Whenever the new year rolls around, I (like most of the world) am hasty to make a multitude of resolutions. Honestly- I always have the best of intentions but the majority of the time, my lofty resolutions (which usually have to do with exercise and eating healthier...big surprise!) end up being cast aside with that first giant bite of double chocolate cheesecake (gosh darn it!). Anyhow, I still like the idea of starting anew each year and this year in particular I'm ready for 2012 to wrap itself up. December has been a particularly rough month and I can't wait to dispose of it and start fresh. I've been feeling emotionally drained and conflicted for weeks on end and my stress eating has become reflected in some holiday pudge. I did get a tiny respite this weekend, when Mr.S. and I took a spontaneous weekend trip to SF. His kidlets were out of town and we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to have a romantic weekend getaway and just de-com-press!

We stayed at an adorable boutique hotel just steps from Union Square called The Orchard Hotel (super cute room and friendly staff), indulged in a delicious seafood dinner at Anchor & Hope with Mr.S.'s brother and did some fun touristy things like eating clam chowder at Pier 39 (I hadn't been in years), shopping in Japantown and taking a moonlit stroll to Union Square to see the ice skaters and holiday lights. It was a lovely trip and just what I needed.

Anyhow, my heart and soul haven't been into cooking for weeks but I was able to somehow muster myself into the cooking spirit for the big Christmas Day dinner. I made some spicy chorizo-lentil empanadas for appetizers and also a scrumptious corn casserole as my side dish. My friend Minzi had suggested a recipe by Paula Deen which gave me the idea to do a corn casserole. I liked the basics of Deen's recipe so I used that as my starting point and built from there. The dish turned out to be a big hit and almost all of it was eaten; considering how much food was out on the table, I was pretty impressed. Even the pickier eaters gave me compliments!

The recipe is listed below, give it a try in the new year and let me know what you think.

Holiday Corn Casserole


1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (*do not substitute frozen corn, use canned)

1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 (8-ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix

1 small sweet yellow onion, diced

4 ounce can diced mild green chiles, drained

1 egg

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 stick butter, melted

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

5 slices bacon

salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

2. In a skillet, fry up your bacon. Place cooked bacon slices on a plate lined with a papertowel. Allow to cool. Then dice bacon slices. Next, in the same pan- fry up your diced onion. Then set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine: corn kernels, creamed corn, Jiffy corn muffin mix, onion, diced green chiles, 1 egg, sour cream, melted butter and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix throughly.

4. Take a greased 8x8 glass casserole dish and pour corn mixture from bowl into dish. Spread so it's even.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Then remove from oven. Sprinkle bacon pieces and 2 tablespoons of cheddar across the top. Place dish back in oven and cook for another 10-15.

6. Serve warm.

Happy Holidays!

Dear Readers,

Well, the world didn't end this Friday as the Mayans predicted, so I'll just assume you're all out there fighting your way through insane traffic and frenzied crowds at the shopping mall or (if you're smart) curled up next to the fireplace with a hot cup of Bailey's and coffee watching "Love Actually." I apologize that I haven't posted much in the past few weeks but I've been extremely busy, not "busy in the kitchen" busy but more like "life busy." My mom was recently diagnosed with an incredibly serious illness and I had to fly out to Kansas City at the drop of a hat. I'm home now but it's been nerve wrecking and we're holding our breaths and waiting day to day to see what develops and if I need to fly back out in the immediate future. So with all this going on, my cooking has been been pushed to the wayside.

I did get a small break from all the stress and worry the other night when Mr.S. insisted on taking me out to dinner. Afterwards, we drove over to Dovewood Court in Orangevale to see their holiday lights and decorations. It was crowded but fun. There was the Grinch, Spongebob and all kinds of other assorted characters from popular culture and Christmas tales. There was even an Xmas Margaritaville! It was nice to get away for a few minutes.

So in case, I don't get back on here before the new year, I'd like to thank you for reading A Girl and Her Fork this year and I wish you and your families a happy holiday!

Lots of love from my kitchen to yours,

A Girl and Her Fork

PS Here's a few photos I snapped while we were at Dovewood Court.

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Eric Ripert. That silver-haired French fox is turning up everywhere these days. He's popped up on "Top Chef," "Treme" and "No Reservations." Not to mention, he's good buddies with Bourdain, hosts his own PBS TV series “Avec Eric," and his restaurant Le Bernardin has garnered three Michelin stars and has upheld a four-star review from The New York Times for over two decades. Holy cow! Is there anything this culinary wizard can't do? Well in addition to making amazing seafood dishes, it turns out he knows his way around an avocado too. I recently came across this tweet of his and decided to give it a go.

There were no measurements listed so I played around with the ingredients in my kitchen. The resulting product- a decadent dish of fresh crab and warm, creamy avocado that only takes a few minutes and a few dollars to throw together. Deee-lish! 

Crab-Stuffed Avocado


6 oz. shredded fresh lump crabmeat

1 fresh avocado, halved and pitted

2 tablespoons Best Foods's mayo

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

fresh ground pepper

2.5 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

lime or lemon wedges (optional)


1. Set oven for broil. Slice and pit avocado.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place pitted avocado halves on sheet.

3. In a small bowl, combine crabmeat, mayo, mustard, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice together. Mix well.

4. Divide the crabmeat mixture evenly into two servings. Using a spoon, fill each avocado cavity with a serving of the mixture. Top with some fresh ground pepper (to taste).

5. Sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs.

 6. Place in oven and broil for about 10 minutes (keep an eye on it if your oven's temperamental like mine).

7. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Lime or lemon wedges (optional).


2502 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. (916) 440-1088.

Mmmm, I love Caribbean food! The fiery heat of the Scotch bonnet peppers and the tang of the citrus in the jerk paste, all washed down with a ginger beer or a cold Jamaican Red Stripe. Pure bliss. So last week, I was pretty excited to meet up with a friend for a midweek lunch at the newly opened Negril Island BBQ on J Street. The weather had been a blustering mess and I was looking forward to eating some authentic Caribbean cooking. My tastebuds were looking forward to a cascade of spices that would excite my palate and transport me from the cold, wet streets of Sacramento to a warm beach in the South Atlantic. I was hoping Negril Island BBQ would knock it out of the park for me.

I arrived at the casual eatery during prime-time lunch hour to find only one other patron eating. (Not a good sign typically, but hey- it's a new place, maybe they're still getting established.) The trim dining room sported cute tropical-themed table wraps on each table and colorful island photographs adorning the walls, but the overall mood in the restaurant wasn't lively and warm like in other Caribbean restaurants I've been to. It was too quiet and slightly chilly in there. I stood at the counter a bit unsure what to do as there was no menu board to peruse. Luckily for me, a few moments later the owner ambled out of the kitchen. He was a friendly, upbeat gentleman and took my order quickly. I ordered the beef brisket with a side of potato salad and the beans and rice. When my dining companion showed up, she ordered a combination platter of the jerk chicken and the ribs along with a side of the potato salad. She had recently gone on a trip to the Caribbean and like myself had her heart (and teeth) set on some tasty, homey Caribbean fare. Service was quick. Our orders came out on disposable plates with plastic utensils. This would have been fine except my brisket was tough and dry and cutting it with a plastic picnic knife is akin to trying to saw a redwood with a butter knife. It's futile. The few pieces I was able to tear off had a slight smokey flavor but were extremely overcooked. The sides I ordered, however, were quite delicious. The potato salad tasted like it was made from scratch and the corn muffin was light and sweet. I enjoyed the red beans and rice, served with a dollop of the jerk sauce but my fried plantain slices resembled small, cold hockey pucks. My dining companion was kind enough to give me one of her ribs to taste. I thought the rib was well cooked and tender. I would have found it more appealing if there was some crispy char to it and if it had more of that sweet BBQ sauce but that just may be me...I like my ribs slathered in sauce. I didn't taste the jerk chicken but by the look on my dining companion's face and the largely uneaten portion left on her plate, I can guess it was a fail.

Overall, my visit to Negril Island BBQ was less satisfying than I hoped. I wish the proprietor well. It's a tough restaurant market these days and opening a new place is always a learning curve. I found the service at Negril Island BBQ to be welcoming and fast, but the food just lacks the deliciousness that I've had at other Caribbean restaurants. That incredible layering of flavor, that nice deep spicy, smoky taste that emerges from cooking in the fire pits or steel drum, the succulent barbecue...ahhhh! For me, the search will have to continue.
Happy Monday!

Can you detect my sarcastic undertone? Blech! No matter how much older I get, I still abhor Mondays. You'd think the beginning of the week would illicit feelings of unicorns and rainbows. No? Well in the very least a fresh beginning...but unfortunately, Mondays always feel like a giant buzzkill to me. It takes all my willpower not to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed. Well, maybe this week I'll find some time to start a few holiday cooking projects. Anyhow, I hope while I've been MIA, you've been having some fun. Mr.S. and I had a great date night last week. We attended a performance at The Crest put on by Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla. It was a mix of discussion and debate covering everything from politics to parenting, followed up by a Q&A session.  I found the event interesting and had a good time even though my views on politics and religion differ quite a bit from the two speakers. Mr.S. loved it, he's a a huge fan of Carolla's podcast and tends be a bit more conservative than me in his beliefs. He must not be the only one in Sac because I'm pretty sure the show was sold was really packed in there! Luckily we were in the second row so we had some breathing room.

I also got new wellies (in dark red!) and got to break them in this week. I was quite excited to finally get to wear them. They're quite comfortable as well as fashionable...because you know you need to look fashionable when wading through a rainstorm. ;)

And don't worry, I did a little tinkering around in the kitchen too. I would have done more but I just couldn't get myself to go out in the foul weather to the grocery store. It's not the rain that bothers me, it's the crazy drivers! Anyhow, I was craving something rich and hearty to warm me up, so I threw together some chicken and mushrooms with a flavorful sherry sauce. If you love the taste of garlic and shallots (we do!), then you're bound to like this delicious recipe.

Chicken and Mushrooms in Sherry Sauce


3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast- cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup fresh shimeiji mushrooms

1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

3 shallots, minced

3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 1/2 cups no salt chicken broth

1/2 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons cornstarch

salt and fresh ground back pepper


1.  In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).

2. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside in a bowl.

3. Add olive oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic, saute until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, stirring frequently until they soften.

4. Return chicken to skillet. Then add rosemary, thyme and white pepper. Cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add the chicken broth and sherry to the mixture.

6. Reduce heat the medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.

7. Remove a 1/2 cup of sauce from skillet. Add cornstarch to the cup of sauce. Whisk, then return to skillet.

8. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes.

9. Remove from heat and serve with with rice, pasta or by itself.