Friday, August 1, 2014

Peanut Noodles with Crunchy Celery and Celery Leaves [Menu]

So, I've been out of town at conferences, horrible sick, and terribly busy.. And I was relying very heavily on my scheduled posts to pull through. Who has two thumbs and didn't work with the proper settings between then and now? This guy. But that means we'll have extra posts for a while! Not so bad...

Anyway, this is all a distraction. A distraction from the fact that Matt and I have a problem. A peanut butter problem. We go through peanut butter like it's going out of style, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. For a long time, I couldn't stand the smell of peanut butter or peanuts. I had a roommate at one point who was very fond of the stuff, and would leave jars open all day until we got home from classes. Our room always smelled of sweet, pulverized legumes, and I was not a fan. But over time? Yes, the love has rekindled. Peanut butter, almond butter, ... butter-butter? Yes, please.

Peanut Noodles with Crunchy Celery & Celery Leaves

I'm not claiming this is an authentic Thai delicacy, but it's refreshing and delicious and easy to whip up on a weekday for a quick meal. Of course, you have to like peanuts (or, in this case, peanuts AND peanut butter) and celery, as the name implies. I, also, recommend that you enjoy a little bit of a spice and a lot-a-bit of sesame. If you meet this criteria, you should be making this for dinner tonight. You will like it.

Recipe ahead!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas [Menu]

Vegan Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I've gotten rid of nearly all my magazine subscriptions. We used to hear monthly (bi-monthly?) from several throughout the year. I still love Saveur and Lucky Peach, National Geographic still has a warm place in Matt's heart (my parents generously offer it to him every year and he gladly takes it), and I really do enjoy a good In Style. However, while trying to rid myself of clutter in our abode, I've unsubscribed to nearly every periodical that comes through our door... All except for one: Vegetarian Times. I don't know what it is about this publication, but I suppose it's because I love the articles, it's fairly cheap, and I don't feel bad keeping it around because I actually read it on time!

A while ago, Carol and I were looking for something to make. It needed to be vegetarian (me) and cheesy (her), and it had to be fairly fast. Well, the recipe we found didn't put dinner on the table instantaneously, but we were pleased with what we found in the back of a small, pillowy-covered book, aptly named "Vegetarian Recipes." No mystery with that one!

So you'll imagine my surprise to see it fully rehashed in Vegetarian Times in the April / May 2014 issues. Not that I'm complaining! I'm not sure who thought of it first, but I'm glad someone did. I've made it three times now, and it's not failed me yet. Even my wonderful, supportive Matt, happy to try a veggie recipe or two but largely carnivorous, gave them his seal of approval! So if you're having trouble finding one meal for everyone at the table (don't you hate making multiple dishes), this one might be worth a shot. All you need to do is look at this very candid shot of Matt after trying the first bite! Aren't candids the best? I think he was saying, "oh wow! That's actually really good!" 
I'll take it! 

Sweet Potato Quesadillas - Get in mah belly.

Recipe Ahead!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Moon Pie MoonShine [Local Dish]

My beloved Carol and I go on many adventures together. Of those adventures, some of our favorites have become wine or distillery tours. It started as something we tried randomly as a result of a rogue Groupon deal, but it's escalated to something we've sought out intently over time. Our most recent excursion took us to Marion County, KY for the White Moon Winery - a fantastic little stop and one of the most educational wine tours I've ever experienced. The owners were friendly, kind, and I'll soon have a review up of our time there (featuring a recipe based on their recommendation).

At the end of our time there, Alex Payne -  the smart and endearing owner of the winery - told us that if we had some time, we should go down the road a few miles and check out Limestone Branch Distillery. She told us they made some genuinely strange Moonshine there, and it would be worth our trip. We had some time to kill (having had to plan out our day on getting out of Louisville), so we went down the road a few miles to find the place she suggested.

Moon Pie MoonShine - Vanilla

Carol's parents, my mother, and Matt are Moon Pie enthusiasts, so we were excited to see what the distillery tour might bring, but we honestly didn't expect for so much of the distillery to be dedicated to this one product. That is until we found out that the official Moon Pie company approached this specific distillery to develop a Moonshine flavor that spoke to their audience. How random, right? But Kentucky is good for many things and, especially within the Bourbon Trail, distilleries are one of them. It's my guess that Moon Pie knew their brand was safe in the hands of Steve Beam (of the Beam family legacy), and it was a good bet to take.

Their facilities were incredibly cool. Their ceiling was stylized to look like the burnt inside of a barrel, and there was Moon Pie memorabilia for miles. There were also some very cool things like broken bits of used barrell for smoking (something my father would mightily enjoy for his Big Green Egg whenever I return - because a return is definitely in order). We spoke with someone regarding a tour and tasting (free!) and walked around the shop and pet the distillery dogs - two big, fluffy Chow Chows who wander about the place making sure all is well with the local humans - while we waited for our turn. (When questioned regarding the dogs' names, Carol's response: "Sleepy and The Other One." I feel these are fine, upstanding monikers.)

Moon Pie MoonShine - History

Going through the tour was an interesting experience - different from ones I've seen before. While I've tried and experienced some of the very unique moonshine culture in a visit to my parents down in South Carolina, I hadn't truly seen the inner workings of the process. Most of it went over my head, but the thing that most strongly kept with me was wanting to try the mash (I was told it was delicious! You can't taunt me like that.). Our guide, also, told us that they've started bourbon production! An exciting and auspicious venture within our state lines. And, although the bourbon won't be ready for several years, I look forward to one day trying it.

For our tasting, we tried several strange and wonderful things. Given a choice of five, I grabbed all three of the Moon Pie flavors (why wouldn't you?): vanilla, chocolate, and banana. The vanilla was given in a shot glass with some Orange Crush to make what was essentially a Creamsicle juice. It did not taste like alcohol, which is all kinds of dangerous and awesome and lead me to buy a jar for both "my husband" (read: me) and my mother. I also tried their Blackberry and Pumpkin Pie flavors - both excellent. They pride themselves on exclusively using natural ingredients for their Sugar Shine, and there is a stark and noticeable contrast between them and their liquid Moon Pie cousins. The difference between a bite of an sweet, crisp apple and a piece of candy.

Moon Pie MoonShine - Logo

Moonshine gets sort of a weird rap for being straight poison, but it's a slow heat that's surprisingly unabrasive and comforting (when imbibed moderately). If you have an opportunity to try it in your area (meaning you're probably in the South unless you're especially lucky), I highly recommend it! Sometimes things can surprise you. And if you're near Lebanon, Kentucky, you should definitely swing on by Limestone Branch Distillery and White Moon Winery. I think they might surprise you even a little more!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cookie Dough Truffles [Menu]

Cookie Dough Truffles - Title

I love cookie dough. I know it's usually full of eggs and other things you really shouldn't eat raw (like two sticks of butter and several cups of flour, etc.) All the same, I sometimes think that a good, firm cookie dough is better than the cookies themselves. Back when Matt and I started dating - seven years ago as of September 2nd, although I can hardly believe it -  cookie dough posed as the "gateway" food to a whole new realm of possibilities for Matt. As I know I've mentioned before, he grew up with a very picky palette, which quickly became a hinderance after engaging in a relationship with me. 

Cookie Dough Truffles

After shocking him with olives and wasabi, Matt found his own path to enlightenment. At the time, my father was keenly interested in the consumption of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and, after being accidentally served it once or twice (and too much of a gentleman to say anything), Matt was hooked. Now Matt looks for cookie dough wherever it can be found, and nothing excited him more going through my Pinterest and Springpad boards than these cookie dough truffles.

Cookie Dough Truffles

The wonderful thing about Pinterest is the wealth of information and inspiration you can garner from the images that flip across your screen. The bad thing is the tendency towards inaccurate or broken source links and questionable recipes. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it, and I've benefitted much more from its pages than I've suffered its downfalls. However, it was frustrating to not be able to come up with a reliable recipe. So I sort of made my own, piecing together several different ones, and then eventually using my favorite cookie recipe without eggs and by adding a little extra flour and some milk (to make up for the moisture from the eggs). If you're not a chocolate chip fan, try the same with your favorite cookie recipe! No eggs. Little extra flour. And a little liquid to make up the difference. It will work for you, and they will be delicious. And your former picky eater will be happy. <3

Recipe Ahead!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cake [Menu]

Vegan Chocolate Cake - Title

I've gone through my spells of veganism. The longest one being a year or so of time, last year's only a few months. Now a days, I'm a pescetarian. That's basically a fancy way to say a lacto-ovo vegetarian with the occasional carnivorous indulgence (of the aquatic variety).  I've never done this out of a dietary concern. It's always been for weight loss or ethical/environmental reasons. I've never had any extreme allergies. Lemons sometimes tickle my throat, and I don't feel awesome after eating a ton of oats. Ultimately, though, these are minor annoyances and, certainly, nothing I've concerned myself over.

That can't be said for my friend Katie, however. When Katie officially joined the clan this past year by marrying Tk, one of my oldest childhood companions (who was pictured in our old, tiny apartment from the very first post on The Powdered Plum), she brought an interesting situation to the table. Extremely lactose intolerant. Allergic to peanuts. But not at all picky and very sweet and willing to try things - even if they make her sick. Now, that's a gal worth fixing something special for, wouldn't you say? 

Vegan Chocolate Cake - Orange Glaze Close-up

I started keeping almond milk on hand (and found I actually somewhat prefer it in baking), and I decided to try out this vegan cake recipe for Carol and Matt's joint birthday party since Katie would be among our guests. (It should be noted that Matt helped by making the non-vegan cake for the party. He is a sweet, well-meaning gentleman.) I went through a ton of recipes before I found one that sounded in the least bit promising. I don't have a lot of experience making anything more than vegan-friendly cookies, and chocolate cake has a tendency to be dry without dietary restrictions applied. I know full-well there are a myriad of fantastic, successful vegan recipes out there whose ingredients can put eggs and milk to shame, but it took a while before pinning down the right one. I do believe, however, it has been accomplished.

Vegan Chocolate Cake - Sugar Coated Goodness

This chocolate cake is moist and delicious, and the orange glaze is absolutely perfect. I have a go-to non-vegan chocolate cake recipe that's hard to beat on flavor, but you can't win over the extreme ease (and low cost) of this option. I'd really put them on the same level, to be honest. Plus, this one doesn't take five hours to assemble! 

If you like the combination of orange and chocolate, definitely go for this particular icing recipe. It hardens just enough to add a nice mouth-feel and is sweet enough to perfect the flavor of the cake. However, if oranges aren't your thing or you're not sure you want to have an entire cake of it, by all means, adapt it to your preferences. As long as the amounts are the same, it'll turn out just fine (and you can always experiment to see what works for you.)

Recipe Ahead!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Texan's BBQ Pitt [Local Dish]

Texan's BBQ Pitt - Pulled Pork Platter


My father's love of barbecue has become a bit of a running joke in my family. Back when they still lived in the state, we ate something smoked, pulled, basted, etc. at least a few times a week, (or at least that's what it felt like at the time), and the idea of the next possible barbecue journey was never too far from thought. While, at the time, I didn't fully appreciate my father's [manly] appetite for charred flesh, it's a taste I've completely developed for myself over time. We all become our parents eventually, I suppose. I'm just lucky that mine are of such an excellent stock.

Texan's BBQ Pitt - Carol the Lovely

Carol, my most beloved, and I typically go on Groupon dates. When the husband is off playing in Magic tournaments and her boyfriend is sipping a fine ale with friends, we take a restaurant deal from Groupon, Living Social, Amazon Deals, or the like and try out new places. Most recently, we went to Texan's BBQ Pitt out in Crestwood, Kentucky - near her old stomping grounds. We didn't really know what to expect outside of the usual fare, and the usual fare is pretty much what we got. But it was really good. I hate to be so inarticulate, but that's about all there is to it.

Texan's BBQ Pitt - Similar Taste in Men

The pulled pork was tender and moist. The sides (we got macaroni and cheese, baked apples, and green beans, respectably) had the right liquid to substance ratio. And they give you an absolutely huge portion of food - well enough to cover the cost (averaging around $10 a dinner plate). Most importantly, their house barbecue sauce was at a good place between sweet and tangy. Carol and I have similar tastes, overall, but our attitudes towards sweet, salty, and sour differ drastically. We were both very happy with our experience there. I would recommend it, and I would go again! I might even take my father, although we're all a little spoiled by his Big Green Egg.

If you want some good Kentucky barbecue and you're in the area, you should definitely check them out!

Also, I'm just going to put this here....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Artist: Samantha Deitz [Features]

The Royal House of Higgs

The painting featured above this paragraph is home to three very familiar (fuzz)faces – namely those of our cats Daggett, Chandler, and Pazuzu. I never thought I’d reach a point in my life when I would need an elaborate, Victorian-royalty inspired portrait of my pets, but, having commissioned one this past year, I don’t know how I ever thought our home was complete without one.

The mastermind and talent behind such a work of art is Samantha Deitz – a local Louisvillian artist and the proprietor of a fantastic business by the name Creatures of Distinction (was there ever such an apt moniker?). I was first made aware of Sam through a mutual friend. Erin, also being my upstairs neighbor, has a bunny by the name of Plumkiln. Apparently one day Sam asked if she could take a few pictures of him for a silly side project, and then, within a matter of a couple weeks, came back with this:

If that isn’t talent, I don’t know what is…

I didn’t approach Sam immediately for a painting of “our boys”, but it was never too far from my mind. Eventually, I asked if she would bless our home with her brush – and she surely did just that.

If the painting isn’t enough, Sam is an utterly, all-around fantastic person. She’s very easy to work with, quick to communicate, sweet as a button, and humble beyond your wildest dreams… she’s also just got a pretty kick-ass personality and sense of humor. She’s very driven, but she’s incredibly flexible. She really worked with me to figure out exactly what we wanted on top of our mantle. And, boy, did we sure get it.  It’s the easiest sum of money I think I’ve ever spent in pursuit of decorating our home.

If Sam’s work interests you or you would just like to see more of it (and why wouldn’t you?) You can find her on Facebook or on her website – Creatures ofDistinction. She, also, has a personal website in the making, which I will post here once it’s fully realized. She's beyond a delight to work with. Matt and I feel very special to have been her first "cat customers," and we're looking forward to commissioning her again in the future!