Friday, October 12, 2012

It's about that time everybody!

Hey everyone....I know you think I am such a horrible The last time I posted an article was June but please believe me when I say I have been busier these last few months than I ever thought I could be.  A conversation with an old class mate from high school is what prompted me to begin writing this blog tonight.  I was just talking to Marina Gutierrez on Facebook the other night about making soup when it reminded me of the recent season change.  I often forget that to be the case living down south on the east coast in the Charleston SC metro area. The weather is far warmer longer than most places so it is easy for me to experience brief memory lapses in regards to the changing of seasons.  The South seems to breathe a collective sigh of relief when fall rolls around. There’s a welcomed reprieve from steamy summer days. The onset of football season. And the delicious aromas of hearty, cool-weather food pouring out of the oven.  

Fall is here. When fall begins, we take out our warm clothes and begin to crave heartier foods that are comforting and warm. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and it's the perfect time for some delicious fall recipes. There's nothing like a little comfort food to warm the body and soul-- taking the bite out of the forthcoming cold weather.   This time of year ideas are endless in regards to fall or harvest time recipes. There is no better eating season than the fall or autumn as it is also customarily referred to.  Autumn means pumpkins and squash, hearty stews, pot roasts, apples, tailgating and holiday cooking.  

The idea of making a big pot of soup was welcomed with the dip in temperature we have experienced the last few nights this week. I decided on making Cheese-steak Soup. This recipe was initiated by one I found by Aaron McCargo Jr.'s Big Daddy's House on Food Network. It was absolutely delicious and I will share that recipe with you guys today. I tweaked it of course...any real cook knows that you feel the recipe out as you go along. It is never exactly the way the recipe card I always add a pinch of this or a dab of that to make the recipe my own and have often completely revamped or recreated the recipe to make it more suitable to my family's  taste.  

I hope that you guys are all well and know that you are always in my thoughts no matter how busy I may appear.   My schedule remains packed and over flowing but know with certainty that regardless of what is going on in my life, there is and will be a pot on the stove in my house preparing a meal for my family. I cook from my heart and the love is in every heaping spoon full.  I cook because it keeps me connected to my roots and my history so to speak. It reminds me of my elders and ancestors whom so many have gone on before me. Cooking for me is equivalent to nourishment, growth, joy and family. It is also very cathartic because it brings about a calm that I have not been able to recreate in many attempts at other things.  Many of the best memories in my life have been centered around cooking or the kitchen therefore it is one of my favorite things to do and places to be.

I plan to get back into the swing of things with my blog writing because many people have told me how informative and helpful this blog has been for them. I hope that you all enjoy this Cheese-steak soup recipe. It is not very difficult and can be adjusted as you see fit. Please contact me with any suggestions of ideas for specific recipes. As always in parting I wish you delicious come on guys...Let's Eat!  


4 lbs     New York Steak Thin Sliced

2          Large Onions Sliced
2          Large Green Bell Peppers
½ cup    Butter
4 cups    Heavy Whipping Cream
2½ cups Water
2 cups    Monterrey Jack Cheese
4 cups    Swiss Cheese
2 Tbsp    Steak Seasoning
1 Tbsp    Seasoning Salt
2 Tbsp    Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp    Corn Starch


In a large sauce pan on medium high heat, melt butter, add steak, onions, bell peppers, and seasonings, sauté until meat is browned and onions and peppers are tender.

Add 2 cups water, reserving 1/2 cup for later.

Simmer for 20 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low, and add heavy cream. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Add Monterrey Jack cheese and 3 cups Swiss cheese, reserving 1 cup for topping.

Simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup water with cornstarch, stir into soup for thickening.

Top with Swiss cheese when served.


For thicker soup add more corn starch if you don't have corn starch, flour will work. This soup is great served in bread bowls.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feeling a little spicy!

I am sure you all have thought I ran I have been very busy with my catering business as well as being a mom and wife and all that those roles entail. I will try to do better to get back to you guys more regularly. I have been trying to keep most of my menus cool and light with the summer break finally here but with my family it can't always be that way. I am in the mood for something spicy and savory so these two recipes fit that bill quite nicely. I hope  you guys give them a try. Please let me know if there are any recipes or ideas for recipes you would like to see and I will gladly oblige. I hope all is well with everyone and you know that you are never far from my thoughts. As I always say in parting, Let's Eat!

Spicy Shrimp with Green Onions

16 ounces shrimp, shelled & deveined
white pepper (to taste)
cayenne pepper (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
2 ounces canola or peanut oil
1 teaspoon flour
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Season shrimp with salt and all three peppers. Sprinkle flour over shrimp.

Heat wok, add oil, heat again over high heat till very hot. Add shrimp and quickly stir-fry 2 or 3 minutes or till shrimp turn pink and are done. 

Stir in oyster sauce and chili paste mixture and cook about 1 minute more. Add green onions and serve immediately.

Garlic Noodles:

3 teaspoons minced garlic
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound fresh Chinese noodle or vermicelli
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Japanese cucumber or English cucumber
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
***Cantonese Stir Fry Sauce***
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken base powder (no MSG)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons shaohsing wine or sherry
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Cook pasta. Rinse and cool down. Set aside. Toss in red chile flakes and cilantro.

Wash cucumber. Slice diagonally into 1/4" thick slices. Slice into strips. Set aside.

Heat wok thoroughly, add oil, then minced garlic. Stir fry briefly. Do not burn garlic or it will take on an acrid smell and taste. (If this happens, throw it out and start over.)

Add sugar and vinegar.

Add noodle to wok, stirring and tossing to mix until noodle is heated through.

Place on plates and surround with cucumber strips.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shredded Chicken Tacos Anyone......

I have always wanted to make shredded chicken tacos.  I finally decided to make them.  I was a little uncertain on how to make them, but after a little trial and error, I came up with a surefire method.  I boiled the chicken in the spices, shredded the chicken, returned it to the sauce and reduced.  Overall, the chicken was some of the best I have ever eaten.  I am not sure if my method is the proper way to make shredded chicken taco meat, but it was simple and delicious.

Shredded Chicken Tacos:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 tbs taco seasoning, see recipe below
4 cups water, plus 4 tbs for thickening
1 tbs corn starch
12 flour tortillas or taco shells
lettuce, shredded
tomato, diced
sour cream
guacamole (optional)

Taco Seasoning:
3 tbs paprika
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs garlic powder
3 tsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper ground, optional

 Cooking the Chicken

Place the chicken in a deep skillet or Dutch oven.  Cover with the 4 cups of water and add 4 tbs of taco seasoning.   Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Check the chicken to make sure it is fully cooked and tender.  Remove the chicken from the liquid and place on a plate to cool.  While the chicken is cooling, bring the liquid back up to a boil and let it reduce.  Don’t worry if you have a lot of liquid left.  It will reduce.  When the chicken is touchable, shred it with two forks, your fingers, or whatever utensils you have lying around.  Place the chicken back into the liquid.  In a small bowl or cup, add the 4 tbs water, 2 tbs of seasoning and 1 tbs of cornstarch.  Mix thoroughly and then add to the chicken.  Stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat and your taco meat is ready to go.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Who you rooting for? .......

Hey guys it’s that time of the year again. This is what a foodie like me loves. Entertaining and eating good things…Yes Sir! My twins who will be turning 16 next week have always been huge fans of the Super Bowl and I can honestly say I do  not think they even pay much attention to the  They spend most of the year before thinking of new recipes we can try for the next years good eats. They are pretty traditional: spinach dip, buffalo wing balls, bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese, wings of all flavors, seven layer dip and mini slider burgers.  So are you any of you hosting a Super Bowl Party this year? If so, offer your football fans plenty of good food to munch on while cheering for their favorite team. Place every seat in the house in front of your biggest T.V., then kick back and take part in one of America's favorite spectator sports---football and enjoy the Big Game!

Football fans are the most satisfying snackers to cook for. They love anything that's savory, easy to eat, and delicious. You can make them even happier by setting up this easy appetizer buffet and then just standing back!  Junk food is required at a party like this one. By junk food, I mean those delicious, crunchy, fat-laden recipes that everyone loves and almost no one serves anymore. Watching great football games is a definite excuse to break any diet and enjoy yourself! And the guys probably don't care about a diet anyway.
Whether you are throwing a Super Bowl party, or you are watching the game with your family, the snacks are almost as important as the game itself. For the big game, provide easy-to-eat foods that don't require anyone to look up from the television. Dips, chicken and finger foods make delicious snacks, especially when paired with a great football game.

 Chips and Dips
Spice it up a bit by having several platters with different dips in the center. Try trays with guacamole, cheese, salsa, chili-cheese, salsa, and bean dip. These classic snacks are easy to make and serve. Make a tasty Tex-Mex dip by layering re-fried beans, guacamole, salsa and cheese together. Serve the dip on a platter with tortilla chips. Try making a warm spinach artichoke dip with cheese, cayenne pepper and breadcrumbs that is baked until bubbling. Serve this dip in a bowl with crackers or toast. You could also make a trio of dips for potato chips. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, chopped scallions and powdered ranch dressing mix together for a creamy French onion dip. Combine sour cream, cottage cheese, shredded cheddar cheese and salsa to create a spicy cheese dip. End the trio of dips with a crab dip. Mix canned crab meat, cream cheese; green onions, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then serve.

Chicken wings and drumsticks are easy to eat with your fingers. There are a wide variety of recipes available, and most would work well for the Super Bowl. For a traditional chicken wing snack, make Buffalo wings by marinating chicken wings in hot sauce then broiling them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve your hot wings on a platter with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. Make an Asian style chicken snack by placing chicken breast strips marinated in soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil on skewers. Broil the chicken skewers for 10 to 15 minutes and serve with a dipping sauce made from honey, soy sauce and chili oil. You could also make classic barbecue wings by broiling chicken wings and coating them with a barbecue sauce of your choice.

Quick Finger Foods
Other snacks that can be eaten with your fingers are a great way to round off your Super Bowl menu. Try baked potato skins loaded with melted cheese, sour cream and crispy bacon crumbles. Make quesadillas with melted cheese, shredded chicken and spicy jalapenos inside two crispy tortillas. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve with sour cream. Cut frozen puff pastry into strips and wrap chunks of Italian sausage inside. Bake the wraps in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the sausage is cooked through. Buy frozen cooked shrimp and thaw them in the fridge. Make a cocktail sauce by combining ketchup and horseradish and serve the shrimp with the sauce.

Super Bowl Sandwiches 
A Super Bowl sandwich is much more than a “finger sandwich.” You do not want to serve tiny sandwiches to a group of football fans. Try getting loaves of French bread split in half. Fill them with different meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomatoes, dressings, etc. Have some super sandwiches filled to the max and have some more “plain” style sandwiches for those who are a little bit pickier. You want to be sure to have something for everyone.

Flavored Popcorn 
 Have different flavored popcorn bowls available. There are many different flavors to choose from, such as: cheese, caramel, or butter. Popcorn can be purchased already popped, or you can choose to make it yourself and add in the powered cheese or toppings found at your local grocery store.

Cheese Balls 
 Cheese balls are delicious and can have a variety of flavors added. Try a few different recipes that can include chipped beef, ham, onions, green peppers, etc. Serve with a few different types of crackers.

Cocktail Franks in Sauce and Mini Meatballs 
 These pretty much speak for themselves. They are an excellent snack to fill up your guests without feeding them a full coarse meal.

This is an excellent dish that is easy to make and most everyone will love. Serve up with some toppings, such as cheese, onions, soup crackers, etc.

Pizza Bites 
 Have all types of pizza bites. These are fun for kids and adults.

 Burgers and Hot dogs
Consider making up some hamburgers and hot dogs ahead of time to warm up and serve during half time. Throw in some baked beans and chips and you will have a meal that will get the guests through the next half of the game.

Sweet Treats
Sweets are fun to have, as well. Here are some Super Bowl sweets to include at your Super Bowl party: football cake, football cupcakes, football cookies, ice cream with all the toppings. You could also try this scrumptious Super Bowl sweet:

Butter Tortilla Shells 
A different recipe to try for tortilla chips is butter tortilla shells sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut them into wedges and bake in the oven until the edges are brown. An icing glazed dip is excellent for this scrumptious Super Bowl snack.

Don’t forget the drinks. Beer is a popular drink for a Super Bowl party. Be sure to have punch, soda, tea, or lemonade for those who do not drink alcohol. Your Super Bowl party will be a success no matter what type of snack you choose. Just be sure to take into consideration the different preferences of your guests. Try to have a full range of flavors and types to choose from and everyone will be cheering at your Super Bowl party.

Well folks these are my suggestions and I hope you find something that your family and friends love and try not to overdo it too much this week. As always in parting I say “Let’s Eat”!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter time...lets get the big pots out....

I know you guys are wondering what is going on no food blogs Dee, you Actually I have been busy with the kids and trying to get business things in order and really could not think of a good topic to talk about. I realize it is better to write when I am feeling it than to force any random topic. A good friend of mine said talk about what you are passionate about not just any old thing just to have something on your blog....thanks my friend.

Now back to the blog, it has been rather cold out and the weather is all over the place. It is time that you are wanting those comfort foods that warm you from the inside out and make you remember things about your childhood that were amazing.  I remember wintertime when my sisters and I were kids, my mom use to make some of the most delicious soups and stews. It is just something about her cooking it with love that made it taste like it was worth a million bucks. I also remember the very few times in my childhood when it was cold enough to snow my mother would do everything she could to ensure we were warm. She would bundle us up extra before we left the house. She would have all the gas stoves on and so the house was amazingly toasty and warm when we got home. What I loved the most was she would take the iron and iron our sheets before we got in bed. Now that felt so good and you stayed nice and warm just long enough for you to fall asleep. Our childhood was far from perfect by most standards, but it was perfect enough for us. We had fun. We played, loved, and laughed hard. It was the foundation of what made us the women we are today. For that I thank you Momma. I love you Terressa Holcomb. You are one of the most amazing women I have ever known and I am thankful to God that you are my mother.

I am going to post a recipe today for one of my favorite winter time meals, chicken and dumplings. I love chicken and dumplings. My kids are not as big of fans of the dumplings but they are kind enough to not complain and eat it when I make  I appreciate the fact they are willing to try anything I cook. They will thank me Take a minute and check out this recipe and let me know how you like it. Feel free to comment or make suggestions. As always in parting I say, "Let's Eat"!

Chicken and Dumplings:

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 ribs celery, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
3 cloves finely chopped garlic

In a very large saucepan or Dutch oven, add chicken, chicken broth, thyme, and bay leaf to cover. Turn on heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. *Cook's Note: You'll want to poach the chicken on a low simmer and start with cold stock so the chicken cooks evenly.  Once the chicken is cooked, transfer to a 13 by 9-inch casserole dish and let cool. Reserve broth and discard the thyme and bay leaf. When chicken has cooled, shred. Use your hands or a fork and make sure to get all the meat off the bone. Discard the skin and bones.

Add flour, salt and pepper, to taste, and baking powder to a large bowl and whisk together. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream, butter and herbs to a low simmer then add to the dry ingredients. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Using your hands, form dough into dumplings.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Once oil is hot, add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add reserved broth to Dutch oven with vegetables and add the chicken. Bring to a low simmer. Add dumplings 1 at a time into the simmering soup. Cover pan with a lid and cook for 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste, if necessary.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I don't know about you but, I eat with my eyes!

The old saying is true, before we ever take a bite (or sometimes even a whiff) of anything we look at it. The idea of presentation is the subject here and it is everything! When you dine in any restaurant or diner and order any food - it is always presented to the eater in the best possible way! An egg sandwich on a roll may be cut in half with the inside of the sandwich facing outwards on both sides, why? The burger and fries are served with tomato, lettuce, pickle, and coleslaw. Why? Does the server care that you eat your veggies or is it for presentation?

At home we can do this too. Although we are not driving for a big "tip" from son or daughter, the effect can be the same. We eat with our eyes first!! A simple sandwich takes on a whole new dimension when piled high with lettuce, or with a few added carrot chips, potato chips, or salad on the same dish. Make your food as well as it can possibly be, but present it with this added flair and see the difference this makes!!

Plating and food presentation play a huge role in how we experience food. When a plate of food is put in front of me the first thing I always do is look at it. At this point I’m already calculating if I’m going to enjoy the dish. Just by looking at the plate I can predict if I’m going to have a scrumptious eating adventure or a blah eating experience. Next I take a big whiff, and then that first exciting bite. Now granted sometimes I’m wrong and the gray mush on my plate actually tastes yummy or the beautifully decorated plate of food is too salty or lacks exciting flavors but more often than not that first look is spot on! A well designed plate leads to a delicious meal!

So if plating and presentation is so crucial in our experience with food, you’re probably wondering what types of things you could do to make your plates look delicious? When you cook you can experiment with tastes, flavours, textures, color you can practically play around with all the ingredients in a recipe until you create a signature dish. When cooking there are no rules, you create the rules. But there are some guidelines to follow to ensure you create something memorable and here is what I use in my kitchen.

Tips to making your plates look great: 
  • Use different textures: Texture of a food will determine how enjoyable the meal is……. or not. Have you ever eaten ice cream and instead of being smooth and creamy it turned out grainy ,that was your mouth feeling the texture of that brand of ice cream which is created by ice crystals.Or if you take porridge and it turns out lumpy,or meat that turns out chewy after cooking that all texture. Use a variety of different visual textures. Pair foods with smoother textures (sauces, glazes, etc.) with foods that have coarser textures (mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.).

  •  Nutritional balance: My number one rule is balance,you need to create balance ,nutritional balance of the meals you are preparing. Ensure your meals are nutritionally balanced,they cover all the food groups.And in case you have forgotten,there needs to be some carbohydrates,some proteins and lots of vegetables and a slice of fruit. This will ensure you are giving your body what it needs. To get an idea of how your portions should be like, refer to my post on portion control here. 

  • Use shapes & proportions appropriately: The “main” food component should be the largest piece of food on the plate, the accompanying side dishes and garnish should complement, not overwhelm the main course. 

  • Flavor: Of course you need to provide interesting flavours with your meals,do not make them bland. Mother nature has been generous enough to provide us with herbs ,spices and a variety of other foods that mixed and matched will make all your meals memorable. Find flavors that go well together and create memorable meals. Tease the taste buds of the people you are preparing the meal for,take them to heaven and back! 

  • Use Color: Plated food should have balanced, contrasting colors. So spice up that Mac and cheese with a little paprika on top or parsley on the side.  Any meal should appeal to the eyes first,no one likes a plain-looking plate. Let us imagine for a moment you had a plate in front of you that was all one color,not appetizing is it? Create color by including more vegetables on your plate,especially the red,orange,yellow ,green varieties.All great for you in every imaginable way. Don't you think its amazing that all the good foods (fruits and vegetables)all come in bright sunshiny colors,reason is so that you can eat more of them. Make food so colorful the minute people lay their eyes on it ,they want to grab their forks, spoons, knives and just dig in. 

  • Arrangement: Plated foods should have a natural “focal point”—the spot that first draws your attention when you look at the dish. Though how a meal is plated may not be something you worry about too much,you do not want a meal that is thrown all together haphazardly. Where the rice beans and vegetables all look like a jumbled mess.You want to be able to pick out the components of a meal without feeling like you are going through a haystack. 

I hope this helps you guys some. Feel free to make comments or suggestions. As always in parting I say" Let's Eat!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year....what's cooking?

Okay so I loved the holidays. But I have more than had my fill of the collard greens and yams and turkey and dressing and all that says Holiday Food.  Thank goodness we get to start all over in a new year.  I have been busy with family and friends over the last few days thus no blog, plus truth be told, I was being lazy...ha ha.

If you guys are anything like me you enjoyed your holiday meals and completely over did it so now you want something different and less rich and heavy. Well the holidays for Highly Flavored meant desserts desserts desserts. I made more cakes, cookies and chewies than I could shake a stick at but it was great for business so I am hardly complaining.  What I did find was I can finally put pound cake on my list of cakes mastered. I have had the most difficult time getting the recipe right for something as basic as a pound cake. I do not know if I was over working the batter or something but I was not able to make one that could rival my great Aunt Lizzie or any of the people in my family who bake.  I made my very first banana pound cake last night and it was AWESOME! For a family who are not big fans of bananas I do believe this cake was just moved up into the ranks of our top ten desserts. I am looking forward to finding new recipes and expanding my recipe archives.

I ran across a dessert recipe today that I know I am going to try first of all because I have a friend who loves pineapple and coconut and I am sure they would be very excited about being a taste tester. Who doesn't like like free dessert. Second I am looking to find recipes for desserts that are not as heavy and and will be great for the spring and summer months which are not too far around the corner. Are there any recipes across the board you guys would like to see or have me share with you as we start this new year? Please feel free to post your requests or inbox me on Facebook. I am going to post the recipe for the pineapple bars and I will let you guys know how well they came out or maybe the person taste testing will post a thought on how they tasted. As always in parting I say" Let's Eat!"

Pineapple Coconut Bars

1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 of a large (20 oz) can of crushed pineapple, drained, save the juice
2/3 cup flaked coconut

1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pineapple juice (from above)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with non-stick foil or spray with flour-added cooking spray.
In the food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse to mix, then add butter and pulse until mixture is coarse. Empty into your lined pan and press tightly to make a crust. Bake for about 13 minutes or until edges start to brown. Let cool completely before making filling.

Filling: Mix together the egg. egg yolk, both sugars and the vanilla. Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir them into the batter. Add the pineapple and coconut. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Icing: Mix together all the ingredients, using as much pineapple juice as needed to make a smooth icing. Drizzle icing over the top of the cooled bars.

Chill bars, then lift from pan and cut into 16 squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 16