Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day

We usually have a low key Valentine's Day, some candy, some Valentine's Day cards, and a homemade with love dinner. My husband did surprise me this year by putting cash into my card, I playfully accused him of tipping me like a floozy, but he said it was to buy my beekeeping supplies. Awwww. We never do gifts, so this was a nice surprise and so dinner was going to be dedicated to him. This year one of my beekeeping teachers gave me guanicale (pig cheek bacon) so I decided to make a carbonara, per Chef Jason Lord's suggestion, and my husband's favorite dessert, German Chocolate Cake. My dear friend CB shared her old family recipe for German Chocolate Cake, which the recipe will die with me, but let me just tell you I don't like coconut and I loved this cake, so did my husband. The leftovers went with him to work today. CB is my very favorite baker, you should check out her blog, Yeast Coast Baking (it has a great name, right?) And she is my go to for all my baking questions.

The cake took up my afternoon, especially since my kid decided he didn't want to take his afternoon nap. It was far from the most beautiful cake, this is what happens when a 3 year old helps, but like I said the taste was awesome and it was certainly made with love.

Dinner was done, the table was set, I had printed out fun Valentine's Day facts, poems, and pictures of old Valentine's cards, I put scratch tickets at each place setting so they could try and "get lucky", and my husband had said he would be home early so we could actually have Valentine's Day dinner together.
5:30 rolled around, the time we usually eat because of my kid, especially when he hasn't napped, and my husband was still not home. I called him and he promised he was leaving work shortly. Ah, the life of a general manager of a restaurant on Valentine's Day. We live about 35 minutes from work without traffic, with traffic it can take up to an 1 hour and a half. My kid and I went ahead and ate. My husband didn't arrive home until close to 7:00. The kid was already in bed and the carbonara had gone cold.

I talked to my husband while he ate the cold dinner, declining my offer to warm it up, and we ate dessert together.
We did spend the rest of the evening together watching tv in bed, my neuropathy was acting up after a long day on my feet. The dog and the cat also came up on the bed to cuddle for Valentine's Day. I fell asleep early. Holidays are hard with a husband who works in a restaurant, before our kid we would at least work them together, but now most of my holidays are spent celebrating with the kid, while my husband works hard to guarantee everyone else has a happy holiday. Remember when you are out eating and celebrating those serving you have loved ones missing out on celebrating with them.
I love you, honey.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons

This past summer we took a family vacation with my in-laws to Hilton Head, SC. We decided one night to head down to Savannah for dinner at Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons Restaurant. You don't make reservations to go here, but what they don't tell you is you have to line up early in the morning to get a reservation for that night. We did not know this so when we showed up at 4:30 thinking we were going to be in a line to get reservations for that night they said they were full. My father in law being the magician that he is not only got us a reservation for 9:30, but later on got us in about an hour earlier.

My only hesitation about going to the Queen of Butter's restaurant was, well, the butter. My son has a severe dairy allergy. I was loaded up with benadryl, epi-pens, inhalers and ready for the inevitable. Yes, this looks like irresponsible parenting- but he had already eaten dinner (remember our reservation was for 9:30) so we figured he could sip lemonade and eat some french fries or just fall asleep. Well, I am going to share a dirty little secret...they use soy margerine-that's right DAIRY FREE! The whole buffet my kid could eat, except the mac and cheese. Off the menu except for items with cream he could eat.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Chicken Pot Pie

We had a nice evening, free of any allergy drama. We were very stuffed walking out of there. Our server was incredible. I had the chicken pot pie- it was a great comfort, much better than the frozen pot pies my mom used to make. Our lesson learned, always ask, don't assume when dealing with food allergies, you may just get an answer that surprises you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chocolate Doughnuts Worth Dunking!

My son has been begging since he came home from school yesterday for chocolate doughnuts, I told him we could go out to Whole Foods today and get some and he said "No! Yours!". Well, how I can I turn that down? We were out of chocolate chips for melting down so I used cocoa powder to cover the doughnuts. They turned out fantastic! Serve with a glass of milk and you will be in heaven!

Chocolate Doughnuts

3/4 cup milk (I use almond milk)
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature (Earth Balance is a great butter substitute)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (egg substitution is fine here, just mix it with seltzer)
vegetable oil or shortening for frying

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
(out of cocoa powder- use hot chocolate powder mix)

To make doughnut:
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed beat butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and continue to beat until mixture is smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of bowl. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add milk*. Add flour mixture and continue to mix until dough comes together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and SPRINKLE VERY GENEROUSLY (dough is really sticky otherwise) with flour. Turn dough onto one of the baking sheets and top with flour. Flatten with hands until 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if dough is still wet. Transfer to freezer until slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Cut out doughnuts (or I like using a circle cutter for doughnut holes). Put cut outs on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20-30 minute. (you can also cut out dougnuts and place in a freezer safe container for up to 2 weeks)

Add enough vegetable oil or shortening to deep sided pan for 3 inch deep. Line a plate with paper towels. When oil is hot fry each doughnut for approx 60 seconds- golden brown- flip. Drain on towel.

For Topping:
Mix 1/4 cup cocoa powder with 1/4 cup sugar.
Roll donuts in topping.

Note: The doughnuts from the photo above were devoured directly after being photographed.