Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shout Out To My Grizzlies

Thank you Grizzlies for an incredible season.  We are all so proud of all of you guys and can't wait for next year.  I hope you all know how much you mean to this city.  Grind on. #GRIZZNATION

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Yellow on Yellow



Sweater: Thrifted, Dress (worn as a skirt): Forever 21, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Assorted Jewels

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretzel Dogs

Have you ever had a pretzel dog?  The first one I ever had was from Einstein Brothers Bagels.  It was super greasy and salty and I was totally hooked.  A). soft pretzels are awesome and B). hot dogs are awesome.

On a side note, I really hate it when people say they hate hot dogs.  NO YOU DON'T!  NO ONE HATES HOT DOGS!  You just think you are better than everyone else.  People who hate hotdogs say condescending things like, "I try to take care about my body, so I don't eat things like that" or "don't you know how they make hotdogs?" Yes, thank you, I know how they make hot dogs and I don't care.  Hot dogs are awesome. Get over yourself, you sudo hotdog haters.

Now that we have come to the conclusion that everyone loves hot dogs, it is safe to say that everyone will love these pretzel dogs.  I took these to our weekly Game of Thrones party and people went nuts over them.  I got more compliments for these than for anything I've ever taken over there.  Including homemade cinnamon rolls.  And I make awesome cinnamon rolls!  Yeah.  These dawgs are dope.

Also, this is really easy.  I realize that, these days, homemade doughs are out-of-bounds for most home cooks, but they aren't hard.  The trick is making sure the yeast foams.  If your yeast gets foamy, your dough will rise.  If not, throw it out and try again.  Yeast can be a little fickle, but if it foams up, you're good to go.  Then you just wrap the dough around your dogs, boil them, and bake them.  That's it.

Confession: recipes like this are how I fool people into thinking I'm a good cook.  I'm not a very good cook.  I'm just not afraid to fail.  But when I show up to a party with homemade pretzel dogs, I look like an Iron Chef (ok, that might be a little extreme, but you know what I mean).  As my mother-in-law says, "if you can't convince them, confuse them."  I'm not really sure why she says this all the time, but it seems applicable to this conversation.

So next time you have a little time, try these pretzel dogs.  A homemade soft pretzel is a million times better than those ones that you get in the food courts in malls.  Who knows how long those things have been spinning in that little case.  Days, weeks even?  I don't want to know.

On another side note, I love food blogs.  I get this recipe via Cupcakes and Cashmere, who got it via Joy the Baker, who got it via Alton Brown.  And now I am bringing it to you.

Pretzel Dogs (via all of those wonderful people)

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar 
1 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
Kosher salt
hot dogs

In the bottom of a stand mixer (a.k.a. a KitchenAid mixer), mix your warm water, sugar, and yeast.  If you don't have a KitchenAid mixer, that's ok.  You can mix all your dough in a bowl and then knead it by hand.  

Let the yeast mixture stand for 5 minutes.  Your yeast should get foamy.  If it doesn't, throw it out and try again.  

Add flour, salt, and butter to the yeast mixture.  Using the dough hook, mix ingredients together on a low speed.  Once they are combined, turn the mixture to a medium speed and let it run for about 4 minutes.  Your dough should pull away from the bowl and be a little bit sticky.  

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a turned-off oven for 1 hour.  After an hour, your dough should look like this:
Now that your dough is all beautiful and fluffy and wonderful, turn it out onto a cutting board and cut into 8 equal pieces (for full size pretzel dogs) or 16 pieces (for half size pretzel dogs).  I cut mine into 16, like so:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add baking soda to the water.  While the water comes to a boil, get your dogs all wrapped up.  First, roll pieces of dough into 12 inch strips.  
Wrap individual hot dogs in long strips of dough.  Pinch the ends of the dough so that your hot dogs don't poke out.  Hot dogs should be fully encased in your pretzel dough.  
Drop your pretzel dogs into the boiling water.  Boil for about thirty seconds.  Pull out of the water with a slotted spoon or a slotted spatula and place on a greased sheet pan.

Brush with your egg and top with Kosher salt.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 12-14 minutes.  
And there you have it!  Pretzel dogs!  These are so yummy.  They don't even need mustard.  But some mustard wouldn't hurt.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hump Day Artist: Tom McGrath

This week's Hump Day Artist is Tom McGrath.  Tom McGrath was the Artist-in-Residence when I was at UT Knoxville.  McGrath was the first "real" artist I ever met.  He lived in New York, he had gallery representation, and he knew everything.  Or it seemed like he did.  Listening to him talk was so overwhelming.  He introduced me to hundreds of artists that I had never heard of, who still heavily influence my work.  I remember he went to New York one week for a solo show.  When he came back he told us that he had sold every painting in the show.  I was completely amazed.  It was so inspirational to learn from an artist who was playing the game, and playing it well.

The painting above is one that Tom McGrath was working on while at UT.  Seeing how other artists work is really thrilling.  It's incredible to see something slowly evolve from wood and canvas to this beautiful object.  Tom McGrath work is incredible and I still look at it often, but more influential for me was his lifestyle and his practice.

I used to dream of picking up and moving to New York and being a big shot artist.  I've come to realize that that is not for me.  I'd much rather contribute to a growing art scene, than get lost in a sea of artists trying to hit the big time.  However, there is so much to learn from artists who actually make it.  Studying their work, reading their interviews and artists statements, and seeing how they work is vital for a growing artist.

Oh, and did I mention that his work is phenomenal?

To see more of Tom McGrath's work, go to suescottgallery.com

All images from suescottgallery.com










Tuesday, May 14, 2013

GRIZZNATION





Is there anything better than watching your team win in a crowded bar?  Everyone is yelling and high-five-ing and jumping up and down.  The only thing better is actually being at the game.  Last night's Grizz game was incredible.  If you didn't see it, we beat the Thunder in overtime and it was the best thing ever.

This is what I wore to watch the game.  I'm thinking about splurging on a jersey, but I can't decide which player's jersey I would want.  I want them all!

Styling team gear can actually be a bit difficult.  Most people tend to go with jeans and a jersey, but I find that a little boring.  I saw a woman at the bar last night with white jeans, a Grizzlies jersey, a slouchy sweater, and super tall wedges.  She looked awesome!  The jersey was part of the outfit, it wasn't dominating it.  My husband wears a Grizzlies pin on his white coat and always gets compliments on it.  How do you style team gear?

#GRIZZNATION

Jacket: Old Navy, Shirt: Forever 21, Harem Pants: American Apparel, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Assorted Jewels

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sheer Stripe



Hi, my name is Meredith and I am a Stripe-aholic.  I have a problem.  Stripes + Spring = Awesome

Sheer Blouse: Forever 21, Striped Top: Old Navy, Jeans: Levi's, Boots: Urban Outfitters, Watch: Fossil, Assorted Jewels

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hump Day Artist: Greely Myatt

urbanartcommission.org
This week's Hump Day Artist is Greely Myatt, a local Memphis artist.  Myatt works with almost every media: paint, light, wax, metal, wood.  The list goes on and on.  But his subject is always influenced and determined by his Southern upbringing and lifestyle.  It's hard to sum up his work, but I loved this quote by Leslie Lubbers, head of the Art Museum at the University of Memphis:

"Myatt's point of departure has meandered from the South to the suburbs, from the vernacular of the rural roadside to the domestic Americana of antique malls and Pottery Barn.  He has fashioned from found materials objects of homey resonance, including quilts, rag-rugs and cake stands, with Guston and Johns, Nancy and Sluggo and Myatt's grandmother peeking out from behind the conceptual curtains: their presence (and the artist's) betrayed by word balloon/clouds and other allusive devices." (davidluskgallery.com)

I think this sums up what Memphians love about Greely Myatt.  His work is incredibly aware of art history and current art goings-on, while still maintaining a sense of the South.  It's refreshing to see work that focuses on the South without relying on negative stereotypes or people-pleasing imagery.  Myatt's work is smart and Southern.  Yes, the two can exist together.

Myatt is the head of the Sculpture Department at the University of Memphis.
davidluskgallery.com

urbanartcommission.org

davidluskgallery.com

davidluskgallery.com
davidluskgallery.com
davidluskgallery.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Super Prep








I've been feeling super preppy lately.  Maybe it's the mild spring we've been having here in Memphis.  Normally if you even look at a sweater in May you will start sweating.  The cooler temperatures have allowed me to wear some combinations I normally would never be able to and I'm loving it!

Chambray Shirt: Gap, Sweater: American Eagle (men's), Belt: Vintage Levi's, Pants: Target, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Assorted Jewels

Friday, May 3, 2013

Homemade Sushi with Spicy Rice

There are some things that are better left to the professionals.  Plumbing, for example.  Or making smoked salmon (sorry Ina, it doesn't even look easy when you do it).  I've recently discovered that making sushi is NOT one of those things.

But.......it's so tiny.  And so perfectly rolled.  And so expensive.  You must have to be a professional to make sushi, right.  Wrong!  This is the easiest meal I've made in a long time.  It's like making a sandwich but way better (not to hate on sandwiches, I do love me a good sandwich).  It was so easy that Olie and I ate sushi for dinner........and then for a late night snack.......and then for lunch the next day.  Oh, did I mention I have six rolls in my fridge waiting to be eaten today and tomorrow?  Yeah.  I'm hooked.

I crave sushi a lot, but I never eat it.  It is so expensive in restaurants that I always avoid it.  But guess what? Making sushi at home is super cheap!  I used imitation crab, which was $2.50.  The Nori (dried seaweed that you roll it in) was $2 for a pack of ten.  I probably spent about $5 max on the veggies, and rice is so cheap it's basically free.  All of this makes a ton of sushi rolls.  How much is a roll of sushi in a restaurant?  Anywhere from $6-$12?  No thank you!  I will never go to a restaurant and order over-priced sushi again.

This is a must-try recipe.  Simple, cheap, and delicious?  What else could you want?  A money tree? World peace?  A place that sells donuts and has beer on tap? (maybe that is just me)  Stop dreaming and make this sushi.  I promise you, you will be so shocked by how simple it it.

Sushi with Spicy Rice

First make your rice.  I make rice in a rice cooker.  Some people are rice whisperers, but I am not one of them.  If you have a rice cooker, you should use it for this recipe because it makes the rice really sticky.  I used 2 scoops of white rice and 1 scoop of brown.  Don't use only brown rice unless you want to eat all of your sushi that day.  It doesn't taste as good the next day.  It gets kind of dry and crunchy.  Not good.

Once you have made your rice, add a few squirts of Lite Soy Sauce, 2 big spoonfuls of Sambal Olek (a chili, garlic sauce, most grocery stores carry it), 4 minced garlic cloves, and an equal amount of grated ginger.  The rice will be super spicy and aromatic.  Resist the temptation to eat it all.  Let it cool for a bit; you don't want to be working with hot rice.  No burnt fingers. (On a side note, this rice is a great, quick side dish.)

Now prep your veggies, crab and dipping sauce.  You can use whatever veggies you like, but I used cucumber, radishes, and avocado.  A little cream cheese would also be delicious.  Just slice everything up nice and thin.  The imitation crab I bought was a little thick, so I just pulled it in half.  For my dipping sauce, I used soy sauce, red chiles, and green onions.  You can find wasabi and pickled ginger in the Asian section of your grocery, if that is more your style.  Another plus to this recipe is that you can do a lot of this prep work early in the day.  Which makes the sushi even easier.

Now it's time to roll!  This is the part that intimidates people.  But we will not be intimidated!  Sushi was invented by fisherman to keep fish from spoiling.  It wasn't invented by a crazy Iron Chef, as I had imagined.  If fishermen can do it, we can do!

You are supposed to use a sushi mat to roll the sushi.  I used a clean towel and it worked just fine.  If you want your rice to be on the outside of the roll, you will need a sushi mat and some plastic wrap.  But keep it simple your first time.  Use a towel and put the rice on the inside of the roll.  It tastes the same.

On the back of the nori package there should be some sushi instructions.  These are very helpful.  However, if you buy nori at an Asian grocery (which I would suggest, because it will probably be even cheaper) your instructions may not be in English.  So, I'll tell you how to do it.

Place your nori shiny side down on the towel.  Lay a thin layer of rice over the nori, leaving a one inch strip at the end further away from you.
Now, add your crab and veggies to the center of the rice.  Don't overfill!  You don't need a lot of stuff in the middle or your roll will fall apart.
Grab the edge of the towel closest to you.  Lift the towel and begin to fold the sushi while also holding the fillings in the center.  Once the fillings are rolled, just keep rolling until it comes together.  Use the towel to shape and compress the roll if you need to.

Time to slice!  Use the sharpest knife you have, preferably serrated.  Each roll makes about 9 or 10 pieces.  If you are saving rolls for the next day, don't slice them.  The sushi will keep a lot better all nice and rolled up.  Olie and I slice 2 rolls to eat and then wrap the leftover rolls in a cloth napkin and place in the fridge.
Now enjoy!  And get creative!  Change up your fillings, change up the rice, go crazy!  This is so easy that you can get really experimental with it.  Just don't be afraid of it.  It doesn't take an expert to make this dish.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chocolate Tacos with Ice Cream and Peanuts


So, if you don't have the May issue of Cooking Light, stop what you are doing, get in your car and go get it right now.  I've been a Cooking Light subscriber for years, but I often just flip through the magazine to get ideas/inspiration and only make a few actual recipes.  However, I've already made three of the recipes from this month's magazine and there are about ten more I am dying to try (Microwave Meatloaf!? Are you kidding me!?).  And there is a whole article just about tacos.  That's where this little gem came from.

I love tacos in all shapes, sizes and forms.  I think anything you put on a tortilla just tastes better.  So when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.  It combines my two favorite things: baking and tacos.  And ice cream.  And chocolate.  Ok, this recipe is a lot of favorites.

This recipe is great for non-bakers.  The actual baking part is really easy.  Also a plus: these are really cheap to make.  I'm always a fan of anything I can serve to company that isn't expensive but looks really impressive.  These are also just really fun to make.  Except for when I burned my fingers shaping the chocolate taco shells.  That wasn't super fun.  You balance the hot shells on wooden spoons and shape them around the spoons.  It's kind of hilarious, actually.
Now, the shells are very delicate.  As you can see above, I cracked one of them by my overzealous shaping.  Be gentle with the shell.  When you shape them, use a paper towel as a barrier between your fingers and the shell.  I didn't do that.  Learn from my mistakes.  They are more flexible when they are piping hot, but burnt fingers are not the goal here.

I had a bunch of Olie's friends over the other night for dinner and I made these for desert.  Needless to say, they totally destroyed them.  I had one left over, but that was because no one wanted to be the guy who ate the last Chocolate Taco (a couple of guys kept opening the freezer just to look at that last taco.  It was cracking me up).

I made this recipe by the books, but you could definitely change it up a bit.  I think my next ice cream tacos will have strawberry ice cream in the middle and be coated in pistachios.  I also want to do a vanilla shell with chocolate ice cream, but that is going to take some experimenting.

Click on the link below for the full recipe.  Disclaimer: I had to add a little extra milk to my taco shells.  The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but my batter was still really dry.  I think I added more like 3 or 4 teaspoons.  My shells were still very delicious.  So if your batter is too dry, just add a little more milk.

For the full recipe, go to:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-tacos-ice-cream-50400000127528/