Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Quick Word from Diabeetus Cat...

These past few weeks have been a bit sparse in terms of posts, and believe me when I tell you it has not been a holiday. I was sick for a while, first with a cold and then with the stomach flu. Then, this week I was thrown a curve ball that I was not prepared for in the least.

Monday evening, I went to visit my fiance at the restaurant where he works. Just as he had been for several days, he was feeling tired, had a lack of energy, was having difficulty focusing, and still could not satisfy his thirst no matter how much he drank. While we discussed when would be a good time to see a doctor, his boss was especially concerned and suggested we go to the emergency room that night.

We set off on what was a terrifying fifteen minute drive because the closer we got to the hospital, the further my fiance got from lucidity. It turns out his boss may have saved his life. When the triage nurse tested his blood sugar, it was so high the meter wouldn't read it. A blood test sent to the lab revealed his blood sugar was 878. With that, the ER doctor welcomed him to the world of type two diabetes.

My fiance spent two days in the hospital getting his blood sugar back under control. He took the news much better than I did. He has a family history of diabetes, so while the diagnosis was unexpected, it wasn't too surprising. However, since I do all of the cooking, I couldn't help but feel somehow responsible for this crisis. Also, while the four large Powerades my fiance drank trying to quench his thirst were almost certainly a contributing factor to the frightening blood sugar levels, the snoball I brought him likely sent those levels through the roof. For those of your unfamiliar with snoballs, it's shaved ice drenched in flavored syrup. So it's sugar plus sugar multiplied by sugar to the second power.

He's been back at home for a few days now and is feeling better than he has in a while. He's gotten his energy back, which in turn has lifted his mood and has made him a more enthusiastic person. However, we are still learning, experimenting, and figuring out what works and what doesn't. I cooked for the first time since all of this happened and he lived to tell the tale.

Truth be told, I've been afraid to cook because I feel so much pressure to get it right. Especially after the other night and an incident involving a box of sugar free pudding and me screwing up royally. In an effort to make the pudding more creamy, I used fat free half-and-half. I consulted the label and saw it only had a few grams of sugar and carbs per serving. Perfect! Except that a serving size is two tablespoons. "Honey, you might want to put down that spoon..."

Needless to say, I'm no expert. In fact, no one that I know of in my family has diabetes and I've never really been around anyone with it. I know very little about the intricacies of the disease or how to live with it. But since I'm the cook in this relationship, I'm going to have to learn. Quick.

The hospital signed us up for a diabetes education course next Thursday, which I'm looking forward to. In the meantime, I welcome any advice, tips, thoughts on good diabetes cookbooks, etc. Anything to help me get a handle on this situation.

I still have a few posts on the back burner, and then I'll be posting some different fare. Healthy fare. Diabetic-friendly fare. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I don't want a Manwich, please.

Since I've been reading a lot of autobiographical confessionals in order to finish up my incomplete and graduate from grad school, I figured it might be a good idea to do a little confessing of my own.


I cannot make bread.

I've tried! Really I have! But no matter what I do, my bread just always seems to come out slightly lacking. Delicious, but lacking.

Other things on my list of foodie failures: french toast and cream cheese frosting. My french toast turns out just like my bread. Underwhelming. And as for my cream cheese frostings... well, I have yet to make a batch that spreads exactly how I want it to.

We all have set backs and limitations in the kitchen, and these are mine. I hope sharing them will make some of you feel better about yours. I mean, making bread from scratch isn't the easiest endeavor, but french toast, really? A three-year-old can make a successful batch of french toast. It may be embarrassing, but I am not afraid to confess my foodie failures!

Which is why my next post will be a detailed break down of my most recent flail in the kitchen: Cheddar-Onion Hamburger Buns.

But more on that next time. Today, we're here for...

Sloppy Joes, Slop-Sloppy Joes!

In my last post, I shared my Barbecue Turkey Loaf recipe in honor of the Conners and their many years of meatloaf-eating on Roseanne. But I have to tell you all that meatloaves and sloppy joes were definitely not a part of my own childhood. I didn't have my first meatloaf until I was an adult trying out the original turkey loaf recipe. I asked my mom once why there were no childhood meatloaf dinners, no meatloaf nights in my recollection, and she told me it was because there were none in hers. Imagine that! A childhood with no meatloaves! Somehow, we managed to survive. But sloppy joes were in the same category, I suppose, because we didn't have any of those, either.

Still, if I was going to make a sloppy joe, it wasn't going to come from a nasty can, that was for damn sure! Sorry, Caribbean Manwich guy. It was at least a year ago when I found a recipe for Guy Fieri's Sloppy Joes in an issue of Food Network Magazine. I made them for the first time on a vacation in Gatlinburg, where I was staying in a cabin with a working kitchen and I would cook dinner most nights rather than eating out. They were pretty yummy, and I don't recall why I never made them again until now, so I recently decided to break out the recipe again. Of course, I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and, of course, the ingredients I had on hand.

This time, I switched the jalapenos for a chipotle in adobo, and I omitted the bell peppers entirely because I hate, hate, HATE bell peppers. Blech. I realize that probably makes me a terrible foodie, but they just have nothing to offer me. The flavor of bell peppers are too overwhelming and I find that any dish with bell peppers in it tastes almost entirely like them. I also halved the recipe because I was only cooking for two, and I still ended up having leftovers, so the recipe I'm posting would definitely be enough for a family of four.

When I cooked up this batch, I halved the spices (in addition to adding a few of my own), but I stuck to the ratios Guy had. So between the cayenne pepper the recipe called for and the chipotle in adobo that I substituted for the jalapeno, these joes ended up pretty spicy. If you're looking for a milder joe, omit the chipotle or jalapeno entirely.

Hopefully these joes will make you want to sing: Sloppy Joes, Slop-Sloppy Joes! Yeah!

Sloppy Joes


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 lb ground beef
spice mix (see below)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce (I prefer "no salt added")
1/2 can tomato paste
6-8 hamburger buns (your favorite)
french fried onions for garnish (optional)

Spice Mix:

1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook until they just begin to turn golden, add the garlic, and cook for another minute.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan and cook until browned. Drain the meat mixture and return to the skillet, remaining on medium heat.

3. Add the spice mix, the brown sugar, the wine, the vinegar, and the Worcestershire sauce to the pan, mix thoroughly, and let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the wine and vinegar cook down.

4. Mix the tomato sauce and paste with the beef mixture and lower the heat, letting the joe mix simmer for about 30 minutes.

5. Scoop some onto your favorite hamburger buns, top with some french fried onions, if desired, and enjoy! Makes 6-8 sandwiches, depending on how full you stuff 'em.

I served mine on the failed hamburger buns. While definitely tasty, those buns just weren't bun-ny enough.

Stay tuned... next time you'll see my funky buns and where I went wrong!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oh, how I wish I were a Conner...

I. Am. Sick. And I. Am. MAD.

I used to never get sick. Maybe once or twice a year I'd get a measly little cold that would last a week, if even. I've gotten sick probably four times this year. I say "this year" because I'm still lumping this one in with the 2010 ills. It's more legit that way.

I spent my day in bed, where I was blessed by the television gods with a Roseanne marathon. I love Roseanne. I love love love Roseanne.

While other kids wanted to be a Tanner or a Brady or a Huxtable, I wanted to be a Conner. Sure, they were dysfunctional, they were trashy, and they were unquestionably cruel to one another at times, but they were also FUN. When I was younger and watched the show during its original run, I fancied myself more of a "Becky." Now that I'm older, I'm totally a "Darlene."

Watching the reruns, I've come to realize what I love so much about the Conners and why I still can't get enough Roseanne. Throughout the series, the Conner family endured many, many hardships. Dan lost jobs. Roseanne lost jobs. They never had a lot of money. They argued. They bitched. But they always loved. And most importantly, the Conners never gave up. Not on life and never on one another. Through unemployment, deaths, pregnancies, and anything fate threw their way, the Conner family made it through with their sense of humor in tact.

If there is any marriage I could hope for, it would be one like Dan and Roseanne's. They argued. They fought. They busted each other's chops. They were snarky and sarcastic. But they never stopped loving each other. They persevered with the strength I hope for.

My Roseanne marathon sick day got me thinking about my favorite episode, Home-Ec, from season three. In this episode, Roseanne is a guest speaker in Darlene's home-ec class, telling the class what it is like to be a homemaker. Much to Darlene's embarrassment, the class takes a field trip first to the grocery store and then to the Conner home, where they prepare meatloaf for the family. This episode represents everything I love about the Conners, and in honor of Roseanne's meatloaf, I present to you all the recipe for my favorite Barbecue Turkey Loaf.

My Barbecue Turkey Loaf was adapted from a Kellogg's recipe I found years ago. I changed some of the specs and added more vegetables and lots more spices to suit my tastes, and voila! I got a recipe that has stuck with me for years. And I have to confess, I'm a bit of a recipe slut. I love to try new things, so for a recipe to stick around as long as this one has is truly a testament to its tastiness. It has traditional elements like the corn flakes and the ketchup, but this old dog has some new tricks: ground turkey instead of beef, which is surprisingly moist, and caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Top it with a homemade mock "barbecue" sauce, and you've got a healthy meal your family will make nom nom noises over.

Enjoy this clip of my favorite Roseanne moment and give this turkey loaf a try. You won't regret it.

Barbecue Turkey Loaf


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into crescent shape
1 8-ounce carton sliced mushrooms, button or cremini (not pictured)
2 egg whites
2 cups Special K cereal
1lb ground turkey (I use the 85% lean)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt + 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper + 1/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce + 1 teaspoon
3/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons mustard (dijon, spicy brown, and yellow will all work)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar*
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

sautee pan
large mixing bowl
small mixing bowl or large measuring cup


1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.

2. Heat olive oil in a sautee pan over medium heat and add the onions. Sautee until golden brown and add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook until the mushrooms just soften, 2-3 minutes, and remove from heat.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the Special K, mix until the cereal is coated, and allow to sit while you complete the "barbecue" sauce.

4. In a small mixing bowl or large measuring cup, combine the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, honey, hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.

5. Add the ground turkey to the cereal and egg white mixture and mix to combine. Add the onion and mushroom mixture, 3/4 cup "barbecue" sauce mixture, seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until just combined.

6. On an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, form a long loaf shape out of the turkey loaf mixture. Pour the remaining "barbecue" sauce over the top of the turkey loaf and smooth the sauce over the entire surface. **

7. Bake at 375˚F for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160˚F.

Serves 4-6.

*I suspect balsamic vinegar would be a good substitution, but I have yet to try it. Maybe next time, but I wanted to give you all the original recipe. When I try it, I'll let you all know how it turns out.

**You may be wondering why I don't use a loaf pan for this meat loaf. First, the original recipe didn't call for one--it instructed me to use the same method I have written above. Second, I didn't own a loaf pan at the time. Third, I feel this method is the best for getting the lovely "barbecue" topping all over the turkey loaf.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Look, New Start.

Happy New Year, readers!

It's been a while since I posted, and there has been a lot going on since then. Or not a lot. Just different. I would love to explain, but first things first.

My resolutions for this year are, among others, to blog more and to get a wider audience for my blog. I'm not quite sure how to do this, but I've got a few ideas, and blogging more will help with this, as well. This is also part of the Make Kelly A Happier Person resolution, which leads me to my explanation.

Since you last saw me (or is it read me?), life has not been easy. I'll keep this short since I don't want this to seem like a blog about complaining rather than a blog about food. It's a food blog, for sure, but I also want a piece of myself to be in this blog and for you all to feel like you know me that much better for every post that you read. Is that narcissistic? I guess anyone who does this kind of thing is a little bit narcissistic. As much as any writer is, anyway.

So, back to life. Due to a two-year cap on Graduate Assistant positions at the university I attend/worked at, I lost my job. The only way I could have continued working at the university is if I had gotten a teaching fellowship--the very same one I applied for and did not get back in May. Guess what? I didn't get it. Again. Then, on my last day of work, all hell broke loose at the restaurant my fiance works at, with unavoidable renovations causing him to be out of work for nearly a month. Two non-working people in the same house? AWESOME! FUN TIMES! Oops, sorry. Was my sarcasm showing? *Covers it back up*

Luckily, the restaurant is reopening Monday and he'll be going back to work. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I've been job searching for over a month and have received not a single call back. I have a Bachelor's degree in English and am a Comps paper and a Comps exam away from a master's degree, which I would have if I hadn't gotten sick, had two surgeries in two months, and been hospitalized twice in three months. Now I'm making up TWO--count 'em--TWO incompletes so I can graduate in May. Still, this is not enough to be considered worthy of any of the positions for which I've applied. With each passing day, I feel less and less confident in the choices I've made in my adult life since the path I traced for myself has been almost obsolete. I knew exactly how I wanted things to go, and life certainly has not happened that way.

Alas, dear readers, please do not think I'm a sad sack, either, since I'm certainly trying not to be. This blog comes from a place of honesty, which I want to be reflected in my food as well as with my disclosures to you all. I hope this makes me a more relatable person and someone you all will want to read about and learn from. Because let's face it, folks, my situation isn't that far off from many Americans right now. Jobless, broke, and just trying to get by.

That's what makes food and cooking such a great outlet for me. I don't have control over my education, my job (or lack there of), or my health (no matter how hard I try), but I can go in the kitchen and make a meal that will make my fiance lick the plate and ask for more. And that's a beautiful thing. That makes me happy.

What else makes me happy? Glad you asked (shh, we'll pretend you did) because I would also like to take the opportunity to sort of reintroduce myself to my readers. It's a new year, a new start, and look! My blog even has a new style! If I'm going to make it my goal to find some new readers this year, I'd better let them know who I am, right?

I am a 24-year old restless spirit living in the Deep South. And I mean the Deeeeeeep South. I haven't always lived down here, though. I've spent significant amounts of time in California and Illinois, as well. Frequent moving as a child has given me an unquenchable sense of adventure, an excellent sense of direction, and ample exposure to a variety of cuisines. I've always loved food more than I should, and I've been a foodie all of my life. No kidding. As a baby, I screamed and turned my nose up at my cereal because it didn't meet my high taste standards. I was wise beyond my years--what's the point of eating it if it doesn't taste heavenly? I am the proud "mommy" of five hellion cats who terrorize my little two-bedroom apartment and make me crazy on a daily basis. When I'm not a slave to the English master's program, I'm watching movies, Phineas and Ferb (don't judge me), or Food Network. To really put the cherry on my food-obsessed sundae, my frequent source of entertainment is reading cookbooks, food magazines, and food blogs.

While my blog isn't as fancy-shmancy as some of the others out there, I do offer something I feel is better. Something I've already mentioned. Honesty. Like I said before, I'm just your average ordinary person. I'm not a professional. I'm just someone who happens to enjoy cooking and baking and also happens to be pretty good at it. That being said, I make mistakes. I screw things up royally in the kitchen from time to time. If something in one of my recipes doesn't work or could be better, I'm not going to leave you to figure it out for yourselves. I'm going to 'fess up! You'll also notice my pictures aren't the food magazine-worthy photos you see on other blogs. Why? Because everything on this blog is from my kitchen to my table to my mouth to here. To you. It's real. It's everyday. It's my life.

And so, dear readers, I leave you with my first recipe of the new year. I promise future posts will not be quite so long-winded. I just had a few things I needed to get off my chest before I pursue this new start.

As I told you, I live in the Deeeeeeep South. Home of boudin sausage, "burled" peanuts (or boiled, for you yanks), and one of the best sandwiches ever invented. That's sandwich, Rachael Ray. Not "sammy."

The New Orleans-Style Po'Boy.

What is a po'boy, you ask? The story, as I've heard it, goes a little something like this: In the early 1900s, when striking streetcar conductors in New Orleans were looking for a meal, a local sandwich shop would serve them submarine-style sandwiches generously filled with roast beef tips and gravy. The strikers were called poor boys, and eventually they became these beloved sandwiches' namesake, which was shortened to po'boy.

The roast beef and gravy po'boys are still around, along with fried shrimp, catfish, or oyster po'boys, and even hamburger po'boys and french fry po'boys. That's right. A french fry sandwich. These fillings come inside the most delectable french bread you've ever tasted. French bread in New Orleans is very special. Because of the humid climate in New Orleans, the French bread comes out pillowy soft on the inside and flaky and crispy on the outside. You can duplicate this special bread anywhere in the country. All you need is a baguette, an oven, and good timing, as you'll see in the recipe below. Oh yeah, and you'll need some lingo. To "dress" a po'boy is to put mayo, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and pickle slices on your sandwich.

One last thing: Don't think that you can't make a decent shrimp po'boy like the one in the recipe I'm sharing just because you don't have access to fresh seafood. Even though I live near the Gulf, seafood can still be expensive and I'm broke, broke, broke. I made these po'boys with the bagged, frozen shrimp that my grocery sells buy-one-get-one nearly every other week. If you have access to fresh shrimp and can afford it, go for it. But don't be discouraged if you need to be more of a bargain shopper, like me.

New Orleans-Style Fried Shrimp Po'Boys


1lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (not pictured)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons hot sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce is my favorite)
1 tablespoon pickle "juice" from the jar (not pictured)
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (I use the reduced sodium kind)
vegetable or peanut oil for frying
French bread baguette

Optional "Dressings":

shredded lettuce
sliced tomatoes
dill pickle slices
Louisiana Hot Sauce


Small mixing bowl
gallon-sized Ziploc bag
deep fryer (or whatever you do your deep frying in)


1. Whisk together the milk, eggs, hot sauce, and pickle "juice" in a small mixing bowl. Add the shrimp and let them soak for 30-45 minutes.

2. Heat your frying oil to 350˚F. Also, preheat your oven to 325˚F.

3. In a Ziploc bag, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders, paprika, and Old Bay. Seal the bag and shake to combine.

4. Toss your shrimp into the bag, seal it, and shake to coat all of the shrimp. Return the shrimp to the milk and egg mixture and then back to the bag. Seal it and shake to coat the shrimp again.

5. Working in small batches so as not to crowd the fryer, fry the shrimp for about 5 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown. As the cooked shrimp come out of the fryer, sprinkle with a pinch of seasoning salt if desired.

6. Meanwhile, as the shrimp are cooking, place your split baguettes slice side down on a baking sheet and bake in a 325˚F oven for 5 minutes, or until the top no longer gives but the sliced side is still fluffy and soft.

7. Once all the shrimp are fried and the bread is baked, make your sandwiches and dress them as you desire.

On the left is my fiance's po'boy. He likes his "dressed." On the right is mine. I like mayo, pickles, and hot sauce. Lots and lots of hot sauce.

Makes 2-3 8-inch po'boys.

Enjoy, and as they say down here in the Deeeeeeep South, laissez les bon temps rouler!