Spice Hub my life!

YOs! Whatchu know about some spices up in da kitchen! Recently, a Maryland friend and new Crockhead, started a spice company called Spice Hub and mailed me down some spices to try. I was super excited when I got them in the mail and last night was my first chance to test them out. And Brook…. the spices were awesome and I’m cooking tonight with them again! Brook sent me the seasoning pack combo which retails at $24.99 and comes with: Poultry seasoning, Steak seasoning, Taco seasoning, and vegetable seasoning.

SpicesI packed a bag with my spices, some veggies, and my roommate Palmer’s noodle maker and headed over to Katie and Jay’s house to cook dinner. They have the best open kitchen with plenty of room for…cutting boards, appliances to spread out, and dance moves (I know y’all thought I was going to quote Step Brothers). When I walked in the door Jay already had the tunes kicking so we got to work.

Jay was in charge of preparing the chicken. Katie had bought leg quarters with the skin on- key- skin on!IMG_0001We used Spice Hub Perfect Poultry Seasoning and covered them all up.IMG_0003Jay also added some barque sauce and then transferred them to the grill. In the meanwhile, Katie and I prepared Zucchini Pasta. Y’all. This is a great alternative to using actual pasta and it is very entertaining to make. Make sure to wash your zucchini thoroughly and then place it in between the crank and the blade and begin turning.IMG_0004Before you know it….Pasta!IMG_0005We threw in with the zucchini tomatoes, red onions, avocados, garlic, and feta cheese.IMG_0006Then we added the Spice Hub Vegetable Seasoning.IMG_0009What I really like about these spices is that they keep the spices somewhat whole so you can really see all the different herbs and flavors going into your food. Spice Hub is also all organic with no chemicals, sugar, msg, or fillers of any kind. Always a plus when making a healthy meal. The final step for this Zucchini Pasta is the dressing. I used the famous John Kassel salad dressing. Mix good olive oil, some red wine vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, and then any spices such as basil, oregano, salt, and pepper all in a bowl. Even throw in perhaps some fresh lemon juice. Mix really well all together  and then drizzle over pasta. We ended up having to add some extra olive oil as well to get the perfect consistency. IMG_0011Once we finished making the salad, Jay’s chicken was lingering smells like a combination of Fergie and Jesus into the kitchen so we knew it was time.IMG_0016Look at that skin! The chicken had so much flavor that I eventually just put my fork down and used my hands to experience this thing in full force. The Poultry Seasoning consists of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Garlic, Onion, Ground Red Chili Pepper, Rosemary, Basil, Parsley, Paprika, Cumin, and Coriander. All of these tastes really came through and created a great piece of grilled chicken.IMG_0017 The pasta I will definitely be making again. I might even consider making it a couple hours before and sticking it in the fridge before serving. I think the longer it marinates in the dressing, the better it will be. AND its all raw veggies with 100% of all the nutrients without tasting like boring raw veggies if you know what I mean.

Katie I think you said it right that this was a great summer time meal. There’s something about grilled chicken in July with a pretty colorful summer salad. While stuffing our faces and making fun of The Bachlorette on TV, Jay all of suddens says, “So those dude’s spices are really good.” It made us laugh and we thank you Brook for sharing them! I have them cooking down a surprise in the crockpot for tonight as we speak. Stay tuned!

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Summer Tacos

Hola Crockheads,

Recently, I had a Crockpottuesday dinner with Christine, Catherine and Brett. The menu was Cilantro and Basil Mango Mojitos, Fruit Bruschetta, Black Bean Tacos with a Creamy Avocado Dressing, and Grilled Corn. I have been craving grilled corn all summer, but there has always been one problem-I don’t own a grill. I can’t wait til the day that I have an actual yard allowing for a grill. #1-Keeper will finally be in the picture and I’ll be over the moon and #2- a grill will open up so many new cooking doors.corn 2 Indulging in a plate full of foods straight off the grill is such a satisfying summer feeling. Also, eating delicious, colorful foods while wearing cut of shorts and a light weight tank top is why summer is the best season—I could definitely live in summertime 365 days a year. Give me a huge slice of red juicy watermelon with large black seeds, a cold pitcher of tropical juices with cilantro and basil leaves, a fresh avocado, and the hot summer sun and I’ll be set.girls

Good food, good drinks, and good friends.This is such an ideal night off work for me. Enjoy the recipes and get to cooking and grilling before summer is over!

Cilantro and Basil Mojitos

1 oz. simple syrup

1.5 oz. Rum

2-3 lime wedges

2 tablespoons cilantro and basil, chopped

3 mango slices mango, chopped

Soda water

This is the recipe we found for one individual mojito drink. After all of us having comical views on the proper way to go about making the cocktail, we decided to make one large community pitcher. We said to heck with the measurements and just mixed everything together using our taste buds as guidance. There were no complaints. This is a great summer drink to enjoy out on the porch and share with friends. mango drink 2 mango drinkEven Moe was intrigued!

moe and dirnks

 Fruit Bruschetta

1 loaf French Bread

Strawberries

Peaches

Watermelon

2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves

1 Log blueberry Goat Cheese

Place the fruit and basil leaves on a cutting board and dice everything into small pieces. Combine in a bowl and drizzle on the balsamic vinegar. Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the French bread and bake for 8-10 minutes until toasted. Spread blueberry goat cheese on each slice of French bread and then carefully place fruit mixture on top. Ready to serve immediately and makes for a great appetizer.fruitsalsagoat cheesebruchetta 2bruschetta

Black Bean Tacos with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Flour or Corn Tortillas

2 15oz. Cans Black Beans

1 Cup Salsa

1 tsp. Cumin

Toppings

Shredded Lettuce

Chopped Tomatoes

Chopped Avocado

(for the sauce)

2 Small Avocados

1 Small Jalapeno

¼ Cup Cilantro, stems removed

1 Green Onion-diced

1 Clove Garlic-diced

Juice from 1 Lime

¾ Cup Buttermilk

Salt and Pepper to taste

To make the Avocado Dressing, pour all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside in refrigerator and begin making the tacos.veggieslimebutter milkphoto In a pan over medium heat, add beans, salsa, and cumin. Keep beans on a low heat setting and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, take tortillas and warm them for a few minutes in the oven. Once beans are ready, begin platting the tacos. Place the tortilla down first and then add the beans, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and spoon on the Avocado Dressing. The dressing is my favorite and has been great for additional meals I’ve been making . It certainly has a kick and is a bit on the spicy side. Also-Catherine, thank you for your artistic picture taking skills of the below tacos! taco taco 2 plating

As for the Grilled Corn, we set six ears of white corn on the grill. Once some of the kernels showed beautiful blacked grill marks, within about 7-10 minutes, we transferred them to a plate. The corn was so fresh the only thing it needed was some good ‘ole southern butta!grill cornOverall, this was a very pretty meal and the display of the tacos with the different colors provided a nice summer touch. We sat outside on Christine’s porch and enjoyed a beautiful Charleston night. Thanks for hosting Tine, Brett, and Moe!friends

Thanks for reading Crockheads! Let me know about your recreations!

Quinoa Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing

final 2“Keen-Wah!” I can’t say the word without giving a karate kick after. Quinoa is a very popular food right now that is ‘trending’ all over the food world, probably as much as the gluten-free fad. Anyways, I never had experienced quinoa before this recipe.  For some reason I always compared it to wheat berries.  I’m not sure where this comparison arose from because they could not be more different. I highly dislike wheat berries and their hard texture that you have to bite into. Quinoa on the other hand is soft and has a delicate grain texture similar to couscous. The grain is also high in fiber with lots of protein, vitamins, and minerals. So coming to you now, a beautiful karate chopping healthy salad!

Ingredients

  • 1 box of quinoa (4.9 oz.)
  • 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (you pick the color- I used red), diced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn
  • 4 green onions, chopped

Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp. basil

Mix ingredients for the salad dressing together and set aside in the fridge.

dressing

Next cook the quinoa according to the package directions and let cool. Place beans, tomatoes, pepper, and green onion in a salad bowl.

bowl

Boil water and cook the frozen corn 5-10 minutes. Add corn and cooled quinoa to salad bowl.

final

Pour dressing over top and chill before serving.

I have been taking this salad to work the past couple of days and its been the perfect healthy snack.  Next time I want to make a quinoa salad with mozzarella, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocados. The quinoa possibilities are unlimited! Hey Callee, maybe you could even make a Mexican Quinoa salad! Enjoy and please share any ways yall have cooked with quinoa!

callee

 

Homemade Pizzas

Hola Amigos,
Two words for you: Mexican Pizza.
Last night Catherine came over after work and we crafted up two beautiful pizzas and had so much fun in the process…as you can see!Image
Tuesdays have become a ritual of eating dinner together and watching ‘New Girl’, which if you’re not on that train yet…you should be.ImageAnyways-pizza. The original plan was to cook Mexican quesadillas, but then I had a thought: what if we put those ingredients on a pizza!? A loaded pizza topped with Mexican goodness is way better than the typical flimsy tortilla option (holding true for yesterday). Pizzas are very easy to make and allow you to be as creative as you want. It’s like playing with play dough for big kids. I have to give credit to Christine for the Mexican inspiration. I remember one time she used refried beans instead of tomato sauce on her pizza and it was delicious. I decided to use the same method for pizza number 1 and add to it the following ingredients:

 Mexican Cheese
Mozzarella
Onions
Red Peppers
Grape Tomatoes- halved
Cilantro

For pizza number 2, we decided on a margherita variation pizza with the addition of other cheeses I had in my fridge.

Gorgonzola
Mozzarella
Brie
Fresh Basil
Grape Tomatoes-halved 
Tomato Sauces

The whole pizza making activity is really a fun project. We used fresh dough from the Harris Teeter and Catherine was in charge of kneading it and rolling it out to create perfect pies. I mean, look at that circular pie..that honestly might be perfect (she’s an artist duh). She then added the sauce bases to each pizza. (Use a little flour here because fresh dough is sticky).bean spread red sauce spread
Next we added our toppings to each pizza.
 into the oven
Once our pizzas were fully decorated, the bad boys went into the oven at 415 degrees for 15-25 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them because we noticed the two pizzas cooked differently. The Mexican Pizza cooked for an additional 10 minutes after the Margherita Pizza.
While the pizzas were cooking, I made guacamole to put on top of the Mexican Pizza. For my last birthday, Ben got me a Molcajete. This is Spanish for a mortar and pestle (that’s what I meant Mom, sorry I didn’t mean to say ‘Grinder’). I hadn’t tested it out yet so last night was the perfect opportunity. For my guacamole I used:

2 Avocados
1/2 Lime-squeezed
1/4 cup White Onion
2 Basil Leaves- chopped
Cilantro Leaves-chopped
Grape Tomatoes- seeded and chopped
Sea Salt

guac 4 pics

Then our pizzas were ready!mexican pizza

Mexican Pizzacheese pizza Margherita Pizza

(Did not turn out as pretty because of the color from the gorgonzola cheese, but don’t let it fool you!)

guac pizza

We also added sour cream to the Mexican Pizza. Sorry we’re not sorry 🙂

guac pizza up close

Both Catherine and I agreed we would have paid mad $$$ for these pizzas. I would certainly recommend making the Mexican Pizza which was my favorite and don’t be shy with the toppings!

The rest of the evening we cozied up and watched New Girl and then proceeded to watch the ABC special of the magician David Blaine. YALL. I just have to say, I am weirded out by David Blaine. Honestly, I think it might really be magic. I couldn’t sleep.

Good night Crockheads!

Tomato-Basil and Spinach Risotto

“Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.” –Craig Claiborne

For some reason I did not get any artistic genes. I can’t paint, draw, sing (except when I play the Susu game ‘Sing Serious’ and belt out When a Man Loves a Woman), act, pose with pursed lips into a camera, heck my handwriting isn’t even good. BUT- I do have love and respect for food. When I browse for recipes, the pictures of food are what first catch my eye and captivate me.  The radiant colors from fresh ingredients, the placement of food on a clean plate, the garnishes, and the drizzled sauce designs for the overall appearance of the dish are all ART and crafted with purpose. The Tomato-Basil and Spinach Risotto immediately grabbed my attention for those reasons and the vibrant red and green colors in the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tlbs butter
  • 1/2 Shallot, minced
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Arborio Rice
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 Container of Grape Tomatoes (about 25)
  • 2 cups Spinach
  • Fresh Basil leaves
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated

To begin, heat on low butter in a sauce pan and heat chicken broth in a separate pot. Add the shallots to the heated butter and saute until they are clear. Next add in the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, adding salt and pepper to season.

shallot

Then add in the arborio rice, making sure it is covered in the butter.

rice

Next add in the white wine, I used Pinot Grigio, and make sure to continuously stir the rice mixture.wine

Now for the heated chicken broth on the back burner. Add the broth one ladle at a time to rice. The key is to ‘just keep stirring, just keep stirring’ and slowly add ladle by ladle. This takes about 15 minutes.

stock

After all of the broth is absorbed, add the grape tomatoes followed by the spinach and basil leaves.tom spinache

The final step is to grate the parmesan cheese on top!

cheese

I served the risotto with tilapia, a fresh water white fish. I prepared the fish by splashing it with lemon juice, sprinkling on lemon pepper seasoning, and then placing panco breadcrumbs on tops. I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Note: I would recommend first browning the fish on the stove in some olive oil to create a crispy outside. My fish was too bland and needed a crunch to mix up the soft texture.final

Please leave me your suggestions on how to perfect the act of cooking tilapia!