Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Sausage Egg McMuffin Recipe

I woke up this morning craving grease. Perhaps it was that extra cocktail I had last night, but for whatever reason, I just had get my hands on a cholesterol-laden breakfast sandwich. Let me begin this with a full confession-- I have eaten a McDonalds Sausage McMuffin with Egg before, so let's get that one out in the open, and believe me, I am fully aware of the pink goo controversy as well as the chain restaurant's penchant for frying potatoes in beefy flavored oil. However, sometimes on rare occasion, I just don't feel like making breakfast for myself so I've hopped into my Honda and driven the full half mile to the Mickey D's for a McMuffin. Lazy, unhealthy and contributing to all that's wrong in the food world. I know.

So, this morning, I set out to make my own version and what a treat it was. I started by pan frying some Aidell's Sausage with Roasted Garlic and Gruyere along with an organic brown egg....
Then, I toasted up an English muffin....
Then, I stacked it up with a small slice of American cheese (for full Mickey D's effect, of course)...
...and, Voila! Runny egg, meets runny processed cheese in toasty, sausagy heaven.

©2011 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crostini Topped with Brie, Balsamic Marinated Strawberries and Arugula

This just might be the easiest and most elegant party appetizer of the season. I first tried this recipe at White Fences Winery in Irvington, Virginia, a small fishing town in the Northern Neck near the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, the winery is no more, but this fantastic combination of oozy triple creme brie, piquant balsamic strawberries and peppery arugula on top of a crunchy crostini lives on just in time for your next New Year's Eve cocktail party.

If you're looking for a snazzy recipe to add to your holiday repertoire, I highly recommend giving this one a try.

Crostini Topped with Brie, Balsamic Marinated Strawberries and Arugula Recipe

Serves 12

2 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups of strawberries, hulled and sliced
Generous handful of arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a sourdough baguette, sliced 1/2-inch thick
8-ounces triple creme brie brought to room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper

In a bowl, mix together vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add strawberries. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile, toss arugula with a little olive oil to taste. Add a couple spins of the pepper mill and toss again. Set aside.

Lightly brush crostini's with olive oil and toast on each side.

To assemble: spread each piece of toasted baguette with brie. Then top with a couple of strawberries and arugula. Garnish with a bit of extra black pepper. Serve immediately. Repeat with any remaining ingredients.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole Recipe

It's so gross, it's good!
The first time I made this dish for my husband, he took one look at it and announced, "No way". You see, unlike myself, Tim was raised in a household serving decidedly classier fare than the country cooking I grew up on. Once when I asked him what's his favorite type of chili dog, he answered that he had never eaten one. Oh, the horror! Needless to say, I had to undo that one quick.

While I was eating pinto beans cooked in fat back and cornbread baked in bacon drippings, he was enjoying a healthy balanced meal that included a salad that wasn't crafted out of Jell-O. Therefore, I just had to introduce him to the grand behemoth of cheap, country-style cooking-- the tater tot casserole, which blends together a whole mess of Southern church cookbook-styled ingredients from Velveeta cheese to cream of mushroom soup all laid out in pure oven-baked glory.

So, did he eat his tots you ask? Oh, yes he did. Over the course of several days, Tim polished off nearly all of it, making me one very happy wife and his mother totally mortified. Yes, I have ruined him.

Tater Tot Casserole

Serves 8

This easy-to-assemble dish contains a bevy heavily processed canned and/or frozen goodies, so feel free to take your time eating it since arguably it will never spoil.

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 (15-ounce) can mixed vegetables with half the liquid drained off
1 (11-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (11-ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (8-ounce) package of Velveeta Cheese, cut into cubes
1 (1-pound) bag frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef and drain off any fat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Spread beef and onion into a large casserole dish. In another bowl mix together canned vegetables, soups and cheese. Spread mixture over beef mixture and top with tater tots.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until your casserole is bubbly and the tots are browned.

Originally published in "White Trash Gatherings: From-Scratch Cooking for Down-Home Entertaining" by yours truly and Ten Speed Press, 2006.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 Foods On the Naughty List You Need To Eat

Chicken and waffles from OMG Cafe in Richmond.
Maybe it's me, but I am plenty sick and tired of being blasted by yet another article featuring a how to eat healthy during the holiday season diatribe, especially those touting a personal listing of "foods to avoid". It's Christmas/Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa (a.k.a. Festivus) time for god's sake. You're supposed to eat too much, drink too much, and generally not give a crap about your waistline for the next couple of weeks only to pull a 180 on January 2 and hit the gym while starting your new found power smoothie breakfast kick. Once that ends approximately two weeks later, it's back to the french fries and ham biscuits (not necessarily together, but food for thought) so I see no reason to try to bunk the natural course of things as they are meant to be. Save the salad greens and steamed tofu for bathing suit season. That's a far more important time of the year since you can no longer hide your ass under a wool coat.

In the meantime, to help you stay on course, I've assembled a tasty list of some of my favorite high caloric goodies that should help you to pack on at least a fiver by the first of the year.
Pimento Cheese: Frankly, there aren't many foods that offer such a deliciously mayonnaisy combination as this ubiquitous dish. However you like to make it is totally up to you, but the fact is, you're eating spoonfuls of mayo and shredded cheese mixed together all creamy and gloppy. Up the ante of this dish and stuff some pimento cheese into a burger or slather a couple of slices of white bread in butter and make a pimento cheese grilled cheese. Here's my family's recipe, which is a good, basic version to get your started.
Meat: Ladies, nothing tells your man you love him more than a big, fat, marbly steak, and nothing makes me happier than sitting down to a big plateful of juicy meat with him. My personal go-to's are the NY Strip or the Ribeye which offer up plenty of meaty goodness, fatty charred ends and beaucoup forkfuls of tender bites. If it's too cold outside, pan sear your meat in a cast-iron pan and top it with a compound butter like a rosemary, shallot and salted butter mix. Pair it with a big pile of roasted garlic mashed potatoes to seal the deal.
The Big-Ass Breakfast: No evening of overeating is complete without consuming a giant pile of pork products, high cholesterol eggs, caffeine, and ideally a Bloody Mary or two the following morning. Hence, the big-ass breakfast. Whether you want to do it up Southern-style with biscuits, grits and country ham or U.K.-style (pictured above) with bacon rashers, sausages, blood-laden black pudding and perhaps a grilled mushroom or tomato for good measure, I'm a firm believer in eating big, especially in the morning.
Fried Food: I can think of no other way to completely derail any stretch of healthful eating than by sitting down to demolish a platter of fried seafood, buttery bread, fries and mayo-laden tartar sauce, except if you add in a pitcher of Miller High Life to wash it all down. There's something totally irresistible about battered food, any food really, from deep fried Twinkies to the glorious corn dog, so I declare this 2011 holiday season to be the year of the deep fat fryer.
Nitrates: So apparently nitrates, which are found in most forms of processed meats including hot dogs, pepperoni, salami, even that mystery meat in a can known as Spam, apparently aren't so good for you. Sure, there are some studies out there touting that digesting any meat goods with artificial red coloring can lead to cancer, and this may in fact be true, but let me offer you another nugget of non-scientific info, this dude has been sucking down massive quantities of hot dogs for years and he's still with us. Moreover, he has zero percent body fat, so perhaps these so-called "studies" need to be revisited. In the meantime, I suggest making a Chili Slaw Dog for lunch and stop worrying about it.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

Greek Yogurt Banana Muffins Recipe

Top these muffins with Red Hots candies for a festive touch.
Confessional. I'm not much of a pastry-gal/baker. I don't have the bread gene either. Unlike most of the women in my family, I'm no expert at the art of making swoon-worthy cinnamon buns, sweet potato pies or Sally Lunn bread. It's just not in my being. Plus, I don't like to bake. As much as I wish I could summon some sort of deep-seated joy when whipping up a batch of glittery Christmas cookies, instead my cooking heart is filled with dread at the thought of covering myself in flour and silver dragees all afternoon. Show me a 6-pound pork butt and then we'll talk.

Like most people, however, I love having baked goods in the house, but let's face it, buying your cakes, pies and cookies from the store is neither cost-effective or nearly as tasty, so on those rare occasions that I decide to pony up and do a little baking, I'm doing so in order to save a couple of ducats and exercise complete control over my ingredients. Did you know that a single slice of a Starbucks Iced Lemon Pound Cake contains 490 calories? That's one hell of a fatty snack to go with that Eggnog Latte (which clocks in at another 460 calories FYI).

My husband simply loves muffins (and Starbucks goodies) so I have been trying to do my part and make more of the coffee treats he would normally buy out at home, so lucky me when this morning I came across a recipe for Banana Yogurt Muffins on and I noticed that I happened to have a couple of half-rotten bananas lying around along with a container of Fage 2 percent yogurt. Not only do I like banana anything, but what really appealed to me about this recipe was the idea that most of the fat (in the form of vegetable oil) was replaced with yogurt and mushy overripe bananas. Plus, and most importantly in my non-baking book, the recipe is super easy.

In true recipe writer form, I made a couple of changes to the original and added ground ginger, sunflower seeds, vanilla bean paste, and I upped the amount of milk and subbed in the Greek yogurt for the non-fat vanilla yogurt. I also, topped the muffins with a couple of Red Hots candies, because heck, it's Christmas. For more on cooking with Red Hots, check on this piece I wrote for NPR a few years back. Finally, I lowered the cooking temp.

All in all, the muffins turned out pretty good. Not the best muffin I've ever sank my teeth into, but they definitely did the job as a healthier alternative to the grease bombs that can be purchased at the store, and they pair pretty well with a hot cup of coffee.

Greek Yogurt Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

Slice open these muffins and top with a pat of butter while still warm for added decadence.


1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
5-ounces 2 percent Greek yogurt (or nonfat)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup plain sunflower seeds (unsalted)
Red Hots candies, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, egg, vanilla paste, milk (adding more if mixture is too dry), and vegetable oil. Add in bananas and sunflower seeds and mix well.

Drop batter by spoonfuls into a muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray and lined with foil baking cups. Top each muffin with a couple of Red Hots.

Bake muffins in the center rack of oven for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: these are great for freezing in Ziplock bags.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

South African Peri-Peri Sauce Recipe

Peri-Peri Chicken, Miele Pap and Monkey Gland Sauce from the South African Food and Wine Fest
Ok, food people. If you're anywhere near Virginia next September, you must be sure to hit the South African Food and Wine Festival at Grayhaven Winery. Not only is it an excellent introduction to South African cuisine cooked by those who know it well (the winery owners are from Cape Town), but it's a heck of a great way to spend an early fall afternoon drinking lovely Virginia wines while getting your spicy food fix on.

South African cuisine is incredibly diverse and ranges from Indian-style curries and English fish and chips to Dutch Boerewor sausages and world renown South African wines from vineyards originally planted by the French. It's a melting pot cuisine that is heavily spiced, hearty and soul satisfying.
Just a few of the goodies you can try at the festival.
Sure, I might be jumping the gun here since the festival is a cool 10 months away, but in the meantime, why not try your hand at making a classic South African Peri-Peri marinade? It goes equally well on chicken or shrimp, and it's sure to warm you from the inside-out since it's loaded with hot peppers.
Grilled Peri-Peri Chicken
Peri-Peri sauce (or Piri-Piri) is traditionally made with African bird's eye chili's, which are quite similar to a Thai red chili. These chili's rank high on the Scoville heat scale at 175,000 units (a jalapeno is about 4500 units) so this is one pepper that's not for the faint of heart. Use of this type of chili is integral to recreating authentic South African food, so if you can't find African piri-piri peppers, head to your local Asian grocery and get a bag of Thai birds and be generous with them. There's supposed to be a lot of heat!

Traditionally, this sauce, which is also heavy on the acids (vinegar and lime juice) is not only used to marinade meats, but often doubles as a dipping sauce or is served alongside delicious fried goodies like Fish with Slap Chips (a.k.a. fish 'n chips):
Peri-Peri sauce can also be served alongside grilled lamb:
Peri-Peri is also great on a Boerewors sausage sandwich:
Use this sauce to marinade fish, shrimp, game meats or add it into a dip, sprinkle it over collard greens. It's meant to be versatile, so use your imagination.

South African Peri-Peri Sauce

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Don't forget to wear gloves when working with these chili's and be sure not to touch your face. Ouch!


1 cup olive oil
10 fresh red chili peppers (such as birds-eye chili’s) – cleaned and chopped
1 large onion, minced
Juice of 4 fresh limes
1 entire bulb of garlic – shelled and chopped fine
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley – chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
4 Tablespoons sweet paprika

Mix all the ingredients in a large glass bowl. Whisk for 2 minutes. Store, covered in the refrigerator for two days or at least 24 hours to let the flavors release. Once aged, remove ¼ of the marinade and set aside to use as a dipping sauce.  For chicken, marinate up to 24 hours.  For shrimp, marinate up to 30 minutes.

This recipe was generously donated by Max Peple-Abrams of Grayhaven Winery.

©2011 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pot Roast with Bacon, Garlic and Rosemary

So meaty.
I am definitely a meat and potatoes kinda girl, especially when the temperature drops. I'm also one for quick and easy preparation as well as budget-friendly cooking since now I have my hands full with this little guy.
Hank likes meat, too.
Last night I set out to make something hearty, soul-satisfying, and most of all easy, so I came up with this little one-pot wonder-- Rustic-Style Beef Pot Roast with Bacon, Garlic and Rosemary.
Mise en place
Begin by searing your meat and cooking bacon. Discard half the drippings.
Next, saute onions and garlic.
Deglaze aromatics with a nice dry red wine, scraping up the bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add stock, water, tomatoes and rosemary.
Return meat and bacon to pot. Cook for about 2 hours.
Reduce sauce, add a slurry, slice and plate it up!

Rustic-Style Beef Pot Roast with Bacon, Garlic and Rosemary
Serves 4-6

This saucy pot roast is simply bursting with rich flavors. It gets its "rustic" stylings from rough chopping the aromatics (onions and garlic) and incorporating whole sprigs of rosemary that are tossed right into the sauce making this an easy to prepare weeknight dinner.


2 pounds beef bottom round roast, trimmed of excessive fat
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices of bacon, diced
2 medium onions, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 cup good quality dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
1 (14-ounce) can of Italian cherry tomatoes (such as Rienzi brand)
2 sprigs rosemary
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat a large dutch oven or cast iron pan to medium-high. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper on all sides (going easy on the salt due to the use of canned chicken stock). Add olive oil to pan and sear beef well on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Add bacon to pan and saute until crispy. Then remove to a plate. Pour off half the pan drippings and discard. Add onions and saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 5 minutes. Deglaze pan with red wine, being sure to scrape up all the goody bits off the bottom. Next, add chicken stock, water, tomatoes and rosemary.  Finally, add bacon and beef back to pan. Add a little bit more water if necessary, so you can cover beef entirely. 

Bring sauce and meat back up to a boil for two minutes uncovered. Then lower heat, cover and simmer for about two hours or until nice and tender. Periodically, remove surface grease and fat with a spoon and discard.

Remove meat to a cutting board and let rest. Crank up the heat on your sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove rosemary sprigs.

Mix together cornstarch and cold water to make a "slurry". Add slurry to simmering sauce and bring up to a gentle boil. Simmer for about another 8-10 minutes or until thickened.

Slice beef and plate. Pour sauce over beef and garnish with a rosemary sprig. Save any additional sauce for bread dipping or as a gravy for potatoes, polenta, rice etc....

Note: this recipe is really great served with mashed potatoes or a simple risotto!

©2011 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Sugar Toads Recipe

Fried Sugars from Arnest Seafood in Manquin, Virginia

It's that time of the year again in foodie land, where all the big-time food mags predict what trends will take off in 2012. recently posted their take which included everything from the revitalization of hotel dining to the use of fennel pollen. Also, listed front-and-center was "fin to tail" eating or what the rest of us call eating a whole fish (??) To be honest, as someone who does a lot of fishing, I don't really get this as a so-called trend, since whenever I catch something, which isn't all that often, I do my best not to waste one smidgin of  "fin", but what the heck do I know?  Seems moonshine is also trending in 2012, yet according to plenty of my Appalachian kin, illegally distilled booze has been trending steady for about 150 years.

But, I digress.

One thing I do know is that out of all the posts I have done on this blog for the past year none has garnered as many hits as my bit on sugar toads by way of Arnest Seafood, an unassuming out-of-the-way joint near Virginia's Chesapeake Bay, where in addition to steaming up some of the best blue crabs in the area, also pan fries some mighty tasty sugar toads.
Sugar toads taste even better with a cold Budweiser and fried crab chips
To set the stage properly, here are some sugar toad basics from my original post:

"Sugar toads. They're not what you think, so put those images of deep fried frog outta your head. Sugar toads are what we coastal Virginia folk call the Northern Puffer fish, which is a seasonal bottom-dwelling fish unique to the Chesapeake Bay. Sugar toads primarily feed on shellfish, and have earned their nickname due their less than Vogue-worthy appearance.  For many years, puffers were considered as nothing more than an annoyance that needed to be thrown back until several well-known (and high-end) restaurants began serving this sweet, flaky fish with the unusual name to rave reviews. Sugar toads, like all puffer fish, have ability to fill their stomachs with water as a defense and puff up, making them a not-so-easy to digest prey.  From a culinary standpoint, it must also be noted that Chesapeake Bay puffers are completely non-poisonous, and unlike their Fugu brethren, pose no threat to those who eat them."

My prediction is that by 2013, sugar toads will be making quite a few top ten food trends lists. I've been seeing them more and more on local restaurant menus around Richmond including The Roosevelt (they were excellent FYI) and at Mamma Zu's. Then, there's Chef Jimmy Sneed's new venture BlowToad set to open any day now, which one would assume will be serving some version of these tasty puffers? Local RVA'ers haven't exactly taken to Sneed's choice in restaurant names, but it seems that Sugar Toad (which is a much user-friendly title, and is also where Sneed used to be chef in Naperville, Illinois) is no longer up for grabs. So, BlowToad it shall be.

In the meantime, I suggest hitting up your local fishmonger to see if you can score some of these little guys yourself. Even better, if you're sea-worthy, go freeze your butt off on the Chesapeake Bay and try to line-catch your own cache. Apparently, Chesapeake Bay sugars love bloodworms, and while more plentiful in the spring, they also have a winter season, so theoretically you can catch them all year long. Some fisherman have been known to brag that they've caught upwards of 100 at a time since sugar toads often travel in large groups.

Here's a basic recipe for sugar toads, which like most fresh fish is best served up fried in cast iron pan.

Buttermilk Fried Sugar Toads with Homemade Tartar Sauce
Serves 4

If you don't have experience cleaning sugar toads, have your fishmonger do the job since their skin is very tough to remove and has a sandpaper quality to it. Sugar toads are best eaten by hand much like a piece of fried chicken.

1 pound Atlantic Pufferfish (a.k.a. sugar toads), cleaned with skin/fins removed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
Pinch of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Oil (or Crisco) for frying

Preheat oil to about a 1 1/2 inch depth in a cast-iron skillet until a thermometer reaches 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish mix together cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, and peppers. In another small dish, whisk together egg and buttermilk.

Pick up sugar toads by the tailfin and dip them in the buttermilk mixture and then dredge in flour mixture. Fry (being careful not to crowd the fish) in hot oil until lightly brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels or a wire rack set over a sheet pan. Lightly sprinkle fish with sea salt. Serve with tartar sauce and garnish with lemon wedges.

Homemade Tartar Sauce
Makes 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons sweet pickles, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, more if you like it spicy
Pinch of Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients well in a small bowl. Cover and chill.

©2011 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Rotisserie Chicken Salad Recipe

This week I am on a mission, a mission of frugality, something which as a full-blooded Taurus is not in my nature. Fact is, I like spending money on food (a lot). I love nothing more than to spend a leisurely afternoon traversing the shiny, happy aisles of my local Whole Foods Market tossing high dollar cheeses into my cart at will, but life at home is about to get tight. I'm about to tackle a very big writing project which will involve considerable research, a buttload of words on the page, and more hours of complicated recipe testing than I can count.

What this means on a financial level is that I won't be able to do much of anything else, including any freelance writing for about 6-10 months, perhaps longer. Sure, I'll receive an advance, but as those of you who have have written cookbooks already know, unless you are Rachael Ray, Mario Batali or some annoying celebrity food writer wanna-be-chef like Gwyneth Paltrow, there's no way in heck you will be living off of any book advance money, especially when you figure in food costs, which can be quite significant depending on the number of recipes in the book along with complexity of their preparation and whether your penning a cookbook featuring lobsters or pinto beans.
Biscuits are super cheap to make and freeze well so you can make them in bulk
Moreover, lets not forget that an advance is exactly that-- an advance on future royalties from book sales, so asking for more money than you actually need up front is a great way to cut off your nose to spite your face as they say. When it comes to advance money, a writer must pay back the full amount of the advance before she sees one nickle of book royalties and figuring that from start to finish we're talking years here, I've found that it's best to stash as much cash as you can whenever you can. All I can say is thank god my husband has a real job.

So, here I sit, attempting to morph into my mother, who is the portrait of parsimoniousness and has a basement filled to the ceiling with on-sale canned and dry goods, two freezers toppling over with meats, ziplocked bags filled with frozen fruits and vegetables from last season's farmer's markets along with an entire separate room brimming with home-canned everything. This spartan existence comes natural to her, but then again, she's not a Taurus.
Oven baked bacon tastes as good as it looks.
For me, this whole saving money thing will begin with itsy bitsy baby steps, and step one will be designating Mondays as a make-a-bunch-of-crap for the whole week day. This morning I baked a pound of bacon in the oven (here's a fantastic recipe for roasted bacon by the way) and made a mess of biscuits to go with it. My dear husband is a breakfast sandwich addict and is often on the road for long hours at a time which makes the Mickey D's drive-thru line a fast, easy choice, so the first order of business was to provide him with all the bacon, egg and cheese fixin's he would need to easily recreate these sandwiches at home. Even better is that he now knows he's eating real bacon, eggs, cheese and biscuits.

Next up, I will be making a large pot roast. We'll have this for dinner tonight along with a big salad and some roasted sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes are super cheap and soooo good for you). Any roast beef leftovers will morph into shredded beef and bean burritos somewhere down the line later this week since I already picked up a big can of refried beans and a packet of large flour tortillas on sale for half off.

For the rest of this week's lunches, I'll make an easy rotisserie chicken salad made from a store-bought whole rotisserie chicken that I purchased for $6.00. In addition to sandwiches, said chicken salad might fill a tomato for an impromptu diner-style lunch or get spread on crackers for a last minute snack. Once we eat up all the chicken salad, I'll make a batch of egg salad, which will serve the same purpose using a similar dressing, and it's even less expensive. More to come as the cookbook progresses and operation "living lean" goes into full effect. In the meantime, enjoy this super easy chicken salad recipe.
Tarragon Chicken Salad Recipe

This is an easy to make basic chicken salad recipe. Feel free to leave out the walnuts and grapes or add in any other ingredients of your choosing such as diced apples, sweet pickles (or dill pickle relish) or curry powder. Also, go easy on the salt since many store-bought rotisserie chickens are already heavily salted.

Serves 6


2 cups rotisserie chicken, both white and dark meats, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
1/2 cup white grapes, sliced in half
1 stalk celery, cut into a small dice
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke's)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a big bowl mix together your chicken, walnuts, grapes, celery and onion. In a separate small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to chicken mixture and blend well. Check again for seasonings. Then, cover and refrigerate at least 4-6 hours or preferably overnight.

Serve chicken salad inside a hollowed out tomato or on dense whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato.

©2011 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Writing a Cookbook

Old family friend Hazel Wimmer's recipe for Vinegar Pie
And, here we go again. Yeah, it's been five years since I wrote my first cookbook with Ten Speed Press, and I'm happy to report that the book did well. I even made *ahem* a bit of cash by the time the smoked cleared if you can believe that, and I don't even have a show on the Cooking Channel.

White Trash Gatherings had a solid run, and in today's seriously over saturated cooking/culinary market, I can say that I am happy with the overall experience (couple this with awesome editors and a great small press). I've been wanting to start this second book for a really long time, and unlike WTG, this cookbook will not be part of the Ernie Mickler White Trash series. This baby is all mine. The subject matter is very close to my heart, and it seems that the culinary landscape has shifted in such a way that the proposed topic will be both meaningful and timely, or so I hope (and no, I am not disclosing anything until I sign on the dotted line).
Won't have a tomato sandwich recipe in the book, although I do love them
In the meantime, I hope to blog a bit about the entire cookbook writing process from start to finish as things progress. As it stands, I am currently in the proposal writing stage, a thankless, laborious process involving crafting a rough sketch for the entire book with table of contents, sample chapters, tested recipes, the works. The nice thing about a cookbook proposal is that it will help me narrow down my topic and consequently dig deep into the "meat" of the project before a single word is written on contract. The crappy part is that your essentially writing on spec. Maybe you'll get a book deal after the 200 hours you spent on the proposal? Maybe you won't.

I do have one, very valuable asset working with my favor, however: I know my publisher is interested in working with me on the particular topic, so I've already gotten the heads up. This is a much better place to be than starting at square one with an agent who shops your book around to several publishers with the hopes that one will eventually bite, especially since I am once again doing this sans agent.

Once I complete the proposal, it will be pitched to my publisher (often a group of execs who vote yeah or neigh). All of this will be done with the help of my editor who is super seasoned and knows her cookbook stuff, and if everything works out and I get a yeah, we'll sign off on the contracts and I will officially go to work. Man, that would be one heck of a Christmas present....

Fingers, toes and all that good stuff officially crossed. Whatever happens, you'll hear about it here first, that's for sure!
Disclosure: there might be bundt cakes
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