Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

Cookbooks are a home cook's best ally.  And when you're thinking about dishes that will (ahem) indulge your giddiness to break in your recently gifted Slow Cooker, it doesn't get much better than a cookbook that mixes yummy, slow-cooked recipes into its bounty.

I knew Valerie Bertinelli's new cookbook, Valerie's Home Cooking, was a keeper the moment I got my hands on it.  Filled with beautiful, scrumptious food and drinks that usher you into her kitchen, I am excited to taste my way through its pages.  And where to start?  With an effortless home spin on classic Chinese Takeout: Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken.

I love that my slow-cooker does virtually all of the work, and I can still enjoy a delicious home cooked meal.  I think know you'll enjoy it, too.

Happy Eating!

Slow-Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 4 Hands-on 30 minutes Total 4 hours

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 (8-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 cups hot cooked white rice
¼ cup sliced scallions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
 
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken to the skillet, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the chicken in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.
2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet. Add the bell peppers and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
3. Whisk together the vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar. Pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours. Serve the chicken mixture over the hot cooked rice topped with the scallions and sesame seeds.

Ingredient Note:
Chicken thighs have more flavor and  are more forgiving during cooking, staying juicy.

Recipe and photos excerpted from Valerie’s Home Cooking by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Chocolate Truffles (& A Food Story)

Ten years. TEN YEARS!

I recently came up for air and realized that, indeed, it has been ten years since I first "went public" (read: beyond doting family and friends) with my food passion and journey.  I had been cooking, baking--and sharing--well before then, but ten years ago (the holiday season of 2007, to be exact), I decided to take my love of creating and sharing great food to another level.  And it was then that my inaugural Holiday Sweets and Treats Menu was born.


When I set about this whirlwind task of developing the menu (the easy part--and 100% inspiration) and subsequently fulfilling 35 orders that first Christmas (yes, 35!!!--and more in the queue that I had to decline as the word spread), I didn't have any more immediate plans on this front.  Because let me tell you: that. was. some. work.--100% perspiration.

Still, I took immense pleasure in the fact that people responded to my food--and wanted to pay me for it! (A sensation I imagine most creatives and entrepreneurs experience.)  I made everything from scratch (the purist in me is still alive and well all these years later.)  I had personalized ribbons with my new chosen name, D.M.R. Fine Foods, designed to adorn the delivery boxes.  And, finally, I personally packaged--and delivered--every order to each precious customer across the Metropolitan Atlanta area (the majority of whom were...strangers!)  It was the ultimate labor of love--and one that has brought me to this very moment in time...in grateful retrospection.



This has been one of the best surprises and journeys of my life so far--replete with blessing after continual blessing.  I'm so grateful to God for the gifts and talents He's graced me with and for allowing me to share them with those who cross my path in real life or virtually.  And THE BEST IS YET TO COME!


As an ode to that first menu and the abundant memories, I'm sharing a delicious, indulgent confection that has been with me since that initial launch: my rich Chocolate Truffles.  And because they're so easy to pull together, you can make them now and enjoy them in time for Christmas--and beyond!

Here's to ten years and counting, a Merry Christmas....and, as always, Happy Eating!

Chocolate Truffles
Ingredients:
8 oz. semisweet (good quality) chocolate --some of my favorites are Lindt and Ghirardelli 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioner's Sugar
Dutch (Unsweetened) Cocoa 

Method:
Finely chop chocolate and set aside in a heat-proof bowl.  

Add cream to a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vanilla.  Let cool for 20 seconds.

Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir to melt chocolate completely.  (Cook's Note: If chocolate still has lumps, place bowl over a pot of simmering water--being careful that the bowl doesn't touch the water--and continue to stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.) 

Refrigerate for at least two hours and then using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out the truffles.  They don't have to perfect; it's meant to be rustic as a mimic to the real (savory) truffles.

To finish, roll truffles in powdered sugar and cocoa (and any other coatings you prefer.)  Serve and enjoy!


   
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Thursday, December 7, 2017

{Be Inspired!}: Decking the Halls!

Last weekend I finally began adding Christmas touches to my home.  And although I'm not quite as eager as some (I have a cousin, for instance, whose decorations are always on full display by the second week of November!), I must admit that once everything comes together, I'm in love all over again (and secretly wishing for a way to keep the decor this way throughout the year.) 

From adorned table tops, to embellished topiary trees, to candles, wreaths and other accents, the smallest to grandest touches make for my very own special space that creates the perfect backdrop for this most wonderful time of the year. 

Photo Credit: Architectural Digest

And with that in mind, I've rounded up some seasonal decor inspiration to get your juices flowing with these savvy decorating tips from Architectural Digest--as you deck your own halls this holiday season.

Whatever you decide to do (or not), I hope this festive time of the year brings you goodness from near and far.

Happy Decorating!


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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

{In Case You Missed It}: Atlanta PluggedIn x Thanksgiving

Today started with an absolute bang as I headed back to Atlanta PluggedIn to share some final tips and recipes to round out your Thanksgiving prep and menu.



We talked turkey to kick things off, as I shared a few of my tried and true turkey prep tips to help make your big bird the best it can be.  Get the full list of preparation tips here.



I also shared a couple of easy recipes to round out the Thanksgiving table, including my scrumptious Sweet Potato Crostini and a Roasted Vegetable Medley as the perennial favorite side dish.

Here's wishing you the Happiest Thanksgiving--and, as always, Happy Eating!


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

All Things Thanksgiving: Recipes, Guides, Tips & More!

Today marks the one week countdown to one of, if not the, biggest holidays of the year--Thanksgiving!

With all that has occurred (and continues) to happen in our world, there's never been a better time to pause and give thanks for the gift of life and the many blessings it affords.  And to make sure you're all set, I'm sharing my favorite recipes, tips, inspiration and more for your best one yet. 







Happy Eating! 


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Friday, October 27, 2017

{Fall on Display}: Tablescapes, Recipes & More!

To say that I was thrilled to return to Atlanta PluggedIn on last week would be an understatement of grand proportions!  A morning of fun, topped off by sharing inspiration from my favorite season--Fall, couldn't have been any sweeter.

 



Bringing the look and feel of the season to the dining table via a Fall-themed tablescape was a highlight of my segment.  Inspired by select pieces from Pottery Barn, the table was styled in copper statement pieces, accented by lush, but rustic, linens, dinnerware, pumpkin touches and more.


And then there was the food.  Because once the table is set, all that remains is to...eat!  So in keeping with our Fall focus, I shared two of my favorite seasonal dishes that bring the tastes of the season alive.  Baked Apple Tarts and luscious, warm and cozy Butternut Squash Soup offer sweet and savory satisfaction that can be enjoyed all season long.

As the season continues to unfold, bring these tips and dishes to life in your home and kitchen and enjoy a personal taste of Fall--on display!

Happy Eating! 
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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

{Style Files}: Ragtrade Atlanta Runway Show 2017

On a recent Fall evening, the Atlanta fashion scene came alive under the canopy of Ragtrade Atlanta's 2017 Runway Show.  Providing a showcase for four of the top emerging designers in the industry, the evening boasted head-turning collections and endless style, while culminating a week of fashion.

As an avid fashion enthusiast, the runway show delighted me from start to finish.  Hearing the designers speak to their journeys and inspirations, followed by the presentation of their runway collections, cloaked the evening in a beautifully intimate, yet grandeur, setting.

From women, to men, to holiday, to casual chic, and beyond, the show delivered one stunning look after the next and met the applause of the full house of fashion lovers in attendance. A fitting finale for an amazing week of fashion.


Happy Styling!
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