Friday, April 29, 2011

It's not just another wedding

After reading several posts on Twitter, Facebook and blogs this morning, I thought I would put my two cents worth in about the royal wedding. This morning at approximately 11:00 a.m. in London, His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales took Miss Catherine Middleton as his bride. A historic day for all of Great Britain, this marked the union of two future sovereigns.

I have heard a lot of backlash about the media coverage of this event, particularly in the wake of the devastating storms that ripped through the Deep South this week. Most of the negative commentary has come from men, with no surprise. And I believe most of it is coming with a lack of appreciation for the historic relevance of this event.

Britain’s royals are one of the most well-know monarchies in world history. Queen Elizabeth, the current head, has reigned since 1952. When she wed Prince Philip in 1949, her wedding was broadcast on BBC Radio, with highlights shown on TV. Her son, and direct heir to the throne, Prince Charles wed Princess Diana in one of the most talked about weddings in history. The 1981 television broadcast attracted more than 750 million viewers worldwide. Needless to say, the world has always been interested in royal weddings.

I do agree there has been a bit of overkill about Will and Kate’s wedding. I mean…there was a Lifetime movie. I admit I watched it. And it was super cheesy. And there have been endless news programs dedicated to introducing the world to the background of the event. It has most definitely been overemphasized.

However, being overplayed in the media does not neutralize the historical significance of this wedding. I mean, it’s still a pretty big deal. A prince married a commoner today, a commoner that will one day been queen of one of the most powerful countries in the world. I realize the British monarchy doesn’t have as much political power as it used to, but it is still a very significant figure in British life.

I am not afraid to admit that I am interested in the royal wedding. Apart from having a crush on Prince William since…as long as I can remember, I am a girl, and I enjoy all the pomp and circumstance that even the most common, simplistic wedding has to offer.

This Sunday, I am hosting a royal wedding brunch at my house with several of my girlfriends. Because we all have busy lives, I recorded the event on my DVR, and we will watch it on Sunday after early church. The brunch wasn’t my idea, but that of a friend, however I am very exciting about hosting, and seeing all of the extravagant details the wedding brought forth.

I have to confess that I did take a peek this morning for about 15 minutes. I couldn’t wait to see the dress. Kate looked radiant in her gown, and to me, much like Grace Kelly. She was the picture of elegance and grace, and I’m sure will be quite the inspiration to future brides. William looks dapper in his regal attire, the picture of Prince Charming in Cinderella. And the hats…I love all the British hats! I really should have been born in a culture that incorporates modern headwear into every day fashion!

Many have asked why the wedding is such a big deal. My explanation is simple. Girls love weddings. Its one of those things ingrained in us from birth. Because most women are wired to respond to relationships, romance and emotions, we love the fairytale sentiments weddings invoke. As sappy and silly as it appears to most men, it’s just a part of who we are as women.

In my humble opinion, those complaining most about the royal wedding extravaganza are those that are most vocal about it. I don’t see anyone else posting on Facebook or Twitter. Just the complainers. So in their futile attempts to combat the media exaggerations, they are in fact feeding it more. I find that kind of hilarious.

I wish Will and Kate the very best, and hope their marriage lasts as long as his grandmother, the Queen. My only negative comment will be to Princess Catherine – Girl, I wish it was me!

AFTERTHOUGHT - I really love how Princess Catherine was veiled going into the cathedral. People don't do that anymore. I love the symbolism. If I ever get married, I'm totally walking down the aisle veiled!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken and Waffles!!!

Last time we met I wrote on the topic of Supper Club, a gathering my friends and I host from time to time to share a meal and try out new things. At our last SC meeting, we had “soul food night,” featuring none other than chicken and waffles. This was a combination I have been dying to try for months, but never had an excuse until now. My friends were nervous. But here was the result….


It was amazing.

Beyond amazing.

Yes, chicken and waffles is amazing.
I can’t explain how the combination works. I just know it does. I made Belgium waffles on my fancy schmancy waffle maker that I received as a Christmas present from my sister and her family. And we topped it with a chicken breast from KFC (which I will get to) and chicken gravy. It really was delicious!

So, if I were ever to make this again, I would use chicken tenders. And I would fry them at home. Because I am Southern and I can fry chicken. However, in an effort to make things “easier” on a work night, the menfolk decided to buy the chicken. There was a little bit of….miscommunication, and I realize, in hindsight, I should have handled it myself. Not that the chicken wasn’t fantastic. It was! It’s just that it cost $40 for 9 people…just for chicken…and earned my neighbor the nickname “Big Money” at KFC. So, dinner didn’t end up being as economical as it could have been. Oh well!

It was still delicious!

Chicken and Waffles for Four

Chicken – Either fry or buy 8 chicken tenders. (2 per person)

Waffle Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick Mix (Or other similar product)
1 1/3 cups milk (may need more)
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
*1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
*1 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 tablespoon vanilla

*These are just a guess. I don’t really measure these. I just eyeball it and dump it in the bowl….

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. You want your consistency to be thick, but to still drip off of your spatula when you hold it up. Then pour about 1/2-3/4 cup of batter on the waffle iron and cook according to your directions.

Yields approximately 4 large Belgium waffles.

Chicken Gravy

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Optional - 2 scallions, sliced, plus more for garnish

Directions: Melt the butter in a medium skillet and whisk in the seasoned flour until smooth. Whisk in the scallions, then slowly pour in the broth. Bring to a simmer, whisking until the gravy is smooth.

How to “dress” your meal:
Lay a waffle on a plate.
Place two chicken tenders on top.
Pour gravy over chicken and waffles.
Be happy.

**On a side note...we tried to think about appropriate sides for this meal before eating it. Its pretty savory, so you could go with creamed spinach or greens or something like that. We served fruit salad and coffee cake though, and it was a great combination! : )

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's your favorite restaurant?

Lately several people have been asking where I like to eat in town. That is such a loaded question. Why? Because I'm not really sure where I like to eat in town. Honestly. I mean...I like Old Venice Pizza. And I like Umi's sushi and hibachi, and I like lunch at The Veranda, but I can't call any restaurant in town my absolute favorite.

It’s very perplexing for someone who loves culinary arts. I moved from a huge, thriving metroplex, to a small college town that has really decent local eateries and some of your basic chains, but nothing that really...sets my pants on fire.

In Fort Worth I loved Sushi Axiom, La Playa Maya, Baker Brothers Deli, Joe T's, H3, just to name a few. But just kinda like places. There isn't one restaurant that has proved to me they have an absolute, must-have dish.

Instead...if you ask me where I want to go eat, I'll say at home. It doesn't have to be my home...but somewhere, anywhere, my friends and I gather to cook and share life.

About a year ago a coworker invited me over to his house for dinner with some of his friends. He knew I was still fairly new in town, and didn't know many people. He introduced me to a couple of girls, a couple of guys, and even my next door neighbor who I had not met at this point. Every month or so this group of young adults comes together to cook dinner at someone's home. They called it Supper Club. Everyone splits up the menu, and brings their potluck items to share with the group.

Tonight we are having Supper Club at that same coworker's house. A year has gone by, people have come and gone, but there is still a steady group of us who like to gather together to break bread and fellowship. You they did in Acts! (We are so Biblical.) : ) We rotate houses, nights of the week, menu choices, etc. But one thing is always the same, we always have a great time.

Supper Club varies from home cooked Southern dishes, to cookouts, to experiments and so on. Tonight, we are combining Southern soul food with a little bit of adventure. We're making chicken and waffles. Yep...ever since I saw a Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the dish, I have wanted to try it out. I finally convinced some folks, and we are gonna go for it. Fried chicken. Belgium waffles. Buttery gravy.

I don't think the quality of the food at Supper Club matters as much as the company. Though, the food is always fantastic because my friends are awesome cooks! But the idea of gathering with your friends, sharing a meal, trading jokes, and living life together far outweighs any restaurant you can eat at in town. It’s much more meaningful, relaxed and fun.

So, I'll let you know how the chicken and waffles turn out. I'll be sure to take pics and post the recipe! Wish us luck!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blogger is killing me because it keeps messing up my posts and I can't get this dip online

I know that's a really long title...but I have been trying for 2 days to post this recipe, and blogger keeps reformating it to delete the breaks in my HTML code. Grrr....

Have you ever had black bean and corn salsa? If so, probably not at my house. Because I can't make it and not eat half of what I make. Seriously. Its that good. I originally found a recipe on a can of black beans, but was without when I needed to make it for Bible study last week. So...I did a little research and came up with the following. Its super easy and fast, and is a definite crowd pleaser!

Mega Black Bean and Corn Salsa

2 cans of black beans
1 can of golden corn
1 can of white corn
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeƱos (Or 2 large tomatoes diced & 1/3-1/2 can of diced jalapeƱos)
1/2 onion diced (red or white)
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin (to taste)
1 to 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
juice of 2 limes (I always use fresh lime juice.)

1. Drain and rinse black beans. Place in a large bowl.
2. Drain corn and add to beans.
3. Drain tomatoes and add to bowl.
4. Add onion and cilantro, and follow with lime juice.
5. Start adding seasoning and keep mixing (AND TASTING!!!) until you reach your preferred taste. May need to add more lime and cilantro too.
6. Serve with tortilla chips.

You can also cut up some avocado and add it in there, but only if you are going to eat it all that same day. Avocado doesn't keep well overnight. Also, this is easily cut in half! ENJOY!!!

PS – I made more today because my cilantro was going bad. I had chips and salsa for dinner. And some ice cream. It was a great end to a Monday.