8 Months of Silence

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Well, it has been approximately 8 months since I’ve done anything remotely productive on here. I would normally apologize, but I won’t. And, let me tell you, it’s because a heck of a lot has happened in these short (or long) 8 months.  Some things I will chat about, others I am not quite ready to share, but I may be ready in time.

The first reason I have completely neglected this blog? Well, we made the tough decision to sell our home. It is never an easy decision, but when weighing a whole host of pros & cons to packing and shipping out, we realized it was the right decision to make. Now, let me tell you, selling your house is difficult.

No real ground-breaking realization there, but it is something that can only be realized when lived.

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It is tough when you love the home you’ve created, especially when it was created from nothing (our house was a shell when we purchased it, complete with tin patches on the floors that were once hardwood). It’s not easy to have this home scrutinized. It may be even more difficult to have your house liked, even close to loved, with no bites from buyers.

As you make a house a home, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into the transformation. Like fine Italian leather shoes, it takes years to break it in and get it just right. Truthfully, I have never owned fine Italian leather shoes, so I am taking others’ words for it. And using the metaphor for the shoes I often purchase barely held up.

Each showing brings about a new level of stress as to whether the house is clean enough and staged properly. Throwing a toddler into the process only increases the anxiety! Especially considering that the majority of showings take place during the dinner hour through bedtime. Although, he somehow managed to keep up his spirits despite it all.

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We put our house on the market in the beginning of the spring. We had so many showings. So so many. But the market was completely flooded, so after a couple months of showings with no bites, we took our house off the market. We needed a break. Our son needed a break. And we were going abroad, so it just made sense.

As summer came to a close, we decided to put our house back on the market. And boy were things even more active this time around- and they were active to begin with! I don’t even have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of buyers that came through our house since the first week of September. We even had a local website do a video feature on our house as a must-see real estate listing (that made this mama feel gooooood). Creep that video here. Fortunately now, after one month of relisting, our house is under contract.

Thanks be to God, really. I think it is only because of His goodness we survived this second bout of house selling and that someone finally decided to put in an offer. Not to mention St. Joseph’s intercessory prayers– poor guy, we really put him to work. And also our realtor… he has made everything so much easier, too. It is really worth having a top-notch realtor. Seriously.

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Our prayer is that everything goes smoothly with the inspection Monday. I must admit, I have this fear that the report will come back to read,

         “YOU NEED TO REPLACE…. WELL, JUST THE WHOLE HOUSE”

In all likelihood, this isn’t going to happen! But, I will be completely relieved when that step of the process is over.

The other reality to having your house on the market, especially as a food blogger? It is INSANELY difficult to cook, stage, photograph, and– consequently– to write. One week, we were out of the house 5 days during the dinner hour(s). Cooking breakfast and lunch those days wasn’t really happening, considering once I scrubbed that oven, I was adamant that it was going to stay clean. SO, DINER HERE WE COME!!

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Today, I had a realization about myself, my perfectionism, and how I viewed my blog. If I weren’t going to craft what I viewed to be the most amazing recipe, I believed it wasn’t worth sharing.

How unrealistic is this? This is not normal life! If you make a dinner and it’s purely mediocre, you don’t toss everything into the trashcan and explain to your family that, well, I mean, it just wasn’t photographable. Real life is a mediocre dinner.

Real life is heating up leftovers for dinner. Real life is heating up leftovers that someone else was paid to cook for dinner!!

Like this… Pizza from lunch today that someone else cooked and I reheated for dinner, documented via iPhone. The neat thing was, the way it was reheated recreated that fresh-out-of-the-oven, I-can’t-possibly-wait-for-it-to-cool-before-my-first-bite pizza feeling.

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How do you properly reheat leftover pizza?

First, do yourself a favor and purchase a baking stone.

Then, preheat your oven (with baking stone in) to 350 degrees. Once the oven has preheated, place these bad boys on your baking stone and wait 5 minutes. And MAGIC! It’s just like when you were in the restaurant.

Another thing that this 8 month silence has caused me to realize, other than the fact that not all recipes have to be ground-breaking to be real and useful… that not all posts have to be strictly related to food. I mean, we’re all living LIFE and the realities of it, right?

 

….more on that to come… along with a website redesign, eep!

Hot Mulled Bourbon

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This time of year is completely intoxicating isn’t it? Thanksgiving comes to an end and with it, comes the beginning of the Christmas season!

A crispness is in the air. The soft scents of pine and cypress are abundant. Naturally following these things are wonderful Christmas Carols.

Today, one has particularly been stuck in my head:  Holly Jolly Christmas. And more specifically one line: “I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer.”

I don’t know about you, but when Burl Ives tells me to do something, I darn well do it. I suggest you do the same.

Last week, my husband mentioned that he would love to find a warm winter spirit that involved bourbon, that wasn’t too sweet. Since then, I have been unable to think of anything else. I’ve perused the internet for recipes to come up with something that might be worthy of his criteria. I came up empty handed. So, I decided to come up with something on my own!

Boy, oh boy, was I pleased with the results. And so was my husband!

I do believe we have found our Christmas 2012 Cup of Cheer!

Hot Mulled Bourbon
Yields: 2 servings

 

Ingredients:
1 cup bourbon
1 tsp vermouth
Splash of a dry red wine
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp orange juice
4 splashes of Angostura bitters
1 TBS mulling spices, wrapped up in cheesecloth and twine
1/2 cup of water

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a low simmer, do not boil.
2. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Serve in mugs with cinnamon sticks and enjoy!

Butternut Squash Fries

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Have you ever found yourself rudely awakened in the morning? Awakened during the last crucial 5 to 10 minutes of sleep before your alarm goes off? Perhaps by a hound dog?

And as a result, you want nothing more than to give Morning a roundhouse kick to the face.

I know this scenario all too well.

Sometimes you need a little oomph or a wonderful thought to get you to raise from your bed. This morning, that thought for me was of butternut squash fries. …And a hot cup of Joe with almond milk and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. Nom.

No matter what you use to make fries, it seems that you can’t go wrong. Whether you make French Fries, Freedom Fries, Sweet Potato Fries…. they all taste so darn good! It is the same with using butternut squash.

There is such a sweetness with these fries that is unmatched. It is a light and healthy alternative to overly fried French Fries. And to be honest, I eat mine plain! No sense of dipping these fries into any condiment or aioli. It is just too good to cover up!

Butternut Squash Fries
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
2 butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
Extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS kosher salt

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to the broiler setting. If you have to decide between a low or high setting, choose a high setting.
2. Slice your butternut squash into even fry sizes. It is imperative to get them close to even, so that they cook for about the same time.
3. Place onto a prepared baking sheet (either parchment paper or oil is fine). Drizzle oil over top of the fries and sprinkle with salt.
4. Place under the broiler. Keep a sharp eye on the butternut squash. Set your timer to 2 minutes. And check your fries in 2 minute intervals. When they begin to nicely brown on one side, flip them and continue to check them in 2 minute intervals until a desired brownness is reached. The cooking time will differ depending upon the size of the fries and your oven.

Salmon with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Caramelized Onions

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We definitely do not eat enough salmon in our house. It is so scrum-diddle-dee-dumptious that not eating it enough should be a crime. On second thought, maybe it already is a crime. Oh boy, it may even be a felony. I need to look into this for myself and for you.

…Wait one second while I close the blinds and turn off all of the lights, so it looks like no one’s home, just in case a police officer drives by….

 We also do not consume nearly enough bourbon in our house. Okay, so I’m not being completely honest. We probably consume somewhere between an adequate and a healthy portion of bourbon in the Malloy household. What? Don’t judge.

One thing is for sure, I do not cook with bourbon enough. Bring me a bible, friend, for I am telling you the truth!

This is a simple and delicious dinner that is gourmet, but made on a dime.

Salmon with Maple-Bourbon Glaze and Caramelized Onions
Yields: 4 servings and 1/2 cup of glaze

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets
1 cup onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
For the Glaze-
2 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS + 1 oz. bourbon whiskey (2 TBS to cook with and 1 oz to drink while you cook… snicker)
1 TBS white vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 cups arugula

Directions:
1. Prepare the salmon to your heart’s content by either grilling, baking, or poaching.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 TBS of olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and sugar. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become caramelized.
3. For the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients.
4. Place the cooked salmon fillets on top of arugula. Top with 1/4 cup caramelized onions on each fillet, and place 2 to 3 TBS of the glaze on each fillet.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

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We all have traits that we inherit honestly.  For instance, I inherited my sense of humor, love of cheese,  and coloring from my father and my sweet dance moves, sociability, and cheek bones from my mother.

We also have traits that we are unable to account for their roots. Like my inability to whistle. Or my love for sentence fragments.

I don’t think I inherited my pizza obsession.  It is a personal trait that is not genetic: My husband is happy as long as he has a slice in his hand. I think his trait has rubbed off on me and I cannot even begin to complain. 

Because of this, I make pizza a lot. Since I make pizza a lot, I often feel the need to experiment.

Usually when I experiment, I decide to treat my friends as if they were guinea pigs and try out my new recipes on them. This one received rave reviews, so I have decided to share it with you all!

Happy Pizza-ing!

Barbecue Chicken Pizza (beer not included, but encouraged)
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 chicken breast, pan fried and shredded
1 cup kale, chopped
2 TBS butter, melted
Cornmeal (for a pizza peel)
 Pizza dough:
1 TBS instant yeast
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup water (at approximately 115 degrees) 
2 + cups bread flour
Directions:
1. Combine the yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add the water, whisking the ingredients altogether, and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (to proof the yeast!). 
2.  Add the flour and mix until the dough pulls away from the bowl (depending upon the humidity, you may need more than 2 cups of flour), kneading it a few times. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and allow it to rise for an hour.  
3. Punch down the pizza dough to deflate it.
4. Preheat your oven (preferably with a baking stone) for 500 degrees. If you do not have a baking stone, grease a pizza pan. 
5. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the kale and cook until it has softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. 
6. Once the oven as completed preheating, pull the dough from the bowl, and knead it a few times on a well-floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thickness. 
7. Pour the melted butter on top of the rolled out dough (ooo, yum, decadent). Drizzle on half of the barbecue sauce. Top with the caramelized onions, kale, and chicken. Finish with drizzling the remaining barbecue sauce. 
8. (If using a baking stone, cornmeal your pizza peel) Put pizza into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it every minute or so after you hit the 5 minute mark, to make sure it doesn’t overcook! 
9. Slice and enjoy!

A Neighborhood Chili Cook-Off & Smoked Gouda Crackers

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My beautiful boss and I decided to enter our neighborhood Chili Cook-off recently under the name of the flower shop.

I had so much fun coming up with this recipe with my boss. I sat on the flower shop floor as we talked it into existence. We created this beauty out of thin air. And giggled along the way.

Did I mention that I love my job?!

There was a ton of great chili to be had entered by restaurants and other non-restaurant businesses, as well as neighborhood folks! 

We made a chili using ground buffalo. Delicious!!! We won People’s Choice! I did a happy dance. Twice

We had a secret ingredient. Secret ingredients require a James-Bond-like stealthiness. You want it to enhance your recipe, but be undetectable as it is a secret! I always wanted to say that there was a secret ingredient in something that I had created and now I can!

I would share with the recipe for our super amazing chili, but I’d have to kill you. Remember I said there was a secret ingredient?! And I like having you around.  Also, I may need to use this recipe as a bargaining chip in the event I am kidnapped by a mob of bandit ninjas.

…..But I will totally fork over the cracker recipe.

The crackers ended up being a perfect accompaniment to the chili. Everyone is used to eating cornbread with their chili. I love cornbread. It’s delicious, but pretty typical. And I live to be a-typical. So, these crackers were a great way of introducing a cheesy cornmeal flavor without being cornbread!

Smoked Gouda Crackers

Adapted from Allrecipes
Yields: A ton of crackers. 



Ingredients:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup smoked gouda, shredded
1/4 cup milk

Directions:
1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees
3. Sift together the cornmeal, flour, and salt.
4. Cut in the butter (I recommend using your fingers.. you get to play with your food. I need any excuse I can to play with my food. And you get to make sure that the butter is really well incorporated, which is an added bonus).
5. Stir in the cheese and add the milk.
6. Knead the dough a few times to make sure it’s well incorporated.
7. Roll out on a well-floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into your desired cracker shape.
8. Place onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Scrambled Falafel Pitas

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Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” This is potentially the most profound statement ever made. However, I find Benjamin Franklin’s thought process to be incomplete. There are several other items that he neglected to mention that are gifts from on high illustrating that we are to be joyful creatures, and they are as follows (and in no particular order):
         1. Duane Allman’s guitar
         2. Downton Abbey
         3. Nude high heels
         4. Chickpeas
Chickpeas are awesome. Chickpeas make hummus possible… and veggie burgers… and falafel.
Falafel is delicious. I was unaware of falafel’s existence until I was in college.  When I would hear people talking about it, I thought that they were referring to a foot fungus they had caught in the community shower.
Boy was I wrong….

Scrambled Falafel Pitas
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup of dried chickpeas, **soaked in water overnight**
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup kale, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup hummus
4 pitas, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Drain the chickpeas and place into a food processor, pulse the chickpeas, cumin, and coriander until they are broken down, make sure not to puree them. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, cooking until translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes).
3. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine with the onions (think scrambled eggs). Allow the chickpeas to lightly brown, stirring occasionally (may be 5 to 7 minutes).
4. Add the kale and peppers, cooking until the kale softens, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Spread hummus on the pitas and add the falafel scramble.
6. Nomnomnom.

A Tuscan-Inspired Day

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Here is a glimpse at an arrangement I put together today. The request was for the the blooms to capture a Tuscan feel. The sun’s affable rays came lovingly shown into the shop, and for a moment I thought that I was ‘Under the Tuscan Sun.’
If only I lived in the house that Frances did. 
Oh, and had her face. 

Happy Friday! 

One for my Husband: Irish Soda Bread (2 ways!)

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My husband has a great name.

Tim Malloy. 

It’s sturdy. It’s timeless. And also quite Irish.

This time of year brings out the pride of those having Irish ancestry, especially in Philadelphia. Beer and mustaches are dyed green for the feast day of St. Patrick. The St. Patty’s Day Parade is also a time of great celebration in the streets of Philadelphia.

Great. But, what does this have to do with my husband?

Very often people will comment on how Irish his name is, the comments reach a height during the month of March. This is most likely because his name is undistinguishable from the name of an old catholic gang from the 1920s in Glasgow, “Timalloy” or Tim Malloys, associated with the Celtic Football Club. This term is now used as a nickname for the fans of that football club, often shortened as “Tims.”

I did not grow up in a house full of Irish Soda Bread and other great Irish treats around the 17th of March, particularly because I am not of Irish heritage (ah, makes sense, right?). And, being of Irish descent, my husband did. So, this time of year, I always try to make a little something for him to enjoy and this Irish Soda Bread was it!

This one is for my husband! Éirinn go brách, Tim Malloy!! :)

Irish Soda Bread (2 Ways)
Yields 6 to 8 servings



Ingredients:
3.5 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup raisins, optional
1 and 1/4 to 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk //or// a dairy-free version: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups soy milk or almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and grease a cast-iron skillet.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients. *If doing the dairy-free version: combine the vinegar and soy milk, and allow it to stand for 3-5 minutes to curdle.
3. Slowly add the milk, stirring until a dough forms. It may take between 1 and 1 and 1/2 cups, depending upon the humidity.
4. Knead the dough for about 10 seconds, form into a ball and place into the prepared skillet.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

207 calories   |   1g fat    |    6g protein