Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Can Call Me Nannerpuss!

Hello. This post is a week overdue, sorry! But we’ve had a lot going on, I had Miss Virgnia for 2 days, we went to Huntsville for 2 days, and basically were lazy for the other days. :)

Last week Jesse and I decided to go on a grand adventure in the cooking world. We invited my parents over for dinner because they are awesome, and we wanted to thank them for being so. We also invited my brother John, his wife Sarah Beth, and their daughter Virginia over. Here’s a picture of our super-cute niece!!!

Last, our good friend Adam is in town from Japan, so he came over as well.

So what was on the menu you ask? We kept it nice and Southern: BBQ chicken sandwiches, snap beans, hushpuppies and banana pudding for dessert! I started out with making the BBQ chicken. That was the easiest one for tonight. Below is the recipe:

6 chicken breasts

1 bottle of BBQ sauce

That morning, I got out the crock pot and put the chicken inside. Then, I dumped in a bottle of the BBQ sauce and turned the crock pot on low. I have come to realize that Carolina BBQ sauce is one of my favorites, and even found this really delicious sauce at our local Ingles: Sticky Fingers. Sticky Fingers also has a few restaurants around the South. It turns out I’ve eaten at their Chattanooga restaurant with my friends Lindsey and Noelle. Here is their website: They advertise themselves as Memphis BBQ, but their sauce I bought is their Carolina flavor…

Anyways, I let the chicken cook for the whole day, periodically helping the crock pot shred the chicken. That’s Jesse’s favorite part, and since that was his work from home day, he did a lot of the helping along. Below is a picture of the finished chicken:

The next easy thing on the menu for the night was the snap beans. I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen and helping her or any of my aunts snap beans, so I decided we should actually buy the beans as opposed to cans of beans... It’s supposed to be healthier to do it that way. :) After snapping all the beans – something both Jesse and I took part in, we put them in a pot and covered them with water. We also added a beef bouillon cube or two and let the beans cook. I really wanted to find a hambone and add that and some brown sugar, but since I don’t really eat much pork, there was none to be had. Below are pictures of the progress with the beans:

Snapping them:


Ok, so the last two things weren’t as easy as the first two… We made the hushpuppies and banana pudding from scratch.

I started on the hushpuppies first because I could get the dry mix together early in the day. The hardest part was finding a recipe – but I did that a few weeks ago. Jesse and I developed a huge craving for hushpuppies last month when we had some down at the beach. I love sweet hushpuppies, and our favorite restaurant in Atlanta that served great hushpuppies – Dusty’s BBQ – sadly went out of business for multiple reasons. Needless to say, we’ve been feeling deprived of some good hushpuppies, so we resolved to make some. After searching the web for recipes, I settled on Paula Deen’s recipe, because really, who better to follow for a Southern treat then Paula Deen? Her recipe had 5 stars, but the only problem was that there was no sugar in the ingredient list. But, one thing I have learned from online recipes is this: read people’s reviews! They’ll give you tips on what to do to change things around, etc. Fortunately someone mentioned adding sugar to this one, unfortunately, they didn’t say how much. Anyways, here is the link for the recipe: Below are the ingredients:

  • 6 cups peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

So like I said, I mixed all of the dry ingredients first, and added in 2 tablespoons of sugar. Below is the mix:

Next, we borrowed a rather large pot from my mom so we could appropriately fry these, seeing as how we don’t have a fryer. Then, about an hour before we were to eat, I added in the onion, eggs and buttermilk. Jesse took over from there and formed little balls out of these while the oil heated to 350 degrees. Below are the pre-cooked hushpuppies:

Then, once our handy thermometer (thank you William-Sonoma) said the oil was 350, he dropped those puppies in to be fried.

Then, after a few test runs, we determined when they were done and took them out. They looked like hushpuppies!

And finally, on to the arguably best dessert ever – Banana Pudding. This is arguably once of the best Southern dishes ever. A good banana pudding can make any day a LOT better. And Jesse and I have been DYING to make banana pudding. So this meal seemed like a good time to do so. A year or so ago I found a recipe I wanted to try, so this is what we used. For the life of me, I can’t tell you where I found it, but it is from the internet. Here it is:

Banana Pudding
10 servings

Hands on: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes or more for cooling

Feel free to use the full-fat versions of the sweetened condensed milk, if you prefer. The pudding can also be served in individual 1-cup ramekins.

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
2 1/2 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 5 to 6)
45 reduced-fat vanilla wafers
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine flour and salt in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in low-fat and condensed milks and yolks, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Arrange 1 cup banana slices in a 2-quart baking dish. Spoon 1/3 pudding mixture over bananas; top with 15 vanilla wafers. Repeat layers once; top with remaining bananas and pudding. Arrange remaining 15 wafers around inside edge of dish. Gently push wafers into pudding. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved (2 to 4 minutes) Spread meringue over pudding, sealing to edge of dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool at least 30 minutes.

Per serving: 334 calories (percent of calories from fat, 16), 9 grams protein, 61 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 45 milligrams cholesterol, 186 milligrams sodium.

So Jesse and I embarked on this dish with anticipation. I started by making the custard on the stove. While I worked on that and kept stirring, Jesse peeled and sliced all of the bananas.

Then he took out the Nilla Wafers (cause let’s face it, anything other than Nabisco is an imposter!). He went on and lined the outside of the casserole dish with Nilla Wafers and then added bananas to the bottom.

Once the custard mixture was done, he spooned that on top.

Really, he followed the recipe as shown above. Next, he made the meringue out of the egg whites I had already separated. He then put the whole dish in the over and we waited for it to cook.

Then, he pulled it out of the oven, and for all intents and purposes, it looked like banana pudding should look!

Finally, our dinner was done, the table was set, chairs were found, and tummies were rumbling. It was time to eat!




BBQ Chicken: 5 out of 5. It’s so easy even a Caveman could do it! Wait, is that trademarked? Let me give a shout out to Geico, I don’t own that phrase, if anyone does, they do.

Snap Beans: 4 out of 5. Snapping the ends off is the only reason it’s not a 5.

Hushpuppies: 2 out of 5. These were fun to make, but not all that easy. Especially the frying part. They definitely take some time.

Banana Pudding: 2 out of 5. It was not easy to make, especially since it was all from scratch. Except the Nilla Wafers. I’ve never made a custard, and I always worry I won’t know how thick is thick enough. Of course, that’s pretty obvious once you’re there… I’ve never made meringue either, and still haven’t because Jesse did that part. I was nervous, but I’m determined to make the meringue next time. Meringue is really yummy!

Overall: 3.25 out of 5

Taste: I give the whole meal a 4.5 out of 5. The hushpuppies were, unfortunately, a little dry and I definitely didn’t add enough sugar. Next time, we’ll add a little more buttermilk and sugar to the mix to see if that works. Or, if anyone has any yummy hushpuppy recipes, send them over. The BBQ was good and the beans good, but what really sealed the deal was the Banana Pudding. It was irresistible. The whole meal could have been awful, but with the banana pudding it would still get a high score. It was so good that there were no leftovers. We all have second servings of it as witnessed by this picture:

Pickiness Factor: Hmmm… I think this deserves a 3.5 out of 5. While I liked this meal, a lot of people don’t like beans. I used to hate green beans when I was little and pretty much ate them under duress. And some people are picky about the type of BBQ sauce used, so if they didn’t like this one, then they wouldn’t have liked the meal. But if someone was picky about banana pudding, I don’t think I should know you. Banana pudding is the BOMB! Especially home-made, warm banana pudding. That instant crap you can buy at restaurants, that have whipped cream and not meringue, well, that’s probably just the Yankees trying to create banana pudding.

Special Yoda Factor: We decided to try out the hushpuppies on Yoda. I threw one at him and told him to HUSH PUPPY! It worked like magic. He gives those a 5 out of 5. Of course, once he was done eating them he decided he wanted more and started begging… My bad. :)


Preparation: I give this a 3 out of 5. It was pretty super easy, just a little time consuming. Snapping the beans probably took the longest, but it was fun. Nothing was too difficult, especially just letting the chicken sit in the crock all day. Easy Peasy!

Taste: I give this a 4 out of 5. The BBQ Chicken and Nanner Puddin’ was epic-ly awesome, too bad the Hush Puppies were a bit dry. And I’ve never been a huge fan of snap beans (but they are fun to make).

Cost: 4 out of 5. The entire meal was pretty much made from scratch. The only ready made portion were the Nilla Wafers, and well, there’s no excuse to not buy those…if you were born in the south, you know exactly what we mean. The total cost was pretty low, and we had left over sandwiches for a while…but unfortunately the Pudding was completely destroyed.

Overall Rating: 3.9

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

That Was Easy as Pie!

This is a day late, but who cares, it’s our blog and we can do whatever we want so :P.

Monday night we were out of food and didn’t have much in the house. We already needed to go to the grocery store so it was either pick up something quick and easy to make at the grocery store, or settle for one of our old favorites – Mac ‘n Cheese! Despite what many of you might think, we actually did not have macaroni and cheese. I know, weird for me, right?

But, one of our favorite, super easy meals is one of those frozen skillet things. We really love the Asian ones, because, let’s face it, Jesse and I LOVE Asian foods. So super yummy! So we stood in the frozen aisle to check it out and see which ones looked good. One brand that we’ve found we really like is Wanchai Ferry. They also have boxed meals – just buy the chicken and they provide you with the sauces and mixes and stuff. It’s pretty awesome – but really only enough for maybe 3 people.

Anyways, we almost went for a Wanchai Ferry frozen skillet, but then saw that Ingles now carries PF Changs, so we thought, “Why not try something new?” So we bought PF Chang’s General Chang’s Chicken. It said it was spicy, which we like.

Picture of the bag:

Jesse was in charge of the chicken, and I was in charge of the rice.

Jesse got the skillet out – shout out to the Zrolka’s who gave it to us as a wedding gift – and put the mix in. Like I said, we wanted something easy, fast, but yummy! Jesse did an awesome job of getting that ready, and soon it was all cooked and smelling delicious.

Here’s a picture of how awesome it looked:

So what happened next you ask? I all of sudden realize I had failed! I FORGOT TO MAKE THE RICE!!!! And it’s not like rice is something quick. We looked at each other for a moment and shared the same thought, “What do we do now???” I quickly grabbed our rice cooker and hurriedly searched for the instructions (we’ve only used it a few times, but enough for me to remember it’s a lot faster than cooking rice on the stove). I measured the rice and put it into the cooker and added the water.

Our rice cooker helping correct my mistake:

Jesse and I decided that while it cooked, we could go on and eat our salads as an appetizer. We found a great bagged salad mix – I’m not a huge fan of iceberg lettuce (to which Jesse would respond, “Maybe iceberg’s not a huge fan of you!”) so I liked the bagged mixes. We then found a great dressing – Asian with Sesame & Ginger Vinaigrette. We also like to add chow mein noodles to add a bit of a crunch. That’s something I learned from my big sister – thanks Mary Scott!

And add all of these together:



EQUALS: VoilĂ , a yummy salad:

Well, we had barely finished our salads when we heard the rice cooker go off indicating the rice was ready – far faster than the 20 minutes to cook plus time to boil on the stovetop. Why don’t we use the rice cooker more often? I digress. Once the rice was finished, we were able to plate our food, or in this case, bowl it. And that led to another delicious meal – this one quick and easy – for the Wades.

Here’s the finished product:

And our ratings for this meal:


Preparation: I give this a 5 out of 5. Really, it’s pre-packaged food so this is a no brainer. And rice in the rice cooker is really easy, too, so there’s no excuse for anyone to ever be afraid to cook rice again!

Taste for whole thing: 4 out of 5. It was really good, but I would have liked more crunch in the stir-fry section. I think next time we may buy water chestnuts to add to it. I also really like bamboo, so we may have to check it out. I did like the kick this had. I’ve started really liking spicy foods, and sometimes even crave them, so this was perfect. Not so hot that it actually burned my mouth (spicy Korean skewers at the karaoke place – but still good), just enough to make my nose run a little.

Pickiness Factor: I give this a 4 out of 5. Some people don’t like spicy foods, so they may not like this. Also, it had red peppers added in. Sometimes I eat those now, sometimes I don’t. This happened to be one of those times that I picked them out and put them to the side.


Preparation: I give this a 5 out of 5 – you have to be ‘tarded to screw this up (don’t worry if you are, there are plenty of ‘tards out there livin’ kick ass lives)

Taste: I give this a 4 out of 5 – it was pretty awesome, but like Sarah, I think adding some water chestnuts for some crunch is an awesome idea. I think having this with Lo mein too might be pretty awesome

Cost: 3 out of 5 - This is about the same as other frozen skillet meals, but you don’t get rice…which means, MORE FOOD (24oz skillet bag w/rice vs 22oz skillet bag w/o rice)! You might have to buy rice separately, but still you end up with more bang for your buck. Still, this gets a 3 out of 5 b/c you would definitely save more money by making all of this from scratch (if you had more time)

Average Rating: 4.17

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Can Haz Wet Foodz?

Jesse and I had a lot of mileage off of the tacos, so there hasn’t been anything new in the last few days for our diet. But, our cats have had a HUGE change in theirs, and they asked me to include their food habits for a blog entry. So here we go:

As many of you may know, we have three cats:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wade
DOB 6/15/2006

George Weasley Wade
DOB 3/16/2007

Fred Weasley Wade
DOB 3/16/2007

So, we used to feed the cats all in the same room, twice a day, and the same food. They got 1 cup of dry food 2 times a day. Their food was Dick Von Pattens Low Calorie food, which for us can only be purchased at Petco, which fortunately isn’t too far away.

Sadly for the cats, we’ve had a few problems over the last few weeks. It started off with poor Fred getting very, very sick. We were told that if he recovered, he would need a dietary change for the rest of his life. Thankfully, our little one recovered after four and a half days in the animal hospital.

Because of Fred being sick, we took Mozart and Georgie into the vet to have some tests run on them because A) Georgie is from the same litter as Fred and could be more likely to have the same problems as Fred had and B) they all eat the same food and could be food related. Well, we were told something pretty obvious: Georgie and Mozart are FAT!!! In fact, Banfield says that Mozart is obese! So, feeling a bit embarrassed (I mean, they get low calorie food and such), we asked the vet for some advice. She said that we need to feed them in separate rooms, ¼ cup of food 2x/day, and for only 15 minutes each session. Yippie! Just what we needed, even more difficult cats. But we love our kitties and want them to be healthy, so we bit the bullet. We decided to start Tuesday night after we brought Fred home from the hospital. Here’s how it worked…

We started by rounding up each of the cats and shutting them inside a room. By virtue of our house being small, we only have three choices – both non-master bedrooms and the hall bathroom.

Then, we found 3 bowls and put them on the counter. We grabbed Fred’s super delicious wet food (at least that’s what all the animals think) and measured out ¼ cup. We then scooped some of the dry food into the two other bowls (of course measuring only ¼ cup). Then we shoved a bowl in each room before the cats could escape and Yoda could break through our defenses. We really need one of those openings that jail cells have. Hmm…

This went on for a few days and the cats barely ate anything. They don’t do well with being told they only have a certain amount of time to eat. In addition to that, Mozart and Georgie decided to go on hunger strike because Fred got wet food and they didn’t. I tried to tell them Fred also had four and a half days in the animal hospital and that was why he had wet food, but they didn’t care.

So by the time Friday rolled around, we had starving cats. I took Fred to the vet for a follow up and she informed me that Mozart also had crystals in his urine. She recommended that Mozart and Georgie go on the wet food diet for 30 days. She also recommended buying this powder stuff to mix into their food to help dissolve any crystals. My first thought? “Awesome, now all of the cats need to eat really expensive, prescription-only wet food…”

Of course that night for dinner, Mozart and Georgie were all like, “YIPPIE SKIPPY!!!!! WET FOOD!!!” They were so excited, that they slammed that food down. After 15 minutes I went to let Mozart out. He had licked his bowl clean and turned it over to prove how awesome his new food was. We’re pretty sure Georgie finished his in about 5 seconds since he spent most of the 15 minutes meowing to get out. Even Yoda got in on the fun. He likes to hang outside the rooms where the cats are eating and lick the floor, hoping for a little taste of super-awesome wet food.

Here is Mozart's bowl:

Here are all of the pets with their wet food:



Georgie, who is saying: "I can has more?"

Yoda, who is thinking, "Mommy and Daddy are so nice by letting me make sure the cats licked this bowl clean!!!!"

Moral of this story: Pets (furry ones) really, really LOVE wet food.

But this wouldn’t be our food blog without ratings, so here we go:


Preparation: I give this a 2 out of 5. We used to just scoop food into a bowl and sometimes shut all 3 cats up. Now we have to get the three bowls, measure the food, mix in some powder, AND wrangle us some cats. All the while Yoda barks at us because HE doesn’t get wet food…

Taste for whole thing: The cats give this a 5 out of 5. They really, freaking love wet food. In case you haven’t figured this out.

Pickiness Factor: I give this a 5 out of 5!!! For pets… All 4 of ours dig this!


Preparation - i'll give this a 3 out of 5. It certainly takes a little longer to open a can, measure out the correct amount, and then smear it into the bowl instead of just using a measuring cup of dry food. And having to currently mix in powdered meds makes this even worse…not to mention having a swarm of cats as well as Yoda begging for its quick delivery. But then again, it's not like i'm cooking. Can ---> Bowl ---> Stomach ---> Win

Taste – 4 out of 5. As far as cat food goes, this stuff isn’t actually that bad. It’s loaded in fat, so you get a good flavor. They could do a little better job on the hummus-type consistency, but I guess that only means you don’t have to exert much effort swallowing. The subtle hint of a woodsy aftertaste puts this ahead of the rest.

Cost – 2 out of 5 – not being able to buy bulk amounts of this is a shame. And since it’s prescription, your places of purchase are limited (and it’s expensive). But I don't know if i would want to have a 5gal. bucket of this in the first place.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Inaugural Post - Mexican for Dummies!

So Jesse and I are going to try to start a new blog. This blog is about all the foods we cook and enjoy, will include recipes and reviews about the food, and show pictures of our successes and failures.

We will review out meals based off of the following:

Easiness to prepare (considering I’m not really that great at cooking)


The Special Sarah Rating – made just for those picky eaters like me :)

We will start with last night’s meal: Taco Tuesday!!!!!!

Jesse started by making the guacamole:

Ingredients needed:

2 avocados

Guacamole seasoning (1 packet)

He used Concord Foods Authentic Guacamole Mix which conveniently had the recipe on the back in two languages – English and Spanish. After following the recipe (very easily mashing 2 avocados and mixing with the seasoning), he put it into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Here are the avocados:

Here is the completed guacamole:

Next, I started on the Mexican Rice:

Ingredients needed:

Rice (1 cup uncooked)

Vegetable Oil (3 tablespoons)

Onion powder (1/2 teaspoon)

Garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon)

Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

Taco Seasoning (1 teaspoon)

Tomato Sauce (1/2 cup)

Chicken Broth (2 cups)

I had never made Mexican Rice before, so this was totally new for me. I found what looked to be an easy recipe from my favorite go-to site:

Here is the link:

After reading reviews, I made some changes.
I didn’t use an actual onion or cumin. We don’t have garlic salt, so I used half garlic powder and half salt. I also added in taco seasoning. Taco Bell taco seasoning is the best. After making these alterations, I pumped myself up by putting on some music.

Music choices of the kitchen:

Caledonia” by Dougie Maclean

“I Was a Teenage Anarchist” by Against Me!

“Somebody to Love” by Justin Bieber

“You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon

Beverage of choice:


Once I was prepared and in the mood, I began to cook and follow the recipe. There were a few issues. For instance, what on earth is puffed rice? I just kept stirring the rice in the oil and hoped I would figure it out. I did. Puffed rice turns a different color of white and indeed, looks puffed out.

Another issue I encountered: when I added the tomato sauce to the pan, some of it hit the burner and created beaucoup de smoke. Our smoke alarm started beeping and warning of smoke in the kitchen and to evacuate immediately. I had to keep mixing everything in before it actually DID burn in the pan, so I had to put up with the beeping until Jesse ran out of the Star Wars room to see what was going on. Once we had that settled, the rice was left to simmer and Jesse moved on to the ground beef and refried beans.

Below is a picture of the completed Mexican Rice:

Taco Meat!


Ground beef (approx 3 lbs for us, might have been too much)

Taco seasoning (1 packet)

This is pretty basic. Jesse turned the burner on and let the beef brown. He then added in the taco seasoning and drained the fat.

And a picture of the meat. Sorry to any vegetarians. :)

Refried Beans:


Refried beans (1 can)

Onion (half of one)

Another easy one. Jesse cut up the onion and let it favor a skillet. He then added in the can of beans and stirred while it heat up. He did this while he browned the meat, the guacamole chilled and the rice simmered. I just kept playing music and helped stir the beef.

Refried Beans:

Finally the food was cooked and we pulled the remaining details out of the fridge:

Pace Picante Salsa (Hot and Medium)

Shredded Cheese (Ingles Mexican mix)

Queso Dip

Flour Tortillas

Chilled Guacamole

Yummy extras:

Voila! A meal to last for days. It was easy and didn’t take too much time.

Below are pictures of our tacos/burritos. Jesse made his more burrito-like with queso on top.

And now it is time for the ratings:


Preparation for Mexican Rice: I give this a 4 out of 5. It was pretty easy, and the only reason it didn’t get a 5 out of 5 is because at the start, I had to keep stirring the rice in the oil and I didn’t know how long that would take. One suggestion I would make to simplify this is something I still haven’t been able to get through my head: measure out the spices and such in little bowls so it takes less time to add to the mixture and you don’t have to worry about screwing anything up…

Taste for whole thing: I give my taco/burrito a 4 out of 5. It was super yummy and nice ad spicy. The only thing I didn’t like was that my tortilla fell apart, so I ate this with a fork and knife.

Pickiness Factor: I give this a 5 out of 5!!! It’s because tacos are so easy to enjoy even when being picky. I don’t like refried beans or guacamole, so I didn’t have to add it to my taco. And my taco was still super yummy! I also could add as much or as little of the other foods to my taco. Maybe that’s why the tortilla fell apart…


Prep: 4 out of 5 – easy

Taste: 3 out of 5 – nothing too special. Everything was good, but perhaps a bit too mushy—none of the flavors were anything to write home about. It could definitely use some crunch, be it lettuce or some other greens/onions/peppers or even just using hard-shell tacos. All in all a good dish, and good for leftovers, but it was pretty much just your typical taco/burrito. As my friend Nathan says, “it’s hard to mess up Mexican food…even so so tacos are still awesome.” – and to that I agree

Cost: 4 out of 5 – materials are cheap and expense limited only by the amount of topping you want

Other notes: This is a wonderful dish for leftovers. Little flavor/consistency is lost when stored in the fridge.

Overall score for Taco Tuesday: 4.0