Roasted Figs & Goat Cheese with Honey, Balsamic, & Hazelnuts

I bought some amazing goat cheese at a local specialty cheese & wine store.
I knew that I had to pair it with the LSU Purple figs growing in my backyard.

I've finally been able to pick a dozen or so.
(I've been fighting the birds non-stop.)

These figs are so sweet and delicious, 
and paired with the tart, creaminess of the goat cheese is a great combination.

Roasted Figs & Goat Cheese with Honey, Balsamic, & Hazelnuts
8 figs, cut in half
2 ounces goat cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped hazelnuts
baguette slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In an oven-safe dish, place the figs along the edges and the goat cheese in the middle.  Sprinkle some freshly cracked black pepper  and then drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over the figs and cheese.  Sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

Cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the figs begin to soften and the cheese starts to melt.

Serve on freshly toasted baguette slices.


Thirsty Thursday--Sour Apple Jalapeño Margarita

I'm so happy that it is officially Fall.
If the weather would just realize it, everyone would be happy.

But alas, I'm paying respect to the autumnal season with this little gem.
(I even added a few pumpkins and copper in the background for ambiance.)

(You know that I have to add a little jalapeño, I've got a million of them.) 

(You know that I had to add a little jalapeño to the mix, I've got a million of them.)

Sour Apple Jalapeño Margarita
(adapted from Kitchen Confidante)
Makes 2 cocktails

2 Granny Smith apples, juiced (about 6 ounces)
4 ounces silver tequila
2 ounces Grand Marnier
3 ounces lime juice
2 ounces agave nectar or simple syrup
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced thinly
6-8 dashes orange bitters
coarse salt

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the apple juice, tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice, and agave nectar.  Shake vigorously and pour into glasses rimmed with lime juice and coarse salt.  Add jalapeño slices and a few dashes of bitters.  

(If you want your margarita spicier--add the jalapeños before shaking.)


What I'm Reading

Last weekend our book club met and we enjoyed a fantastic night out at a local Pizzeria.
We stuffed ourselves and enjoyed some great wine.
It was definitely the place to be.

This month we met at Frank's Pizza Napoletana.
And it's not just any old pizza joint.

Frank's is special in that all of the pizzas are cooked in a STEFANO FERRARA OVEN.
The pizzas actually cook in like 2 minutes, or something crazy!!

It's explained as 
"All the bricks and mortar are actually made from volcanic material from Mount Vesuvius. It is the focal point of our open kitchen, our menu and our concept and definitely the true heart and soul of our pizza. It’s the intense heat this oven generates that makes the pizzas taste so great. These ovens are hard to tame, but even harder not to love. This ancient style of oven is a dynamic living thing, constantly in flux. The way the oven stores the heat, the smoky flavor imparted on the pizza from the wood and the speed at which it cooks are all the keys to producing true Pizza Napoletana."

We decided to get a few pizzas and all share so that we could taste them all.
They were all great.

Salmone Affumicato
(FRANK’S Pecan Smoked Atlantic Salmon
Capers-Shaved Red Onion-Creme Fraiche

San Daniele Con Rucola
(Grape Tomatoes-FRANK’S Mozzarella
Italian Tomatoes-Prosciutto Crudo
Arugula-Pecorino Romano-Lemon & E.V.O.O.)

Margherita Extra
(Mozzarella Di Bufala-Basil-Italian Tomatoes
Pecorino Romano-E.V.O.O.)

(Peperonata-Shaved Red Onion-Mushrooms
Asparagus-Garlic-French Goat Cheese
Pecorino Romano-Italian Tomatoes-Fresh Thyme)

Fig & Pig
(Port Glazed Black Mission Figs-Fontina
Panna-Pecorino Romano-Gorgonzola
Sliced Prosciutto Crudo & White Truffle Oil)

So after we stuffed ourselves, we lightly discussed September's book club selection.

I really enjoyed this book.
It took me a while to get through it, though.
I had to put it down at times and read something else.
But always went back to it.
I really enjoyed the concept of the main character's life and how history could change with just a single action.

Here is a review from GoodReads.

Next month we are tackling Stephen King's latest.
(Which is the Shining#2--I'm already a little freaked out just thinking about reading this!!)

It's Ghost Tour month and we are all super excited!
Check it out here.

It's so much fun!!

So, what are you reading??

Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce and Poblano Rice

I promised for a delicious recipe using the delicious Chipotle and Ancho Peppers in Adobo that I shared yesterday.
Well, lucky you, I've got two for you.

I think that I've confessed  my love of Tex-Mex before,
but I guess I'll do it again.

I am a Tex-Mex junkie.
I could eat it everyday.
The problem is that I usually am not that sure in my cooking skills for this illustrious cuisine.

Usually I can just go to a super fun Mexican restaurant and get a really good meal for a really good price.

That is, until I discovered this recipe.
It literally changed my perspective of Tex-Mex.
I could, actually make something that tasted like it came from the best Mexican restaurant right in my own kitchen.

It was spicy and super cheesy all at the same time.

I know, some of you are shaking your heads and wondering why I am thinking that Mexican food is hard to prepare.
I don't think it's actually hard.
It's just kind of difficult to get that right proportion of spices correct.

And when it is wrong, it is so wrong.

Ok, so I'll stop my rambling and get on to the recipes.

Chicken Enchiladas with Poblano Cream Sauce and Poblano Rice
For the Enchilada filling:
2 cups shredded chicken
12 ounces monterey jack and sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded ( I used 8 ounces monterey jack and 4 ounces cheddar)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
cracked pepper
zest from 1 lime
2 roasted poblano peppers, chopped
2 Chipotle or Ancho peppers in adobo, chopped
1 cup sautéed onion
1 cup poblano cream sauce
12 6-8 inch tortillas ( I used corn)
olive oil

For the Poblano Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups hot chicken sauce
3/4 cup sour cream
2 roasted poblanos, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Serve with:
Avocado slices
sour cream

To make the enchilada filling:
In a medium bowl, add the shredded chicken,  2/3 of the shredded cheese, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper, lime zest, poblano peppers, chipotle peppers, and onion.  Mix well.

To make the sauce:
Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Whisk in the flour until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the sour cream.  Add the poblanos and the garlic powder and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.

To assemble the enchiladas:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare 2 8x13 pans,  Place a little bit of the poblano cream sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Soften your tortillas by placing in the oven or the microwave.  Distribute the filling evenly between the tortillas, roll, and place seam side down on the sauce.  Brush will olive oil and bake for 10 minutes until crispy and golden.  Cover with the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until golden and bubbly.  Garnish with avocado slices and sour cream.

For the rice:
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 poblano peppers, roasted and chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup long-grain white rice

In a medium sauce pan, heat the 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and chilies and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.  Add the adobo sauce, garlic, cumin, salt, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock.  Remove from heat.

In another pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat.  Add the rice and cook, stirring until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the mixture from the other pan and stir to incorporate most of the liquid, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining stock, stir and cover.  Lower the heat to medium-low.  Simmer without stirring, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.


Chipotle and Ancho Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Remember when I told you that my peppers are producing at a ridiculous rate??

I have been going crazy trying to think of things to do with them.
This time I thought that I would make one of my favorite sauces with all of the jalapeños and poblanos.

I have to warn you ahead of time, 
that I don't think there is a good way to photograph these little guys.
They just aren't that pretty.

But if you are a fan of smokey and spicy, 
these are for you.

(FYI--if case you are wondering,
smoked and dried jalapeños are called chipotles and poblanos are called anchos.)

You see, I told you they weren't anything special to look at.
The beauty of them is in the smoke.

Chipotle and Ancho Peppers in Adobo Sauce

7-10 smoked and dried chipotle and ancho peppers, de-stemmed and split lengthwise
3 cups water
1/2 onion, diced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Here are the smoked peppers.
We smoked them at 150 degrees for about 4 hours until they were completely dried.
I discarded any that got too dry and crumbly.

In a medium saucepan, place the prepared peppers in the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to sit for 1/2-1 hour or until they start to soften and rehydrate.

Next add the onion, vinegar, garlic, ketchup, soy sauce, salt, and black peppercorns.  Allow the mixture to simmer again for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until thickened.

At this point, you can place in a jar and store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or process for 20 minutes in a water bath.  They will last for 1 year canned. (I used 1/2 pint jars and this recipe made 3 jars.)

Stop back by tomorrow for a delicious recipe using these smokey and spicy little fellows.


Caramelized Onion, Poblano, and Tomato Cheese Dip

I'm one of those people that think cheese should have it's own food group.
I adore cheese, any cheese---
sharp, mild, creamy...
You name it, I love it.

I especially love it paired with the sweetness of tomatoes and onions.
Add a little spice and it's perfect.

This dip is inspired from my almost nightly dinners of cheese, crackers, and tomatoes.
(I confess--I've been a little lazy this summer, 
not wanting to cook.)

Caramelized Onion, Poblano, and Tomato Cheese Dip

(Printer Friendly)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato, diced
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 small tomatoes, sliced for topping
1/4 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded for topping

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the poblano pepper and onion.  Cook over low heat until they start to caramelize.   Add the garlic and tomato.  Cook until soft.  Don't burn the garlic.

Remove from heat and add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of the Monterrey Jack cheese and the cheddar cheese.  Stir until beginning to melt.  Top with the tomato slices and the other 1/4 of  Monterrey Jack cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to low-broil.  Place pan under low-broil until the cheese is melty and bubbles.
Serve with crackers.


Thirsty Thursday--The Madagascar Martini

This martini is a sweet treat.
Cool and refreshing.

It is a refreshing treat, 
for a hot summer day.

Yes, it's still summer here.
The weather man said that we are getting a cold front and it's expected to be 93 by the weekend.
Woo, hoo!!!
(I'm rolling my eyes right now, if you haven't guessed.)

I absolutely love flavored vodkas.
I especially love vanilla vodka.
It's so sweet and yummy.
Perfect for so many cocktails.

The Madagascar Martini

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3 ounces vanilla vodka
1 1/2 ounces lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
6 mint leaves, plus more for garnish

In a cocktail shaker,  muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup.  Add ice, vanilla vodka, and lime juice. Shake until well blended and pour into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with mint leaves.


Cinnamon Bread

One of my super sweet patients gave me this recipe.
She told me that it was her late husband's favorite.
I think it might be my husband's favorite too.

I compare it to Amish bread, 
but so much easier.
(No starter, no feeding.)

Cinnamon Bread
(makes 2 loaves)

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2 sticks butter, softened
2 2/3 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, 2 cups of the sugar, and the eggs.  Add the buttermilk, flour, and baking soda.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2/3 cups sugar and the cinnamon.

Prepare 2 loaf pans and place 1/4 of the batter into each pan.  Sprinkle with 3/4 of the cinnamon sugar mixture onto each loaf.  Top each loaf pan with the remaining batter and then sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of each.  Swirl the cinnamon sugar into the batter with knife.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

(Thank you to Ms. Jones for the recipe.  
We love it!!)


Cinnamon Chile Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that doesn't taste like you are eating a vegetable.
(Make sense??)

I especially love sweet potatoes roasted.
It makes them even sweeter, if that is possible.

I've made sweet potatoes roasted several different ways,
but I think this might be my favorite.
Cinnamon, chile, cumin, and paprika make for a smoky, delicious combination.

Cinnamon Chile Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
6 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika (smoked)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
sour cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a large non-stick baking sheet with sides.  Add the potatoes to a large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices including the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss well.  Spread out on the baking sheet and roast until tender and golden about 25-35 minutes depending on how well done you like them.  Serve immediately and garnish with sour cream if desired.


The Best Pasta Salad

This recipe is from my Mom.

Growing up, my Dad would not eat any pasta, whatsoever.
So really, I grew up not eating much pasta.
We usually had rice or potatoes.

My Mom would make pasta sometimes,
but always rice or potatoes, too.

She was much nicer than me.
I make one thing and either you eat it or you don't.

Now, my Dad has softened a bit and will occasionally eat pasta in small amount.
So whenever my Mom makes this salad I know that I'm going to get a portion.
(Yea me!!)

This recipe is so simple, 
but is so good I had to share.

It's best when chilled overnight for all the flavors to really combine.
She makes it without cheese,
but I usually add some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano whenever I make it.

The Best Pasta Salad
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2 green onions, diced
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, diced 
1  small can black olives, loosely chopped 
1/2 container cherry tomatoes , cut in half 
1 pound spiral pasta, cooked al dente
3-4 tablespoons creamy Italian salad dressing
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Chill overnight for flavors to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Currently Loving, Wanting, Needing, Wishing...

I think the title says it all.

Every year, about this time,
I get into a full-blown nesting mode.
I get the urge to start cleaning out, re-doing, cozying up.

I bring out the leopard, throw the pretty blankets on the furniture, and start re-arranging my entire life and house to orient my need for coziness and comfort.

I just can't help it.
Fall is my season.
(I know everyone says it's theirs, but it is mine--let's get this straight.)

So here's my list of
  loving, wanting, needing, wishing
for fall.

I'm completely obsessed with this dinner party by Nicole Richie--it's so beautiful and casual.
I know the colors are not really fall like, but I love the ideas and food.
I'm definitely using as an inspiration soon.

(Look closely at the table setting, these glasses are in my shop--LouLou Sucre).

I am lusting after these earrings in tortoise... or glitter or jet--too many decisions.
(These would be the perfect everyday fall earrings-in my signature pattern.)

I need this purse badly and this clutch.
(Do you see a trend??)

I think I'm going to splurge and get these flats this year...  everyone needs a little glitter.

I want these boots, or some similar in my life.

(I cannot afford even the stitch on them, though, so I will continue to look until I find some exactly like them at about 1/8 of the price!!)

I can see this on my coffee table--and these for a few get togethers I'm planning on hosting this fall.

I'm dying to re-wallpaper my half bath in this.
(The husband says no way--but I love it!!)

Now, on to the food.

OMG is all I have to say about this...

So I'm sure I'll continue to add on to this list daily,
but there you are for now.

What are your current wishes, needs, loves??

I'm dying to know.

Thirsty Thursday--Rum Sidecar

I love to frequent chic bars and restaurants whenever I go out of town.
I always try something that I've never had before.
Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don't.

This time I liked it.
This cocktail is similar to one I had in a super-fabulous Dallas bar.
(I think most bars in Dallas are pretty super-fabulous, though.)

I absolutely love rum cocktails,
maybe not as much as tequila,
but rum is a close second.

The lemon really lightens the rum and the Grand Marnier gives it a fruity little punch.
Sidecars are usually made with brandy or cognac, 
but I promise if you are a rum fan, you will love this cocktail.

Rum Sidecar
3 ounces dark rum
1 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar plus more for the rim of the glass
lemon twist for garnish

Combine the rum, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until well combined.  Rub a highball glass or martini glass with lemon juice and rim with sugar, fill with ice.  Pour the contents of the shaker into the sugar rimmed glass and garnish with a lemon twist.


Fried Pickles with Spicy Ranch Dip

A few weeks ago we ate at a fun pub in Lafayette, LA and had the best fried pickles ever.

Ever since then I've been craving them.
I knew that as soon as football season started, 
I had no excuse not to make up a batch of these bad boys.

I know that if you aren't from the south,
fried pickles are something of a mystery.

But trust me, you can't quit eating these salty little treats.

I paired mine with some spicy ranch dip and they were gone in no time flat.

This is a super easy tailgating recipe.
Everyone will love it.

Fried Pickles with Spicy Ranch Dip

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For the pickles:

1/3 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 jar slice pickle chips, drained
canola oil for frying

For the spicy ranch dip:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 dashes of tabasco sauce

To make the pickles:

Drain the pickles well, and dry with a paper towel.  Combine all of the other ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add the pickles individually and shake to coat.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees in a heavy duty pan over high heat.  Drop the pickles individually into the oil for approximately 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel.

To make the spicy ranch dip:

Whisk all of the ingredients together and store in a sealed container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.