Thursday, September 26, 2013

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Whipped Goat Cheese + Freshly Grated Parmesan

Roasted Tomato Bruschetta with Whipped Goat Cheese + Freshly
Grated Parmesan
Isn't it so crazy how fast time flies? I mean, every day it seems like each hour passes so slowly, but then you wake up, and it's next year. Does anybody else feel like that or is it just me? I feel like I have been catapulted with slingshot across time, and in an instant, I can't even remember why I feel like I have whiplash. This week has kind of been like that for me. I slowly started to feel like my old self again, got out of bed, worked out, hung out with a friend, showered, cooked a little, and just did, well, normal shit. After going through periods of being extremely ill for months at a time, over a period of four years, and slowly crawling my way out of it each time, days like today I can never take for granted. I never took pride in the fact of being the person who I am. I always envied those people who lived in the moment, took chances, and didn't care what other people thought of them. I so wanted to stop plowing through the list of things I had to get done for the day, not just because I wanted too, but because that was what I was supposed to do. Up until the age of 21, I almost sold my life to playing soccer, so much so, I missed out on a lot of activities all kids should experience. At the time, it was worth it... going to practices sometimes 2-3 times a day, from 4PM until dark, slaving away, over + over, traveling out of town for tournaments every weekend and during most holidays. Don't get me wrong, I loved every minute of being with those girls, but it was something that was just always... expected of me. I can barely recall any specific memories of those days, but it consumed my entire being. It got me into college at the University of Alabama and I can't be grateful enough. But suddenly on the first day of pre-season, my soccer career had ended. Immediately, I was catapulted again into an entirely new arena of living. What is my next step? What do I want to be when I grow up? Who I am? Am I going to make it alone? What do I do? Naturally, I threw myself into my schoolwork. Although, I had never cared much about making good grades, if I studied, I was a great student. So, I chose to study Nursing while at 'Bama and, once again, excelled. I had almost a 4.0 GPA, made all the academic achievement lists, and managed to have a pretty damn good social life. Then bam, health problems galore. One after another, whiplash after whiplash, I slowly watched something I had worked so hard for start to slip away... again. Being bed-ridden for so long, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. You learn whether you're a fighter or one who cowers in the corner. You inherently become a pessimist or an optimist, either of which, people love or could possibly hate. You learn who loves you, cares for you, and sticks by your side, even in the darkest of times. Besides watching Netflix all day long, I scoured the internet and became enthralled by food blogs. Their creativity, their gorgeous pictures, their amusing stories... it was all-inspiring. It just clicked, and so I began to cook. I had helped out in the kitchen before, but hadn't done much, and knew barely anything when it came to food. Cooking became an outlet for frustration and also for fun. At the time, I wasn't even allowed to eat anything, yet I managed to create meals and dishes for my family and friends that they loved, and seeing that enjoyment was fulfilling enough. Once I was cleared to eat and I could see the color begin to return in my face and my body, I got more + more creative, even developed my own sense of style + point of view. And now here we are today, I'm that girl. The one that host parties, cooks every dinner, makes birthday cakes, develops secret recipes, fucks up some, and succeeds a good bit. It's so soothing, finally. This whole timeline flashed before me on Tuesday, as I sat across from my young niece trying to blow out her birthday candles on the cake I had made her. She has her whole life ahead of her, and just a day before, I thought I was in her shoes. And I'm not, I'm here. I made it. I found what I truly love to do, AND before my mid-life crisis. That's probably my biggest accomplishment so far (besides finding the man of my dreams), and ya know what, I'm proud of it, I'm proud of it all. This blog, these recipes, they are a labor of love. Will y'all help me celebrate it? Even though Summer has said its' goodbyes and gone into hiding, I took one of our favorite dishes that we enjoy during that time, Bruschetta, and gave it a little touch of Autumn. Instead of fresh heirloom tomatoes, sweetened + ripened by the hot sun, I roasted some cherry tomatoes in the oven until they were concentrated with so much flavor. There is just something about roasting vegetables that "screams" fall to me, no? Yep. The tomato topping is finished with all the classic ingredients, but taken over the top with a bunch of roasted garlic. Finally, I fried some bread rounds in olive oil and spread the crusty tops with some homemade whipped goat cheese and a big 'ole spoonful of the good stuff. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and you have a crowd pleaser. I know this because my two year old niece had about three; it was impressive, nonetheless. So maybe, just maybe, this bruschetta got me out of my funk. I hope it can warm your soul through 'n through, like it did ours. Enjoy y'all :)

For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
2 Pint of Rainbow Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
Olive Oil, For Drizzling
Fresh Thyme or Fresh Rosemary
Fleur de Sel & Fresh Cracked

For the Roasted Tomato Topping:
Prepared Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
½C Shallot, Finely Chopped
8 Roasted Garlic Cloves, Minced
½C Fresh Basil, Chiffonade (plus a little extra for garnishing if you like)
1T Olive Oil  
1T Red Wine Vinegar + 1T Balsamic Vinegar
¼t Crushed Red Pepper Flakes + Dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper, To Taste (and a pinch of sugar for sweetness)

For the Bruschetta:
Prepared Tomato Topping
Homemade Whipped Goat Cheese, For Spreading
Thick Slices of Country Bread
Olive Oil, For Frying
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out in one even layer on a baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 30-40 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft, caramelized, and starting to char. Set them aside until ready to use.
2. For the Tomato Topping: Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until everything is incorporated. Let the mixture sit at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld.
3. Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the slices of bread in the oil until golden brown & crispy, about 2 minutes on each side.
4. Assembling the Bruschetta: Spread the fried bread with a layer of whipped goat cheese, roasted tomato topping, basil Chiffonade and freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy immediately.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tailgatin' Thursday : Yellow Hammer Hunch Punch (just a few days late)

A Big 'Ole Glass of Yellow Hammer Hunch Punch on Alabama Game Day :)
So, this is a continuation of my postings of tailgatin' recipes every week for football saturday's. Even though I am a few days late, it's still a football saturday, so I think I'm A-OK. And fun fact alert: yesterday was "National Punch Day". No no no, don't go putting your dukes up just yet. It's not that kind of a punch day. And to be honest, let's hope there never is one. We are here to celebrate the kind of punch that has a little kick of booze. By booze, you know I mean a'whole'heck of it. Like many, many bottles to be exact. While at the University of Alabama, I enjoyed this cocktail every game day weekend. Most of the time at the bars on the strip, often on the Quad tailgating, but I had never made it myself without the assistance of others. The drink became famous from the bar, Gallette's. It is always served in a yellow cup with a splash of grenadine and a cherry to top it off. The exact recipe for hunch punch is a complete secret, but I definitely know there is orange juice, pineapple, and banana flavoring. What are alcohols are in this concoction, you may ask. Well, the cast of characters are the following: Bacardi 151, Everclear, Malibu Black Rum, Creme de Banana Liqueur, and Gin. Don't get it twisted y'all, you're gonna get slamdamnhammered off of these. Yes, slamdamnhammered is a technical term. Proven Fact. Now when you make this stuff, you're going to have to tinker it a bit and taste as you go. A little more simple syrup... a touch more banana liqueur... maybe some cold water/cold pineapple juice to dilute it a tad. Just let go and make it until it tastes good. But, I will say that I tend to make it slightly stronger than I would actually like because once you let it marinate + meld overnight, it certainly mellows a bit. Also, when you make it the next day, it will be sweetened with grenadine, crushed ice, sprite, and a cherry. This stuff goes super quickly, but don't you worry, there is a whole BUNCH of it!! Enjoy and Roll Tide :)
Making the Hunch Punch the night before in a big water cooler 
ALWAYS be careful with the punch... baby seat + belt not included in the recipe.
For the Hunch Punch:
1 Gallon of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 of the 59oz Dole Pineapple-Orange-Banana Juices
2C Pineapple Juice
1L of Rose’s Sweet & Sour Mix
1-2C Simple Syrup, Depending on How Sweet You Like It (I used homemade vanilla bean)
750mL Bacardi 151 Proof
750mL Everclear Grain Alcohol
1.75L Malibu Black Rum
1-2C Crème de Banana Liqueur, depending on Your Banana Preference (Dekuyper brand)
1C Gin (of your choice)
Cold Water or Cold Pineapple Juice, optional (to dilute the mixture if it is too strong)

For Serving:
Crushed Ice
Generous Gulp of Grenadine Syrup
Splash of Sprite, For Topping
Maraschino Cherries, For Garnishing

1. To Make the Hunch Punch: Pour everything into a large jug (we had to use a water cooler because it makes so many gallons). Taste the first batch and determine whether you need to add more simple syrup, banana liqueur, and cold water/cold pineapple juice (if needed). Stir to combine and mix thoroughly. Once you have reached your desired taste, refrigerate overnight. I tent to air on the side of caution and make it stronger than you would typically like because once the flavors meld overnight, it will mellow out a lot. Also, when you make a glass of the hunch punch, it will be diluted with crushed ice, grenadine, and sprite to sweeten it as well.
2.  To Make a Glass: Get a clear plastic cup and pour in a generous glug of grenadine syrup (the more, the sweeter), and then top it with a big ‘ole handful of crushed ice. Gently pour/ladle/drizzle the liquid slowly into the glass almost to the top of the glass. This will make a “sunset effect” in the glass. Finish the drink with a splash of sprite and a cherry! Enjoy all day long :) 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Restaurant Reviews : Heirloom Market BBQ in Smyrna, Georgia

Here is the second edition of Restaurant Reviews... YAY :)
I first featured one of my favorites, JCT Kitchen...
But today, I'm featuring one of my other favorites, Heirloom Market BBQ.
Some of you have heard of it and rightfully so
It has killer BBQ with a Korean AND Southern fusion flair. 
You heard me right, fusion cuisine is absolutely the best, bar none.

The Front of Heirloom Market BBQ
Now, if you aren't from the area or haven't heard/read about it... you might miss this little gem. It's hidden in the parking lot of a gas station right off the highway. And thank gawd for that because it's already so crowded, I have to remain selfish so that none of you come eat all my food before I get there!! Just kidding, well kinda, not sorta... okay really. I'd say we eat here about 2-3 times a WEEK. Yep, it's our go-to pickup spot. And my friends, that means we have tried absolutely everything + anything. They all deliver, but here are some of our favorite meals (in pictures)...
The cooks are at work and some people waiting on their grub at the communal table... 
Korean Fried Chicken, Cucumber-Radish Salad, and Assorted Coleslaws & Pickles
Spicy Korean Pork Sandwich... a HMBBQ favorite. 
More KFC Chicken
Kimchee Coleslaw + Apple Coleslaw
Okay, it's obvious we like the fried chicken...
The Cucumber-Radish Coleslaw is perfectly sweet & sour. Love. 
Yeah, it's obsessive.
One of their many signs. 
Assorted Taco's
their yummy mac n' cheese, tempura onion rings, & kimchee coleslaw
Divine Banana Pudding
Texas Trio: Brisket, Ribs, & Smoked Sausage 
brisket sandwich with cucumber-radish coleslaw, KB BBQ sauce,
Tempura Onion Ring, & Pickles 
Cucumber-Radish Salad & Tempura Onion Rings
THE ULTIMATE FAVORITE: Tempura Sweet Potatoes with Sweet Asian Dipping Sauce
Fried Okra with Sauce
Smoked Chicken Wings... Spicy & Sweet :)
Overall, Heirloom Market BBQ is a classic and always somewhere we can count on to deliver great food day-in & day-out. There really isn't one dish that I can recommend over the other because they are all stellar. But, make sure to keep an eye out for their daily specials, which they update every morning on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. I hope y'all can make it out there soon!!

Our Rating Scale:
**** (4 out of 4 stars)
$     (dishes range from $5 to $15 depending on the specials)
Would I go back again: Hell Yes... almost every day
Service: 5 (rated on a scale of 1-5)

I hope y'all enjoyed the second of Restaurant Reviews :)
XOXO, Juliana

Monday, September 16, 2013

Life As Of Lately... And an exciting announcement!!

Hello all my foodie friends!!
Have y'all missed me? Because I sure have missed this. Bible.
I have been sickly lately, so I haven't been cooking much, BUT
I am back at it. To wet my feet a bit, I am posting my "Life As Of Lately" today.
ON TOP OF THAT... I have an exciting announcement. Drum roll please.
I am revamping + starting a brand-spankin'-new blog.
Yep, you read that right.
This girl right here decided that I wanted to refocus my point of view, 
and move onto bigger + hopefully, better things :)
The new blog will be called "Haute + Heirloom" and will be all about making
Southern Comfort food... well, modern & fancy. 
There will be more details coming, but expect...
yummy recipes, new weekly features, and a RECIPE index
Get pumped!! 
Until then, here's my life... as of lately. 

salted caramel mocha's... mah jam
fall is here... gingerbread proves it.
Cronut's/Doughssant's have hit Atlanta... and The Cake Hag delivered.
homemade yellow hammer hunch punch for the Bama-VT game :)
doggy day care.
oh lawd, thank gawd for burgers like this.
BAMA-VT GAME at the Georgia Dome
Me + the Fiance at the game <3
Yellow Hammer Hunch Punch in a baby seat, that's how we roll
the making of the yellow hammer hunch punch
tailgating dips on a beer pong table 
she's mah soulmate. forevz 
steeping hibiscus flowers for hibiscus tea
honeysuckle's bourbon pecan gelato
more salted caramel mocha action
caramel bacon doughssant's from the cake hag
mini, unwrapped starbursts. mind blown.
thanksgiving gobbler sandwich
mini breakfast sliders for early tailgating food
peej's homemade chicken + quinoa soup with spinach
the best thing to ever happened to someone in the heat of tailgating in the south 
homemade vanilla bean doughnuts
heading to the game... #clASSy
XOXO, Juliana