Monthly Archives: November 2013

This Thanksgiving, we’ll never go hungry again!

Last Thanksgiving, I spent so much time prepping. I bought magazines a month in advance. I read articles. I STUDIED.

This year, I was abroad in Canada the week before Thanksgiving. I had a shoot two days before I flew home. So, I didn’t have time to mess around.

I found some recipes I wanted to cook, negotiated a couple of them with my mom, and boom. Thanksgiving dinner.

And by boom, I mean: I cooked for 2 ½ days to make the meal. But hey, it was pretty good.

I made a couple casseroles ahead on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the big day is Thursday. Make the turkey, make the cranberry sauce, make the sweet potato casserole and make the green bean casserole—from scratch this year.

I’ve been on a real Top Chef kick the last couple weeks—going back and watching season 3 (Tre!) and season 4 (Blais! Dale! Antonia!). And I feel like I understand how they feel when they’re doing a QuickFire.

I was running around, with 4 things in the oven, whisking stuff on the stove, clock winding down and people asking questions about the food.

When I say people, I mean my dad. And when I say questions, I mean bad jokes about “should I throw the turkey in the trash cause it looks like it’s ruined?”

And by ruined, I think he meant PERFECT.

And by ruined, I think he meant PERFECT.

That’s not HELPFUL when I’m trying to whisk the GD GRAVY, DAD.

I basically had all new recipes this year. And I think that most of them were hits. One was a miss, per my parents. They judged the green bean casserole QuickFire and said “the green beans aren’t done.” And like Jen Carroll, I defiantly said “they are done, they’re blanched, they just aren’t done to your liking.” True story: my mom took 2 green beans and my dad took 3 on his plate. Hahaha.

But the rest were hits. If you do a late Friendsgiving? Make these sides. If you roast a chicken? Modify Tom Colicchio’s turkey recipe. You will be a hit. Everyone will love you. And you will with $200,000, furnished by Gladware.*

 

*that part is not true.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

(Please note, this is a menu for 3 people. Leftovers, y’all. Leftovers.)

Tom Colicchio’s Herb Butter Turkey from The Epicurious Cookbook via Serious Eats  

Cornbread, Sausage and Pecan Stuffing from Epicurious

Green Bean Casserole from Food 52

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Cranberry Sauce from Food Network

Sweet Potato Casserole from About.com

Spinach Gratin from Food 52  | Great tip for squeezing the water out of spinach I read online. Put it through a ricer. Works like a dream.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Sis Schubert’s Parker House Rolls

Just like the pilgrims ate.

Just like the pilgrims ate.

Mid-Week Weekend: Southern Food and a Southern Boy, JT

If you ever have a chance to take off two days in the middle of the week, you should do it.

Bonus points if you had the Monday off before and you leave for three hours on Friday for your friend’s wedding rehearsal/rehearsal lunch. Last week was a little bit nutso. By no means was it an easy work week. But when you have Justin Timberlake tickets, you take the day of the concert off and the day after off. And you RELISH HIM.

You relish him.

And you honor his southern heritage with fried chicken, biscuits and grits. Not necessarily in that order.

I bought these JT tickets for the 20/20 Experience tour at a silent auction a few months ago and I asked my friend Anna to come with me. (You can read her version of our adventure HERE. Also, just follow her blog in general. It’s rull good.)

We decided to make a mid-week weekend out of it. And nothing was bad about this decision. We shuffled off to Raleigh for a late lunch at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey.  Fried chicken and waffles, creamy collards, beets, and a chicken biscuit with pickled green tomatoes. Wash it down with a honey white beer named for the place and you’ve got yourself a stew going. Wait, I’m not Carl Weathers… Shaun and Scott, thank you for the recommendation! This place is epic and I want to go back right now.

OH DANG.

OH DANG.

After the concert, we primped at our hotel (HAMPTON INN, Y’ALL) and then we left (WE GOT A FREE COOKIE FOR THE ROAD, Y’ALL). And headed to drinks and apps with the gal who made the tickets happen.

Lady Date!

Lady Date!

Yes, I took this picture in the fancy bathroom at the hotel. What of it.

Yes, I took this picture in the fancy bathroom at the hotel. What of it.

Turns out, this was the hotel that JT stayed at. JT….and JB. That’s right. Jessica Biel was there too. So, guess what, David Olsen. Anna and I have basically slept with Jessica Biel. And you didn’t. (If you haven’t heard David’s Jessica Biel story…just ask him. He is not shy. WE LOVE YOU, DAVID!!!!!)

We got to the concert, completely missed the opening act (The Weeknd is a person? Who knew.), went to our seats and started playing my new favorite game to play at a JT concert: what kind of man is that? Angry Boyfriend. Trying To Be Cool Dad. Having TOO MUCH FUN Guy. Deaf Guy Signing Holding a Beer. (He was awesome.) Hot Guy Who Wore the JT White Dinner Jacket and his Super Hot Wife (My BFFs Mike and Danielle.) Dumb Guy Who Wore the JT White Dinner Jacket and a Weird Fucking Hat. (Not pictured. He did not deserve to have his picture taken.)

Mike was on his suit and tie. Danielle was just hot.

Mike was on his suit and tie. Danielle was just hot.

 

Listen, this is a fake food blog. Not a fake JT blog. But let’s be honest. JT is basically his own food group because he is so delicious. And I would eat him up with a spoon. (Sorry, Jess.) He was incredible. He sang and danced and played guitar and played piano for 3 hours with one ten-minute intermission. He was funny. And charming. And somehow made it seem like he was singing just to us. (CAUSE HE WAS.) Anna and I danced and sang all night long.

Which is why we needed to replenish our strength, and once again honor JT’s southern roots with some southern breakfast. Big Ed’s City Market is the jam. You know how Cracker Barrel has all those knick-knacks on the walls, but you know they just had them made at a factory? Well, Big Ed’s has a bunch of knick-knacks on the walls, windows and hanging from the ceiling but it just feels authentic. Anna and I split the fried catfish, eggs and home fries and a yummy veggie omelet and grits.  (Thank you to Shaun and Tony for the recco!)

Catfish. Not just for dinner anymore!

Catfish. Not just for dinner anymore!

 

Run, don’t walk to get tickets to the 20/20 Experience Tour near you. It’s an amazing show.

Run, don’t walk to Beasley’s and Big Ed’s next time you’re in Raleigh. You will not regret it.

Run, don’t walk to hang out with Anna. She’s a ridiculous amount of fun, an excellent travel buddy (at least, the way I travel: frequent stops and needing free cookies), and a very fun concert date.

Run, don’t walk to take a mid-week weekend. You work hard. You deserve a break. Get your sexy on. JT has spoken.

JT. In the FLESH.

JT. In the FLESH.

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Small Batch Grand Opening: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, I did do that.)

If you’re looking for me and you’re not a murderer, you can probably find me at of three places: at home (I likes my pajamas), at work (it’s all about the Benjamins, according to Sean “P. Diddy/Puff Daddy/Diddy” Combs), and now, at Small Batch.

Last night, Small Batch opened it’s doors to friends and family. I’m lucky enough to be friends with the three owners Tim, Ryan and Cliff and with their wives Lindsay, Christy and Jen.

Because I’m a fancy VIP friend, I got to see the space as it developed. From the beginning, when it was an empty shell. Then as it progressed, putting the reclaimed wood up on the walls, getting the actual bar in, the subway tile, the taps. And now, it’s a real live bar. With custom cocktails, an awesome selection of bottled beers, plus their signature beers on tap. I sampled two of their new brews last night: The Sweet Potato PIEnt, which is a brown ale brewed with sweet potatoes (duh), and the Monster Mash, which is a pumpkin porter.

Opening Line UP

Opening Line Up

These beers reminded me why I love these guys so much. (Beyond the fact that I love them cause they’re my friends….but I digress.) They’re committed to making great beers with great flavors. Unique seasonal ingredients are being brought to brewing. Alliteration? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

Their grand opening to the public is today at 4 pm. Stop in for a pint or a cocktail. I was there last night. I’m going back tonight. Hell, I may even be there tomorrow.

Unless you are a murderer. If that’s the case, you can probably find me at Gatsby’s.

 

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Ooh, heaven is a place on earth: Publix

I think it’s safe to say that there are a few things people are willing to come to blows over in this world: college football (SEC fans will fight you), family drama (your dad’s new girlfriend who is two years younger than you will fight you), and grocery store supremacy (I will fight you).

Now, I am perfectly willing to let each person have his or her own opinion. I just happen to know that my opinion is the correct opinion.

You can keep your Harris Teeters, your Trader Joe’s and even your Wegmans. The greatest grocery store on the face of the planet is Publix.

And it’s coming to Winston-Salem.

Publix!!!

Publix!!!

It’s not to say that those aren’t good grocery stores. Frankly, Wegmans isn’t good. It’s amazing.

But Publix far surpasses all of them. (Hell, Buzzfeed agrees.) But let me explain, if you will. Which you will, because this is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Publix is a southern grocery store chain that is FINALLY expanding to North Carolina in 2014 and to Winston-Salem in 2015. I’ll pretend I’m unbiased when I go into the details but I’m not, so let’s not kid ourselves.

Publix a beautiful, clean grocery store. Is it weird to call a grocery store beautiful? Yes. If it was a normal grocery store. But Publix is a way of life. Publix is where shopping is a pleasure. And it is. (No seriously, it IS a pleasure and that line is their tagline.) You go in, you get a cup of complimentary coffee, you walk through the lovely produce and the easy to understand aisles. Sometimes when my dad is shopping there, he sends me pictures of the lovely produce. And it soothes me.

Their staff is incredibly friendly. One of my best friends, Lauren worked there all throughout high school. And Lauren is really nice. She’s one of my best friends, y’all. So you can trust me. Friendly staff. CHECK.

They know how to brand themselves. The packaging on their store brand is simple and clean. I’m a label whore and I would exclusively buy their store brand.  Their Thanksgiving commercial is still one of my favorite commercial of all times. And since it is now officially pre-Thanksgiving (IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS YET, PEOPLE), we can watch said commercial.

True story: Publix actually sold a version of the salt and pepper shakers from the commercials and they sold out immediately. They were impossible to find. They made another set at Christmas where the characters were dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is how much people love Publix.

In conclusion, Publix, we await your imminent arrival. With your Publix subs. And your chicken fingers. Your cookies. Your complimentary coffee. Your amazing store brand. Your price + value + service. Your pleasurable shopping.

There’s nothing more I want from you. Except to be here way the fuck sooner.

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