Cake Break: Coffee Walnut Torte

Today, a cake. It doesn’t at all fit in with the Southwest theme I’m currently rocking, but I figured that was okay because who doesn’t love a good cake? And that’s what this is. A very good cake.

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If I’m going for honesty (the best policy), I made this to submit for the Great Denby Cake-Off. The challenge was to create the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea. First of all, I love a challenge of any kind (I can be…very competitive [understatement]) and a baking one?!!! Well, that’s right in my wheelhouse. Secondly, I absolutely adore afternoon tea, and it’s one of my favorite fancy pants things to do with my girlfriends at home and abroad. Paging through British Baking for inspiration, I settled on an English favorite- coffee and walnut cake, revamped with a little Buddha twist.

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Crazy Casserole: Tamale Pie

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Happy Monday ya’ll!

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How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was good, but busy. I took a note out of the book of weekends’ past and stayed disconnected much of the last three days and don’t you know that I sort of loved it?

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Low and Slow: Slow Cooker Southwestern Pork Stew

It’s slow cooker season! Is there a slow cooker season? Maybe not since I made that best slow cooker pulled pork back in August which wouldn’t traditionally be known as slow cooker season so that takes me back to answer my question that no, there is no slow cooker season.

Was that confusing? Stream of consciousness happens after long baths. Nice long, warm, bubble baths.  Like the one that happened tonight.

Anyway, whether or not you feel like there’s a slow cooker season, I bring to you a slow cooker dish. A nice hearty slow cooker southwestern style pork stew.

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It’s not often that I make pork stew, or even really hear of pork stew. There’s beef stew and chicken stew and chilis of both varieties. But this one, this is different and it’s the flavors of the southwest that make it so.

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Eat the World: Seattle and Olympia, Washington

Hi all!

Happy Monday! It is Monday, right? I’m still in a blur from the past three days. Tired and running on coffee, but I did have a great weekend out in the Pacific Northwest visiting Gnocchi and her new digs in Seattle. It was honestly the perfect visit filled with good food, lots of laughing (LOTS) and the perfect mix of adventure and glamour. And because every trip is in some way a quest for most awesome foods, I came home with a full stomach and a suitcase full of jam (more on that later). With that, we have another edition of me, eating the world. This time, Seattle and Olympia.

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The Southwest

I knew that when I crossed my birthday weekend back in August that life would be busy until after Thanksgiving. With visitors, trips and parties, I’ve managed quite well. However, as I look at the weeks ahead, three of the next four weekends will be spent not in my house, which means not in my kitchen.

Most of what you see on these virtual pages occurs on a Sunday since 1) who has time/energy during the week? and 2) my daylight hours to photograph are dwindling. While mid-June I could count on until at least 7:30 to get things done after work, now all dishes must be plated and photos snapped no later than 6. #FoodBloggerProblems. In any case, the no weekends coming up means that I’ll be scouring my freezer for leftovers I’ve intentionally stock piled for the next month. It also means that my culinary journey will slow considerably. The good news is that when I do pick things back up, I’m heading south of the border to Mexico where no doubt the spicy flavors will keep things hot in my house as the temps outside cannot.

BUT, before things really slow, a trip to the Southwestern United States.

Despite previous misconceptions, food from the American Southwest is NOT just Mexican food. Sure there are influences from Mexico, but southwest cuisine is unique in its own right, and really encompasses three distinct types of sub-cuisines: traditional, Tex-Mex, and “cowboy cooking”, all three seamlessly woven into the everyday plate. Food is simple but flavorful, and no doubt stick to your ribs.

Sure you’ll find tortillas and frijoles, but the star of any show down there, especially in New Mexico, is undoubtedly the chile, red, green and everything in between. As you travel from west to east through tiny Texas border towns to the bigger cities, the focus goes more Tex-Mex, with dishes like tamale pie, skirts steak, tacos and enchiladas. Finally, as far as that cowboy fare is concerned, think “home on the range,” so…lots of meat, chiles, corn, beans, and lard. In some ways, the best kind of food.

There may be more, but for now, I’m at least making…

Tamale Pie

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How’s this blast from the past, Lettuce and Yam??

Return to the Middle: Orchard Crumble

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I commented to Legume and Fava the other day that I’ve really been enjoying the food of the last month or so. I laughed and shook my head when they both responded with, “you mean, U.S. food?” because yes, they’re correct. As much as I love eating anything and everything different, when it comes to what I really crave, especially when the weather cools around this time of the year, I usually veer towards the comforting and familiar tastes of the good old U.S. of A (mom food excepted…paprikash!).

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Return to Belgium: Chocolate Hazelnut Belgian Style Waffles

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Sunday night. Ahhh…these bittersweet hours.

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I was talking to someone recently who was heading to Belgium. Maybe it’s because I’ve been hankering for a European vacation something fierce as of late, especially with the recent passing of Oktoberfest (Best. Party. EVER.), but hearing about his trip made me hella-jealous and got me thinking about my times there.

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Flashback to France: Red Wine Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake

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I’m not sure if you remember but a few weeks ago I took off for some much needed girlfriend time with Lettuce and Yam. We had all been looking forward to that trip all summer long, so I think they’d both agree that expectations for this trip were high, and I think they’ll also both agree that those expectations were surely met, if not exceeded. Rarely, I find, does that happen when a vacation is said and done.

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I knew that the weekend was meant to be when, despite thousands of cancellations at O’Hare due to fire at an air traffic control center, my noon flight took off with nothing more than a thirty minute delay. Smooth sailing, and we headed to our destination at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia for some wining and dining and spahhing.

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Flashback to Morocco: Chicken Tagine

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I’ve admittedly had Morocco on the mind lately. Lettuce and I have been toying with the idea for the spring, and it currently resides on our short list for travel. Garbanzo and Licorice both recently returned from there, and seeing other people’s travel adventures make me think “I wanna go there, too.”

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Such it is with Morocco in my house right now. With an international spring trip oh-so-far away right now, the best I can do is go there with food. So tonight- chicken tagine.

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Two Years: Deep Thoughts and a Return to Favorites

You guys. It’s been two years. TWO YEARS. I can hardly believe it.

I started this project for me, because I love to cook and I love to eat, and the travel aspect was just a way to shake up the menu every week and force me to dive into the unfamiliar. I started with my crappy phone camera, and with no sense of food photography. I had never really read any food blogs, and had no appreciation for how difficult it could be to actually craft a recipe out of a list of ingredients. Turns out, I’ve grown to love the photography bit, and the recipe writing. Little did I know how much I would back then.

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Meatloaf. My first dish and my first picture. How awful looking!

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