Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm back!

I'm finally home and will be back to posting recipes by Friday! With that being said though, whoa... you need to go to Aruba if you ever get a chance to. That week was one of the most awesome weeks of my life. When we went out to the beach the first morning this was our view and I knew immediately this was going to be an amazing trip.
When you just happen to stumble upon a view like this because you need to use the bathroom, how could it not be amazing? We went to California Lighthouse which was pretty neat but what we discovered after totally made our trip. From this little Italian restaurant you could see the entire island practically and the views were just breathtaking.
Then we traveled on down to the actual beach which became very rocky once you got to the Western side of the island. The waves were almost 15 feet high and it was complete polar opposite waters on the West from the East. This was the beginning of our Western trek which was then followed by discovering ruins. That day was so unplanned we had no idea what we would find which made it so much more worth it.
You would think that with all the baking and cooking my boyfriend and I do that I would have taken pictures of all our meals, especially our meal at our friends' wedding. Of course, I didn't because I was a little caught up in other things, namely my orange crush and the food I was inhaling. Or the fact that LL Cool J had just said Congratulations to our friend and kissed a peace sign and said "One Love." I don't think I will be getting that surprise on my wedding day, whenever that is. By then LL Cool J probably won't be as exciting, it'd be more like Morgan Freeman but he'd be cool too. 

The only picture I do have is from El Gaucho though which was an Argentinian Steakhouse. As much as I'm not big on steaks this place was great. The flavor in all of the food from the main dish to the sides was fantastic, especially the fried plantains.
Sunday was our last night and we ended it with our last sunset on a super fun sunset booze cruise and an evening at Bugaloe Beach Bar! That was by far our favorite place to go for some good cheap food and fun. The free salsa lessons didn't hurt either. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am officially out of the office through May 28. If you need me, you can find me in Aruba. Currently I'm on hold with US Airways though because there was an error with my reservation. Hopefully by the time I'm done writing this post it will be figured out and less than 24 hours before I depart.

Let me tell you, having 3 whole days before your vacation off just makes it feel like it's FOREVER until you leave. Especially when you have so many things to do before. I officially felt like I was on vacation when this picture was taken...
Right after I finished my race. All week I was dreading it because I had shin splints but surprisingly it went really well! About a half mile in I had made two friends from New York and we ran together for the first 5 miles. I was feeling great until the last mile when all of a sudden I felt like I got punched in the chest and started slowing down big time. Then I started falling back and they were like "Come on, Ash!" I was able to do that 2 times, but the third time it was pretty much me saying "Uhhh you go on ahead, I'll stay back" and that's what I did. Third time was not a charm. My time was only 40 seconds slower than my first 10K so I'd say this was fairly successful considering the circumstances of a bad shin. After I finished, we went to Salisbury and I ate multiple maki rolls and seaweed salad and went into a blissful food coma only to be followed by Orange Crushes with this view. Not a shabby day. 
Then I wake up Sunday and get an e-mail saying the results are in and to click the link to view them. I click it and guess what, my name isn't even in the list! I know exactly what my time was and I went through the entire race results and I'm MIA. Apparently, I actually didn't do this race or I don't exist. You tell me.

With that said though, I am turning off my computer for the next 8 days. See you next Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. As long as I have enough energy to make some good food and a recipe!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Eastern NC BBQ and Lexington Slaw

In my attempt to prepare myself for the ridiculously busy next two days of my life and my trip to Aruba I have not had time to be creative and make an awesome recipe for you to try. I've been trying to get everything together to make 5 dozen cupcakes today, get ready for my 10K tomorrow, make sure I have every last detail of my life packed away for my trip, etc. because we all know I will freak out on the airplane when I realize I forgot one measly thing. At least it won't be my child. KEVIN!
Anyway, luckily I had a friend from college send me a blog post he wrote in desperate hopes to be a guest poster on my blog. I know, I know, everyone is just DYING to be on here so I decided I'd give him a chance. Just kidding, actually this recipe sounds like the bomb dot com so you all should try it! Without further ado, Richard...

Barbecue (BBQ) in the south is more of a religion than a food. Heck, where I am from (Eastern North Carolina), people will argue about anything, religion, politics, sports, but when it comes to BBQ there is only one way to do it – with a vinegar based sauce. We don’t want to hear about your fancy ketchup based sauce that is used in Central and Western NC, the Mustard based sauce used in Upstate South Carolina, or if you think Memphis/Kansas City does it better. Oh and don’t start talking about Texas BBQ, that is usually Beef, not pork – but for the sake of argument Texas does Beef BBQ the best. Anyway, we really do not care how you do it. If you are in Eastern NC, it is our way or the highway.

This divide is so prevalent that I had a professor at East Carolina University once give a talk (and make a map – we were in the Geography department) of the physical divides throughout the Carolinas when it comes to the style of BBQ you eat. Basically if you are east of Interstate – 95, you eat with a vinegar based sauce, west of Raleigh/Durham you use a ketchup based/bbq sauce, and finally there is a small region in western NC and upstate SC where Mustard is the sauce of choice (I personally have never had this one). I have tried BBQ from all over and while all are good in their own ways, nothing can replace the vinegar based sauce that I grew up with. 
Maybe it is due to the memories of large gatherings where we cooked an entire pig with the sauce and just picked the meat off the bone, or maybe it was the fact that it brings back memories of the random BBQ restaurant along the country highway that no city slicker would have stopped at because it was not “fancy” enough and looked like it might be found in a 3rd world country (see photo above – who would stop there thinking that place was one of the best BBQ spots in Eastern NC?!?!). Hell, keep it that way; I don’t want everyone knowing about the best BBQ!

Anyway, I have desired, since moving to Washington DC to expose my new friends here with what good Eastern NC BBQ was like. I figured without a large pig cooker, I was screwed, but I came across this recipe online that gave a great baseline for cooking Eastern NC style BBQ in a slow cooker. It is quite possibly one of the easiest recipes ever! Here is my version of the recipe I found online:

Eastern NC Style BBQ
Yield ~ 10 servings
Time 12 hours

1 (5 pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (or center/end loin)
1 tablespoon salt
Ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

Start out by putting the pork into a slow cooker, seasoning with salt and pepper, and pouring vinegar on and around the pork. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

While you are waiting for the Pork to finish, you can make your slaw. (Before I get hate for making a ketchup based slaw, I will say that I did not have enough mayo in supply to make normal eastern NC slaw!!! – So in this case, we will consider this a tour of North Carolina as it relates to BBQ styles!)

Lexington Style Slaw
Yield ~6 servings

1 pound green cabbage
4 tablespoons ketchup or BBQ Sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Place cabbage into a large bowl and other ingredients into a separate bowl, combine them, mix thoroughly and then place in refrigerator. Nothing major here, just a simple southern dish!

After 10-12 hours, pork should just fall apart when you touch it. Take out of slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Peal apart with tongs/fork/fingers then take knife and lightly chop (if you want smaller pieces in the end chop more).

Take juice in slow cooker and strain off, saving approximately 2 cups for later. Place pork back into slow cooker.
Gather other dry ingredients and put into slow cooker, along with the 2 cups of strained juice. Mix these ingredients thoroughly in the slow cooker and at this point it is up to you to tinker the flavor to meet your needs. Add ingredients as needed to make it taste either hotter, sweeter, or more vinegary.

*Note: I have a special ingredient that I add (see Crown Royal bottle). This is apple cider vinegar that has been soaking in hot peppers. This particular blend has been at my parents’ house for years, but you can easily make this in a few months by getting small hot peppers and placing them in a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

Finally, keep warm until you are ready to serve either alone or on a sandwich. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asian Chicken Wonton Cups

Finally! I'm sharing the last recipe of my Dad's birthday party! I saved the best for last in my opinion. As much of a sugar dessert freak as I am, I love LOVE LOVE any kind of Asian food just as much. This recipe will not disappoint either. They look so fancy and pretty but are so easy to make. In fact, as of 7:23, which is right now, I am craving these like whoa. I guess I'll just have to wait for another party to go to so I can make them again. That won't be for a while though considering I have about 50,000 things going on in the next week. This Friday we have a KBTM Cakes order for a bridal shower, Saturday morning I have another 10K all the way in St. Michael's, then I have to go to Ocean City for the day for a graduation party. Those 24 hours will be super hectic which is a little more than I can handle. We'll see how I fare. At least the good thing is, by Tuesday I will be on a plane to.... 

Asian Chicken Wonton Cups
Yield 24 cups

24 Wonton squares
3 tablespoons peanut butter
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of one lime)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey 
2 teaspoons chili puree with garlic
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 green onion stalks, sliced
1 cup chicken, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup napa cabbage, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and place wonton squares inside tin. Bake for about 10 minutes until browned and crispy. In a bowl mix together the peanut butter, water, lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, and chili puree. Mix in the almonds, green onions, and chicken. Last place some of the napa cabbage in each wonton cup (about 1/2 filled), then fill the rest with a spoonful of the chicken mixture. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Peach Crumble Bars

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! Here's a picture of me and my sister with our Mom yesterday! We surprised her and took her to a vineyard for some wine tasting on Mother's Day. The drive there was pretty silly because every 5 minutes she'd be like "are we going to this place? are we going there?" She took almost 40 minutes to guess it after saying St. Mary's, multiple different craft fairs, Calvert Cliffs, a plantation... we just told her to give up. At least I'm pretty sure she had a good time! 
Onto the food. That's the whole point of this site anyway. Peach Crumble Bars. Slightly like peach pie but better. I made these for my Dad's birthday last week but they're just making it up here. I kind of had a stockpile of recipes but it's starting to get depleted! Guess I need to start making more food!

Peach Crumble Bars
Yield ~25 squares

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted
~4 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Top Layer
1 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together, then mix in the flour cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Grease 9x9 pan and press mixture down into the bottom as seen below. Place in oven for 15 minutes to pre bake. Then mix together the melted butter, peaches, brown sugar, and cinnamon and pour on top of the slightly baked bottom after you take it it out of the oven. In another bowl mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda together. Add in the butter and rub it into the dry mixture with your fingers until crumbly. Spread the crumbly mixture out on top and lightly press down. Don't press hard so that you still have a crumbly appearance. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until the top starts to brown a little. 

Friday, May 11, 2012


Hello almost Weekend! It looks like it will be a beautiful one here in Maryland too! That nice weather I'd say started about yesterday which lead to me getting a really awesome sunglass burn on my face. I got to go out in the field yesterday instead of sitting at my desk all day. It was a welcome change-up as I went to the Naval Academy and did the annual inspection of NOAA's tide gauge there. It pretty much consisted of finding bench marks and cleaning tubes and measuring distances aka surveying. To some that might sound boring but I'd say my favorite part of the day was when I single handedly drilled a bolt into the concrete side of a building. I felt like I finally had a reason for going to all those Body Pump classes after all, busting out... the guns. Anyway, I'm excited because this weekends weather will be mid to upper 70's and sunny and that sounds just about perfect to me. Even more perfect for some cook outs which include guacamole and chips. I will call this the go-to-guac. There are a lot more versions of guacamole than you would probably imagine but this one is my favorite. When this was made the entire thing was gone in one evening between 2 people... oops. 

Servings ~ 2 cups (you decide how much people will eat)

3 avocados
1/2 onion, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
good pinch of salt

Cut your avocados in half along the seed and scoop it out of the skin into the bowl. Add in the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. (For the jalapano you can add in all the fruit, but only mix in enough of the seeds to make it to your preferred spice level) Then add in the juice of 2 limes, cilantro, and a big pinch of salt. Slightly mash everything together and give it a good mix. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jack and Coke Chocolate Cake- Putting Green Style

This was one fun cake to make! Drink inspired cakes are always awesome. This is only the second one I've made though, next to my Margarita Coconut Cake. I don't know which was better though. You'll just have to make this and let me know what you think. My Dad's birthday was yesterday so I made him a birthday cake but not just any ordinary cake. His favorite drink is Jack and Coke and he loves to golf. So I combined both for his birthday. I also went out that morning and bought Wilton tip 233 because I knew I had to do this grass right. I thought I had the tip but found out I didn't. Emergency trip to Michael's! This emergency trip lead to a trip to Marshall's though which was next door. I should have known better. What do I see when I first walk in? About 50 different pairs of amazingly cute wedge sandals! Of course, I bought a pair. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Before I know it all my money will be gone. I will have to blame the grocery store and clothing stores since they are primarily the only people who take my money.

Jack and Coke Cake
Yield ~18 cupcakes or 1 cake

12 ounces Coca Cola
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 tablespoons Jack Daniels

In one bowl, mix the butter (melted), oil, and Coca Cola, then mix in the cocoa powder. Mix in the eggs and sour cream, then the sugar. In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the powder mixture into the liquid mixture and stir until combined. Pour into cake pan or cupcake tin and bake for 40 minutes for cake (20 minutes for cupcakes) or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. To make frosting, make sure butter is room temperature first. Mix the butter and powdered sugar together with a mixer, pouring 1 cup in at a time. Then pour in the vanilla and Jack Daniels. The consistency should be about right. If you feel it's too thick you may add a little milk, too runny add powdered sugar.

Monday, May 7, 2012


I know, I know, I'm slightly late with my Mexican recipe posting. I did give you a couple to tide you over but this one is definitely better and there's another one coming too but you can use that recipe all summer long so it's not like you missed out on anything. In fact, I didn't even have these on Cinco de Mayo. I had them the day before since I went out with my Dad to celebrate on the real day. This meal was just the beginning to my weekend of food coma. This on Friday + the world's largest loaded nachos and peanut butter sundae on Saturday + the plethora of food we made for my Dad's birthday on Sunday = dead me today. I don't know how I made it out of bed to even get ready for work today, I barely remember showering. I will say though that my Cinco de Mayo rocked. My Dad and I went to a few bars on the Eastern Shore and had our fair share of Margaritas and Coronas. By 10:00 we were planning on leaving then Dad goes, Wanna go to Dairy Queen? So off we went to get our ice cream. Then we watched a show about airplanes in 3D as we ate our sundaes and had our last Cinco de Mayo celebratory drink. Definitely my kind of night :)

Yield ~7-8 enchiladas

1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced
3-4 large chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oil
7-8 tortillas
1 cup colby jack, pepper jack, or mexican style cheese
1/2 pound ground beef
29 ounce can enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a pot boil water and place the chicken breasts in until cooked through. Drain and place them in a bowl to cool, then shred them apart. Next, in a skillet pour the teaspoon of oil and put on medium heat. Place the sliced green pepper, onion, and jalapeno in and saute until cooked through. Add in the chili powder. Brown your ground beef in a pan, drain, then mix into the enchilada sauce. Place on burner to warm up. Pour the pepper and onion mixture into the shredded chicken and mix through. Place the filling in the tortillas, roll up, and place in your baking dish. We were able to fit 7 in ours. Pour your beef enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas in the baking dish to completely cover in sauce. Bake about 20 minutes, then take your dish out and sprinkle the cheese on it and place it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Enjoy with a good Mexican beer preferably with a nice little poncho like this one!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Granola Coffee Cake

One of the best ways to come up with baking ideas is cleaning out the pantry. I was "cleaning" it out the other day aka perusing the goods and realized there were loads of grain products all on the top shelf that I had no idea about. There were oats, cream of wheat, grits, barley, and granola! The last two will be/have been victims of new recipes. Barley is yet to come. I've only ever used granola on yogurt, then one day I actually read the nutrition facts and was like WHOA! So not as good for you as I thought so I hadn't had it in probably a year. When I found this though, I instantly dug my hand in and started eating little granola mounds thinking what can I do with this? The result was a coffee cake and let me tell you, I had 3 servings of it the night I made it. I was thoroughly impressed when I took a bite in.

Actually, right now as I'm typing this I just remembered it's Cinco de Mayo tomorrow. Maybe I should've made a Mexican recipe to share with you. I'm actually pretty excited for tomorrow since I'm going to the Eastern Shore to do some partying Mexican style on the water. I love Kent Island. I always have a blast every time I go there. Plus it's the first time I can actually celebrate since I've been of age and didn't have to be up at 6. So since I forgot to make something that was a little more appropriate for the season here are two throwbacks for you. Don't forget to have a margarita with it.
Mexican Dinner Pies
Mexican Slaw

Granola Coffee Cake
Yield ~12 servings

1 cup granola
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the granola and yogurt together in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to get a little soft. Then mix in the butter, sugar, and eggs. Next add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Grease your baking pan and pour half the batter in. Then sprinkle the cinnamon over the batter along with  your butterscotch chips and nuts (if using). Pour the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle with a handful of granola if you'd like. Bake 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crockpot Beef Brisket

Yesterday I was planning on going to Bikram Yoga. I even drank my two full water bottles of water in preparation for the amount of weight, I mean water I would lose, darnit. I laid down on the couch after work thinking I'd take a little cat nap before I went. Terrible idea... I love naps and once I hit the pillow it's mighty hard for me to get up. I ended up sleeping for an hour and rode my bike instead to at least get some exercise in. Let me tell you, this was my second terrible idea of the afternoon. I'm about a mile in and it seems extra hard to bike. Some guy comes up behind me and is like "I hate to say it but I think you need some air in your tire." Palm to face, ugh. Well I'm not turning around now I thought to myself. I continued to trudge on for another 6 miles only to be smacked in the face with no less than 15 large bugs which would then cause me to veer off to the side of the trail in hopes I didn't crash. Then halfway through when the same guy passed me I just put my face down cause I didn't want him to see me STILL biking. It's pathetic how embarrassed I was of my almost flat tire. I kept thinking all those legit bikers passing me are probably like what's wrong with this girl? When I finally got back I was glad it was over and sat down on the couch, then two bugs fell out of my hair... Lesson learned, don't skip a class inside for outside biking. Now that I've successfully grossed you out I'll tell you about our recipe. And, who wants to buy me this?
This brisket is why I had to make that beer bread I shared with you all on Monday. When we made it I was thinking it was for sandwiches as well. When egg noodles were brought out that evening, I was like ummm... what are those for!? Apparently, this was a childhood meal of my boyfriend and this is how they had it every time. I must admit it was a good combination so I didn't mind that it was a little out of the ordinary. You can do what we did, which is put it on top of egg noodles, or you can make a sandwich or eat it plain. It's up to you!

Beef Brisket
Yield ~ a lot of servings, depending what you use it for 8-16

3-4 pounds beef brisket (shoulder works too if you're on a budget)
2 bottles of chili sauce
1 12 ounce beer (flavor your choice)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Place your meat in a crockpot. Pour the chili sauce and beer in, then add the pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Cover your crockpot and put it on high for 5 hours, then put it on low for the last 3 hours and you're ready! It will be so fall apart tender you're going to be in love.