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Fried Egg Sandwiches

On nights when I am way too tired for anything that might take more than two minutes to fix, my tummy relies on a fried egg sandwich. It’s my mother’s fault really she started me on the grilled cheese. The famous grilled cheese, my husband is really good at making these. My mom used to make these famous grilled cheeses for me too, did you know you get addicted to cheese? You do. I heard it on Ellen. A doctor said it so I know it’s true something about opiates. It has opiates or you have opiates that get released. I don’t remember, but you get addicted. Anywho, I am addicted to cheese and egg sandwiches.

Last night, I fell asleep right after work. Crashed out. Oops. For 2 hours. Woke up long enough to watch Ugly Betty and Grey’s and make my fried egg sandwich.

I use 2 eggs, I’m not sure if that is healthy, but it fills the bread better than just 1 egg. Crack the eggs into the pan, like you would if you were cooking them sunny side up, but then break the yellow part. So, it’s fried eggs. Then add 2 pieces of buttered bread, with a slice or two of cheese. Then you grill the sandwich like a regular grilled cheese with the egg in the middle, until the cheese has melted around the egg and the bread is done. It’s so good, and it’s so fast I didn’t miss a minute of Ugly Betty.

Maryland Crab Cakes

Most of you know I am from North Carolina. So, how do I know so much about Maryland Crab Cakes? Well, my mom is from Maryland. So, my vacation half of me grew up in Baltimore and Ocean City, Maryland. My vacation half doesn’t have the accent though, but she does know a thing or two about a blue crab. For starters, I know the difference between a male and female.


The first picture is a male, or a Jimmy. The second picture is an immature female, she-crab. At this point she cannot carry eggs, so she is safe, if you happen to get one. The third picture, is a mature female. The apron opens in order to mate and carry eggs. The egg part has grossed me out since I was little, so I usually pass on these. Aside from being able to differentiate crab parts. I can also, clean, steam, catch, and eat them all with my hands tied behind my back. Alright, I actually have never tried, not sure that would be such a great idea.

Alright, enough about me, the crab cakes. My parents’ friends gave me a dozen steamed blue crabs, all of them were good size males. They had lots of leftovers after their annual Crabfest. Yay for me! I have always cleaned my own crabs, but I am pretty sure you can buy backfin crabmeat from the grocery store; I know you can buy it from a fish market. However you get it you will need at least 1 pound of backfin meat.

To the pound of crabmeat, add 1 tablespoon of Mayo, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and egg (beat). After mixing this together, crumble up 2 slices of bread and add 1-2 tablespoon of parsley, 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
In large mixing bowl
1 lb crabmeat
1 tablespoon Mayo
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
2 slices of bread
1-2 tablespoon of Parsley
1 tablespoon Baking Powder

After mixing all together, make into individual patties.

In a separate bowl put a cup of bread crumbs and a tablespoon of Old Bay. Dip patties into dish, on both sides. Put patties on a separate plate.
Separate mixing bowl
1 cup bread crumbs
Old Bay, I start at 1 tablespoon and add more seasoning from that point.

Fry patties in a skillet with a little oil and butter until the outsides are brown.

And you have yummy crab cakes. Well, I don’t anymore. My husband ate them all.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I first started dating my husband, he swore up and down he didn’t like sweets. I, being the loving girlfriend, would always offer him a cookie or peice of dessert. His answer was always the same, “I don’t eat sweets.” Well, my how things have changed for Mr. Ward. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are his favorite, and by his favorite I mean he eats all of them until there are no more. Sounds strange for the man that does not like sweets. Apparently, his sweet tooth has sweetened, I guess cause I’m just so damn sweet.

1 cup butter, unsalted softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
This is where the options come in. I like all chocolate chips, but you may like walnuts or raisins.
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (reg size)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (mini size)

Preheat to 325 degrees
In a large bowl cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar.
Stir in vanilla; beat eggs and stir in.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in creamed mixture and blend
Mix in oats and chocolate chips.
Spoon mixture on to baking dish and bake for 12 minutes.
Cool on baking rack and serve.

Baked Artichokes with Gorgonzola

Normally I like my artichokes with mayo, a little salt and pepper, served with some warm pita bread. However, today I am talking about parts of the artichoke that don’t always make it to the dinner table.

The artichoke is best known for its “heart,” the base. The heart is used in dips and casseroles. The “choke” is the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud; you don’t want to eat the choke. I am not here to talk about the heart or the choke, though. I want to talk about the basal leaves of the artichoke; which studies show are effective for improving digestion and liver function as well as cholesterol levels. Boiling or steaming an artichoke softens the petals, and there is a meaty part of the petal, which is quite good. The idea here is to stuff the artichoke with a dip, sort of like an appetizer without the pita bread. Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe.

Salt
2 artichokes
3 lemons
1 cup mild Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
3 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the artichokes by cutting off the top 1-inch or so. Cut the stem close to the base of the artichoke so the artichoke can sit up straight, and remove some of the bottom leaves. Using kitchen shears, trim the sharp points off of any remaining outer leaves. Add the artichokes to the boiling water. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice into the boiling water. Toss in the lemons. Cook the artichokes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the artichokes and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the Gorgonzola, cream cheese, thyme, 2 teaspoons parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. In another small bowl stir together the bread crumbs and remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the center choke of the artichokes using a small spoon. Stuff the cheese mixture into the center of the artichokes. Place the artichokes into a baking dish. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the artichokes. Drizzle the tops of the artichokes with olive oil. Bake until the artichokes are heated through, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the artichokes to a serving dish and serve.

What I ate in Charleston

I talked all about the things I saw my trip to Charleston, South Carolina on The Domestic District. Now here I am going to tell you about the amazing food that is in Charleston. Really there is some fantastic eats that come out of the Charleston Area. I say Charleston Area, because I ate in Downtown Charleston, Folly Beach, and Johns Island.

This was my first trip to Charleston, my family and I went for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my uncle’s 50th birthday. Paula had already scoped out every restaurant we were going to eat at, and knew the reviews that each restaurant was given. She even printed out a menu of each restaurant so we could see what there was to eat before we went. My brother studied the menus all day before we went to the restaurant, he’s a bit of a food snob.

I am going to start with my most favorite place I ate, which happens to be the last restaurant celebrate Frankie’s Birthday.

It’s restaurants like Fat Hen that make me want to pack up and move to Charleston immediately. Actually, Fat Hen is on Johns Island, but I would move there in a heart beat.

Our last dinner together on our family trip was at Fat Hen. It is about 15 minutes from Folly Beach, which is where we were staying. The place is decorated really cute inside, like a farmhouse chic, and the food is absolutely amazing. Some of the best I have ever had, seriously!

I had their tomato and mozzarella salad with pan fried okra for an appetizer. So freakin good, I inhaled it. I think I let my sister get one bite. I am dying to try the way they fry their okra, without all the breading, they  also cut their okra long ways which I had never seen.

For dinner, I had the shrimp and crab severed with hoppin’ john. I shared my entree with my step-mom, and it was a perfect size for both of us. For those who don’t know what hoppin’ john is, because I didn’t know before Charleston, it’s black-eyed peas, ham-hock, rice, and spices.

I think I tried everyone’s dish at the table and all of them were excellent, if you are going anywhere near Charleston you have to stop by Fat Hen!

The first restaurant we went to was Magnolia’s Restaurant. We were only going for a drink in celebration of Frankie’s 50th, but my family, of course, ordered a couple of appetizers.  Paula and Frankie ordered the Pan Fried Chicken Livers. I actually tried one, and it wasn’t bad; that doesn’t mean I would order a whole plate of them, one is a gracious plenty chicken livers for me. Kelvin and Charlie ordered Housemade Pimiento Cheese, I love homemade Pimiento cheese and Magnolia’s was pretty good. They served it with Charleston Flatbread, I am pretty sure it was just regular flatbread though. I still prefer my mother-in-laws homemade pimento cheese and I’m not just saying that.

Next we went to The Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar

We had some cocktails while we waited for our reservation at Mistral. Market Pavilion is a bar on the roof of Market Pavilion Hotel, go figure. There is this really cool cascading pool, you really can’t tell in this picture, but the water comes over the floor. I didn’t actually go in the pool, but it looked pretty. You get one of the best views of Charleston from the rooftop bar. It’s beautiful.

Saturday nights dinner was probably my least favorite, but I am blaming my sister, not the restaurant. My sister is horrible at ordering food. I should have never listened to her, I don’t know what I was thinking, normally I value her opinion, but on food, my little brother’s opinion would have been better.

With that said, we went to Mistral and Amelia ordered  the Coq au Vin with my sister for us to share. It tasted like beef stew with chicken instead of beef. I am not a fan of beef stew, so I was not impressed by the food at Mistral.

I will end this post on a good note, Folly Beach Crab Shack. I love crab shacks, old bay, steamed crabs, yummmm…… We ate lunch at the Crab Shack in Folly Beach on Sunday, it was a short walk from where we were staying. We ordered Crab and Artichoke Dip, Buffalo Shrimp, Steamed Shrimp and Oysters. Everything was really good and it’s such a nice change from North Carolina, where everything is fried.

Panzanella

I made this completely on a whim. Some friends of ours, Tasha and Rich, came over for dinner the other night and I had no idea what to make for them. It had to be great because Marcus, being the wonderful husband he is, brags so much about my cooking. It puts a girl on the spot when she has to live up to those fine, loving words. I have been eying this recipe for quite sometime, but my concerns were that Marc is never going to accept this as a side dish and seriously? another salad I might die from starvation. Alas, this is another to chalk up to my serious lack of saladary expertise. Yes, saladary is a word, it’s my word. Panzanella, which comes to me from Barefoot Contessa is absolutely divine. I am awful at describing flavors, but the combination of the onions, basil, pepper, oil and vinaigrette sent my taste buds a flarin. Panzanella is so easy to make and a great side dish for the spring or summer. The idea is to add whatever it is you like, olives would be really good in this too.

Panzanella

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Blueberry Crisps

I don’t make dessert too often on week days. It is usually Oreo and minute brownie mix. However, as I posted earlier Marc has been having a couple of rough days, weeks, months…at work and well, I felt like be a nice wife and made him a dessert that I knew he would love. I found Blueberry Crisps on Baking Bites, very good stuff there. We had Blueberry Crisps the same night we grilled Chicken Kabobs, I tell you Marc was definetly impressed by my wifeyness that night! These were a hit! I made a few adjustments to my Blueberry Crisps.

1) Powder Suger – makes everything better!

2) Vanilla Icecream – Holy Moly! A warm blueberry crisp and icecream, melt in my mouth good. Think I am going to go eat another.

Blueberry Bars
Filling
3 cups fresh or frozen berries
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

Crumble and Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (quick-cooking or regular)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened and cut into 7-9 large chunks
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling: In a medium saucepan, stir together berries and lemon juice and cook medium heat until fruit is tender, about 8-15 minutes, depending on type of berries being used (strawberries take longer than other berries, usually).
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch, then stir into fruit mixture. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, until thick. Scrape berry filling into a medium bowl and set aside.

Crust: Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9×13″ baking pan.
In a food processor (or large mixing bowl), combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda , salt and vanilla extract. Pulse until mixture is thoroughly blended and resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this mixture in a medium bowl. Pour remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish, spread evenly and pat down. Place filling in dollops over crust and carefully spread to cover entire surface. Squeeze reserved crumb mixture into large clumps with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over the top of the fruit filling.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes.