5 Kitchen Hacks So You Don’t Get Hangry

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When cravings strike, there is just no way to tame my appetite. The hunger makes me frantic, ravaging through the pantry like a starving, sweating sugar-beast whose thirst will only be satisfied by fried food, cupcakes, or fried cupcakes. Unfortunately, all the excitement I felt when I decided I needed to EAT ALL THINGS was shot down by my wife, who, upon deciding that eating all the things was unacceptable, traded all my good snacks in for sea weed chips and…what is this? Protein powder? Kill me. I have crossed over from hunger to hanger, a completely justified feeling for when I am starving for Oreos but shortchanged by quinoa. I want to hit something. My stomach growls. This is a serious problem. I rummage more for something my mind knows isn’t there but my (chubby) heart holds on to hope. I spy with my (chubby) eye: 4 packets of tuna (no), rice cakes (no again), more seaweed chips (apparently these were on sale). So much NO in here…wait. What is that wrapper way up there in the corner? Could it be? A secret stash belonging to my wife, hidden from the kids and myself as she forces diet food upon me? Yeah, I am totally eating it. That’s what she gets for hiding…goo goo clusters! YESSSSSSSS. I waste no time eagerly ripping it open. If one of the kids catches me I will have to share it and that is not going to happen. Nope. Not to mention what will happen if the wife catches me in her stash. A smile starts in my belly and spreads across my face. I fumble with the wrapper and pull it apart dropping the holy grail of candy. I snatch it up, recalling the 5 second rule that I most certainly would have bent for the occasion if my beloved candy would have rolled under the table. One bite and my mouth is full of chewy, chocolatey, peanutty deliciousness. Two, three, four, bites and I can feel a little bit of chocolate drool running down my chin. I know there has to be more clusters hidden up there and I am going to eat them right now. I scarf the rest of the pilfered candy and go hunting. For a moment, I scold myself for so recklessly consuming the forbidden goodies and not even thinking about how dead I am when this stash disappears, but it is hard to care when I am being so generously rewarded for my thorough search of the pantry with a gooey chocolate embrace.

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of us can relate. You are reading this because you love food, and we foodies have our moments where self control goes out the window. A few days ago, I was reading “27 People Confess to the Fattest Thing They Have Ever Done.” I laughed through the entire thing. We have all been there. Our household completely revolves around food, so it is pretty tough to pinpoint the singular fattest thing I have ever done. I suppose if you think about it, a food-centric career is arguably the fattest possible thing that one can do, but I digress. In the name of pure gluttony, I present you with #fathacks. Tasty, caloric, and perhaps even slightly wrong, here are a couple tasty food combos for when you need to apologize to your taste buds for eating so much kale.

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1. Pizza eggs: Last nights cold, leftover pizza with a fried egg on top. Amazing for Sunday brunch when you are definitely too hung over to leave the house but your stomach is screaming “Grease! Give me grease or I will turn against you.!”

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2. Duke’s Mac & Cheese: Mix in a touch of duke’s mayo into your favorite cheese sauce for the ultimate tangy Mac & Cheese or simply layer that dukes mac and cheese inside of a grilled cheese. Mmmmmmayonnaise.

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3. The Elvis Cristo: Make a traditional peanut butter, banana, Benton’s bacon, and honey sandwich. Crush up some ritz crackers in a bowl. Dip the sandwich in beaten eggs and coat in the ritz crackers. Fry up in a pan in butter. Top with whatever jam you can find in the fridge. You’re heart will be all shook up!

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4. Cereal Milkshake: The heathy cereal in your pantry definitely won’t work for this one. You’re going to need something like captain crunch, fruity pebbles, or fruit loops. Grab a blender. Add milk, ice cream or gelato, and cereal. Place on the lid and pulse until you have a nice lumpy cereal milkshake. Top with whipped cream or more cereal. Or both.

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5. Chinese Breakfast: Chop up last night’s leftover Chinese food. It doesn’t matter what you have, it all will taste good. The only thing you have to have is leftover white rice. Sauté some onion and garlic in a bit of butter. Add the Chinese food and some soy sauce for moisture. Crack a couple of eggs in there, let them scramble with the food. Add some bacon if you want. Breakfast is served.

What’s your favorite #fathack? Leave us some comments on here, Twitter , or Instagram let us know. The best one submitted by this Friday will win a free dessert from Mason’s!

A love letter to Peach

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Dear Peach,

I’ve often wondered where you get your magnificent flavor from. I’m actually sad right now because I was duped as a child thinking those slimy canned peaches were what a peach actually tastes like. Oh how I was so wrong. Peach, I’m sorry it took us so long to find each other. You see growing up I never had the opportunity to eat a real peach. A Peach that grows on a tree. A peach that is bursting with flavor on a hot summer day. A peach with soft supple skin. Can I tell you a secret Peach? I love you! I do! Well, I think that’s what it’s called. All I know is that when I see you I get the warm fuzzies on the inside. That is love right? Peach…let’s runaway and get married. We can run to someplace warm, maybe settle on a farm down south, and have lots of little peaches running around. What do you say peach?

Peach, promise me one thing will you? Promise me you’ll be around and not leave me after Summer.

It’s summer and peaches are on my mind and abundant right now. Get on over to your local farmers market and pick you up some sweet peaches and try out this recipe for Sweet in the Summer Heat Peach Bbq sauce. It’s a great combination of tang, spice, and sweetness. Right now at Mason Bar we have these nice Smoky grilled chicken wings that are tossed in the bbq sauce that are so delicious! But it’s not just good on chicken. Try it with grilled shrimp, brushed on some ribs, drizzled on top of grilled corn, or even over a piece of grilled watermelon.

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Sweet in the Summer Heat Peach Bbq Sauce
Yields 9 cups

4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup minced vidalia onion
3 cups of GA peaches, peeled, seed removed, and small diced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 chipotle pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
3.5 cups of ketchup
1 cup of molasses
3 oz of local sorghum
2 oz of apple cider vinegar
2 oz Worcestershire
1 tbsp hot sauce

Add a small pot to the stovetop over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Once melted add onion and sweat for two minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional two minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot and turn the burner down to low heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes stirring periodically.

Living with Mageirocophobia

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Photo credits to Gereksizgercek.com

Have you ever had a day in the kitchen where it just seems like nothing goes right? Turn your head for one second and the pan is smoking on the stove top? Next thing you see is flames shooting from the pan and you quickly realize you have an emergency on your hands! You freeze not knowing what to do. Terrified of the impending doom that has unveiled itself in the form of a grease fire, you scramble and run. In circles. Screaming for help. I phone fumbling In your hands as you try to dial your significant other. No answer. You tell yourself, this is bad! Really, really bad! At this point you know what you shouldn’t do in this situation. You heard it from your mother, your coworkers, and even Rachel Ray. DONT PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE, but frantically you do it anyway committing a cardinal sin of cooking. The situation elevated from being horrible to a literal nightmare. The pan flairs and now the flames are out of control. You’ve exhausted all you’re resources so you decide to run as far as you can from the fire. You turn around to take a last glance and the house is in flames.

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It truly does seem like a nightmare and many home cooks have experienced this, including my wife who nearly burnt down our house a few years back. She now has a great fear of cooking. Being the stovetop warrior she is, she is now back in the kitchen but still isn’t completely comfortable cooking at high heat. There’s actually a term for this fear in the kitchen. It’s called Mageirocophobia, fear of the cooking process. In order for you to not be frightened by frying eggs or cooking bacon we have some tips for you if you ever experience a grease fire.

Have a bag of flour on standby ready. You see flames you throw flour on it!

No water, and I mean no water!

Regulate the temperature of your oil. Don’t keep the stove temperature cranked wide open.

Keep Calm.

Buy a flame retardent suit. Not the most fashionable but I bet you could accessorize.
I found this one on the web and really like the silver tone of color. I can see myself frying up lots of fried chicken in it.

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So there you have it. Simple tips to keep or start the excitement in the kitchen.

A Cool Summer Treat

Peach gazpacho

Here’s a cool, satisfying, and low fat snack perfect for summer. With it being so hot outside this is the ultimate soup that’ll cool you off.

Traditionally Gazpacho is a chilled soup originating from Andalusia. The soup was made by crushing vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, and a handful of weeks old bread in a mortar along with olive oil and vinegar. Imagine yourself getting ready to throw a dinner party and you had to make a big batch of gazpacho in a mortar. You would have gazpacho everywhere except for in the mortar. For this recipe I’ve simplified the prep work and highlighted beautiful seasonal ingredients such as cantaloupe and peaches. The only thing you need for this are the ingredients, a blender, and about 10 minutes. Simple, quick, and no clean up. Just place all your ingredients in a blender and turn it on. Bam. You’ll have gazpacho in a snap. This is a perfect starter for any occasion.

Here’s a few tips on using the gazpacho.

Simply enjoy it as a bowl of chilled soup for lunch or dinner.

Turn it into a refreshing cocktail by adding just a touch of your favorite rum

Freeze leftover gazpacho in ice cube trays and pop out when you want to use it again

Make little gazpacho shooters in Mason Jars and garnish with Pickled shrimp

Peach and Cantaloupe Gazpacho
Yields 6-8 cups

4.5 cups of diced Ga peaches, seed removed
3 cups diced cantaloupe, peeled and seeds removed
5.25 cups of English cucumber, peeled
3 cups diced yellow peaches, tops and pith removed
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
1.5 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp of chopped Fresno pepper
1.5 tsp fresh ginger
1 tbsp kosher salt
4 oz fresh mint

Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and toss well. Working in batches, purée the ingredients int a blender until a smooth texture is achieved.

Summertime in the South

Grilled Peas

Growing up my brothers and I always looked forward to Summer. For us Summer meant that we were out of school and there were plenty of long days awaiting us to run wild . These days were spent fishing the pods near our house for catfish and bluegill, jumping off of the ropes swings out at Douglas Lake, and even helpIng our neighbor Ronald crush and collect cans for cigarettes and beer money. I know I know. We were teenagers and apparently that’s what all the cool kids were doing. Back to Summer. These were the days that seem to never end. The days we would drive our go carts down the main road to the lake and try to not get busted by the police. Days spent building catch ramps to jump BMX bikes, or even building potato cannons to blow up grills. Like I said, we were crazy kids but we did mellow out.

Instead of blowing up a grill, I want to share an awesome recipe that you can make with your grill that’s blowing up with flavor…and I promise that it will not harm your grill. It’s a perfect combination of herby flavor, smokiness, and spice. It’s grilled peas tossed in Chimichurri. This recipe is very simple to make and requires very little clean up, time, or fuss.

Chimichurri is essentially a delicious, herby, citrus packed sauce that originates from Argentina. It’s great on everything and easy to make. If you don’t have a food processor please go out and buy one because this is the one tool in your kitchen that will make your life way easier. In this recipe I use early english peas in their pods but this time of the year I’d recommend snap peas or even pole beans. If you like okra use okra. Put it on everything you grill, steak, chicken, fish, peaches, and even watermelon.

Here’s the recipe.

SMOKY SNAP PEAS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
(yields 4 servings)
20 Pea Pods
4 oz Chimichurri Sauce (recipe below)
2 oz Grated Pecorino Cheese
2 tsp Home Appetit Smoked Sea Salt

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pea pods to water and boil for 2 minutes.. Drain and transfer to large bowl of ice water to cool for 2 minutes. Remove from water.
Preheat grill. In a bowl, combine pea pods and chimichurri sauce and mix well. Add peas to grill and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning to ensure that side develops those beautiful grill marks. (That means wonderful flavor!) Remove from grill and place on platter. Grate pecorino cheese over the top and sprinkle with smoked salt.

Chimichurri Sauce
yields 1.5 cups

1 heads parsley
3 garlic cloves, smashed and skins removed
juice and zest of 1 lemons
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1.5 cups safflower oil

Place parsley, garlic, lemon juice & zest, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a blade attachement. Process for 1 minute until finely chopped. With processor still running, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream until chimichurri is combined.
 

 

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A Pot Left To Simmer

 

Forage South started in 2012 as a pop up supper club with my buddy James Todd. We wanted to create an exciting dining experience that matched both of our love for family, friends, and entertaining. What better way to do this than through breaking bread. We had some great success with Forage but most importantly we had a lot of fun, developed some great relationships, and we cooked awesome food for the awesome people of Nashville.  A little over a year ago I opened up Mason’s and I quickly found all my time spent busy with the restaurant and my family. Forage South was placed on the back burner to simmer. Looking back I’ve reflected on the original idea and the progression of Forage. I can honestly say we stayed true to our foundation of family, friends, and entertaining. As we evolve that’s still and always will be the backbone of Forage. My only desire is to be able to share incredible food experiences with each and everyone of you through recipes, demos, and yes…there will be pop up dinners with the first of which I’m trying to hammer out for September. I’ve realized over the last year that the best food comes from the heart and that’s exactly what I’ll be putting on the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer Bean Panzanella

 

It’s getting hot outside so here’s a light recipe that’s easy to prepare, quick, and tasty. Panzanella is one of my all time favorite summer dishes mainly due to all the beautiful ingredients that are in season.  Based off of a classical Tuscan bread salad, I’ve thrown in some cannelini beans and some grilled summer vegetables for a nice smoky flavor.  Whether you’re a stovetop warrior or have recently discovered your newfound love for cooking, this is a great addition to your pantry!

 

Summer Bean Panzanella

Ingredients:

5 cups of torn pugliese or French baguette bread (Preferably day old)

1/2 cup of Georgia Olive Farms extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp red pepper flake

1 cup Patty Pan Squash, Stem removed and halved

1 cup of baby zucchini, stem removed and halved

1 cup of pole beans, stems removed and halved ·

1 1/2 cup of cooked cannellini beans

1 1/2 cups of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup of English cucumber, peeled and quartered

3/4 cup of torn basil

3/4 cup of torn mint

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp capers

1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a mixing bowl add the torn bread and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Coat well and place on a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and toss the bread in a mixing bowl.

2. In a separate bowl add the garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, patty pan squash, zucchini, pole beans, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss well. Add this vegetable mixture to a hot grill and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes to develop a nice char and smoky flavor. Remove the vegetables from the grill and place in the bowl with the bread.

3. Add the remaining ingredients to the vegetable and bread mixture. Toss well. Add additional salt, pepper, and olive oil if needed. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving.