Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vegan Elvis Oatmeal: Banana, Peanut Butter, and Coconut Bacon

We subscribe to Good Housekeeping, and one of their creative oatmeal recipes from this month's issue inspired us to try out a vegan version of peanut butter, banana, and bacon oatmeal this morning. Sweet and savory always makes for a great combo, and we love to find any excuse to make smoked coconut bacon, which has actually fooled non-vegetarians in the past. 

Vegan Elvis Oatmeal: Banana, Peanut Butter, and Coconut Bacon

1/2 cup Smoked Coconut Bacon
1 cup rolled oats
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup peanutbutter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe banana (sliced)
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Make the Smoked Coconut Bacon according to the recipe. It'll make more than you need, but you won't be sad to have more of this amazing stuff around for salads and to go with BLT or pimento cheese sandwiches.

Into a saucepan place oats and almond milk. Bring to a boil over hight heat while stirring to prevent scorching. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for five minutes or until thickened. Stir in the peanut butter and salt. Divide cooked oatmeal between two bowls and garnish each with 1/2 of the banana slices, 1/4 cup of Smoked Coconut Bacon, and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Asian-Inspired Taco Bar for the Big Game

Thank you to Sprouts Farmers Market for partnering with us for this post! We have been compensated for our time, but as usual, all opinions are our own. 

We love football. (Y’all, you know we just love it for the food!) So we’re not making seven-layer dip, we won’t be throwing down a platter of homemade wings, and we’re obviously not baking up any team-color-frosted brownies; however, you can depend on us for something: we’ll certainly sign up to provide the Mexican-Korean-Japanese fusion taco bar.

We stopped by Sprouts Farmers Market in Germantown this past Saturday afternoon to pick up all the ingredients, and once we landed back at home, we set about turning our ideas into a little trial-run dinner. The Wildbrine Japanese Miso Horseradish Kimchi we'd never tried before was the item that kickstarted our idea to take our tacos on a non-traditional route. Pan-seared half-moons of Japanese eggplant coated with spicy Bibigo Gochujang handily stand in for the meat, and Sprouts Private Label mini sweet peppers and organic romaine hearts make up the cold and crunchy raw component of the dish. 

Everyone can probably agree that selecting the exact ingredients one wants is pretty interactive and satisfying, and this serve-yourself spread works well on something as crazy and unpredictable as game day, when continuous grazing is the key. We just know your own crowd will welcome something unexpected that packs a spicy punch this Sunday as we all gather to watch, celebrate, and most importantly, eat a bunch of great stuff.

Asian-Inspired Taco Bar

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 
3 medium Japanese eggplant (sliced into half moons, about 6 cups)
1 bunch organic green onions (discard root end; reserve dark green tops for garnish) 
1 lime (juiced)
3/4 cup gochujang
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

On the side:
1 Sprouts Private Label romaine heart (chopped)
1 avocado (sliced)
6 ounces kimchi
5 ounces queso fresco
2 limes (quartered)
3 Sprouts Private Label mini sweet bell peppers (thinly sliced)
1 bunch organic cilantro
3 serrano peppers (seared in a hot pan)
12 organic corn tortillas (heated in a dry skillet)

Put your seasoned wok or large frying pan over the highest heat on the stovetop and let it heat up until you see little wisps of smoke rise up off of the hot metal. Pour in the olive and sesame oils and wait for it to start to smoke. Now, put your eggplant and green onions in and give the pan a little shake. Let the mixture rest in the hot pan for 45 seconds before tossing everything to redistribute it by pushing the pan forward and then jerking it back just like you’d do to flip an omelette or just use a spatula. Allow the vegetables to rest for another 45 seconds to 1 minute before flipping them again. Flip the vegetables one last time and allow them to cook for 1 minute. At this point, add your lime juice and gochujang and cook for one more minute. Remove the stir-fry from the wok and place it on a serving platter. (The whole cooking process takes less than 4 minutes.)

Serve alongside chopped romaine hearts, sliced avocado, kimchi, queso fresco, thinly sliced mini sweet bell peppers, cilantro, and seared serrano peppers. Each guest can build their own masterpiece atop one of the 12 organic corn tortillas. (Makes 8 to 10 servings.)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Sweet or Savory Ebelskivers

We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We've been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own. 

Round, filled pancakes, a.k.a. ebelskivers, are pretty cool. We made some recently for the Inspired Home blog when we tried out a specially-made-for-ebelskivers skillet in our kitchen, and of course, you know we had to procure the very specific wooden turning tools as well to make the whole process even easier and so official.

So check out how making our ebelskivers went and also find recipes HERE for our pimento cheese version -- or go for the chocolate and ginger ones for a killer dessert. 

We think you'll have fun trying these out, too -- maybe for your sweetie's surprise Valentine's Day Sunday brunch?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vegetarian Dips & Spreads

Hey, check out our dips and spreads article in the Memphis Flyer from this past week! We have the Hoppin' John Bean Butter recipe from us two rascals here at TCV, Tex-Mex Corn Dip from  Jennifer Chandler, and Spicy Pimento Cheese with Crispy Green Tomato Corncakes from Whitney Miller.

We had a great time writing this one and are so happy that our friends and fellow cookbook authors wanted to contribute their favorite game-day recipes. We also can't believe the big day's going to be here a week from now. So, what snacks are you planning to have on your coffee table next Sunday?

Oat, Banana, & Chia Silver Dollar Pancakes (GF)

We always make pancakes on the weekend! There's not much tradition going on otherwise around here because that's so boring, but we stick to this one. With these for breakfast, you work in a few nutritious ingredients (chia, oats, coconut oil, berries) and with that good of a start, you can just eat whatever later on.  They're gluten free and they're delicious, an amazing combination that doesn't feel like a compromise as GF foods sometimes do.
Oat, Banana, & Chia Silver Dollar Pancakes (GF)

1 cup rolled oats
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon chia seds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil (more for cooking)
1/4 cup milk (almond, soy, or dairy)
1/2 teaspoon salt
berries, bananas, and honey or maple syrup (to serve)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or large, non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Into the work bowl of your food processor place the oats and grind them into a fine flour. Add the eggs, banana, chia, baking powder, vanilla, coconut oil, milk, and salt and blend until smooth. (Unlike traditional flours, you really can't overwork them because there's no gluten to activate.) The mixture should be thick but pourable like a traditional pancake batter. Add more milk if needed.

Place about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on the griddle and brush to coat. Place 1/8 cup of batter on the griddle. It should fall into a 2-inch circle. Repeat. Allow pancakes to cook for 4 minutes or until bubbles start to form on the surface and the underside is golden. Carefully flip the pancakes and cook for another 3 minutes or until pancake is golden and set all the way through. Repeat until all batter is used. Makes about 1 dozen small pancakes. Serve warm with a drizzle of honey, maple syrup, bananas, and berries. (Makes 1 dozen; serves 2.)

(Check out more of our go-to nutritious pancake recipes, Paleo Power Pancakes and Banana Pancakes from How it All Vegan, too!)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Logan's Edamame Hummus from People Magazine

We are always so happy for Memphis folks who are making a name for themselves in our city and beyond it. Logan Guleff, the young Memphian who won MasterChef Junior last year, has been steadily cooking and creating ever since his awesome victory.

Last fall, his favorite lunch recipe, Edamame Hummus, was featured in People, so we immediately tore out the page and just had to make it as soon as we had the chance.

Well, now that we've continually used this recipe over and over again -- so much so that we eat it all before we photograph it every time -- it's clear that it's going to be a keeper around here. It's a good high-protein snack that's flavored just right with a little garlic and parsley. We like having it after work with these sea salt almond crackers.

As usual, we can't wait to see what Logan does next! Maybe we'll have something to share with you about that very thing here soon…

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dirty Chai

So we've been curious about this stuff. Hearing about dirty chai here and there lately, we couldn't imagine how it would taste. It's basically just chai tea with a shot or two of espresso, but what a weird combo.  

This week, we set aside a couple of extra minutes one morning to put this drink together so we could see what the big deal is, y'all. The espresso takes a little detour through the spice cabinet with notes of cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, clove, star anise, and ginger, and it just works. Hey, don't skip adding a little sweetener even if it's not usually your thing; we really like maple syrup for this since it balances out some of that cinnamon bitterness.

Of course, nothing will replace the usual cappuccino and cortado we make every morning at home -- oh my gosh, that sounds so, so annoying to even type out, yet it is true -- but this was pretty fun to finally try.

Dirty Chai

1/2 cup water
1 chai tea bag (We used Tazo organic chai.)
1 double shot dark roast espresso or strong coffee
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 drops vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple syrup

Boil water and let chai tea bag steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea bag and discard. Add espresso or coffee, milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Stir and enjoy. (Serves one, but recipe can easily be doubled or quadrupled.)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Coconut Creamed Greens from Whitney Miller's New Southern Table (& her book signing in Memphis today!)

Whitney Miller's second cookbook, New Southern Table (Nelson Books 2015) was released this month, and we are so happy for her! Justin took the photos for the book, which is filled with re-imagined Southern classics and so many creative dishes we can't wait to make during the holidays. Whitney won MasterChef in season one, and soon after her victory, she wrote her first cookbook, Modern Southern Hospitality: Simple Recipes with Southern Charm, and traveled all over the world cooking up a storm and speaking about topics close to her heart.

Whitney, a native of Southern Mississippi, is currently in Memphis for the holidays with her awesome husband Ryan, and she's speaking and signing books today, Saturday, Nov. 28, at 4 p.m. at Booksellers. So come on out with us and meet our friend, get a book signed, and take care of a little holiday shopping at the best bookstore in town this afternoon!

We wanted to share a recipe from the book with you -- one that's representative of Whitney's modern take on Southern food. We already had a bunch of frozen blanched greens from the farm, so this was the perfect thing to make as a side dish today for lunch. (Except it looked so good that we actually ended up having it with tofu scramble and stewed tomatoes for breakfast!)

Whitney Miller's Coconut
Creamed Greens

2 teaspoons coconut or olive oil
12 cups packed, chopped turnip greens or kale, ribs removed
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
6 cloves roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
honey (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened shaved coconut, roughly chopped

Place the oil in a large sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add the greens and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until slightly wilted, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and roasted garlic. Stir until well mixed. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the salt, and cook uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer the greens to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the greens are broken down into chunky small pieces, about 30 seconds. Do not puree. Stir in the honey to cut any remaining bitterness from the greens. Pour into a shallow 8-inch casserole dish. Season the creamed greens with additional salt to taste. Sprinkle the coconut in an even layer over the greens.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the greens until the coconut is golden brown. Serve warm. (Makes 4 servings.)

Recipe courtesy of  Whitney Miller and Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgrilling on IHA's Inspired Home blog

Check out our new post on the IHA Inspired Home blog. Last week, we did a test run for an outdoor Thanksgiving celebration, and we overcame both the meager Sunday night flower selection in Memphis and an all-night downpour in order to take some photos and help the story come to fruition. We included 3 recipes that are Thanksgiving mainstays around here: Smoked Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Pecans, Roast Beast, and Cast-Iron Brussels Sprouts and Apples. Good stuff! Hope you are excited about your plans for the holiday this week and also hope you're inspired by our low-key, non-crazed, and slightly contrary take on the whole deal. 

We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We have been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: Chanterelle and Apricot Stuffed Acorn Squash with Miracle Mushroom Gravy

This is the perfect vegetarian main dish for Thanksgiving. It was even featured in The New York Times!

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced white onion (about 1 small)
1 vegetable bouillon cube 
1/4 cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
1 cup chanterelles, torn into strips
1/4 cup finely diced dried apricots 
Sea salt flakes and cracked black pepper (to taste)
2 cups brioche or good-quality white bread, torn into pieces
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 large acorn squash (or two small)
1 tablespoons olive oil 
Miracle Mushroom Gravy (to garnish; recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter and then sauté the celery, onion, and bouillon cube until lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chanterelles and apricots to the pan and warm through. Add salt and pepper. Chill the mushroom mixture thoroughly. In a large bowl, mix the bread, eggs, and the cooled vegetable mixture

Using a sharp kitchen knife (and plenty of caution), trim the stem end off of the squash and cut the squash into 3/4 inch rings. You should be able to get 4 rings out of a large acorn squash. Discard the stem end and bottom piece. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds and membrane out of the squash and discard. Lay the squash rings out on a large parchment-lined baking sheet drizzle slices of squash with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove squash from the oven and press the stuffing into the center of each squash ring. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the stuffing has set and starting to brown. Add Miracle Mushroom Gravy to garnish. 

Miracle Mushroom Gravy

1 (10-ounce) package crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup diced shallot
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
scant 1/8 teaspoon ground clove 
1 tablespoon soy sauce (like Bragg’s)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
smoked paprika (to garnish)

Slice mushrooms about 1/4-inch thick. You will blend them later, so there’s no need to be overly precise. In a medium frying pan over hight heat, sauté the mushrooms until browned. Add the shallot to the pan and continue to cook for another minute until the rawness has been cooked out of the shallot and it's translucent. 

Place the mushrooms and shallot ino the work bowl of your food processor and add the sage, red pepper flakes, clove powder, soy sauce, and maple syrup. In the same pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk mixture until fragrant (about five minutes.) Whisk in the whole milk and heat mixture until slightly thick. Add milk mixture to the food processor that contains the mushroom mixture. Pulse until mushrooms are finely chopped and well incorporated into the milk, but leave some chunkiness for a nice texture. Return the mixture to the pan and keep warm until ready to serve. If gets too thick, add some milk or stock to thin it out.

Monday, October 5, 2015

New TCV Kitchen Update #2

Thanks so much to Uhlhorn Brothers Construction Co. here in Memphis (see their Insta here) for everything that's happening these days to put our kitchen back together in record time. 
We figured it's time for another update as we head toward the last couple of 
weeks -- some new stuff has been done since Update #1.

Something great happened in the kitchen: the new cabinets were installed! We've never before chosen cabinets for any previous apartment or house and were kinda not so sure what the big deal was about them. Look at us, growing up and adulting -- we understand the cabinet thing a little better now. Guess they frame the whole kitchen and such.

Joanne at Stone City in Memphis was great to us, and we got to help design the cabinets while coming in at budget. A lot of the kitchens in all the pretty pics everywhere right now are white. We went with the trend and chose a plain Shaker style. All of the lower cabinet drawers are going to be really helpful to have.

The drawer and cabinet pulls we were dreaming of were kind of hard to find. Cool Knobs and Pulls came through with better options and better prices than anyone else. Through this reno process, we've been finding out the actual names of things we like, and these are called bar pulls or appliance pulls, oversized and in antique bronze.

We went with the American cherry butcher block countertops that were in stock at Floor & Decor on Summer Avenue here in Memphis. We doubled up on the lengths of butcher block to make the top for the island/bar that'll house the sink and the dishwasher. We're left the tops unfinished and oiled them with Clark's -- the citrus oils they use smell amazing -- and will wax them with stuff from the same company for the next step.

Finish carpenter Josh Wyatt and his crew are amazing. We had cedar barn doors added to the bookcases that frame the fireplace. They also built us a bar/locker with 2 x 4s and chicken wire; that'll be in the next update once it's painted. The counter stools also arrived today.

The vent hood was the repurposed top of our old living room coffee table, ordered from a carpenter on Etsy a few years ago; we had it framed out and mounted to fit the space.

Tomorrow, there'll be lots of paint and wood stain on the rustic wood-wrapped beam, floor molding the same color as the walls, and a pickled ceiling. Maybe a sink and -- coming full circle -- a new dishwasher to replace the horrible broken one that necessitated this whole project in the first place.

So this week is gonna be fun! We may even get to start cooking in here very soon. What do you think should we make first?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars

We received free marshmallows from Chicago Vegan Foods in exchange for developing this recipe here on TCV. As always, all opinions expressed are our own. 

This one is by request from our nephew G3. At dinner at Swanky's one night, he said we should make   crispy treat-type cereal bars for him soon and launched into great detail about them and how we should put them together. When we asked, puzzled, how he knew so much, he shrugged and said he read a recipe off his cereal box every day, and it sounded like a good, easy thing to make.

Love that kid! We got him hooked on our crazy style of trying-to-be-a-little-bit-healthier desserts at a young age. He really is the best dessert tester there is.

So we'd been talking to the folks at Chicago Vegan Foods this summer about their Dandies vegan marshmallows, and they recently sent us many bags of regular and tiny vanilla marshmallows to use; they'd seen our s'mores bar and shout-out to them here and realized we were fans of their marshmallow work. Many vegetarians are careful to avoid foods with gelatin since it's made from fish, so vegan marshmallows are a great thing for us.

Well, they also sent us an unmarked bag of their new pumpkin-flavored mini-marshmallows set to make it to shelves this fall, and Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars sounded like the best thing to do. G3 gets a few dropped off at his house this week for sure. 

So on Sunday, we borrowed a kitchen from a family member who gave us free reign while she's out of town. Then we got back to our house and put waxed paper on top of a magazine as a makeshift cutting board. We washed our one knife in the bathtub so we could cut these squares all pretty. Counting the days until our new kitchen is complete -- maybe as soon as next week! 

Pumpkin Marshmallow Cereal Bars with Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows

1 package (10 ounces) Dandies Pumpkin Marshmallows
4 tablespoons vegan margarine
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt (to taste)
4 cups sprouted O's
3 tablespoons roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Place butter, pumpkin pie spice, and salt into a saucepan and heat mixture on medium-low until it's melted and bubbling a bit. Add marshmallows, stirring constantly so they do not burn. Once the marshmallows become one smooth mass, add the cereal and take the sauce pan off of the heat while mixing. Butter the bottom and sides of a square or rectangular pan. Once fully combined, press the mixture into the pan; you can use wax paper to press down. Press the pumpkin seeds into the top. (We like to sprinkle an extra hit of salt and pumpkin spice on top as well.) Let them cool and then cut them into squares.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New TCV Kitchen Update #1

On July 3, we stepped down hard on a tile in the kitchen, and water came up to the surface. It has been rather interesting around here since we found out about that stealthy dishwasher leak in our midst. You can probably tell from the lack of new posts here that we haven't been cooking -- really cooking -- much. But we sure have been microwaving a lot! We might have even mastered that at this point. More about that soon maybe...

So we were overjoyed that our friends Walker and George at Uhlhorn Bros. Construction Company here in Memphis didn't hesitate to jump in right when we needed them this summer; they're helping us figure out the new space even though they're already crazy-busy doing gorgeous new builds all over Memphis these days. (Seriously, look at their Instagram. Check out their site -- we helped them create it and handled the photos. These two are just so talented. We'll keep our own future dreams involving their creativity under wraps, but you can probably guess.)

This is how our kitchen used to look for the past year or so. Overall, we really can't complain about the situation now, not one bit; it's all going to be okay pretty soon. However, we never would have remodeled our just-right-for-us old kitchen if we'd had a choice. So here's what has been happening at our house (and a glimpse of where we are today toward the end of the post).

The first step after seeing that water damage happened over the July 4th holiday weekend: we had to have industrial fans and a dehumidifier around on full deafening blast for days to try to salvage some stuff. That wasn't too successful, even though we could still cook a little bit if we wore earplugs and didn't feel moved to converse outside of exaggerated expressions and miming key things.

Very soon after our fruitless holiday weekend of attempted drying, we had to give in to the inevitable and have layers of tile, linoleum, and even subfloor removed. We decided to take out the old cabinets and the walls and ceiling as well. Why not? It was already a mess, and we wanted to tile under everything so this water-trapped-under-layers thing wouldn't happen again, to us or whoever might live here next.

We found some crazy things on the walls (and in them) during the demo stage!

We had to get the washer and dryer out of the kitchen for more space and made a closet into a laundry room. We cleaned out every other closet because everything had to shift to another place during the first stages of construction. For two people who purport to travel light in this world, we sure have a lot of stuff we never use.

We've been microwaving or grilling most of our meals for a while now. We know a lot about surprisingly good convenience foods (like some really good microwaveable Indian food in a pouch) and have tried a slew of new snacks and chips.

Everything was removed from the kitchen and the dining room to make way for the new floor. The wall between the kitchen and dining room is no longer there since now there will be an island with a sink, dishwasher, and a few low bar stools. Now folks can talk to us while we cook. 

Figuring out whether to do wood floors or tile like we had before was a tough choice, but we love what we decided on (basically through text message!) thanks to the the gracious help from Amanda at Acme Brick and Tile in Memphis. The floor just got finished last Friday, and it's charcoal gray wood-look ceramic tile, LEED-certified, and at a reasonable price by the foot. We got it grouted with the darkest shade and put down in a herringbone design for a little interest.

This week, we got a ceiling, which is very exciting. It was made with random-length 1" x 4" wood planks, which might soon be painted haint blue or pickled. Josh Wyatt, the trim carpenter who made Sweet Grass and Next Door look so good, did the finishes.

Something like this happening right in the middle of other unexpected family crises popping up really does put things into perspective. We all can have a lot changed or taken away in a short amount of time, and the only things to do are pray, stay positive, and hope that it'll all turn out all right. This unexpected project might have cured us of a bit of perfectionist tendencies as well.

One of the best moments during all of this was when our niece Amelia was visiting. The only decent place to sit was outside in the backyard, and she was tired of that and wanted to hang out inside. "It's so gross and junked in there!" we told her. "We don't want to look at it!" She said, "Look this way, and you won't see it. It's not that bad if you do that." Ten-year-olds are often the smartest ones in the room.

The next couple weeks' progress just might include cabinets, a wrapped beam, new plumbing, and oiled butcher block countertops. We'll keep you posted as we move closer to the finish line by October. Can't wait to cook again because we've missed that comforting and entertaining part of life a whole lot. So what shall we make first?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Demystifying the Dehydrator

Most methods of preserving in-season food from your garden or your local farmers market are super time-intensive and take a fair amount of know-how in order to make sure everything will be good when you go to use it later in the year. Dehydrating, however, is about as simple as you could possibly imagine. Slice, place on a tray, and set a timer to capture a bit of that summer sweetness that you can access all year long.

We wrote a story for the IHA Inspired Home blog called "A Summer Without End: Saving the Season with Your Dehydrator"; it outlines four simple recipes for preserving food. You'll learn simple tricks for saving tomatoes, herbs, figs, and peas along with suggestions for using each ingredient in a recipe.

Click HERE for the full story.

We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We have been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

10 'til 10 at Majestic Grille: Vegetarian Dinner Recap

We were happy to be invited to attend this amazing 5-course meal last week on Tuesday evening at The Majestic Grille in downtown Memphis. After chatting with Chef Patrick Reilly beforehand about his ideas and learning more in this interview, we knew it was going to be a great experience for all involved. We are so grateful that chefs bring their culinary chops and creativity together to put these type of dinners on in our city. It's even better when they have a vegetarian option, or like this one, go completely vegetarian...from nose to tail.

The evening started with passed appetizers including tomato bruschetta, corn and jalapeño hushpuppies, apple jelly and goat cheese rangoon, and berbere-spiced okra. We had the honor of helping to brainstorm with chef, and two of those dishes are his amazing riffs on recipes we love.

The first seated course was sweet potato gnocchi with roasted shiitake mushrooms and grilled artichokes. That list of ingredients alone had us floored. Chef Reilly made a killer stock that brought everything together so beautifully. I'm going to try that idea in my own kitchen really soon.

The second course was a simple salad with some really special components. The locally-sourced, jewel-hued baby lettuce featured a rich avocado dressing. It was topped with house-made pickled carrots, fresh radish, and thinly-sliced cucumber.

The third course was right up our alley these days. It was all roasted vegetables, beans, and wilted greens. It's how we eat at home, so we loved it. It's our kind of comfort food and led perfectly into dessert, which was a summer berry crumble with custard that was served on the side in gravy boats.

Just goes to show yet again that Memphis isn't only about BBQ, y'all. We're looking forward to what's coming next for vegetarians around here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Completing Your Outdoor Space

So a couple of years ago, we designed and built a backyard area that we love and this week we got to do this fun story for IHA's Inspired Home blog. The deal for the update was lights everywhere, feather print everything, and a better entryway than just a forlorn table all alone. We love the results!

Blogging can be a trip, though, for things are rarely what they appear. We set it all up on a sweltering Sunday evening all the while wishing we were really having a party that night. Our cute new stuff sure made the scene look great, and we were pining to share it with others. But 90+ temps after dark may be pushing it when it comes to a relaxing evening for all. One day soon it'll happen, and we'll be ready.

The second reason blogging is a funny thing is that we're going ahead with a forced renovation (okay, complete gutting) of our original kitchen inside due to a dishwasher leak, a little water wreaking havoc as it can do. But it's hard to undersell how lovely was it to get away from the craziness (all closets emptied, stuff in places that makes no sense for said stuff to be stored, a ripped-out floor, complete chaos so widespread that we can only roll with it and make fun of it) for a night.

It was good just to focus on making one thing that we already love better. Now we're preparing for what's got to be a much calmer and less eventful fall. We'll get creative and see what we can cook in the meantime! We'll let you know how it goes…

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Honey Balsamic Strawberries & Halo Top Ice Cream

We requested and received coupons for free pints of ice cream from Halo Top in exchange for writing a review here on TCV. As always, all opinions expressed are our own. 

We tried a pint of vanilla bean Halo Top ice cream last week, and now we're loving all that they do. Sometimes we'll buy 'healthier' ice cream and find it's only good for being mixed in a milkshake because the texture's off or the flavor's weird. Not so with this new stuff. It's got protein, fiber, fewer calories per pint than most, less sugar, and it tastes like real ice cream. We've tried vanilla, strawberry, lemon cake, and chocolate so far since those are available in Memphis (all 4 can be found at Whole Foods Poplar in Memphis; we also spotted vanilla and chocolate at Kroger). Dying to try the other flavors soon!

We have some ideas about what you can do with each flavor, but the first topping we made was some quick, marinated Honey-Balsamic Strawberries and paired them with scoops of strawberry Halo Top. These ingredients might make an awesome milkshake, too!

Honey-Balsamic Strawberries

1 pint strawberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
pinch of sea salt

Cut berries into fourths and set aside. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and salt. Pour mixture over berries and allow them to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Spoon mixture over strawberry ice cream.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

5 Quick Questions with Chef Patrick Reilly of The Majestic Grille

Chef Patrick Reilly, originally from Ireland, and his wife Deni are hosting a series of 10 themed dinners, one for each year they've served delicious food at The Majestic Grille in downtown Memphis. We were excited to learn that Chef Reilly was planning an all-vegetarian feast as one of the "Ten 'Til Ten" dinners

The menu he is working up sounds amazing. It'll be a salute to the South's seasonal produce with dishes like his amazing Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Shiitake Mushrooms and Artichokes and another favorite of ours, Ratatouille with White Bean and Tomato Ragout. There'll be several passed appetizers like Berbere-Spiced Okra and also Apple Jelly and Goat Cheese Rangoons. Dessert will be a Cherry-and-Apple Crumble with Custard. There will be five courses in all, each paired with wines that complement each dish. 

Seating for Majestic Grille's Summer's Bounty dinner is limited, and we just know it will sell out. So get your tickets today. We'll be there for sure! 

So you can get to know one of Memphis's best chefs a little better, we asked Patrick Five Quick Questions:

1. TCV: What are some of your earliest food memories?

PR: "My father was an avid gardener, and I remember going down to pick lettuce or parsley for dinner. We had (and my sister still has) rhubarb plants that we dug up and brought with us when we moved house when I was like seven. There is nothing in the world like first spring rhubarb tart. The first dish I ever made was oatmeal cookies. I was eight years old." 

2. TCV: Being a chef seems both difficult and rewarding. Tell us about your decision to feed people for a living.

PR: "I have wanted to be a chef since I was a child. I have no idea why but it appealed to me; I seemed to have a knack for it. I love food, and I love the reaction I get from people when they taste something that they really enjoy."

3. TCV: Why do an all-vegetable dinner as a part of your '10 for 10' dinner series? Why limit yourself like that? ;)

PR: "I wouldn’t call it limiting in the least! In the 80’s, I worked under Chef Paul Gayler at Inigo Jones Restaurant in London. He was a pioneer of vegetarian cooking in French haute cuisine. We had a ten-course vegetable tasting menu available each night, and in the spring, we had an entire menu devoted to asparagus. These dinners are a way for me to cook different styles and cuisines which I would otherwise not get a chance to do."

4. TCV: What’s the secret to longevity in the restaurant business? It must have something to do with family, right?

PR: "I don’t know if there is a secret. We just try to provide the best and most consistent experience we can. We love what we do. There is no doubt in my mind that our staff is the biggest factor in our success. We have an amazing team of people here,  some of them since the day we opened. And we just make it our priority to do right by them, and that just seems to work out best for everybody."

5. TCV: What is the one dish that you make that connects your Irish heritage with your Southern American sensibility?

PR: "Meat was considered a luxury and was used almost as a seasoning; while here, the common crops were rice, beans, and corn, among others, in Ireland, it was potatoes, roots, and vegetables like kale and cabbage. So on one hand, you have rice and beans with maybe a ham hock thrown in for flavor, and on the other, you get 'colcannon' which is mashed potatoes with onions, kale, leeks, or cabbage -- or a combination -- and a fistful of chopped bacon or ham."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Using Up All Those Cucumbers

This time of year, piles upon piles of them stare you down and seemingly multiply like Gremlins when you turn your back for a second. Today we're all about cucumbers, and we have a few ideas about how to make an abundance of cukes a more appealing situation this summer.

We have a bunch from our family's Concord Farms sitting on the counter this morning, and we're going to go with quick pickles and maple cucumber lemonade! Check out today's WKNO radio interview with and article for more cucumber dishes you can check off your list this season. Jennifer Chandler, cookbook author and host of The Weekly Dish, was kind enough to ask for our favorite cucumber recipes this week.

(And if you've never made summer salad, you have to try our version!)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thank you, Memphis!

We were overjoyed to see the response to our pop-up restaurant at Iris Etc. today. We had to close up early at 4:00 after running out of most of the dishes by 3:00. Thank you to all who supported us today! We will be working on a recap post with recipes for next week.

Friday, July 10, 2015

TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up: The Prep & Set-Up

Now on to what you can expect on Saturday! Our first pop-up restaurant on 7.11.15 at Iris Etc. (62 S. Cooper in midtown Memphis) is cash only and happens from 11 a.m. until we run out of food. See the menu HERE; everything is $5 so that it's easy to try a bunch of stuff. We hope you can stop by and thought we'd give you some background about the event and let you know what to expect.

Here goes…

When it comes to planning an event, we think about the food first and then start picturing the atmosphere and the way things are going to work. When we throw a party at home, we try to think through what we want the experience to be like for our guests. So for this Saturday's TCV pop-up restaurant, we want the vibe to match the menu: summery, casual, and lighthearted. We lucked out because Iris Etc. is quite a beautiful canvas. We're dreaming of black-and-white gingham, bright flowers, and an inside-outside party set-up. We might even tote our record player to the space and play some old-school country and Memphis classics for you.

Today we wanted to give you a peek at the place so you can look forward to checking it out and enjoying some TCV summer favorites this Saturday. You're going to grab a sushi-style menu, check off what you'd like to order, hand your menu back to the girl (most likely Amy!) behind the desk up front, and hang out with a drink while your food is put together, and then your name is called and your order is handed to you.

We'll have a few seats and tables here and there, but this isn't your usual sit down, order, and converse politely at the table for hours type of thing; it's more like a food truck experience. You get to walk around and mingle and are not stuck in one spot. You decide what works for you -- pick up a few items and go do all your Saturday stuff or stick around for a while catching up with friends and ordering a couple of items here and there at your leisure. We've hosted planned-out dinners with courses and structure and the like, and this is designed to be the total opposite of that. The very reasonable prices -- everything's priced at $5 -- reflect the informality because we want you to be able to try lots of stuff.

So excited to see you on Saturday and share some of our favorite dishes with you. This is another first for us, and it's going to be great to see you right there with us as we give our pop-up all we've got!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Menu for the Chubby Veg + Iris Etc. Pop-Up this Saturday, 7.11.15 at Iris Etc.

Tomato and Pimento Cheese Pie
Summer tomatoes served with lemon-zest-and-thyme pimento cheese and topped with puff pastry

Carrot Corn Dog
Organic carrot encased in our jalapeño and smoked cheddar cornbread, our cookbook’s cover star, and served with Creole mustard sauce

Cabbage Kimchi Dumplings (V)
That kimchi we always make stuffed into wonton wrappers and served with peanuts and white soy sauce

Smoked Shiitake Mushroom Tamale (V)
One of our most-requested dishes made from local corn and mushrooms and topped with charred corn salsa. This one’ll likely surprise the most staunch tamale purist...

Andouille Eggplant Po Boy + Tabasco Pickles
French bread with grilled, spiced Japanese eggplant “sausage” and house-made pickles from cucumbers from our family farm, Concord Farms; dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and mustard (V if you ask for it minus the mayo) 

Smoked Fig Jam with a Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese
Our vegetarian take on smoky bacon and onion jam: whole wheat with cheddar and mozzarella

Baked Cauliflower Wings with Black-and-Blue Dressing
Local cauliflower florets tossed in Crazy Good Hot Sauce and served with carrot sticks, celery, and black pepper and blue cheese dressing (V if you ask for it minus the dressing)

Stuffed Squash Blossom and Creole Squash
Tempura-fried squash blossom stuffed with roasted carrot puree and soft cheese served atop spicy squash and zucchini from our family farm, Concord Farms

Grilled Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese, Jewel Tomatoes, and Honey-Lime Vinaigrette
Watermelon changes from sweet to savory on the grill; we highlight this amazing transformation with our spicy, salty take on this Southern favorite

Banana Ice Cream Sandwich with Oatmeal Ginger ‘Power’ cookies (V)
A healthified ice cream sandwich with raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut; vegan, free of refined sugar, and 101% amazing

Roasted Peach Shortcake with Lavender Cream
Our beloved gluten-free almond biscuits served with the season’s best fruit and herbaceous whipped cream

Rosemary Lemonade With Ripe Stone Fruit (V)
Lemons and herbs from our garden sweetened with maple syrup and infused with the flavors of summer


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Flower Crown Pre-Orders for Saturday's TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant

This morning through Friday at 10 a.m., you may pre-order your very own *BEAUTIFUL CROWN* to be picked up at the TCV / Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant on Saturday! (See more about the event HERE and HERE.) Grown-up and children's crowns will be made ahead by Jill Forrester of Whitton Farms, and pre-ordering (from right now until 10 a.m. on Friday) at our Square link below guarantees your crown will be ready for you on Saturday.

Grown-up flower crown: $15
Child's flower crown: $10
Child's greenery crown: $7

(Know that the pop-up event is cash only, but we're thrilled to be able to offer a few things ahead of time on our Square site! We also have signed, personalized books available for pre-order at the same link above.)

Monday, July 6, 2015

The TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant this Saturday, July 11!

Come enjoy our favorite summertime TCV recipes at Iris Etc. on Overton Square in Midtown this Saturday for lunch or dinner! It's going to be casual, fun, and a la carte, and you don't need a reservation. Check out more details HERE (including some of the featured vegetarian dishes) and stop by 62 South Cooper from 11-8. Keep up with us this week as we share how it's going along with a surprise or two along the way. Hope to see you there!