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Wednesday
Jul232014

Women for Women Dinner in Downtown Raleigh


Sunday night, I had one of the best meals I have had in a long time. What made it even better was the cause. This dinner was put on by local women in our community, that are chefs and restaurant owners, to send a beautiful girl (Karla Salgado) to college. She is the first in her family to go to college and already has a partial scholarship to Meredith College. Here is an article written by Andrea Weigl for the N&O blog. The event was held at the Flanders Gallery.

When I read about this event and saw this line up of chefs I knew I had to go! My foodie friend, Jessica (her blog: The Miller Lite), was the perfect person to go with to this event.

The food was fantastic. These chefs really poured their heart and soul in to this meal. There were six chefs from Fiction Kitchen, Poole's Diner, Centro Mexican Restaurant, Green Planet Catering, Garland and Escazu Artisan Chocolates. If you have not been to downtown Raleigh to check out these places- go this weekend!

I can not say this enough... the food was incredible! The first course was an amazing watermelon gazpacho. It was sweet and acidy with a sweet corn mousse on top. The consistency of the mousse was like sour cream. The micro greens were a perfect addition because they were grassy and bitter.

The second course was Jessica's favorite. It was a seafood salad with shrimp, clams and crab meat. Along with the seafood there was peas, crispy okra, lemon curd and a cherry tomato vinaigrette.

The third course was probably my favorite. The servers started by bringing out a small spoon that had caramel and hot sauce on it. Sweet and spicy! Braised pork butt with pickled onions,served family style, along with charred green tomatoes and spicy corn relish. It was also served with homemade beet and corn tortillas. When we first got to the event we actually saw them grilling these outside. They were incredible. I never want to eat a corn tortilla from anywhere else again.

The forth course was braised flank steak. This was not just any flank steak. It was like the texture of roast beef and was finished on the grill. It was so incredible. Along side was a tomato and onion salad with a spicy avocado- cliantro dressing.

Time for dessert! I was unsure of this when I first sat down and saw the menu. This dessert was incredible and unlike anything I have eaten. There was a layer of dulche de leche sauce that unbelievable! I contemplated licking the plate. On top of that was fresh berries with sauce, columbian queso fresco and a stewed apricot. I have never had anything like the queso fresco. It was cold and creamy. The only thing I could compare it to was maybe cottage cheese but it was much creamier than that. If you ever get a chance to try it- go for it!

The surprise final course was spicy dark chocolate truffles. Everyone was cheering because they saw the name Ezcasu on the menu but didn't see any chocolate on the menu.

Friday
Jul182014

Sometimes You Need an Ice Cream Sandwich

I teased you guys with this picture on Facebook and Instagram and few days ago. I'm just now finally getting to posting the recipe. Trust me... it was worth the wait!

Dave and I recently went to Asheville on our "eat vacation". One of the best things we ate were these ice cream sandwiches from the street cart called Sunshine Sammies. If you are in Asheville, you need to RUN to this place!

Ever since we got back, I have had ice cream sandwiches on the brain. I really want to try and create a soft chewy cookie like the ones we had eaten in Asheville. 

I came across a recipe by Alton Brown for chewy chocolate chip cookies. After watching the video, I learned there are three key ingredients to making a cookie chewy: dark brown sugar, egg yolk and bread flour (extra gluten). 

These ice cream sandwiches turned put perfect. The cookie is soft, chewy and dense but not overly rich.

 

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yield 15 LARGE ice cream sandwiches

Adapted from Alton Brown's chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe

 

16 ounces unsalted butter

4 1/2 c. bread flour (I used King Arthur)

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa (I used Valhorna Cocoa powder)

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 1/2 c. dark brown sugar (the darker the sugar the chewier the cookie)

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 ounces of whole milk

3 tsp vanilla extract

1 Gallon of Ice Cream (2 typical containers- any flavor)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Mix flour, salt, soda, and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. 

Add butter to stand mixer and add granulated and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Whisk eggs, yolks, milk, and vanilla- I just did this in a large glass measuring cup.

Add egg mixture to the butter mixture slowly beating on low speed, until throughly combined. 

Gradually add flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture on low speed. You will need to scrap the sides and bottom frequently.

Line two very shallow 9"x13" pans (I actually used disposable pans from the grocery store) with parchment paper- this is key to getting the cookie off the pan without breaking.

Scrape half the dough in to each pan. It is very thick batter so spread the batter out to the edges and as evenly as you can get it.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Check doneness by using a fork or toothpick. Since it's a shallow pan they baked quickly. 

Then let cool completely. You do not want your ice cream to melt!

 

Once cooled, scoop ice cream on to one layer. I used two different flavors for variety. Just be aware of how you cut them otherwise you will have some that are a mix of two flavors. Which is good too!

You also want to make sure you have ice cream all the way to the edge otherwise the sandwiches on the edge will not have enough ice cream. 

I used chocolate and vanilla. You could use anything that goes with chocolate- salted caramel, mint, strawberry, etc. Or you could make your own ice cream! Just remember the quality of ice cream will affect the quality of your ice cream sandwich!

Once you have all the ice cream scooped out on to the one layer then you can use a piece of wax paper or parchment paer to smooth out the ice cream. Then you want to put the top layer on. This is why you want to use parchment paper. I actually lifted the layer and flip it over back on to the pan so that the "pretty side" was on the top of the ice cream sandwich.

Once you put the top layer on- be careful to not break the cookie layer but press GENTLY on it. Then freeze for at least two hours (I did mine over night). 

Then it's time to cut them and wrap them!

I used a sharp serated knife. They are easier to cut when they have melted a little bit but you don't want them to melt too much otherwise it just makes a mess! You can stick part of them back in the freezer as you work.

Cut into desired size squares and wrap with wax paper and store in a freezer ziploc bag in the freezer. I noticed after three days the cookie is not as soft but still delicious!

ENJOY! If you make these yummy ice cream sandwiches, please come back and post a comment below and let me know what flavor combination you made and how much you enjoyed them!

Sunday
Jul132014

Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin- Gluten Free/ Dairy Free

 

This is the first post in a new series I am starting called Everday Meals. My goal is to bring you healthy, easy, kid-friendly meals. These are meals you can make at the last minute when your not sure what else to cook but meals that your family will love!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul072014

Free Printable

I have a created a new piece of art work. I wanted to make it available to everyone to download for free! This is a high resolution scan of a watercolor painting I created. I taped mine to my refrigerator with washi tape but you could frame it and hang it for everyone to see. Just enter your email in the form below and I will send the link directly to your email.
Thursday
Jun262014

Do you want to be your own boss?

 

Have you been thinking of starting your own small business? Being your own boss, setting your own schedule, spending more time with your kids...

These things sound amazing and glamorous, the real American dream. Of course being your own boss can be great there are definitely things to consider.  

Click to read more ...