Friday, April 20, 2012

Off to Amsterdam....

I love Amsterdam so much.  I'm headed back to one of my favorite places today where I will be taking in the Spring tulips at Keukenhof.  Tulips and beautiful flowers as far as the eye can see!  Check out the color explosion here.

....stay tuned for all of the gorgeous photos next week!

Have a weekend filled with laughter, some good food ;) and beauty (look's everywhere!)

The Southern Stump

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The perfect hangover cure...THE FRY UP SANDWICH!!!!

The man and I had a lovely dinner last night with our friends and their little beautiful baby girl born a few weeks ago.  Our cuisine of choice...TURKISH!  We visited Levante,  a local turkish gem with fresh food cooked in clear view of the customers.  The amazing smells of all of the flavors just surf around the restaurant.  It makes for a really a nice Saturday evening.

You can see that we enjoyed a few brews along with some treats including Hummus,  Turkish Sausage and Grilled Halloumi Cheese. If you have never had Halloumi,  try and track some down...grill it like you would a steak (I'm won't melt) and put it over a salad with some tomatoes and light dressing...change your life.  

This AM,  one of us wasn't feeling on top of his A game so I decided to whip up a hangover cure sandwich that I thought I would share with the Southern Stumpers!!!  It's super easy and can be thrown together in ten minutes tops!  It's taking the amazing traditional British Fry up and throwing it into some bread ....result...THE FRY UP SANDWICH.

What you will need:

2-3 pieces of thick cut bacon (or any bacon)
1 egg
two slices of multi grain/whole wheat bread or a roll...the thicker the bread, the better!
Ketchup, HP Brown sauce or no sauce at all...up to you!

First get your bacon into a frying pan and let it get working.  After about 2 minutes,  add your sliced onions.  Don't chop them too fine...just easy strips as you see above.

Meanwhile,  prep your bread.  I keep some butter out in one of my mini croquettes out of the fridge so it is nice and soft when I need it.  I recommend this as it just makes butter spreading on much easier!  

Toast the bread and spread over your butter and sauce of choice.  I'm an HP Brown sauce girl but my man likes the ketchup so there you go....

Move your bacon and onions over to the side of the pan and adjust the surface so they are off the direct heat from below (this applies more to gas grills).  Crack open an egg and start to fry.  Take a fork and open the yolk.  This way the nice flavor is spread over the entire egg and not just in one place...

Depending how you like your eggs...cook accordingly.  Give it a flip and you're almost there...

Set your finished egg on one side of the bread and the bacon/onion mixture on the other. 

Join the two sides and out! This sandwich will KNOCK YOU OUT!!!!

This is a super easy sandwich to throw together and a perfect way to start your Saturday or Sunday morning!!!


See you all back here at The Southern Stump soon!!!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The rain in SPAIN!

I was recently debating deleting this blog but after checking out the stats and seeing that people from multiple countries are stopping by the Southern Stump made me realize..."The blog must go on!!!!"

Things have been insane for the last few months.  The Southern Stump (that's me) got engaged so wedding planning is in full swing.

...but there is plenty of time to dish about that so for today,  let's go to Spain!!!

I surprised my fiance with a trip to Barcelona last weekend.  It was a late birthday bonus for him after he surprised ME on his day back in January.  For his birthday,  I got him the Linda McCartney "My life in Photographs" coffee table book which is really great.  He got me a trip to Ireland and an engagement I felt like I wanted to return the surprise to him!!!

Before we dive into Spain,  take a look at some of the photos from Linda McCartney's book.  She captures moments between the Beatles and her family that are not photoshopped,  posed, set up etc.  These are always the best photographs.

There are too many favorites in the book.  I think this is a great addition to any coffee table as it is just filled with beautiful photographs that spark conversation and make you appreciate her work.  You can buy the book HERE

Now,  off to BARCELONA!  I told my guy to meet me in town around 8:00 after my Bikram session so we could go to dinner.  He was bringing items for the weekend which I told him to pack.  About midway through dinner,  he asked "Where are we going?  It's 9:30 and we are still in London!!".  What he didn't know was that I booked a room at a hotel next to Heathrow as our flight was EARLY the next morning.

When we got to the airport,  I managed to get him all the way to our gate without him having any idea what was going on!  Once at the gate,  he got excited that he didn't know so he turned his boarding pass over and snuck onto the plane none the wiser.  It wasn't until the Captain came on and said "Ladies and Gentlemen,  we'd like to welcome you aboard this nonstop service to Barcelona!"....that he realized. He was very excited.  I was excited too.....a new country with new sites and FOOD!!!

First Stop:  Sagrada Familia,  a Roman Catholic Bascilica located in the heart of Catalonia.

Architect Antoni Gaudi designed this stunning building with the idea of bringing nature and religion together to form a masterpiece.  You can see his vision brought to life when you enter the massive space.

The columns supporting the space branch out to look like trees.  I have never seen a ceiling so high.  It was really beautiful.

When you look up,  it looked like you were standing in a forest.  This picture doesn't do justice but it gives you an idea.  

The building is still being completed.  Gaudi died in 1926 after being struck by a passing tram.  He knew that he would not live to see his work completed,  so he left countless descriptive documents to advise any future architects and engineers who would work on the project.  The result is this stunning building.  It is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Barcelona.

All of this art had us hungry! We found a lovely square and enjoyed some wine, sandwiches and Spanish Beer.  

Next stop was another work by Antoni Gaudi appropriately called "Gaudi's Garden".  It is a beautiful park and trail where his aesthetic is illustrated in the small structures scattered throughout.  We had a nice walk there.

Looking around other spots in Barcelona,  we got to see some amazing views.  It is such a stunning city.  You look to the left....mountains.  Look to the right...the beach.  You can ride a bike from the hills to the sea in 1/2 hour.  I was instantly in love!

The Catalan flag flies over the city.

We were only in Barcelona for a few days but we got to have some amazing food while there.  Here we have fried calamari and bread toasted and then covered with crushed tomatoes.  They were delicious.

THE STAR OF THE SHOW!  PAELLA!!!  The word paella is was created by the Catalan people even though it is considered a dish from the Valencia region of Spain.  The french world "paelle" means pan and, as you can comes in quite a pan!!!! We had the seafood version and it was absolutely amazing! 

Yes,  I think I will....have seconds ...and thirds!  Spain was fantastic and I am an admitted full on travel addict now!  I can't wait to see where the adventures take The Southern Stump next!!!!

Have you ever made Paella?  It looks VERY intimidating but if you can track down the ingredients,  it is actually quite easy to make.  Take a look at this recipe and give it a try!  Take it from me,  it is worth the will be a STAR in your family!    This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.  

Serves 6

This recipe is for making paella in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan (see instructions below). Dry-cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or linguiƧa is an acceptable substitute. Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our version, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to 6.


1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined

olive oil

8-9 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)

 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise

 1 red bell pepper , seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips 

8 ounces Spanish chorizo , sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (see note)

1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained, minced, and drained again 

2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio

 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup dry white wine

 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads , crumbled

1 bay leaf

1 dozen mussels.  (Southern Stump Note:  Make sure your mussles are slightly open and close when you tap them (i.e. they are alive).  If they have NOT opened fully after cooking,  throw them away.  

 1/2 cup frozen green peas , thawed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 lemon , cut into wedges, for serving


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.4. 

4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Optional: If soccarat (see note) is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.
6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

7. If You're Using a Paella Pan A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14 to 15 inches in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1 1/2 minutes for even browning.

Searching for Soccaret
Soccarat is the toasty, browned portion of rice that forms along the bottom of the pan. It is the hallmark of authentic paella. To create this crusty bottom layer of rice, return the Dutch oven to the stovetop for five minutes once the paella has finished baking.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HALLOWEEN is almost here! Gold Pumpkins & Cute Costumes!

I learned last year that the UK and the USA celebrate Halloween differently and with just shy of a week to go before this AMAZING Holiday,  I thought I'd highlight some of the differences along with my Halloween LOVES!!!!

LOVE:  The idea of spray painting your mini pumpkins GOLD and maybe even kicking it up by gluing some glitter over!  I found this idea on my favorite blog and think it's easy for those of us without the time to carve a pumpkin!!!

LOVE:  CANDY CORN!!!!  They don't have it over here in the UK and many have NEVER HEARD OF IT (or tootsie rolls if you can believe it!).  My parents blew me away by sending two GIANT containers over.  The first was gone in 30 minutes so I've hidden the 2nd for next week!!!  They rule and SO DOES CANDY CORN!!!

LOVE:  CUTE BABY COSTUMES (and all costumes for that matter).  Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE DRESSING UP IN COSTUME!  I have had a few outfits that I'm quite proud of and I live for transforming into someone or someTHING totally different.  I was surprised (and disappointed if we're being honest) when I found out that people ONLY dress as SCARY things here....witches, ghosts, spiders etc.  ...even the babies!  I have collected some of my favorite baby costumes from the states to give my UK peeps an idea of what we're dealing with in cuteness from back home...I hope you love them as much as I do!!!!

This is my dear friend Laura's BEAUTIFUL daughter dressed as a potted bunch of flowers.  I'm going to shout her out and mention that she MADE this costume.  She makes lots of cool baby stuff!  Check out her Etsy page HERE.   I melted when I first saw this costume.  I don't think she was walking yet...can you think of anything more perfect!?!?!

Martha Stewart always has such GREAT ideas when it comes to holiday decorating, entertaining etc.  She did a whole story on baby costumes and these are my faves!!  

A little Chicken!  Why not!?!?!

Maybe the cutest Bat I have ever seen.  Ignore the hands holding our little super hero up!!!

The below isn't from Martha's's a gem I found while researching.  I think you would need a BABY for this one...who would just chill out in their AIR FRESHENER costume...HILARIOUS!  I love it!  I pity my one day child...we are going to have SO MUCH FUN with costumes!!!!

...and finally,  my favorite little monkey of them nephew Ryder is READY for a night of trick or treating!  Could you just melt!?!?!  Those ears?  That little BANANA!!!  I can't deal with how cute he is sometimes!!!!  I think I'm going to have to bring this tradition from the states...over here to the UK!  

Happy weekend everyone and GET AMPED for Halloween next week!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Scotch Eggs, Cheese and the Queen?

I have been told many times by my British friends,  that I need to try a Scotch Egg.  The thought of it made my stomach turn and I didn't even know what it was.  I was imagining  a raw egg covered in something...but I wasn't sure what.  I had the amazing opportunity/invite to dine at The Hinds Head Pub in Bray this past Saturday.  This isn't just any pub, was voted Pub of the Year in 2011 and its sister restaurant is the Michelin 3-star rated The Fat Duck.  The chef, Heston Blumenthal,  is known around the world for his slow cooking methods and, as a result,  AMAZING food!  THIS WAS WHERE I WAS HAVING MY SCOTCH EGG!!!

Scotch Eggs are hard boiled eggs (in this case, a quail's egg I think as it was quite small)  surrounded by ground sausage and finished with bread crumbs and then deep fried.   They can be served cold on salads or hot.  For all of my American peeps,  you can get them on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair!!!  Check it out! 

I can now make it official...I'm a HUGE fan!  I'm going to have to learn to make these (fairly easy I would imagine) as I don't think anywhere will top The Hinds Head!!!!

My fellow diners (our friends from up the road and The Tester/my boyfriend) also had beautiful starters.  Check them out! 

Above is the Soused Mackerel with Beetroot and Horseradish.  

The tester had the Ham Hock and Foie Gras Terrine with Piccalilli.  It was pretty fantastic and extremely rich!  


I had the Poached Cod (above) with Celeriac, Beetroot, Smoked Fennel and Brown Shrimp (which I learned are mini-me shrimp).  It was flaky, light and full of flavor...the perfect portion size!

My friend had the Free-range Pork Belly with Pearl Barley and Wheat Beer.  I didn't try this one but she said the Lentils were AMAZING.

This is the "BEFORE" of the Oxtail and Kidney Pudding.  I tried it and it was SO RICH...I didn't think I could handle more than a few bites.  My friend, on the other hand........

Yeah, THIS is the "after" photo.  It was his birthday...I say "GO FOR IT!"

I'm full just writing about it!  I do have enough room for dessert though!!

The men had the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Orange Mamalade Ice Cream (above) while the women enjoyed the CHEESE PLATE SELECTION (My favorite no matter where I am!!!)

We got to enjoy some fine British Cheeses along with some oatcakes,  fruit bread and fig chutney.  My favorite was the stilton cheese spread on an oatcake with fig.  The perfect salty/stinky cheese/sweet combination!  You can get fig spread at most grocery stores.  I highly recommend blending it with stilton.  

I could eat only cheese for the rest of my life and be completely happy!  The lunch at The Hinds Head was such a beautiful meal that I will remember for a long time.  I hope you enjoyed the photos.  If you know of other amazing spots in England...let me know about them!

ONE MORE THING on The Hinds Head!!!  If you know my blog at all,  you know I am obsessed with coffee cups and (strangely) bathrooms.  Check out the beautiful photos of a young Queen Elizabeth that were on display in the bathroom at The Hinds Head!  

This one I have seen a few times before and it never gets old.  She was a stunning young queen.

This one I haven't seen.  My friend pointed out (and I also think it's fantastic) the beautiful brooch/corsage.  This makes me look forward to more postings on the blog about what Kate is wearing!!  She is the new generation and I love that this blog follows her every wardrobe success, failure and malfunction!!!

That's all for now...Have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pancakes, and tulips and cheese OH MY!!!

I had the wonderful opportunity of heading to Amsterdam this past week as part of my 9-5.  While working,  I stumbled onto some cool finds in this amazing city.  While there aren't too many photos of the architecture,  there is some other cool stuff.

How cute are these water bottles?   When you order water at a restaurant,  you don't get tap water (not even an option),  or large bottles of still water....but rather,  these cute tiny bottles.  I won't dwell on how much they set you back ...but cute enough...

...while shopping,  I stumbled onto these amazing primary color goodness stereos...If anyone knows what they are...let me know.  

Let's stop and enjoy the view...from my hotel room.



more fruit

beautiful fruit!

...and the smallest oranges I have ever seen...the size of a grape.

Whole Figs...haven't seen them whole before...maybe I have been living under a rock.

Enough fruit....CHEESE!!!!!!   Gouda, Edam, Goat's Cheese, SMOKED Cheese!!  Woot!

These selections will do...I'll try a bit of this...a bit of that!

Piles of smoked tasty!

Night has fallen,  let's head to the red light district.  If you have never heard of this area,  read about it here.

Now that you have read...yes,  prostitution is legal in the Red Light District.  I had no interest in that so I decided to awe over this dress in a window near by...amazing!!!!

Next day,  en route to breakfast,  I got to see The Flower Market!.  It was amazing and I saw flowers that I didn't know existed!  I hope I can go to The Tulip Festival one day.  Apparently,  there are tulip fields as far as the eye can see!!!!  

Bulbs waiting to be purchased and planted!!!

This is one I haven't seen before...

Let's get to the good stuff...the food of the region.  More specifically,  my dutch pancakes!!!!  I have this thing where I'm loving taking photos of coffee.  You may recall the cup of joe from my last post on Paris.   It was more feminine and shabby chic in appearance.  In Holland,  the cups were glass sitting on a bright yellow saucer.  I loved how cute (but different to Paris) it was.  This will be something I continue to photograph as I travel.

I give you...DUTCH PANCAKES!!!!!  These were a mini-version covered in powdered sugar and (yes you saw that right)...BUTTER!!!!  It was as delicious as you are imagining!!!

 I couldn't believe I stumbled onto some POST-IT war art!  I read about this new street art  phenomena happening around the world where people make art with post-it notes.  Check out more images HERE from a story run by The Guardian recently.

I know there isn't too much in terms of tourist photos but that isn't ultimately what this blog is about.  It's more of the random stuff...and I found plenty of that in Amsterdam.

Here are a few more things I'm obsessing over recently....

1)  I need these sequin pants from Reiss. 

2)  I was at a coffeehouse and their tip jar was a £ sign (UK Money for US peeps) on a plastic computer key like this one.   

4)  A new FOODIE blog!!!  I can't wait to try some of these great recipes!!  Check out the roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar.  HAPPY FALL!!!!!