mr. Foodie can attest to the fact that I got a little woe-is-me for a second while clutching my new laptop in my arms on the car ride home, but after following the rabbit hole in my mind of all the worst possible resonances of this absurd week for our future selves, I relaxed. Mr. Foodie made me laugh. And then we took a little time to bake a lemon cake.

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Here is the recipe as it appears on Taste of Home*

(*Note: I recommend baking on the longer end of the range even if you have a hot oven – we usually take out baked goods earlier than called for, but this time we needed to bake longer so the top/middle cooked through all the way. It will remind you of banana bread a little – looks done bc of the browned sides, but still needs time more in the middle)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • GLAZE:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  • 1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine milk and thyme. Microwave, uncovered, on high 1-2 minutes or until bubbly; cover and let stand until cooled to room temperature.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with reserved milk mixture. Stir in lemon juice and peel.
  • 3. Pour into a greased 9×5-in. loaf pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
  • 4. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth; drizzle over bread.Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices).

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 187 calories, 7g fat (4g saturated fat), 43mg cholesterol, 92mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 0 fiber), 3g protein.

Taco Thursday! Pulled Pork Tacos and Easy Southwest Salad + Homemade Guac

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What a week! Mr. Foodie and I both suffered a little random bad luck this week, so we were all too happy to drown our sorrows in tacos and beer last night. Someone hit my parked car at work and did NOT leave a note, but unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us) our building manager caught the incident (and their plate #) on tape, so boo-yah! to the inconsiderate person who hit my car and drove off. Also, Mr. Foodie’s phone died, so he took my upgrade and got a new Samsung 7. Bad luck for me, but not for him – Mr. Foodie loves new toys. It’s actually kind of funny how into new gadgets he is. Picture Gollum stroking his ring and saying “my precious.” Lucky for me, it wears off fairly quickly. It did, however, cause some marital discord this week when, in an effort to keep his new phone “pristine” he deleted some pictures of our dinner before I had the chance to email them to myself. So you’ll just have to be satisfied with my description of our cabbage steaks and potatoes* instead of the awesome photos I took.

We were so pleased with our bbq pulled pork shoulder in the crockpot from last week that we decided to do it again this week, but to change up the flavor profile for tacos. We prepped the shoulder the same way as last week, but we seasoned it instead with chili powder, lime juice, salt, cumin, garlic (we used fresh, but powder would be fine for this rub) and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (you could use beer also, but we drank ours before we got it into the crockpot lol). Again, we eyeballed the measurements, but just know that we only used around a tablespoon of most of the seasonings and four limes worth of juice. We omitted the onions on the bottom this time, but that might not be a bad addition next time we make it.

For an appetizer we wanted to make homemade guac because a) we love it and b) we just added cilantro to our wall herb planter!  The only catch is that Mr. Foodie has developed an intolerance to tomatoes in almost every form except ketchup (which let’s face it is barely made from tomatoes). I’ve never made guac without them, and to be honest, I usually make guac with the powdered mix. This time, though, I wanted to experiment. I did find a tomato-less recipe for guac online, but I adapted it so I wouldn’t have to buy extra ingredients. For this recipe, I cubed the guac (see the easy way to do this) and squeeze lime juice from four limes over it (these weren’t the juiciest limes ever, but you need to make sure you have enough to cover every bit of that avocado so they don’t turn brown on you – the last think you want your guac to look like is baby poop lol). I added a good amount of salt (guac can stand up to quite a bit because it is so creamy) and I added finely minced fresh garlic. I also took the smallest onion I had, cut it in half, and diced one half finely. Lastly, I added a handful of cilantro, roughly chopped. Then I took the potato masher and mashed it all together. It was delicious. I didn’t even miss the tomatoes.

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For the Southwest salad, we really just used what we had plus some bell peppers. I diced the other half of my onion, tossed that in with a can of washed, drained black-eyed peas and two diced bell peppers (one yellow, one red). We had romaine, so we used romaine. our recipe made a big salad, so pick a lettuce that will be okay the next day so you can enjoy the leftovers. We made our own dressing as well – just olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, and some cayenne. I admit I tried-and-errored it until I got the flavor right. You should have roughly equal amounts of lime juice and olive oil. If you add heat, you might want to add some sweetness (different recipes call for either sugar or honey, but agave might be good too), and remember that you can always add more salt, but you can’t subtract it once it’s in there. Put in a lidded container so you can shake to mix it up. It will separate if you make it ahead, but then just shake it again before you dress the salad.

Last but not least, the tacos! The pulled pork turned out wonderfully again – crockpots are the best!  I didn’t want to mask the taste of the delicious pork, so I served it with only three toppings – a bit of crystal hot sauce, some small scoops of the guac, and some shredded cheese. I like crunchy tacos and Mr. Foodie likes soft. We are going to experiment next time with corn tortillas which I’m sure will be lovely.

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We also played a new board game called Kill Dr. Lucky which has been around for many years, but is new to us. It is kind of like Clue, but where you are trying to kill a character instead of figure out who killed him. The turn-switching thing got the better of me, but that might have had more to do with the beer than the game 😛 I ended up winning, so all’s well that ends well!

*We used this Roasted Cabbage w/ Bacon Gremolata recipe because I can’t get enough of cabbage and I’m always looking for new ways to cook it. We tried sauteeing it a few posts ago and it was delicious. This way is easy because you slice it like a cut of steak, brush olive oil and salt/pepper on it (I might add red pepper flakes next time) and roast it at 400 for 30+ minutes (check for crispiness), flipping half-way. The gremolata was easy to make – just finely chop up some crispy bacon (or bacon substitute if you want to go veggie), zest 1 lemon, mince fresh parsley (we used cilantro because it’s what we had!), and I added some parmesan cheese instead of the almonds because…we didn’t have them lol I can’t stress enough how much you shouldn’t let absent ingredients stop you from trying a new recipe. Google “substitute for..” and you’ll find an answer for just about everything. The cabbage “steaks” were wonderful! The crispy edges were caramelized, and the cabbage was perfectly cooked in the middle. The gremolata added this zesty, salty flavor to the cabbage that was to die for. To stay veggie and keep with our “steak and frites” theme, we made simple, roasted potatoes to go with it. It was a lovely almost-meat-free (maybe meat-light is a better term) weeknight dinner.

Check us out on instagram @fairfaxfoodie 🙂

Chicken and Waffles, Again

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Mr. Foodie and I had an awesome weekend despite the fact that both of us had to work for a few hours on opposite days. We still managed to squeeze in some jacuzzi time to soak up the sun while we could and some face time with family. Last night we got to play with our nearly 2-yo niece for a few hours – reading her books and pretending to picnic. It was so cute seeing Mr. Foodie play with a baby! It also made me realize how lucky we are to live so close to our families. Sometimes I get tired of this area with all the traffic and never-ending road repairs, but weekends like this make me thrilled to be here.

So I discovered only after I went through the trouble of photographing our dinner that I’ve already written about my Chicken and Waffles – we could call this lazy blogging, then, but I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that this is just an awesome recipe that needs to be shared twice! Plus, we had leftover waffles from the weekend to use, so there you go. I used the same basic recipe as before, but my gravy was thicker (yum!) and of course the waffle recipe is made from scratch instead of a box mix. I also changed the chicken recipe a bit to use our leftover milk (with a little vinegar to make it a diy buttermilk) instead of eggs.

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In other news Mr. Foodie went grocery shopping today and surprised me with a thyme plant to go in our wall herb garden planter! I’ve been holding off filling it until spring arrives – the heat/cold flux is not great for keeping plants alive. I just love the smell of fresh herbs and of course the flavor they impart in recipes! Maybe I’ll dry some out to store in my little spice jars for next winter.

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Fear not, dear readers! Mr. Foodie and I have actual *new* recipes in the works for our upcoming week, so I will have more to post about than my foodie wall art 😛

In my search for Irish recipes leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, I stumbled upon a new way to cook cabbage that I can’t wait to try out. Plus, we have been slated to plan a cinco de mayo menu for our parents, so we’re redoing the pork shoulder recipe and putting it in tacos! Stay tuned for all THAT action later this week 😉

In the meantime, feel free to keep up with us on instagram! @fairfaxfoodie

Post-St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast: Waffles

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Morning! Did you have an awesome St. Patrick’s Day like we did? Omg, you guys, I did an Irish Car Bomb last night! I haven’t done one of those since my study abroad trip in Denmark over 10 years ago! Our gracious party hosts served up a delicious shepherd’s pie, spinach dip, and Irish soda bread #yummy. Before the party, Mr. Foodie and I got home from work and flew into cooking mode – I boiled eggs for my first attempt at green deviled eggs and Mr. Foodie made the dough for his now famous homemade soft pretzels (I twisted them into the pretzel shapes because he doesn’t have the patience for it lol). I used my go-to recipe for deviled eggs, so all-in-all it was an easy cooking session. If you’re pressed for time or hosting, best to go with what you know so you can be fairly certain it will turn out well and you won’t end up having a mini pre-event meltdown because your frosting broke or your cheese soup ended up being a lump of wet cheese…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything 🙂

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Our St. Patrick’s Day fun was a fairly responsible night of drinking and dancing, but I also got to connect with some family friends and ask them all what their top marital advice is since all of them have been married for at least two decades successfully. The roundup includes:

Never go to bed angry

Always say I love you and have a kiss before bed

Pay attention to the small things

Appreciate what you have or someone else will

There may have been more, but that is all I remember thanks to the car bomb. Interestingly, I have gotten wildly competing views on the “never go to bed angry” advice, but that in combination with the “always say I love you and kiss” appeals to me immensely. I like to think that Mr. Foodie and I wouldn’t be so angry at each other that we could go a whole night that way. Besides, I don’t sleep well if I don’t get my quality pillow-talk and cuddle time in before we turn the lights out. The advice that surprised me the most is “pay attention to the small things” because so often you hear the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff.” But the way my friend explained it, you should be aware of all the little things your partner does for you and, similarly, you shouldn’t neglect the little things that make life easier or happier for your beloved. Holding the door, making the coffee, saying “thank you” and “please.” After hearing the examples, it made complete sense to me. Marriage is largely about the small stuff. Grand romantic gestures are lovely, but they make a poor bedrock for a lifetime of monogamy. Using food as a metaphor, it’s like putting effort only into thanksgiving dinner and eating badly every other day of the year. Sure, you’re going to love that yearly dinner, but you’ll be miserable the other 364 days – that’s just not sustainable or even desirable.

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This morning I was pleased to see that neither of us were suffering from a hangover, and I wanted to take advantage of having an entire day all to ourselves, so I made waffles! We received a waffle iron at the bridal shower last year, but my aunt also got us one for a wedding gift. The first one is the kind that lies flat and flips over. The second one stands straight  up and you pour the batter into a hole at the top. Both make excellent waffles! I enjoyed trying the new one this morning – the upside is it comes with a measuring cup so each waffle is the same size, and there is no “overflow” like you often have with the flat iron. The challenge initially was getting the batter all the way down into the mold. My first two waffles ended up being 1/2 or 3/4 waffles, but eventually I got it to work right. When it comes to waffles, I am a major fan of using a box mix, but this morning I decided to make it from scratch. I even broke out our hand mixer (another shower gift!) to whip up the egg whites. You can, of course, make waffles without whipping egg whites, but this step does help you have a lighter, crispier texture. The recipe I used is from All Recipes and it is pretty basic. I took the advice of one of reviewers to whip the egg whites (and add two more whites than the recipe calls for). All Recipes is a good recipe resource because people write in with their notes and suggestions.

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2 eggs (separated, plus two more whites)

1 3/4 C milk

1/2 C veggie oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 C flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 Tablespoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together except egg whites. Use hand mixer to whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until batter forms (don’t overmix!), then add egg whites, gently folding into batter with a spreader spatula. Let some of the egg whites remain frothy in the batter. Heat your waffle iron to its recommended setting for golden brown. Gently scoop or pour batter into measuring cup and put in the iron.

Our recipe made a TON of waffles. We put the extras in a ziplock and popped them in the freezer for future breakfasts or possibly a chicken-and-waffle situation : ) Happy weekend all!

For more Fairfax Foodie adventures, check us out on instagram @fairfaxfoodie

Pulled Pork BBQ and Skillet Cornbread + Pie for Pi Day!

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So Mr. Foodie and I got to enjoy an unexpected snow day yesterday 🙂 Paradoxically, we had planned a dinner designed for being gone at work all day – crockpot pork bbq! As you know, we are trying to utilize our wedding presents in our cooking, so when Mr. Foodie spotted a huge pork shoulder at the grocery store last weekend, he pounced on it and quickly decided the optimal way to cook this massive thing was in the crockpot on low for 9 hours. I decided to take another stab at cornbread, and, this time, to use our new cast-iron pan. Since we popped the pork in early that morning, we had some time to break out Splendor – one of our favorite table games – and mid-game  I discovered (thanks so social media) that it was Pi day! So, of course, I had to make a pie as well 🙂  With all this glorious food we had to have someone over to share it, so my mother and my aunt joined us – thankfully because this really is WAY too much food for two people. We sent them home with leftovers also.

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The Pork

If you feel intimidated by an entire pork shoulder – don’t! It looks scary with the huge layer of fat on top and the big bone in the middle, but a little prep is all you need to turn this thing into the best bbq pulled pork you’ve ever eaten. Mr. Foodie handled the pork prep while I made the spice rub. To begin, trim the fat off the shoulder with a sharp knife, slicing in a downward motion and pulling the fat away from the meat as you go. Make a bed of diced onions and garlic for the bottom of the crockpot. The spice rub was super simple – salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. I didn’t do measurements, but basically, you should have an approximate ratio of 1 salt, 1/2 pepper, 1/3 garlic powder, and 1/4 cayenne – make enough to cover the shoulder. Rub the shoulder with a spice rub, then set the shoulder on the bed of veggies. Pour in 1/2 Cup of water (this is so you don’t crack the crockpot bowl when it heats up). Start on high for 2 hours, then low for 9-12 hours (use a meat thermometer towards the end of cooking to make sure it is safe. Once it is cooked, drain, discard the bone, and shred the meat with two forks – it should pull apart nicely. Cover with your choice of bbq sauce (see ours below) and set to “warm” until you are ready to serve. Mr. Foodie also diced up a small onion and included it with the bbq sauce for a little texture and additional flavor (don’t worry, the onion cooks up a bit so it isn’t totally raw and you can omit this step if you don’t care for onions). The meat was so tender and juicy – low and slow really is the best way to make pulled pork. And I did notice a difference between making it myself and eating pulled pork from the store – our version is less salty and not as tough and stringy as pre-made pulled pork is usually. And you can’t beat the value! We spent $15 on the shoulder which is a lot for a meat purchase, but it made a TON of pulled pork. We gave a bunch away and will still have plenty for leftovers tonight.

BBQ Sauce – Homemade

While the pork was cooking, we made the sauce. I’ve written before about the formula for a basic bbq sauce. Mr. Foodie and I eyeballed it entirely this time, and I’m afraid we were not writing down exactly how much of everything we were putting in. That being said, you should definitely try experimenting with your sauce! When experimenting, keep the golden rule in mind – you can always add, but you can’t subtract, so go easy on the various ingredients – you can always add more if you need to. We started with a basic ketchup, brown sugar, Worcester sauce, salt, pepper, vinegar concoction. We ended up adding garlic powder and hot sauce to our version. I kept testing it (since my palette is a little better than Mr. Foodie’s) to get the right balance of salt, sweet, tart, and spicy – once I was satisfied, we refrigerated it until the pork was done. Let me tell you, it turned the already amazingly delicious pork into the best pulled pork we’ve ever had. I wish I had written down what we were doing so I could replicate it easily –  next time, readers, next time! In any case, it was the perfect amount of sauce (we don’t like it smothering the good meat) and it was a delectable flavor!

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Skillet Cornbread – Basic

For this, I just used the recipe from the Food Network with no alterations. Since it was my first time using the skillet for this purpose, I wanted to follow the instructions exactly. It turned out okay, but I felt it could be better. It had an okay texture, but the flavor needed some punching up. Covered in some butter and honey, it was fine. Next time I might add some fresh corn or something. I know cornbread is one of those things that is easily bought at the store and largely tastes the same everywhere, but I really want to find a recipe that rocks Mr. Foodie’s socks for our bbq nights 🙂 If you do have a cornbread recipe that you like, please send it my way!

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Apple Pie w/ homemade crust

For this, I just used the apples I had in my fridge – you can really use any apples you like, but I do recommend that they at least be firm and slightly tart for the best results. For this filling, I peeled and sliced up the apples – a total of 5 medium sized ones –  squeezed lemon juice and orange juice over them, and sprinkled 1/2 cup sugar and 1 T cinnamon on them. I made my usual pie crust (Ina’s version). Let me tell you, readers, I almost threw this crust across the room yesterday. I made the crust exactly as I always make it, and chilled it for a good amount of time, but when I went to roll it out on the counter, it kept breaking at the edges and sticking no matter how much flour I used. It took both Mr. Foodie and I using hands, spatulas, and super-human will to get the f***ing crust into the pan. Normally, I roll it up on the pin, and gently unroll it into the pan -voila! But not yesterday. I don’t know if the kitchen was too hot, the counter was too warm, the fridge wasn’t cooling properly. I was at my wit’s end. We got it into the pan and I pressed it in to get it to fit, put the broken pieces over the holes, tried to make the top look somewhat normal. It could (very charitably) be described as “rustic,” but to me, it looked like a heaping mess. I’m sharing this little meltdown with you because I want you to know that even people like us who cook all the time face situations in the kitchen which are so. damn. frustrating. Even more so, perhaps, than normal because we are relatively used to things going our way in the kitchen. I’ve made this crust a million times! And yet this time it chose to torture me. The other reason I’m sharing it is because even though it was difficult to get into the pan and not the ideal thickness thanks to my patch job, it ended up tasting wonderful. My dinner guests loved it. Remember what’s important, dear readers 🙂

So that was our fun snow day! What did you end up doing? For more peeks at what Mr. Foodie and I are up to, check us out on Instagram @fairfaxfoodie

 

Irish Soda Bread

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I’ve heard before that the world breaks down into two kinds of people. Those who like to be taken care of when they are sick and those who do not. I am squarely in the second camp. At least I was until Mr. Foodie came along. The first major head cold I suffered, he was right there, making me tea with honey and restocking my bedside tissues. Somehow, I didn’t mind that he was seeing me in this vulnerable state, and somehow I started to like his quiet doting. Mr. Foodie was down for the count earlier tonight, having broken the new house rule to never ever purchase hot food from 7-Eleven. Sometimes he forgets he doesn’t have the stomach (or the metabolism) of a 20-year-old anymore. In any case, he was doubled up with stabbing pains and unable to find a comfortable position. I flapped around uselessly, offering him water and aspirin and trying to shove pillows in strategic places. I admit I am not inherently the best caregiver. As a former person who would rather hole up when sick instead of accepting help, I find I am sometimes stingy with sympathy and attention when it comes to illness. I remember being anxious about it before Mr. Foodie first fell ill. I worried that he had been babied by his loving mother and would expect similar treatment from me. It turns out, when you do genuinely love someone, you do not mind caring for them when they are sick. Mr. Foodie is fairly stoic when he is ill, so that helps.

Today, however, I felt like the QUEEN of caregiving after I baked this new recipe! I had already planned on making a recipe from the Ellis Island cookbook that I received as a gift a while back, but it came in super handy on this particular night. After Mr. Foodie’s stomach pains subsided, he had no appetite and was afraid to even try to eat anything. Except for my soda bread. I gave him little pieces, one at a time, until he started feeling even better. This will surprise no one who understands the magic of baking soda, but the bread helped settle his stomach and eventually brought back his appetite.

Additionally, it was delicious! This particular recipe was sent in for the Ellis Island cookbook project by a woman who described her mother as one of the most warm-hearted caregivers in the world. She was always hitting the pavement to raise funds for the community, bring turkey dinners to families in need, or welcome new Irish immigrants home with her for some cabbage. I felt a wave of gratitude pass over me as I made this recipe tonight for that woman’s bravery and kindness. In a world that looked down on her and those in her community, she held her head high and just kept feeding everyone.

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Although this cookbook is not fancy, contains some rather vague recipes, and lacks mouth-watering photos of the food, it is one of my favorite cookbooks to read. Preceding almost every recipe is a letter – usually sent by a friend or relative of a household cook – detailing the memories of being a first-generation immigrant to come through Ellis Island. Many of the stories are heartbreaking, but many are also immensely inspiring and uplifting. The recipes tell me so much more than just how to make something. They reveal the dire circumstances of many who came here looking for a better life. They reveal cultural traditions adapted to new ingredients. But mostly they reveal the resilience of the human spirit.

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For this soda bread, we used our cast-iron skillet. The only “unusual” ingredient besides the caraway seeds is buttermilk, but no need to buy buttermilk specially for this bread. Just take a cup of milk and let it sit with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for 5-10 minutes and voila! Buttermilk. You don’t even need to let any butter soften because it calls for melted butter, so woot! Basically, you mix all the dry ingredients together, make a well, pour the wet ingredients in, mix with a wooden spoon, and then plop into a buttered oven-safe skillet for an hour at 375. Before putting the skillet in the oven, cut a cross on the top and baste with some additional melted butter. We did not have caraway seeds on hand and I couldn’t say with certainty that I’ve ever even tasted them before, so I am not sure what flavor element was missing. But the slight sweetness of the raisins and the buttery lightness of the bread were simply wonderful. While I can’t taste the baking soda and powder, you can definitely smell it on the bread and see its work in the airiness of the bread’s interior. And, of course, you can see its effect on an upset stomach if you have a silly 7-Eleven-eating-husband lying around.

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The bread settled his stomach and brought back his appetite. Which is a good thing because I had also made sauteed cabbage and pork chops for dinner. The pork chops are just seared quickly, then baked alongside the soda bread for 30 minutes (don’t forget to let them rest under some tin foil before cutting). The cabbage is one medium head, core cut out, and sliced thinly as for slaw. Cook in some butter (or bacon fat if you have some) and season to taste. I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder – it was freaking delicious! One of my new favorite ways to eat cabbage now.

So there you have it, a week-night Irish meal that isn’t shepherd’s pie or beef stew.

For the soda bread, see the recipe snapped from the book below. For more Fairfax Foodie adventures, follow us on instagram @fairfaxfoodie

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Crockpot BBQ Pork Chops

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In the weeks leading up to our wedding, I found myself gravitating toward articles dealing with advice for having a long-lasting marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in the arbitrary marker of time-spent as the only indicator of “success.” Just because two people have been married for decades does not necessarily mean they had a successful marriage. But the thought of getting it right the first time and in finding out at the end of that long road that Mr. Foodie and I “got lucky” holds a massive appeal for me. And like the academic, type-A person I am, I figured I should “study” for it lol

One piece of controversial advice that stood out was how to deal with household chores. Let’s start with the assumption that you don’t have a strict gender-based division of household duties. Where do you go from there? Some suggest that you divide up all tasks equally to avoid unequal distribution of chores — the idea being that both partners contribute equally to the household for a more balanced relationship. While the regimental nature of this proposal appeals to my personality, I can also see where it might fall short of its potential for marital harmony. This is why I was pleased to find a counter-suggestion which is that both partners should do all the chores. While this might seem strange to implement in reality, I realized that Mr. Foodie and I have been doing this all along. We both wash dishes. We both fold laundry (but I do bathroom towels better ;)). We both cook. We both change light bulbs and take out the trash. Essentially, we do the things that need doing and *usually* within a practical time frame. Now that I’m mulling it over, it makes no sense that I should have to stand around stamping my feet, waiting for John to change a light bulb when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself. Similarly, he should not have to wait on me to cook when he’s hungry. A lot of tasks we do together. He takes the trash out, but I replace the liner. I load the dishwasher, and he empties it. And, as you know, dear readers, we love cooking together :).

The real reason I like this piece of advice is it prevents a lot of built-up resentment. I could picture myself passive-aggressively staring at a pile of unfolded laundry waiting to be folded because it isn’t “my” chore to do, but I still want it done. I think whatever your system is, if it is coming from a place of profound consideration for your partner and the home you share, then you’re doing the right thing. Mr. Foodie doesn’t pack my lunch every morning because I can’t do it myself or because I expect him to do it, but because he loves me and wants to make sure I don’t run out of the house without things I need to make my day go smoothly. Being considerate is just plain nice as well as, I suspect, a key ingredient to a long-lasting marriage. Check back with me in 50 years and I’ll let you know ;).

Last night’s dinner was definitely a team-effort. As part of my attempt to meal plan, stay on budget, create healthy dinners, use what we have, use our awesome kitchen wedding gifts, and come up with at least one new recipe a week (don’t worry, Mr. Foodie helps me with all that, too), I found several recipes for Crockpot BBQ pork chops. Chops are not necessarily the best cut of pork for traditional bbq recipes for obvious reasons, but it is what we had in the freezer. Luckily, we were gifted this beautiful new crockpot as a wedding gift from a family friend. Our old crockpot was one of those 60s slime-green ones with a knob pointing to “high” or “low.” Needless to say it wasn’t a great tool for what we all want in a crockpot – the ability to have it turn on and off at specific times. This one even has a locking lid and the option to have a paddle “turn” the contents of the crockpot at regular intervals (for stews and soups). We feel so SPOILED 🙂

Mr. Foodie has been making BBQ sauces his whole life, so I left that part to him. If you want to make it easier, just find a bottle sauce and pour the whole thing over this dish. My addition to the recipe was the sweet potato medallions. I was a little afraid that they would make the dish too sweet, but I shouldn’t have worried – it came out fantastic! Mr. Foodie’s sauce worked so well with the SPs and the pork. As you know, bbq sauces can have vastly different flavor profiles. Mr. Foodie’s was high on the vinegar with a slight kick from the addition of hot sauce – a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the potatoes and the ketchup/brown sugar mixture. The chops shredded easily with a fork, and the onions were cooked into the sauce just perfectly. You can serve it with corn bread or texas toast, but we ate it plain like a stew. We both had seconds – it was so good!

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You can see the sweet potatoes crumbled in the dish because Mr. Foodie cut them thinly. It might be possible to cut larger pieces so they would retain their shape. I loved it this way!

As a special treat, Mr. Foodie made our now-famous Key Lime Pie, but instead of one big pie, he made mini-pies! The filling is the same amount, but you can buy these little mini shells in the baking aisle.

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Crockpot BBQ Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes

4 Pork Chops (if bone-in, cook for longer)

1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce of Choice (or see generic bbq recipe here – feel free to add stuff to make it yours!)

1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced into rings or half-moons

2 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled, diced or sliced into medallions

Layer the sweet potato slices on the bottom of the crockpot. Cover these with the sliced onion rings. Over these, place the four pork chops. Over all, pour the bottle (or homemade mixture) of BBQ sauce. Cook High for 3 hours or Low for 6 hours (we did low for 6 – this might have an effect on the texture of the chop – ours was perfect!).

Check out more of our foodie adventures on Insa @fairfaxfoodie

 

Spirilized Zucchini and Mr. Foodie’s Famous RRP Turkey Burgers

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As I wrote about in the post-honeymoon post earlier this week, Mr. Foodie and I received a ton of awesome wedding gifts, many of them kitchen items of course. And we are determined to utilize each and every one in the coming weeks so we can familiarize ourselves with new recipes and express our sincere gratitude to our wonderful family and friends for supporting our cooking/baking habit!

This week we whipped out the spiralizer Kitchenaid attachment sent to us by my Aunt Katie. We are on our way to acquiring nearly all the attachments made for the Kitchenaid mixer, but I feel like this is going to be one of our most frequently used attachments from now on. I admit that I didn’t immediately see the benefit of spiralizing veggies apart from the simple novelty of eating them in a different form, but after tasting the spiralized zucchini, I became a convert!

Others have explained it better than I could, but there was something immensely satisfying about slurping these lightly cooked and lightly seasoned “noodles” of zucchini. My mind is already spinning with ideas for our next spiralizing adventure.

Of all my attachments, this one looked the most intimidating at first. It consists of entire box of parts and pieces, but it only took us a few minutes to read over the directions and find the right blade to make medium sized noodles. We happened to have VERY long zucchini, so I had to cut them in half in order to fit them into the attachment, but it still took just a few seconds to spiralize the whole zucchini. Afterward, you only have two pieces (the blade and the stake that holds it on) to clean, so that is a major plus in my book.

It was a week night, so I went super simple, deciding to simply saute the zucchini noodles with some light seasoning – salt, pepper, and garlic powder. It occurred to me that I could make a version of our favorite way to eat zucchini with onions, but I wanted to see how these noodles tasted on their own. Other recipes I saw said you could eat them raw with a sauce like pesto, so that is an option for another day.

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This cooked version had a consistency remarkably similar to pasta. I dropped a coin of olive oil in the pan and divided the zucchini into two batches to avoid steaming it. I sprinkled each half with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Each half only took 3-4 minutes, tossing with tongs to ensure even cooking. I sprinkled the final product with a pinch of Parmesan cheese to add a salty, creamy lick to the top.

Mr. Foodie and I literally woolfed them down. We at every last noodle before we even touched our burgers. I could easily imagine eating an entire bowl of these all by themselves. Even Mr. Foodie, who doesn’t generally care for anything in the squash family, ate these noodles with gusto.

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I also wanted to report that we used our brand new cast-iron skillet for Mr. Foodie’s Famous Roasted Red Pepper Turkey Burgers. I have wanted a skillet for years, but found myself a little intimidated by the care of it. Luckily Mr. Foodie’s brother presented us with this skillet and some good advice for using/maintaining it. The burgers were as lovely as I remembered them and a great compliment to the star of this show – the zucchini noodles!!

Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

1 long Zucchini (ends cut, not peeled)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Pinch of Garlic Powder (or fresh minced garlic)

Pinch of Parmesan cheese

Spiralize the zucchini, keeping the skin on. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Divide zucchini to avoid steaming and cook each half 3-4 minutes until browning occurs. Season each half while it cooks. Sprinkle pinch of Parmesan cheese over the finished batch. You may want to cut some of the noodles as they can come out quite long.

You can find the recipe for Mr. Foodie’s burgers here:  https://flkeysfoodie.com/2016/08/23/poolside-eats-roasted-red-pepper-burgers-and-grilled-corn/

For more Foodie adventures, check out our instagram – we moved to a new handle to reflect our new living situation: @fairfaxfoodie