February 21, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Whether or not you’re planning a big day, you definitely should take a look at Celebrate‘s first ever weddings special issue! Our whole team worked hard on this. We love a challenge, and I think this issue shows it.
You can pick this issue up on newsstands, or you can order it here! (Hey, it’s at a special price right now!)
January 30, 2013 § 2 Comments
We FINALLY went to Little Donkey a couple of weeks ago with my sister Brynn and her husband. I had been dying to try this Mexican-barbecue fusion spot in Homewood for oh so long.
There has been plenty of buzz about this restaurant, as it is founded by Birmingham restauranteurs Nick Pihakis and Joshua Gentry of our beloved local chain, Jim ‘N Nick’s. Pihakis and Gentry took their homegrown, slow-cooked barbecue expertise and used that to season their take on Mexican fare. What I appreciate very much about this place is that this is apparent throughout the experience.
We started off with horchata! What else? This is a nostalgic drink for me. It takes me back to family trips to La Fogata in the San Fernando Valley. Little Donkey’s version of this sweet beverage is rice water flavored with almond, cinnamon and vanilla.
We also snacked on their chips and salsa, which had a deep, savory roasted flavor. Of course, my only issue here was that just one basket was complimentary.
For lunch, I enjoyed the Torta de Cerdo, or the Drunken Hog, which a cross between a Southern pulled pork sandwich and a Mexican torta. Tender, Jim ‘N Nick’s-reminiscent pork was topped with pinto beans, pickled red onions, cheese and guacamole with their homemade bread. It also came with tomato broth on the side for dunking. Biting into this tasted as a torta should, with a bit of Southern comfort.
As my side, I chose the elote—street vendor-style corn on the cob topped with crema, cotija cheese and cayenne.
And truly, one of the best tamales I have ever tasted lives at this restaurant (Arguijos, don’t be mad! Notice I said ONE of the best). My sister ordered a taco alongside a pork tamal.
I reached over and grabbed a bite of it with my fork, and the tamal sang. The maza was so well flavored and moist, and the meat was as tender as could be. Both components married each other in flavor—you could taste it.
And finally – one of my favorite things – was La Concoccion: Mexican rice topped with black beans, cotija, a poached egg (omg!) and green onions. Decadent, comforting, perfect. I’m so making this at home.
We didn’t stay for dessert … we ran over to Steel City Pops next door! Tales of that adventure are coming soon. Have you visited Little Donkey? What do you like to order?
December 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
As Christmas approaches, I’m missing California more and more. I love my home here, though … but it’s ok to be a little homesick.
One thing I am quite homesick for are my momma’s tacos.
She always makes them when we’re at home. And of course, we pull out our little collection of La Victorias from the fridge. My personal favorite is Salsa Brava, which I’ve found is much spicier when purchased in California.
Last Christmas was no different from any other time periods spent at home, and we set the table with boxwood and red-ribbon accents. Brikki had a friend over, and it was wonderful.
I will miss those tacos this year. I will miss my mom, dad, and sisters this Christmas. But I am grateful for what I do have: my husband! My husband’s family! My pup! And, of course, I’m grateful for having two of my sisters so close by. Though they will spend Christmas in California, knowing I get to see them year round makes the distance not sting so badly. I am truly blessed.
October 4, 2012 § 6 Comments
If any of you know me, you know I love cheese—and if you were to guess my favorite, you might guess goat. And you’d be right. I’ve long been in love with the tangy, creamy cheese by Belle Chevre, so imagine my excitement when I was invited to participate in a virtual potluck to celebrate the release of Tasia’s Table, the new cookbook by Belle Chevre’s passionate cheesemaker Tasia Malakasis.
I loved perusing this cookbook. Tasia has combined her two loves on every page: her Greek heritage and her Alabama home. While there were so many recipes to volunteer for in this potluck, I noticed she deviated into my territory with these beautiful enchiladas. I’m so glad she did! They immediately became my number one choice.
Here’s my little tip with the sauce—if you’re a little skittish around spicy foods, you might want to decrease the serrano peppers called for from 10 to about 4. I actually chickened out and just did 6, and believe me, it was plenty spicy. (Seriously! Believe me! I love spicy foods!)
When rolling these up, don’t worry too much about exact measurements. Just know that the more goat cheese is involved, the more you’ll love it. I actually would not be opposed to trying these veggie style next time and skipping the chicken altogether. Oh, and here’s a tip: Instead of cooking and shredding a chicken (especially if you’re lazy like I am), pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. You’ll have lots of leftovers to play with.
Here’s another tip: The sauce might scare you with its heat! But trust Tasia. Go ahead and pour all of it over the enchiladas. Some of the heat mellows when it cooks leaving just the right amount of spice remaining.
These were amazing. I loved having the fresh peppers in there, and the goat cheese addition was just incredible. I’m so honored to be included with such amazing bloggers! Thanks, Belle Chevre! Oh, and order a copy of Tasia’s book!
Here’s the full recipe:
Chicken and Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 green serrano peppers
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of water
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
12 6-inch corn tortillas
3 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into strips
3 cups (about) chicken, cooked and shredded
1 1/4 pounds goat cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, and add the serrano peppers, turning occasionally for about 4 minutes. Add half of the onions and the chopped garlic and stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Blend hot ingredients as well as water, canned tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor.
Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a heavy small skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, add 1 tortilla and cook until softened, turning once, about 15 seconds for each side. Transfer tortilla to paper towels and drain well. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in heavy large skillet. Add remaining half of onions and poblano pepper and cok until tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Lightly oil 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into dish. Place scant 1/4 cup chicken in center of 1 tortilla. sprinkle with 1 generous tablespoon onion mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup cheese for topping. Sprinkle 2 generous tablespoons cheese atop chicken. Roll up tortilla and place seam-side down in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, chicken, onion mixture and cheese. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.)
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake enchiladas, covered, until sauce bubbles and cheese melts, about 35 minutes. Serve with sour cream.
PS: Take a look at the rest of the amazing bloggers who participated below. A lot of them are giving away a copy of the Tasia’s cookbook. My giveaway will start tomorrow, so stay tuned!
Cooking with Books
Cheese and Champagne
Deep South Mag
Sale e Pepe
La Buena Vida
Story of a Kitchen
Sugar & Spice by Celeste
Once Upon A Cutting Board
Miss in the Kitchen
The Picky Eater
July 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
To start off the documentation of food consumed on our honeymoon, we’ll go to one of favorite meals in Monterey.
Kudos to my husband for locating a great hole-in-the-wall, a true “where the locals go” kind of place. This Mexican seafood joint is off the beaten path of regular Monterey tourist-frequented areas. And when I say off the beaten path, I mean it’s down the freeway inland a bit until you reach a slightly rougher part of town (technically you are in Seaside at that point). But nonetheless, we were delighted to discover this little spot.
When you order a Modelo Especial (or any beer), you’re given an ice-cold bottle with a lime wedge and a shrimp dipped in their flaming cocktail sauce sticking out of the bottle’s opening. We were so excited about this novel idea that we immediately exclaimed, “Ah! Shrimp!” And we popped our shrimps in our mouths and gushed over that perfect heat of the sauce before I even thought to take a picture. I think that little treat alone is worth a trip to this restaurante.
I ordered a ceviche tostada. It was fabulous and fabulously affordable (we’re talking $4 here!). The fish was delightfully flavorful and fresh. The shell was crisp and cooked well. It was topped with another fresh little shrimp.
I do have one thing to say: I also ordered the crab quesadilla. I did not like that. The crab was disappointingly fishy.
But I am so willing to overlook it when I contemplate my tostada, and the shrimp cocktail (which, by the way, you can order a large serving of. We wish we had done that.).
March 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
During Lent, I have not only stayed away from bread, but I’ve also tried to seize the opportunity to eat as healthy as I can. Sometimes I slip (like by ordering fried pickles when I just stopped in for a drink at Innisfree with James, or when I ended up with too many Reese’s wrappers in my office waste basket yesterday after visiting and revisiting my boss’s candy bowl), but for the most part I’ve been pretty good I think.
But I’ve reached this point where I am just craving bad, bad things.
Firstly…. I could go for some deep fried dough stuffed with sweet jelly and coated in a glaze then dusted ever so gently with confectioners’ sugar. OMG. Give me.
That is the breakfast I want. And then for lunch?
OH. Yes. Carne Asada Fries. Who thought of this? This is amazing. Oh, and yeah I’ll have that beer, too. Please.
Ok, next on this list (since I had SUCH a deep fried breakfast and lunch, I’ll just stick to something carb-a-licious for dinner):
Bagel sandwich! I swear, Crestline Bagel is #1 on my list when Lent is over.
I think I’ll skip dessert today and enjoy a Blood Orange Margarita instead:
Ok so what’s on your good-for-your-soul list? My list could really go on and on. These are the flavors of the week, as they say.
March 21, 2012 § 2 Comments
So apparently, when I gave up bread for lent, I also gave up blogging. Sorry, everybody. I had no idea bread was such an inspiring component in my food appreciation.
One my besties was in town from Indiana last week, so on Thursday I left straight from work to meet up with her and her fiance downtown at the Good People Brewing Company taproom (awesome atmosphere by the way—a great band with a killer fiddle player goes perfectly with a good local brew). We enjoyed a couple of Brown Ales, and then we headed down a few blocks to try the newest addition to Mexican fare in Birmingham — El Barrio.
As soon as I walked in, I was in love. The atmosphere is rustic, colorful, urban, and beautiful.
My first instinct was to order tacos or perhaps a chorizo quesadilla, but alas—bread! So instead, I ordered the Roasted Chile Relleno. The first bite provided that ever overwhelming sense of “ahh.” The flavors were phenomenal.
What comes in this lovely dish is a rosted poblano pepper stuffed with black beans, cactus, oxaca cheese and their amazing roasted garlic cream and sprinkled with pine nuts.
The pepper was perfectly roasted and tender enough to cut with a fork. The garlic cream sauce had just a little bit of a kick and completed the dish in a decadent way. I couldn’t quite detect the cactus, but it might be because I have never ordered anything with cactus before. I don’t think it has too powerful of a flavor. The only thing I would have liked would have been just a kick or two more of spice. I do like spice.
The price wasn’t bad—around $10 for my meal. And the food, presentation, and atmosphere make it well worth it. The only thing I’d say is be prepared to wait. We arrived at around 8 pm on a Thursday and had to wait a good 30 minutes to sit down. But regardless, I will certainly be making a trip back soon.
February 23, 2012 § 7 Comments
Yes, bread. This will be a hard one for me. And what all does giving up bread entail?
Ah – this will be hard! Hold me accountable, everyone. And expect some bread-free posts for the next 40 days. Did you give up anything for lent? What did you give up?
Image credits: The Kitchn