Monday, March 29, 2010

A tale of epic falls and chocolate cakes...

Let me begin with this: I had big plans for this weekend.

A friend and contributor to the creative writing publication I edit was having her award-winning play produced in New Orleans this weekend, so myself and a friend were going to drive down to see it. The city was alive with the jitterings of what we could only guess were Spring Break-ers, as we couldn't imagine the Tennessee Williams Festival drawing quite so many people. Because of all the hubbub, we were forced to park a little farther away than either of us anticipated, so by the time we got to the theater, I was feeling fairly parched.

Because I didn't drive, I ordered myself a Malibu and orange juice, and my friend and I made our way to the front row of the theater, where my playwriting buddy was sitting with her family. On the way to the front, I managed to overlook the stage stairs that were directly in my path. My shin, however, did not. As I collided into the stairs, my drink went flying, ice sprang forth from my cup like confetti, and I only just managed to catch myself. And all of this happened as I realized that my boss was in attendance, as well.


I. Was. Humiliated. With all of my embarrassment, I hardly noticed the throbbing of my foot and shin until well into the show. I made it through the rest of the night purely on the endorphins of my embarrassment, and when I got home I went straight to bed.

As I said, I had big plans this weekend, among them being my boyfriend's 32nd birthday the following day. For months I knew exactly what I would do on his special day. Let's rewind to December 31, 2008. For New Year's Eve, I planned a picnic on the waterfront that included steaks, loaded mashed potatoes, chicken and sausage gumbo, and an apple and cranberry tart with whipped cream. For his birthday, I was going to recreate the evening that my boyfriend first told me he loved me, so I planned a lakefront mini-birthday party for two.

But my leg. Augh, my leg. Still, I was determined to cook a meal of filet mignon, garlic whipped Yukon potatoes, garlic green beans, chicken and sausage gumbo, and German chocolate birthday cake. I woke up at 8:30, went to the store, and spent the day cooking, despite some significant snafus. And when the time came, we had a lovely, if windy, lakefront picnic, complete with presents.

After getting over the adrenaline from my embarrassment, I replaced it with the adrenaline of trying to pull off this perfect day. By nightfall, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain. At this point I had also noticed several swollen lumps on my ankle, shin, and foot.

Today, my boyfriend took me to the urgent care, where after 2 hours of waiting and about ten x-rays, we found out from the doctor that I appeared to have a hairline fracture on my fibula, running parallel to the bone. In order to be sure, the doctor planned on sending it off to a radiologist, but in the meantime, I would be subjected to a giant black boot (and no, not a fabulous and stylish pair of new kicks) and a set of crutches that make my bedroom smell like a hospital.

I've just received the phone call from the doctor that my injury is not, as they suspected, a fracture, but I will be booted and crutched for a week to ensure I don't further damage myself with epic levels of clumsiness. At least the boot will protect me from 15-lb kitties walking over my leg in the middle of the night, right? Still, that doesn't quite make up for the other cat, who rubbed his teeth on the bumpy, skid-free bottom of my boot for five agonizing minutes today. *Shivers*

What this epic tale of falls and chocolate cakes is meant to tell you is that it may be a little while before I'm able to start blogging as much as I would like to. I've had a lot of ideas for foods I would like to try my hand--and whisk-- at. Alas, it will have to wait.

Now, an update on the CAKE VS. PIE BATTLE ROYALE!!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about the line up and the terms of the proposed Cake vs. Pie battle royale (with cheese). However, looking over some of the brackets made me realize that some of these head-to-heads are just ridiculous. Birthday cake vs. fruitcake? Pshhht, please! So I've revised the line up, and here's where it stands.


Coconut Cream
Banana Cream
French Silk
Lemon Meringue
Key Lime
Peanut Butter
Wildcard--Buttermilk Pie


Red Velvet
German Chocolate
Devil's Food
Pineapple Upside-Down
Boston Cream Pie (Oh yeah, I'm shaking things up! Look at a BCP and tell me that's not a cake.)
Coconut cake
Chocolate Flourless Cake
Molten Chocolate Cake
Wildcard--Tres Leche Cake

To bring my fall story around full circle, I was planning on making the coconut cake to go up against the German chocolate cake for the first bracket on the Cake side of the battle, but with my injury, I just can't get to the kitchen to make the coconut cake. Thus, I'll be putting the battle on hold for a little while. When I get back to it, I will be offering samples at work once a week, so many of you will have a chance to put in your vote.

In the meantime, here is the recipe for the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo I made this weekend. Let me preface this recipe by saying that there is no wrong way to make a gumbo! This is a quick and fairly simple recipe based on the one handed down to me by my father, who was born and raised in da' bayou.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo


1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup (total) of onion, bell pepper, and celery, diced**
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 32-ounce box of low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water (not pictured)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) of the following seasonings:
garlic powder
onion powder
Old Bay seasoning
cayenne pepper
Dash of hot sauce, to taste
1 chicken breast or two chicken tenders, diced
Two sausage links, sliced (my brand of choice is Conecuh smoked sausage)


1. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a small sautee pan until it starts to ripple. Carefully add the flour and begin to stir. Cook over medium to medium low heat until the roux turns the color of a chocolate-peanut butter mixture. YOU MUST STIR CONSTANTLY THROUGHOUT THIS ENTIRE PROCESS!!!

2. Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan sautee the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic over medium heat until translucent. Once the roux is ready, pour it onto the sauteed vegetables and mix until they are coated.

3. Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the water, add the bay leaf, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.

4. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, add your seasonings. Seasoning your gumbo is a matter of taste. The measurements I've provided are simply a start to your gumbo, so please feel free to add as much as you like. There are no limitations. Next, add the diced chicken and sliced sausage and allow the mixture to simmer for at least 15 minutes.

5. Finish the gumbo with a dash of hot sauce, to taste, and serve it over rice. Enjoy!!

**At some supermarkets, you can find pre-diced mixtures of these three ingredients in the produce section. If you can find it, go for it! Mine was $3, and with the current cost of bell peppers, it was well worth it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I need your imput, please!!!

I recently ran across a website,, that has forsaken the March Madness basketball brackets for their own epic Cake vs. Pie battle royale (with cheese).

It got me thinking whether it would be interesting to you all if I did my own little experiment in dessert superiority. I would really appreciate some input on whether this is something everybody would enjoy following. I also think it could be argued that some of the contenders can be eliminated (I mean, birthday cake vs. fruitcake. Really?), which would expedite the process slightly.

Let me know!!!

Tossing cookies, up-chucking, regurgitation... I don't care what you call it. Puking is a euphemism for "I wish I were dead..."


Yesterday, I had a lovely meal with my boyfriend at The Crazy Pig in Hammond, Louisiana. I enjoyed every bite of my shrimp po'boy with fries and fried mushrooms with ranch. Let me digress for one moment and explain to you all one thing. I. LOVE. RANCH. I could marry ranch, I love it so much. Ranch and I would live happily ever after, because really, who divorces ranch? I could stick a straw in it and drink it on the spot. I never have, let me be clear. I'm just sayin'...

Anyway, I was fine for the rest of the day, and I even had a small snack of Funyuns after a light nap. However, as the night wore on, so did the inner lining of my stomach. Needless to say, I was up until five in the morning "wishing I were dead."

Because I was up so late, I slept until noon today, at which time the boyfriend was already at work. When I called to apologize for keeping him up half the night with my pukey-ness (when he had to be up early for work, no less), he told me he was on his way back home because he had already tossed some cookies of his own. Great... now I've contaminated him.

After he got home, I considered some lunchtime possibilities that would sit well on both of our stomachs. The only soup I happened to have on hand was some broccoli cheese in a can. From what you all have learned about me thus far, you should know better of me than to think that I could ever just open a can, heat it up, and serve it. Oh, no. I've got to add my own twist to it. If I can't make it from scratch then, by Jeebus, I'm at least going to make it my own.

That being said, I bring you this edition of Amateur Noms, Broccoli-Baked Potato Soup. This recipe takes a mere 20 minutes from start to finish, and you will never know that the finished product came from a can. The end result is comforting and delicious. Just the ticket for the road to recovery--or just a quick weeknight meal.

P.S.--Sorry there's only one picture this time. I'm sick and lazy. We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

This recipe is dedicated to a reader who sent me a recipe of her own this week. It made my day and I can't wait to try it! Thank you so much!

Jazzed Up Canned Soup: Broccoli-Baked Potato


3 strips bacon, chopped
1 yukon gold potato, diced
1 can broccoli cheese soup (I used Campbells)
1 can's worth of milk (about 10 ounces, as per soup instructions)
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup EACH sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, and colby jack mix, shredded or diced
Optional: 2 tablespoons cheddar for garnish, crackers


1 2-quart saucepan, or larger
Soup ladle
Slotted spoon
Paper towel-lined bowl or plate


1. Over medium heat, cook the bacon in the saucepan until very crunchy. The goal is to "overcook" the bacon so it doesn't become chewy when added back into the soup later.

2. With a slotted spoon, pull the cooked bacon from the saucepan and allow it to drain on a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. Use the bacon fat to saute the potato until the outside is toasty brown and firm**. Once again, by ensuring the outside is crunchy, you are also ensuring the potato bits will retain their shape and won't dissolve into the soup.

3. Pour the soup into the saucepan, followed by the milk, and stir until combined. Lower the heat to medium-low.

4. Return the bacon to the saucepan. Then add the cheeses. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle into soup bowls, top with extra cheese as a garnish, and serve with crackers. My favorite way to eat it is to pour some Cheez-its into the bowl with my soup. Mmmm!

**For those of you freaking out at my use of bacon fat to cook the potatoes, feel free to use olive oil, or any other oil of your liking. Me? I'm lazy, and the bacon fat is there. It's an easy choice for me. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy (Late) St. Paddy's Day!

Before I get into the latest recipe for you all, please allow these two short digressions.

First, I've admittedly never been a big St. Patrick's Day person. Even when I was a kid, it never really excited me that much. As an adult of legal drinking age, I'm even less enamored with this holiday. Maybe it's because I've never been a big drinker, but I have trouble seeing the point in going out and getting shit-faced on green beer. I'm sure my Irish ancestors are rolling in their graves. Sorry, gingers, but I'm just not a fan. However, this year I did go out of my way to try and get into the spirit of things through, what else, food.

That being said, I feel the need to apologize for not posting this on the actual holiday. Lately, my job has been giving me even more reason to run and hide in my kitchen, and my university life has been taking up a lot of my time. Also, this being a rare personal diatribe, times have been tough lately. At home, my rambunctious toddler cat, Bowie, has been running me ragged for the past few days. I've discovered scratches on my television, surely from her, cat shit on my couch, witnessed by me, and cat piss in the bed. My boyfriend has had it with her and I can tell he's starting to resent her. I, on the other hand, am terrified that we'll never be able to scare these habits out of her. I've never in my entire life given away a cat. In my family, we keep them until they die, for better and for worse. We've never given up on a cat and I don't want to start with Bowie. But I also know that I can't continue to have my apartment be destroyed, as she has a definite talent for. We'll be meeting with the vet next week to discuss our options for discontinuing these undesired behaviors.

I've also been doing battle with the company my engagement ring came from because now, many months after purchasing it, we've found that the quality is less than desirable and repairs are pointless because the ring comes back more screwed up than when we sent it off for repair each time. This additional stress has been bringing me down and keeping me from posting this recipe.

Well, I promised you all limited personal diatribes, but I felt it was necessary to let you all know what was going on so that I could apologize for slacking a bit. Hopefully, this newest recipe will make you all forgive me. Believe me, it's a doozy!

Drumroll, please...

Guinness Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting! Ta-dah! Once again, I'm giving you the tweaked version of the recipe here with a link to the original recipe below. I didn't stray from the cupcake recipe at all; however, I advise you all to avoid the original frosting recipe because, as I learned the hard way, it's incorrect.

These cupcakes are the moistest, tastiest little morsels you'll ever eat. Not to mention, they're so light and refreshing. They don't weigh you down, which is odd considering one sip of Guinness usually makes me feel as though I've dined on a meal that would make Henry VIII a little queasy. The frosting, on the other hand... oh, that frosting. If I had only known! I followed the recipe to the letter, but by the time I had finished combining the recommended measurements, I had a frosting with a donut glaze consistency that would never in a thousand years be spreadable. I added more and more powdered sugar until my two pound bag lay empty on the counter top. Still, little improvement was made. In the end, my boyfriend and I used our "frosting" as a dipping sauce. Although I was disappointed, it was no less delicious. I've adjusted the measurements in the version here so that you all will not have this same problem.

May your cupcakes have a thick, perfect frosting and be drunken with Irish love... and beer!

Guinness Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients

1 stick butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 bottle (12 ounces) Guinness stout beer
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour


12-muffin pan
Paper muffin cups (optional, not pictured)


1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Whisk together the butter, eggs, sugar, sour cream, and Guinness.

3. Add salt, baking soda, cocoa powder, and vanilla and whisk until well combined.

4. Add the flour in half cup increments until the entire two cups is added, making sure the flour is well combined each time.

5. Place the paper muffin cups in the muffin pan if using. Otherwise, spray the pan with cooking spray or butter and flour it. Fill each cup with 1/4 cup of batter or about 3/4 full.

6. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from the muffin pan.

7. Continue in batches until there is no batter remaining.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1-pound box powdered sugar


Mixer (or a Ninja, in my case)


1. Pour the half and half into the mixer first, followed by the cream cheese. Combine at low speed until smooth.

2. Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, combining until smooth after each addition.

3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, top each one with frosting and enjoy!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes from the Food Network Website

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!!!

It's Pi Day, everyone!

In honor of the mathematical constant π, I celebrated by making two pies today! But I'm not here to make apple pie, cherry pie, or a peach pocket pie. Forget that mediocrity! If I'm going to do Pi Day right for you guys, I've got to step it up!

When browsing around the Food Network website (one of my faves, of course) for the perfect pie recipe to make in honor of this special (read: food-oriented) day, I stumbled upon the pinnacle of WTF food concoctions: Avocado Pie.

AVOCADO WHA!? But if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Avocados are very high in fat--monosaturated, to be precise-- and have a very mild flavor. That would ultimately make them a blank canvas, so to speak. The culinary tabula rasa. How intriguing.

Despite my logic, I was somewhat trepidatious. I had visions of my boyfriend taking one bite of the tea green-colored, creamy deception and looking at me painfully before promptly spitting it out. Actually, he would never do that. In the duration of our relationship, I've made some hits and I've made some misses, but I never made anything that he's just outright hated... that is, until the night I decided to try my hand at Eggplant Parmigiana. Oh, bless him. He took his first bite, grabbed his drink, and sat back in his chair, sipping slowly. Moments later, he sat forward and took another bite. I quietly watched, unready to jump to conclusions. Maybe his first bite was too hot. Maybe he was just thirsty-- he does drink like a camel most of the time. However, lo and behold, he immediately grabbed his drink again and started sipping. Our eyes met as he set his drink down on the table. I could see the caution in his eyes as he softly asked, "Baby, would you mind if I didn't eat the rest of this?" We now avoid eggplant-related dishes. He handled it gracefully, though. Like a champ.

I still had the problem of what I'd do if the Avocado Pie turned out to be a bust, and the chances of that happening were pretty high. I mean, there is no rating for the Avocado Pie recipe on the Food Network website. I was going into this blindly. However, I decided I would also go into this bravely, like an epicurean soldier. But a smart soldier. A soldier with a backup plan. And this backup plan was called Chocolate Cream Pie.

The recipe for Avocado Pie is a fairly easy one. Although the original recipe recommends using a mixer to blend the ingredients, I used my Ninja, a cross between a blender and a food processor. I dumped all of the ingredients in, watched as they whirred together into soft green unity, and poured them into the pie crust. After a few hours in the fridge, we were ready to put our experiment to the test. I served myself and my boyfriend each a slice, dolloped the whipped cream on, and went for it. I brought my boyfriend, who was on his computer at the time, his piece, and then I sat down in the other room with my own.

I took the first bite and let it play around my tongue, trying to detect the flavors. The citrus in the recipe hits the palate the hardest, followed by the sweet creaminess from the condensed milk and cream cheese. Overall, the pie tastes like a toned down version of Key Lime Pie. And while you can definitely detect the avocado, it doesn't stand on its own. Instead, it marries itself with the other flavors so that the entire dish is a symphony rather than a solo. I was halfway through my slice when my boyfriend walked into the room hurriedly, kissed me hard on the lips, looked into my eyes and said, "That pie is FANTASTIC!" He had already finished his piece and was apparently just as satisfied with my exercise in freaky foods as I was. The moral of the story, kids, is to try new things. You never know; you just may have an Avocado Pie on your hands.

But we're not finished yet. I still had a backup waiting in the fridge as well. My Chocolate Cream Pie, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network website. While this recipe is mostly straight forward, it did have one little curveball: there's buttermilk in the recipe in addition to cream. It makes for a pleasant tang in the finished dish that keeps it from being too rich or cloyingly sweet.

I made changes to both recipes to suit my own methods and findings. The recipes I am giving you all on here are my adaptations, although there are links to the originals at the bottom of each. Feel free to use whichever version suits your needs. Still, if there's one change I would force on you all if I could, it's the ready-made pie crusts. Each of these recipes call for cookie crusts, a graham cracker crust for the Avocado Pie and a chocolate cookie crust for the Chocolate Cream Pie. This is one shortcut I am more than willing to take, and I implore you all to as well. Whether you melt the butter and crush the cookies yourself or spend $2 and get the ready-made, a graham cracker is a graham cracker. So do yourself a favor and save 10 minutes.

Well, here you go, everybody. For your tasting pleasure. And for those of you who are still balking at Avocado Pie, I say to you, "Give it a try."

Avocado Pie


2 medium-sized hass avocados
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of salt
1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust
sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip for garnish


Food processor or mixer
Saran wrap


1. Pour the lime and lemon juices into the food processor. Using the juices first will ensure that your ingredients will blend smoothly and the blades won't get stuck.

2. Add the cream cheese and pulse the food processor until it is smooth and creamy.

3. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. To remove, flick a knife into the seed, lodging it inside. Then twist and pull in one fluid motion.

4. Squeeze each of the halves until the avocado centers smush out. If you have properly ripened avocados, it should slide out easily. Watch for stems, which can detach from the skin sometimes. Pulse the food processor again until the avocado is smooth.

5. Add the sweetened condensed milk and salt. Pulse again until all of the ingredients come together.

6. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top. Cover the top with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.

7. To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cream Pie


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup fat-free half and half
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tub fat-free Cool Whip
1 ready-made chocolate pie crust

2 quart saucepan


1. Combine the sugar, half and half, buttermilk, salt, and cornstarch in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble.

2. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks until smooth and bright yellow.

3. Once the saucepan mixture is bubbling, SLOWLY whisk 1/2 cup of it into the egg yolks. This is called tempering. By warming up the egg yolks, you will ensure that they will not cook when you add them to the hot saucepan.

4. Add the yolks to the saucepan and whisk. Cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick.

5. Whisk in the chocolate chips and the butter. Remove from the saucepan from the heat and add the vanilla extract.

6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

7. After the mixture has cooled, fold in the Cool Whip and pour the mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate for another hour.

8. To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Upcoming recipes include Mexican Wedding Cookies, Irish Soda Bread, Curry, Shrimp in Basil Cream Sauce, and more!

Avocado Pie on the Food Network website
Chocolate Cream Pie on the Food Network website

Friday, March 12, 2010

I love food far more than I should...


A food blog is something I've been thinking about doing for a while now, long before Julie and Julia became the phenomenon it is now, believe it or not. However, I was recently inspired to follow through with my threats because, to put it simply, life is hard. Allow me to elaborate...

While I promise to limit personal diatribes to an "as necessary" basis, I've been in a personal and professional slump lately, a preface I feel you need to know in order to understand my intentions. I have been working toward a masters in English since January 2009, a program which I entered into immediately after earning my B.A. in English (with minors in Italian, Technical Writing, and Psychology) in December 2008. For those of you keeping track, that's a mere month and a half break. As I dive into my sixth year as a college student, I'm finding that my poor little locomotive is losing steam far more quickly than I anticipated. I have also worked for the university in one way or another since Fall 2008. I am now a graduate-level Research Assistant and the head editor of the print and online editions of a creative writing publication.

Having my work and studies all conveniently rolled into one has provided me with allowances and opportunities that I would never have known otherwise, and I wouldn't change that for anything. However, this also meant that my life was entirely consumed by this ONE THING. This caused me to spiral into a pattern of doubt and depression. Every hour of every day was spent wondering what I was doing and why I was doing it. And was I really on the right path? As time went by, I found myself clinging to the one happy and pure thing in my life, and because of this (and without going into too much detail), I almost lost it forever.

Fast forward to the present day, and my realization that there is another thing in my life that has always been there for me: FOOD. Mmmm, food. How I love thee. I love trying new restaurants and cuisines. I love cooking new recipes. Oh, hell. I love eating. I'll admit it. I know you're not supposed to say that. In today's girthy, fast food nation, we're supposed to pretend that we have more to look forward to than our next meal, and heaven forbid this culinary free fall be a calorie-fest of shame and guilty satisfaction. "Oh, that Big Mac box? No, that's not mine. And that's certainly not my donut, either."

As I mentioned before, I began to drown and when this happened I had a daily, nay, hourly fantasy: that one day I would walk away from my job, my studies, my student loans, and the future I've been planning for (for as long as I care to remember) and seek refuge in a culinary school, where I would spend every day wrapped warm and snugly in the arms of my secret love: food. Then reality sets in, and although I think (maybe? possibly?) I've chosen the right path, I need something more.

So here we are. Amateur Noms. My escape from my every day life, courtesy of my kitchen, my grocery store, and my internet. I haven't set a specific goal on how often I'll be posting. Sometimes there will only be one post for the week. Sometimes there may be several. I'll also be updating with different types of posts, as well. Because I love to try new recipes, I'll share with you my epicurean journeys. However, in my years spent experimenting in kitchens of all sizes (they weren't all winners, I assure you), I've also created my own dishes, which I will be sharing here.

For all of you with a television that rarely strays from Food Network (much to the annoyance and chagrin of your housemates), for all of you whose mailbox is filled with food magazines (and you could actually jump up and down from excitement when they arrive), and for those of you who cook for others just so you can hear the Mmmms (no matter how much you fake humility)-- this blog is for you.

Oh yeah, and just for your own information:

Number of current food magazine subscriptions: 4
Number of food magazine offers waiting to be mailed: 3
Favorite Food Network chefs: Paula Deen, Sunny Anderson, Mario Batali, Guy Fieri, Alton Brown, Claire Robinson...

For my first recipe, we'll start off slowly. This is a southern snack staple and a favorite since my childhood: Boiled Peanuts (or Goobers, if you please). Although the recipe doesn't take very much effort, it is one that takes a lot of time from start to finish, so please don't begin this recipe until you have the time to dedicate to it.

Upcoming recipes: Curry (my first!), Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Irish Soda Bread. The curry has been put on hold because I haven't been able to find curry powder at my local grocery stores, much to my annoyance, and I'll have to actually make the trek to another town for it.

Boiled Peanuts


1.5 pounds raw peanuts (shells on)
6 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves


Wooden spoon
6 quart (or larger) pot with lid
Pitcher/large cup (for adding water)


1. Pour the raw peanuts into the colander and rinse them with cool water until the grit has washed away. Meanwhile, pour the salt, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves into the pot.

2. Add the rinsed peanuts into the pot with the seasonings and fill the pot 3/4 full with water. The peanuts will float, but don't worry! As they cook, they'll submerge.

3. Cover and cook the peanuts at *medium-high heat for 2-5 hours. Every half hour, stir the peanuts and check the water level. Add more water as needed. The fresher your peanuts are, the faster they'll cook.

4. After 2 hours, pull a peanut out of the water and test it. When the peanuts are just past al dente, they're ready for the next step.

5. Turn off the heat and allow the peanuts to sit in the pot with the lid on for an hour.

6. Drain the peanuts in a colander and pick out the bay leaves. Allow to cool. Store in a ziploc or storage container in the fridge. Enjoy!

*Medium-high means that your water should constantly be at a rolling boil, but not high enough that the water boils over when the lid is on the pot.