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The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

The Season Has Ended…No More Pumpkin

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. It was a day to sit and make memories with our family and friends. We ate turkey with all the expected, loved and tasty trimmings. For some families that includes a decadent pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving’s arrival and departure means more to me than just the closure of a wonderful gathering. It means we can say goodbye to the almighty pumpkin. Yes you read that right. We no longer with pumpkin flavored anything. No more PSL.. you know…Pumpkin Spice Latte. No more pumpkin bread or pumpkin flavored ice cream It comes to a screeching halt. And I do a dance of glee.

While the rest of America was going crazy over the pumpkin , I was paying homage to the apple. Yes, apple. I’m sure the first thing that pops into your mind is the great American Apple Pie. A favorite for sure but the apple helps to create tons of memories. I have made apples cooked in a caramel sauce eaten with pancakes, apple butter used to make a glasze for pork belly sliders, apple stuffed baked french toast, apple dumplings served a la mode, a grown up version of an ice cream float made with hard cider (you can watch the video here). There is NO end to what can be done with the great apple. Sweet or savory the apple stands up to a variety of uses.

Since the weather is getting colder I wanted to share a recipe that would be great for family gatherings or spiked for an adult  get together, Hot Apple Cider. Now this is more than just warmed up apple juice. When done right it is a mug of warmth filled with just the right amount of spice to make your whole body yield to relaxation. The power of the mug is amazing. And with the adult additions….well you can only imagine how mellow it can become.

Hot Apple Cider

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 apple, cut into slices
  • 1 orange, cut into slices
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice

Add cider along with apple and orange slices to a large pot. Add the rest of ingredients into a large tea ball (making sure to break cinnamon sticks in half to fit in ball). Add to tea ball to pot and bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes on the stove top.  Then serve with fresh apple slices or maybe a few pieces of clove in a mug. If you want to make it an adult version add a shot of your favorite spiced rum or maybe a shot of caramel vodka for caramel apple hot cider to each mug.

Now that you have this recipe I want you to go forward and make plenty of memories with it.

Until next time,

~The Chef In Pearls

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Meatless Mondays…Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Meatless Mondays…Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Recently I served as a guest speaker and demonstrator at an event called The Veggie Connection. It was an expo for vegetarians and vegans to learn about new products and companies that support their eating habits & beliefs. There were speakers, demonstrations and tons of food vendors. How does a carnivore find herself amongst a sea of herbivores? How did I fit into this non-meat equation? Easily as before I am anything else, I am a chef.  During my talk, I spoke about what I know and that is food and cooking, with or without meat.
Black Bean & Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cans black beans (drained & rinsed)

1 1/2 cups cut corn

1 small red onion diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I use flat leaf parsley)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 of a fresh lime

2 1/2 -3 cups shredded colby jack cheese (shred your own)

10-12 flour tortillas (taco size)

1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce

In a fine mesh strainer rinse quinoa with water and allow to drain. Bring vegetable stock to boil then add quinoa. Bring back up to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes then fluff grans with a fork.

Pre-heat oven to  In a bowl add black beans, corn, diced onions, cilantro, quinoa and spices. Mix through. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings if needed. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Lay 2-3 tortillas to cover bottom of dish, overlapping is fine. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tortillas then layer on black bean mixture. Then top with some shredded cheese. Repeat layering two more times. Tortillas, sauce, black bean mixture and cheese  ending with tortillas. Finish with enchiladas sauce and top with cheese. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until center is heated through and cheese is bubbly. Let cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into squares.
You can serve with rice and a salad. Or just a salad. Sour cream and guacamole are excellent accompaniments.

When you make this dish don’t forget to share pictures of it with me in the comments or through social media. I’d love to see your creations.

Now go forward and make new memories.

~ The Chef In Pearls

 

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A Quickie…Firsts

A Quickie…Firsts

We all can remember “the firsts” of so many things in life. I can remember the first boy I kissed. The first time I was allowed to wear high heels. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner by myself. All firsts and all a little scary. But I took chances and got through them, mastering some more than others. As I become older, I still experience firsts. This past Saturday, I experienced a first that scared and saddened me deeply. This was the first time in 4 years that I cancelled one of my events. I did it quietly. Removing the event from the ticketing page I created and then refunding money to those already registered. I never made a formal announcement. I still thanked those who notified me they would not be able to attend as if everything was still a go. My family, closest friends and supporters knew. Each one trying their best to comfort me but the reality was it was a door that needed to be closed. Yeah, a really bummer.

My ladies lunch series came to life out of a need for me to get back into the kitchen. I had gone through a dark period in my life where cooking became something I avoided. I went from the mom that made everything from scratch to the Chef Boyardee-can opening-instant potato making-no more Sunday dinner making-I used to be a chef kind of cook.. It was hard for me to get out of that place and the lunch series helped me to re-embrace one of my loves. What started as a Mother’s Day lunch grew into a personalized therapy plan for me, something to soothe my soul. I looked forward to creating new menu ideas and fun ways of presenting food to my ever growing guest list. I always wanted everyone to walk away, not just full with food, but full with life from the interactions and connections they made while attending. I wanted everyone to walk away with gift bags and a desire to return and share in the fellowship the next time. The fact of the matter is the Ladies Lunch was successful as it served its purpose. I am back in the kitchen now. I am back to enjoying the kitchen as my place of peace. I am at a place where I want to share my knowledge with others and have fun doing it. Last year, I created the Exclusive Party of One as an avenue to do so. I will be focusing more of my time on educating and speaking about food and cooking as well as the importance it plays in the lives we lead. So much comes about because of food and the kitchen and I look forward to the mark I will make in this area.

So with a heavy heart I must say goodbye to the C.I.P. Ladies Lunch series and open my arms to today’s opportunities and ventures and those to come.

I’ll end with a quote from The Queendom, “Queen, keep your chin up. All is not lost. Sometimes you have to lose to gain.” I have abundant memories from all of those events and I will cherish them as I do of others. So please go forward today and make a memory, especially one in the kitchen. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

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Forgotten Files but Unforgettable Places

Forgotten Files but Unforgettable Places

Cannot access this app. That’s what my phone notified me of when I tried to visit my picture gallery. I needed to delete some stuff in order to continue on my merry picture ways. That’s when I realized I had some forgotten files I had not shared of a few other places I visited last month. I may have forgotten to share the pics but the places made a mark on me. The first place being Kefenio. It’s this wonderful Greek cafe located in College Park. A couple of months prior I helped with an event and Kefenio was what we had for lunch. So when I got back to College Park, I had to make it to the restaurant. It was well worth the visit. I was even lucky enough to meet the Chef and owner, John. I decided on the lamb burger, which was moist and flavorful, with their french fries that came seasoned with garlic, oregano and salt. YUM. Make sure to get a side of tzatziki sauce to eat your fries with, well worth the extra cents. It will make you dance in your seat as you eat the fries. I promise, scouts honor.

 

 

While still scrolling through my pics I came across another one of my forgotten files I visited. Have you heard of Shake Shack? Well I have. It’s supposed to be a “Hip, counter-serve chain for gourmet takes on fast-food classics like burgers & frozen custard”. So you know I was super stocked when the YP Insiders got an opportunity to visit and dine at its location here in Georgia? It’s located in the Shops of Buckhead, Atlanta’s version of Rodeo Drive. I was ready to be blown away. Unfortunately I wasn’t. It’s not that the burgers are bad it’s just that they are average. It didn’t leave me wanting to make a trip back to Buckhead to partake again. I always feel when a restaurant as a specific food in their name I should be compelled to drive 45 minutes to have it every chance I get. With that being said the milkshakes were pretty average as well. I felt like I could’ve gotten the cookies and cream milkshake from a CookOut or Steak & Shake location. Nothing to write home about. But don’t let me dampen your parade. You check it out for yourself.

 

The final place located in my forgotten files was True Foods Kitchen.  This restaurant is located in Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, GA. This restaurant is dedicated to healthy eating style. They have menu items for vegans, vegetarians and those who eat gluten-free. There is something for everybody.  The foods are all locally sourced and prepared fresh daily. I was taken to lunch as a birthday treat by one of my friends and “students” Katrina Parker.  I got to sample their sustainable sea bass, the pizza with the house made chicken sausage and for dessert the flourless chocolate cake. I love good food especially when it’s good to you(body). I’d definitely tell a friend, as a matter of fact I’m going to text one right now.

Have you ever taken pictures of memorable places and forgotten to share them with others?  Or is it just me? Here are three new places for you to go and try out. Let me know in the comments where you have gone and what you think. Until next time, go forward and make memories.

~The Chef In Pearls

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Atlanta Foodies Meetup…Sandy Springs

Atlanta Foodies Meetup…Sandy Springs

I was heading to my first Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I hit traffic not once but twice but I was determined to make it to my first Atlanta Foodies restaurant  crawl. I am what’s known in Atlanta as an OTP-er. It means I live outside the perimeter of 285. The city lays ITP, Inside The Perimeter. Generally speaking I live about 45 minutes outside the city of Atlanta. I know if I plan to make it anywhere in the city I need at least an hour and fifteen minutes so I am not late. On this particular day that was not enough time. I ended up spending about two hours trying to make it to my Atlanta Foodies meetup. I made it, late and a little frazzled but I made it. I do not let where I live affect me meeting new people and trying out new restaurants to share with you guys.

I finally arrived at Tupelo Honey Cafe . Our group organizer, Audrica of Napping on Mondays, was so gracious in helping me not feel bad about being late. I quickly got a seat and was introduced to the small group of attendees. I was a little late so food had already been brought to the table. What a spread it was. I think the pictures will do better than the words I could ever type. Between our waitress and the manager, we were made to feel like we would never want to leave and truly we didn’t want to. But there were more restaurants to visit and good eats wait for no one. Make sure you check them out in the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs.

The second stop on our restaurant crawl was Urban Cookhouse. All I can say is that I didn’t know I liked broccoli salad until UC. It was sweet and crunchy and just downright yummy. UC is a family friendly restaurant. It even has a drive thru for those days when you just can’t manage to get out of the car or don’t want to fuss with the kids inside a restaurant. The must have item on the menu is the Half Baked Cookie……MY GAWD! Seriously it’s not something you want to share with anyone else. So make sure everyone gets their own. Check them out the next time you’re in Sandy Springs.

Our finally stop on this restaurant crawl was Buttermilk Sky. Now technically we had dessert over at Urban Cookhouse but…Who can say no to pie? I sure couldn’t, so off to Buttermilk Sky we walked. At this point in the crawl the ethnic fatigue was starting to kick in. I knew I would still need to make it back to Conyers, you know OTP almost an hour away. I still pushed forward because my readers need to know what the Gateway Plaza in Sandy Springs has to offer them. I did it for you : )…LOL! Buttermilk Sky is a quaint little bakery that offers what I came to realize was some damned good pie.  Kimmie ,the owner, took time out to chat with us about her bakery and what it offers. (Check out my Facebook page for the videos) She then presented us with goodie bags with what else? … PIE. We got to take home her I-40 pie, which has fresh grated coconut, pecans and chocolate. Now anyone that knows me knows that I am not a fan of coconut but that pie was really good. We also got the All-American favorite…apple pie. I sampled it cold and then reheated it the next morning for breakfast (I know it wasn’t the healthiest breakfast but it sure did taste good. The green tea helped to balance it out some…LOL).  The crust on the pies were so buttery and flaky. And the fillings weren’t too sweet. They seemed almost perfect. I can’t wait to go back. Make sure to give Kimmie a visit and let her know you read about her on The Chef In Pearls.

I look forward to the next Atlanta Foodies Meetup. I got to meet some wonderful new bloggers including Shana of Technotini, Loren of Dating with Passports, Sharonda of Pay or Wait and our organizer Audrica of Napping on Mondays. I can’t wait to make more memories with Atlanta Foodies Meetup. Now you have 3 new restaurants to check out. Go forward and make new memories. Until next time.

~The Chef In Pearls

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Your New YP Insider

Your New YP Insider

Yep, you read that right. I am one of the newest YP Insider member. What is that you ask? Well, we are a group of individuals (mostly bloggers) hand selected to do reviews on businesses in the local Atlanta area. We get to have first hand experiences brought to us by the Yellow Pages and share our views on them. We write about everything from the local car detailing services to even the best place to have plastic surgery done. We have you covered in the review department on whatever you may be interested in.

Last night as apart of the YP Insiders, I got to attend an event at The Watershed. It’s a local Atlanta restaurant that serves “Local, seasonal, soulful dishes inspired by Southern tradition and prepared with present day artistry.”  You can find out more about them here. We had an opportunity to take part in small bites, wines and beer; all while networking. We even got a chance to meet Chef Zeb Stevens, the man behind the food.. Nothing better than getting to meet the person creating what you’re eating. He’s been with The Watershed family for a little over 18 months. He prides himself on bringing local and seasonal foods to the tables at The Watershed, while trying to keep within the southern feel of the menu. I love that he chose to do fried boneless, skinless thighs as opposed to the chicken breasts. We all know there’s more flavor in those thighs.

I look forward to other great events as a YP Insider. Being able to meeting other Insiders and saying my piece about businesses in and around the metro Atlanta area. So check out the reviews on the YP app or visit the site, you just might read one I’ve written. And when you find a moment go make some memories over at The Watershed. Let me know what you think.

 

~The Chef In Pearls

 

 

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Two Boutique Grand Opening

Two Boutique Grand Opening

I recently attended the opening of Two Boutique. What is Two Boutique, you ask? Well it’s a woman’s clothing store located in downtown Lithonia, GA. They carry designer pieces alongside their own custom brand, Two. I didn’t even have to get on my plus size soapbox because they carry all the way up to a size 3X. Yes, something for everyone.  Why two as a name? Well there are two owners, Monica Parrot and Pam Dixon. Aside from just offering a nice clothing experience Two also offers a wide range of other services. You can make an appointment for a personal shopping or styling session, a make-up session or maybe plan an event for you and your girlfriends ( a collaboration maybe in the works between Two and The Chef In Pearls. Keep an eye out).  Don’t forget to check out the Two website for everything they offer. If you make it down to Lithonia and visit  let Monica  or Pam know The Chef In Pearls said Hi. Go ahead and make some shopping memories with Two.

~The Chef In Pearls

 

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The Month of May

The Month of May

May. What can I say about the month of May except that it’s been one helluva ride.  May came complete with a roller coaster ride of up and downs.  I wanted to bask in the sun of Springtime but that seemed to get interrupted with life.  I am blessed to still be able to enjoy my mother on Mother’s Day. My Children did the one thing most people fear to do for me, they cooked me a lovely dinner. All the while trying to keep the sun on me I was still preparing for the one year anniversary of my other Dad’s death (Yes Cancer Sucks!). We planned a community outreach to help make people aware of their health and bring a little fun to the neighborhood. As if that was not hard enough, in the midst of all of the planning we got news that would break my mother’s heart once again. A close family friend, correction a son to my mother and a brother to me, was murdered. I tried to find solace in cooking but it hadn’t helped. The clouds were covering up my little sunshine.  It’s kind of hard to have all these beautiful memories of these great & wonderful men, knowing I wouldn’t be able to make new ones with them. I pushed those clouds to the side as I laughed and recalled the good times I had with the 2 of them.  Then life showed up once more as I try to bring closure to my marriage. Remembering the good times with my soon to be ex-husband made it hard but life must continue on. I try to find the silver lining in it all. The memories are what helps to pull you through the rough times. Life continued on.  I got some sunshine pushing hard through those clouds. It’s graduation season here in Atlanta and I knew quite a few graduates. I was more than happy for them and their families. Seeing the potential in all of them from the kindergarten graduate to my daughter-in-law who just presented her dissertation for her doctorates. Proud moments and some sun to bask in again. It’s the closing of the month. It’s a celebration of our fallen soldiers , which always marks the start of grilling season and the wearing of white. If ever there was a time when having wonderful memories to recall was most important the month  of May was it. I beg you to please go forward and make wonderful memories…tomorrow is promised to no one.

~The Chef In Pearls

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OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

OMG…It’s not the end of the month already?

April is high tailing it out of here and May is patiently waiting her turn. How did the time fly away from me so fast? I have been really busy this month. So busy that I haven’t written about not one thing I have done. I hang my head in shame…bad Chef In Pearls. I have been naughty and I kindly ask for your forgiveness.

Thank you for so graciously forgiving me. So since you have forgiven me I will provide you with a roundup of all I did this month.

 

Iris van Herpen

 

Let’s start with my first visit to the High Museum in Atlanta. It was a mother/daughter outing  to take in all the wonders of fashion Iris had to offer us. Iris van Herpen is a fashion designer like no other. I want you to think couture that is outside of the box now multiple that thought by…I don’t know…infinity.  There you have Iris van Herpen. She doesn’t just make dresses out of traditional fabric. She created clothing from things most would not even conceive of making clothing from. She collaborates with engineers, architects and so many more to create fabrics made of metal threads to dresses created through 3-D printing to everyday leather sculpted. Even when they told her it couldn’t be done she told them it could. What an inspiration!

Back at The High

As if one day at the museum wasn’t enough I went back two days later to check out the rest of the exhibits. Thanks to the Atlanta Haitian Consulate for sponsoring this day with free admission to the public. We got to view all the exhibits with special attention to Basquiat because he was Haitian. His work cut short by an early death but still well received by most. We got to experience a little Haitian culture while on the museum plaza. There was food to sample, dancing, music and so much culture. On the other side of the Basquiat exhibit was the Vik Muniz exhibit. I really enjoyed his works because a lot of the mediums he worked in were food. He worked in sugar, chocolate, peanut butter and jelly and so much more. I love people who can see things in new perspectives. His work reflected that

Music In Focus

I was able to attend the Music in Focus exhibit by Carolyn Grady at the Southwest Atlanta Arts Center. It was a trip down memory lane as I saw pictures of musicians I grew up with. It was such a delight see art from another angle.  She presented her photo work in a way that almost made them seem to pop of their canvas. All the work was black and white and printed on metal. It was like having each artist standing right their with you. I really love how she did that.

 

C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

Last but not least,The C.I.P. Ladies Lunch. It was the second meal of the year…Faux N.Y Strip(grilled Salmon, check out the Youtube video on how to create this dish right here), Indian Inspired Grilled Chicken Strips, Tri-Colored couscous with Sweet Peas & Mushrooms, Roasted Squash, Carrots and Asparagus and Tossed Salad. For dessert I taught the ladies how to make a Strawberry/Blackberry Compote that was served over Frozen Yogurt and Birthday cake. You read right we had another birthday celebration at this lunch. Only difference was that it was three different birthdays being celebrated and I had to allow Publix to make this birthday cake. They got an opportunity to be the first ones to purchase the new spice boxes I plan to roll out on the site. It included the major spices and the recipe card to use them. Be on the look out for them…coming soon. As always I want to thank the gift bag sponsors T.S.P, Naughty Goddess, Fab 222 and Botanical Bliss for the gifts they provided for the ladies. Don’t miss out on the next meal in September…From Dusk to Dark. It will be outdoors with a full tapas menu, wine and a few surprises for the evening. You can purchase your early bird tickets now right here

Life got a little carried away with me this month. I did make time for some memories though. I plan to to do better with posting…scout’s honor. May here we come even better than ever. Now get ready to go make new memories of your own in May.

~The Chef In Pearls

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We are at it again….C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

We are at it again….C.I.P. Ladies Lunch

Just in case you didn’t know I want to be the one to tell you. The Chef In Pearls is at it again. We will be hosting our second meal of the year on Sunday April 17, from 1-4 pm. The Chef In Pearls has long hosted a quarterly luncheon dedicated to women looking to connect, relax and enjoy a good meal. This year I officially opened it up to the public this year. With proper ID and a ticket purchase you can join in the festivities. To help keep things moving in the right direction I have joined forces with Kym Edwards, owner & founder of the Naughty Goddess, to be my co-host. While I throw it down in the kitchen she comes and facilitates the discussions with the ladies.  Our goal is to talk about health and wellness not just from the physical but mental and business aspects, too.We have discussions to help you make moves to the next step in your life, help you to see things from a different point of view.  Everyone is encouraged to kick back and relax because it’s a judge free zone.

 

The Menu

 

 

There’s still time to get your ticket for this event. Just click here and you’ll be a part of the fun.  Everyone who attends gets a full more, networking opportunities and a gift bag from our sponsors. You can view pics from our first meal of the year here.

Come on out so we can make new memories together.

~The Chef In Pearls

Gift Bag Sponsors

 

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The Chef In Pearls

Cassandra Mason is a Lifestyle Chef and Gourmet Cooking Instructor who enjoys demystifying the art of cooking for One. You can catch her live demonstrations across major social media as @TheChefInPearls.

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