Saturday, April 8, 2017

Deviled Easter Eggs - Perfect for #EasterWeek!



Welcome to day 7 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. 


These eggs can be edited for nearly any holiday. Well, Halloween and Easter in particular. To be honest, they're famous as my Halloween "alien eggs" where I mix the yolks with guacamole or just food coloring (depending on what I have on hand, and place them on my table.




But they work just as well as Easter eggs. Look at that gorgeous color! No food coloring here, just beet juice and vinegar, making for an almost pickled deviled egg.

These are so friggin delicious, I could eat a whole tray myself. The vinegar gives it a nice extra bit of flavor, and keeps it firm, so extracting the yolks doesn't ruin the egg. Enjoy!



Check out the other Easter recipes today!
Desserts- Easter Sugar Cookie Pie from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen 
Amaretto Cream Cake from Making Miracles 
Easter Treats- Sweet Potato Braided Bread from Farm Fresh Feasts

Deviled Easter Eggs
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • The juice from 1 can of beets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp sliced green onion
  • pinch of paprika

-In a bowl or jar, place the hard boiled eggs. Cover with vinegar, beet juice, salt, and enough water to submerge the eggs entirely. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

-Once eggs are a deep purple, drain. Slice each hard-boiled egg in half length-wise and scoop out the yolk into a small bowl. Arrange whites on a plate.

-Whisk the yolk with the mayo, onion, and mustard and spoon into a piping bag. Pipe yolk mixsture into each egg half, and sprinkle with paprika. Serve cold.



ENTER TO WIN! Giveaway open April 3- April 17, 2017 to residents of the continental U. S. age 18 and older. This giveaway is sponsored by Bernadette Martin of Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. No affiliation with the cookbook authors is implied. Winners will be announced on April 18 and will have 48 hours to respond. Prizes will be shipped no later than May 1, 2017. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Easter Nests - #EasterWeek2017



Welcome to day 5 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. 


It's been a crazy amazing week for me, you guys. My book debuted on Tuesday. I was on tv on Wednesday. My wedding plans are falling into place. I had two shows this week with my improv and sketch troupes that were incredible. The sun is shining and Texas is pretty. Some magical combination of gorgeous weather, having my book in my hands, a little antidepressant, and the wedding less than 100 days away just has me happy.

This recipe makes a delicious little sweet treat. I adapted the recipe from Cory's mom's Christmas recipe for "haystacks"--I thought they'd make adorable little nests and I was right! Peanutbutter and butterscotch go together very well. 


*As of writing this... it might not be the best week for America. Which brings up some very conflicting feelings. I try to keep my blog a happy place, so all I'll say here is that it feels very strange and selfish for me to be achieving so much, while there is so much to be concerned about outside my own bubble. Not sure what needs to be done, what can be done, but I'm going to try my damnedest to not just sit idly by. In the meantime, I'll keep this a place for food and lightheartedness, because I'm sure we'll need both.

Let's take a look at what the other bloggers put together today...

Today’s Deliciously Perfect Recipes for Easter:
Appetizer- Dandy Deviled Eggs from Cindy's Recipes and Writings 
Salad- Arugula Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen Side Dish- Cheesy Green Bean Casserole from Making Miracles


Easter Nest Candy
  • 2 cups chow mein noodles
  • 2.5 cups butterscotch chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanutbutter
  • ~1/2 cup candy shell chocolate eggs

-Melt the butterscotch chips. Stir in the peanutbutter, fold in the noodles.

-Scoop the noodles out by the loose cupful, and place on wax paper to set. Shape into nests with lightly oiled hands.

-Before the chocolate has set, press three eggs into the center of each nest.

-Refrigerate 10 minutes, or until firm.



ENTER TO WIN! Giveaway open April 3- April 17, 2017 to residents of the continental U. S. age 18 and older. This giveaway is sponsored by Bernadette Martin of Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. No affiliation with the cookbook authors is implied. Winners will be announced on April 18 and will have 48 hours to respond. Prizes will be shipped no later than May 1, 2017. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Baked Carrot Cake Donuts - #EasterWeek2017


Welcome to day 3 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. 


Okay so, carrots. Did you know that you really shouldn't feed your rabbit too many? I didn't. Apparently, they're not nearly as good for them as leafy greens.

Likewise, you probably shouldn't consist on a diet of just carrot cake. Especially carrot cake donuts. Though you might want to. My fiance's aunt is an accomplished baker, and she gave these the thumbs up the other day.


If you don't have a donut pan, get one. These babies are pretty much cupcakes in a more fun shape. Plus fried donuts, while crazy good, are sooo high calorie. Not that these aren't, honestly, I have no idea.

Anyways. Enjoy #Easterweek! Enter via the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card or a handful of cookbooks--my own included!

Today’s Deliciously Perfect Recipes for Easter: 

 Appetizers-
 Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen 
Green Egg Salad Sandwich from Farm Fresh Feasts

 Main Dishes- Bourbon Maple Turkey Ham from Cindy's Recipes and Writings
 Sweet Pineapple Glazed Ham from Making Miracles 


Baked Carrot Cake Donuts
For the Donuts

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used bourbon vanilla)

For the Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a donut baking pan with nonstick spray or coat wells with butter* and set aside.

-In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, carrots, pineapple, coconut, olive oil, vanilla, and eggs.

-Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined. Fill the donut wells until they are just barely full. Bake for 13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.**

-Prepare the icing: in a stand mixer set on medium-high, whip the cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the mixture is thick. Slowly add the milk until the desired consistency is reached.

-Spoon into a piping bag or use a knife to spread onto cooled donuts.

*if you do not have a donut pan, you can use a typical cupcake pan
**for a more firm, crispy donut, turn each donut over in their well and bake for an additional 5 minutes.


ENTER TO WIN! Giveaway open April 3- April 17, 2017 to residents of the continental U. S. age 18 and older. This giveaway is sponsored by Bernadette Martin of Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. No affiliation with the cookbook authors is implied. Winners will be announced on April 18 and will have 48 hours to respond. Prizes will be shipped no later than May 1, 2017. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Dream 24 Years in the Making - Pub Date for How to Eat a Lobster, my first book!


Photo by Steve Rogers Photography 


It's finally here! The release of my very first book, How to Eat a Lobster and Other Culinary Enigmas Explained, is TODAY!! I feel inspired to tell you the tale of how I got here. If you order my book, please review it on Amazon <3 And, take a selfie with your copy and tag @forking_up and #howtoeatalobster and you'll be entered to win a sweet tote bag!

In 1994, I was six years old. I'd just learned to read, and was devouring books as quickly as I could. I hadn't yet thought about writing any, since my handwriting was pretty crap and we'd only gotten through the early stages of how to spell actual words.

Jane Yolen, a nationally acclaimed author who has been called "The Hans Christian Anderson of the New World," lived in our little town of 3000. Each year, she'd hold a writing contest and pick a few winners per grade. I was in first grade, and I won a prize: An autographed book by a real, live, famous author. My book was called "My Garden and the Humongous Flower" a fantasy tale about the community garden plot my family had just rented.

A more recent Jane Yolen Writing Contest group of writers

Clearly, this meant I was the best writer in the entire class. Grade. Nay, the entire WORLD!--It is a great and powerful thing when you tell a child they're good at something.

I immediately got a journal for 200 tickets at the local arcade and started writing down poorly-spelled story ideas. Mostly sequels to my favorite books, or stories about unicorns or cannibalistic witches (I had a weird fascination with cannibalism as a child and I have no idea why) and soon started recording my daily life as well. After all, if I was going to be a famous author, people would want to read about my life.

Jane Yolen (in the middle) and her daughter, author Heidi Stemple, at the Writing Contest they invited me to a few years back

I didn't win a prize again until 6th grade, but that didn't stop me. While I told everyone I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, deep down I knew I wanted to write books. I don't think I even knew writing was something you could make money off of until I was in middle school.

In high school, thanks to two English teachers--one who never hid how much he loved and supported my writing, and another who kept his support more secret and challenged me because he knew it would make me better, both absolutely instrumental in making me a better writer--convinced me that writing was the career I should pursue. I graduated, and was awarded the Jane Yolen Scholarship, and set out to pursue a BFA degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College.

My first day at Emerson College, meeting my Freshman year roommate

Emerson was amazing. I was surrounded by creative young people and I learned how to write in all different styles. I also learned how to be an editor, and decided working behind the scenes was probably a better career path than being the one in the spotlight. I thought graduation would bring me to a publishing house in Boston or New York City, but I found myself back home, hoping the journey would continue with a hometown boyfriend instead. I ended up taking a job in Marketing, since Western Massachusetts didn't have many publishing opportunities.

In the meantime, I began to blog. Somewhere along the line I'd developed a love of recipes and all things food, and I needed a place to keep it all. When The Lisa Ekus Group unveiled their Twitter Contest, Sign Me Sal, a March Madness-esque bracket contest where each round eliminated half of the entrants. You basically were tweeting them a book proposal, which I'd learned to do during my studies to be an editor.

My agent, Sally and me at a chili cookoff!


I made it through the first round. Then the second. Then the third. Then I was in the final two. And finally, I won. My dream was coming true! Jane Yolen even invited me to that same contest, to talk about my writing journey. I wrote about that amazing experience over at my old blog.

What followed was two years of my agent, Sally Ekus, working tirelessly to get me signed. A new author with just a handful of clips and a modest blog following is no easy sell. But she didn't give up. Eventually, Quirk Books approached her with a concept, and she introduced us.

The rest, is history. What followed was an amazingly collaborative effort with my editor and myself, that resulted in the beautiful book you see today. On shelves. In real bookstores. TODAY. Not to mention the incredible PR team that's already giving my little book a bunch of great press.


Today is book 1. I hope it leads to book 2, but I think that little girl with stars in her eyes crossing the stage to receive the first accolades for her writing would be proud of me either way.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#EasterWeek Win a $200 gift card! - Mini Croque Madames




Welcome to day 1 of #EasterWeek hosted by Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
This week we are celebrating Easter and Bernadette’s blogging anniversary with all kinds of delicious recipes and a giveaway! From appetizers to ham recipes, we have everything you need for a great Easter dinner or brunch, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 Amazon gift card. 


So, what are two food items you think of when you think of Easter?

Ham, and eggs, right? Probably chocolate, but we'll get to that later in the week. For our first day of Easter Week, I thought I'd make the queen of breakfast sandwiches: the Croque Madame. It's an upgrade to the Croque Monsieur because it includes a fried egg, which really amps up the flavors of the rest of the sandwich.


Since Easter is a family holiday, I thought these mini croques would be perfect for an Easter Brunch. This way, you get all the flavor of a delicious heavy sandwich, in two little bites, so your plate has room for more items and your belly has room for chocolate later!

Before we get to the recipe, check out the other Easter Week contributors below!

Today's Deliciously Perfect Recipes for Easter:
Main Dishes:
Slow Cooker Honey Ham from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
Peppered Parmesan Asparagus Quinoa Quiche Muffins from It's Yummi 
Banana Crumb Waffles from Cindy's Recipes and Writings 
Side Dish:
Wild Violet Butter from Farm Fresh Feasts 
Dessert:
Blueberry Grunt from Making Miracles


Mini Croque Madames

  • 1 loaf French bread, sliced
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 lb Black Forrest Ham, cut into strips
  • 1 cup caramelized onion (about 2 small onions, cooked over low heat with a tablespoon of butter and a bit of salt, stirred occasionally until caramel in color)
  • Dijon mustard (enough to spread on each sandwich)
  • 6 small eggs (or, enough to top each sandwich)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
For the bechamel sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of parm, cheddar, and gruyere) 
  • 1 tsp parsley
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

-Prepare the sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter, and whisk until a thick paste forms. Slowly pour in the cream, and whisk until thick. Add the cheese and parsley, and set aside.

-Brush one side of each French bread slice with melted butter. Arrange half the slices on a cookie sheet, butter side down. Top each with onions, ham, and cheese.

-With the remaining slices, spread a bit of Dijon mustard on the non-butter side, and place on top of each assembled sandwich, Dijon-side down.

-Bake for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through and topping with a bit more gruyere. The sandwiches are done when the bread is golden brown.

-Generously oil a 6-well muffin tin. Crack an egg into each well. Bake until the whites have set, 8-10 minutes, checking halfway through.

-To assemble the sandwiches: top each with cooked egg, a drizzle of bechamel sauce, and the egg.


ENTER TO WIN! Giveaway open April 3- April 17, 2017 to residents of the continental U. S. age 18 and older. This giveaway is sponsored by Bernadette Martin of Rants From My Crazy Kitchen. No affiliation with the cookbook authors is implied. Winners will be announced on April 18 and will have 48 hours to respond. Prizes will be shipped no later than May 1, 2017. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Poached Salmon with Brown Butter Sauce - Wheatsville Spring Seafood!

Disclaimer: I received a $50 gift card to Wheatsville Coop for purposes of this post.

I'm excited to bring you another collaboration with Wheatsville! If you're not from Austin, Texas, you probably don't know about this awesome market. Wheatsville Food Coop is a full service, natural foods cooperative grocery store, which has been serving the central Austin community since 1976. This month, I was challenged to welcome in Spring with a seafood recipe.

When I think of Spring, I think of the house I lived in when I was 8 years old, with the pond in the backyard. Every spring, the town would hold a fishing derby in that pond--it actually was on town land, but I considered it my back yard--and for the few years we lived there I'd rush down on that weekend in the spring to fish with my dad.


I rarely caught anything, but fishing is a fond memory I have with my dad, who passed away in 2007. Although we would catch trout or pike in that pond (and we'd never eat them, they always tasted too much like pond water), my dad would cook salmon for us often. It was one of the few things he could actually cook well, as he was a pretty terrible cook in all other cuisine.


In short, spring reminds me of fish, and reminds me of my dad, so I am so happy to make this recipe for you all. My dad used a cream sauce on his dishes, but for this I used browned butter to cut down on the heaviness. After all, the days are getting longer and the need for thick and creamy dishes is more of a winter thing.

I paired this fresh spring dinner with crispy roasted brussels sprouts and some boiled new potatoes with butter and chives. It would also go lovely with some fresh grilled asparagus if you don't want to turn on the oven. And feel free to drizzle the sauce over everything, it's delicious!


Poached Salmon with Brown Butter Sauce

  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 boullion cube
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped*
  • 1 lemon, half juiced, half sliced

-In a deep skillet, bring the water, wine, vinegar, and boullion cube to a boil. Make sure there is enough liquid in the pan to cover the fillet.

-Reduce to a simmer, then gently drop in the fillet, flesh-side up. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until firm and opaque. Set aside in foil to keep warm.

-In a small saucepan, brown the butter: over medium heat melt the butter and heat until foam has bubbled up and then subsided, swirling every couple of seconds. The butter will be light brown and have a nutty aroma.

-Remove the butter from the heat and stir in the dijon, dill, and lemon juice.

-Serve the salmon fillet topped with lemon slices and drizzled with the browned butter sauce.



*I forgot I bought fresh dill from Wheatsville for this recipe, and ended up using dried. It'll taste even better with fresh!

Photos by my extremely talented fiancรฉ. If you'd like to hire him for any photo, logo, or other graphic needs, check out his website! Corysorel.com.

Do you live in Austin, Texas? Do you want to win a $30 Wheatsville gift card? Leave a comment and let me know you live in the ATX and I'll randomly pick one winner!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Madonna of Food - Cauliflower Risotto



Meat, vegetable, starch. That's how all my meals have started from the beginning of time. So now that I'm trying to reduce my carbs, that 1/3 of my plate is somewhat hard to get around. And now that I'm #SweatingfortheWedding I'm more conscious than ever of what's on my plate and in my belly, as I try to shed off a dress size.

Thankfully, cauliflower has positioned itself as the Madonna of the food world--always reinventing itself. When you're eating a plant-heavy, low-carb diet (which I keep trying and failing to do, tbh) it's nearly magical. Cauliflower can be mashed potatoes. It can be pizza crust. It can be rice.

It can even be risotto.


Now, it'll never actually taste like fluffy potatoes or starchy, delicious rice, but it'll come close. I love trying to recreate my favorite starchy foods with this crazy chameleon of a veggie. This risotto came out pretty great. It pairs well with grilled chicken or steak, or some marinated portobello mushroom slices.

Let me know what you eat it with!

Also... It is two weeks from my launch date for my book, How to Eat a Lobster and Other Culinary Enigmas Explained. I am BEYOND excited! Quirk was kind enough to send me a box of my books, and I'm running an Instagram giveaway to give a lucky reader a copy. Check it out and enter! And, if you leave a comment here, I'll add an extra entry into the hat for you :)





And now, onto the recipe!

Cauliflower Risotto
  • 1 head cauliflower, riced/shredded (or one bag riced cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream OR coconut cream
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe's 3 cheese blend)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water slurry (if needed)
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp pesto
  • 3 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice (I used coconut)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

-In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil until shiny. Add the onions and garlic and cook until transluscent and fragrant. Add the wine and let reduce by 2/3.

-Add the cauliflower and mix well. Pour in the stock and cook until cauliflower is just soft. Add the heavy cream and mix to combine. If the mixture is too loose and liquidy, add the corn starch mixture and combine well.

-Fold in the remaining ingredients. Serve hot.