The Best Brunch Bagel….ever.

Better known as BBB(e).

Readily available at Bagel Bakery of G’ville.

110% Sunday morning perfection.

It’s no secret around this gal that I have a very strong affection for Everything Bagels. (but not the store-bought precut ones. ick!) I think it stems from having New York State Aunties who always spoiled me with them during my summer stays as a child and teen, which was only reinforced by going to university in West Palm Beach, aka NYC of the South! So yeah, I like my bagels boiled, with everything on ’em…heavy on the salt please.

If you read any of the Yelp reviews on Bagel Bakery you will note they are most “known for” their Eggel Bagel, which is a bagel sandwich of “scrambled egg” with meat and cheese of your choice. Cream Cheese, Sausage and Egg on an Everything has been my standard order for the last 2 years at B.B. but a few months ago I started feeling really gaggy about the microwaved “scrambled” egg….they microwave the crap out of what seems to be egg beaters (?) in what should be throwaway Rubbermaid containers. I have a few of those bowls and I don’t microwave anything NEAR them, much less in them.

But getting just a bagel with veggie smear seems so mundane. Not to mention I carb load and then crash in about 22 minutes flat. Ugh.

Sunday morning, as ‘Stiner and I dragged ourselves out of a Cinco de Mayo induced haze, and off to B.B. I knew right away I wanted a classic. Bagel with Lox. (ok, it’s Nova Smoked…same diff in this Floridian’s book….I have NY family, I myself do not hail from the state) So, I placed my order and then miracle of all miracles the kid behind the counter asked what veggies I wanted on it. At first I thought he must have stuttered over my odd order of an E.T. toasted with Veggie Smear & Nova, but NO he was giving me more! A free pass to veggie heaven.

The final product was glorious. Salty bagel, smokey fish, savory cream cheese, crisp lettuce & sprouts, sweet tomato and sharp biting red onion. Perfection on a circle. Best Brunch Bagel. It’s a classic taken to a whole new level in my book. The perfect (if a touch strong and stinky) flavor profile, with protein staying power.

Just don’t try to kiss me for a while, ok? At least until lunch.

Love to all,
~the BBB(e) eater, Jess

Categories: Break Yo Fast, I'll Have What She's Having | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Up the Creek without a Paddle

And by creek I mean river.

And let me tell you friends, when that river is 4Rivers Smokehouse you will chuck the darn paddle right out the canoe and stay a while.

Summer must be in the air if I’m making references to eating BBQ sandwiches in a boat, but considering how deliciously messy the Messy Pig sandwich is eating it on the water isn’t too bad of an idea.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

Big. Beautiful. BBQ.

Oh and coleslaw, and pickles and jalapenos. Messy Pig, I love you. The 4Rivers sauce is worth keeping around too.

See, I’m very picky about bbq….I don’t like just smoky meat. It’s far too abundant in the world of every boy next door having a smoker attached to his grill. I’ve had a lot of dry pork in my life time, and let’s just say this gal like to keep it a bit wetter and sloppier. My bbq, people. Keep your head in the game.

If you have similar feelings about the good ol piggie than this Messy Pig is the sandwich for you. 4Rivers smoked, pulled pork is moist and tender on it’s own, but when you sandwich it between two juicy layers of coleslaw (that has fresh parsley in it…so good!) and drown it in the vinegary 4Rivers house sauce things are indeed a bit sloppy. This is a knife and fork sandwich through and through.

The toppers of pickles and jalapenos just add that kick to take the flavor profile from “wow this is good” to “oh my goodness, can I eat this everyday for the rest of my life?” Yep, I like a little zing with my ‘Q.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All served up on a lovely afternoon date with my best foodie Michael, alongside some fresh out the oven mac n’ cheese and classic collard greens.

Life is good in the South, friends. Now go wipe that sauce off your chin.

Love to all,
~the messy little southern gal, Jess

Categories: I'll Have What She's Having, Midday Munchies | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Aerial Yoga in Review-Llamadorks Style

Remember that amazing Saturday I had in St. Petersburg last November?

You know, the one where I loitered around the farmer’s market?

And ate lots of yummy Thai food?

Oh and hung out with these wonderful women?

Yeah, that Saturday. And remember that the whole reason I went south was to participate in an Aerial Yoga Workshop?

And remember how I promised that I would write up a whole review on the experience? Oh right…I guess I forgot about that too.

But no worries friends, I’ve finally come through on my promise to recap the wonders of “anti-gravity” yoga. Check out my full review and thoughts over on my sister Tumblr project: Llamadorks.

Love to all,
~the forgetful little yoga gal/Llamadork herself, Jess

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Surprised at Twenty-Six

So, my beloved friends of the interwebs, I wasn’t going to tell you that today is my birthday.  I wasn’t going to tell anyone at work that today was my birthday. Of course Facebook tells people that today is my birthday and my best friends and family knew what April 23rd meant, but that really can’t be helped.

Frankly, I had no plans to legitimately celebrate the 26th anniversary of the day of my birth. I’ll admit it, I’ve been a a funk. I’ve been pulling the loner card. The homebody card. The “no, while usually I do love a good fuss over my birthday I just don’t have the energy for it this 26th year” card.

And then this happened.

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Yes. A group of 17 year old girls threw this “old woman” her very first surprise party. It was truly a surprise. I cried, I laughed, I squealed. I cried and squealed a bit more for good measure.

I have never felt so loved or respected(or honored) in my life. It was just the pick me up I needed for the rest of the school year. You know, until I bawl at graduation as those 5 beautiful girls walk across the stage and exit my classroom as students for the last time.

Love to all,
~the humbled, loved and yes, very surprised birthday gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man | Tags: , | 3 Comments

ThatRecipeGal: Stuffed and Grilled Pork Chops with Spinach, Mushroom & Feta

First, I told you about the plan.

Then, I teased you with the results.

Finally, I’m ready to share the secret recipe for these juicy, flavorful and totally holiday worthy pork chops.

These chops might sound fancy-pants, “Grilled & Stuffed” and all, but they are actually really easy. Pinkie promise.

Well. Ok. They are easy if you don’t mind handing raw pork.

And stuffing raw pork.

And toothpicks. (poked into raw pork, of course)

(I washed my hands before the pinky promise, I promise.)

These pork chops actually come together, including prep, stuffing and “pinning” with the toothpicks in under an hour, and that was parallel with prep of side dishes, dishing up gossip and chatter with my Momma and guzzling some vino. So, if this MessiJessi Gal can do it, so can you! Here’s how:

Stuffed and Grilled Pork Chops with Spinach, Mushrooms & Feta

Makes 8-10 servings

~45 minutes prep time
~30 minutes grilling time

4-5 lb pork loin (cut into chops-this is what I used) or thick cut pork chops, 2 x 2 slit cut in the middle of each chop
Olive Oil (~2 tbsp for the stuffing, plus drizzling for the outside of the chops)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1lb baby spinach
12oz baby portobella mushrooms, rough chopped
~1/4 cup scallion, finely chopped (white and green parts)
1/2 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled
~1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste, plus Lawry’s Seasoned Salt for grilling

1-heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat
2-add chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, 60-90 seconds
3-add chopped mushrooms and brown for ~3-4 minutes
4-add the spinach to the pan, wilting it down.
5-season to taste with pepper and salt (go easy on the salt…the feta is a salty cheese)
6- remove from heat, add the feta and mix to incorporate
7-let the filling/stuffing “rest” for 5 minutes and then add enough panko crumbs to absorb any excess moisture released from the spinach
8-stuff/insert ~1/4 cup (I just grabbed a generous “pinch” between my first three fingers and thumb) of the filling to each chop, “pinning” it closed with several toothpicks. (See the pictures above for guidance)
9-Drizzle the stuffed chops with olive oil and sprinkle with ground black pepper, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (Cheyenne pepper would be nice too, if you like things spicy! I do, but I was cooking for a crowd)
10-Grill for 25-30 minutes, flipping half way through. Let rest for ~5-10 minutes before removing the toothpicks and serving. Yum!

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Epic Easter Eats

Ok, ok. Epic is the most over used adjective on the internet for the year 2012 and we are only midway through April. Crap.

I just couldn’t resist the alteration. What can I say, I’m not so secretly an English Nerd.

But really you guys? Easter Dinner was really good. Really, really good. As in Bomb Dot Com good. Maybe even worthy of epic?

I’ll let you be the judge.

And while veggies are my besties, and that plate is indeed the definition of Irish/Southern lovely, this meal was all about the pig.

Spinach, Mushroom & Feta Stuffed, then Grilled Pork Chop style piggie that is.

And the best part is? These tasty babies were totally a creation of yours truly (ok, ok, Mom had some serious influence too).

Unfortunately, this is the state of your truly’s brain tonight:

What that means for me is another mega-dose of Ibuprofen and an early bedtime. What that means for you is another night (or so) waiting in suspense for the recipe that is the driving force behind the beauty of those juicy, bursting at the seams with flavor (oh and spinach!). My apologies. (And what that means for my friend Tim, liking that I have a mutinous brain? Well, I’ll let it go this time, as I’m sure he’s appreciate of my whit, and grit, not my body part malfunctions.)

Love to all,
~the “wow I’m really dragging this Easter Dinner thing out, eh? Well, it was pretty epic.” gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Promises, Promises, Llamadorks and Promises

I promise I still alive.

I promise that in fact, I’m not only alive, I’m thriving. More on that soon.

Tonight, I wanted to share a little side project I’ve been working on. With my wonderful friend from undergrad, who is also one of my biggest blog supporters. She had been toying with the idea of starting a blog of her own, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Then she has the genius idea that we write one together. And thus, Llamadorks was born.

Don’t know what a Llamadork is? Well, aside from a Tumblr project, and an inside joke between us gals it’s going to be a fabulous conglomeration of food, drink, fashion, literature and any other obsessions we stumble across. Find us, follow us, laugh and love with us.

Oh and tomorrow? Tomorrow I promise I will tell you about my Epic Easter dinner…even if it is over a week late.

Love to all,
~the little gal that happens to be a HUGE Llamadork too, Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random | Tags: | Leave a comment

Monday Meals-Quick & Comforting

Some meals are meant to be cooked all day. You can luxuriate in the process. You can bond with your family and friends. You can test out new recipes, flavor profiles and techniques. Meals like that are for Easter Sundays, for lazy summer days by the grill, for baking sprees on a chilly fall night. Mondays are NOT that night. (Actually, Monday nights aren’t even for recapping epic meals like the one I prepped and enjoyed for Easter Dinner; but scouts honor I will. This week.)

No. Monday nights are for this.

A quick skillet dinner that is loaded with flavor, comforting “meat & potato” elements and bright, fresh kale. Oh and did I mention you can eat it 20 minutes after walking in the door? Yep. That is a Monday Meal in my world.

Just chop some garlic, slice some red creamer potatoes, crumble some hot Italian sausage links and saute with kale. No additional seasoning required. So easy. So classic. So Monday.

Oh, right and it’s delicious. Duh. (Guess I left part of my brain at my desk. Good thing I can blame it on Monday, eh?)

Love to all,
~the, “oh my goodness I’m so happy to be eating meat (sausage!!!!) again now that Lent is over” gal, Jess

Sausage, Red Potato & Kale Skillet

3 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4-5 small red potatoes, thin sliced the length of the potato
3 links hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
2-3 cups kale, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I used the Morning Glory brand- washed and chopped in the bag-so quick and easy!)

1-briefly saute the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant in a large skillet over medium heat for 30-60 seconds
2-Add the red potato slices in a single layer and cover the skillet. Allow the potatoes to brown for ~5 minutes. Do not stir them. Just don’t, ok?
3-Meanwhile remove the casings from the sausage and prep the kale if you didn’t buy the bagged/washed/chopped variety.
4-Flip the potatoes over and add the sausage, breaking it down into crumbles over the potatoes. Let it be for another 4-5 minutes. Cover.
5- Continue to stir/crumble the sausage and shifting the potatoes around. They should be nearly tender at this point. Cover when not siring.
6- Add the kale in a layer over the sausage/potato mixture and cover so the greens can begin to steam/wilt down, approximately 2-3 minutes
7-Mix the kale in and allow everything to meld together for another 3-4 minutes over low heat.
8-Serve with sour cream if desired.

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Holiday Weekend Gone to Heck in an Easter Basket!

Here is my wardrobe for the weekend:

Sparkles & Dots

Now before you start wondering if I go to an oddly formal/cocktail attire only church for Easter Vigil (I mean, Mass does start at 9pm, why not?) the orange polka-dot dress is my Easter frock of choice this year.

Oh no, I’m spending my Good Friday Evening chaperoning the 2012 Jr/Sr Prom. Heaven Help ME. (I’m actually really excited about this to be honest. I LOVE this group of seniors and can’t wait to embarrass them all night with my nerdy science dancing.)

Actually, I’ve had a wonderful Good Friday thus far. I’m so lucky that my school district honors Good Friday as a holiday, which saves me from taking it as a personal day. It is my family tradition to go to Stations of the Cross at noon (I’m Catholic, if you didn’t know that already) and then a light wine and cheese meal at The Wine & Cheese Gallery (wow, how appropriate- wine & cheese at a place with “wine & cheese” in their name.) This year’s Stations of the Cross was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had, in or out of the church setting. So, it’s only fitting that I’m going to meditate on those thoughts for a bit longer and write up a whole post on that later.

Easter Dinner Menu

For those of you who have been “hanging around” with this Gal for a while (either in real life or weblife) you know that Easter Dinner is always a battle in my house. Last year we had to pull the chicken enchilada compromise out to make it dinner without attacking each other with the silver flatware.

Things this year have come together a bit more smoothly. Mostly because I didn’t even try to suggest lamb. Secondly because Mum and I wrote the menu on our 12 hour drive home from VA during spring break. I actually suggested a stuffed flounder, kind of Florentine style with crab meat, Parmesan and spinach. Sadly, flounder isn’t readily available in the ‘ville and since I’m really trying to focus on local, seasonal goods shipping it in wasn’t an opinion I wanted to go with. Mom & Dad had a pork loin in the freezer just waiting to be cut into chops, (please don’t make me think about where that piggy came from…might be worse than ordering the fish!) so here is what we came up with:

Mixed Green Salad (or Fruit Salad-my grandmother is contributing this part of the meal, so she decides)

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Stuffed Pork Chops, inspired by this Culinary Disaster recipe
Kale Mashed Potatoes, aka Colcannon, inspired by this Parsley Thief recipe
Fresh Green Bean Casserole, based on the classic French’s French Fried Onions recipe

Guinness Cheesecake for dessert, using this recipe from Closet Cooking

I can’t wait to get cooking and tasting! For now it’s time to go “beautify” myself for prom. Ack.

“See you” on the flipside of this beautiful holiday weekend.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Love to all,
~the dancing little Easter Bunny gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Classic Comfort Food: Meat Sauce (Hold the Meat)

Meat Sauce. It’s pretty much a staple in the American childhood. Even if you only had it at a friend’s house like me,  I’ll bet you have some memory of ground beef swimming in a seasoned tomato sauce, just waiting to be ladled over a mountain of spaghetti noddles and topped with Parmesan cheese.

Truth Time: I had totally forgotten about Meat Sauce, because growing up in an Italian family we didn’t do the whole, dare I say “generic,” spaghetti night at home. (Spaghetti is an all day event in my world!) But as I mentioned above it’s a staple in many other households, including some of my best friends houses growing up.

When I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Virgina recently my aunt had to make her famous “spaghetti”…which is actually a very tasty meat sauce with some mushrooms and green peppers in the mix. Considering I’m still abstaining from meat right now I was reluctant to have any, but she had worked pretty hard on it, so I cheated and you know what? Meat sauce is pretty darn good!

Then I started thinking about all my vegan and vegetarian friends and how they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the simple beauty that meat sauce can be. Well, my beloved vegheads, this one is for you.

And here is my secret to this vegan meat sauce:

Yes, the often feared, but correct revered tempeh. This fermented soy product comes in many favored forms these days, but I started off my “not so meaty” meat sauce with a block of plain tempeh.

       

Tempeh can be crumbled easily with your fingers, or you can use a box grater if you want more of a shredded texture.

Browned in olive oil with a generous volume of sliced fresh garlic renders the bland crumbles into a savory treat that would be great on it’s own.

           

Or you can saute up some onion, green pepper, and portabella mushrooms with a can of crushed tomatoes and basil to add to the tempeh.

     

Toss some penne noodles and serve on a bed of kale with steamed broccoli.

Now that is what I call a meat sauce, hold the meat!

Meatless Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 8oz package soy tempeh (unflavored)
4-6 garlic cloves, sliced (I like things really garlicky, adjust to your taste)
1 small sweet white or yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 cups portabella mushroom caps, sliced
1 320z can crushed tomato with basil (or use your favorite jarred sauce, omitting the sugar)
0.5 lbs penne noodles, cooked and drained (or another pasta of your choosing)
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon “Italian Spice Blend” (dried basil, oregano and parsley)

1-while 1 tablespoon oil heats over medium heat, crumble the tempeh.
2-Add the garlic, and saute just until fragrant, about 45 seconds
3-Add the tempeh, sauteing with the garlic ~5 minutes, or until the tempeh is brown
4-Add the fennel seeds to the tempeh/garlic and saute for an additional 60 seconds, then remove the tempeh mix from the heat
5-Add the remaining oil to the pan and saute the onion, pepper and mushroom for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
6-Mix in the crushed tomatoes, letting the veggie/sauce mixture come up to a gentle simmer.
7-Sprinkle the sauce with the sugar (this will help cut down the acid of the canned tomatoes)
8- Return the tempeh to the pan and season to taste with an Italian Spice Blend of your choice (I used basil, oregano, parsley, salt and black pepper)
9-Toss with the pasta, serve with your favorite green vegetable and enjoy!

Categories: Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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