Patriotic Deviled Eggs

Patriotic Deviled Eggs
Patriotic Deviled Eggs

This is either a desperate cry for professional help or a fun way to celebrate Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day cookouts.

Take your favorite Deviled Egg recipe and throw in a little reverse Easter egg dying, and you’ve got the weirdest yet best addition to any potluck.

For my sized large platter, I boiled 18 eggs and then peeled them as they were warm so they came off easily. Cut them in half and reserve the yolk in a separate bowl for your filling.

Count out the number of red and blue halves you need, then prepare the dye according to the package directions of ordinary food coloring. I used a few drops of color, vinegar and boiling water in a cups and then let the colors cool slightly before coloring the whites.

Dying eggs from the inside out
Dying eggs from the inside out

Place the whites in the color for 3-5 minutes each for desired color. It is a much faster and brighter process than shelled eggs, so keep that in mind.

Drain on paper towels, hole-side down until ready to fill with your favorite deviled egg filling. I used my Deviled Eggs Benedict recipe.

Dyed cooked egg whites.
Dyed cooked egg whites.

Arrange on large rectangular platter in the shape of a flag, and start singing the anthem.

Feel free to bring them to therapy.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Beef Empanadas

When we lived in Tampa, I used to buy bootleg empanadas from an Argentinian in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant.

Now that we live in Nashville, I have to prepare my empanadas in my own kitchen. Which is probably more sanitary, but totally less interesting.

The following recipe is not nearly as good as Arturo’s trunk goodies, but they are a pretty darn good replication.

They aren’t the easiest nor the most authentic, but worth every minute over the stove.

Beef Empanadas

(This recipe makes about 40-45 empanadas—perfect for a crowd. Make ahead, then briefly heat in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up.)

Filling:

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes

1/4-1/2 cup rough chopped green olives
3 hard-boiled eggs, rough chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Dough:

40-45 frozen empanada discs, defrosted (Goya recommended)
Vegetable oil for frying

1.) Brown ground beef in large skillet until no longer pink. Add onions, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until soft.

2.) Add spices and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add olives and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and then add the cilantro at the last minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your tastes, then set aside. (Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

3.) When ready to assemble, place 1-2 tablespoons of filling into the center of a defrosted dough disc, and fold over to seal. Crimp edges like a pie so filling does not leak through during frying. Place stuffed empanadas on a cookie sheet until ready to fry.

Empanadas before their Wesson makeover

4.) Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, deep skillet. Fry a few at a time being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Fry for only 1-2 minutes on both sides being careful not to over-brown. They cook quite quickly. Drain on paper towels while cooking the next batch.

At this point, they are ready to eat, but if you want to do a couple of hours ahead of time, you can placed the cooked empanadas in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes making sure not to get too browned or the filling will start to leak and get tough.

5.) Trunk sales optional.

After.

©2014 Tracey Henry

Scarecrow Salad

A couple of decades ago for a “Halloween-Themed Meal,” I’d have put out a bowl of Frankenberry and called it a night.

Four children and the invention of the Internet later, I feel an unnatural urge to theme everything we eat in October into some sort of spooky, ghoulish or otherwise macabrely-crafted fare.

Today I came up with this Scarecrow Salad. It’s a deconstructed, then constructed again, updated Oriental cabbage salad with edamame.

And a cry for help.

This deconstructed Oriental slaw will only scare away Halloween hunger. (And attract bad jokes.)
This deconstructed Oriental slaw will only scare away Halloween hunger. (And attract bad jokes.)

Scarecrow Salad

1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped (2 whole leaves reserved)
1/2 head of purple cabbage, chopped (2 whole leaves reserved)
3 scallions, 2 chopped, 1 cut into 3 equal pieces
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 T. sesame seeds, toasted
2/3 c. shelled edamame, thawed
2/3 c. Chinese noodles

Dressing:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 oil seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 c. oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Assemble the scarecrow on a large plater first. With the chopped green cabbage, form two “legs,” then use the purple cabbage to form the chest and arms. Place a small mound of the almonds for the head, while the 3 scallion pieces forms the hat.

Lay trimmed pieces of the whole cabbage leaves over the body and limbs accordingly to give it a cohesive look. Place a small amount of Chinese noodles at the feet and hands, an edamame for the buttons and features for the face.

This only uses a fraction of the ingredients–all of the rest should be placed into a large bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, and pour over the salad in the bowl. Toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably 2-4. (Cover the scarecrow platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate as well.)

Serve the dressed salad along side of the scarecrow, or, after your guests have been adequately amused, explain that a tornado has blown through and Mr. Scarecrow was blown back into the bowl. He may not have a brain, but you have a stomach so all’s fair in Oz.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Nothing says holiday weekend like moonshine and a Titanic replica

Ah, Labor Day weekend. It’s either the last hurrah of summer or, as we’ve determined earlier, a mid-semester break.

However you refer to it, I hope it means fun, food, friends and family. For us, it means all of those things in a cabin in Galtinburg, Tennessee.

This is a favorite destination of ours for long holiday weekends. If you’ve never been to this eastern Tennessee tourist mecca, it’s a must see attraction if Branson or the TLC network ever close.

I am by no means a historian, but after many trips to this particular fun spot, I’ve pieced together what I think can only be a logical history and a list of things not to miss during your visit.

Robert Ripley–of Ripley’s Believe it or Not Fame–was probably an original settler of the Smoky Mountains. He discovered wax relics of pop culture celebrities as he navigated the foothills in a Go-Kart and airbrushed t-shirt. He also discovered an enormous saltwater aquarium which can still be seen today. (For $38 per adult admission.)

Adding to the unique period architecture of the region which includes a staggering amount of Elvis, King Kong and Marilyn Monroe sculpture, there is an upside down museum next to the curiously beached, landlocked Titanic wreckage complete with a fiberglass iceberg and show tunes. Lest you think that is the extent of the arts in Pigeon Forge, please don’t miss dueling lumberjacks or Hatfield and McCoy dinner theatre.

The original cuisine for East Tennessee natives is pancakes, fudge and chain restaurant food. I assume. You’ll have no trouble finding any. Make sure to wash down your (again, curiously landlocked) Bubba Gump shrimp with some local moonshine, or as I like to call it, “Disqualification from the liver or esophagus transplant donor list.” See if your palate can distinguish the subtle differences between a corn mash and a corn cob pipe accidentally dropped into the still.

And just when you think you can’t stand to see another miniature golf course or a pan for your own gold and gem mine trough, you find the real treasure. Tubing down a crystal clear river with your good friends.  Watching a bear (from a safe distance of course) walk through your backyard for a marshmallow leftover from a roast the night before. Playing “Guess What Left That Scat,” on your cabin balcony. Wine and a sunset on freshly swept said balcony. Stars, lots of them. A place to celebrate something. Or nothing at all.

So I hope this weekend finds you in a spot you can rewrite history. Even if it’s standing alongside of the General Lee at Cooter’s Museum and Fun Park.

Even bears love Party Pasta Salad
Even bears love Party Pasta Salad

This pasta salad recipe speaks to both my midwestern and fake Italian roots. Perfect for a party.

Party Pasta Salad

Vinaigrette:

3 Tablespoons capers (use the rest of the jar for the salad)
3 garlic cloves
1 T. tomato paste
1/4 c. kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (use the rest of the jar for the salad)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Pepper to taste
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
3/4 c. olive oil

Salad:

2 boxes rotelle or spiral pasta cooked al dente
1 12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rough chopped
1 6 oz. jar kalamata olives, sliced and drained
1 12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, sliced and drained
1 8 oz block mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 8 oz. block of cheddar, cubed
8 oz. salami, cubed
1 small red onion
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

1.) Pulse first 5 ingredients of vinaigrette in food processor. Add pepper and vinegar, pulse again to blend. With processor running, drizzle in olive oil. (It will seem very salty and vinegary at this stage, but it will mellow out.

2.) Cook pasta al dente, drain and place in large bowl. Add dressing to warm pasta, and add the rest of the ingredients and anything else that sounds good. Lots of different flavors and textures makes this salad different but good.

3.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but better if overnight.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Summer’s Not Over Baked Beans

4 Bean Baked Beans
4 Bean Baked Beans

We’ve discussed how they are trying to pretend summer is over for us all by starting school so a-b-c-d-e-effing early, but as long as Labor Day is still weeks ahead, we all know the truth.

Here’s a great baked bean dish to eat every day until September.

Slow-cooker BBQ Beans

(You can also bake these in a 350 degree oven for an hour, but throwing them into a Crock-pot the morning of a cookout is so much easier.)

10 oz of bacon (or more)
1 onion, large diced
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans or chick peas, drained
1 (15 oz ) can of red, white or Great Northern beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can of pork and beans with sauce
3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1.) Saute bacon over medium heat until bacon starts to crisp. Add onion, and cook until tender. Place in slow-cooker along with the drained beans, and pork and beans in sauce.

2.) In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar. Pour over top of bean mixture and stir well.

3.) Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

4.) Get ready to repeat this recipe over multiple times because people will ask.

©2013 Tracey Henry

The first and last time I’ll ever be asked this question

I’ve been asked for my hand in marriage. (Yes.) I’ve been asked if I want fries with that. (No.) I’ve been asked if I wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl. (No, yes, no, no.)  I’ve been asked what I want to be when I grow up. (Still waiting to grow up.) I’ve been asked for my I.D. (Ok, not in a very long time.) I’ve been asked for my advice, opinion, and counsel. (Stay in school, the one on the left and don’t read Internet comments.) Paper or plastic? (Canvas, please.) I’ve even been questioned as to who wrote the book of love, what’s love got to do with it and what’s eating Gilbert Grape. (I’ve got satellite radio and a Netflix account.)

But in 29 years of combined school grades and teachers, I’ve never been asked to be the Room Mom.

Until today.

The teacher who proposed such an obvious travesty of scholastic volunteerism is new, so I quickly said yes before she Google search me.  (Rookie mistake.) Since I’m new to the Room Mom game, I had some questions of my own. Like, is there a union per diem minimum? (No, in fact you’ll be expected to pay out-of-pocket for countless expenses.) Will my yearbook profile include high res photos or standard? (We don’t exactly feature parents in the yearbook.) When driving to field trips, do I collect gas money from the kids before or after I drop them off? (Wait, what?) Are there any allergies I should notify the caterer of for the class parties? (We don’t use a caterer, maybe we should talk…) My first arts and crafts project is wallpapering my bathroom so I’m going to need 4,288 glue sticks added to their required supply list. (On second thought, we may not need a Room Mom this year.) Your Tuesday Reading Circle is on my preferred spa day, so can I move  in a massage table on those carpet squares? (@#$%^&*) Why is your face so red? Who are you calling? Are handcuffs really necessary?

And now I’ve also been asked if I understand my rights as they’ve been explained to me. (Best. School. Year. Ever.)

©2013 Tracey Henry

 

One of the recipes I get asked about the most–Guacamole.

 

World's Best Guacamole
Guacamole

3 ripe avocados
1 red onion, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
Salt and Pepper

Nothing else or you’ll ruin it

I mean it

Mash the avocados with the back of a fork in a medium bowl. Mix the 3–exactly 3–ingredients together. Resist the temptation to make it more complicated than it is–you will thank me later. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy by the handful or use tortilla chips.

Note: The only variation I will allow is the addition of fresh cilantro if you love fresh cilantro, or a squeeze of a fresh lime. Ripe avocados are a must. Buy the nice blackish-skinned ones, but if they aren’t quite ripe yet place in a brown paper bag for a day or so and they’ll ripen quickly and guac-ly.

Deviled Eggs Benedict

One of the very best happy accidents of this new venture has been how much more crowded my kitchen has become. As soon as I mentioned the new blog to my friends, they have jumped right in offering recipes, taste-testing, opinions, and wine-glass filling. The test kitchen has become my favorite place with some of my favorite people along side offering their generous and delicious additions.

Such was the case when my friend Mikki came through town this summer.

Me and my friend Mikki
Me and my friend Mikki

After a bottle of wine or seven, we came up with the most decadent deviled eggs you’ll ever meet. These are so good and so rich, you’ll move up a tax bracket after just one bite.

Deviled Eggs Benedict.
Deviled Eggs Benedict.

Deviled Eggs Benedict

18 eggs, hard boiled and peeled (Use organic eggs, worth the splurge when the eggs are the star of the show.)

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
Salt

4 slices prosciutto
2 english muffins
chives for garnish

1.) Cut whole eggs in half lengthwise and place on a large platter. Put yolks into food processor. Pulse until smooth.

2.) Add vinegar and lemon juice; pulse again until smooth. With processor running, add the meted butter through the feed tube and blend until smooth and creamy. Use spatula to scrape sides, add salt to taste, blend again. This should resemble and taste like hollandaise sauce.

3.) Place yolk mixture into a plastic bag with the tip cut off for piping. Pipe into eggs. If mixture is slightly runny or soft, it is ok, it will set up nicely in the refrigerator.

4.) Chill eggs for at least an hour. Meanwhile, set oven to 400°. Place prosciutto on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes to crisp up. (You could also do this on the stove top if you prefer.)

5.) Toast English muffins and lightly butter if desired. (It really doesn’t need it.) Cut muffin into small, crouton-sized chunks.

6.) Assemble eggs by placing a piece of the crisp prosciutto, muffin crouton and a sliver of chive on each one.

7.) Makes 36, defibrillator paddles optional.

©2013 Tracey Henry

43 is the New 22. Or Something

There’s a certain inevitability on any given radio dial in the Year of Our Lord 2013, that at some point within a 3 minute time period, you will be subjected to a Taylor Swift song. Whether this entertains or tortures you is your business, but for me, it provided an unexpected birthday gift this year.

With just a little tweaking to her smash hit “22,” Taylor gets me. So, thanks, T-Swizzle for capturing exactly what it’s like to turn 42.

(Obviously sung to the tune of 22 )

It feels like a perfect night to pull up our hipsters
Way past our solar plexes uh uh uh uh
It feels like a perfect night for Pinterest at midnight
Errantly texting strangers uh uh uh uh
Yeahhhhh
We’re savvy spent clever and jaded at the same time
It’s miserable and premenopausal oh yeah
Tonight’s the night we forget about the laugh lines, it’s time uh uh

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 42
everything will be alright if you keep my wineglass full
You don’t know about me and I can’t remember you
but everything will be alright if we just keep Spanxing like we’re 42, 42

It seems like one of those nights
Outback’s too crowded too many school kids
It seems like one of those nights
We ditch the sitter and end up sleeping instead of eating
Yeahhhhhh

We’re savvy spent jaded and clever in the best way
It’s juvenile and geriatrical oh yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the backaches
It’s time

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling 42
Everything will be alright if you keep my wineglass full
You don’t know about me and I can’t remember you
Everything will be alright if we just keep Spanxing like we’re 42

After I spent an insane amount of time rewriting this simple song, I realized that I didn’t even turn 42 this year–I’m effing 43 which is such a 42 year old thing to do that I could have added another refrain.

So here’s some damn sugar and chocolate with booze in it.

Happy @#$% birthday to me.

************

22, 42....Tiramisu
22, 42….Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu for 22 at 42

3 eggs, separated
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup strong coffee (because who has a cup of espresso laying around?), divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1 T. brandy
2 T. Kahlua or coffee liqueur

1 1/2 packages of lady fingers
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. cocoa and/or shaved chocolate

(If you’re a normal cook and not a Food Network star, you probably only have 1 hand or stand mixer in your kitchen, so included are some hints for that.)

Beat egg yolks, 1 tablespoon coffee, 1/2 cup sugar until well combined. Add the mascarpone and beat until smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from mixing bowl and give the bowl a wash and final rinse in cold water.

Whip egg whites and a pinch of sugar until fairly stiff; gently fold into your mascarpone mixture, just until combined. Don’t over mix.

Rinse the mixing bowl out in cold water again, dry, and whip the heavy cream with the remaining scant half cup of sugar. (You can adjust the sugar here to taste, and add a teaspoon of vanilla if desired.) Set aside.

Mix the last of the coffee with the Kahlua or brandy in a shallow bowl. Dip a lady finger quickly, and then line the bottom and then the sides of a 13×9 glass dish or trifle bowl with the cookies. Layer half of the mascarpone mixture, sprinkle with cocoa, then repeat with a layer of dipped ladyfingers. After two layers of cookies, cheese and cocoa, top the top with the whipped cream and cocoa. Drizzle with some Kahlua if desired and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill 4-5 hours, but it’s best overnight.

Sing “Happy Birthday” (or any Taylor Swift song) loud and proud.

 

©2013 Tracey Henry

Let’s Dish

Sangria
Sangria

For the past decade, I’ve been bringing you the very true and very ridiculous stories from my side of the picket fence. We’ve been chatting about kids and carpools, husbands and holidays, life, liberty and the pursuit of snappiness. And hopefully sharing a few laughs in the process.

We’re still going to do that, okay?

But as the new title suggests, I want to mix things up a little differently. Closer to the way I do with my family and friends in real life–at a cozy table with full plates, glasses and conversation.

Oh, we’ll still chew the fat on exercise class and vacations, but we’ll add something a little more savory while we’re doing it. I’ll share my stories, recipes, menus and delicious experiences and let’s see if we can’t get through our crazy days together. We’ll play with our food and eat while we play.

So pour yourself a glass of Sangria, and let’s dish.

***************

 

Sassgria for a Crowd

3 bottles of cheap-ish, sweet, red wine (if you use your good stuff, you’re doing wine a disservice and tormented grapes will haunt you for the rest of your days.)

1 cup simple syrup

3/4 cup brandy or blackberry brandy

1 orange, apple and lemon or lime sliced

2 whole cinnamon sticks

1 liter of club soda, seltzer water or Sprite

Prepare a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar dissolved into 1 cup of water in a small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat when sugar has completely dissolved and set aside to cool.
Make your “mash” by placing slightly cooled syrup, 1 bottle of wine, brandy, sliced fruit and cinnamon sticks in a small pitcher and chill for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Chill remaining bottles of wine and club soda.
When ready to serve, combine mash with remaining bottles of wine and top with club soda right before serving. Make sure each glass had a piece of fruit and a designated driver.

–SD

 

©2013 Tracey Henry