Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lessons learned from my 26th year

Alright, time to rip off the break from blogging band aid!  I know I promised more posts in 2015 but things have been crazy.  Every time I sat down to write I just couldn't quite find the words (shocking for a gal like me).

I wanted to pay tribute to a dear friend but was very much at a loss for how to put into words what an excellent person and gift he was.  Unfortunately we had to lay him to rest last month, he passed away very unexpectedly at the age of 27.  He was a behind the scenes supporter of this blog, always sending me new ideas and places to check out, my fellow foodie, my tailgating partner in crime or as his wife and my husband called it: my tailgating husband.

In the days following his passing it really made me think about the year before.  As corny as it may sound I learned a lot about myself and underwent some big changes in just one year but most importantly I realized how incredibly blessed I am.  To have a friend that made such an indelible impact on mine and my friends' lives is a great gift.  Though challenging to sort through the emotions of such a loss I fully intend on honoring that friendship.

One way I plan to do that is by not giving up on this little corner of the internet just yet!  Even though Google didn't approve me for AdSense (because who couldn't use a little spare change for their thoughts ya know?).  They said I promote drug use and illegal activity, yup I'm just that kind of blogging hoodrat I guess (stay tuned for a potential platform update).  WWSV will press on!

That being said I wanted to share some lessons I learned in the past year as well as in the past few weeks thinking of life and loss.  

-Negative people create negative energy which has a negative effect on your life, ain't nobody got time for that!  Keep it positive or keep out!
-In the words of my fav talk show host Ellen DeGeneres: "Be kind to one another."  Life's too short to send nastygrams.  Plus everyone is fighting their own battles, don't add to their burdens.
-Tell your people how much they mean to you.  In a world full of technology with tons of ways to communicate, don't let things go unsaid.
-Food stigmas/dislikes: they can be broken!  Fish and sweet potatoes used to be foes in my life, now they are tolerable friends. 
-Everything in moderation, except for martinis.  No one likes a stingy bartender!
-Be grateful, not because other people might have it worse but because you are blessed.
-Your body knows more than you think, learning to listen to it benefits you tenfold.

So for those of you who are still hanging with me, thank you!  For those who are new, welcome to the crazy, hope you enjoy!  With so much time off I've got LOTS of posts to catch up on so stay tuned.

Cheers, Namaste and Be Kind!
Steph

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chicken and Turkey Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Happy Fat Tuesday friends!  I'm not entirely sure why, but I love celebrating Fat Tuesday.  Maybe it's the overindulgence implied in the title, maybe it's the memories I have of traveling to NOLA with my Momma one summer, or maybe it's just my enjoyment of making a Tuesday a little more special, either way the WWSV house is ready!  We started the day with some steak and egg breakfast tacos using leftover prime rib from the weekend. 

One of my favorite wreaths, Mardi Gras time!

Next up is this fabulous gumbo I made last night.  It's brothy yet hearty and so delicious with just the right kick!  Most gumbos call for seafood, although we're working on our dietary dislikes this year I wasn't quite ready to make a whole batch of soup with seafood swimming around in it (nice visual, huh?).  So I adapted this recipe from Food & Wine and was super pleased with the result. 

Chicken and Turkey Smoked Sausage Gumbo
(Makes 4 generous servings)
 Ingredients: 
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons flour 
- 1 onion, chopped 
- 2 ribs celery, chopped 
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped 
- 1 10-ounce package frozen sliced okra 
- 1 bay leaf 
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme 
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
- 2 teaspoons salt 
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 
- 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can) 
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 pound turkey smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces, cooked
- 3/4 cup long-grain rice 

Instructions:
- Prep your vegetables, spice mix and meats.  (You don't necessarily have to do this but I find it just makes it easier).
Pretty veggies

- Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.
- Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until starting to brown, about 3ish minutes.  It will start to smell a little nutty and you'll think your burning it but as long as you keep whisking you'll be fine, this brown roux is an important foundation for flavor!
- Reduce the heat to medium low then stir in onion, celery and bell pepper.  Cook until starting to soften, 7ish minutes. 

- Add the okra, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, cayenne and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes (NO PEEKING, you want to keep the steam in the pot to heat the okra through).
- Stir in the broth and the turkey smoked sausage. Bring this to a boil. 

- Reduce the heat to medium low again and simmer for 15 minutes or so (perfect amount of time to jam out to some of Garth Brooks' Callin' Baton Rouge and have yourself a little kitchen dance party!). 
- Meanwhile, in another pan, cook the chicken until just done then set aside.
- After your 15 mintues in the stock pot are up add the chicken and let simmer another 4 to 5 minutes longer then remove the bay leaf. 

- In another pot (sorry more dishes to do!), cook rice according to package instructions.
- Serve with a mound of rice in the center of each bowl then ladle the gumbo around the rice. 
 
- Enjoy!

This was just spicy enough but not too crazy, the sausage gives it a nice smokey flavor and the spice blend is just delightful.  Oye my mouth is already watering just thinking about it, is it lunch time yet?!
 
So that's Fat Tuesday lunch then dinner is a FT standby I've made the past couple of years, Cajun Chicken Pasta.  Recipe plus other great Mardi Gras faves here Have a great Fat Tuesday, stay warm! 

Cheers!
Steph 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Beginning of Awards Show Season 2015, The Golden Globes!

Yippee it's awards season time, friends!

This year Golden Globe arrivals coverage coincided with the NFL AFC Divisional Playoff game featuring my Indianapolis Colts vs. the Denver Broncos so I had to play a little bit of catch up during the show (because I obviously COULD NOT miss the game, especially since my boys won!).  I decided to forgo the fabulous sparkling cocktail I usually make for a more casual option (aka a light beer).

The trend of the Globes carpet was stunning WHITE!  White during winter can be so tricky (washes you out so easily) but the stars that donned it must have excellent spray tan staff or they were clinging to their holiday vacay color (lucky!).  These were my favorite white looks:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Guiliana Rancic and Emily Blunt all fabulous in various white silhouettes

Some plunging white necklines on Kate Hudson and Rosamund Pike

The color I noticed that was a second runner up to white was red.  Personally, I'm a HUGE sucker for red in just about any aspect of life.  Here are a few of my red dress picks that I thought were simply stunning.
Viola Davis, Juliana Margulies and Catherine Zeta-Jones in fabulous strapless red gowns!

Taylor Schilling, Allison Janney and Heidi Klum

Ladies that stunned outside of the white and red color parameters that I HAD to mention were:
Jennifer Anniston and Kate Becksale received perfect 10s from me! 

So that's the Globes, next up is the SAG Awards this weekend!  I've also got a 614 Restaurant Week review of Bar 145 and of course some shoes to share!

Cheers!
Steph

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How 'Bout Them BUCKEYES!

So with the holidays and the incredible excitement of THE Ohio State University's NCAA Football Playoff birth I have been rather delinquent in my blogging, sorry!  But in the new year I'm destined for change (hopefully)! 

First I have to share some photos from our game watch last night: one of our great tailgate crew and one of the delicious duck our hosts roasted for us!

Tailgate Team Selfie

Yummm that's one pretty bird!  Excellent job Chef Bill!

To celebrate the Buckeyes not only trouncing the highly lauded SEC powerhouse Alabama in the Sugar Bowl then roasting the Oregon Ducks for the Championship, I decided to make a breakfast of champions for me and my beau.  The flavors of Buckeye candies (peanut butter and chocolate) came to mind so I set out to make a Buckeye Waffle that would make this great state of OHIO proud!  (Too much Urban Meyer quoting?  Sorry, not sorry)  But since we overindulged a bit last night while game watching and are trying to watch our diet I made a couple modifications (whole wheat flour and skim milk mainly).

Buckeye Waffle  
(Makes 6 waffles)
 Ingredients:
- 1 c. milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (probably could have used more)
- 1/2 c. AP flour
- 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (use more or less to your liking)
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (for greasing waffle iron)

 Instructions:
- Mix together milk, egg, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.
- In a separate bowl mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Pour wet ingredients in with the dry, mix together until just combined.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Heat then grease waffle iron with melted butter (the chocolate chips can get a little sticky) or use your preferred cooking spray.
- Pour in waffle mixture and let the waffle iron work it's magic.
- Cook to desired golden brownishness and enjoy!
- Humming Hang On Sloopy, Carmen Ohio or chanting O-H are all acceptable forms of enjoying this spirited breakfast item!

These were really tastey, the chocolate can overpower so the batter could stand to have more peanut butter in it or less chocolate, depends on preference.  With the taste of the chocolate and peanut butter as dominant flavors you could probably use all whole wheat flour instead of mixing whole wheat and AP. 

For the leftovers I just wrapped them in wax paper then put them in a freezer bag in the freezer.  They can be taken out and toasted or zapped in the microwave, in the oven or toaster in the future.

So so soooo much more to come like a catch up from the holidays, the Golden Globes fashion review, some great new shoes and 614 Restaurant Week!

Happy Tuesday and Go Bucks!

Cheers!
Steph