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Raise your hand if you made New Year’s resolutions.

Okay, now raise your hand if one of those was to get healthier and/or lose weight.

Okay, I see a few of you out there. You didn’t know I had spy cams embedded within this blog did you? Oh the marvels of modern technology!

Seriously, for those of you that are trying to be a bit healthier, adopting the Meatless Monday lifestyle could be a good option. Not sure exactly what that means? Just click here to get a better understanding.

When I took the Meatless Monday pledge back in the summer, I was afraid it might be a little difficult to satiate Ravi’s appetite if meat wasn’t a part of the meal. If I were feeding only myself, eating loads and loads of salads would work, but I’ve got my hubby to take care of too, and he needs something a little more substantial.

Turns out that not only has it been pretty simple to cut back on our meat consumption, but it’s actually been a fun challenge to create vegetarian recipes that we enjoy. The key is creating dishes so flavorful that you won’t even miss the meat. Served with a side of cornbread*, a big bowl of this healthy jambalaya is just that.

Print

Black-Eyed Pea Jambalaya

Inspired by this recipe from allrecipes.com. Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about ½ a medium)
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp of chopped parsley (optional)
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
½ cup brown rice
2 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles with liquid
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
½ tsp Tabasco
½ tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery, cook about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and parsley and saute 2-3 more minutes. Pour in the broth, and mix in rice, black-eyed peas, and diced tomatoes with green chiles. Add Cajun seasoning, Tabasco, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until rice is tender.


If you bother to click through my links, you may notice that the original recipe I used as inspiration was called a “gumbo”, but technically it isn’t because there is no roux. To me, it really seems more jambalaya-ish, thus, I renamed it so. If you wanted it to be more soup-like, doubling up the broth would help. Just be sure to add some extra seasonings if you do that so you don’t miss out on the great flavors!

*stay tuned tomorrow for my cornbread “recipe”

Black-Eyed Peas on Foodista


Start making plans now to get together with your friends or take your honey out to dinner next week because it’s once again Nashville Originals Restaurant Week!

Starting on Monday, January 11th and running through Sunday, the 17th, Nashville Originals restaurants will be offering special 2, 3, and even 4-course menus for either $20.10 or $30.10!

What will it be for me? Yellow Porch‘s cheddar fritters and Pork chop on Benton’s bacon sweet potato pancakes with sage brown butter? or maybe Midtown Cafe‘s foie gras over truffled bread pudding and butternut sage gnocchi with mushrooms & roasted garlic cream. Or maybe F Scott’s mixed greens with port vinaigrette, pumpkin seeds and crispy goat cheese followed by steak frites with blue cheese butter. Gah, I’m a sucker for blue cheese…and butter…

Well, just see for yourself all the goods up for grabs. Visit the Nashville Originals website to view the menus and map out your plan. Seats will fill up quickly, so better make your reservations asap!

Today’s Big Deal on Half Off Depot is $20 of Provence for only $10. Follow this link to get yours!
In case you need a reminder as to why exactly you should take advantage of this, click here.

The offer ends tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., so don’t dilly dally around~


You might remember me talking about this movie a few months back when it hit the theaters. Perhaps you didn’t rush out to see it then like I did, so now’s your chance.

Serious Eats is giving away 5 copies of the DVD, so go there now* and leave a comment for your chance to win!


*Contest ends at noon Eastern time on Friday, January 8th


Every year I host an after-Christmas party for my girlfriends, and I use it as a time to experiment with all sorts of new appetizers. When creating the menu, I look for a mixture of hot & cold, easy & labor intensive, as well as a good mix of veggies, meats, carbs, and vegetarian dishes. Since Président Cheese sent me that package of brie a while back, I knew I wanted to do something with it. Initially I was planning to make the prosciutto wrapped brie with figs, but decided to use the prosciutto in green bean bundles instead.

Before I even had a chance to search for some brie inspiration, The Pioneer Woman updated her blog with a recap of her favorite appetizer posts from the past year, and at the top of the list were these stuffed mushrooms.

These were delicious, and so, so simple. And they’re best served at room temp, so I didn’t have to worry about keeping them warm on the table. Perfect.

Print

Brie Stuffed Mushrooms

Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Ingredients:

1 large pack of White Button Mushrooms, washed and stems removed
1/2 stick of butter
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¼ cup Flat leaf Parsley, Chopped
5 whole Green Onions, Sliced (up to middle of dark green part)
1 wedge of Brie Cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add mushroom caps and toss to coat in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook for 1 minute. Remove mushrooms from pan and place upside down in a baking dish.

In the same saucepan (without cleaning it) throw in garlic, parsley, and green onions. Sprinkle with salt. Stir around, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cut rind off of brie wedge, then cut pieces of brie to fit each mushroom cap. Place inside, lightly pressing to anchor each piece of brie. Top mushrooms with parsley/garlic mixture.

Place into the oven for 15 minutes, or until brie is melted.


Photo Credit: Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman Cooks


The past few days I’ve counted down my best in food for 2009, but no New Year’s Eve would be complete without libations, so I thought I would share my Top 5 list when it comes to imbibing as well:

#5 Food & Wine Cocktails ’09

Even though we go out on the town quite often, it’s fun to sometimes experiment at our home bar. Some of the country’s top bartenders contributed their recipes to this little cocktail “cookbook”, one of my best purchases of the year. Maybe you remember the Cajun Lemonade I made this summer that was such a hit? Yep, it came from this book.

You should definitely consider buying a copy and playing around with some of the drinks. It’s a steal on Amazon – just a little over $3!


#4 Pimm’s Cup

We probably made more of these than any other concoction at home- it was our unofficial drink of the summer. In a few short months, we went through a few cases (yes, cases!) of Pimm’s No. 1, which we purchase at our favorite liquor/wine store: The Wine Chap. Click here for the recipe so you can share in our love.

#3 Fido Wine Class

Can you tell that I enjoyed this class? It made my Top 10 Food list for 2009 and now, the Top 5 Drink. I’ll alert you when it’s being offered again so you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about!

#2 Nashville Lifestyles’ Bartender Bash

Back in August I had the pleasure of judging Nashville Lifestyles’ 4th annual Bartender Bash. In previous years, my participation level was only that of an attendee, so I would choose a few of the cocktails to sip as I spent most of the evening socializing. This time all my focus was on tasting 24 creative cocktails since I was at the judges table! No doubt that Nashville has some talented mixologists, and they’re competing at this bash.

This is, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck when it comes to drinking events in Music City. Highly, highly recommend you attend the 5th annual in 2010!

#1 The Patterson House

It should come as no surprise to you that The Patterson House is at the top of my list for Drinks of 2009. The menu is so well thought out- seasonal, fresh, innovative, creative…oh, just read for yourself a few of my thoughts on it here, here, or here.

~Everything you need to Eat, Drink & Be Merry in 2010~

Happy New Year!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for (humor me)- my picks for Top 3 meals of 2009!


#3: Perennial, Chicago

This meal snuck up on me. I didn’t have high expectations going in because during my research for our trip to Chicago, I wasn’t able to find too many reviews. From the ridiculously delicious Squash Risotto appetizer to the Savoy Cabbage and Foie Gras Crepe side dish, everything just worked. Perfectly. Unexpected delights coming at me from all directions. Click here for all the details.


I visit Chicago often and normally like to try out new restaurants each time, but the next time I go, I’ll be doing a repeat visit to Perennial.


#2: Tayst Chef’s Table,
Nashville


For our first anniversary in October, Ravi and I wanted to do something really special, so when Chef Jeremy Barlow of tayst mentioned his chef’s table, I jumped on the opportunity. Take a look back at the 12 course extravaganza by clicking here.

All anniversaries in the years to come now have a near impossible act to follow. Perhaps I’ll just leave my anniversary in Jeremy’s hands every year…..

#1: Tom Tuesday, NYC

Really, was there any doubt in your mind that this would be my top pick for 2009? The most incredible, fantastic, awe-inspiring, breathtaking meal of my life. It literally rendered my friends and I speechless– and that says A LOT. Take a look back at the dinner by clicking here.

Tom Colicchio is a dream boat.

So there you are- my top picks for 2009. Now it’s your turn— Are there places you think I should put on my “must try” list for 2010? Tell me what meals you had this year that left you smiling, speechless, or wanting more!

Welcome back to the countdown of my Top 10 Meals of 2009. (Before reading today’s blog entry, first make sure that you catch yesterday’s if you didn’t already.)

We’re starting off today’s list not with a fancy restaurant or a comforting meal at home, but a cooking class!

#6: Salud: Cooking Class with Chef Deb Paquette, Nashville

Back in May I was lucky enough to get a last second spot in a fully booked class with one of my chef heroes, Deb Paquette of Zola. Watching her work her magic from just a few feet away was one of the highlights of my year, and ever the more appreciated now.

You see, recently Deb & her husband Ernie delivered the sad, sad news that they are closing my beloved Zola and moving to the Caribbean. This announcement left me even more thankful that I had the opportunity to learn a bit from the master before she leaves us. Take a look here at all of the creative dishes she prepared during the cooking class at Whole Foods and you’ll understand why I’ll miss her so.

#5: 112 Eatery, Minneapolis

What I love most about Minneapolis? Well, that would be my friend Steph, but it’s a really tight race with this restaurant. Read all my reasons why here.


#4: Spotted Pig
, NYC

My life-altering first encounter with Gnudi was at The Spotted Pig in New York this summer. I’m not exaggerating. This dish transported me to another realm. Read my glowing review here and get the recipe to try for yourself at home. I haven’t yet been brave enough to attempt it for fear of screwing it up and ruining the beautiful memory I still have of the dish. Instead I would rather just hop on a plane to New York for another visit!

Come back tomorrow to see who made the Top 3 of 2009!