There’s a Man in My Kitchen

It’s interesting, isn’t it, to have people working in your home? Not like people installing a beautiful new brick and wood floor in your living area (sorry, my mind wanders) or the appliance repair guy, but people who actually live in your home, but normally don’t work there. People who, on a more typical day would not have set up a workstation at your kitchen table with all the requisite computers and blueprints and surveys the size of large tablecloths, miscellaneous papers and 10 pairs of reading glasses. People who are typically on their speaker phones in nice large office buildings with other people in the same types of places doing the same kind of things.

But now those people are in my kitchen.

As blessed as I feel and happy as I am that this ‘people’ has a job and is able to keep working through all of this in a safe, frequently Lysol-ed environment, the whole situation does present some unique challenges. And while I certainly don’t have the overwhelming task of crisis-schooling multiple children or the stressful worry of potential job loss, I did realize today that flexibility is key for everyone in these unusual times.

I quickly became aware of how noisy some of my daily tasks are. Washing dishes, doing the laundry, or running the vacuum cleaner all seemed to sound much like a freight train might if it rolled through the the living area and exited through the side door by the garage.

So. When I had a chance this afternoon to bake a little something sweet (but not too terribly sweet), I decided it needed to be something quiet. Something that did not require the banging of too many pans or heaven forbid, running the Kitchenaid. Something that would satisfy our “self-isolating sweet tooth” and yet not be over the top sweet.

These Cinnamon Chip Scones were just the thing to quietly stir together while business went on as usual here at Thomas Land Surveying and Pastry.

You’ve likely had something similar at Starbucks, but I promise these are ever so much better- especially while hot from the oven! You should try them in your own kitchen office.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

(Original recipe from Hershey’s)

Ingredients:

3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

1 T. plus one 1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cup (10 oz. pkg.) Cinnamon Chips

½ chopped, toasted walnuts (I substituted pecans)

2 cup (1 pt.) chilled whipping cream

2 T. melted butter

Additional sugar for sprinkling on top before baking (I used coarse Demarara sugar)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. Stir together flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cinnamon chips and nuts and stir well.
  3. Stir whipping cream into flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until soft dough forms. (just about 1-2 minutes) Divide dough into 3 balls. One ball at a time, flatten dough into circle (about 7 in.) and cut into equal triangles (about 6). Transfer triangles onto a baking sheet and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

Empanadas

On the left, 2 Apple Empanadas, and on the right JT’s Pumpkin Empanadas

Who’s been in the mood to bake?

Call it boredom. Call it stress relief. Call it pleasure.

It seems as if many of us are using our extra time at home to do some of the things that our typically busy lifestyles don’t allow. Baking is just one. I also hear that binge watching all “the things” is a big pastime right now. I’m not much of a TV watcher (or any other channel/mode), so I’ve been doing some yard work and spending lots of time in the kitchen-much to the chagrin of my jeans.

My guy JT absolutely loves empanadas. Primarily pumpkin, but others will do in a pinch. While I’m not a pumpkin fan, I can certainly get behind most anything else wrapped up in a warm, tender and flaky homemade crust! I typically pick up his pumpkin empanadas from our HEB, but alas, with all of the weirdness going on right now, HEB has to concentrate on a few other things than their regular bakery offerings. I applaud you HEB!

So.

Being industrious, I decided to make a homemade version of Pumpkin Empanadas for JT, and offer up some alternative fillings for those of us who prefer to limit our pumpkin eating to the month of November. So make sure you check all the alternative fillings at the end of the recipe (Both savory and sweet)

These turned out great if not particularly attractive (I know we eat first with our eyes?). But if you can get past the less than pretty exterior, you’ll find something awesome inside.

Let’s be serious- how many of you out there right now look less than your Sunday Best and more like your “why bother, I’m not going anywhere anyway Wednesday Worst” and yet we’re all lovely and delightful people inside?

Think about that- inside counts, outside questionable.

So, two things-

  1. Are you a pumpkin fan?
  2. Make these today!

Empanadas

Lu at Hobnob Kitchen

Empanada Dough

2 cups all purpose flour

½ t. salt (kosher)

About 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

2/3 c. shortening

1/3 c. ice cold water

Pumpkin Filling

0ne 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

½ c. sugar

½ t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. ground ginger

½ t.salt (kosher)

To Make the Dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the shortening (I add mine in several globs instead of all together) and pulse until it looks like little peas. Then slowly pour in the cold water while continuing to pulse- just until the dough comes together. Don’t overmix or the dough will be tough.

Divided the dough into 4 balls and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

To Make the Filling: In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir well to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one of the dough portions from the fridge. Divide it in half. Roll each half into a ball on a slightly floured surface, and then roll the dough into a circle about 5 inches wide. (Don’t panic if it doesn’t look anything like a circle at this point!). Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin filling into the center of each circle. You must not put too much filling or you’ll have a mess on your hands.

Fold over. Now you can clean up the edges by trimming with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Press the edges to seal them with your finger, or use a fork to crimp the edges. Repeat with other dough portions or save them for later.

Place the empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Optional: Beat one egg until frothy and brush the egg onto the tops of the empanadas. Sprinkle with sugar!

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Alternate Fillings:

Any Canned Pie Filling you like!

A cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture.

Lemon curd from a jar!

Or

Make a savory empanada with browned ground beef with potato, cheese and spices, or chicken and green chilis- the options are wide open.

Comfort Food

Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

How many of you could use a little comfort right about now?

I understand that we’re all supposed to be watching our weight, unclogging our arteries and thinking keto-thoughts, but by golly sometimes regular old comfort food is in order and it comes happily to you today in the form of Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.

While biscuits and gravy traditionally spell morning and breakfast, they were a welcome and satisfying Sunday night dinner for us. After a full three days at the farm which included cow feeding, fence clearing, mesquite cutting, porch sitting, and huge Copperhead killing (holy moly, so close to JT!), these rich buttermilk biscuits and creamy gravy were the perfect ending to a rainy and socially distant weekend!

With all of the extra “home” time that many of us have right now, it’s a great opportunity to make some biscuits from scratch (why not?) and perfect our gravy-making technique. I mean if you’re from the south you’ve got to know how to make gravy- it’s just a thing! But on the off chance you’re not exactly a gravy afficionado, I promise it’s a breeze to stir up and delicious to boot!

Let’s start with the gravy – it’s so simple really. Here’s my own recipe:

SAUSAGE GRAVY

Ingredients (to serve 4-6)

1 lb. pork breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)

about 1/2 cup flour

about 4 cups milk

Salt, coarsely ground pepper, and Seasoning salt to taste

Directions

  1. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-low heat, breaking it into small pieces as you stir.
  2. When the sausage is brown, but not crispy!, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the flour directly onto the sausage in the skillet and continue to stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to stir. It will thicken almost immediately. Cook while stirring about 5- 8 minutes more. (Note: If necessary add a bit more milk or a little additional flour to achieve your desired consistency.)
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt to taste. (Really that’s the best way!)

Serve over hot, homemade biscuits!

For the biscuits, I use Joanna Gaines biscuit recipe from the Magnolia Table Cookbook. She mixes things up by adding eggs- and a perfect addition they are!

And just to note – I usually half this recipe and get about 12 biscuits- they freeze well.

JOJO’S BISCUITS

PREP: 20 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling COOK: 15 to 20 minutes COOL: 5 minutes

Makes about 20 biscuits

  • 4 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) salted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch pieces or grated
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 large egg for brushing
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, or as needed, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
  • Jam or gravy, for serving

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the butter and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are even and about the size of peas.

2. Stir in the beaten eggs with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in 1½ cups buttermilk until the dough comes together into a sticky mass. If it is too dry, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until it reaches the correct consistency. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Use your floured hands to press it into a round roughly 14 inches across and about ½ inch thick.

5. Use a floured 2¾- inch round cutter to cut out about 20 biscuits. If necessary, collect and pat out the scraps to cut more biscuits.

6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, arranging them so that they all are touching.

7. In a small dish, beat together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Brush the mixture on the top of the biscuits.

8. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan on a rack.

9. Biscuits are best the day they are made (and ideally fresh out of the oven!). Serve with strawberry jam or gravy, if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

NOTE: For longer storage, arrange the biscuits about ½ inch apart on two parchment-paper-lined baking sheets and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. There is no need to thaw them before baking.

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. Copyright © 2018 by Joanna Gaines.

Enjoy!!

Lu

A One Pot Cajun Blessing

Has this whole isolation thing already worn you out? Are you tired of coming up with something new to cook for dinner each day? While this isn’t really a problem for someone like me who loves to cook, some of my friends tell me they’ve pretty much exhausted the limits of their cooking skills.

And their patience.

I’ll tell you what wears me out. Cleaning up. The counters, the dishes, the floor (although Hootie is a splendid help here) , the everything. The sole reason I would love my own cooking show? Someone else does the dishes. They wash the 12 pots and pans and various sizes of mixing bowls and platters and spatulas and knives and YOU NAME IT -I SEEM TO USE IT ALL.

And I’m not even sure how it all happens.

Anyway, for me, a one-pot meal is a wonderful, healing and transfomative thing. This Jambalaya is just that! I made an extra huge batch this morning for some of JT’s survey guys who are working here in town. I had plenty to feed them with lots left for our supper- and all in one pan! (Albeit it’s a big pan!)

Jambalaya is one of those things that lends itself well to additions and substitutions and sometimes even my own forgetfulness! You can dress it up or down, turn up the heat or make it mild. Substitute proteins (sausage, chicken, shrimp, crawfish) and generally tailor it to the tastes of your family. You can even forget several of the ingredients and still end up with a wonderful dish.

Not that I have ever done that.

In the picture below you can see a couple of things I used instead of what’s actually listed in the ingredients- a girl has to improvise sometimes!

The important thing is, it’s tasty and it doesn’t keep you in the kitchen for hours AFTER dinner.

You can read all the substitutions/deletions/ changes I made in italics in the ingredient list- we’re all working with limited pantry and fridge supplies right now. And because I was pressed for time, I browned the sausage, the chicken, the peppers, onion, and garlic (with the Better than Bouillon) all at the same time!

No one said you can’t just be your own person.

Hope you enjoy this one is much as I do!!

One Pot Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, (adjust to suit your tastes/heat preference – I just used about 1 1/2 T
  • 10 ounces andouille sausage, sliced into rounds ( I had no andouille today – I used the sausage in photo)
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 stalks/ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Flavor (I use low sodium)
  • 14 ounces can crushed tomatoes (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I put in the food processor for a few spins!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and dried oregano (I completely forgot these today!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes ( I used some of the chili/onion mix in photo- get it at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Left this out today)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup thinly sliced okra (no okra today!)
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice (short grain or long grain)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Sliced green onions and chopped parsley, to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with half of the Cajun seasoning. 
  • Brown sausage in the hot oil; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to the pot and sauté chicken until lightly browned. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside.
  • Sauté the onion, bell pepper and celery until onion is soft and transparent.  Add the garlic and Better than Bouillon and cook until fragrant (30 seconds).
  • Stir in the tomatoes; season with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes (or Cayenne powder), hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and the remaining Cajun seasoning. Stir in the okra slices (or file powder), chicken and sausage. Cook for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
  • Add in the rice and chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low-medium. Cover and let simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.
  • Season with a little extra salt and pepper if needed and remove from heat. Adjust heat with extra hot sauce, Cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning. Serve immediately with sliced green onions and parsley. 

Cookie Cure

Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but it seems that things have been a little off- kilter lately.

Or maybe it’s just me?

A lot has changed in the last couple of weeks:

Running into the store for a few things? Not as easy or casual as it used to be.

Getting up and going to work with my awesome Aggie student athletes? Most of them are at home and taking all their classes on-line. I’m not even sure what to do with myself.

As much as I miss seeing my students, going to lunch with friends, and meeting with my Bible Study group though, I’m grateful for my time at home. I’m cleaning, organizing and cooking. So as much as I want to respect everyone’s time and the awkwardness of our current lifestyle situation, I decided that sharing a recipe here and there just might be what we all need!

These cookies are the order of the day over here- and they’re just about the best ever. You’ve heard of them, I’m sure- Neiman Marcus Cookies (or the $250 cookie). There are multiple recipes out there for these, but this is my tried and true favorite.

I took the liberty of adding a teaspoon of Instant Espresso powder to this recipe (I may not be a coffee drinker, but I am also not ignorant to the insane flavor boost coffee can give baked goods!) And if I do say so myself, that makes me practically a genius!!

I hope you’ll try these this week!

Love to you all!

THE $250 NEIMAN MARCUS COOKIE

INGREDIENTS:

  •  2½cups rolled oats
  •  2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  •  1 cup butter(at room temperature)
  •  1cup granulated sugar
  •  1cup light brown sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (this time I used some chocolate chips and some chunks)
  •  4 ounces milk chocolate(grated or finely chopped)
  •  1½ cups chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. (I use Silpat)
  2. Blend the oats in a food processor or blender to a fine powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the blended oats with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips, grated chocolate and walnuts.
  4. Roll the dough into 2-ounce balls (or about 2 heaping tablespoonfuls worth) and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time until the edges are set but the center still looks undone, about 10 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets.

Sorry Barry, Your Invitation’s Not in the Mail

When was the last time you were invited to a dinner party? Not a birthday party or Sunday School Party or graduation party or any other kind of party with an obvious celebratory excuse.

I mean a real, authentic dinner party ,or even a cocktail party (remember those), a party that someone hosts purely for the purpose of inviting friends into their home for fun, food and entertainment. A party with some forethought. A party with genuine-sent-through-the U.S.-mail paper product invitations! A party that you actually RSVP to?

When JT and I were house hunting we knew within 3 minutes of stepping through the door of this home that it was meant for us. Despite the fact that the previous homeowners taste in decor was totally not ours. Despite the roller blade scratches in the polished concrete floors. Despite the fact that one of their dogs actually threw up on the kitchen floor while we were touring the home. (that’s a realtor’s dream right there). No, none of those things deterred us since decor can be changed and floors can be polished (and also wiped up and sprayed with Lysol, thank goodness). We loved the neighborhood, the large lot, the style and layout of the house with it’s great kitchen and tons of custom woodwork, but mostly, we loved the large covered back porch.

We just imagined the great parties we could have on that porch. Parties where friends and family would share food and laughter and beautiful weather. JT would hang long strands of party lights and I would fill the porch with gorgeous plants to make it an inviting place for our guests.

And we did.

But just last fall we decided to become much more intentional about our entertaining. We would have a theme. We’d send invitations in the mail. We’d have beautiful table settings and wonderful food. We would invite an interesting mix of friends.

And we did!

Our first Party on the Porch, last November, was planned specifically to welcome in the glorious coolness of fall. Of course someone forgot to mention this to Texas Weather who decided to try and incinerate us with one last blast of summer heat and humidity precisely on the evening of our party (thanks Texas Weather, you can be a buzzkill sometimes.)

And even though we actually frightened a few friends when we sent real invitations in the mail- “Is someone sick? Are you going to try to get us to buy into a time-share? What’s the catch?” they said.

And even though the dingity dang Texas Weather did its best to kill us all, we enjoyed the party so much that we decided to do similar ones at least two or three times a year.

Our next one is planned for April and I can’t tell you how much we’ve enjoyed discussing a menu (well, mostly it’s me who’s enjoyed this) deciding on a guest list, compiling a music playlist (will somone please break it to JT that Barry White is not necessary at every party) and just generally dreaming up a theme.

I’m researching appetizers and interesting drinks and desserts- and enjoying every minute.

Anyway it all makes me curious.

Do you entertain? I mean in the non-birthday/holiday party way? Have you received a dinner party invitation in the mail in the last few years? Do people still do this? Have dinner parties and invitations and table settings and place cards and the like almost completely disappeared because we all seem to stay so connected via social media? Has it all become a thing of the past?

I’d love your thoughts – just please, let’s leave Barry White out of it.

Happy Entertaining!

Lu

A Favorite Snack ( Keto friendly)!

Here I am again giving away one of my secrets. My very favorite “homemade snack”. You’ll be excited/intrigued/aghast/all the other words(slash) at just how simple these great Parmesan Crisps are to make!

Just one ingredient! Well, maybe two if you wanna get fancy with it.

I’m a notorious lover of crunchy things. Instead of thinking about food in terms of the usual categories like vegetables, or fruit, carbs or proteins, I think about textures: Crunchy things, soft things, smooth things, etc…

You get the picture (maybe you don’t, but let’s just assume.)

If I have a snack craving I guarantee it will be for something crunchy and a little salty (remember my crispy bacon obsession?), and these crisps are perfect. Bonus! For all of you out there who are doing the Keto thing- these should be right up your alley.

Here’s what you can use:

Parmesan Crisps!

  1. Choose either standard old grated Parmesan cheese from the familiar green plastic container, or very finely shredded bagged Parmesan. I typically like to use the dry grated because it gives a crispier texture, and I always seem to have it on hand. If you use shredded, because of the higher moisture content, you’ll need to reduce the heat a bit and cook a little slower.
  2. Heat a non-stick (super important!!) skillet on medium-low heat.
  3. Spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the cheese into the heated skillet (just make a little pile and then spread it out slightly with the back of your spoon-I can usually fit 3 or maybe 4 at a time in the skillet).
  4. Here’s your chance to get fancy: As soon as you spread it, you can add a flavor/seasoning- I like Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning- just sprinkle some on. As an alternative try adding coarsely ground black pepper, a little chili powder, or even some slices of jarred jalapenos (patted dry). But if you prefer- just stick with cheese!
  5. Let it brown on one side then carefully flip with a spatula to brown the other side. (Takes about 1 minute per side!) They will crisp up as they cool.
  6. Enjoy! These are so good with salads and soups or just all on their own.

Happy Wednesday!

At Least Three of You Have Asked

By the way, I hadn’t even tasted the margarita when I took this photo- but it does look a little wonky!

Have you ever read a blog post that starts with “so many of you have asked that I finally decided to share…”?

Well, this is not one of those.

I have, however, had at least three people ask for my frozen margarita recipe! And since I can’t say that a boatload of you have asked about my haircare routine, or my weight loss tips (I die), or my mechanical skills, the margarita recipe wins by default!

First of all, please know, I’m not much of a partaker. I’ve been known to fall asleep after less than half a glass of wine, (I believe the technical term is “lightweight”), but I do enjoy myself a good frozen margarita every now and again.

The base of my recipe is a 12 oz. can of frozen limeade concentrate, so all you purists out there should probably look away at this point. The other key is quality ingredients. I always use Silver Patron tequila and Cointreau (no substitutes).

The key to the best consistency? My tried and true Vitamix blender which gives the smoothest, dreamiest results.

Here’s what’cha do-

Hobnob Kitchen Frozen Margaritas

(Serves around 8)

Ingredients

1 12 oz. can frozen limeade (I use Minute Maid brand)

1 cup Silver Patron

1/4 c. Cointreau

juice of one orange

juice of 2 limes

1 cup cold water (sometimes I substitute same amount sparkling lime water)

about 4 cups of crushed ice (if you use Sonic ice you will thank me!)

Directions

Place everything in a great blender and blend, beginning on low and slowly increasing in speed until ice is all finely crushed and the consistency of a slush. You can add more ice or a teensy bit more water if needed to acheive the best results.

Garnish with lime slice.

Enjoy!!

Friday Lunch (also Iceberg for President)

A glorious change in the weather (adios drizzly rain, you’re such a downer…) drew JT and me outside for an al fresco lunch today. We enjoyed this really quick to prepare salmon salad and then for dessert a couple of fried apple hand-pies- because when you eat a salad it’s only right to immediately back it up with something sweet and indulgent.

Welcome to my advanced school of logic.

I try to keep salmon in the freezer for days just like this, it thaws quickly, needs only a bit of seasoning rubbed on (I love the Table Mountain Seasoning from Savory Spice), and then a quick cook on both sides in a cast iron skillet (use butter please). After about 3 minutes per side I like to place the skillet in a 350 degree oven for about 3 more minutes to cook it through because this girlfriend is not a fan of raw fish.

Not apologizing.

This time I also threw a few cherry tomatoes in the skillet and served it all unashamedly over iceberg lettuce.

Can anyone tell me why and when iceberg became the un-cool, low-class lettuce? Personally I love its crisp texture and the way it holds up to heavier dressings, so my vision is to make it hip again.

Serve the salmon with a dressing made of mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and parsley. Or if you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own sauce, just use Ranch because let’s face it, Ranch is pretty good on anything.

We’re excited to be attending a fun and fabulous Mardi Gras themed dinner extravaganza at a local restaurant tonight, and because the meal will be anything but light, this lunch was the perfect way to tide us over!

Hope all of you are experiencing the same glorious weather, and have plans to enjoy your favorite people and food this weekend!!

Lu

p.s. I hope I can count on your support for Iceberg. Thank you.

Morning Confessional (and a to-die-for breakfast)

So.

I gazed out the window of the iconic Plaza Cafe in Santa Fe, NM, luxuriating in the crunchy brioche french toast dripping with syrup and the three perfectly cooked strips of the world’s best bacon, and revelled in the fact that I was not the one who got up early to cook it.

Let’s say I had a revelation of sorts.

While I absolutely LOVE breakfast, I don’t particularly like to cook it. There. I said it.

And here’s the problem: BREAKFAST HAPPENS IN THE MORNING, DANG IT.

Do I love to cook? Yes. Do I absolutely adore the plethora of sweet and savory breakfast choices? I do. I love egg-y things and bread-y things, sausage-y things and fruit things.

I will fight you for crispy bacon.

But honestly, morning is not my time. As much as I wish I was, I’m just not Perky Polly before around 9, and might even more accurately be described as Grumpy Gus. I try, really I do. JT is the early riser of all early risers and to top it off- he’s super happy in the morning. Seriously, the man is crazy happy in the morning.

I just can’t.

So, if you’re ever here and I tell you I’d love to get up early and cook you breakfast- take it from me and be a little suspicious… because, well, I probably really don’t want to do that at all. Not one little bit.

Do I want to cook you breakfast? Absolutely! Do I want to serve it to you in the early morning? Not a chance.

But after about 10am? I’ll be your Breakfast Betty.

I’ll make you homemade cinnamon rolls, biscuits with the best sausage gravy, omelets and frittatas galore. I will squeeze you fresh orange juice, turn it into a Mimosa and sprinkle your french toast with the lightest dusting of powdered sugar.

I’ll serve you candied bacon until you swoon.

And I’ll do all that with a smile on my face. As long as it’s not too early…

Here’s one of the best breakfast bread-y things around- a classic New York Crumb Cake (not to be confused with a Coffee Cake which traditionally has a swirled cinnamon batter, a glaze of some sort and less crumbly topping/cake ratio).

This is buttery and rich with a thick covering of the most wonderfully huge chunks of crumb topping.

The really great news is that you can make this in the afternoon and slightly re-heat it the next morning, eliminating the need to actually get up at all. 🙂

New York Style Crumb Cake

Ingredients

For the Crumb Topping:

1 cup packed golden brown sugar

½ cup white granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour

For the Cake base:

2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups white granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1.   Preheat oven to 350°F and with the oven rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9”x13” baking dish

2.  Make the topping. Combine sugars, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter and whisk until combined, crushing any large lumps. Stir in flour until mixture is uniform.

3.  Make the cake:   Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.   In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add sugar, and continue beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until just combined. Stir in the flour in thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl before each addition, until incorporated. Batter will be thick.

Pour the batter into buttered pan, level with a spatula. Scoop a handful of the topping mix, make a fist, and crumble the topping over the batter. Repeat until all the topping is used.           

Bake for 45-55 minutes in the oven, rotating the pan twice. The cake is baked when a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

HaHa- who am I kidding? You won’t be able to wait 30 minutes or even 10! Enjoy!