Friday, September 30, 2011

Easy Chicken Divan

The cooler temperatures outside have got me thinking about one thing . . . comfort food.  As a kid growing up, I was always playing sports:  football, baseball, basketball (I was terrible), ice hockey, street hockey, tennis, soccer (ugh), etc.  As much as I wore myself out on the athletic fields, there was always the comfort in my mind that I would return home to an incredible meal, created by the loving hands of my Momma.

Her meals would instantly make you forget about 4 hours of beating your head in on the football field on a long, cold November night.  And of course, she knew that I always had my favorites.  Hamburger Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Meatloaf, Mac' n' Cheese, Fried Chicken, Lasagna, Spaghetti, etc.  You know - all of those comfort foods.

But one of my very favorites was her Easy Chicken Divan casserole.  Chicken, Broccoli, a curried and creamy sauce, and sharp cheddar cheese - all served over rice.  Incredible.

So, it was to my delight to return home to Nashville after a few weeks of travel to find this casserole waiting for me in the fridge.  I know what you must be thinking, contrary to George Costanza, I'm neither unemployed nor do I live with my parents.  Instead, Momma and Daddy were passing through Nashville on business, and she surprised me with this incredible meal upon my return.

Airlines, lack of sleep, and travel certainly don't take a toll on the body like the old days on the football field - but one thing is certain - this dish still satisfies just the same.

Thanks, Momma.


Easy Chicken Divan

1 10 oz Frozen Package Broccoli, chopped
3 Cups White Meat Cooked Chicken, chopped
1 Can Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
Hot Cooked Rice, to serve

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove the broccoli from the package and thaw in the microwave for 2 - 3 minutes.  Drain broccoli and add to the bottom of a greased casserole dish along with the chopped chicken.  Combine the remaining ingredients except the cheese into a mixing bowl and stir until combined.  Pour the mixture over the top of the broccoli and chicken and top with grated cheese.  Place the casserole into the oven and bake 30 - 35 minutes until browned and bubbly.  Serve over hot cooked rice.

Monday, September 26, 2011

P.E.I. - Part Deux

Back in the States.  It's nice to sit at home, enjoy a cold beer, and relax on the couch.  Yet, even with one night sans travel under my belt - I'm looking to get back out on the road.

A quick recap of a wonderful trip -

Thursday brought a 6 a.m. wake-up call.  After a few 'phoners' with local PEI stations, I was up and out on my way to Toronto, and on over to PEI.  All in all, a quick trip, and a true testament to the Nashville airport for offering a few direct flights to Toronto each and every day.  Ironically enough, I tend to meet more songwriters on this flight than any other.  After meeting Mark in baggage claim, I checked in to the historic Rodd Charlottetown.  Quite frankly, I had one thing on my mind - PEI mussels . . . and cold beer.  I decided to head down to the Gahan House for a few Island Red's (Great Beer!) and a pound of traditional mussels prepared with plenty garlic in a creamy broth - outstanding.  Better yet, the company of a few fine gentlemen - George Roberts and the hilarious Liam Maguire.  After a great meal, and plenty of NHL trivia, it was time to call it a night . . . sort of.  Upon walking out of the Gahan House, I'd remembered a great bar across the street, above Daniel B. Brickhouse, where I'd visited over the summer.  To my delight, this time around they carried Kentucky bourbon.  Did I say to my delight?  Perhaps it was to my downfall.  In the midst of great company and outstanding local music, I enjoyed a few too many bourbons than I'd like to admit to - leaving me with quite a hangover the next morning.

Nevertheless, life goes on.

Friday -

It was a pleasure to do the CBC "Spin Time" show with Karen Mair - the only problem was it was 10:00 a.m. and I was still feeling the pounding of a bourbon headache from the night before.  Yet, it turned out to be the perfect concoction to discuss Americana music from Athens, GA (Stewart and Winfield "Festival"), Nashville/Kentucky (Darryl Scott "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive"), and my own tune "Tennessee".  Really a pleasure to be on such a great show, and you can catch my audio here.

After that, I was swept up by George for a great tour of the island.  I honestly cannot thank him enough for his hospitality.  Viewing the potato "production", including the farms, storage facilities, and processing plants (Cavendish Farms) was simply incredible.  After that, we passed the day in the company of many great gentleman on the golf course.  Yes, I'm terrible at golf, yet I suppose it was Canadian hospitality that allowed me to eek out a game of sorts for the day - or maybe it was just the Moosehead beer and Fireball shots.  Nevertheless, I had a great time playing with George, Liam, and Hugh-ey . . .  and it was also nice to meet Marcel Dionne.

After golf, it was off to George's farm to check out his new project.  I'll say one thing.  The beauty of P.E.I is truly within the landscape.  Like nowhere else I've ever traveled, P.E.I. has it all.  Undulating hills, spotted with historic farmhouses, crops, trees, and incredible landscapes - all with a view of the crystal blue Atlantic in the background.  Riding in George's dune buggy on his property was the best way to take it all in - truly incredible - I can see why he has a chair simply perched atop this peak of land to enjoy sunsets and the prophetic landscape that reaches all the way to the horizon on a beautiful fall day.

After that, a great hockey game in Summerside, and finally to bed - Thanks to Bryan for the ride back to Charlottetown.

Saturday -

What better to do when in a foreign country than to break into a a well established restaurant at 9:00 a.m.  Yes, that's what I did.  Hilarious?  Sorta . . . Embarrassing - Absolutely.  After getting down to Sim's Corner to meet the great Ross Munro, I found an open door - and an alarm that would make any man check his drawers upon getting out alive.  Oh well, an honest mistake I suppose, but nevertheless, a great way to 'wake up' a great day.  I was so fortunate to enjoy Ross' hospitality by allowing me to prep and utilize much of the equipment from his restaurant.  Seriously - one of the most incredibly generous people I've met in my lifetime.  Thankfully - Cory made it back to help out and assist in everything from prep to shopping to demos to tracking down local PEI girls (for him of course).  Good luck with her Cory!

The Great Big BBQ block party encountered some cloudy, rainy weather, but the turnout and enthusiasm remained high.  Honestly - a special thanks to Mark, Treena, Myrtle, and the many others who spent so many hours putting together such a great event.  For those who couldn't be there, I provided my recipe in my last post.  Overall, it was a pleasure to showcase local island beef, utilizing a cut (skirt steak) that seemed to be relatively unknown to most festival-goers.  My apologies to the butchers on PEI - I'm pretty sure you are gonna get a lot requests for 'skirt steak' from now on!!!  The demos turned out fantastic!

A few more beers, dinner, and good conversation at Gahan House was the perfect way to end a fabulous week.

Sunday -

Well, air travel can be amazing, but also frustrating.  Unfortunately, I met some resistance from an asshole working the gate for Air Canada at the PEI airport who insisted I had to check my guitar - his sarcasm was embarrassing, but I was ready to get home, so I sucked it up, payed the $35 fee, and sent my Martin Guitar off on a hope and a prayer . . . and sure enough - it was lost in the Toronto airport.  Oh well - I finally got her back into my hands (3 hours later), and made it safe back to Nashville.  Definitely not the best way to end a great trip, but then again, I think Karma will come back to pay for that gate agent who got his rocks off by asking me to show him how my guitar would fit into the "carry on" space.  Get a life dude.


A special thanks to Charles for hanging out - and taking these great pictures!

Keep peaceful!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Skirt Steak Fajitas

What up?  It's been a few busy weeks around here.  Working on some new ventures, writing new recipes, getting ready for upcoming events, and always trying to enjoy some cooler temperatures down South.  I'm excited that my return trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada is almost just a week away!  It's going to be a great time at the Fall Flavours festival.  For those that can't make it - I wanted to provide my recipe for skirt steak fajitas, which I'll be demo'ing a few times throughout the day on Saturday, Sept 24th in downtown Charlottetown.  These make for great game-day fare for entertaining your guests over football season.  Enjoy!


Skirt Steak Fajitas - Serves 4

Skirt Steak/Marinade
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Limes, Juiced
4 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 lbs Skirt Steak
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Cumin Powder

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Red Onion, sliced into thin strips
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 Large Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
8 - 10 Large Flour Tortillas

Pico de Gallo/Salsa
Sour Cream

First:  At least 30 minutes prior to grilling, whisk together the first three ingredients into a mixing bowl, set aside.  Next, season the steaks liberally on both sides with the remaining ingredients.  Add the seasoned steaks into a large plastic bag and cover with the wet marinade.  Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Next:  Prepare grill.  Preheat half of the grill to high heat, with the other half devoted to low heat.  If using coals, pile coals on one side to create a direct and indirect heat surface.  Place a small cast iron skillet over direct heat; add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.  Add onions and peppers to the skillet and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Saut矇 the mixture until ingredients are slightly charred and just tender, 3 - 4 minutes.  Move skillet to indirect heat and saut矇 until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.  As onions and peppers are finishing, remove skirt steaks from bag, shaking off excess marinade.  Grill steaks over direct heat for 2 minutes.  Flip steaks and grill for another 1 - 2 minutes for medium/medium rare depending on the size and thickness.  Remove steaks from grill, tent with foil, and rest for 3 - 4 minutes.

Last:  Grill tortillas over direct heat until warmed and slightly charred, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, keep warm.  Thinly slice skirt steak across the grain and place a generous portion onto a warmed tortilla.  Next, top with onions and peppers.  Finally, finish with any of the desired toppings and serve immediately.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Moonshine - a gentleman's cologne

-Andy Warhol-

Another Friday, another airport.  I'm hopping over to Greensboro, NC to shoot the fall campaign for a new men's fragrance I'm launching with my business partners.  Yes, you read that right - a fragrance.  It never hurts to smell good in the kitchen!

I suppose my venture in the fragrance business is much like my initial foray into publishing.  You see, just like the publishing world, the fragrance industry is dominated by 'big corporations' who market 'platforms' (celebrities) to hawk overpriced liquids to the masses.  Quite frankly, I don't think everyone in the world wants to smell like Usher, Taylor Swift, or the Beibs. I aim to turn the industry upside down.

Our first fragrance, Moonshine evokes notes of black pepper, woods, smoke, bourbon, and leather.  It's a unique, manly, and refreshing scent - created by France's top parfuemers, and designed, owned, and bottled here in the USA.  We aren't selling celebrity, rather this is high quality hootch, crafted in small batches, and reserved for only our closest of friends.  After all, we pride ourselves on individuality.

Our first 'batch' will be for sale in the coming month, and you can check it all out here -  Of course, don't worry ladies, we're working on a fragrance for you gals too - Speakeasy -

Moonshine - a gentleman's cologne 
repeal her prohibitions