Enjoying the Beauty of Becoming

It has been 374 days since my last blog post.  I have continued on with the writing program at SCAD, expanded the weekly meal program to more than 50 families, gotten engaged, gotten un-engaged, catered many fun social events including a Buckhead roof top social of 300 people, catered the most beautiful wedding, my strong beautiful daughter graduated from high school and my sweet Lauren May left G&H after almost three years to work at a great internship.  This has been a fun-filled and heart breaking year, to write the very least.    I have so missed sitting down and writing about it.

I went a little off course, again.  The roads that led to beautiful moments only lead to more roads with the journey that is never-ending.  I lost sight of what I wanted out of life.  I had gotten to a point where I felt angry and disgust for so much – politics, murder, bigotry, oppression, family dynamics, traffic, cancer, my own mistakes and even simpler things such as burnt toast.  These things are black in my soul that follow me unless I write about it.  I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the best mother, the best partner, the best personal chef and business owner, the best student, the best friend, the best daughter and sister.  I hated myself and this beautiful earth we live on.  I hated who I was trying to become, this little miss perfect.   Trying to be the woman everyone else wants me to be- gross.  Or at least what I thought they wanted me to be- even grosser.  She isn’t the woman I am destined to be, but I know her and I hate her more than anything.  My stomach hurts by writing the word hate- such a nasty word.  And, I’ll not kid myself, I was so far from perfect.  I fought with friends and family.  I snapped at annoying but, harmless business calls.   I screamed at the girls.  I continued to bury myself deeper out of sight so that when it was forced upon me to look at myself, I had no idea where or who I was anymore.  The humiliation of this person I had become is, well, excruciatingly painful.  Everyone seemed to know what I refuse to see.  I wonder if there is no wonder.

As we were catering this beautiful wedding back in May, only a few days after my own engagement ended, the question was asked if the yard had been sprayed for mosquitos and I thought for a brief moment of rolling around in the grass to see if I could be eaten and taken off by them.  This event turned out to be such a gift.  The universe will not let me go my own scared way. It was a peaceful union of two people who adored each other and they certainly aren’t perfect in everyone’s eyes but they are authentic and loving and so imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  I am so glad I got to be there to see their union and feed them well.  The positive energy and love was palpable.   Everything about it was the opposite of what I was living and that gave me the truth to start living differently.

Grief, as every emotion, is relative to whom is feeling it. My biggest loop in my head has been “it is my fault this is awful” and I have gone over and over how I could have changed the inevitable.  But, there is no way and god and everyone else knows I have tried.

Now I am trying to flow with the current that is the least resistant.  I have been known on occasion to believe I have to struggle like hell instead of just flow with the nature of things.  Haggard and disheveled, I kick and scream against my own current and for what?  To feel absolutely beaten down.  Everything is easier said than done.  So glad that my friends are not quitters and want to throw in the towel with me.  This does not mean that I don’t have to work hard to evolve.  As M. Scott Peck says love “requires the extension of ourselves, love is always either work or courage.  If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.” But as I start to let go, stop the struggling internally, have faith in myself again, it does feel easier to trust.  It feels so much easier and I think I may even be loving myself a little bit for it.

Where do I go when I feel I have hit the bottom?   I look up and kick like hell the glass ceiling to get out.  Through one tear (or three), one smile, one laugh, one friendly chat on the phone, one weekly meal, one delivery, one hors d’oeuvre, one dinner party, one movie night with the girls, I get up and brush my knees off.  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  Mosquitos would have been a long and painful death.

I have seen in some eyes that they wish I would stay down.  Or we see in some eyes, “you deserve what you get”.  Someone just recently told me I should get a “real job” instead of my “dream job.”  It’s funny, that was always his encouragement and why he is where he is in his own journey.  This job isn’t my dream, yet.  It is still forming and molding.  My children will not need me at home when I can live my dream job.  For now, it is my value.  I can live no other way without that.  There are people out there that do not want the best for others.  And those people, we have to ignore and let go.  I work like hell to have compassion for those who want to harm and hurt just to make themselves feel better or for their “justice”.  I must forgive them, move on, know that I am still loved, so loved and love those who want to be loved.  This is so difficult for me to do.  We can not make people like, love, understand or accept us. I have tried and so desired it but only getting hurt in the trying.  That is my struggle I must let go of.  Accepting that putting my eggs into a basket for it only to be thrown on the floor to break just hurts myself.  So, I choose not to do that.  I give my egg basket to those who want to handle them with care.  What a corny metaphor!  My professors would have a field day with that.  I am so grateful for those professors that encouraged me to keep going this last quarter.

As I went into a yoga class yesterday, my mantra was to love myself so that I can love others.  I said it over and over through deep breaths.  I felt it through my rib cages sucking in just a little more air to fill the cracks.  I could not help but notice and admire this woman who was fit, beautiful and graceful in her movements.  I quickly wished her love and went on about my practice, not wanting to wish myself to be her.  After class, I grabbed my things and noticed she was leaving in front of me.  I chuckled to myself because I noticed she looked like me but with blonde hair.  Then I noticed when she got into her car, it was the same as mine except a different color.  I smiled again at the universe showing me my mantra.  I drove around to leave when I passed her and noticed she was born in April, like me, from her tag.  I didn’t know this woman and who knows what her story is.  But I know me, and I want to really love and admire fully who I am, the dark and the light.  I could admire this strange woman and not even know her, but admiring myself has always seemed selfish.  This was a little moment of self-love to me.  I have always confused that  self-love was selfish but I do know if we don’t give any to ourselves we are empty.  And empty to give anything to anyone else.  I believe this is an epidemic amongst women, not just in me, that I would love to see gone, forever.  If anything, I will try my damnedest to not pass this on to my own daughters.   I will claw tooth and nail to omit it- really.

One of the biggest things that fills my heart, and I get to share it, is having dinner parties and writing.  I’ve known this but I wasn’t doing it.  So a couple of weeks ago I invited a couple of girlfriends over to sit on the front porch and have dinner.  I had forgotten how much I loved having people over.  I had forgotten how much I loved cooking for people.   My home isn’t big or extravagant.  Since I sold my house I think I have been holding back because it isn’t perfect.  In fact, my neighbor has put a couch out in our front yard that the city of ATL has yet to pick up over the last 3 weeks.  My neurosis are totally kicking in but allowing my imperfections to be seen at the front of the driveway is so much easier than hiding them under my pillow or worse, my heart.   I think the last time I blogged was the last time I had someone over for dinner.  My writing is also so imperfect but it is imperfectly me and that feels so good.

I made a most wonderful, healthy, summer salad with organics from the farmer’s market and grilled chicken breast for our dinner party.  This is my ultimate favorite food, fresh out of the garden.  Can’t you just taste the sweet sun ripening the tomatoes?  We sat outside with a citronella candle to keep any mosquitos from trying to take us away.  If I could encourage others to do one thing, the thing I wasn’t doing, is to do what you enjoy, do what you love and share that light.  Don’t put negative people in your life that want to squash that.  Enjoy moments with loved ones over a meal.  Go write.  Call me if you want to have that dinner but don’t have the time to cook! 😉 I will do that for you and love myself very much for giving you that moment.  Here we are full circle.  My wish is for you to enjoy this summer with friends, a good meal, and sweet peace of mind.

 

Summer Salad with Warm Shiitake Mushrooms and Lemon Mustard Dressing

 

For Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Radiccio

Canned Artichoke Hearts in water

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumber sliced

Shiitake Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Shrimp

Goat Cheese

 

For Lemon Mustard Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup good olive oil

 

 

For salad: Sauté your shiitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  After 3-5 minutes take of heat and allow to cool for a few moments.  Pile your other ingredients as big and high with all your veggies and protein that you desire.  Top with shiitake and goat cheese.

For Dressing:  Whisk everything but oil.  Then slowly, while whisking, add oil.  You can add as much or as little dressing as desired to your salad.  Toss, serve and enjoy.

 

This journey of life is far from over, ups and downs, over and under, but I am so glad I can share it with you.  Please feel free to send me your story so that together we can share it with those who may be looking for answers.  May your summer be a glorious one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daddy’s Day Southern Fried Chicken

DSC_0237Well, I would say summer is officially here in the south.  My car thermometer registered 107.  Summertime also means Father’s Day to me.  I want to make my Dad’s favorite thing to eat and that is none other than Southern Fried Chicken.  My brother and I would tease my Dad for not leaving one piece of meat on the bone of his chicken.  He told us this story of why he couldn’t leave any meat on the bones.

During special occasions, all the family (my grandfather was one of 12 children) would come over for supper.  The adults would go first to get their plates.  They would get the larger pieces of chicken.  When it was finally time for the children to get their plates, the only chicken that was left was the wings and drumsticks.  This was during the depression and food was scarce.   They killed their own chickens and they grew their own vegetables.  Some of those habits of those who lived during that time do not die-hard.  My Dad doesn’t like to throw anything away and this story is 60 something years old.

I would branch out and say all of us have opinions based on what we grew up experiencing, good or bad.  Politically my Dad and I don’t always see eye to eye.  In fact, I think he may be absolutely wrong and bases his opinion from fear of an unknown.  There aren’t many people in the world that I love more than my father.  We can have different political views and still have a respect and love for one another that supersedes politics and power.  Sometimes we choose not to talk about it.  We have gotten down right “hot” with discussions over plates of fried chicken.  However, I know that discussing and connecting over meals eases tension and brings joy in our hearts no matter our differences.  If he would just pretends to listen and agree all is well!

I believe that all anyone wants is to be respectfully heard.  That may seem to simple but it seems to me to be the only place we can start.  At the end of a political season, these moments of laughter and togetherness will be what matters in times of differences.  I hope you too will enjoy my recipe of Southern Fried Chicken and it brings you the same joy and togetherness it brings to me, especially in the heat of the moment.  😉

Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients

4 Chicken breasts

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1/2 cup canola

Directions

Soak your chicken breast in the buttermilk for at least an hour or overnight.  When ready to fry, mix your panko, flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl so that you can dredge your breasts into the mixture making a thick coating.  The black pepper is a key ingredient.  If you feel up to it, add more!  After each breast has been coated, heat your oil in a cast iron skillet or fry pan.  When the oil is hot, add the breast making sure not to crowd them.  If you need to, do two batches.  Fry each side about 3-5 minutes watching to make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot and burn.  When your breast are browned, put in a pre-heated oven of 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Finish the chicken off in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.  Southern Fried Chicken is great with corn on the cob and watermelon or slice your chicken and put on a garden salad.  The  cooked chicken is great refrigerated and later packed in a cooler for picnics at the pool or amusement parks.

Happiest Father’s Day to all the Dads, enjoy and I wish you the happiest of summers!

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn + Cookies = Perfection

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Warm up the fire places!  It is the first day of fall.  School is back in full force, the catering business is getting ready for high season, and all is well with the world.  Well, all is good minus the Republican candidates for Presidency, but we aren’t getting into politics!

I just recently had my first menus printed.  I know that may sound crazy since we have been in business for 4 years (yes, FOUR years!).  But, everything has been either word of mouth, the website, or individual menus that are emailed.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to hold them and pat them and pet them!  They are really so beautiful.  Thank you to the fabulous graphic artist, Jenn Streck!  It is funny how a menu makes me feel all professional inside, as if I haven’t been catering for weddings of 200 plus people.  This is a prime example of the littlest, simplest things that can matter so much.

Another thing that can matter so much is a simple delicious cookie.  And at this time of year, cookies are very important.  We can make them and store them in the freezer for the moment we need them most, like that school function we forget about or the random kids that end up at our house on a Friday night.  I love how baking a batch of cookies warms up the house with the oven temperature and the aroma.

So, let’s get baking.  My two favorite cookies this fall are  the lovely and ever so simple Chocolate Chip Cookie and the spicy, soft Ginger Molasses Cookie.  Today we will get the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe out.  Look for our Ginger Molasses next week if I can get my blogging life together.

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G&H’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking pan with parchment paper.  In a standing mixer, mix your melted butter with your three sugars.  While this is mixing on high-speed, in a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.  After the butter and sugar mixture turns a pale brown, about 5 minutes, add in your eggs one at a time and then your vanilla.  After this is incorporated, turn the mixer to low and add in your flour mixture slowly.  Don’t over mix, just until flour is incorporated.  Turn mixer off and hand mix in your chocolate chips.   Drop a tablespoon size of cookie dough on your parchment paper and bake for 13-15 minutes or until toasty on the sides.  Lastly, try not to burn yourself when eating them too soon after coming out of the oven.

I hope you all enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather immensely with a good simple cookie.  Here’s to the best Chocolate Chip Cookie!  Cheers!

 

 

Home Stretches

IMG_9283Only 20 days left in 2014!  We are definitely in the home stretch to 2015.  This has been an amazing year on so many accounts!  G&H continues to thrive and even soar to greater heights than I could have ever imagined.  We are super excited to have been invited to cater the holiday party for the Inman Park Neighborhood this year.  This is such a great neighborhood and it will no doubt be a fabulous event.  There is a lot yet to be done to prepare for the party, so I feel pretty crazy to be sitting down for a moment to type a blog, but HEY- I love it.  And I am not sure who is crazier- me, as writer, or you as reader!

So, we have loads of crapola to do before the new year.  Most of us are sweating bullets to get’r done and frustrated as hell at those who seem to have it all together.  Guess what?  This season, too, will pass, and we will get through it.  Some of us more gracefully than others, some of us with more joy than toys under the tree, and some of us with not one gift to give or receive!  But, all is well!  It will be January before we know it and St. Nick will be gone and the credit card debt will stick around for the next six months!  Ha!  See the silver lining?

Ok- so I really do like the Christmas season.  The part I love the most is having people over to the house to spend the day eating some of the most delicious foods, drinking fabulous wine, and laughing together (mainly at each other).

I take Christmas day to cook a wonderful but simple meal, that I usually prepare for clients, but don’t always do for my family.  I want to show my love by cooking something special and they are thrilled with gourmet food.  For starters, we always have Candied Nuts lying around to nibble on.  These yummies can last weeks if they are kept in a sealed jar, for those who pre-plan and make (or call G&H) ahead of time.  As a main course, I usually make Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding with Beef Tenderloin and a lovely bed of fresh green lettuce leaves and for dessert, Chocolate Whiskey Cake or a Creme Brulé!  I don’t fuss over any of it and that is what makes the experience so enjoyable.  There really is no pressure because it is more about the time together (and time off) than anything else.

It is true, the host sets the tone of the party.  If you are frazzled, everyone else will feel that energy and run for the door.  I have been in both the driver seat and the passenger seat of that experience and I would choose to never experience either again.  UNCOMFORTABLE.  So, if you find yourself there, breath deep and think of a way to move away from that…quickly.  Call Chinese food if you need to.

Ingredients

Beef Tenderloin

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Meat Thermometer

 

Directions

The trick to the Beef Tenderloin is a good meat thermometer.  Have I written that before?  Well, it deserves to be written twice if I have said it already.  Go get a good meat thermometer.  It will make your kitchen life so much easier which in turn makes everyone’s life easier.  Stick the thermometer in the thickest area and forget about it.  You can tell it rare, medium rare, medium, medium well, and well done.  Most Maverick thermometers have the temperature already calibrated into those 5 categories.  So, you just pick which you like and it does the rest.  There is also no trick to the tenderloin.  It only needs salt and pepper and should go into the oven at room temp.  No, it needs nothing whatsoever more.  Don’t make it more complicated than it already is around this time of year.  Just let the tenderloin sit out for an hour then add the salt and pepper all over.  Stick that thermometer in and let her tell you when she is done.  Some people sear their tenderloin before putting it in the oven but that isn’t necessary either.  The oven can be set at 300 degrees fahrenheit.   Let your tenderloin sit for some time afterwards (even an hour) before slicing to keep all those fantastic juices in the meat, not running out on the plate.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year!  It has been such a pleasure cooking for and with you this year.  Here’s to many more!  Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, So Graceful

Well, I have gracefully done it again.  As I peck away at my computer, cast around my right hand, I am feeling a little more optimistic than yesterday.  I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my right hand.  I cant even say I was having a wild and crazy night of table dancing.  No lifting, no cutting or chopping, no wrapping, no writing, no pony-tail making, no yoga, no stirring, no use with this right hand for 6 weeks.  As the Doctor says, I am lucky the bones didn’t shift.  If they do, I need surgery to pin them together. That sounds promising…

I have got to think outside of the box and I have to learn to ask for help.  I think I am pretty good with the first but terrible with the later.  I despise feeling like a burden on anyone.  And right now, this hand is burdening me.  I have had to think a lot of what I am grateful for… yes, the bones didn’t shift and I don’t have or know of anyone with Ebola.

Onward we march!

Lets work on the yummy biscuit recipe I brought back from France.  First of all, 100 grams is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon, so that isn’t correct on Petit Pavot Biscuit.  What is correct is that the cheese, flour and butter are equal measurements.

I used 2 egg yolks with 2 cups butter, 2 cups cake flour and 2 cups parmesan cheese and a tablespoon poppy seeds.  They are very flakey. The taste, however, is still just as delicious here in the states as it was in France. I may add another egg yolk to see if they will hold together a bit better.

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Since I am handicap at the moment, instead of mixing with my hands, I put the flour, frozen butter, and cheese in a food processor and blended until course.  I then blended in the egg yolk into the same bowl.  I laid it all out on a floured surface and pressed into a flat disk about an a half-inch thick.  I sprinkled the poppy seeds over the dough while pressing.  Lastly, I cookie cut out circles and baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown.  These would be so good with bacon or ham pieces in them…just say’n.

Take very good care of yourselves and be careful until next time we chat!  It is dangerous out there!  Cheers!

 

Petit Pavot Biscuit

IMG_5670It is 2:30am here in France.  I can not tell if it is the late night petite café or the excitement I am having over the most glorious dinner that I have eaten.  We traveled about 30 minutes outside of Vaison-la-Romaine to a small town called St. Cecile Les Vignes.  After a couple of wrong turns my school mate from Patricia’s cooking class safely drove us to the wonderful restaurant Campange Vignes Gourmandises.

I would like to first say, a woman, who I believe is the chef’s wife, was the most kind French woman I have met thus far.  As we all know, my french is terrible.  Her English wasn’t perfect but she took the time to explain to me what she thought was the best thing on the menu when I asked her what she thought I should get.  I agreed with her choice and got the lamb for my main course.  It was by far the best and most perfectly cooked lamb I have ever put into my mouth.  I am still trying to figure out how exactly he made it so moist and also added those delicious roasted garlic and vegetables.  The kind woman said the lamb was from the region and I am sure that it played a role in the freshness that the meat gave.  It was divine.

What also struck me as devine were these perfect little, what I will call, Small Poppy Seed Biscuits.  They were brought out at the beginning of our meal with some olives.  These little biscuits where what I think all southerners are trying to perfect when we make biscuits.  They were the size of a quarter, they were moist with butter and sharp with parmesan cheese, and light with the right touch of kneading.  These same words rang true from last week’s eating while in California’s gardens.  Was I still in heaven?  I think so, just on the other side of heaven’s earth.

At the end of the meal, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to ask for the recipe and if not, could I have a bag of those little biscuits to take back to my apartment?  To my astonishment, the chef was obliged to give me the recipe.  He had no more biscuits, of course, for me to take home, because why would any be left?  They were that good.

I must share this with all of my devoted readers.  How can I keep something this good to myself?   I haven’t made them, as I am still traveling but how hard can it be?  Just remember to use fresh ingredients and the best butter and cheese that you can find.   I’ll let you know how mine comes out when I return.  When I do get this down, they will most definitely be on the menu!  

Ingredients

1oog parmesan

100g flour

100g salted butter

25g poppy seeds (could also use sesame seeds)

1 egg yolk

Directions

Mix the first four ingredients by hand and when incorporated, mix in your egg yolk.  Make little balls with the dough and place in an oven that has been preheated to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Simple and delicious just the way we like things.

At the end of the meal, I did ask for my petit café with dessert.  Note to self, the french do NOT take their coffee with dessert.  That comes afterwards, making yet another course.

Bon Appetit!

Heaven on Earth

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Sonoma County

The saying “Ive died on gone to heaven” keeps coming into my mind. When we arrived in California, the air was the first thing to take my breath away.  It is so clean and crisp in San Francisco.  It brought me to the thought of if we are stuck in a place where we don’t experience anything more than the four walls around us, we may only think that those four walls are all that exist.  When I was growing up in the small town of LaGrange, Georgia, I didn’t know what else was out in the world.  LaGrange was a lovely place to grow up but it is also very sheltered from other parts of the country not to mention, the world.  My father wanted me to be close to home when I left for college.  I could have traveled over two states to Mississippi (I know, crazy far) to attend school but one of the reasons I chose not to was because my Dad didn’t want me so far away.  I really didn’t want to be far away from them either out of fear.  But, I remember vividly my first trip past the Mason Dixon line.  I had traveled to Nantucket and we were at a cute little restaurant in the town of Nantucket but, the waitress was from Switzerland.  I began a conversation with her and she explained to me how she and many of her friends traveled every summer over to Nantucket to work.  My eyes grew big at this new thought.  That thought was – there are so many beautiful places to see and experience in this world and there is nothing to be afraid of.  How simple is the thought?  This thought had never occurred to me and it isn’t something that can be taught, only experienced.  People are mostly kind and generous no matter where you go.  I feel lucky and grateful to have learned this.  I do know, not all of us get to travel to far away places, but if we can, I recommend it.  If anything, it teaches us to appreciate our home that we return to.

We began driving north on “the 101”  into the Alexander Valley.  The view alone is spectacular.  Our destination was a beautiful estate on a vineyard that is over 5,000 acres.  There really is nothing like it that I have seen.  In my mind, this is what heaven would be like.  Your eyes could look out in every direction and see beautiful rolling hills, blue sky, white clouds, and green grape vines.  The vegetable garden is probably 4-6 acres large with every food imaginable growing.  There are very few bugs because of the dry air.  We pulled strawberries that were the deepest red, different varieties of pears, peaches, and apples that were the sweetest, most flavorful, juicy fruits to ever come into my mouth.  I never understood the love of figs until I ate one from a fig tree and added a little almond butter and dark chocolate.  My eyes and my mouth are watering with the joy these simple things brought to me.  I want to cry with joy now as I write about it on a plane back home to Atlanta.  It was and is such a special place.  We broke off leaves of dinosaur kale and ate them right on the spot. They weren’t so bitter that you needed something to wash it down.  They were refreshing and warm with the taste of the sun that was just hitting it.  I believe we can have this in Georgia.  It inspires me to crusade for farm to table food and better food in our lunch rooms for our children.  There is no reason why we cannot have more of this here.

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Everything tangible was so heavenly, but what really hit me to be so angelic, were the people.  We were in Northern California for a wedding.  I had never experienced a wedding so beautiful before.  And I don’t mean beauty with the eyes, even though everything was beautiful to my eyes.  I am talking about two people, whom I had never met, exuding love to each other and to all those who had come to share with them their love for each other.  It was amazing.  When the female minister spoke, it was so soothing and more like a meditation than a service.  The wind that blew in the air and rustled in the trees while the couple made their own vows was like a whisper from god blessing them and all of us lucky enough to share in their moment.
There was also the family we stayed with during our visit.  Tara can make you feel as though you had known her for a lifetime.  She has this beautiful way of showing you a comfort and a feeling of being right at home 3,000 miles away from it.  She must have had a thousand other things on her mind and exhausted from being up all night with her little ones,  but she never showed it.   She inspired me to be a better woman, mother, partner and friend.

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Sweetness 

All of this experience, the vision, the tastes, the warm hearts, it is what heaven on earth is to me.  I was lucky enough to experience it.  This, I will bring back with me to Atlanta.  This, I look forward to sharing with all of you.

There is no recipe for this.  Here is to the simple tastes of eating right from the garden, to the mouth, and straight to the heart.  Cheers!

Egg White, Spinach, Mushroom and Gruyère Quiche

Egg White Quiche with Spinach Mushrooms and Gruyere

Egg White Quiche with Spinach Mushrooms and Gruyère

This month is already beaming with surprises.  I love this time of year so much!  There are celebrations everywhere.  Graduations, outdoor festivals, weddings, and bridal showers are all on the calendar for this month and I will be sure to share them with you.   Spring is in full bloom!

As I sit outside typing away, I feel a breeze that is just lightly brushing my skin and the sun is warming my core.  A day like today calls for brunch outdoors with friends and family.  I have the best Quiche recipe for you and your loved ones to enjoy.  It will not disappoint. This is easy to throw together, healthy for our bodies and your guests will love it.  It is delicious to they eyes and mouth.  Feel free to mix in different vegetables.  Just use the same egg and milk ratio.

This filling can be used for 8 smaller Quiche or one large Quiche.   I am using a store-bought pie dough.  There is a time and place for making pie shells but not today!  It is too beautiful outside to be stuck in the kitchen cooking all day.

Ingredients

8 ounces chopped mushrooms

1 small shallot minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

6 large egg whites

1/2 cup milk

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese plus extra for sprinkling on the top

1 Pie shell

 

Directions

Warm your olive oil in a saute pan and add the mushrooms and shallots.  Saute until the mushrooms are soft and then add the garlic and spinach.  Remove from the heat after a minute and the spinach is wilted.  Let this completely cool.  In a separate large bowl, mix your egg whites, milk, cup of Gruyère cheese and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.   Add your cooled mushroom and spinach mixture to the eggs.  Pour your filling into the pie shell or shells and sprinkle the top with your remaining cheese.  Bake the smaller Quiche for 20-25 minutes and the larger Quiche for 35-40 minutes or until the egg is cooked through but don’t overcook the eggs.

There really is no need to have a pie shell if you are looking to leave out a few extra calories.  You can cook the filling in a glass pie dish but it will not take as long!

Serve this with your favorite fruits and a mimosa.  Here is to more beautiful days to come and healthy eating.  Cheers!

 

Let’s Be Quick About This

Strawberry Basil CI don’t know about you, but this time of year, through May, seems to go by too quickly.  There is a lot to accomplish before the school year ends.  The weather is getting warmer, the trees are beginning to bloom, and everyone is excited to be alive and outdoors!  So, we need quick bites for that impromptu of friends that come over to sit on the back patio to enjoy the weather.  Being to busy is no excuse not to stop and enjoy yourself, your family and friends during this beautiful weather.

I am a visual person and there isn’t a better looking appetizer out there these.  These have become a real staple on the Grits and Honey Finger Food Menu When your guests see these they will think you must be the most creative person in the world.  We will know that you are not only creative, but you are smart!  I love having company over to sit on the back patio, but I don’t always have the time to spend making things for myself or friends.  You can ask my daughters.  They sometimes feel a little cheated when they see what Grits and Honey is preparing for parties and not preparing for them to eat.

The first bite is a Basil Balsamic Strawberry and Goat Cheese Crostini.  So simple!  Goat cheese spread on a toasted baguette slice, piled high with a strawberry, basil, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar.  (check out the full recipe on www.cookingforkeeps.com)  Make the Strawberries ahead of time to soak up all the goodness while you freshen up for your company or check a few emails.

Rosemary SkewersThese next bites are delicious and super gorgeous.  I have this huge rosemary bush in my yard and I have always wondered what else I could do with it.  There aren’t enough recipes out there to use up this large bush.  I fill gallon size zip lock bags of this stuff to send to family when I need to prune it back.   Rosemary thrives perfectly in this climate.

For the skewers, I trim about 6 inch sticks off the ends of the bush and take those sprigs inside to wash.  I then take half the leaves off, leaving the tip with leaves.  They really do make the most beautiful skewers.  Slide your mozzarella and your pineapple cubes on a skewer and Viola!  If you have the time you can grill them for a second to make grill marks on the pineapple.  I prefer them without and I don’t think the extra step is necessary.  For a finishing touch, I mix a little chopped Rosemary, olive oil and dash of sea salt.  Drizzle this over your finished skewers.  So beautiful and so easy!

I hope you are enjoying this weather, whether it is a rainy day, like it is here in Atlanta, or a warm sunny day on the beach for spring break.  And don’t worry my Indiana family!  The snow will finally pass and you will start to feel the spring warmth too.  I hope these quick bites will help you to enjoy these beautiful days that seem to pass at lightning speed.  Jouir de!

The Salad

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Garden Salad with Shrimp

I love a good fresh salad.  I am not talking about the lettuce in the bag here.  I want a fresh head of romaine, red leaf, or green leaf lettuce.  With fall now here, lettuce is now in season.  We have great farmers markets here in Atlanta to scope out the new seasonal vegetables.  I think it is always worth the trouble and time to find one you like in your area.  The flavors are worth it.

There are so many different flavors that you can add to your salad.  You could make it with an Asian flare with a ginger soy chicken and a ginger dressing.  You could make it with an Indian flare by adding curry shrimp and chic peas.   And don’t forget the Taco Salad.  Omit that nasty taco shell but pile the lettuce high and add ground beef with cumin, salsa, fresh lime and cilantro and a dollop plain yogurt.

I could eat a salad for every meal.  My favorite all time salad is a Garden Salad with Shrimp.  I would preface this salad as American.

I first get the best looking heads of lettuce as I described above.  I then add what ever ingredients I may have in the refrigerator or pantry.  Sometimes I add artichoke hearts or hearts of palm, tomatoes or dried cranberries, cucumbers or bell peppers, and finally a cheese, which is usually Maytag Blue Cheese or Feta.

I pile all this in a large bowl and then I top it with my sautéed shrimp.  Another great protein is grilled chicken breasts.  I like to season it with soy or sometimes a jerk seasoning if I am filling frisky.  There are some great wet jerk marinades in jars.  I prefer the jar instead of making it myself.  If you have ever made a jerk rub, you know that it takes every spice in the market.

For the dressing I mix a half cup virgin olive oil, 4-5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (I like extra), a little dab of dijon mustard, minced garlic and a squeeze of half a lime.  This is fresh and it has no MSG.  Have you ever looked at what is on the labels of salad dressings?  No good!

To me, salads are so refreshing and can be just as filling as a hamburger.  It can take a little extra work but I believe it is well worth it.  Try saving a little left over salad in a zip lock bag for the following day with your protein in a separate bag.  It is the perfect simple lunch to take to work with you.

Just wait- your body with thank you because you feel so good!