zucchini fritters | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Zucchini, zucchini, zucchini!

zucchini bread | The Lush's Blush blog
Homemade zucchini bread

Garden season is here at last and we’ve got tons of zucchini and yellow squash coming in. I’m on a mission to incorporate these fresh veggies into as many meals as possible.

So far, we’ve had zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, chicken stir fry with zucchini and squash, fried squash, pasta Primavera, zucchini risotto and a concoction I put together with the left over stir fry rice which included sauteed zucchini, squash and onions, a can of black beans, diced tomatoes, green chilies and cheddar cheese. It was very tasty.

The zucchini fritters were Morgan’s creation and they were delicious. We served them with a London Broil we coated in a dry rub and seared on the grill.

Morgan’s Zucchini Fritters

Ingredients:

• One large zucchini, grated

• 1/4 of an onion, finely minced

• 2 eggs, beaten

• about 2/3 cup flour

• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Grate zucchini into a colander and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let sit for about 10-15 min. Then put the grated zucchini in cheese cloth or a kitchen towel that you don’t mind turning green, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Place grated and drained zucchini into a large mixing bowl. Add to the bowl two eggs beaten, onion, flour, salt and pepper. You may need more or less flour depending on how loose the mixture is. Mix every thing together then spoon into a preheated nonstick pan with a couple table spoons of butter melted in it. Cook until golden brown on first side then flip and flatten with a spatula. Once they are brown on both sides they are done. Season with a little extra salt and pepper immediately after removing from the pan.

London broil and zucchini fritters | The Lush's Blush blog
London broil and zucchini fritters

 

 

Country fried steak | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Luckiest girl in the world

Country fried steak | The Lush's Blush blogI often tell my husband that I am the luckiest girl in the world because I have him in my life. He usually smirks and says that he’s sure there are other girls who are luckier than I. I used to say, yeah, maybe Kate Middleton. She is awfully lucky.

Last week, however, I changed my mind about even that. My husband made the most delicious country fried steak, creamed potatoes, and garlic green beans. It was a classic country dinner. I bet that Kate Middleton’s never even had it before. And so, therefore, I have concluded that I am, indeed, the luckiest girl in the world.

The funny think about my intense love of this meal is that country fried steak has never been one of my favorite dishes. I was either super hungry that night or Morgan did something extra special to the steak because I gobbled it all up and went back for more.

The recipe, he said, is very simple. He dredged the cube steak in flour seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder and fried it up. Using some reserved seasoned flour, he made a delicious gravy, which we ate on slices of bread after all the steak was gone.

The green beans he sauteed in olive oil with lots of minced garlic. He cooked the garlic just to the point of it being crispy, but not overcooked. It was so good!

Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking, Gardening

Lettuce and onions

Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Lettuce and onions, also known as a wilted salad.

If I say “lettuce and onions” that likely means the start of a salad, or maybe toppings for a burger to most people. Where I’m from in Yadkin County, NC, it means something a little bit different. This time of year, in the early spring, lettuce and onions is a special treat.

When that early lovely light green lettuce and spring onions come in the garden, Yadkin County folks pick them and serve them sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, vinegar and piping hot oil poured on top. It seems like such a simple thing, but there is something about this dish that just tastes like springtime and it is so delicious. Some folks choose to use bacon grease to create this wilted salad.

I did a quick survey of some friends near and far and sure enough, those from outside the Yadkin County area just thought lettuce and onions are burger toppings. My Yadkin County friends were quick to answer though on how to prepare lettuce and onions as described above.

We typically serve lettuce and onions with pinto beans and cornbread. I remember my Mamma making this when I was little. It was always one of her very favorite meals. She’d always shoo me out of the kitchen when she was heating up the oil in the cast iron skillet. She didn’t want me anywhere near the hot oil though she wasn’t afraid of it herself. I think maybe that’s when I really felt like a true adult myself, is the first time I made lettuce and onions my own self. There is something so satisfying about the sound of that hot oil as it sizzles on the lettuce.

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Cooking

Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake

Easter Dinner | The Lush's Blush blog
Easter Dinner
We had a wonderful Easter dinner a few Sundays ago. We prepared all the traditional southern favorites, ham, green beans corn, creamed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, ambrosia salad and pound cake for dessert.

As a kid I don’t remember thinking pound cake was all that special. It didn’t have fancy icing, maybe a glaze, but sometimes not even that.

Now that I’m an adult, or so they tell me, pound cake is one of my favorite desserts. No, it may not be fancy and I actually don’t even put a glaze on mine, but there’s something about it that just tastes like home.

The recipe I always make was given to my Mamma by her Aunt Grace. Both Mamma and Aunt Grace are no longer on this earth with us in body, but I sense their spirits always. And especially when I make this cake.

Great Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp lemon flavoring

Directions

Cream sugar and Crisco together. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt and baking powder to flour and sift together. Add flour mixture and milk to batter, alternating between the two and mixing until combined. Add flavoring. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Lemon Pound Cake | The Lush's Blush blog
Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake
the
Cooking

Cookbook Review: Man Made Meals

The Lush's Blush blog
BBQ Pork Burgers from the Man Made Cookbook

My husband’s birthday was last month and I got him a copy of Steven Raichlen’s cookbook called Man Made Meals. Truthfully this was a pretty self-serving present for me to give my husband as I will benefit greatly from it when I get to eat all the yummy stuff he makes.

We have already enjoyed two delicious recipes from the book. The first recipe Morgan tried was the BBQ Pork Burgers. Instead of using ground beef, these burgers are made from ground pork and bacon, topped with slaw and BBQ sauce. Morgan also made homemade sweet potato fries to accompany the burgers. It was delicious. Did I mention there’s bacon in it??? Yum!

This morning for breakfast, Morgan whipped up the drop biscuit recipe from Man Made Meals, to accompany our bacon gravy and cheesy scrambled eggs. Another big hit!

If you have a man (or anyone in your life) who enjoys cooking, I would highly recommend this book. It has tons of great recipes and tips on cooking and prepping techniques.

A lot of the “man” type cookbooks I’ve come across seem more geared toward men who don’t like to cook or know to cook. While this book does have plenty of tips on basic food prep, it also has some pretty advanced meals. I would definitely recommend this book for the person who really likes to cook.

the
Drop biscuits from the Man Made Cookbook
Tomato Gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Valentine’s and snow day breakfasts

Be my Valentine | The Lush's Blush blog
Valentine’s Dinner at 21 and Main

Over the weekend, my husband treated me to a wonderful gourmet steak dinner for Valentine’s Day. It was delicious. On Sunday morning, he fixed french toast. I really am a lucky gal!

On Monday morning, we got snow so I worked from home and got what I consider to be an even more special treat. I do love a fancy steak dinner, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes something as simple as good ol’ biscuits and gravy just warms the heart.

I always thought my Mamma made the very best biscuits and gravy, but my husband sure makes good gravy, too. Bacon gravy used to be my favorite, but my sweetie also makes pretty good sausage gravy. He serves it up with biscuits and scrambled eggs with cheese. I’ve never been much of an egg-eater, but I love the way my husband makes them.

Valentine's Day french toast | The Lush's Blush blog

A few years ago my husband turned me on to a different kind of gravy that his family in West Virginia makes, tomato gravy. We had been dating about a year or two when Morgan took me up to West Virginia and Pennsylvania to meet some of his family.

Snow day | The Lush's Blush blog
Snow Day

I jokingly asked if his kinfolk in West Virginia were going to make me eat squirrel. He said, of course, they wouldn’t make me eat anything I didn’t want to, but if I wanted to try squirrel, they could probably whip some up. I declined that offer, though Morgan insists if I ever tried squirrel gravy I’d probably like it.

As we were talking about gravy and such, Morgan asked me if I liked tomato gravy. Now, growing up, we often served fresh sliced tomatoes with breakfast and I thought maybe that’s what he meant. It was a favorite thing my Mamma and I liked to do. When tomatoes are fresh from the garden, those big luscious ones, you put a big slice, sprinkled with a little salt, on your plate right next to your bacon gravy. The secret is to get a forkful of biscuit and gravy along with a bite of the fresh tomato. But no, this is not what my husband meant by tomato gravy. What he was referring to is an actual gravy made from home-canned tomatoes, and let me tell you, it is delicious.

Biscuits and bacon gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Biscuits and gravy

Probably one of the most amazing things I ever saw in my life was watching Morgan’s uncle make the biggest, fluffiest, cat head biscuits you ever saw, and he made them using only one hand. He had had shoulder surgery and one arm was in a sling, but he went right on making biscuits. They served them up with the tomato gravy. One of our wedding gifts from Uncle Jerry was a jar of home-canned tomatoes. Now, that’s a special gift indeed.

We made the tomato gravy a few months ago and it was so yummy. Morgan’s cousin Shelly says you can make tomato gravy using store bought tomatoes, if you don’t have access to home-canned tomatoes.

Tomato Gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Tomato Gravy

If you like tomatoes, this is definitely a recipe to try. It’s very simple. Pour your tomatoes into a pot over medium heat and begin to warm. Fry up some bacon and remove bacon from pan. Pour the bacon grease into the tomatoes. Then make a slurry using equal parts flour and water. Add the slurry to the tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Keep stirring until it thickens up into the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve it over biscuits or toast.

Do you have a favorite breakfast food? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

Happy Valentine's Day from The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking, Holidays

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Dinner | The Lush's Blush blog
Valentine’s Dinner at Kitchen Roselli

We are coming up on one of my very favorite days! Valentine’s Day! I love pink and hearts and glitter and so, of course, I love Valentine’s Day.

My sweetheart and I have shared some super special Valentine’s over the years. One year we went to the beach and it snowed. It was quite magical. The last several years we have celebrated at a local Italian restaurant called Kitchen Roselli, which is always a magical experience. They make the most amazing cream puffs for dessert!

Probably my favorite Valentine’s Day was a few years ago when my love went all out and sent me a dozen roses and a PajamaGram! The UPS guy showed up at my office and handed me all the packages and said, “somebody must like you.” It was great fun!

This year we may not do very much for Valentine’s as we have rehearsal for a play our community theater group is doing. At any rate, just being together with my husband is always a special time.

My good friend Sarah had a most wonderful idea about a special way to celebrate Valentine’s Day that can apply to couples or singles!

“I like to acknowledge the various forms of love in my life on Valentine’s Day. Whether a smile from a stranger, a kindness from a friend, etc. it lifts me up just to notice these acts of love,” Sarah said.

If you’re looking for some special treats and projects to do for Valentine’s, check out my Pinterest board here. My good friend Le’Don also shared these recipes with us. These are some things she likes to make on Valentine’s Day for her husband.

 

Le’Don’s Valentine’s Day Turtles

Ingredients

• 1 pkg of individually wrapped caramel squares

• 1 pound pecan halves

• 2 cups milk chocolate chips

• 1 block paraffin wax

Directions

Grease a cookie sheet, place two pecan halves together. Put a caramel on top. Bake at 200 degrees until caramel is soft to the touch, but not melted (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven and immediately put another pecan half onto the caramel and press down. Melt the wax and chips together over low heat, then dip the candied pecan mixture in it. Place on foil to cool.

Le’Don’s Old Fashioned Cookie Recipe

Le’Don said, “This recipe is a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cookie. It is the perfect consistency for using cookie cutters.”

Ingredients

• 1 cup softened butter

• 2 cups sugar

• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

• 2 eggs

•1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 4 cups all purpose flour

•2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cream butter. Add sugar and eggs beating well. Stir in milk and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, mixing well. Chill. Roll to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with assorted cutters. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Decorate as desired.

Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Bacon is the ultimate Super Bowl food

Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food | The Lush's Blush blog
Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food

There’s a big football game coming up soon.You may have heard about it. You may care a whole lot about the game, or not at all. But, if you’re like me, you’re at least excited about the opportunity for a party.

A big dinner party with fancy fixins is always fun, but a party with snack and hors d’oeurvres is one of my favorite kinds of parties. The Super Bowl is just perfect for hearty and fun snack foods.

For the past several years, my husband and I have watched the game at a good friend’s house. Our friend typically makes chili and hot wings, both great Super Bowl foods, and we usually bring some additional snacks as well.

I contacted him last week to see if he was planning to have his annual gathering. He said he was and he made a special request for what he wanted me to bring for the party. This item he requested is perhaps the most quintessential football party food, it’s called pig candy.

Pig candy is a most delightful concoction that I learned about from one of my favorite authors, Jill Connor Browne, author of the “Sweet Potato Queens Big Ass Cookbook (And Financial Planner).” I have spoken about the merits of this book before and will continue to do so. In fact, if you don’t own a copy of this book yet, I’d recommend you stop READING THIS RIGHT NOW and get one. Not only is the book hilarious, but it is full of delicious recipes.

So back to the pig candy. Pig candy is simply candied bacon. Since first learning of pig candy in the Big Ass cookbook I have seen multiple recipes for it. The most basic incarnation of pig candy involves coating bacon in brown sugar and baking it in the oven. I also have done it by adding in a little bit of crushed pecans or you can always kick it up a little more with a dash of cayenne pepper.

Pig candy is salty and sweet and chewy and, well, it’s bacon. How much yummier can you get?

So here’s how I make my pig candy.

Start with a pound of your favorite brand of regular bacon then cut it into about one inch pieces. Roll each bacon piece in dark brown sugar until well coated. The Sweet Potato Queen suggests using dark brown sugar and I always follow her advice. I have done it with light brown sugar once when I ran out of dark and it turned out just fine though. Once you’ve coated the bacon piece in the sugar, place it on a cooking rack on a foil-lined pan. Once you’ve got all the bacon coated in brown sugar, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, depending on how done you like your bacon.

If you want to jazz it up some, try adding finely crushed pecans to the brown sugar before rolling the bacon, or simply sprinkle a little bit of crushed pecans on top of each bacon piece. Or, if you like a little spice, add a pinch of cayenne to the brown sugar and mix it up well before rolling the bacon in the sugar.

If you’re going to (or hosting) a Super Bowl party this weekend and you make this, I promise you will be the hero of the party! You can check out my Pinterest board here with more snacky food ideas. Below are some additional links to other recipes that sound pretty good for a Super Bowl Party! Notice how they all involve bacon or cheese?

Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite Super Bowl party recipe is!

Super Bowl Party Recipes

Cheddar Bay Sausage Balls

http://www.plainchicken.com/2014/09/cheddar-bay-sausage-balls-football.html

Bacon Ranch Beer Cheeseball

bacon-ranch-beer-cheeseball-recipe

Bacon Wrapped Pimento Cheese Jalapeño Poppers

bacon-wrapped-pimento-cheese-poppers

Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach-artichoke-dip-12

Serendipity Blackout Chocolate Cake | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking, Favorite Things, Holidays

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day

Serendipity Blackout Chocolate Cake | The Lush's Blush blog
Serendipity Blackout Chocolate Cake

I love how these random “days” just come about. I don’t know who decides on them. Can I suggest a few? National Mimosa Day? National Stay in Your PJs All Day? National Leave Work Early and Go to the Beach Day? National Drink Wine (or beverage of choice) at the Beach All Day Day? Clearly you can see where my mindset is today.

Alas today is none of the above, but rather it is National Chocolate Cake Day. Around the holidays, my sweet husband made two of the most amazing chocolate cakes EVER! Both recipes are from the Sweet Serendipity cookbook from the famous Serendipity 3 in New York City.

Both recipes are pretty involved, in fact my husband swears he’s never making anything out of the Sweet Serendipity cookbook every again. But they are amazing cakes, Mad King Ludwig’s Chocolate Cake we made for my dad and godmother’s birthday and the Blackout Chocolate Cake we made for Christmas Eve. Yum!

What is your favorite cake? Leave a note in the comments!

Mad King Ludwig's German Chocolate Cake | The Lush's Blush blog
Mad King Ludwig’s German Chocolate Cake
Cooking

My Korean cooking adventure

kimchi
Korean Kimchi | Photo courtesy of Alicia B.

I heard a really interesting segment on NPR not long ago about kimchi. I know next to nothing about Korean cuisine, but I do know the word kimchi. My dad served in the army and was stationed in Korea from 1965-1966. He was not a fan of Korean food and doesn’t speak highly of kimchi. But, my dad is not too adventurous when it comes to food.

Click here to skip to the recipe for Kitsey’s Kimchi

I, on the other hand, like to try new things and especially spicy things. And so I decided to try my hand at making my own kimchi. I used a really simple recipe I found on The Kitchn, one of my favorite cooking websites.

I wanted to dig a little deeper into the cultural tradition that is kimchi though. While my dad didn’t care for it, kimchi is a staple in the diets of the people of Korea. There are more than 50 million people in South Korea alone, that many people can’t be wrong.

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My kimchi

My friend Alicia is currently living in South Korea where she teaches English. Here’s what she had to say about kimchi.

“I’m picky about the kimchi I allow onto my plate. Some kimchi can be really spicy, some too fishy, some too salty, and I know of one place that serves kimchi that tastes like it was just dunked in tomato sauce. If I were Korean, I would be embarrassed to serve it!” Alicia said.

In the fall and winter of the year, the women of the household begin the process of making kimchi which is called Kimjang.

“The moms and grandmas get together and make huuuuge batches of kimchi around this time of year,” Alicia explained. “One of my boyfriend’s students said she was stuck making kimchi all weekend with her grandmother, and one of my adult students said she made about 30kg of kimchi one Sunday!” That’s around 66 pounds of kimchi! Wow!

“Traditionally, kimchi is left to ferment in an onggi, which is an earthenware pot/urn that comes in all different sizes, but these days people can just put it in a glass container or a BPA-free plastic container. Easier for storage, especially in the tiny high-rise apartments in the cities,” Alicia said.

“There are actually dozens of different kinds of kimchi, even though most people think of the napa cabbage kimchi when they hear the word.”

Alicia said in Korea that kimchi can be served for lunch or dinner and even at breakfast!

“Kimchi is as good thrown onto a hot grill as it is served in fried rice or eaten on its own,” she added.

12469380_10103252485150508_1446807820842409094_oMaking kimchi is a real family affair in Korea, Alicia said. It was a family affair at the Harrison household as well. Morgan helped me chop all the vegetables up, and by help I mean he did it all. We used carrots, radishes and green onions in ours, in addition to the Napa cabbage.

But our kimchi making was on a minute scale compared to how they do it Korea.

Alicia said a woman from her class, who goes by the English name of Jasmine, spent an entire day making kimchi with her husband.

“They made three different kids of kimchi with 100kg  (about 40 heads of Napa) salted cabbage! The kimchi she made will be sent to her daughter’s family and her son’s family. Another woman (Jun), her sister, and mother made the same amount of kimchi to be divided among 11 people in their family. I asked if they had to wait a couple of days before eating it, and they laughed and said, ‘Oh noo.’ They usually end up picking at the kimchi while they are making it, and often eat it with boiled pork as they go. Some women said there is no real recipe they follow, but one woman (her English name is Naomi) said that she wrote down her mother’s recipe about 20 years ago because she knew she would have to make it for her two daughters one day. Her daughters are now in college and do get the kimchi that Naomi makes.”

Kimchi is so popular in Korea that many apartments come equipped with a special refrigerator just for storing the kimchi.

12562389_10102046357994203_769842850_o
A kimchi fridge in Korea

“They’re about the size of a dorm fridge, set under the counter where cabinets would be. There are usually two drawers with separate climate controls. Kimchi tends to make everything else in your fridge smell and taste like kimchi, so a separate fridge is a must when you have 30 kilos of it!” Alicia said.

“We use ours to store leftovers and beer though,” she added.

Morgan and I made only a small amount, which

12546322_10102046358034123_318900078_o
A peek inside the kimchi fridge

fit into a quart mason jar. We served it with rice and chicken stir fry. I was a little nervous to cook it into the rice as I had never had it before so I cooked the stir fry and rice and just added a bit of the kimchi afterwards. I really enjoy it though and so did Morgan so next time maybe we’ll try making fried rice with the kimchi.

Alicia recommended the website Maangchi for anyone interested in cooking Korean cuisine.

Another friend of mine, Rachel, has an entire blog about her adventures in Korean cooking. 

Lush'sBlush

 

Kitsey’s Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you want)
  • 4 to 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Chop cabbage, remove core and cut cabbage into two inch pieces. Put cabbage into large bowl and gently massage salt into cabbage until it begins to soften. Once cabbage has softened a bit, cover with water and let sit in brine for one to two hours.

Following the brining process, rinse cabbage and allow to drain thoroughly while chopping the remaining vegetables. Using a small chopper or food processor, combine water, sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to make a paste.

Combine the cabbage with the other veggies in a large bowl. Using disposable gloves (seriously, you’ll burn your hands if you don’t!) massage the spicy paste into the vegetables. Keep massaging until the mixture becomes fairly liquidy.

Next pack the kimchi until a clean and sterilized glass quart jar. Pack mixture down into jar until liquid covers. Allow to sit on counter in a cool dry place for one to five days to ferment. Each day check the kimchi, open jar to release air bubbles and use a clean spoon to pack kimchi further down into the brine in the jar. On day five move kimchi to fridge. Serve with stir fry!

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