Tourist Tuesday: The British Museum

Sometimes there are things on my to-do list that I could do now, but don’t need to do now, so I put them off. That’s what happened to me last night. I was sitting on the couch in my pajamas watching a Swedish TV show on Netflix when I thought to myself, “write Tourist Tuesday.” But I was tired and I thought, “that’s a problem for future Mariel.” Future Mariel, now present Mariel, is feeling guilty that past Mariel is lazy. So I’m posting late, but I hope you’ll still enjoy these photos from the British Museum. I went a few weeks ago, before I started my new job, when I had all the time in the world.

Anyway, one of the last things I did before starting my job was go to the British Museum. I had been there before, but this last time I went on a tour with London Walks. If you live in London, or are just visiting, I highly recommend doing a walk with them. You’ll get to see nooks and crannies in the city that are hiding in plain sight. They tell you amazing stories and some of the guides are hilarious.

rosetta stone

The Rosetta Stone. Did you know they also have a copy you can touch?

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Cornbread Muffins with Mashed Potatoes

Cornbread Muffin with mashed potatoes

Today’s recipe is all about the sides. Sometimes the sides are the best part of the meal. I love that in those home style American restaurants there is often a vast array of sides to choose from. If you don’t know what I mean, there are some restaurants where you order something like chicken, and then the dish comes with something like 2-3 sides and the options are numerous. Apple sauce? Green beans? Biscuits? Mashed potatoes? Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.

My favorite place for sides is Cracker Barrel. For a little while while Ryan and I were dating we lived about an hour away from each other. Half way in between us was York, Pennsylvania and at exit 16A off of I-83 was a Cracker Barrel. If you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel please stop there sometime during your next road trip. It’s well worth it and, I think, an important example of Americana. Anyway, I’d drive north into Pennsylvania and he’d drive south towards the Maryland border and we’d meet at Cracker Barrel and have dinner and then go to the movies. We’d get raspberry lemonade and then something like a roast beef dinner or chicken ‘n dumplings (that’s ‘n not in). Those meals come with a choice of bread and two sides. Yum.

Muffin with Potatoes and Chicken Nuggets

When it comes to sides Ryan and I are likely to choose cornbread and mashed potatoes and that’s why this recipe is so perfect. It’s a cornbread muffin topped with mashed potatoes. I used a piping bag to make the mashed potatoes look beautiful and give the impression of being like cupcake icing. I topped it all with a splash of hot sauce and a chicken nugget. All the best sides combined into one elegant savory cupcake. And let me tell you, it was epic. I thought this combo was going to taste good, but it is better than good. In fact, it is blow your taste buds off good.

I originally got this idea from Pinterest and a pin I saw from Teacher-Chef. However, she used boxed ingredients and I wanted to make this from scratch. The mashed potato recipe is mine and the cornbread recipe comes from Once Upon a Chef. I was initially worried that the cornbread was too sweet, but it was actually perfect. The sweetness of the cornbread matched with spicy hot sauce, creamy potatoes, and a crispy chicken nugget was perfection. Your taste buds will be delighted with a blast of varying flavors and textures. This cupcake will make you so darn happy. Amazing as an all-in-one side with dinner or as a snack while watching football.

Cornbread Muffin with potatoes

Finally, I will admit that I did use frozen chicken nuggets. Making my own seemed like more work than I wanted to take on. If you’re better than me, you can totally make the nuggets from scratch. But, how ever you make the nuggets please PLEASE use the oven. It will make the nuggets crispy (the microwave will make them soft) and the crispiness really heightens the deliciousness of this cupcake.

4 spoon square Messy level: Unfortunately this is pretty messy. The cornbread needs two bowls and a muffin pan. The mashed potatoes need a pot and a masher. Also piping the mashed potatoes is a messy pain in the butt! If you’re not trying to be fancy, just spread the potatoes with a knife! I ended up removing the bag and just using my finger to push the potatoes through the fluted piping tube. It looked pretty but my thumb was covered in potatoes.

Cornbread Muffins with Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Nuggets
 
Serves: 12-15
Ingredients
Cornbread
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¾ cup milk
Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 lbs potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • salt
Other
  • 1 package of frozen chicken nuggets
  • hot sauce
Instructions
Start with the Cornbread
  1. Preheat the oven to 350/180°.
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk. Mix in the honey and then the milk.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just mixed. Don't worry if there are a few lumps.
  6. Fill each of the muffin cups until almost full.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden.
  8. Remove from oven. Let them cool a bit while the potatoes are cooking and being mashed.
Now for the potatoes
  1. Peel the potatoes.
  2. Cut them in half so they are all about the same size.
  3. Put them in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water a little bit.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. The potatoes are ready when they are soft but not breaking up on their own. (Try to get your potatoes cooking while the muffins are in the oven)
  5. Drain out the water.
  6. In the pot mash the potatoes until there are no lumps (or as best as you can, it's so tough!).
  7. Add in 3 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp butter. Use the masher to mix it into the potatoes.
  8. Add in the next 3 tbsp milk and 2 tbsp butter. Add a little salt to taste. Use the masher to mix it all together until smooth and creamy.
  9. Taste the potatoes. Adjust butter and salt to your liking.
  10. Let the potatoes cool a bit so you can handle them. Cook the chicken while you wait.
Finally for the chicken
  1. Put the the chicken nuggets on a baking sheet.
  2. Bake in the oven until cooked (according to the package instructions).
Assembly
  1. Put the mashed potatoes into a piping bag (or just use a knife).
  2. Pipe, or spread, the mashed potatoes on top of the cornbread muffins.
  3. Splash a little hot sauce over the mashed potatoes so it drips down the sides.
  4. Top with a chicken nugget.
  5. Stuff your face.

 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Cranberries

Pumpkin Oat Cookies Remember when I made a pumpkin swiss roll and I told you that I couldn’t get enough pumpkin? Well since then I’ve had a ton of pumpkin spice lattes, I’ve bought a felt jack-o-lantern garland to hang in the window, and now I’ve made these pumpkin oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries. My recommendation, buy one can of pumpkin puree and and you’ll have enough pumpkin for both this recipe and the roll. That’s the perfect way to get your fill of pumpkin flavored foods! (more…)

Tourist Tuesday: Vagabond Wines

Vagabond Wines

Have you ever used meetup.com? Since moving to London I have used it as a way to get out of my flat, explore the city, and make some friends. I’ve gone out with an expat spouses group a number of times and the women I’ve met have been just lovely. (I know men can be expat spouses too, but I haven’t met any yet.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to Vagabond Wines on Charlotte Street (there is more than one location) with the expat spouses and had a blast. Wine and girl talk is always a lot of fun, but having friends to go out with also helps make London feel more like home. The surrounding area is really cute with lots of other shops and restaurants. Vagabond itself has large wooden tables, fat leather chairs, and a cozy vibe. This location isn’t too far from the British Museum, so it is a perfect place to go to unwind if you’re tired after sightseeing.

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How to Make an Easy Beginner Chicken Dinner

Easy Beginner Chicken Dinner

When I made corn chowder, I told you that I liked to go to Zumba on Mondays. That means Monday dinner kind of gets short changed because I need something light and quick. This recipe fits the bill. Last Monday, I made this simple chicken dinner with broccoli and rice. As we were eating it I said to Ryan, “this is college Mariel dinner,” and he chuckled and nodded.

This was the meal I made all throughout college. It is the first real meal I ever knew how to make. It is probably the first meal I ever made for Ryan. In college I would’ve made this with defrosted frozen broccoli and a box of Near East rice pilaf, but over the years I’ve stepped up my game and now I can make everything from fresh ingredients. (more…)

Bloody Mary Soup with Old Bay

Bloody Mary Soup

I recently came by a recipe for Bloody Mary soup in a magazine and I was really excited about it. I love Bloody Marys, but it isn’t always appropriate to have one. Soup, though, I can have any time of day. But when I made the recipe it came out really thick. The recipe called for pureed beans and celery, which gave it a chunky and stringy texture. I was not a fan. So I decided to try my hand at making a soup recipe all my own. I’ve never made up a soup recipe before! I did a bunch of research, used a bunch of recipes as inspiration, tinkered a bit, and then I came up with something brand new that I really liked. (more…)

Abraham Lincoln & the Most Marketable Skill

Abraham Lincoln ZoomAfter writing about visiting the Science Museum to prepare for a job interview, I was asked to participate in Webucator’s Most Marketable Skill project to help recent graduates as they search for jobs. I was excited about the topic, but wasn’t sure what I would write – there are just so many useful skills to have. Then last week I was leaving Westminster Abbey and on my way to catch the bus I ran into an old friend and he gave me some inspiration. It was Abraham Lincoln.  (more…)

Pumpkin Spice Mix Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Mix

Last week when when I made the Pumpkin Roll recipe I told you I was making my own pumpkin spice mix, but I didn’t tell you how. So today, here’s a quick post with recipe for pumpkin spice.  Now, you might be thinking, why would I make my own spices? Here are three reasons:

  1. You can’t find it in a store
  2. You already have the spices you need and don’t want to hit the store
  3. Sometimes DIY is fun

This recipe is from allrecipes.com. You could subsitute cloves for the all-spice if you already have that on hand. This makes about 4 tablespoons, increase the recipe as needed. Mix the ingredients below and you’re done. Now let the fall flavors flow.

Pumpkin Spice Recipe

 

Eggs in a Hash Brown Nest

Quail Eggs in Hashbrowns

I’m a strong proponent of breakfast. I eat breakfast everyday and without it I am a grump. During the week breakfast is my quiet time. I usually have a bowl of yogurt with granola and I look out the window and watch the people commuting to work and the construction workers making a lot of noise as they work. After breakfast I’m powered up for the day.

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