Pre-Happy New Year! It’s the end of 2017, and before we hop on a plane to begin our foodie adventures in Europe (follow me on Instagram for frequent moments of food envy), I wanted to share my last DFW restaurant meal of 2017 — Beto and Son at Trinity Groves — you’ll want to check this out. Continue reading “Beto and Son at Trinity Groves”
It’s getting close to Turkey Day, and that means we have some important planning to do.
We have to plan the seating arrangements to ensure all relatives leave unscathed from the annual table conversation (this year should be super fun), and let’s not forget the critical decision regarding which pair of stretchy pants will be worn after the main meal. However, the most important decision you’ll have to make this Thanksgiving is what in the world to do with your leftover stuffing!?!
Have no fear. I’ve got the hookup thanks to my pals over at Empire Baking Company in Dallas, Texas.
Saturday I had the pleasure of hanging out to do a sponsored demo all day at Empire, and I created a recipe specifically for them, featuring some of the ingredients sold at their location. Every Friday from now until Thanksgiving, Tamie, Empire’s manager, is creating different dressings using Empire’s amazing bread and products. This past Friday, Tamie put together her grandmother’s famous traditional Texas dressing to sample (it’s sooooooooo goooood), and just like the day after Thanksgiving, we had some dressing left over on Saturday.
So, our focus was all about creating an easy recipe that utilized the leftover stuffing! And, the coolest part is that this recipe works with any dressing recipe – yours included. (Don’t know if you noticed my alternating “dressing” and “stuffing” – for our purposes, they mean the same thing.)
Let’s get started!
Day After Thanksgiving Breakfast Muffins
Yields approximately 8 dozen mini muffins or 2 dozen regular muffins
16 oz Sage or Spicy Breakfast Sausage (sub 12 oz Applewood Smoked Bacon, diced)
½ Onion, diced
2 TBS Butter
8 Cups Your Refrigerated Thanksgiving Dressing/Stuffing, crumbled
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 TBS Valentina Picante Salsa (sub your favorite hot sauce)
2 Whole Eggs
4 Egg Yolks
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tsp Chef Milton Atlantic Sea Salt with Rosemary (Found at Empire Baking Company)
Luscombe Farm Jalapeño Pepper Jelly (Found at Empire Baking Company)
Preheat oven to 375°. Butter muffin tins or use a non-stick baking spray to coat the tins.
In a skillet, sauté breakfast sausage until cooked through and set aside to cool. If subbing bacon, cook until bacon is crisp, drain completely, then set aside to cool. In the same skillet, add butter and onion. Sauté until onions are tender and the fond (brown/caramelized goodies stuck to the bottom of the pan) releases from the pan.
Once the onions are tender, remove from pan and set aside with sausage or bacon to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, cream, and Chef Milton Atlantic Sea Salt with Rosemary. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add crumbled dressing, shredded cheddar cheese, and cooled sausage or bacon and onions.
Pour the custard mixture over the dressing mixture and fold until well incorporated. The mixture will be moist.
Add in the Valentina Salsa Picante or your favorite hot sauce to add another layer of flavor and mix thoroughly.
Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop the mixture into greased mini muffin tins.
Bake at 375° for 17-20 minutes or until crispy on top and golden brown.
For some added sweet heat, add a small dollop of Luscombe Farm Jalapeño Pepper Jelly to the top of each muffin right before the last five minutes of baking is up, and place back into the oven to create that amazing caramelized glaze.
For regular sized muffins, bake for 30-35 minutes or until crispy on top and golden brown. Let cool for 7 minutes to allow the muffins to set before removing from muffin tins.
Saturday’s adventure, recipe ingredients, and post featuring specific products were sponsored by Empire Baking Company.
Do y’all remember The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? It was that Sandra Bullock film where a group of lifelong friends attempts to rescue a relationship between a mother and a daughter. The movie was a’ight, but more importantly, the part I want to focus on is actually having a Ya-Ya Sisterhood, that group of “ride or die” friends who would do just about anything for you.
Every month (or the first available moment the planets align with all of our schedules), two of my lifelong sister-friends and I hang out for a Ya-Ya Get-Together. It’s when we unplug, forget about the craziness in our lives, and relax with copious amounts of wine and hors d’oeuvres. There are only two rules: each Ya-Ya has a rotation as Get-Together hostess, and the hostess must provide a bottle(s) of wine none of the Ya-Ya’s have tried so we can try it together.
Basically, we have created an excuse to have a mini-cocktail party for just the three of us as often as possible. You get the picture.
This particular spread was my turn hosting a Ya-Ya Get-Together that just happened to double as a birthday celebration for one of the Ya-Ya’s!
Don’t judge. I know this may appear a little overboard for three of us, but you have to remember this is at least a four-hour affair. That’s a long time to be talking and laughing – we need sustenance! Plus, this was special birthday party Ya-Ya material.
In order to prepare for the evening, I took a little trip to one of my absolute favorite culinary destinations in Texas, Central Market. (While I used to work there many, many moons ago, I have zero affiliation with them now, aside from the fact that I’m completely in love with them and still openly profess my love for everything Central Market.)
In less than one hour, I had everything I needed to set out a spread worthy of the Ya-Ya’s. Plus, I even had time to make a pitcher of some lovely Lemon Mint Water.
For the appetizer bites, I bought ready-made mini tart shells and filled them with Central Market’s uh-MAZING Pimento Cheese and creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip. To make it my own signature snack, I fried up some bacon and crumbled the smoky bits neatly over each spinach hors d’oeuvre, then minced up some parsley and sprinkled the parsley over the cheesy pimento tarts.
For the center cheese board, all I did was take my handy-dandy John Boos cutting board and line up five different cheese options, a hard, soft, goat, cheddar, and smoked, onto the board. Grapes, figs, pears, and strawberries will always find a buddy on the cheese board, and with a little peppered salami, sweet cured salami, and cracker choices, we were set to go! The decorative pieces were simply rosemary sprigs and a few small bowls of Marcona almonds and olives. Simple, quick, and easy!
Pastries were there because of the birthday celebration, but if you’re in Texas and looking for some incredible individual desserts for birthdays or just because you deserve a slice of chocolate cake, Central Market has the hookup!
North Texans, if you haven’t ventured into one of their five DFW locations, RUN; don’t walk! And, go on a Saturday to have the full experience of Foodies offering samples at every corner and of local bands playing live music while you shop! Everyone else in the world, Central Market has several locations across our great state. So, please be sure to visit a Central Market if you come to Texas!
Needless to say, post Ya-Ya Get-Together, in the wee hours of the morning, not a morsel was left. I love my Ya-Ya Sisterhood and our Get-Togethers, and I certainly hope this inspires you to start your own Ya-Ya Get-Together tradition with your friends, lifelong and new alike!
Lemon Mint Water
2 Large Lemons Sliced
2 Bunches of Mint Leaves Roughly Chopped
Muddle the sliced lemons and chopped mint leaves at the bottom of a pitcher. Add water and ice to fill. Then, enjoy this refreshing beverage!
The last few days, I’ve been in a fog created by too much thinking and an overload of ideas. While that may sound very productive and possibly exciting to some, my general interpretation of this reoccurring event is like being strapped to a power grid for days with electricity coming out your ears and then having to sift through the lingering smoke to identify any remains of a usable thought. I get on these “I need knowledge” kicks and dive deep into culinary literature, documentaries, kitchen experiments and new restaurant discoveries. Most of the time, I end up with a new trick or two, a week’s worth of dirty dishes to clean and sometimes even something worthy to write. I start to think about everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing and then work backwards from there to illuminate my next steps from where I stand. And, for the first time in a while, yesterday the universe not only illuminated my steps but put a hand out to escort me over.
Just last week, my husband Bear and I decided to get Netflix. I know, VERY late to the party. We do Amazon Prime and never felt the need to add another subscription to our list. Anyway, the day before yesterday, I watched Chef, one of my favorite “feel-good and makes you want to make a grilled cheese sandwich afterwards” movies. P.S., my post-movie sandwich was crunchy, buttery, and amazing.
After the movie ended, Netflix auto-suggested a documentary series called Chef’s Table, the one everyone’s been buzzing about but I hadn’t seen since I didn’t have Netflix. What began as a curiosity quickly transformed into a profoundly intrinsic experience that left me desperate to latch back onto the power grid.
Essentially, for those who have yet to acquire Netflix (no judgement here), it’s a series focusing on chefs and their restaurants making a substantial impact on the culinary world in one way or another. They seek out the top restaurants in the world and bring light to the creation of their being. Season one highlights the journey of six iconic chefs, their gastronomic philosophies, creative insights, purpose, missteps and the reason behind their passion.
For anyone who just enjoys food and likes watching cooking shows, you might find this series fairly interesting. For those of you who live, breathe, work, and dream food, someone like me, this series will change your life. I watched all six episodes back to back. The first episode with Chef Massimo Bottura completely blew my mind and make me feel like a complete creative failure in life, all at the same time (in a good way), and somewhere around 3am, I got to the episode with Chef Francis Mallmann who, again, blew my mind then made me question some of my life decisions (in a good way) and flung me into the conclusion that true freedom is releasing those safe and invisible shackles which only you have the key to, so that you may fly as high as you’ve ever dreamed of flying.
“To grow and improve, you have to be there at the edge of uncertainty.” – Chef Mallmann.
After getting about two hours of food-filled dreams, I reached out to Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore via social media to which he generously and graciously replied with a retweet (in my excitement, I forgot to include the word “the” in my tweet, but he responded so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to delete and resend – yes, I’m justifying an error).
And shortly thereafter, I noticed another tweet in my feed, but this time, from Chef Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian culinary icon who had, just hours before, inspired me to stop holding myself back from any part of my food-inspired dreams.
Lo and behold, there was the hand of destiny, calling me to come over and experience what I would consider a chance of a lifetime, a moment to a) personally thank Chef Mallmann for sharing his inspirational journey with the world and b) capture that moment plus any words of wisdom from this legendary figure.
I was less than an hour away from the Central Market location and was determined to not let this opportunity pass me by for any reason. So, I called the location to inquire further about his arrival. After speaking with the operator, calling again to speak with a floor manager who then said I needed to speak with the culinary school manager, all I ended up with was the ability to leave a message. I called three more times only to find out finally from the operator that Chef Mallmann was actually there for a private event which is why I couldn’t find anything on their website about his arrival.
He had inadvertently posted his visit… or had he?????
At this point, I knew that only I could unshackle myself from the confines of “private event” and risk that uncomfortable and awkward status of “stalker.” How could I allow this moment, this right-in-my-backyard moment, to slip away!?!
Then, the phone rang. It was Michelle, the culinary school manager from Central Market returning my original message.
Could it be that the food gods were moving pieces in my favor???
“So, that’s why I have received so many messages,” she said. “I’m sorry; it is a private event.”
I begged for a window and asked about possibly catching him once the event was over or perhaps when he might have a scheduled break. And, there it was, “He might have a moment between 3pm and 4pm, but that’s no guarantee you’ll get to see him.”
That’s all the encouragement I needed.
It was just before 3pm, and I needed to hurry to beat traffic. Yoga pants, t-shirt and ponytail uniform ready, I called my friend Bianca to join, warning her there might be a slight chance of being removed from the premises. She’s a rule-follower, but in true friend fashion, she reluctantly agreed and got into my vehicle since I was already parked right outside to get her.
For whatever reason I decided to take a different route to Central Market and allow Bianca to navigate the heavily trafficked waters of the tollway – something I never do. I used to work for Central Market many moons ago; I know exactly where I’m going and yet, we found ourselves barely arriving at nearly 5pm.
I’d missed it. I had missed my chance at being in the presence of an authentic culinary guru.
I didn’t care. I got out of the vehicle, quickly made my way in, and wrapped around the hidden stairs at the entrance. Straight up to the culinary school, determined to keep after the goal, I went – all while Bianca aggressively whispering, “We can’t go up there! It’s a private event!”
There he was. Standing at the top of the stairs, with a glass of wine in the middle of a group of people was the chef who had lifted my hesitation and breathed a draft of wind into the embers of my partially fulfilled culinary dreams, like a wooden bellow tending to its fire.
“I’m not coming up there,” whisper-shouted Bianca, as she poked her head around the corner of the stairs. I retreated back down and told her that she HAD to come up! I wasn’t going to let this moment pass, and someone had to take a photo!
Just as I got right back up to the top step, he had broken away from the crowd and was standing no less than two feet away from me and heading towards the hallway. So, I called out to him, “Chef Mallmann!”
With a beautiful grin and what appeared to be a sincere interest, he spoke with me for a few moments and allowed for a photo. I honestly can’t even remember if I told him my name, but what I do remember is that I did thank him for his inspiration, told him that I’d seen his tweet and that I knew I had to come meet him.
While we should all understand that our strengths and abilities to achieve our dreams stem from our own ability to believe in ourselves, I am exceptionally grateful for the hand that destiny lent yesterday. Everyone needs a little inspirational reminder now and then to usher us along our path of destiny. Perhaps, the power grid session sparked more than I expected. I could not have imagined a better 24 hours of encouragement.
Twenty years ago, I unexpectedly encountered the best part of my past and the greatest treasure I take with me always, the friendship of five very special individuals who attended the University of North Texas with me, and this past weekend, we had our first reunion with the meeting place being the phenomenal Marquee Grill located in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas.
After the initial laughter and hugs, we immersed ourselves in the menu and prepared for a symphony of flavors conducted at the hands of Chef Tre Wilcox, alumni of Bravo’s popular television series, Top Chef, Season 3. As our glasses clinked in the inaugural toast, it was like the conductor’s baton rapping on the music stand, calling our senses to attention, in preparation for a myriad of texture, color, playfulness, essence, aroma and sheer flavorful pleasure.
Ahhhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhhhh, ahhhhh ahhhhhhh ahhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhh! (The angelic sounds of pure happiness – similar to The Little Mermaid tune – usually sung when discovering something amazing and in this case, delicious.) Brothers Fried Chicken reincarnated is probably the best way to describe Chicken House located on the East Dallas corner of Gaston Avenue and North Fitzhugh. A long time staple in the neighborhood, Chicken House was previously run as Brothers Fried Chicken, and I have to admit I was a little scared to return to the now Chicken House to see if they had embarrassed the neighborhood legend or had made Brothers proud after taking over. I’m happy to report, they done good. Continue reading “That Chicken Never Had a Chance”