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Vadouvan Spice Blend!

Ok, I know I haven’t posted in a while but, I have a good reason…. it’s summer!  We have just been so busy with summer stuff I honestly just haven’t wanted to be inside writing. However, I’m here now and I know how excited you must be! That was total sarcasm by the way.

Anywho, in today’s post we are going to make a Vadouvan spice blend! If you haven’t heard of Vadouvan, don’t worry, I feel like most people haven’t. The good news is, now you have and you’re going to sound so gastronomically knowledgeable to all of your friends that you (in my most basic white girl voice), like literally can’t even!

More about food later, let’s talk about music festivals!  One of the reasons I haven’t been posting lately is because I’ve been paying tons of money to live like a homeless person for days at a time and loving every second of it.  We try to go to several music festivals a year, and one of my absolute favorites is ‘Electric Forest’ in Rothbury, Michigan. It’s a place that I am convinced is made of pure magic.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of prancing around the woods of Rothbury, you definitely need to put this festival on your must attend list. I’ve been lucky enough to attend several festivals in the past couple years, but nothing comes close to the feel of the Forest. It ties together freedom of expression, community, art, and music that makes all types of ears happy. The excitement of the Forest is too much to contain, so the fun starts waiting in line to get your car checked in. As we slowly rolled through, we saw groups of people gathered together playing hacky sack, dancing on/in/out of cars, drinking beer, all waiting for their friends to join them to set up camp together. This year we had a really great group of people, Michael, Emily, Ivy, John, and Dean (the Forest virgin), and myself!

Setting up camp is where the true feel of the Forest comes to life. Neighbors introduce themselves to one another, offering to help put tents up, or to join their camp later on. A sense of community is well established from the start. Our neighbors this year were an outstanding group of people from Michigan (shout out to Zack and Ashley).

Walking through the Forest requires taking a moment to observe the people around you. Some festivals have become a little more homogeneous in the sense of what attendees wear. At times you feel like you are seeing the same person over and over again: fluffies, kandi, pasties, neon. It’s so refreshing to see the pure creativity and the variety of self-expression in the forest. Every person, totem, and even car was dressed to impress and express themselves freely. The single best thing you can do at the Forest is to just LET GO. Don’t go in with a strict schedule, planning to catch every artist playing. There are just too many places to explore and discoveries to be made for you to have your time ruined because you didn’t see “(insert random artist here).” As one of the Forest Stewardesses would say, “Leave your worries behind, pack up an open mind, and get ready for a magical flight through the Forest.”

On the path to daytime discovery, you can catch a variety of art displays and installations that are set up throughout Sherwood Forest. One of the crowd pleasers this year was the saloon-like shacks that held grassroots performances, coffee ground readings, trading posts, all created with serious attention to detail and authenticity. Along the wooden boards of the shacks you could find old newspapers, antique telephones, pillows, small wagons, all giving that genuine old-time feel. And if you look closely enough, you might find a secret passageway like we did. A circular doorway led into a room that was straight out of the prohibition era, secreting away scandalous gambling, unbridled dancing and good ol’ fashioned debauchery.

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Then, the magic hour begins. The sun dips lower, sunlight slowly fading from the trees, replaced by lasers energetically dancing off the leaves. The art you saw during the day takes on new life in the evening glow. The random saloons are filled with actors and bands inviting you to come right back in. The energy of the Forest turns from a gentle calm to a frenetic pulse, its waves filling your body and giving you new inspiration to dance. It is truly amazing how much the venue changes with just the rise and fall of the sun.

After dancing your heart out, there really isn’t a better place to cool off and relax than in a hammock. Trust me, I tested this theory several times just to make sure (The sacrifices I make for you guys, I know). The communal culture of sharing your hammock is remarkable. A couple of friends were savvy enough to bring their own hammocks, my others friends not so much. Did that matter? Not really. If you weren’t in the know that a hammock was the single most important thing to bring to the Forest, you weren’t left standing on the sidelines watching others sway their cares away. Most people would leave their hammocks out for other people to use while they left in search of food, drinks, or other shenanigans. Once the owners returned to find their own version of a hippie Goldilocks sleeping in their hammock, they’d either let them stay there or just kindly inform them that they were back. It was a beautiful sight to see, and the generosity and communal attitude really added to the magical feel of the Forest.

Which brings me into the main reason people love the Forest so damn much… For many people, festivals are mostly about the music. I mean, why else would you go to the trouble and the cost, right? But after hopping from festival to festival, I’ve realized that music isn’t the only driving force that creates a truly amazing festival experience. It’s the people. During my five days of dancing through the Forest, I continuously saw random acts of kindness wherever I went. I saw a basshead dance/run so hard her phone flew out of her bag. As soon as it hit the floor a fellow Forester picked it up and ran after her to make sure she got it. Random exchanges of goods could be observed on the campsites, by the bathrooms, and by the great Giving Tree. Oh yes, the Giving Tree: a place where people leave items behind, and sometimes take something else in return…small things like gum, toilet paper, cigarette, charms, kandi, pins, and whatever else they think will help a person out or warm someone’s heart. Generosity extended beyond the Giving Tree, though. If someone didn’t look like they were “all there,” people would stop and make sure they were doing all right instead of stepping over them and carrying on. The random acts of kindness are what keep people coming back to Electric Forest. After you have been to the Electric Forest, you realize why people keep coming back to it year after year. It’s a judgment-free zone, filled with positive vibes, amazing natural and artistic visual experiences, and a great sense of community that is the perfect venue for great music. Hopefully I’ll  see y’all there next year!

Ok, enough of that…. let’s talk food!  Vadouvan… what the hell is it?  Well, it’s a blend of Indian curry and French flavors….a French derivative of Masala (spice mixture used in Indian cooking).

In my opinion it’s a great gateway to Indian food.  So let’s get to it!

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Instructions:

Gather all of your ingredients and a mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Take your Fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, and red-pepper flakes, add them to the mortar and pestle and grind them into a powder like consistency.

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They should look like this when you’re done.

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Now for the hard part…. get all the other spices together and add them to the party and mix them thoroughly!

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Once those are mixed in well…. boom!  You got yourself one hell of a spice mix!

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This is such a fragrant and complex mix of spices.  Just be sure to store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to make Vadouvan Chicken Curry (Maybe i should do a recipe for that, huh?). Feel free to try it on/in things….experiment with it!

Thanks for stopping by and keep an eye out on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/isbutteracarbblog or just search @isbutteracarbblog) for polls, contests, and randomness that doesn’t make its way here…. it’s a whole different party over there sometimes! Also, give this mix a try and let me know what you think of it in the comments! Let me hear about some of your festival tips and stories in the comments as well! I hope y’all come back soon and until next time, Avoir!

Mama’s Italian Meatballs!

Hello again, friends! I hope everyone enjoyed their extended holiday weekend, we certainly did! Tikki got a surprise visit from his Nana & Poppa, it completely made his day. He always gets so excited when people visit, especially when Nana & Poppa visit.

Anyway, let’s talk about meatballs, since that’s what we’re making today.  When I make meatballs (and all Italian food really) it floods my mind with memories of my grandmother cooking and her teaching me how to cook. It also brings up memories of her cussing me out in Sicilian for tasting the food too often, I mean can you blame me? That shit was delicious!

She was, and still is, such an inspiration to me.  So, this post is for her. Let’s get rolling….

Ingredients: 

1 lb ground pork

1 lb ground beef

1/2 cup of milk (low carbers, you can use beef stock here instead of milk if you’d like)

1/3 cup of bread crumbs (if you are eating low carb replace these with finely crushed pork rinds)

4 cloves garlic

1 medium onion, diced

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions: 

First preheat your oven to 425°F. Then mix your breadcrumbs (or pork rinds for you low carbers, I got you fam) with the milk and set aside.

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I know it might look a little gross, but this little concoction is going to help keep these meatballs super moist and delicious! 

Let that just hang out and it will eventually turn into a paste like consistency. Time to sauté your diced onion with the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, we don’t really want to get much color on these onions, just a lite sauté. I cooked mine a tad too long, mainly because I got caught up watching ‘Roseanne’, don’t you dare judge me! Once they are done, take them off the heat and let them cool down a bit.

Now let’s get a big mixing bowl and add the pork and beef to the bowl.

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Mix the beef and pork together until it’s just combined, don’t get wild.  Add the onion and breadcrumb mixture to the meat. 20170225_210951

Beat your eggs well and add them, along with everything else, to the party.

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Mix all those delicious ingredients together thoroughly, again, don’t get wild.  We don’t want to overmix these suckers, cuz nobody likes a tough ass meatball.

Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the refrigerator for about an hour.  We want to give the mixture some time to chill and firm up a bit before we handle it anymore.

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Now that our hour of chill time has passed and we’ve all had a glass or three of wine, let’s get our mixture out of the refrigerator. I like to use a small ice cream type scoop to get the initial shape of the meatball, plus it helps keep the size of the meatballs fairly consistent.  Then I roll or shape the meatballs by hand. Pro tip, keep a small bowl of water near by to keep your hands wet, this will help to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

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You want your meatballs to be about the size of a golf ball.  

Place them on a lightly oiled sheet pan and keep a little space between them. Then pop them into your preheated 425° oven for about 20 minutes or until they look like this…

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Now we’re in the home stretch!  Just add these to a pot of tomato sauce (like the one I gave you a recipe for).

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All you have to do now is let these simmer on low for about an hour or hour and a half.  This is going to really help the meatballs get tender and super flavorful.  After that….. you’re done! Time to plate up!

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Man, these things are spectacular! You can put these on some pasta, make a meatball sandwich, or just top them with a little parmesan and parsley and eat them as a meal!  These also freeze extremely well, so make a huge batch and save some for later! Many people boast that their meatballs are “the best!”, I for one refuse to make such a claim (Even though my meatballs ARE indeed the best)!

I hope you give these a try for yourself and let me know how they turned out in the comments below!  Check us out on Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog) and give us a ‘like’! Don’t forget to follow the blog and tell your friends!  Until next time my friends, Ciao!

Genurken-flürken Cake! (The Golden Girls)

Happy Mothers Day to all you moms out there!  As some of you may know I’m a huge fan of “The Golden Girls” television show, so I wanted to do a dish from the show.  I may even start doing more foods from shows and movies, who knows!  Anyway, I’m sure this isn’t the true “Genurken-flürken” recipe, but it is an ancient Scandinavian cake recipe….or atleast as close as I could come to making one haha.

I believe Rose mentioned the cake in season 2 while serving it up to the other girls in the kitchen and of course Dorothy had something hilariously snide to say. While this may not be an exact replica of Rose Nylunds Genurken-flürken cake, it is still a fun and delicious cake to make. As they would say in St. Olaf, låt oss göra denna tårta!

Ingredients: 

Cake: 

6 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup almond flour

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour

1 cup of butter (16 tablespoons)

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze: 

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions: 

Ok let’s get the oven preheated to 325°F! Then you need to grease and flour a bundt pan. To do that just liberally rub the inside of the pan with Crisco or butter, then put a little flour in there and toss it around to make sure everything is coated. Remove the excess flour from your pan.  It should look something like this.  20170421_235308.jpg

Next in a mixing bowl add your butter and beat it until it’s soft.

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Then add in your sugar, flavorings, baking powder, and salt.  Mix those until well incorporated.

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Add your all-purpose and almond flours and mix it up!  It’s going to look sorta crumbly.

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Now let’s add those eggs in, one at a time though.  After they are in scrape down your bowl and give it another good mix.  It should be sorta fluffy at this point.  Next let’s add the batter to the bundt pan!

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Try to level the top out the best you can with a spatula.  

Pop that sucker in the oven and bake until a wooden skewer comes out clean, about an hour.  The edges should also pull away from the pan a little. When it’s done take it out of the oven and put it on a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.

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After the 15 minutes is up, flip it out of the pan and let it completely cool.

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While its cooling let’s make our glaze! It’s extremely easy, just put all your glaze ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly to combined.  I usually just keep dipping my whisk in and drizzling the glaze over the cake. Just make sure the cake has concretely cooled before you glaze it.  Let the glaze set and firm up on the cake for about 5 minutes, then you’re ready to serve!

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One of the best things about this cake it that it will last covered for a week or you can freeze it for up to 3 months!

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I don’t usually blow my own vertügen-flügen, but this cake turned out amazing! This Americanized version of a traditional Scandinavian recipe that Rose Nylund brought into the 80’s is just fabulous to say the least.  The vanilla and almond flavors compliment each other extremely well.  Plus you could easily serve 20 people with this cake.

I hope you give this recipe a try. Don’t forget to look us upon Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog) and be sure to comment and let me know how it turned out!  Send me pictures of your finished cakes!  As always if you have any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them, if I can. Hope to hear from you guys soon and thanks for being a friend! Ciao!

Kosher Salt-Roasted Chicken!

One of the things I love most about food is that you can take a very minimalistic approach to things, with just a few simple ingredients you can make something incredibly impressive.  I think we tend to season food so much that we miss out on the beautiful flavor of the ingredient we are preparing.  That’s what I really love about this chicken, it’s only two ingredients, chicken and salt.  I’m going to give you a thyme butter sauce recipe to go with it, but this simple roast chicken is delicious all by itself.

Let’s get started on this super simple and delicious chicken that tastes like, chicken!

Ingredients: 

1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

Kosher salt (I can’t really give you an amount here)

For The Sauce: 

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tablespoons of cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 Tablespoon Thyme leaves

1/3 cup of chicken stock

Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions: 

Get your chicken out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter about an hour before you plan to start cooking. Preheat your oven to 450°. Next, get some paper towels and dry your bird off really well.  Moisture on the outside = no crispy bird for you.

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Also, tuck the wing tips up and under the front of the bird.  I like to do this so they don’t get burnt. I didn’t take a picture of this because I’m trying to save some money on production, or I forgot. 

Ok, now that our bird is dried off and our wing tips are tucked, let’s talk about this chickens butt! I always just snip it off.  A very prestigious university did an authentic and scientific study on chicken butts, the study showed that if you clip that part off, the chicken tastes better.  That could be something I completely made up, but that’s what I’m going with.  Either way just clip that little bugger off.

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After you have clipped that off for no apparent reason, it’s time to salt our chicken. I urge you to use kosher salt here, however regular table salt will work.  Just make sure you salt the chicken liberally and don’t forget the cavity (inside) and bottom of the bird, they need a liberal coating as well. Next, we need to tie the legs together.  Some folks may feel the need to truss the chicken, but I don’t think all that work is necessary, plus I’m pretty lazy.

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Next, we need to place the bird in our roasting vessel! Use a pan that you can also use on top of the stove, so we can make the sauce after the chicken is done.  Salt the breasts of the chicken one last time.  Also, don’t get nervous and start thinking ‘I’m using too much salt’ you’re not, stay calm.  20170411_000049

Take a paper towel (or something) and try to get any salt that has fallen off the bird out of your roasting pan. We’re going to be using that pan to make our sauce and we don’t want the sauce to be WAY too salty, like some people I know.  Place the chicken in the preheated oven for about 55 minutes (or until a thermometer in the thigh reads 160°).  After that 55 minutes is up you should have something that looks like this….

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You should have a nice golden brown and very crispy bird.  Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, let’s start the sauce! Go back to the pan and remove most, not all, but most of the rendered chicken fat from the pan.

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Turn your heat to medium high and add in the Thyme leaves.  Let those cook for about 20 seconds, stirring.

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Next, add in your lemon juice and chicken stock. Stir all that around and simultaneously begin scraping all that beautiful fond (delicious little brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan) off the pan. Let that cook for about 2 minutes, just to let it reduce a little.  Now, turn your heat to low and add in some of your butter.

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It’s really important here that when you add the butter in you really need to stir and sorta keep your pan moving. After that butter is melted and incorporated, add in the juices off the plate where the chicken has been resting.  Add in the rest of your butter and keep stirrin’ and movin’, stirrin’ and movin’ until all the butter is melted and incorporated.  The thickness or consistency of the sauce is completely up to you, if you want it a little thicker reduce it more, a little thinner add a little more stock.  Taste for seasoning, I added a little pepper. Mix that in and once it is thoroughly mixed, turn off the heat and your sauce is done!

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Now just plate up your beautiful roast chicken and decorate the plate/platter a little if you’re feeling fancy.

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All that’s left to do now is enjoy one of the most moist and delicious roast chickens you have ever had! This chicken accompanied with that thyme butter sauce is going to blow you away and seriously impress any and all guests you have over for dinner.

Anyway, I seriously hope you try this recipe out for yourself, it’s so simple and fairly inexpensive.  Let me know how it turns out in the comments!  Don’t forget to follow the blog so you get notified first when something is posted, that makes you a V.I.P. don’t cha know. Also, find me on Facebook @isbutteracarbblog and follow me there as well! Thanks for stopping by! Ciao!

Watermelon Agua Fresca!

With Cinco de Mayo and summer right around the corner I thought I’d share a delicious and refreshing drink recipe! I love making this drink for our dinner parties in the spring and summer, plus you can add a little vodka to really get the good times rolling! I’m going to be telling you about two recipes by the way, one for the Agua Fresca and one for simple syrup.

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can use just about any fruit that your little heart desires.  I just really prefer the watermelon, it’s just so invigorating on a balmy day! Anyway, let’s get to it!

Ingredients for the Agua Fresca:

1/2 of a seedless watermelon (about 6 cups)

2 cups cold water

Simple syrup to taste

Ingredients for the Simple Syrup: 

1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup of sugar

Instructions: 

First we need to make our simple syrup and despite what the name says, it really isn’t that hard.  You can make any amount you want, by simply using a 1 to 1 ratio. Just dump your 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water into a little sauce pan over low heat and give it a stir.

20170426_212151You’re just going to let that hang out and stir it every so often, until it becomes completely clear!

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Now, once it looks like the picture above, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. After it cools down it’s ready to use!

On to the Agua Fresca! Get your seedless watermelon and cut it in half.  Take a little taste to see how sweet it is, so you’ll know about how much simple syrup to add later.  At least that’s what you should tell people if you get caught eating the watermelon, I mean it sounds like a legitimate excuse, right?

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Next scoop out 6 cups of the watermelon flesh and put it in your blender, along with the 2 cups of water.  Don’t get any of the white parts of the melon (rind), it’s super bitter and isn’t very tasty.  Well, unless you pickle it, but that’s a whole other story.

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Place a towel over your blender(you don’t want watermelon juice all over your damn kitchen) and then pulse it a few times. Slowly increase the speed on your blender until you get to max speed. Let that blend for a minute or two, until you’re satisfied that it is thoroughly blended.

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Now pour the freshly blended melon through a fine mesh strainer to get all the fibrous bits out.

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Just take a spatula and scrape it around the mesh strainer.  This will take a little bit of time, not a long time, don’t worry.  When you’re done it should look close to this.  Just discard all the fibrous materials.  Now, you should have something that looks like this! 20170426_214949.jpg

You may want to skim some of the foam off the top (I did), however it isn’t necessary and it completely optional.  Have a taste and see how much of the simple syrup to add, I added about 2 Tablespoons to mine.  I can’t give you exact measurements here because all watermelons are different, you may have a sweeter one. So, the amount of simple syrup you use is completely up to you.  Next just pop it in the refrigerator and let it get cold, then it’s ready to serve!

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I really hope you try this drink recipe out!  It is just the perfect beverage for your Cinco de Mayo celebration or just a random Tuesday.  It’s wonderful mixed with vodka or just by itself.  Pine thing is for sure, your guests will surely be impressed!

So, give this one a try, let me know how it turns out in the comments. Don’t forget to follow the blog and check us out on Facebook (@isbutteracarbblog). Thanks for stopping by! Adiós!

Lemon Dill Dip!

Hey everyone! It’s been a slow week here, thankfully. I have had lots of time this week to catch up on projects and just hang out with Tikki, which is always nice. 20170415_123157

It was bath week for Tikki, strangely enough he loves to take baths.  That’s him in the picture, patiently waiting on me to get his bathing supplies together. I’m so happy he enjoys bath time, it makes it less of a chore for me haha.

Anyway, let’s talk about this dip!  It is so simple and delicious, and it’s just one of the many ways to use cured lemons! Plus, you can throw this together in under 5 minutes. It’s great for a snack, party dip, or it makes a really great gift!

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup sour cream

3 slices of cured lemons, minced

1 Tablespoon fresh dill, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Instructions: 

Get all of your ingredients together.

20170413_171426.jpg Next just add everything to a bowl and mix well.

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Now, after it’s thoroughly mixed, have a little taste.  See if it needs more pepper or maybe some salt, mine didn’t, yours probably won’t either due to the saltiness of the cured lemon.  After you’re done checking for seasoning, you’re done! Just cover and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it!

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The fresh dill and cured lemon bring a bright freshness to this dip.  Add that in with the tang of the yogurt and sour cream and you have one helluva dip!

I hope you try this recipe out for yourself, if you do, let me know how it turns out! There is a recipe for the cured lemons on the blog as well, incase you need it.

I’m finally on Facebook, you can find the page by searching @isbutteracarbblog feel free to give the page a ‘like and share’! Thanks for stopping by! Ciao!

Cured Lemons!

What a beautiful Sunday it is here at, Is Butter A Carb HQ! I hope you all are having a wonderful Easter holiday, if you celebrate that kinda thing, if not, I hope you’re at least having a kick ass Sunday!

It’s been a busy and expensive week here, unfortunately.  Monday, I dropped my car off at the garage to have some work done. Friday, I picked it and a $2500+ bill up, talk about a devastating hit to the ol’ bank account!  The good news, however, is that the old girl is practically brand new and she’s running great! Let’s hope that continues haha.

Saturday was my friend Emily’s birthday (Happy Birthday Emz!), she had a small soirée at her house across town.  I whipped up a special cocktail for her and her guests, thankfully it was a hit!  Maybe I should do a few cocktail recipes here? What do you think? Let me know in the comments! Anyway, it was such a lovely evening, Emily was such a gracious hostess, as always, and just as gorgeous as ever! It was great to get to see some old friends I hadn’t seen in quite sometime and to meet some new friends as well. I can honestly say I know some of the most wonderful people in the world!

Anyway, enough about me and my week, let’s talk citrus!  Cured Lemons are one of my coveted “secret ingredients”, there are so many things you can do with these salty little slices of the Sun.  You can use them with roasted chicken or quail, mince them up to add to dips, dressings, or pastas! The best part, these little beauties are so simple to make!

Ingredients: 

3 Lemons

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup kosher salt

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Instructions: 

First, wash your lemons in hot water to get the waxy coating off the outside.  Next with a really sharp knife (do not use a serrated one) slice the lemons, we are going for slices that are around 1/8 inch thick. Then just remove the seeds from the slices.

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I missed a seed! Do you see it? It really isn’t a big deal if you miss a couple of seeds, so don’t get stressed about it.

Now for the hard part, the curing mixture!  Just mix your sugar and salt together well! I warned you that part was going to be difficult. Grab yourself a glass container (preferably with a lid) and sprinkle some of the curing mixture over the bottom of the dish.

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Next add a layer of your sliced lemons on top of the curing mixture.

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Keep repeating those layers until all your lemons are in there, then put the remaining curing mixture on top.  Now, what’s going to happen here? Not a lot. Just cover these little darlings up, with that lid I mentioned earlier, or you could just use some cling wrap.  Let these sit on your kitchen counter or table (not in direct sunlight) for 3 days.  Yup, you heard me, 3 days.  The mixture is going to start to draw out the liquid in the lemons.

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These are mine after about a day.

The curing mixture is going to really pull out the bitterness and enhance the lemony flavor. Once the sugar and salt have sorta dissolved or liquefied, the lemons should just be covered by the liquid.  If they aren’t, feel free to add a touch more salt and sugar.

These are such a cool thing to have around the kitchen, plus they are gorgeous. After the three days is up, just put them in a mason jar (the liquid too) or something similar and store them in your refrigerator. You’re done! You should have some beautiful cured lemons!

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I really hope you enjoy these, they are just a fantastic ingredient to cook with.  The intensity of the lemon flavor is just magical! If you want to take some of the saltiness away, just rinse them off or even soak them in cold water for a bit, then dry them with a paper towel.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share on all your social media accounts! Thanks again, see ya next time! Ciao!

Vinaigrette Roasted Asparagus

Hey friends, it’s been awhile! Sorry for not posting for a bit, it’s just been so crazy around here since returning from Europe. Tikki was sure happy to be back home, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so excited haha.  To be honest I’m pretty glad to be home as well, traveling will wear you out! Speaking of Europe, it may be awhile before I post about the trip, because I want to work on some recipes that will really showcase the areas I visited.

So, to hold you over I thought I would do a quick post on a delicious side dish that would be a perfect accompaniment to any dinner!   Especially since Easter is right around the corner and I know you’re looking for something divine to cook for your friends and family!  The best part is, this asparagus is quick and easy, but to your guests you will seem like an Iron Chef!

Let’s get to it!

Ingredients: 

1 lb of asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup chopped leek

4 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 slices of prosciutto, chopped

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

Garnish:

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1-2 Tablespoons tarragon, minced

Instructions: 

First thing first,  preheat your oven to 400°f and gather up all of your ingredients!

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Clean your leeks really well (they are usually grown in sand), because we don’t want sandy gritty asparagus. Just kinda pull them apart a little and rinse with water. You can cut them up first and just soak them in a bowl of cold water and agitate them as well, it might even be easier.  Either way just clean the damn things.  After they are cleaned and chopped place them on a large baking sheet.

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Next let’s get the asparagus ready. You can just snap the woody end off where it wants to snap, because that’s usually where the fresh tender asparagus starts. If you want you can just cut the ends off and then peel the new ends of them with a veggie peeler to make sure they aren’t woody. Now that those are ready, add them to your baking sheet as well!

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Let’s get this vinaigrette ready! Add your olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to a little bowl and mix together until it is really well combined.

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Now pour the vinaigrette over the asparagus and leeks, toss to coat.

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Sprinkle your prosciutto over the top. It’s going to crisp up really well and add such an amazing texture.

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Place the baking sheet into your preheated oven for around 15-25 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it, because the time depends on the size of the asparagus and you don’t want to burn them. The best way I have found to check and see if it’s done is just taste one, plus you deserve a little snack after all this work! You can always use the tip of a knife to check the tenderness, but that’s not fun at all and there is no reward in doing it that way.

While the asparagus is roasting away, go ahead and get your garnishes together! When the asparagus is done plate it up and garnish with your egg and tarragon!  The egg and tarragon garnish add a touch of elegance, plus it adds such great flavor as well. That’s all there is to this amazing side dish, you’re done!

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I really do love this dish and it’s always a hit at our dinner parties! The prosciutto adds a nice crunch with tangy freshness of the vinaigrette to really bring the flavor of the asparagus to life!

Anyway, I really hope you give this one a try and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments!  If you’re feeling frisky give us a share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, be sure to use #isbutteracarb! Thanks for stopping by, until next time. Ciao!

Quick & Easy Garlic Shrimp!

This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my life, at least as far as I can remember.  I’ve been trying to get my bills paid, get Tikki ready to be boarded, get all my medicines together, pack multiple bags and make sure everything is ready for my trip.  Oh yea, I think i forgot to tell you, but Is Butter A Carb is going to Europe, I’ll be in Paris, Amsterdam, and Prague! On the way home I’ll be stopping at JFK and will hopefully get to see my sista from another mista, Kaitlyn! She’s a flight attendant for Delta airlines and it’s always such a treat to get to see her beautiful smiling face and spend some quality time together.  I’m so honored to be able to call her my friend!

Oh my, I almost forgot, Tikki turned 3 this week! We had a little party for him with doggy ice cream and treats. He even got his own little ‘Happy Birthday ‘ cookie and party hat! So, happy 3rd birthday Tikki! Gosh, I love him so freakin’ much!

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He looks so cute in his little hat and bandana!

Anyway, I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip(and the food of course) when I get back to the States. With it being such a hectic week I needed something fast and delicious to prepare for dinner, plus I’ve been on a diet (low carb low sugar) for a while now and I needed to take that into account.  I think Garlic Shrimp was the perfect diet dinner recipe I could have come up with! It’s just so fast and easy to make, it doesn’t hurt that it’s extremely delicious either! So, anyway, here’s my recipe for Garlic Shrimp!

Ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp

1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons of butter

3 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

1/3 cup of Italian parsley, chopped

1 Tablespoon of caper brine

Salt to taste

Instructions: 

Ok, so first off, let’s get everything ready so we can cook with ease!  First, peel and devein your shrimp.

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I used, Litopenaeus setiferus or “white shrimp.” These little guys were caught off the coast of the Carolinas.

Next, let’s get our butter ready, you need 2 Tablespoons cut into 4 pieces.  Chop your parsley, squeeze out the lemon juice, measure out your caper brine, red pepper flakes and dice up the garlic.

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My caper brine is mixed with my lemon juice in this picture.

Ok, now let’s get out the best heavy bottom skillet you own (or have borrowed and yet to return, Tim) and put it on the highest heat setting you have.  We need to have this sucker super hot.  Next, add in your oil and it needs to get super hot as well.  You’re going to want to watch for that first little wisp of smoke to come off the oil.  Here we are with shrimp and tongs in hand! We are ready! As soon as you see the little wisp of smoke, add your shrimp in and even them out in the pan….then do nothing.

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Let those little buddies cook for about a minute without touching them.  Sprinkle with a little salt. After about a minute, go ahead and toss them around a bit, for about another minute.  Then we’re going to add in our garlic and red pepper flakes.

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Mix the garlic and pepper flakes around and keep it movin’! We want to cook our garlic a little and wake up those pepper flakes.  We don’t however want to burn the garlic, that’s really the only way to mess this dish up.  So, keep a tossin’ and a stirrin’!

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Now let’s add in the lemon juice, caper brine, and one of the chunks of butter.  Mix all that around and get it really well incorporated.  Once that butter is melted, reduce your heat to low and add in the rest of the butter and your parsley.

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We are in the home stretch now! Mix all that together and once that butter is melted and you’ve tasted for seasoning, you are ready to indulge in some mind-blowing garlic shrimp!

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When you plate it up take all the shrimp out add just a little water to the pan and mix it around and BOOM! You have a delicious sauce to pour over those delectable little shrimp!

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There you have it, Garlic Shrimp! Such an incredibly simple and delicious recipe.  The sweet shrimp, the herbaceous parsley, the acidity from the lemon, and that smack to the mouth from the garlic all just come together to form a classic symphony of flavors. No matter if you’re making this for a quick dinner or a formal party, this quick and simple dish is sure to please.

I hope you give this one a try. If you do, and you should, be sure to comment and let me know how it turned out!  I more than likely won’t be able to post again until after Europe (which will be mid March), however I will if I can.  I can’t wait to share stories and hopefully recipes with you from my travels.  In the meantime, enjoy these delicious(low carb) garlic shrimp and until next time, Ciao!

Pasta e fagioli!

Whew, Oregon, what can I say?  It was a blast!  First, I wanna say thanks to our gracious hosts, Brandy, Worm, Sophie, Shad, Jasmine, and Taylor.  They were so much fun and it was such a pleasure to see them again, cook for them, and spend some quality time together.  Friends and family really are what makes life worth living and I’m beyond blessed to have an abundance of both.

Anyway, let’s move on from the sappy mushy stuff. Brandy and Worm took us for a snow day, or three, to the beautiful and picturesque Mount Bachelor in the Deschutes National Forest.

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Mount Bachelor is one of the largest resorts in the Pacific Northwest, with a skiable area of 3,683 acres! It’s also a stratovolcano, which in my opinion is kinda cool.

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There was SO much snow!  The roads up to the mountain were completely white, at times it was snowing so much you could barely see.

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The tables (pictured above) get cleaned off every day.  So, that’s less than a days worth of snow.

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It was such a fun experience! I can’t wait to go back.  If you ever get the chance, take a trip to Bend, Oregon, you won’t regret it.  They have so many awesome places to eat, breweries with tours and tastings, an awesome distillery with a tasting room, and just so many outdoor activities!  The people there are so nice and welcoming.

Speaking of places to eat, my buddy Worm is the executive chef at this sweet little place in Bend. It’s called “Rockin’ Dave’s Bistro & Backstage Lounge” (661 NE Greenwood Ave, Bend, OR) check em’ out at http://www.rockindaves.com. Man, this place is really something special, such a fun and relaxed environment. They use high quality local ingredients as much as they can and it really shows in Chefs food.

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I got the pastrami sandwich with brussels and a house made pickle, it was unbelievably delicious! They make almost everything on the plate ‘in house’, from the pastrami to the pickles. If you notice the little ramekin with parsley hiding on the back of the plate, that’s a little chef joke between Worm and I, if there is one thing that is the bane of my existence in the food world it’s when there is random parsley scattered around the fucking plate!  It infuriates me haha and he knows it. Anyway, Rockin’ Dave was such a cool guy and was extremely hospitable. He treated us to appetizers and a few (many) drinks, admittedly I was a little drunk and my belly was full upon my departure that night.

We need to move on to the good stuff right?  I know you’re getting hungry by now.  So, one of the days we came off the mountain a huge snow storm was kicking our ass and I decided to cook dinner for everyone.  I thought what would be good on a cold snowy evening?  I decided on Pasta e fagioli! Pasta e fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans” is an Italian-American comfort food (to me at least), it’s like a warm hug from an Italian grandmother, without all the perfume.  It’s such a simple, quick, and delicious dinner….you just can’t go wrong! Let’s get the ball rolling!

Ingredients: 

1 Tablespoon of Olive oil

1 package of sweet Italian sausage (12-16 ounces)

1/2 a yellow onion, diced

1 large rib of celery, diced

3/4 cup of dry macaroni pasta

1/4 cup of tomato paste

4 cups chicken stock, or as needed

3 cups Swiss chard, chopped

1 can of cannellini beans (15 ounce)

1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Instructions: 

First let’s brown the sausage in the olive oil. You’re going to want to use medium high heat for this. While it’s browning use your wooden cooking wand to break it up, we don’t want to break it up a ton, so let’s leave it a little chunky.

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While that’s cookin’ away.  Get your onions and celery ready!

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So, once the sausage is browned and happy go ahead and reduce the heat to medium and throw in the celery and onions.  You’re gonna want to cook those onions for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. It will really bring out the sweetness in the veggies.  Next, we’re going to add in our pasta. Put the pasta in dry, I know I know, you thinking ‘what in the hell is he telling me to do?’, but just stay with me here.  Put the dry uncooked pasta in the pan and cook with the sausage for about 2 minutes. By doing this it’s going to infuse the pasta with more flavor, at least in my mind it will and that’s going to be a challenge to disprove haha.

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After that has cooked for the previously stated 2 minutes, it’s time to add the tomato paste.  Stir that in and cook it for 2-3 minutes.  Next add 3 cups of chicken stock, reserve that other cup for the end to see if you need to adjust later. Anyway, add that to the pan, when you do be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all those tasty brown bits that are stuck on the bottom.  Bring heat up to high and bring to a simmer.

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While that’s happening let’s add some seasoning. Add a little salt, but be careful the amount you need depends on the amount that is in the stock you used. So, just do it to taste. Taste EVERYTHING! Add the freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano. When it comes to a simmer back the heat down to medium (I used medium but it will be up to you and your stove on what level of heat constitutes a good simmer) and cook stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. While that’s simmering away let’s get started on these greens!

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They are super easy to prep.  You just rip the green leafy parts off the ribs running down the center.  Then just sorta wad the leaves up, cut across, then chop away until you’re happy with the size.  Place your newly chopped leaves (you did a great job by the way) in a bowl full of cold water.

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You have to wash these thoroughly before you use it to get rid of all the dirt and sand.  So just swish and swirl them around in the water and that’s going to allow all the dirty sandy mess to fall down into the bottom of the bowl. Now back to the stove. You’re going to want to check your liquid level in the sausage and pasta mixture, I added a little bit more to mine (you’re probably going to want to do the same). Then fish out your greens from the bowl and shake off the excess water, add them to your pot and stir them in.

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It’s going to look like you have put way to much in, but trust me they wilt fast. Now it’s time to add our drained and rinsed cannellini beans. I usually always rinse that weird bean juice off my beans.

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Stir those in and check your liquid levels one more time. Just let everything cook and meld together until your pasta is done.  For this dish you aren’t going to want al dente pasta, so keep that in mind. We’re almost done….we’re just two steps away!  We need to taste for seasoning and mine usually always needs a pinch more salt and maybe some pepper.  We also need to turn off the heat and add in some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Please, always use freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I better not catch you using that fake shit in a can!  It just won’t work! Use the real Parmigiano-Reggiano. Time to serve it up in a hot bowl with a nice crusty piece of bread and little more grated Parmesan cheese on top!

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Well, there you have it, Pasta e fagioli! This is such a wonderful dish to enjoy on a cold snowy winter evening with friends.  It’s such a stick to your ribs dish that is going to leave you satisfied and warm inside.  I encourage you to give it a try, if you do let me know how it turned out in the comments!  Thanks and until next time, Ciao!