Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to the Motherland!

Sorry there has been no activity this week, it has been busy at the bakery and the magazine on top of getting ready to go out of town. As many of you know, we are heading to Ireland tomorrow!  As a Christmas gift, my parents are taking me, Andrew and my two brothers, JP and Greg to Ireland!  I guess the intent of the trip is to stumble upon the city of Dublin to watch Notre Dame play Navy in football.  Although I enjoy sports, I'm more excited about traveling through the country, seeing the sites and eating the local grub. Here are a few things I hope to accomplish while in Ireland....I'll update you once I return.

1. Try to consume as much food as I possibly can.  
2. See the Queen Mum, William, Kate and Harry.  Now I know that Ireland is not part of the UK, but this is the closest I have ever been to the royal family...I believe increasing my chance of running into them.
3. Work on my Irish accent.  Right now I sound like a Jamaican person attempting an English accent. It's appalling.
4. Keep a daily count of the number of redheads I see. Now this is my most important goal.  Obviously this will add to my future book about redheads...I want to know if there really are more redheads in Ireland!
5. Someone mistake me as a local.  This will depend on how good my accent gets and how many redheads there truly are.

Updates and pictures to come once we return!

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Pesto is the Besto

I would easily consider pride to be one of the ugliest sins.  No one ever wants to admit that they struggle with pride or over-confidence....well I guess I'm letting the cat out of the bag, because that's something I have a tendency to struggle with!
And when I say I struggle with pride, it's not the vanity version of the word, it leans more on the side of over- confidence.  I like to think that this is attributed to the fact that I have red hair and had to over-compensate for being made fun of when I was younger.  You can't feel too bad about yourself when people make fun of you, if you truly think you are awesome, right?  Don't judge me, I have red hair.
You may be thinking to yourself, what does pride have to do with pesto?  Well, everything.  When I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, I was able to take a food and wine pairing class.  The "food" section was made up of a three hour, very hands on, cooking session.  We made everything from spinach lasagna with traditional bolangnese to cannoli cake.  On the first day of class we made pesto with trofie pasta and it was love at first sight.  Not only did I fall in love with pesto, but by the end of the semester I had decided that I was, hands down, the best Italian scholar and chef around.
Now, I know that's not actually true, but sometimes I think I believe it.... embarrassing, I know. Ok, back to the pasta.  My brother JP came into town this past weekend, and guess what I made him?  The besto, pesto that he ever did have!  I've included pictures and my recipe.

Trofie pasta with pesto

Salad and pasta

JP, Andrew and Boone so excited to eat their pesto pasta!

-2 1/2 cups of packed fresh basil leaves
-a few leaves of spinach (I learned this from my best friend in culinary school, Katie, she says it helps keep the pesto green.  I will fully admit that Katie is ten times the chef I am)
-1 large garlic clove (I usually don't put garlic in mine, but most recipes call for it)
-3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I always use walnuts because I am poor)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place basil, spinach, garlic, cheese and nuts in a food processor and season with salt and pepper.  Blend until a coarse mixture forms.  While the processor is running, gradually add the lemon juice and olive oil and blend until the pesto comes together.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Year One

Monday was our anniversary, the big one year!  We decided to start the celebration this past Saturday (well Andrew actually decided because he was planning our date) by going to Restaurant Iris, easily considered the best restaurant in Memphis.  The dinner was one of the best I've ever had and also one of the best times we've had all year.  The food was genius.  Classic dishes topped with elegance and wit.  I had the shrimp and grits, while Andrew devoured the surf and turf-- a NY strip steak cut in half, stuffed with fried oysters and blue cheese sauce.  We had the whole restaurant experience; drinks, appetizers, main course and dessert.

For our actual anniversary, I decided to cook dinner.  Since I love to cook, I also thought it would be nice to start an anniversary tradition... here is the background to that tradition.  For our honeymoon we went to Kiawah Island and stayed at the Sanctuary.  Twice we left the island and headed into Charleston.  We fell in love with Charleston, especially with Magnolias, one of the restaurants we dined at. As my souvenir for the trip, I purchased the Magnolias cookbook, which I love, but rarely use.  For our new found tradition, I decided to incorporate one of the recipes from the Magnolias cookbook into our anniversary dinner-- a new year, a new dish!  Hopefully I can keep this going.

I've included a variety of pictures in this post.  I don't think anyone ever saw any pictures from our honeymoon (we took maybe ten on Andrew's phone, mostly awkward solo shots), so I'm posting a few of those.  I also added pictures from both anniversary dinners and the wedding.  Thanks for all the texts and phone calls on our special day!

Andrew and me before our anniversary dinner on Saturday

Our dinner table before our real anniversary dinner

Boston butt and cheese grit casserole, some of Andrew's favorites

Mixed greens with homemade croutons and lemon herb vinaigrette  


Cream cheese brownie (Magnolias recipe)

Newly husband and wife, one year ago

More walking down the aisle

So happy

Leaving the church

Eating dinner at Magnolias on our honeymoon

Solo shot

Roof top bar before dinner in Charleston

Monday, August 13, 2012

You're pretty cute for a red head...

The other night we went out with our dear friends Jake and Christy, sometimes I refer to them as our red-headed friends even though Jake doesn't have red hair.  Anyway, we went to dinner at the Elegant Farmer and then headed over to Cafe Eclectic for dessert.  We had a lovely evening full of laughter and good conversation.  Because Christy and I are both red heads, you can guarantee that at some point our conversation will revolve around the natural struggles that we redheads face.  For starters, why is it that guys always put redheads in their own category when talking about looks?  We are never grouped with all other women, us redheads are in our very own group... why is that?  So if a guy is talking about a red head that he finds attractive, he will probably say something like, " Yea she was pretty cute for a red head".  Now why does it have to be "for a red head"?  Can't we just BE attractive.  This was just one of the little red headed tangents we went on, along with discussing my future book about my life as a red head.

Sorry for the speech about the trials that we, the minority hair color, face on a regular basis. Back to our double date.  So our dinner was delicious!  Elegant Farmer uses a handful of local ingredients in all of their dishes, which makes me so happy. At Cafe Eclectic, Christy and I both had the Charlie Brown brownie, which is so far my second favorite dessert in Memphis, first is the brownie at Sweet Grass (only on their winter menu, don't go and ask for it now, you will be disappointed). Andrew and Jake both ordered the the Charlie Brown Sunday, which was very tasty, but not as good as our brownie, sorry guys.

Jake and Christy--thanks for such a fun night!

Deviled eggs, Andrew's appetizer

Chicken fried steak, I think?  Christy's dinner

Sipping on a mocha.

Jake and Christy.


Christy and me.  Twinsss, oh wait, she already has a real twin. Darn.


Most people that know Andrew know how much he loves basketball, and I guess how talented he is as well.  While he was an intern, Andrew played "pick-up" twice a week at Rhodes.  Now that he has joined the 8-5 working world, he no longer gets to play, however, some of the guys put a team together and joined a local church league.  Since this league started, Andrew plays basketball every Thursday night.  Here are some pictures from his first game.  Andrew played so well, and after two games his team is 2-0!  Not too bad eh?

Passing the ball.

Shooting a three pointer

Not sure

Mary Spencer is 3!

Our sweet little friend Mary Spencer turned three August 2nd and we were invited to her party!  Mary Spencer is the daughter of Andrew and Shelley, my Andrew's old boss from working with RUF at Rhodes.  We were so excited to celebrate with MS for the second year in a row.  This year I believe it was a pink themed party, so Mary Spencer dressed in all pink and even had an outfit change halfway through to a pink tutu. We got Mary Spencer some pink and blue bracelets and rings along with some Winnie the Pooh stickers, she loves Pooh as you can see from the pictures. Thanks for having us over Flatbeds, and happy birthday Mary Spencer!

Mary Spencer after eating some over her delicious pink ice cream cake that Shelley made.  It was an awesome cake!

Loving on Winnie the Pooh.

More love.

Today in my kitchen...making bread

Oops. I'm already a little behind on posts, trying to work on that.  Anyway, I just so happened to get the day off work today, so I decided to make some tuscan bread!
Working in a bakery had given me exposure to a variety of new baking avenues, one of which is bread making.  Several of my co-workers love to bake bread, so I was inspired to try it out myself. A few months back I set out to make my first bread with a starter (for those of you who have never used a starter, it sounds super intimidating, but don't be impressed, it is very easy). The recipe I used was from The Italian Baker by Carol Field.  This book was actually given to me as a Christmas gift from my best friend's mom, Mrs. Hussmann.  So I guess I owe all my bread baking love to you Cathy!
Ok. Back to the bread.  I'm going to go through the steps of baking my tuscan bread, so you can see how I make it.  Let me know if you want the recipe!

This is the bread starter, after rising for 24 hours.

Closer look at the starter.  This universal starter is made from yeast, flour and water.  

To start off the bread I add more flour, yeast, salt and water to the starter and mix all the
ingredients together until combined. You can do this by hand or by mixer, I prefer the mixer because I can use the dough hook.

Here is the dough after mixing all the ingredients.  knead by hand for four to five minutes and place in an oiled bowl for the first rise.

After the first rise, I reshaped the dough and cut in half so that I can bake two smaller loaves.  Place the loaves on a floured pan and cover with a cloth for the second rise.

Here is the dough after the second rise.  Much bigger right?

Fresh out of the oven...looks delicious, wish you were in my kitchen for a fresh slice eh?


We love to dip the bread in oil and vinegar.

That's all folks!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I have decided that I will personally introduce this member of my little family.  Here he is, the most handsome and playful pup around....Boone!
So here is the back story on Boone.  Last September, about a month after Andrew and I were hitched, we started thinking about getting a dog.  We reasoned that our schedules were the most flexible they would be for a while, and it would be the best time to work with a puppy and train it.  This "let's think about it" stage lasted no more than a week.  We went to the Memphis Animal Shelter and picked out our sweet little puppy.  It took us a few days to name him. Throwing out various ideas, we landed on "Boone", due to our obsession with North Carolina and it just so happens to be the town where we were engaged.
Boone celebrated his first birthday on July 6!  Although Boone is crazy and full of energy, he is actually hilarious and always makes us laugh.  Here are some pictures, he is so handsome.

Boone with his new Salty Dog Cafe bandana

Boone hiking with us at Shelby Forest in TN

Boone sitting on top of the couch like a cat