Steak and Potatoes

*Disclaimer: When I started this blog I said I’d post once a week…then the school year started. So I am adjusting my plan and committing to blogging once a month. My hope is to be able to do it more than that, but I don’t want to lie to you. That said, Charlie and I have in fact been eating the last couple of months, and more often than not we cook together! So this is a meal we cooked awhile back…enjoy!

I was prepared for a lot of things to happen post-wedding,  but I was not ready for how many times I’d be asked”How are things different since you got married?” or “What’s it like to be married?”. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not bothered by the question, I just wasn’t ready for it. Ask me what my dress looked like, or how the food tasted, or how many people attended the ceremony, and I have no problem describing it for you. I put a lot of thought into all of those things, but the feeling of marriage? I don’t know. It feels good?

I never feel like that answer is sufficient, but if you know me, you know that I rarely express a lot of joy about anything except a new outfit or an Oreo blizzard, but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling joy.  So when I say it feels “good” I mean it. Being married to Charlie is really, really good. I imagine over time as we make more decisions together (buying a house, having children, etc) we will start to feel the differences, but in month 4, things are still pretty status quo. That said, being married to Charlie is great, and I feel like to legitimize my feelings I need to identify  some differences since I changed from Miss. to Mrs.

Here are 3 things that have changed since we got married:

We’re in this for the long haul. Charlie and I agree that marriage is forever. So since we got married, really since we got engaged, that sense of permanence has impacted the way we relate to each other. When you’re dating, arguments are an opportunity to suss out what the other person believes or how far you can push them. We’re done with that now. We don’t agree on everything, in fact, we don’t agree on a lot. But where with past relationships a disagreement may have lead to to chat with my girlfriends about what constitutes a “deal-breaker” and ultimately a break-up, there’s now a determination to find a solution. Now, to Charlie’s credit, 97.2% of our spats begin with me. But to my credit, 99.5% of the time he realizes I was right.

I do the laundry. When we were dating, I would always tell Charlie I would find a way to contribute to our relationship. It was like a cute way of flirting and acknowledging all of the things he did for me. He cooks, he cleans, he usually says “yes” to whatever I ask. One time, I promised that I would be the one to do the laundry. I was joking. You know, the kind of “joking” you do when you want a man to fall in love with you even though you have no intention of following through. Now that I’ve got him to marry me you might think I’m off the hook. I got the guy, so why keep lying pretending that I will contribute to our household? Well, turns out I love him so I now I’m stuck doing the laundry. The joke is on me. 

Call me Mrs. This one is self-explanatory. I officially changed my name so I’m working on getting used to that. As a teacher, I waited until to the summer to avoid the confusion on my students’ faces as they tried to reconcile the change. However, there’s  this cultural phenomenon in my school, where students don’t actually use my last name. I’m just “Miss” to them so my new last name doesn’t really matter. Eight female teachers in a room? Don’t worry…they’ll just repeat “Miss” until the right woman answers. I still find myself looking for Osborne on sign-up sheets, or accidentally using my maiden name when I meet new people. Change is hard after 25 years, but I’ll get there.

So three things isn’t a lot, but that’s sort of my point. My life is obviously different as a married woman, and I love Charlie more everyday. But our life together feels natural and I think means we’re doing it right. I married Charlie because I loved the relationship we had before our wedding, not for the one I hoped would begin after the ceremony. If after our wedding things were suddenly different, I think I would feel cheated!  We live together now, which has obviously added some new elements to our relationship, but even that has come pretty easily. I made sure Charlie knew just how messy I was from the start, so the piles of clothes on my floor come as no surprise to him. (Mommy, I’ll go clean up right now!)  We still say “I love you” every night before we go to bed, but now he’s laying next to me instead of saying it over the phone. We still argue, usually about the same things again and again, but at the end of the day we love each other.

There is one more thing that hasn’t changed. My favorite thing Charlie cooks for me is steak. In July, we celebrated our two-monthiversary. Now while I recognize that a monthiversary isn’t really a thing, I really wanted steak. So I reminded Charlie that I had gifted him with 60 days of wedded bliss, and in exchange I wanted him to make me steak. The rules of this blog required that I cook as well, so I I made Twice Baked Potatoes. Yummmmmmm.

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 2 Baking Potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt

For the potato filling:

  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp of pepper
  • Chopped green onions

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pierce the potatoes with a fork  a couple times and drizzle olive oil on top of each potato. Then, top them with some kosher salt. Bake them for about an hour.

After the potatoes cool cut them in half. Then scoop out the inside of the potatoes and put it in a separate bowl.  (I used a melon baller to scoop it out so that I wouldn’t tear the flesh too much. If you are more gentle than I am, you can probably just use a spoon.)

Scooping

Scooped

2 potatoes = 4 twice baked potatoes but even with the melon baller I managed to ruin one of the skins…

Mash the potatoes in the bowl along with the sour cream, milk, butter, salt, and pepper and about half of the cheese. I left the potatoes a little bit intact so they would have a little more crunch.

Bowl Toppings

Scoop the mixture back into the potatoes skins and top with the remaining cheese and green onions. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes or until you see the cheese is nice and melted.

Steak

  • Two Steaks
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • As Much Butter As You Want
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • 1 small onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Red Wine

The way we make our steaks are fairly simply. Sear them super hot in rosemary garlic and butter, and if necessary finish off in the oven.

Pre-heat a cast iron skillet coated in vegetable oil until the oil begins to smoke a little. Add the steaks (always season with salt and pepper ONLY), rosemary, garlic and butter. Depending on the thickness of the steak give each side three to four minutes until a nice crust has formed on the outside.

Steaks in Pan Seared

After flipping the steak begin basting it in the delicious rosemary/butter/garlic that has since melted and started getting together for a party. Another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side and you’re ready for the next step. If you have a thick cut (filet mignon) you can finish the steaks in the oven at 350 degrees. In our case, with our New York steaks they were good to go. In either case, once they reach your desired temperature, LET THEM REST! We let ours rest for about six minutes.

For the onion, mushroom, red wine sauce (the pan in the back): Pre-heat a non-stick pan. Melt some butter and begin cooking down the mushroom and onions. Once the onions and mushrooms begin to soften add about 1/4 cup of a good tasting red wine. Reduce the heat and let the red wine begin to dissolve. Once the red wine is reduced, salt and pepper to taste and pour all over your steak!

Red Wine

We also made the asparagus from our fried chicken post. We aren’t big vegetable people…can you tell?

The meal was a very real, delicious way to celebrate a fake monthiversary and acknowledge all the amazing things (new and old) that make our relationship good (like Oreo Blizzard, good).

Finished

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Jerk Chicken Pizza and Halcyon Paradise

Last month, Charlie and I went on our honeymoon to Sandals Halcyon Beach in St. Lucia. For all of you that don’t know where St. Lucia is, here is a map.

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Full disclosure: It has been three weeks since I visited St. Lucia and three minutes since I found it on a map.  Now that we all know where St. Lucia is, let’s continue…

Charlie and I were there for 5 days. Five days of eating, drinking, and laying by the pool.  We spent most of our days by the quiet pool near our room, enjoying the weather. We were also able to kayak to a small island off of our beach. You can see it in the background.

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There are three Sandals resorts on St. Lucia, and we were staying at the most low-key of them all. The craziest activities included water aerobics and shuffle board. CRAZYYYY! At night we mostly hung out by the bar, talking to other couples, and getting recommendations on what to do the next day. On our one month anniversary, we enjoyed s’mores by the fire to celebrate and commemorate the dessert from our wedding.IMG_2961On our last full day, Charlie and I ventured off of the resort and took a boat trip around the island. We were able to visit a botanic garden and a cocoa & sugar cane plantation.

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The best part was the trip back to the resort. The captain anchored the boat near a reef and we got to go snorkeling. Neither Charlie nor I had ever snorkeled so it was fun to do it together for the first time.

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One of the perks of being  “Club Level” guests was access to a private lounge. It had a special key, concierges, and little snacks. More importantly though, they offered a drink called the Halcyon Paradise. The other bars at the resort did not serve it so I regularly went back to the lounge just for the drink. A couple of days into our trip I realized that it was really only intended for people to take as they check in. That didn’t stop me from getting it every day, sometimes more than once. They were too kind to say anything, but it was clear I was overdoing it. IMG_2953

Then there was the food. There were six restaurants at our resort, none of which actually served caribbean food. Fortunately, there were plenty of Jaclyn approved, simple and delicious meals to be had. We had Italian food, crepes, seafood, and some teppanyaki-style cooking (think Benihana). I even had hot dogs on a few late nights! On our last night we enjoyed a private candlelight dinner, a gift from friends, and perhaps the best meal of the trip. So romantic <3!

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Charlie and I had an amazing time on our honeymoon! We were sad to leaveIMG_2968 as you can tell from this photo on our plane home. Fortunately for us, we still had a month of summer break left so we got over it pretty quickly. We are so grateful to all of our friends and family that helped make our trip possible. If any of you would like to go to a Sandals resort in the next five years, please let us know so we can go with you! So even though we didn’t eat caribbean food on our trip, we thought we would share the spirit of our memories with you.

Now that you’ve read all of that…you’ve earned the recipe for this delicious Jerk Chicken Pizza! At the end of the blog you’ll also find a copycat recipe for the elusive Halcyon Paradise. My awkward repeated trips into the lounge were not in vain. Now you can enjoy a drink that Sandals only serves to an elite few, right in your living room!

IngredientsIMG_2898

Pizza Dough: makes four 10 in. pizzas (we made it from scratch but you can buy a pre-made crust)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp fast rising yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 9 fl oz warm water

Jerk Chicken Seasoning

  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • pinch of cinnamon

Caribbean Pizza Sauce

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

Extras for toppings

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Roasted red peppers (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • Jalapeños (optional)

This is how we do it 🙂

 

IMG_2901For the pizza dough: Start here so the dough has time to rise. Place the flour in a bowl and create a well in the center. Pour the yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and water into the well. Combine the ingredients on low for about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to medium for about 5-10 minutes until the dough rolls into a smooth ball. Transfer it into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 30-45 minutes in a warm area. Allow it to rise until it has doubled in size.

IMG_2909On to the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmer for about 7 minutes. After that, blend the ingredients to puree the sauce. (We used the fancy immersion blender we were gifted, but a hand blender will do.) As the sauce cools it will thicken.

For the chicken: Mix the spices together and completely coat the chicken. IMG_2906Easy enough! Then grill the chicken on medium high heat for about 10 minutes or until cooked through. We bought pre-cut chicken so Charlie put foil on the grates so they wouldn’t fall through.

Now for the fun part…building the pizza:

Take your pizza dough and break into 4 even balls. We had more than enough ingredients for two 10 inch pizzas. Coat a surface to work on (cutting board, countertop, etc) with flour to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out into a thin circle. Then, using a brush, lightly coat of the crust with olive oil. Follow that with a layer of the caribbean sauce. IMG_2914

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Top that with chicken and any additional toppings you would like –Charlie added onions, jalapeños, and roasted red peppers. Finally cover the toppings with mozzarella cheese.

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We baked the pizza on a ceramic pizza stone at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You can set a timer…or you can watch it from start to finish like Charlie did. You know they are done when the cheese is completely melted and the edges are brown.

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Now that you’ve worked so hard on that pizza, you deserve a drink! Just pour all the ingredients into a pitcher, stir, and enjoy over ice.

  • 5 oz white rum
  • 3 oz orange curaçao
  • 6 oz fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz pineapple juice
  • 3 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3 oz grenadine

Enjoy!!

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Fried Chicken and Hash Brown Casserole

If you ask my friends, I only eat from the five major food groups: hot dogs, quesadillas, salmon, chicken tenders, and fried chicken. What they don’t quite understand is that my tastes have changed since I was 18 years old eating with them in the dining hall. Don’t get  me wrong…I LOVE all of those things. But I’m 25 now. I’m a grown-up. I’m evolved. I need you to understand that before you read on…

For our inaugural post, I chose fried chicken! I know, besties, I’m so predictable! This is not just any fried chicken though. The recipe comes from a cookbook called Fried and True. I bought the book on sale at the Cracker Barrel so I understandably had high hopes for it.This book has recipes from some authentic Southern restaurants and some famous chefs (Thomas Keller, Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, and more). If that is not legit enough for you, Whoopi Goldberg wrote the foreword. I have no idea what makes her qualified to introduce a cookbook on fried chicken, or really any cookbook, but it must be worth something. Maybe it is because she’s black??? People always say black people love fried chicken. I’m black and I totally do. Right? But so does everyone else! (Nick Kroll makes a funny joke about that if you want to google it. I’m including the link because if you google “black people” “fried chicken” “jokes” or anything like that it takes you to a bunch of actual racist stuff. Let me save you the trouble…just click here.)

There are also a few other regions represented in the book, but like Ms. Goldberg, I’m not sure what New York or California have to do with fried chicken, but whatever. Fried chicken is universal.

So naturally, I thought a fried chicken recipe would be a great way to satisfy my hunger and appeal to the masses. Honestly, they had me at “fried”, but once I read past the title, and skipped over Whoopi’s foreward, I realized that I really had struck gold. This cookbook is no joke. Charlie and I decided on this great recipe from The Loveless Cafe in Tennessee. We followed it to the letter for both the Fried Chicken and Hash Brown Casserole, and Charlie added some asparagus to the plate. If you struggle to get the recommended number of servings of vegetables, try this recipe. I DON’T do vegetables, but I would eat these all day.

Ingredients

Fried Chicken

1 whole chicken (we just did drumsticks)

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon seasoned salt (we used Lawry’s)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder

Kosher salt, for brining

Canola or peanut oil for frying (we used Canola)

Hash Brown Casserole

2 16-oz bags shredded hash brown potatoes (defrosted, if from the frozen section)

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cups (about 8 oz) Cheddar cheese

2 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Asparagus- Charlie just makes it, sooooo measurements aren’t exact. 

1 bundle fresh asparagus

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Now to the cooking…

First you have to prepare the chicken. Rinse the chicken with cold water and then place in a bowl with heavily salted, cold water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl, mix the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put aside.

image1To fry the chicken: heat 1 in. oil to 375 degrees. Cover each piece of chicken with the flour mixture, coating it well on all sides. Shake off the excess breading and place it in the oil using tongs. Make sure the pieces of chicken are not touching each other. Cook them about 5 minutes or until the underside starts to brown. Flip the chicken over and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Cover and cook about 20 minutes, until completely brown. Take off the lid, bring the heat back up to 300 degrees. Flip the chicken back over and and cook 5-7 minutes or until crisp.

image3For the casserole: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up well. Transfer the mixture into the casserole dish and cover it with foil. Bake it for about 30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the whole dish is golden brown, about 30-40 more minutes. Ours didn’t brown in the amount of time they listed. Once it was bubbly and looked done, we turned on the broiler for about 1-2 minutes to get the right crust on top

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The asparagus, according to Charlie: Asparagus is the easiest thing in the world to cook to perfection. Somehow, Jaclyn apparently struggles with it, and forced me to type out how I do it. So, here it is.  Coat the asparagus with olive oil, add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste and throw them on a flat pan over medium/high heat (I grill them the same way and they are even better). Unfortunately, I don’t really know an exact amount of time to cook them because I just take bites out of them until they reach my desired done-ness. That’s it. Asparagus. Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. Heat. Eat.

Here’s the order we did this in: prepare the chicken, bake the casserole, fry the first batch of chicken, remove the tin foil, start the asparagus, fry the second batch of chicken.

Here’s our finished product. I must say, it was pretty delicious!!! If we cook like this every week, we’ll definitely stay together! image2image8image9

Yum! Also cheers! I hope you enjoy this chicken as much as we did. Safety tip: Use tongs and wear an oven mitt. If you don’t, you might end up with a boil like mine!! Charlie won’t even hold my hand…image4

Side note: We’re having a plating competition. Because what is a good marriage without a little competition. Which one do you think looks the best? Left/Top or Right/Bottom? You can vote in the comments. Or not…whatever. 🙂

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…Together, Stays Together!

So I’m new at this whole blog thing… I started this witty post about a week ago and now it is gone. It is possible that I never hit “save” but I’m going to blame our internetless apartment…it ate it or something. So I apologize in advance for the 2nd attempt post you’re about to read. I’ve put a lot more thought into this one and I’m not quite sure if that’s good or bad.

It has been about three years since Charlie and I started dating and exactly three weeks since Charlie and I got married. Cool, huh? I can literally count the number of meals I have cooked for him on two hands. The night Charlie arrived at my apartment with plans to propose, I was cooking one such meal. I poached a chicken. I didn’t even know he was going to ask me to marry him, I’m just really fancy. In the three weeks since we’ve been married, I’ve made one meal (the one I’ll be writing about in the following post).

So that pretty sad reality led me to conceive the idea for this blog. The reason I’ve only cooked for him a handful of times is because Charlie does all things domestic much better than I do. Lucky me! Really though, I’m blessed. That said, when we realized we were going to do this whole marriage and forever thing, I figured I needed to step up my game. As part of my vows I even promised to find some other way to contribute to our home. But guess what…the other ways to contribute to our home suck. They are literally no fun. Doing laundry? No thanks. Cleaning? Gross. Yardwork? We live in an apartment…and hahaha no. Cooking is the only thing left, and Charlie is naturally better than I am. How can I even begin to compete with that? What’s a girl to do? Why not start a blog that gives me a reason to cook? Better yet, why not bring my husband in on it and make it a cool romantic way for us to spend time together? Genius! So that’s what we’re doing. Here’s the deal:

1. Charlie and I will cook a meal together once a week.

2. At least one element of the meal will be homemade.

3. I will do at least 50% of the cooking.

That’s it. We will try to cook a variety of things based on recipes we find online or in the surprisingly large number of cookbooks I own. When possible we will innovate and put our own (read:Charlie’s) spin on things.I hope you all learn something new and maybe have a laugh or two. At the end of this year I hope we’ll have eaten out less, learned a bunch of new recipes, and grown closer as a couple. You know what they say…the couple that cooks together, stays together!

(sooo cheesy, I know…but I had to put it all together just in case!)