Guts, grit, and lots of heart.

“You can always tell when a person has worked in
a restaurant. There’s an empathy that can only be
cultivated by those who’ve stood between a
hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop, a special
understanding of the way a bunch of motley
misfits can be a family. Service industry work
develops the “soft skills” recruiters talk about on
LinkedIn – discipline, promptness, the ability to
absorb criticism, and most important, how to read
people like a book. The work is thankless and fun
and messy, and the world would be a kinder place
if more people tried it. With all due respect to my
former professors, I’ve long believed I gained
more knowledge in kitchens, bars, and dining
rooms than any college could even hold.”


– Anthony Bourdain

I came across this quote today and it holds so true for me and others in the culinary world. Working in this industry takes guts, grit, and lots of heart. You have good days and bad days. Some days you’re on top of your game, and others you scramble to keep up. Full of long hours, striving for perfection, neverending tickets, sharp knives, and lots of fire. In this world, you’ll find it full of people who are scrappy, endearing, hardcore, and full of life. I have learned so much from culinary school like how to be prepared, try new things, build priceless relationships, and find my fire. Working in different restaurants over the past ten years, and now owning two has been a wild ride I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Until next time~J

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Greek Salad

I love a good salad. We have this at our cafe and it’s one of my favorite items on our menu. Lots of fresh ingredients with balsamic dressing and crumbled feta cheese.

Yield: 2 salads

Note– to make this vegan substitute chickpeas and any plant-based cheese you like

Ingredients:

1 head green leaf lettuce

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cooked chicken breast

1 English cucumber

1 tomato

1/4 red onion

1/4 cup green olives

Balsalmic vinaigrette

Preparation:

Wash all produce.

Dice/ chop lettuce into bite-size pieces. Slice the olives in half.

Thinly slice the red onion, dice the tomato, and slice the cucumber into rounds.

In a medium bowl add the lettuce, onion, cucumber, olives, and tomato.

For the chicken, you can use ready-cooked frozen and thaw. I like to cook a whole sheet pan of chicken at the beginning of the week and use it for meals to save time. In a single layer of a sheet pan, add chicken, lightly pepper, and salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven @ 375 for 45 minutes or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165*F.

Dice the chicken breast and add to the salad. Toss all ingredients with the dressing and top with feta cheese.

What do you love about your salads? To see more recipes like this one, comment below with your favorite ones!

Until next time~J

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Cherry Hand Pies

This is a wonderful heat-warming recipe that takes me back to childhood. Warm and flaky pie crust filled with sweet cherry filling, ah so delicious! You only need 6 ingredients to make these delicious pies and be the dessert hero of the day.

Yield: 8 pies

Ingredients:

cherry preserves (or any fruit you like)

sugar

cinnamon

flour

vegetable or butter nonstick spray

1 package of 2 frozen ready-made pie crust

Preparation:

Thaw pie crust overnight in the fridge.

Take the crust out of the package and unroll it out on the counter lightly dusted with flour.

Preheat the oven to 425*F.

Cut the crust into fourths, straight down the middle, and across. Then take 1-2 tbsp. of the cherry preserves and fill in the middle of each section.

Then fold in half and pinch the edges so the pastry is closed all around. Trim off excess dough and using a fork lightly press along the edge and poke holes on the top of the pies in the middle to help them bake evenly.

Then in a small bowl mix 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon together. Using the pan spray, lightly spray on top of each pie. (you can also use an egg wash for this step). Then sprinkle on top of the pies the cinnamon and sugar mix.

Bake at 425*F for 20-30 minutes until pies are nice and golden in color.

Cool for 5-10 minutes and enjoy. These are also delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I’d love to hear your comments on this recipe or ideas for recipes you want to see on this blog.

Until next time~J

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Sweedish Meatballs

This recipe is a warm and cozy comfort recipe that is easy and ready in thirty minutes! I made these with penne pasta. This recipe is perfect on a cool day. These meatballs are great with rice, egg noodles, roasted veggies, or potatoes. With less than 10 ingredients, what’s not to love?

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

18 meatballs (frozen and pre-cooked)

1 x can of cream of mushroom soup

1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp. brown gravy mix

1/2 cup water or beef broth

dried chives

2 1/2 cups penne pasta

Preparation:

In a large pot, on medium heat- mix the mushroom soup, worcestershire sauce, gravy mix, broth, or water, and stir well.

Next, add in the meatballs, and stir until covered and mixed well. Then cover and cook for 20- 30 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, cook your pasta per directions. Drain and set aside.

To serve-fill your bowls with pasta and top with meatballs and sauce. Garnish with chives and enjoy.

Comment below if you liked this recipe or suggestions on what recipes you would like to see on this blog!

Until next time~J

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Hometown Goulash

Here on the plains, I’ve been working hard to get our second restaurant open. Taking over a place that has been shut down for over two years is a lot of work. We’re excited at the possibilities and it’s coming along with lots of elbow grease! Even so, after a long day of cleaning, this recipe hit home. When life pulls you in so many directions, having recipes like this one is a snap to put together after a long day. This goulash recipe is a favorite for quick and easy comfort food. It’s a family-style recipe that I love, so gather with the ones you love and try this one out.

Note- For a leaner recipe, you could use turkey. For a vegan meal-substitute, plant-based meat, and butter. Or lentils are also great with this too!

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb. bag of elbow macaroni pasta

1 lb. of ground beef

1 12 oz. can tomato sauce

1 white or yellow onion

1/2 stick of butter unsalted

olive oil

spices- salt, pepper, chives, chili powder, paprika – all a half teaspoon. Then add more to your taste if needed

Preparation:

In a large pot fill half with water and some salt. Heat up to boiling and add the pasta. Stir every couple of minutes so it won’t stick. Cook for about 8- 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Add in the butter and stir until melted.

Wash and peel the onion and chop it into a large dice size.

In a large skillet, heat on medium and add the ground beef. Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Start to break up the beef with a wooden spoon. When the beef is about halfway cooked, add the chopped onion. Add all the spices and continue to stir and cook until the beef is cooked through.

Next, add the tomato sauce into the skillet, stir and cook for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened up a little and soaked in with the beef and onions. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. When this is ready pour it all in with the noodles and stir and you’re all done!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Comment below with your thoughts and what other recipes you would like to see on this blog! Until next time~J

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Author Spotlight- Interview with Crystal Hatfield and her New Cookbook- You Can Eat On The Cheap with a Microwave

What is the name of your book or blog, and how did you get started?

I have created the well tasting and cheap microwave cooking book: You Can Eat on the Cheap with a Microwave

How did you get started?

My parents never taught me to cook anything other than roman noodles and TV dinners. Once, before the preexisting health care law coverage went into effect in the United States, I had to go to a food bank and was taxed with figuring out how to cook. They gave me a lot of rice, and I came up with an idea for a rice cookbook. NoshwithchefJulie, Julie Michele Tuttle, encouraged me to think beyond that. 

I have compiled a book of cheap recipes for cooking in the microwave They are easy to use and cook and are good for someone on a budget. Eating the same food every week? There are multiple ways to cook various foods like spaghetti. You can add corn or make a kid-friendly one by putting it in a taco shell or making spaghetti pizza. You Can Eat on the Cheap is perfect for anyone on a budget that wants to eat cheaply and easily. 

How did you get published?

You Can Eat on the Cheap with a Microwave was published through Ingram Spark. I have the distribution of a major book publisher. I’ve been featured in Martha Stewarts’ recommended bookstore and Walmart, Target, and more. 

What advice do you have for new writers just starting out?

A lot of writers think that you cannot publish yourself. I wanted to control all of it. There are pluses and minuses to that. One is that may not necessarily have the experience to make a best seller. I look to make a book that is not in the bookstore and there is a need for it. You Can Eat on the Cheap with a Microwave fills the need for cheap cooking with a microwave. 

I would suggest looking at how other books do it and trying even if it doesn’t sell the way you want. The average book sells 250 copies a year. 

What was your favorite childhood book?

My favorite childhood book was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. It taught me about love. 

If you could learn how to make any food what would it be?

I’d learn how to make eggplant parmesan. 

Thank you Crystal for this lovely interview!

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