It was by chance I came to meet and live with Geli, and I am the better for having known her. She was always an incredibly understanding and level headed person, with a fabulous air of drama, especially whilst watching “Empire”. These qualities absolutely seep into her photography; you can tell her subjects are completely at ease in her hands, and she has an ability to capture the mood of the moment.
She has since relocated home to Dallas, where she still furiously pursues her photography career. You can find her work, and contact information on her website arjphotography.co.
Valentine's Day is approaching! This is where most single ladies go cringe in a corner. However, if you are like myself, then you just see this as any other day of the year. It's filled with a tradition of teddy bears, chocolate, roses, hearts and kisses. Who needs chocolate anyway? *raises hand* This day is targeted for couples, yet leaves the single lad and lady out in the cold. When did it become not okay to be single on this day? I say take this day head on, don't feel embarrassed or left out in the cold because you don't have a significant other next to you. Take yourself out! Treat yourself to a fabulous dinner....buy some sexy lingerie! Even whip out a nice bottle of wine. Do it for YOU! Even if you don't have that someone special, REMEMBER, you are someone special and you don't need Valentine's Day to validate that.
Single and Fab in TX
Check out Cait's "Galentine's Day" Brunch recipes!
To start I recommend making the berry reduction, chili, whipped cream, waffles, and chop the potatoes before the guests arrive. The berry reduction is better served at room temperature, as I noticed when served hot it made the waffles too soggy. I also found that when I made the waffles right before serving, when I put them in the oven to keep warm they got a bit soft and soggy. Later when I toasted the leftovers I found they firmed up and had a delightfully crispy crust. The whipped cream is fine to sit in the fridge, and it won't require you hastily cleaning out the waffle batter bowl in order to whip it up, less time and hassle. And lastly, chili always tastes better if it has time to cook down and sit.
If this is all prepped beforehand you will have very little that will require your attention once the guests have arrived and the champagne is popped! This menu will easily serve 7 people, and possibly upwards of 9 or 10. I like to have leftovers, so if you're cooking for a smaller crowd this will still work, you'll just have more to enjoy later!
1 ¾ cup buttermilk, if no buttermilk available you can add 1 ¾ tbsp lemon juice to regular milk
5 tbsp melted butter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp granulated sugar
* You can double this easily if you feel your guests are on the level with Ms. Knope and feel a heaping scoop of whipped cream is necessary to enjoy waffles
Mixed berry reduction:
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 tsp butter
2 tbsp pomegranate juice (or cranberry)
1 tsp limejuice
1 tsp granulated sugar
6 oz turkey breakfast sausage
1 14 oz can black beans
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground red pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheese, Mexican blend
5 green onions, chopped
When starting on this recipe it can seem daunting, so it’s best to break it down into its parts. Begin with the Berry Reduction; place a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. When the bubbling subsides add the berries and pomegranate/cranberry juice, stirring to coat everything evenly. Once the berries have begun to break down, after about 2 minutes add the limejuice and sugar, stirring everything together making sure the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and let everything reduce until the berries have completely broken down. I find it helps to break up the berries a little bit with my spatula, in order to ensure all the flavors are melding together.
Once the mixture is to your desired consistency, a bit like soupy jelly, take off the heat and transfer to a small heatproof bowl.
Meanwhile in a 12 inch non-stick pan brown the turkey sausage over medium to medium-high heat. When the sausage is cooked most of the way through and has a nice brown color add in the drained, rinsed black beans, diced tomatoes, and salt. Stir everything into an even consistency, and then add in all the spices. Give it one last good stir to incorporate the spices, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes on the back burner. This will allow the chili ingredients to breakdown and form a nice consistency.
When you finished the reduction and the chili is simmering, you can move onto the whipped cream and waffle batter. I like to start with the batter, as it’s best if it sits for at least 10-15 minutes before you put it in the waffle iron. In a medium mixing bowl, or in your stand mixer, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients, then combine the wet and dry ingredients making sure to whisk out any clumps of the dry ingredients.
If you are using your stand mixer for both the batter and whipped cream, transfer the batter to the bowl you used for the dry ingredients and set aside.
To make the whipped cream pour the heavy whipping cream into the mixer and beat on medium-high for about a minute, until you see bubbles forming. Turn off and add the other ingredients and whip on high until firm peaks form. Turn this out into a smaller bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
This is where you can decide when to make the waffles. I didn’t have a good waffle iron when making these, so I found they were much better when I made the waffles, then toasted them right before I was ready to serve. This might be too time consuming, and were I to have a good waffle iron I’m confident the waffles would come out the desired consistency. If you would like to make them before people show up, I recommend using a ½ cup measurement to scoop the batter into the waffle iron. Each waffle iron will require a different amount of batter, so I would use your judgment, or the instructions for the iron, to determine how much batter to use. When the waffles are all made, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towel to keep them from getting too soggy. You can place this in the oven to keep it out of the way, just make sure you take them out before preheating the oven for the Sausage Egg Muffins! This is something I tend to forget, and it can ruin your waffles.
This dish could easily be made vegetarian by either using a veggie sausage, or simply omitting the sausage. I wanted an easy egg dish that wouldn’t take up too much time, but that also would stretch to serve a number of people. This proved to be an absolute hit, and I ended up with only 3 leftover out of a total of 15 muffins. These can also be made the day before if you would like to have little to actively do the day of your brunch.
6 oz turkey sausage
1 medium shallot
¾ lbs crimini mushrooms, small dice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3 egg whites
1 cup milk
½ cup shredded 4 cheese Italian blend
½ tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325º
Begin by browning the sausage over medium heat and cook all the way through; transfer to bowl lined with paper towel to absorb some of the excess fat. Drain off any fat from the pan, reserving 1 tsp to cook the shallots in.
Over medium heat cook the diced shallot in the 1 tsp of sausage fat. If the sausage doesn’t produce enough fat simply use 1 tsp of butter. Cook the shallots until slightly browned, then add in the diced mushrooms, making sure to stir well to coat them in any excess fat/butter in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add a tsp of Worcestershire sauce and stir to coat. After about 5 minutes of cooking, or until the mushrooms are nicely browned, remove from heat.
While the shallots and mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, onion powder, and about ½ tsp of salt. Dice the green onions and set aside until you are about to cook the muffins.
Add the meat, mushroom mixture, and green onions to the eggs and stir well. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out the egg mixture into a greased muffin tin, then sprinkle the cheese over each individual muffin. Put in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and brown and the eggs have set up with a nice firm consistency.
Let the muffins stand for about 5 minutes to cool, then using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the muffins and turn them out onto an oven safe plate. I like to keep the muffins in the warm, but turned-off oven, in order to keep them a nice temperature for serving. You could also make these the day before and heat them up in the oven at 250º for about 5-10 minutes.
While I love those crispy savory home fries you get at your local diner, I wanted something relatively low-maintenance to make, that was also not laden with grease. I found that adding the potatoes and covering the pan led to a faster cooking time, but it also developed a nice find (the yummy brown stuff that collects on the pan), which when deglazed with the stock reincorporated nicely with the potatoes. This can be served with catsup, but is flavorful enough to eat on it’s own. Though if you add a dollop of the sour cream from the waffles and chili to the potatoes it adds a nice zing as well.
2 medium russet potatoes, ½ inch dice
2 medium sweet potatoes, ½ inch dice
½ large sweet onion, small dice
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ cup chicken stock
Begin by melting the butter in a large skillet with tall sides over medium to medium-high heat. When the bubbling subsides add the diced onions and cook until nicely browned and translucent. Add the potatoes to the onions and stir to coat in the butter. Then add the salt, onion powder, rosemary and Worcestershire sauce and stir well; you want to make sure all the potatoes get coated in the flavorful ingredients. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure nothing is burning on the pan.
After about 10 minutes remove the lid and add about ¼ cup of the stock and scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan so it sticks to the potatoes. If you find there is still a lot caked onto the pan add the rest of the stock, stir, and cover again. Cook for another 10-20 minutes checking and stirring them intermittently making sure everything is cooking evenly, and nothing is burning on the pan.
If you find the flavor is a bit flat, you can always add more salt or Worcestershire sauce to the potatoes. If it needs more rosemary add ground rosemary, as if you use dried rosemary you will find it doesn’t soften enough and you could bite down on what feels like a small stick.
When the potatoes are finished leave them in the covered pan until you are ready to serve, this will keep them from drying out as well as keeping them warm.