armadillas


I prefer the old kitchen before the remodel

Granny with Memaw (right)

Today I stumbled on a post here that reminded me of my great grandmother. Most of us call her Granny, though there is a small section of the family that calls her Old Granny for some old reason. For the most past, I find it annoying, but that’s neither here nor there. In January, that magnificent woman will be 90. Maybe 91. I don’t think anyone knows the actual year of her birth. 1922 seems to work for her so we’ll cross our fingers and say she’ll be 90. I should really make an effort to visit her this year on her birthday. I don’t visit nearly as often as I should.

One of the most frequent memories I have of my Granny is her making biscuits and gravy. Like the guy in the post above, it took me a long time to finally try biscuits and gravy. I won’t deny that I was a picky child and let’s be real- gravy doesn’t look all that appetizing. Plus, my Granny is a vegetarian so in my eyes her plain white gravy looked like nasty white goop designed to ruin a perfectly good biscuit. I’m not sure what I ate for breakfast on those days…

Granny and Gramps

Usually, I remember my first bite of most foods. I’ve said it before, I remember my first taste of crab legs, muscles, sausage, lo mein, egg rolls, Indian tacos, etc. The same doesn’t go for biscuits and gravy. For the life of me, I cannot remember how that stuff got on my plate and in my belly. But I remember not liking it one day and then loving it the next day. It became one of my comfort foods and it’s so easy to prepare. I do remember standing next to Granny’s ancient gas stove and watching her every move in making the gravy. Even back then I wasn’t so great at making dough. But I sure could replicate her gravy, which has served me greatly on many poor-girl dinner nights.

I don’t think I even knew that gravy came in carnivore form until I went to college. My friends and I used to host “Family Dinner Nights” and one night the theme was breakfast. Sarah made sausage gravy. Needless to say, my mind was blown. A new door was opened. Why hadn’t I ever discovered such a thing before!

But I still love my Granny’s plain gravy with heaping amounts of black pepper.

 

Advertisements

Something like magic

Today I woke up with a mighty craving. A strange craving, but a mighty one. First thing this morning, I was in the mood for something sloppy. You got it, I wanted a Sloppy Joe. Where did this need come from, I couldn’t tell you, but I’ve been thinking about one of those things all day long. I find it strange because I haven’t eaten one in probably a good seven years. Go figure.

But the Joe was a dear childhood favorite. I blame Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. It all started with a scene from the movie It Takes Two. Anyone remember that movie? I’ll admit back in my tween years (or I suppose just before hitting the tween years), I was an Olsen fan. This one was one of my favorites and I remember watching it all the time. The most vivid scene I remember is one of the twins (I think it was Ashley) not wanting to eat the Sloppy Joes and then naturally falling in the love with. Just look at that face!

Classic! Just classic! Kids, always try something new. You never know when you’re mind will be blown away. Ever since that day, I’ve had this ideal of what a Sloppy Joe should be and could never find it. Manwich never really did it for me, which is probably why i haven’t eaten one in so long. But today is different. Today I will create my perfect Joe and it’s going to be amazing. Just ask Alyssa (Ashley). I think a monster was awakened that day.

Here’s to being a 90s kid! And to being a Pioneer Woman because I adapted this recipe from hers

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Brown your beef. I like to use a large pot that way we can keep this as a one pot meal

 

In the meantime, dice your onion and green pepper

As you can see, my garden did yield that much green pepper. Make sure you find a nice big one. Makes all the difference in flavor! As this time, go ahead and mix together all your spices. You could just dump them in the pot later, but I had some time to kill

Once your beef is nice and browned, drain it and return to pot. Add in the onion, garlic, and green pepper

 

Wait for the onions to get translucent and squirt in the ketchup. I know. Sounds weird. Smells weird, too. But it will turn out. No fear

 

Stir it all together then throw in those spices you mixed up earlier. Don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste. I recommend keeping the heat on medium

 

The pioneer woman adds water to her Joes. I decided to get fancy and used chicken broth instead

 

Ah, it’s coming together now! Go ahead and add the Worcesterrrwoosectershirechur- that sauce that no one can pronounce!

 

Some tomato sauce emboldens the flavor

 

Let’s not forget the hot sauce. Sorry, dad. You were right. I did make it a touch spicy…

 

That’s okay. Spicy food keeps the doctor away! It’s almost time to eat. Let simmer for 15 minutes. The sauce will get nice and thick and before you know it you have good ol’ Sloppy Joes. If you’re anything like me, wear a bib and leave the whites in your closet

 

Serve with a slice of cheese and some fries and go watch the Redskins dominate in preseason!

 

I think from now on I’m going to serve these guys in a sub roll or hot dog buns. You know, to minimize the mess just a teensy bit

Tijuana

 

 


Under a minute

Mmm I’m not sure which I like better- Italian food or chicken. Really, these are the staples of my diet. If I’m not whipping up some sort of chicken dish, I’m usually eating something Italian (that is, when I’m not having a Chinese food attack!). I can’t help it. I grew up eating Italian. That’s my comfort food. Plus, some of my best dishes are Italian inspired. It’s just in the blood. It helps that there doesn’t seem to be very many mom and pop Italian restaurants around here either. I have no choice but to create my own. I’m sure there might be a few hole in the wall places somewhere that I just haven’t stumbled upon, but most of the joints so far are either chains like Olive Garden and Carrabbas…or are hella expensive. Remember my post about $5 calzones? Yeah, I’m not about to spend 15 bucks for something I can just make better myself.

There is one restaurant back home that I miss. Ah, Carini’s. Now they had some good food. How I wish there was a Carini’s here in the Hampton Roads. They had great pizza, great stromboli, awesome cheese fries. But my favorite dish hands down was the chicken parm sub. Oh man that was one good sandwich. I have yet to find a chicken parm to beat it. I don’t know if it was the delicious sauce, the generous amount of cheese, or the thick breast they used, but I’m drooling just remembering it. I might just have to open up my own mom and pop Italian place. Maybe I’ll recruit my dad to go into business with me.

Anyway, for memory’s sake I decided to make chicken parmesan for dinner. I would’ve made it into a sub, but unfortunately didn’t have any sub rolls. That’s okay! It was just fine without the bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts (keep in mind I’m only cooking for two)
  • 1 bowl flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 bowl bread crumbs
  • 4 slices provolone
  • Tomato sauce
  • Splash of milk
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For this recipe, we’re going to need some hardware. That’s right, we’re getting hardcore here. So, go find a hammer. Of course, if you have a nice kitchen with nice gadgets you can just use a  meat mallet. I prefer to keep things interesting

Now that you have your fancy hammer ready to go, pull out your chicken breasts. Lay down some saran wrap. Place your chicken on the saran wrap. Cover with another sheet of saran wrap. How many times can we say saran wrap?

Alright, pound out your anger! Or just have some fun. If using a hammer, be gentle with your chicken. A hammer doesn’t have as large of a surface as a mallet. Nice and thin!

Preheat you oven to 450 degrees before you forget and have to waste precious time before you can eat. Okay, build an assembly line! Set out your bowl of flour. Season with salt and pepper generously or to taste. Whisk your egg with some milk and set it out in the next bowl. Finally, pour some bread crumbs into another bowl. I used pre-seasoned Italian style


Dredge your chicken cutlets through the flour. Shake off the excess flour

Dip chicken into egg mixture

Dredge through breadcrumbs

Heat a skillet on medium heat. I like medium heat because I’m prone to burning things when I turn up the heat. So I like to play it safe. But if you think you can handle high heat, go for it! Drizzle oil into pan

We aren’t cooking the chicken all the way through. Just until nice and golden on both sides. Mine aren’t as pretty as they could be, but it’s still going to taste rad. Once desired color is reached, put into a baking dish. You can also leave the chicken in the skillet if it’s ovenproof. Save on dishes!

Spoon tomato sauce onto chicken

Layer with provolone

Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Mmmmmmmm

Boil some spaghetti while the chicken is cooking and warm up some more tomato sauce. I spruced mine up with a little crushed red pepper flakes and some fresh basil from the garden

Don’t forget to salt your pasta water!

Dinner is served! Don’t forget to sprinkle with some parmesan

It might not be Carini’s, but the boyfriend surely wasn’t complaining. Are there any restaurants that you guys miss from your hometown? I know I sure can name a few!

Tijuana