Friday, November 7, 2014

Top Chef Duels

I love Top Chef.  Love it! Like SUPER LOVE IT!!!   

I'll watch Top Chef, Top Chef Desserts, Top Chef Duels and reruns of any of those shows any time they are on.  Is it marathon time?  Bring it.  I'll have any of those shows playing in the background while I cook or clean, listening in and commenting on the Pea Puree Scandal (Season 7) or how Jamie Lauren (Season 8) didn't actually cook, cause that's how I roll.  When they announced Top Chef Duels I was initially taken aback.  I liked the dynamic of the entire group competing with each other which I am enjoying this season, but what I didn't count on was the creative themed meals the judges would ask each set of chefs to prepare.  

Of all the battles, I enjoyed that of Kevin Gillespie vs. Art Smith the most and not just because one of the uber chefs created a Critter Fry Challenge but because these men cook from their heart and to see them compete was heartwarming.  Knowing their styles the judges requested a three (3) course meal with a dinner theme of stress relief, cures for homesickness, and mending broken hearts that played to their strengths.

Coming up with a menu for this left me puzzled and intrigued.  

What would I make?  What would speak to me and satisfy this dinner theme?  Not that I'm anywhere near the level of these great chefs, but think about it.  What would you want served to you that would address this dinner theme?  

When I thought of a stress reliever I couldn't come up with a single meal item and then it hit me....
A Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucino with Soy 
image courtesy of

Yes, that would definitely relieve stress in an instant.  

Onto the next dish, a cure for homesickness would be my mother's homemade Bacalao Encebollado with Rice and Beans.  Bacalao is the Spanish term for dried salt cod which is white, delicate, and tender once it’s re-hydrated.  There are many ways to prepare it but this is my favorite, fried and with onions and olive oil. 

Cod Fish with Onions and Olives (Bacalao Encebollado)

  • Salted Cod Fish - 12 oz package
  • Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
  • Spanish Olives - 1/2 cup of whole olives
  • Onion - 1 Medium Onion Sliced - I like onions so you can always use less if you'd rather
  1. In sauce pan place the cod fish in water and boil.  Once its boiled, repeat again until the water runs clear.  
  2. With your fingers carefully shred the cold fillets and be careful because even if the bag says there aren't any bones beware they always have some in each package.
  3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions.  Once tender add the shredded cod and cook for another 5-7 minutes then add the olives and serve with Beans and Rice.

As for the dish to cure a broken heart, the perfect dish would be a Brownie Bowl, a warm fudge brownie served with a healthy scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream topped with caramel syrup and hot fudge. 

Ah yes, now that would be a meal I could most definitely create and be happy to have anytime. 

What would you make?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My BFF is back for her next adventure

"A good friend is a connection to life, a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world."   Leis Wyse

image courtesy of

Yesterday I had the privilege of picking up my BFF at the airport, with my kids in tow naturally.  She's returned home after living in Texas for over 10 years to start her next adventure.   

She's been so far away for so long that it doesn't feel real that I can now get in the car, again dragging the kids with me, and just visit her. Ah Le sigh.....come on people you know you are out there...haven't you had that friend you've met in your adult years, okay maybe when you thought you were an adult, who just got you.  Someone who you could just look at and be like "did you just see that" and she rolls her eyes in return and cracks up too.  

Now don't get me wrong, we are not both cut from the same cloth.  While we do enjoy a lot of the same things we also have so many differences and that is what makes it work. 
She's seen me at my best, on my wedding day, has shared my joys at finding out I was pregnant, and at my worst as a young girl enjoying her freedom at 21.  Can you say Lemon Drop.  She's a bit braver than I am, living so far away from her family and I was her cheerleader (no pom poms people) and still am too.  

While she was away we came up with ideas to keep in touch, because when a friend becomes family that's what you do.  We started with a book club of 2.  We dedicated a night every so often and watched a Hallmark movie together over the phone, cracking up at the same parts and figuring out the ending long before the movie had ended. Once we both tried to incorporate a little drink, but its been so long since my 21 year old days that it was fortunate my cat knocked over my drink or I would have never been able to see the rest of the movie with her.  

She is definitely the key to my sanity as I would call her at odd ends of the day to vent over things at my old job, family weirdness, my new adventure as a stay at home mom and just around everything and I in turn would listen to her vent about her job, family weirdness and all around everything too.  

Now she's back and it's like she never left. We are planning on a movie night (in person at a theater!), walking adventures and dinner nights and who knows what.  I know this move back will be short as its a stepping stone to her next adventure but no fear, we'll keep in touch because that's what BFFs do.