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Beef/Pork

The Perfect Breaded Pork Chops with Merlot Onion Cherry Jam

How to make The Perfect Breaded Pork Chop, with Merlot Cherry Onion JamI’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of pork chops. That being said, if I’m going to eat a pork chop, it better be a damn good pork chop or I’d rather just have take out. Over the years I’ve figured it out, mostly after receiving an unsolicited shipment of a gigantic box of high quality pork chops that I needed to figure out how to use.

The elements of the Perfect Pork Chop include: breading that stays on, juicy not dry, and a perfect golden brown on the outside, with a perfectly cooked inside. It took me a while, a few dry chops, and several hours spend google educating myself, but I figured it out, and it’s not that difficult.

First, temperature is key. Not just cooking temperature, but pre-cooking temperature. Most people, rightfully freaked out by raw meat, start cooking meat right out of the fridge. Cold, just out of the fridge, meat is probably about 35 degrees. Throw that in a pan and the outside gets up to temperature considerably faster than the center, forcing you to either serve meat with a raw center or a burnt outside.

Second, is that stupid breading that always slips off. It took me a while (I can be stubborn), but both of these issues are solved with the same step. Bread the pork chops (this also seals in the juices) and let them sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature. This brings the temperature of the center of the meat up helping the entire chop to cook evenly, and it helps the breading to set, allowing it to stay on. Don’t freak out about raw meat sitting on the counter for 20 minutes. Think about the day you bought those chops, picking them up at the meat counter, putting them in your cart, checking out, driving home, and then finally putting them in your fridge, I bet that took longer than 20 minutes. I grew up on a farm, that "drive into town," used to take us about an hour. It’s fine. I also highly recommend this for steaks, and I even read a vintage fried chicken recipe that called for two hours of room temperature counter sittin'. I was too chicken to try it (pun fully intended).

Also, buy a meat thermometer. Seriously. Right now, buy one. You can pick one up at the grocery store for about $10, and if that saves you one overcooked dinner, it just payed for itself. The recommendation for whole pork (not ground) was just lowered to 145 by the USDA, I usually cook it until just before this (about 140) because it will rise about 5 degrees once you remove it from the pan. Knowing the exact right moment to take the chops off the heat will be the difference between dry, average tasting pork chops and amazing, juicy pork chops.

Ok, and lets talk about this merlot cherry onion jam situation. I love homemade savory jams right now, and clearly I like to add booze to my food. I want to make this jam again for burgers, or maybe to stuff in a pork loin. or maybe I’ll just make these pork chops again.

This turned out amazing! I hope you love it as much as I do.

How to make The Perfect Breaded Pork Chop, with Merlot Cherry Onion Jam

Homemade Garlic Beer Pita Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the flour, yeast and garlic powder. Mix until combined.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl add the beer. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, test temperature with a cooking thermometer and repeat until temperature reaches between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Add the beer to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed. Once most of the dough has been moistened, sprinkle with the salt while the mixer is still running.
  4. Turn speed to high and beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm room until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  6. Remove from bowl and add to a lightly floured surface. Knead several times, cut into 8 equal sized pieces.
  7. One at a time roll the dough into 6 inch circles.
  8. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet and heat over high heat until very hot. Add one dough circle to the pan, cook until the underside has browned and the top starts to bubble, about 2 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the pita bread is cooked through. Adjust the heat if the pan becomes too hot and the bread burns too quickly.
https://domesticfits.com/the-perfect-breaded-pork-chops-with-merlot-onion-cherry-jam/

How to make The Perfect Breaded Pork Chop, with Merlot Cherry Onion Jam

Pomegranate And Bourbon Braise Oxtails with Smokey Cheddar Grits & What Sandy Hook Elementary Taught Me

 

As a mom, this tragedy has left a deep wound on my soul. I see my own baby in the faces of all of the victims. Not an hour has gone by in the past few days that I haven’t had those lost lives on my mind.

Playing blocks with my daughter brought me to tears at how lucky I was to get to share such a tiny moment, when so many moms weren’t able to do that. My two year old asking for a kiss, playing in the sand with her dad, asking about the Christmas presents wrapped up for her under the tree, all made me feel like the luckiest mom in the world: my baby is safe, healthy, happy, alive!

In the midst of such horror, I have learned so much from those amazing souls, I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned over the past few days:

  1. Wear your fancy dress on an ordinary day. Six-year-oldCharlotte Bacon was very excited about her new Christmas dress and boots, and kept asking to wear them. On Friday, the day she died, her mother gave in, letting her wear her special dress and boots to school. In honor of Charlotte, use your fancy plates, and those expensive candles you don’t want to burn, put on your shoes that you think are too pretty to wear, because everyday that you are alive and with the ones you love is a special occasion.
  2. Carry your crayons with you. That’s what Emilie, age 6, always did, says her father, Robbie Parker. She drew the world as she saw it: beautiful. In the midst of such a horrific tragedy we need to remember the good in the world, take out our crayons and draw the world as a child sees it. Take time to appreciate the beauty around us, take photos with your phone, stop to enjoy the little things, see beauty in small things, let yourself be wowed by it.
  3. Loving people means putting them first in every way. No one will ever embody this more than Victoria Soto. She is the teacher who hid her students in closets, staying in the open to make sure, beyond all doubt, that the shooter wouldn’t hurt her kids. She gave her life in exchange for the safety of her students, and my guess is that she would do it again without hesitation. I hope and pray that any of the teachers whom my daughter will have in her life are like Victoria, and someday may I be half as selfless as she was.
  4. Say I love you, a lot. In words, in actions, in notes, in everyway you can. After the tragic loss of Jessica, her parents came home to find a note she had left in a journal they hadn’t seen before, it just said, “I love you so much, mama.” I grew up hearing the story of the day my Dad died, and the fact that it was one of the few mornings my moms forgot to say “I love you,” before they headed their spate ways. I heard versions of this same story so many more times from the families of 9-11 victims, and the morning Jaycee Dugard was kidnaped, was a morning her mom was running late and forgot tell her daughter she loved her. We all have those crazy mornings, when we know there is a traffic jam in our future, when our kids flush our make-up down the toilet or spill juice on the couch, those mornings when we say thoughtless things like, “you are driving me crazy!” What happened in Sandy Hook reminds me to hold tight to patience, always say, “I love you,” before leaving my family. I can control so little in this world but I can have control over this tiny thing: I can always tell my daughter, “I love you,” before we part ways. I hope that even when I am 80-years-old, on my way home from dinner at my daughter house, I will think of little Jessica and never forget to say, “I love you.”
  5. Slow Down, Add Memories. Take a day off work, blow off an appointment, just slow down. Even if it would be a financial strain for you to take a half-day off work twice a month,  or even just a long lunch, to have a one-on-one date with one of your kids, you will not regret it. No one gets to the end of their life and thinks, “I should have spent less time with my kids.” Think of it as life insurance, giving your kids a few more memories that they wouldn’t otherwise have once one of you is no longer here.

 

Because of what happened Friday, I needed to take a long day, stay at home and cook Sunday Supper that took hours. For me, this is healing. The active time on this dish is small, but the long cooking time ensures that you will need to be home, hanging out with your family. And there is something about putting slow food on the table to makes me feel like I am loving my family in a special way.

Chocolate Stout Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces (about 2 2/3 cups, chopped) good quality dark chocolate (60% cocao)
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Stout
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Makes 18 to 20

Directions

  1. In a bowl add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, espresso powder, and sugar, mix until well combined. Set aside
  2. In a microwave safe bowl add the chocolate, the butter and the oil. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Don't over heat or the chocolate will seize. Add the beer and stir.
  3. Add the eggs to the chocolate and stir until well combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, some lumps are OK.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until the dough as has set, about 3 hours and up to 36. Overnight refrigeration is recommended.
  6. Preheat oven to 350. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  7. Using a cookie dough scoop, make balls just a bit smaller than golf balls, roll into shape with your hands. Place dough balls into powdered sugar, roll until well coated.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, add cookie balls
  9. Bake cookies at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges have set but the center is still a bit soft. Don't over-bake or the cookies will be dry and crumbly.
https://domesticfits.com/pomegranate-and-bourbon-braise-oxtails-with-smokey-cheddar-grits-what-sandy-hook-elementary-taught-me/

 

 

 

Panko Pork Chops With Jalapeno Peach Jam

 

My two-year old has started to name her stuffed animals.

While the majority of two-year olds default to naming stuffed animals after physical attributes (Spot, Stripes, Blackie, Snowy), Tater has decided, all on her own, on the following names for her 5 favorite stuffed animals, who she collectively refers to as her "Pals:"

Dobies, Rocket, Stewie, Sam and Zach

I have no idea where these names came from and to my knowledge she knows no one by those names. I’m constantly impressed by her and inspired to push the boundaries of my own creativity. Because if she has already started to eclipse the limits of my own ability to innovate what will I have to offer her in the years to come?

While Tater and Stewie (the bear) helped me make these pork chops I needed to add something new. I dug out some peaches and made a little jam with some jalapeno.

Not as creative as a two-year old naming Pillow Pet "Dobies", but pretty tasty and I’ll have to work on upping my game so I’m not out crafted by my offspring, who requested "Chocolate Bacon Pancakes" for breakfast on Saturday morning.

Chocolate Chip, Stout & Beer Nut Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup stout beer
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (60%)
  • 3 oz bag Beer Nuts
  • (Makes 10-12 cookies)

Directions

  1. In a pot over medium high heat add the beer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 tbs.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and both types of sugar, beat until well creamed. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the 1 tbs of beer extract and beat until well combined, scraping the bottom to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. In a sperate bowl, add both types of flour (these two types of flour are very important to the end result of your cookies, regular all purpose flour will not give you the same results), cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to the stand mixer and mix on medium/low speed until just barely combined, don't over mix. Add the chocolate chips and Beer Nuts, and stir until incorporated.
  4. Resting the dough is an important step in this recipe. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, scoop golfball sized scoops of dough, roll them into round balls and place on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until light golden brown, don't over bake. (If you don't chill the dough, or if you make smaller sized cookies, the cooking time will be much shorter. Start to keep an eye on your cookies after about 14 minutes).
https://domesticfits.com/panko-pork-chops-with-jalapeno-peach-jam/

 

This jam can also be used as a dipping sauce for Coconut Cornmeal Shrimp!

Pig Newton Jam (Bacon & Fig Jam) With Puff Pastry Biscuits

I love forming culinary obsessions. Foods that I can’t stop thinking about, that work their way into my kitchen via said obsession on a regular basis. Maybe you have tired of my bacon jam post, and if that is the case than I can pretty safely assume that you have never made it. It is completely worthy of prolonged obsessions. I promise.

This jam, this lovely spreadably pig and fig hybrid is so good that I beg you to make it. And then you’ll get it.

If I hadn’t already scoured my kitchen and spread this on everything from Trader Joe’s Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies to stale graham crackers, these are the things that I would have made with this Pig Newton Jam:

Bake shortbread bar cookies + spread jam on top + chill for a few hours + cut into squares = Pig Newton Cookie Bars

Tortilla + Gouda + Bree + PN Jam = Pig Newton Quesadillas

Bake a tart crust in a tart pan (let cool)+ PN Jam + fresh arugula + goat cheese + Fresh tomatoes = Best tart ever

Above ingredients Tart crust + crusty bread = Pig Newton Crostini’s

PN Jam + Puff Pastry + Wheel of Bree cheese = Baked Pig Newton Bree

Crepes + PN Jam + Mascarpone = Breakfast Hog Heaven

 

I know that I have friends and readers who don’t dig the pig, so I’ve added a How To Veg It Up alterations to this post.

 

 

 

Chocolate Stout S’Mores Bars

Ingredients

  • 10 graham crackers
  • 3 tbs butter, melted
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate stout
  • 3 cups standard size marshmallows

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor, add the graham crackers and the brown sugar. Process until nothing is left but crumbs. Remove the stopper from the food processor lid. While the food processor is on, slowly add the 3 tbs melted butter and process until it resembles wet sand.
  3. Add to a 9 x 13 pan. Distribute evenly along the bottom, pressing firmly into place.
  4. In a bowl, beat the eggs and both sugars on high until well combined, about 3 minutes.
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and the butter. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted and well combined. Add the chocolate to the egg/sugar mixture and beat until well combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, salt and the flour until well combined. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the beer and stir until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter over the crust.
  8. Place marshmallows in even rows across the top, leaving a 1/2 inch boarder along the edge.
  9. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown.
  10. You still want the bars to be soft, don't over bake, they will continue to set as they cool.
https://domesticfits.com/pig-newton-jam-bacon-fig-jam-with-puff-pastry-biscuits/

 Puff Pastry Biscuits

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

2 tbs butter, melted

1 tsp salt

Roll the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface several times in each direction. Cut out 20 to 24 circles with a 3 inch biscuit cutter (note that circles will shrink as they cook). Place circles on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Brush the circles with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Split across the middle, fill with jam.

 

 

Carbonara Couscous

There is something so comforting about being busy. A hectic lifestyle reminds me that I’m needed, that I have a function. I was interviewing a brewery owner yesterday for a piece I’m writing for Honest Cooking and he put it into perspective for me. "When I’m old, I don’t think I’ll wish I slept more." Having things to do, people to talk to and jobs to get done is a good place to be. As hard as I try and fight that 5:30am alarm clock, or force myself to shut my eyes when I finally get back in bed, I know I’ll miss it someday.

For now, I’m trying to enjoy the pace my life has taken. The people, places and opportunities that are taking my life down a new and exciting path. And I’m just trying to do it all justice. Approaching it with an open heart and a grateful spirit that will allow me to fully appreciate this time in my life without focusing on what seems to be my near constant caffeine  deficiency and lack of "free" time. It all goes back to the motto of my life: figure out what is great about the situation you are in and enjoy the crap out of it. 

And I have to say, I really enjoyed the crap out of this couscous.

Carbonara Couscous

 1 cup dry Israeli (pearl) couscous

1 tbs buter

5 ounces pancetta

5 basil leaves

½ cup parmesan

1 tsp pepper

2 eggs (plus 2 additional if desired for side dish size portions)

Makes 2 entrée portions or 4 side dish portions

Cook couscous according to package direction. In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, do not drain, add to the couscous. Chop basil leaves, add to the couscous along with parmesan and pepper, stir to combine.

Poach eggs in simmering water.

Distribute couscous equally among dishes, top with poached egg, serve warm.

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Roasted Jalapenos with Bacon Jam & Goat Cheese

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” – Jose Narosky

(Photo source unknown)

Thank you for all of the people who had fought, those who have died, the ones who will always nurse wounds and the mothers and fathers who had to stand back and watch it happen.

Thank you for the gift of peaceful days, Sundays with our families and the ignorance that allows us to enjoying without a full realization of the true sacrifice that was made.

To those who have died and those who were left behind, Thank You will never cover it.

Roasted Jalapenos with Bacon Jam & Goat Cheese

12 fresh jalapenos

3 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup Bacon Jam (posted last week on The Beeroness)

3 oz goat cheese

1 tbs butter

1/2 cup Panko

Preheat oven to 400. Cut the jalapenos lengthwise, removing the seeds and the inner membranes.

Place on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 10 minutes.

Using a butter knife, smear the inside of the jalapenos with cream cheese.

Top the cream cheese with bacon jam.

Using your fingers, top the bacon jam with goat cheese.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the panko and stir until coated.

Top the jalapenos with the buttered panko and roast at 450 until the panko has browned, about 5-8 minutes.

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Bacon & Panko Crusted Scallops

Bacon wrapped scallops sound like such a great idea, don’t they? Two fabulously delicious meats teaming up for one incredible bite. There’s an issue. A  huge, unavoidable, technical glitch: the cooking times. Like most great loves lost, the deal breaking fundamental flaw is timing. Bacon takes somewhere around 3 times as long to cook as scallops, giving you two options: Hideously dry, overcooked scallops or semi-raw undercooked bacon. Yum, appetizing.

If you really want to fly in the face of Kosher and wrap your shellfish with pork, you have two really great options:

Wrap your scallops in prosciutto, like I do here, only needing attention on the scallops cooking time since proscuitto can be served any where from raw to cripsy,

or

Bread your scallops with crushed bacon and Panko, which I do below.

Either way, pork and scallops are harmoniously reunited. I knew those two crazy kids would work things out.

Bacon & Panko Crusted Scallops

4 strips of bacon, cooked

1/3 cup panko

8 large scallops

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs canola oil

Roughly chop the bacon and add to a food processor along with the Panko, pulse until well combined and the bacon is reduced to crumbs, remove from food processor and add to a bowl. 

Add the flour to a plate.

Add the milk, eggs and salt to a bowl and beat to combine. 

Dry the scallops very well and dredge in the flour, knocking off any excess, dip in the milk/egg mixture and then into the Panko/bacon bowl, coating well. Place in the refridgerator for ten minutes to allow the coating to stick. 

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook scallops on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, taking care not to over crowd the pan. 

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This is what happens when you try to photograph food while hanging out with a 2 year old:

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BLT Caprese Sliders With Puff Pastry Buns

Small food is for the commitment phobic. 

Or maybe just for those of us that want to experience everything. 

I don’t want to have to decide between a pull pork sandwich, bree grilled cheese and a burger. I want them all. Which is why I will always owe a debt of gratitude to Spain and the brilliance of Tapas. 

Some people want to hunker down with a bowl of their favorite food and call it a day. I fancy myself more of a food gypsy. I want a bite of everything. I’m the girl at the Thanksgiving dessert table that takes a sliver of each piece of pie, brownie, and cake onto one plate because the idea of not knowing what each type of pie, plus the cherry brownie, plum tart and the pumpkin turtle cheesecake all taste like is unthinkable. While other people can just take a slice of apple pie and watch the game. Lucky bastards. 

BLT Caprese Sliders With Puff Pastry Buns

2 sheets  Puff Pastry

3 tbs butter, melted

1/2 tsp course Kosher salt

5-6 Roma Tomatoes

2 tbs Pesto Sauce

20 spinach leaves

4 balls Fresh Mozzarella, Bocconcini size

10 slices of bacon, cooked and cut in half

Preheat oven to 350.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry to approximately 14.5 inches by 16.5 inches. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out 20 circles. Repeat for the second puff pastry sheet.

Brush each puff pastry round with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the circles to the baking sheet(s), butter side up.

Bake for 16-19 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While those are baking, prepare your ingredients.

Cut each Mozzarella ball into 5 slices, set side.

Cut the off the stem end of the tomato, as well as the opposite, pointed end of the tomato. Cut the remaining tomato into ¼ inch slices. You will need 20 slices.

Once the puff pastry has cooled, assemble to sliders:

Take one puff pastry round, spread with about ¼ tsp of pesto sauce. Top with a tomato slice, then a spinach leave, then mozzarella slice, then slice of bacon and top the entire thing with another puff pastry round. Secure with a 3.5 inch skewer, if desired.

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Butternut Squash and Bacon Pot Pie & Job Interview Tips

This has been a long week for me. I’ve been in the process of hiring a new person at work. Through out the interview process, from reading resumes to second interviews, I’ve been able to learn quite a bit about the behind-the-scenes-process. It is incredible what people think is completely acceptable behavior in an interview, here are some examples:

In response to the question, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" Here are some of the responses I got:

"Oh…I’m going to win the lottery. I am. But don’t worry, I’ll give you a big donation, It’s a tax write off."

"Ummm…A lawyer? I think maybe I’ll be a lawyer." (I don’t work for law firm and we don’t employ lawyers)

"I don’t know. I mean, I only want this job for like…18 months? But don’t worry, I’ll help you find someone really good to replace me!"

I’ve never been a "tell me what I want to hear" kind of person, but this really comes down to professionalism and good judgement. If you aren’t able to answer that question correctly, It makes me worry about how you will answer more difficult questions that clients may ask you. 

The correct response, in one form or another: "I am looking to find a company that I can work for long-term. I want to be at my next job, hopefully, for the rest of my career so I’m looking for a place that has opportunities for advancement and will allow me to grow as a professional."

Proper attire:

Don’t wear a shirt that intentionally shows your bra. I don’t care if it is La Perla. 

6-inch platform Lucite heels are not a good choice for interview footwear. 

For the LOVE OF GOD do not, under any circumstances, wear a BLUETOOTH in an interview. Unless you hold the keys to missile defense, you are not that important. I promise. 

Written communication, the first impression:

Before you even get an interview, your resume, cover letter and initial email will give the first impression. Here are some tips to make sure you aren’t weeded out right of the bat:

Make sure everything is spelled correctly

Write a cover letter, this alone will put you above half of the other applicants and give you a voice. 

Change the "Objective" field to fit the company you are applying for. It is a huge red flag if it does not match who we are. Either you are sloppy and have no attention to detail, or you really don’t want to work for us. 

If you have a email address, such as ChicanaSkank69@[domain].com don’t put it on your resume, take the ten minutes to set up a free, more professional looking email address using your name, for instance: JackieJDodd@mail.com. That was an actual email address I got from one of the applicants (domain has been changed to protect the obviously not so innocent). 

If I call you for an interview, don’t wait 3 days to respond. I’m not some chick you banged in the bathroom of a TGIFridays, the three day rule does not apply. 

If you say that you are "Detail Oriented" at least spell both words correctly. 

Ugh. I have lost a bit of my faith in man kind after this week. But I have not lost my faith in a good soup with a pastry crust. And bacon makes everything better. 

This recipe was inspired by a Butternut Squash Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

Butternut Squash and Bacon Pot Pie

Pot Pie crust:

Pie dough (enough from one pie crust)

OR

1 sheet puff pastry

Pot Pie Filling:

6 strips of bacon, cut in half

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 to 8 cups)

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves

½ tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

In a dutch oven, over medium heat cook the bacon until most of the fat has been rendered. Remove from heat, allowing to drain and cool on a stack of 2-3 paper towels.

Drain off most of the bacon fat, leaving only about 3 tbs in the pot.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the onions and carrots to the pot, cooking in the bacon grease until opaque. Add the garlic and cook just until you are able to smell them, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and squash, allowing to simmer until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add the smoked paprika, and sage, stir to combined. Add the salt and pepper, seasoning to taste.

Chop the bacon into small pieces, add to the pot and stir.

Place four ceramic, oven safe bowls on a baking sheet. Divide the filling equally between the four bowls.

Place desire pot pie crust on a well floured surface, add flour to the top of the disk as well. Roll out into an even thickness.

Cut out 4 circles that will cover the dishes with at least a one-inch overhang on each side.

To prevent sticking, spray the rim of the baking dish with cooking spray. Top each dish with the dough circle, pressing into shape. Cut a few slits in the top to vent heat. Brush with melted butter.

Cook at 400 for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool a bit before serving. 

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How To: Roll Cut and Stuff Pork Loin

This isn’t a recipe. Not really. It’s how to actually cut this sucker so you can stuff food inside of it. 

What you’ll need:

1.5 lb pork loin

Sharp knife

Kitchen twine

Whatever you are going to stuff your pork with

Bread crumbs

Baking dish



Preheat oven to 375. 

Place your pork loin on a cutting surface. This is a basic diagram of where you will be cutting. 

Start cutting closest to the cutting board, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the bottom of the loin

Don’t cut through, stop with about 1/2 inch to go. Then open the loin like a book that you are about 3/4 of the way through, with more pages on the left than the right. 

Make your final cut, bisecting the thicker side of the loin.

 Open the final flap. 

I like to trim off the uneven front and back, making it cleaner and easy to stuff

Stuff your pork with your stuffing. Need some suggestions? I’m here to help you. 

Here is a gorgeous loin from the beautiful and fabulous Elizabeth of Guilty Kitchen. Click on her pork loin picture to take you to her recipe, featuring bacon, feta and spinach. 

Here is another one from Bellalimento, featuring spinach, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms, click on the picture for the recipe.

OK, now that we are back from those gorgeous blogs, we can continue. 

fill your open pork loin with your desired filling, leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides. 

My filling is just a simple olive oil, garlic, spinach, gorgonzola and bread crumbs. 

Starting at the side closest to you, roll the pork tightly. 

Once that is rolled, cut about 2 feet of kitchen twine. 

Tie one end of the twine tightly around one end of the loin. 

Place the long end of the twine about two inches down the top, center of the loin. Securing the two inch line in place with your thumb, bring the rest of the twine underneath the loin. 

Bring the kitchen twine back underneath the twine elbow you just created and pull tightly. 

Continue this process two of three more times down the length of the loin until you reach the end. Secure tightly at the far end. 

Roll the loin in bread crumbs and bake at for 30-40 minutes of until the internal temp is about 160. You still want a slight hint of pink in the center of the loin. 

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Flank Steak, Goat Cheese & Wild Rice Roulades With B Side Cabernet

Welcome to day 3 of Wine & Food Pairings week! To get caught up, you can visit the first day:

How to Pair Food and Wine

Day two we discussed Rule one: Acid needs acid with:

Truffled Prosciutto Salad with Pinot Noir

Today we are jumping into Rule Two: Tannins Need Fat. Just to recap, a tannin is that astringent component in red wine that give it structure. This is what can cause that bitter, pucker feeling in the back of your throat. This component needs fat for balance, but not necessarily a meat fat. If you are a vegetarian, try this wine with a goat cheese ravioli in a buttery sauce with dried cranberries and fresh basil.

Todays wine is B Side Cabernet Sauvignon. Anyone who grew up with a childhood soundtracked by cassette tapes with naturally have an infinity for anything named "B Side." Those amazing songs that came on that back of that hit single where always the ones I fell in love with and the reasons I wore out the tapes. And the reason the kid in me will always think that iTunes is sad.

B Side Cab however, is more of the hit single that you end up falling in love with. This was my favorite of all the wines from Don Sebastiani & Sons. A bold Cabernet with a bit of earth and fruit, exactly the kind of wine I seek out. I made this my Christmas dinner wine, and altered the paired recipe to make it more Holiday Meal appropriate. The earthiness of the wild rice, as well as the fat of the steak and the goat cheese was complimented nicely by the earthiness and tannins in this wine. I liked that this is a wine that you can serve with a prime rib or with a burger. That’s my kind of wine.  

Here is the original paired recipe:

Printable version of the original recipe: b side recipe

The recipe that I made kept the idea of a wrap but made a roulade. Also, store bought mayonnaise freaks me out. I truly hate it. I replaced that creamy, dairy agent with goat cheese, so much more fabulous than mayo. I also replaced cabage with shaved Brussels sprouts, but kept the dressing the same. If you have any filling left over, add it to 1 cup of chopped spinach for a fantastic side salad.

Flank Steak, Goat Cheese & Wild Rice Roulades

1.5 lb Flank Steak

3 large Brussels srpouts

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup wild rice, cooked according to package directions

2 oz goat cheese

2 tbs olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Place your flank steak on a flat surface and pound to an even, 1/2 inch thickness using a rolling pin or the flat side of a meat mallet.

Using a large cheese grater, shave the Brussels sprouts until you have about 1/2 a cup.

In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, balsamic, Worcestershire sauce, garlic. Add the cooked rice, Brussels sprouts and goat cheese and stir to combine. Place the filling down the center of the flank steak in one long log. Roll the steak and secure tightly with kitchen twine. 

In a heavy, oven safe skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Place the roulade, seam side down and sear until brown. Turn the roulade and sear on all sides until brown. Place the skillet in the oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. 

Remove from oven and allow to rest for five minutes. Move to a cutting board and slice into 6-8 slices. 

Makes 3-4 servings.

Serve with B Side Cabernet. 

Printable:Flank Steak Roulade

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Food & Wine Pairing: Prosciutto Truffle Salad with Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir

Welcome back to wine week! To get caught up, make sure and read yesterdays post:

How To Pair Food and Wine 

Rule one: Acid needs acid

I loved (LOVED!!) this recipe and pairingI am much more of a red wine person and learning about versatile red, with a higher acidity and lower tannin level than most reds, I am able to serve a red wine as a stand in where most people would typically put a white. Because, remember, pairing is more about acid and tannin levels than white versus red. 

I CAN have a red wine with white meat!! As long as I can pick the right one. 

The wine in this pairing is Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, 2009

I really liked this wine, and I loved that I am now able to pair a red wine with white meat if I so desire. Still maybe a bit to tannin heavy for a light, white fish, but works perfect with pork or possibly a chicken dish. AND It’s UNDER $10!! I love that. I love that I can serve a beautiful wine, paired perfectly with my beautiful salad, and no one will ever know that I so incredibly affordable. 

This was a recipe that I followed the closest. And I loved it so much I made it twice in the same week. It is easy, full of flavor and has a fancy boldness that is perfect for a dinner party. 

It has a super easy homemade dressing that you mix right in the salad bowl. 

Printable: salad-recipe 

I only made a few minor changes to this recipe:

  • Since I had truffle oil on hand from when I made this, I used it in place of the olive oil. 
  • Instead of rubbing the bowl and the bread with garlic, I used a microplane to grate it to a paste and spread it on the bread, and just added the garlic paste to the dressing
  • I grilled the bread slices on my grill pan and served them on the side
  • I added chopped tomatoes 
I really hope you love this salad as much as I did, its simple, fresh and delicious. 
Seek out the wine if you can, and remember that it is a red that you can pair with high acid dishes if you are one of those people who doesn’t particularly fall in love with whites. 
More food and wine parings coming this week. Stay tuned!
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Roquefort, Cherry & Bacon Wontons, Plus A Giveaway!


This is my first giveaway! I’m so excited, because as you have read over my recent posts, Christmas is about giving to others. AND I get to give to YOU, so maybe that makes me a selfish, Christmas Spirit hoarder. I’m fine with that.

I was contacted by Ile de France a few weeks ago, and they wanted to give YOU somethings. Making me so excited to be the middle man in this little transaction.


Let me back up and tell you all a little about how the blogger/product-company relationships work. I had no idea about any of this when I jumped head first into the blog world 6 months ago, but it really is a fun perk. You start a blog, you write about food, people read it, your traffic grows and then product companies and PR people email you and want to send you stuff! For free! There isn’t any catch. They want you love their products and write recipes for them, but there is no obligation. I have even seen bloggers write BAD reviews of products, which is not my style. A PR girl once told me, "Advertisers PAY for space, PR people PRAY for space." They just send it and hope. 

I have companies write me all the time and ask if they can send products to me. I am always so excited, and proud that they found my little blog worthy of the shipping charges, but I have some rules about this:

  •  I only accept products that I like, or think I will like.
  • I never take a product that I would never write about. For instance, even though I may from time to time have a package of  pre-made food in my house, I would never write a recipe about a box of Mac N Cheese (for instance) so I would never accept that from a company who offerend. Even if I knew I was going out of town and Mr. Fits would use it. To me, it’s unethical to accept it knowing I would never write about it.
  • Even if I accept something that I hope to love and write about, I never feel obligated to do so. My integrity as a blogger and your respect means more to me than a box of chocolate or a vat of olive oil. I will never say that I love I product unless I do. If I mention a product it’s because I really do like it. 
 Ile de France contacted me and I was glad to accept their Roquefort Cheese, because I have used it and do really like it. Although I like to buy my fancy shmancy cheese from local artisan cheese stores, I also like to give my readers all over the US (and the world) options that are easy for them. Ile De France is sold in the grocery store, and still schmancy enough to fool cheese snobs. AND they wanted to give you this beautiful gift that is perfect for your New Years Party:


Four beautiful cheeses, a fabulous cheese dome, and a cheese knife.

Won’t you look fancy as the owner and operator of a cheese dome. It’s so grown up.

I don’t even have one, but I love and admire them at parties. As if you have reached a whole new level of entertaining if you have an entire centerpiece dedicated to cheese. This one is beautiful, and one of those things that you would never really buy for yourself, but would end up using every time you have people over. What did you ever do before your cheese dome?!

All you have to do to enter is to comment on this post, and make sure and leave your email address in the comment form (not in the actual comment). I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner and then contact you by email for your address. And those nice people from Ile de France will send it over to you.

Contest is open as soon as this post goes up and ends December 14th at High Noon (PST). So comment quick! Only a few days! Everyone in your house can enter, just have them all write separate comments with separate email addresses. 


The winner will be announced Wednesday afternoon on my Facebook page. "Like" the page to receive the announcement in your feed. 

 

And now, here is what I did with that wonderful, smelly, tangy Rouquefort that those nice people form Ile de France sent me:


Rouquefort, Dried Cherry & Bacon Wontons
12-14 wonton or gyoza wrapers(you can buy them in most major grocery stores, usually by the Tofu)
1/3 cup dried cherries
1 3.5 oz package of Ile De France Cheese (Roquefort, Blue OR even my favorite of all: Goat Cheese)
3 strips of bacon, cooked, and chopped into bacon bits
1/4 cup water
3 tbs olive oil

Lay the wonton wrappers on a flat surface.
Top with 3-4 dried cherries, then top with 1 tsp cheese, sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp bacon. 

Moisten the edges of the wrapper with water.
Fold the wrapper in half and secure the edges well with your fingers.
Repeat for all wrappers.
Heat the oil oil in a large pan until hot but not smoking. Working in batches (making sure not to over crowd the pan) cook the wontons on each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and allow to cool and drain on a paper towel. Serve warm.

Congrats to Dee, Number 55! She is our winner!

Thank you SO much to everyone who entered. Wish I had 141 more to give out. 


Party Food: Mini Galettes {Strawberry Brie & Bacon Goat Cheese}

The requirements for party food are pretty simple, but hard and fast.

  1. Yummy
  2. Must travel well
  3. Must have the ability to sit at room temperature for extended periods of time
  4. Bonus if it evokes this sentence from at least one other party goer: "Can I get that recipe from you?"
Mini galettes also have the added bonus of being adorable and fairly easy to make. If you want to make them with store bough crust, I may pound on you a little bit. The crust takes about 8 active minutes plus it’s really, really SO much better than store bought.
Feel free to make these your own and use what ever flavor combinations you love.
Miniature Galettes

CRUST

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter

1/3 cup ice cold water

FOR THE STRAWBERRY BRIE

4 oz brie, cut into slices

3/4 cups strawberries, chopped

1 tbs butter, melted

2 tbs sugar

FOR THE BACON GOAT CHEESE

6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

3 oz goat cheese, crummbled

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped (don’t use frozen, too much water)

Makes 12 (6 of each)

In a food processor, combine 1 1/3 cup flour, salt, sugar and butter, process until well combined. Add the remaining flour and process again until combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the water with a wooden spoon (don’t add the water while the dough is in the food processor or your dough will be brittle and cracker-like). If the dough isn’t moist enough, you can add more water, a tsp at a time until the consistency is right. Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. You can make this up to 5 days ahead of time, just place the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, in a large zip lock bag.

Place your chilled dough on a well floured surface. Top with more flour and roll until your dough is fairly thin and even. Cut out 12, 4 inch circles. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter that size so I used a margarita glass.

Place the dough circles on baking sheets that are either covered with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray.

Strawberry Brie:

A Trader Joe’s just opened on Friday down the street from my house. I am inappropriately excited about living within walking distance from such a fabulous food source. I bought these cute mini brie wheels. These are also fantastic to make mini baked brie out of, but that is for another post.

I cut each wheel into 3-4 slices. If you don’t live by a Trader Joe’s, you can also just use regular brie and cut it into slices small enough to fit inside the circle.

Place about 1 tbs of brie in the center of 6 of the circles. Top with about 2 tbs of strawberries.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter, sprinkle with about 1 tsp of sugar each.

Bacon Goat Cheese:

For the remaining 6 circles, add about 1-2 tbs of goat cheese to each circle. Top with 1-2 tbs of chopped spinach, sprinkle with bacon.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush the folded edge of each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown.

Figs In A Blanket

Only three ingredients. Perfect for a party, and I do believe that Halloween kicks off the party season. The fall is filled with holidays, parties, my birthday…OK, so maybe there is a chance you’re not thinking about that last one. The number one food related question people ask me is about recipes for easy, yummy party food. First, party food generally has to travel well. Second, it has to survive at room temp for extended periods of time. Third, it has to be a crowd pleaser. I do believe, Figs in a Blanket meet all of those requirements.

Figs in a Blanket

12 figs

12 slices of bacon

3 oz goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut the figs in half.

2. Scoop out a large portion of the insides with a melon baller (a small spoon should do fine as well).

4. Fill the hole with yummy goat cheese.

5. Re-assemble the fig and wrap it tightly with a strip of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

6. Place figs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes, turn over and bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 8 more minutes.

How To: Make Bacon (or Vegan) Tortillas


Every time that Mr. Fits, Tater and I are all home, lucky enough to wake up with no place to go, I make breakfast. I love this ritual, and I hope that it continues well into my old, old age (I do plan on living past 100, cooking the entire way, aided by a Rascal Scooter if necessary). Most of these breakfast involve bacon. For the past few months I have been saving the rendered bacon fat by pouring it through a mesh strainer into a small container and storing it in the fridge, waiting for brilliance to strike. I found the homemade tortilla recipe of the fabulous Rick Bayless (who is on my "Culinary Crush" list) and the bacon finally had a grand purpose.  If you are kosher, vegetarian or watching your saturated fat intake, or just crazy enough not to like bacon, you can use vegetable shortening, Smart Balance Light (it’s actually vegan), butter or oil.  Although the flavor won’t be the same if you use another fat and you will have to watch the ratios since these fats all behave differently. But if you can, save bacon drippings and try the bacon flavored tortillas, so incredible.

Bacon Fat Flour Tortillas

(Adapted From Rick Bayless)

Makes 12 tortillas

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas

5 tablespoons of fat (bacon fat, vegetable shortening, etc)

3/4 teaspoon salt

about 3/4 cup very warm tap water

DIRECTIONS

As I mentioned previously, save your bacon grease by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer into a container with a tight lid (just pour the next round on the top of the previous) and keeping it in the fridge. This stuff is liquid gold, don’t pour it down the drain.

1.   Combine the flour and fat (I used 5 tbs bacon fat) in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork.

The dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass.

If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary).

3. Scoop the dough onto your floured work surface

and knead until smooth.

It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

4.   Rest the dough.  Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball.  Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).

5.  You can either press your tortillas using a tortilla press lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking, which I used

or you can roll them with a rolling pin using this method:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle:  Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.

Make sure the tortillas are very thin, almost thinner than you think they should be.

6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  

Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface).

After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. You will know it is time to flip when the edges look dry and lighter in color.  Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp.  Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer.  Roll or press and then griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.

Halloween Recipe: Avocado Witches Fingers

Spooky Halloween treat. Looks like slimy, severed fingers, makes you hungry, right? That’s the best part about Halloween, you get to make crazy, gross, appetizers that are inspired by dismembered body parts and people love it.

Spooky Avocado Witches Fingers

4 Avocados
peeled, pitted and halved
1 tbs lemon or lime juice
2 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 ounce prosciutto slices

Cut each avocado half into 4-6 slices. Place in medium bowl and gently toss in lemon juice.

 Fill the center of each avocado slice with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder.

Wrap each avocado “finger” with 1/3 slice of prosciutto until the goat cheese is secured to the avocado. Make sure to leave the tip of the avocado exposed, to resemble a finger nail. Arrange the avocados in the shape of a hand on the plate to add extra spookiness. Serve and Enjoy!

Check out my other Halloween Posts:

DIY Glow In the Dark Chosts. Take 5 minutes!

Inside Out Caramel Apples


Oktoberfest Recipe: Beer Braised Pulled Pork

My favorite thing about pulled pork is that it takes a long time. You didn’t read that wrong, I LIKE that it takes hours. Probably because I tend to over-committ myself, double book myself, take on too much, then feel guilty that I am not able to give 100% to everything and I need to remember to slow down. I work full time, I have this blog that I love more that anyone will know, I write for Honest Cooking, and for the Glendale Examiner, AND I am a mom. When I have decided to make a recipe like pulled pork I HAVE to stay home, play in the backyard with Tater, ignore my phone and listen to excessive amounts of Led Zeppelin. I need to make pulled pork more often.

What does braising mean? What a good question. Braising just means to sear meat at a very high heat and then cook it slowly at a low heat until cooked through. I used another amazing craft beer for this recipe. Rouge’s Chipolte Ale:

I have had a soft spot for Rouge brewery for years. Rouge is beer lovers beer, and dedicated to the art of the craft. Actual real life people making really good beer. If you live on the West Coast, this Portland Oregon brewery’s beer is probably at your local grocery store. It’s one of the few great craft beers that I have a fairly easy time getting my hands on. In fact, the very first time I decided to cook with beer (I made a chocolate beer cake), I used Rouge’s Chocolate Stout. I do believe that I owe Rouge for my fascination with cooking with beer.

Thank you Rouge, you’re Pulled Pork thank you card is in the mail.

Get the recipe on my other blog, The Beeroness!

Get the recipe on my other blog, The Beeroness!

I used this meat in three ways, on italian bread as a delicious sandwich, over rice and beans, and in a burrito. Other ideas for pulled pork include:

Pulled pork nachos

Pulled pork sliders

Pulled pork tacos

Pulled pork enchiladas

Pulled pork flatbread pizza

Pulled pork hand pies

Seriously, you could go all Bubba Gump about this and it would be endless. There is no shortage of uses for Pulled Pork.

My message of the day is this:

Slow down, eat good SLOW food, Drink great beer and don’t forget to play in the back yard with your daughter while listening to Over The Hills an Far Away (OK, maybe that last one was just for me).