Thursday, April 30, 2015

KY Derby | country ham balls

Kentucky has a great country ham scene, and why not highlight it with this delicious recipe?  Not only is it easy and delicious, the meatballs can be made ahead of time then baked when you need them!

country ham balls
 {country ham balls}

country ham balls
 {these are so delicious!  I have made them several times over the last 6 months, and they are always a favorite!}

country ham balls
adapted from Sterling Bits

makes 24-36 balls (depending on how you roll them)

2 pounds local country ham, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 pounds local pork sausage
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 local eggs, beaten
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon mustard
1 cup white wine vinegar
  1. Mix country ham, sausage, bread crumbs, and eggs together until well combined.
  2. Roll out meat mixture to golf-ball sized meat balls.  At this point, the meatballs can be cooked or frozen for future use.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.
  4. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar in a pot.  Boil until rolling and allow to boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Place meatballs in a 9x13 casserole dish and pour hot sauce over meatballs.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, turning balls at least once, or until done.
  7. Serve.
I hope that these and the other recipes that I shared this week will inspire your Derby party!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

KY Derby | Kentucky champagne

I'd never heard of Kentucky champagne until we did a wedding at my job that asked for it.  It's a cocktail made from bourbon and Ale-8 (Ale-8 is a soda made in Kentucky).  I thought I'd give it a try one day, and it's one of my favorite cocktails because it is so easy and delicious!  If you don't have access to Ale-8, then ginger-ale would be a good substitute.

Kentucky champagne
 {Kentucky champagne}

Kentucky champagne
 {getting everything ready to make the drinks}

Kentucky champagne
 {just bourbon and Ale-8}

Kentucky champagne
 {pretty it up with cute straws and mint}

Kentucky champagne**

makes 6 drinks

4 1/2 oz bourbon, your favorite
6 pack of Ale-8
pretty straws
mint (optional for garnish)
  1. Place ice and 3/4 oz bourbon in the bottom of a glass.
  2. Open 1 Ale-8 and pour over ice and bourbon.
  3. Stir with straw a few times.
  4. Serve garnished with mint.
This is a good option for those non-bourbon drinkers (like me) although you want to get into the spirit of the Derby and drink bourbon.  How do you like to drink your bourbon?

 **Please drink responsibly because this recipe does contain alcohol!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

KY Derby | bread pudding with bourbon vanilla sauce

Every Southern woman needs to have a delicious bread pudding recipe under her belt (or so I've heard) especially any woman who throws a KY Derby party!  This dessert can be made ahead of time which is one less thing you have to worry about!

 bread pudding
 {bread pudding with sauce (top) and without sauce (bottom) but much better with sauce}

bread pudding
 {realized after I ate the bread pudding that I forgot to take a picture with the Maker's Mark bottle--oops!}

bread pudding
 {just wanted to share that the bread pudding should look like this before going in the oven or it won't work!}

bread pudding

makes 12 servings

2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla, divided
20 oz white bread (bakery kind not store kind), cut into 1 inch cubes and toasted until dry
1/4 cup bourbon (I used a small 50 mL bottle of Maker’s Mark)
3/4 cup cream
1 cup brown sugar
  1. Melt 1 stick butter and sugar together just until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add milk.  If butter hardens, gently heat until it melts again. 
  3. Allow mixture to cool so eggs don’t cook!  Beat eggs and whisk into milk mixture. 
  4. Add cinnamon and 2 teaspoons vanilla. 
  5. Pour custard over bread cubes in a large bowl. 
  6. Preheat oven to 350. 
  7. Allow bread to sit and absorb custard for 8-10 minutes or until most bread cubes are soggy.  There should still be a good amount of custard not absorbed. 
  8. Pour everything into a greased 9x13 casserole dish. 
  9. Bake until golden brown on top about 50-55 minutes. 
  10. Make bourbon sauce: add bourbon, 1 stick butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cream, and brown sugar to a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute then remove from heat.  Cool and store in a pint jar. 
  11. Serve bread pudding with bourbon sauce and try not to die from the deliciousness! 
  12. Store bread pudding in the fridge and heat before serving.
I'm a purist--bread pudding should not have nuts or fruit in it!  How do you like your bread pudding?

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Monday, April 27, 2015

pleasing your palate | Kentucky Derby

This Saturday is the Kentucky Derby!  It's a rite of passage meaning that spring is here, no more frosts, and that we can plant our gardens.  Also, it's a good excuse to get dressed up, have a party, and have a great time!

Below are some recipes for your Derby party this weekend, but come back every day this week for new recipes like country ham balls and bread pudding!

bourbon mushroom sauce

 chickpea and kale salad

fried apples

gooey cinnamon squares

KY Bourbon Barrel Ale beer cheese

mint julep

peach raspberry mint julep

 shaved asparagus pizza

sorghum cake

 steak and beer cheese nachos

Do you have a Derby party?  What kinds of foods do you like to serve?
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

balsamic mushroom pasta

Sometimes, I just don't feel like eating meat.  So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it.  I told my mom I was making her dinner one night, and she loved it!  But really--who doesn't love a quick pasta meal?  

balsamic mushroom pastabalsamic mushroom pasta
 {balsamic mushroom pasta garnish with parmesan cheese and parsley}

one year ago: zucchini noodles

balsamic mushroom pasta
from girl gone gourmet

makes 2 servings

4 ounces fettuccine pasta
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a few tablespoons for garnish
salt & pepper
  1. Cook the fettuccine according to the directions on the package. While the pasta is cooking prepare the mushroom sauce.
  2. In a large pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add in the shallots and garlic and cook for a few minutes or so, just until softened.
  3. Add in the sliced mushrooms and toss them around to get them coated in the butter. If needed, add an additional tablespoon of butter if the mushrooms get too dry. Let them cook and brown for about 8 minutes.
  4. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and stir everything together making sure to scrape up all of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. 
  5. Add in the other tablespoon of butter. 
  6. Cook everything together for a couple of minutes and then turn off the heat and move the pan off the burner.
  7. Pour in the cream and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
  8. Add the cooked fettuccine to the sauce and toss to combine. Add in the fresh parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top.
If I weren't married, I'd probably eat many more vegetarian meals.  The Hubby has a meat=meal mentality which I don't see changing anytime soon...

How about you?  Do you not feel like meat every now and then?  

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

poached chicken with tarragon sauce

I first made this dish during culinary school, and I fell in love with it!  I make it from time to time because it is so easy and delicious.  Bonus:  this can be made in 30 minutes!

poached chicken with tarragon sauce
 {poached chicken with tarragon sauce}

poached chicken with tarragon sauce
 {side view}

one year ago:  Italian stewed chicken with fennel and cannellini

poached chicken with tarragon sauce
from on cooking (an old culinary textbook)

makes 4 servings

2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 t dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Rice or pasta (cooked)
  1. Place chicken in a pan with a lid.
  2. Add wine, broth, bay leaf, thyme, and tarragon to pan. 
  3. Turn burner to medium-high and allow liquid to come to a simmer (just starts steaming). 
  4. Turn down to medium, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cook through. 
  5. Meanwhile, make a roux with the butter and flour; set aside. 
  6. Remove lid once chicken is done; remove chicken and keep warm. 
  7. Turn back up to medium-high and allow liquid to reduce by half (should take about 5 minutes). 
  8. Add cream and stir to combine. 
  9. Add roux until combined and cook until sauce thickens about 5 minutes. 
  10. Serve over rice or pasta (rice is my preferred starch with this dish).
Tarragon has a sweet, licorice flavor.  If you don't like tarragon or don't want to try it, then substitute thyme or basil for it since both herbs work with this dish.
Have you ever had tarragon?  Did you like it?  I'd love to hear about your experience!
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Friday, April 17, 2015

food for thought

These last few weeks have been full of frustration.  Ever since the snow storm in mid-February, our cars have alternatively not been working.  If you really want to see how much you love someone--share one car with them for 8 weeks.  Our cars are old, and we expect repairs.  For them all to happen in such a short span?  Just aggravating.

Thankfully, I believe we have reached the end of the car journey.  All throughout this journey, I was very upset only once, about the middle of it.  However, I did have some anxiety throughout this experience, but only when I drove.  I tried to focus on the positive and be grateful that we had the funds to make repairs, and that family helped along the way (especially the father-in-law who gave up a Saturday to make repairs--so so grateful!).

Anyway, I hope that you have had a fabulous week!  Happy Friday, my friends, and I hope that you have a beautiful weekend!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Indian chicken curry

I'm such a sucker for an easy, international meal that can be made in a crock-pot.  Plus, this is loaded with spinach (one of my favorite vegetables).  This is also the perfect recipe to dip your toes into the international because it uses curry powder which most people have had before. 

Indian chicken stew
 {Indian chicken stew}

Indian chicken stew

makes 8 servings

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup onion, chopped (1 medium)
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and/or cayenne pepper
2-15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
2-14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons lime juice
1-9 ounce package fresh spinach 
Cooked rice
  1. Add chicken, onion, and garlic to the slow cooker. Add curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Stir in beans, tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf.
  2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Stir lime juice into chicken mixture. 
  4. Stir in spinach; let stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach starts to wilt. 
  5. Serve over rice. 
Please note that this is not necessarily a traditional Indian curry since curry powder is a British invention to mimic Indian's garam masala spice.  However, this does mirror an Indian curry since it is cooked over a long period of time.  Again, this is a recipe for the novice cook who wants to dip their toes into international cuisine!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

coffee cupcakes

April 12th is Coffee Cake Day.  I know I am a day late, but any excuse to make cake (even late) is good enough for me!  Plus, to have cupcakes instead of cake?  Even better since I can control myself more with cupcakes (honestly--it's worse to say you ate two cupcakes than two pieces of cake; it sounds like more!}

coffee cupcakes
 {lovely glazed tops}

coffee cupcakes
 {loved the crumb topping!}

coffee cupcakes
from damn delicious

makes 12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

Crumb topping
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon milk
  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside.
  3. To make the crumb topping, combine sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Add flour and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Spread out mixture on parchment paper to dry until ready to use. 
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. 
  5. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, canola oil and egg. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. 
  6. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. 
  7. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  8. To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed. 
  9. When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin. 
  10. Allow glaze to set before serving.
Surprisingly, coffee cake is not made with coffee.  Have you ever had coffee cake?  Do you like it?  These went like hot cakes at work!

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

grilled cheese | sweet with brie

I love brie, and I never thought in a million years to make a grilled cheese sandwich with it.  These sandwiches were so delicious; let's just say that my mom really hates that I have introduced her to this aspect of brie!

 {prepping the sandwiches}

{cranberry and brie}

one year ago:  egg salad
two years ago: lentil and chickpea salad

cranberry and brie
from cooking

makes 2 sandwiches

1/3 cup cranberry sauce
4 slices sourdough bread
3 oz brie
apple/pear (optional)
  1. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter.
  2. Top two slices with cranberry sauce and brie.
  3. Grill according to your preference.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

{raspberry, dark chocolate, and brie}
raspberry, dark chocolate, and brie
from ambitious kitchen

makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of sourdough
2 oz favorite dark chocolate
3 oz brie
1 pint raspberries (or strawberries would be good too!)
  1. Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter.
  2. Top two slices with chocolate, raspberries, and brie.
  3. Grill according to your preference.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
That wraps up this wonderful week of grilled cheese sandwiches!  Did you find one you want to try?  Do you have any you want to share?  I'd love to hear from you!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

grilled cheese | spinach, roasted pepper, and feta

Putting all the makings of my favorite salad ingredients on a sandwich?!   That was a no-brainer....

spinach, roasted pepper, and feta
{almost too beautiful to eat... almost}

one year ago:  crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

spinach, roasted pepper, and feta grilled cheese
from grilled cheese social

makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices multi-grain bread
4 oz crumbled feta
1 cup fresh spinach
6 oz roasted red peppers
Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of each slice of bread.
  2. Layer half of ingredients on two slices of bread.
  3. Close the sandwich.
  4. Grill according to your preference.
  5. Enjoy!
Have you ever thought to put exotic ingredients in your grilled cheese?  Me neither!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

grilled cheese | roast beef and smoked gouda

I love Gouda; it's one of my favorite cheeses.  When I saw this recipe, it was different so I wanted to try it.  I was so obsessed with this sandwich, I had it four times--in one week!

roast beef and smoked gouda
 {roast beef and smoked gouda}

roast beef and smoked gouda
 {making the sandwich--the caramelized onions are what makes this delicious!}

roast beef and smoked gouda
 {serve with a delicious bowl of soup for an easy meal}

one year ago:  beef and broccoli

roast beef and smoked gouda
from running to the kitchen

makes 4 sandwiches

2 large onions, sliced
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons fresh sage, coarsely chopped
8 slices of sourdough bread
1 pound sliced roast beef
8 slices smoked Gouda
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the onions and caramelize until browned.  Turn off heat and add sage.  Allow to sit for about 3 minutes.
  2. Use the remaining tablespoon of butter to spread on one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Layer one slice of cheese on each slice of the bread.
  4. Next lay the roast beef on top of the cheese.
  5. Spoon some of the onions (you may have extra) on top of the roast beef.
  6. Top the other slice of bread/cheese.
  7. Grill according to your tastes: panini press, on top of the stove, or in the toaster oven.  Here is a tutorial on each method.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
I prefer a hot sandwich over a cold one any day (unless it's made to be cold like egg salad or chicken salad).  Are you a classic grilled cheese person, or do you like to experiment?

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Monday, April 6, 2015

how-to | make grilled cheese sandwiches

April 7th is National Grilled Cheese Day so I thought I would make a week of it and explore the wonderful world of grilled cheese because (let me be honest) who doesn't love to eat a grilled cheese sandwich?!

The most important part of a grilled cheese sandwich is how you make it.  There are three ways to make a grilled cheese, and I have broken down each into some simple steps!

 {the pan method before and after}

the pan method
  1. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high.
  2. Thinly spread mayo on the OUTSIDE of the sandwich.
  3. Place sandwich in pan and press down with a spatula.  You don't need to keep constant pressure (unless you want to), but I alternated about 15 seconds between each sandwich.
  4. Check after 1 minute; if sandwich is browned to your liking, then flip and repeat the pressing.
  5. Serve!

 {the panini press/electric grill method before and after}

the panini press/electric grill method
  1. Plug in grill and heat to medium-high.
  2. Thinly spread mayo on the OUTSIDE of the sandwich.
  3. Place sandwich on grill and close.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness is reach.
  5. Serve!

 {the toaster oven method before and after}

the toaster oven method
  1. Heat toaster oven to broil.
  2. Place each slice of the sandwich in toaster oven (open as in the the above before picture).
  3. Toast until cheese melts/browns.
  4. Allow sandwich to cool for about 5 minutes then press together.
  5. Serve!

I loved the toaster oven method for years, but I must confess that I really love the pan or panini method much better!

How do you prefer your grilled cheese sandwich?  Is there a method that you use that I didn't mention?  I'd love to hear it!

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Friday, April 3, 2015

food for thought

My best friend is on the other side of the country, and today is her birthday.  I love her so much, and I miss her every day.  We talk to hours on end, and it never feels like there are thousands of miles between us.  She is in a stressful time in her life.  She forgets how beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful she is.  I like to remind her about it, and this is one of my favorite quotes because it is so true for everyone especially her. 

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

what's in season | April

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for spring!  This winter has been especially cold, snowy, and gray.

{picture from last year}

I have a feeling that my mom and I will start heading to the farmer's market this month.  If nothing else, to see some green since everyone will be selling seedlings and small plants.

Although not much is in season here in Kentucky, there are a few items:

Asparagus (late April)
Greens (late April)
Radishes (late April)

I have some asparagus recipes in mind because it's one of my favorite vegetables!  May adds a few more to the list, but local produce will pick up with June.

Will you be planting or heading to the market this month?

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

monthly munchies | April

I watched in slight horror as snow fell last week, but luckily they were only flurries and didn't hang around although the cold did for a few days.  However, now warmer temperatures and April showers have arrived!

{because sometimes I need the high protein}

Anyway, lots of fun stuff will be happening on the blog this month:
  • The farmer's market is starting back up so the what's in season series is back!  Catch it tomorrow.
  • April 7th is grilled cheese sandwich day.  To honor that, I have an entire week lined up of  delicious recipes AND a tutorial on how to make grilled cheese sandwiches three (yes 3!) different ways! 
  • April 12th is coffee cake day.  I made cupcakes instead, and they are divine!
  • The last week of April means KY Derby preparations including delicious treats for race day!  I'll be show casing some KY Proud recipes all week!

Such a busy month so make sure you keep checking for new recipes!

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