Pinterest & Instagram Fail : NYC Milkshake/Freakshake

10:12 AM

 So last year I started seeing milkshakes everywhere. All on instagram people were posting these epic and delicious looking milkshakes. They were massive. They had everything you could imagine on and in them. They were gigantic.  Topped with any type of candy you could coordinate to match in color or theme, I was like, "You know I gotta make one...or two". And so I did.  Or at least I attempted to.

Truth is, my four candy loving kids would not touch the things. They looked at them like I had committed murder of precious, beautiful candies and they had just wandered onto the crime scene. They would not even take a sip.

My oldest looked at my horrified and said, "No way am I eating that coma."

I looked at the milkshakes, all the blood sweat and spilled milk that I had put into creating it and realized it was a bit much.

My kids stood around the milkshakes, took a piece of candy and left the room.

My poor melting abstract masterpiece stood alone, against my homemade backdrop, anticipating its demise.

Are people actually finishing these things? It seems so wasteful, as I tried to salvage my poor milkshakes and put them in the freezer...only to have to throw them out the next month. Seriously, my 13, 14, 15, and 18 year olds wanted nothing to do with it.

I failed at this one. Not only did they not eat it, it was hell to put together. Try taking turned into a mushy mess of milk, soggy candy, cake and ice cream.

I don't think I will make these again. They are pretty and nice to look at but then you think of all the sugar, and I remember how even four kids would not even attempt to finish or even try one, and I have to give it a pass.

But gosh darn if they are not a feast for the eyes.


Simple Family Dinner Platters

3:29 PM

DIY Sandwich Tray. Arrange all the necessities for a tasty sandwich and let everyone make their own.

Being a mama of four means that some days, I just don't feel like doing a lot of cooking. On those days, I find it easier to just make sandwiches, or put together a simple platter for the kids.

Fajita Platter.  It took me about fifteen minutes to cook the steak and chicken and veggies, then it was just laying them out to be eaten. Super easy and we all love fajitas around here!

I always try to make things look nice for my kids. I grab a bit of fruit, some things they can either assemble themselves or put together a tray of sandwiches that they can just have at it.

Homemade fries and chicken and turkey sandwiches on bagels are refreshing and filling. 

These are just a few of the platters I have made for them. When they get out of school, these are waiting on them. We do some of everything.  These are also simple ideas when you have a few friends over. Everything is nice, healthy and delicious and you did not spend hours in the kitchen!

Poboys are popular here in the South. I fried up some catfish, steamed some mussels and we had a simple dinner ready to be picked up and devoured.

These seriously save my sanity. All. the. time. 

Happy eating!


What I Am Digging: 5 Things This Week I Love

11:03 AM

Being a photographer who spends the majority of her time at home while the kids are at school, I spend a lot of time looking over things online. From reading and catching up on the news, to watching youtube, surfing pinterest and foodgawker to no end, I am always seeing things that I love.

Each week from now on, I will be sharing some of the things that I see and absolutely fall in love with. Recipes, gadgets, gift ideas, articles, anything that I find online that I like, I will share with you guys.

So for this week, here is what I have been looking at and drooling over, check em out, peeps!

  1. This super easy homemade wine recipe from PawPaw. I have a few batches fermenting as I type. 
  2. Seriously, Maple Cinnamon homemade marshmallows? Just in time for the upcoming holidays, this recipe by Joy Food Sunshine looks amazing.
  3. Tell Me Tuesday's Rosemary, Grapefruit and Gin Cocktail looks so refreshing. Has me daydreaming about summer in our newly sprung fall. 
  4. There is something about an all white table that I am loving lately...really digging this tablescape by Home Oh My.
  5. Why yes, please....Carnitas Tacos over at The Tortilla Channel. Drools.
I have made a bucket list for myself of sorts.  It is to actually make or do something that I pin on pinterest or something I run across online that I like. These are small time things and simple things but seriously, you have to start chipping away at the over 4,000 things you have pinned. 

Here's to making and doing!


Chicken, Spinach & Bacon Pasta with Rainbow Salad

11:58 AM

When it comes to dinner, I try to make things that are not only tasty but things that use fresh ingredients.  I love making salads for my kids to encourage them to eat healthy and to always try fresh foods. One kid eats his salads with no dressing, he just loves the greens.

This simple, assembly only required salad is perfect for those holiday gatherings. The cranberries, apples, pecans and raisins add the perfect touch of fall.

I like that he enjoys a good salad and I like that my other children, now all in their teens, do not turn their noses up to a bowl full of fresh veggies and leaves. For this dinner, my daughter asked for a rainbow salad. She asked for these ingredients so of course, mama complies. This salad was the perfect introduction to the creamy bacon-y goodness that was our chicken and spinach pasta. Oh lawd, this was good. The sauce is simple and only takes minutes to make.

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
1 bag fresh spinach
2 diced garlic cloves
8 strips of bacon (cooked, drained and chopped)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
Cooked noodles of your choice
Parmesan for garnish

In skillet, heat butter on medium until melted. Add in diced garlic.  Season chicken with salt and pepper to your liking and place in skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes each side, then cover skillet and cook for about five more minute. Flip chicken over and continue to cook until it is not pink in center or rubbery. 

Once chicken is done, remove from heat and place on cutting board. Cut chicken into strips, cubes or leave whole as I did.

Pour in heavy whipping cream, add cheese, black pepper and chopped bacon. Stir well so that it does not stick. Add in chicken and then fresh spinach, stirring to mix well. Reduce heat to medium low and cover.

Cook on low for about five minutes until spinach is wilted and cooked. Stir well and leave on low heat until ready to serve. 

Add in salt to taste after cooking because the bacon adds in a bit of saltiness. 

Serve over pasta or pour over pasta and mix.

Rainbow Salad
Golden raisins
Chopped pecans
Diced sandwich meat of your choice
Shredded sharp cheddar/colby cheese
Cubed Granny Smith apples
Dried Cranberries
Shredded Carrots
Lettuce of your choice

Clean lettuce and place in your serving dish. Arrange your ingredients as I did or toss together!


Liberian Pepper Soup

9:33 PM

Nothing says fall and winter better than soups and stews!  My family loves trying recipes from all over the world. I like the fact that my kids are pretty open to anything I decide to make for them. It is also fun to explain to them how other cultures can use foods in a way different from us. I absolutely love this soup. It is amazing. Rich flavor, full and hearty. It is truly a win.

About a year ago, I traveled to Chicago on business. My client is Liberian and upon learning that, I was inquiring about authentic Liberian food. She told me of Pepper Soup and decided that I had to try it. When I first tasted it, I knew I had to learn this recipe. She was nice enough to not only share the recipe with me, but called her sister over to show me step by step.

Although a year later, I finally made it myself.  It is a hearty soup, with a base of okra and eggplant. It is full of different types of meats. When my client made it for me, she included snail meat and  fish. I can do without the fish and did not have time to clean snails, so I left those out of the soup I made.

It is not the easiest to photograph and looks like a hodgepodge of things but if you are like me and love to try different foods, this is definitely an easy one to make and so good!

You will need:

3-4 smoked neckbones
1 smoked turkey wing or leg
1 bag of mussels (cleaned, steamed and deshelled)
2 cups of cooked shrimp
3 medium crabs or crab legs
1 large eggplant (sliced into chunks)
2 1/2 cups of frozen or fresh okra
3 tbsp of Knorr Chicken bouillon

Fish (rainbow trout, cod)
Snail meat
Habanero pepper

Fufu or rice

Fill large pot with water and add in your chicken bouillon. Add in your smoked turkey and neckbone and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or more, until meat is tender. Add in your okra and eggplant and cook for about 20 more minutes until they are tender. Remove the meat and sit aside. Remove the okra and eggplant and you can blend in food blender/processor until  smooth and blended. Pour okra and eggplant back into the soup stock. Pull the meat from the turkey and place back in the pot, discarding the bones.

On low heat, add in your shrimp and mussels. Cook for an hour on low. Serve with a squeeze of lime, habanero for spice and fufu or rice.  Find an easy recipe for fufu here if you are unable to get fufu mix.


Blackberry Pie

8:11 PM

I remember growing up, and picking wild blackberries in the woods surrounding our house. We would venture off into the woods and battle the many thorns to come home with bowls of berries. Back then, we were fans of anything salty or sour so we would sprinkle our berries with salt. Oh the good ole days.

Blackberry cobbler/pie is one of my all time favorite desserts. I love these berries. I love the gooey filling in the cobbler and the pies. I love it.  I am not a fan of cooked or baked fruit but when it comes to blackberry, oh my, everything goes out the window


2-3 cups blackberries, cleaned
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon
1½ cup water

In a pot, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Reduce heat to low and stir. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove from heat. The mixture should be thick when cooled.

Pie Crust via Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Coat your pie pan with the pie crust, trim edges. Fill with your filling and use remaining pie dough to cover or decorate your pie as you wish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, or ice cream and fresh blackberries.


Pulled Pork Tacos & Chipotle BBQ Sauce

1:32 PM

Let's make it a taco night with these bad boys!  I invited some friends over and made some Mexican Street Corn and blackberry pies.....and these. It was just such a good dinner and a great time. Kick your taco game up a few notches and impress folks with these lovies.  I topped my tacos with red cabbage, queso fresco , chipotle bbq sauce and some pickled red onions. Oooooowweeeee. 

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 slices of lemon

3 tbsp of chopped chipotles

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a sauce pan on low heat, begin adding your ingredients. Squeeze the slices of lemon and then add the slices into the mixture. Stir well. Let cook for about 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Allow to cool and place into your container.

Pickled Red Onions

1 large red onion, sliced

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp of sugar

Mix well and add in your slices of onion. Let the onions sit for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Grilled Pulled Pork

1 Pork Shoulder

8 tbsp of Creole Seasoning

4 tbsp of Tajin classic seasoning or Trechas Spicy Powder

Mix the dry ingredients together and using your hand, pat the dry mix all over the shoulder. Be generous. If you need more, add more! The idea is to coat the outside of the pork with a nice layer of seasoning.

Place your shoulder on a hot bbq grill, fat side up and allow to cook for 7 hours.

From the Food Network for cooking your shoulder in the oven: "Set the meat on a rack set into a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. Continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into theshoulder reads 185 degrees F, about 4 hours. Remove the pork from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes.

Once the pork is cooked, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. Using your hand or two forks, begin separating the meat or "pulling" it into strands. Remove and discard the fat. (My mom likes to leave a bit of the fat inside the pulled meat for moisture as pork will dry quickly)

Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina

1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

In bowl mix your ingredients together. The dough should begin having a consistency similiar to play dough. If it is too dry, add more water. Knead into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes. Separate the ball into 15 smaller balls. Place one of the dough balls in between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll flat. I used a bowl to 'cut' out my circle shape. You can use a tortilla press but I did not have one.

Place in skillet lightly greased with olive oil on medium-high heat and cook on both sides for a minute each. Remove from heat and serve warm.

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