Thursday, July 31, 2014

Salmon topped with Guacamole over Cilantro-Lime Rice

This might seem like a weird combination, but it is so so good.  One of my favorite ways to eat salmon is with a panko breadcrumb crust.  For this recipe, I decided to crust it with crushed up tortilla chips since they go great with guacamole of course!  Also, aren't the colors in this recipe beautiful!?


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cilantro-Lime Rice with Black Beans

I love rice.  It is one of my favorite ingredients.  You can use it in soo many different ways.  It never gets old because there is always something new you can do with rice!  I never cook rice the old fashioned way.  Bringing water to a boil, add rice, simmer 20 minutes... snoooore.  It's just boring and not for me!  I'm always looking for ways to make plain rice more flavorful.  This cilantro-lime rice with black beans is one of my favorites.  I'm not a huge fan of cilantro, but I do think it belongs in certain dishes.  You can use as much or as little cilantro as you'd like.  I don't use much at all!  Too much of it tastes like dish soap to me..blah! I just use enough to get the flavor of it but not to over power the whole dish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ellen's Guacamole

This recipe can be made in a food processor if you prefer a smooth guacamole, or you can small dice all the vegetables to make it chunkier.  I like a semi-chunky guac!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fluffy Quinoa

Quinoa is another one of those things that has a ton of different instructions on how to make it.  I've tried way too many and I always found that my quinoa was too dry, too wet or too crunchy.  Most recipes I've seen call for a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio.  If you use this ratio I guarantee your quinoa will come out extremely wet and soggy.  I think the perfect ratio is 1.5:1 liquid to quinoa.  Here is my way of cooking quinoa that turns out great every time.  Shout out to one of my coworkers who helped me get this technique down!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Perfect Tees - Forever 21's Favorite V-Neck Tee

I got a beautiful yellow package in the mail today!

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Hard boiled eggs can be tricky.  They are actually very simple, but there are so many methods out there for getting the perfect hard boiled egg, that people tend to get overwhelmed and make it harder than it seems.  This is my method for getting perfect hard boiled eggs with a bright yellow and firm yolk.  No green halos here!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Time to Embarrass Myself...

Okay guys, it's time to embarrass myself...

When I was in my last year of culinary school, one of my professor picked me to be on a local TV show called Bob Redfern's Outdoor Magazine.  They do a TV segment called the Sportsman's Table.  Each segment features a different chef cooking a dish using a local ingredient as the star.  When Mr. Redfern was coming to my school, he was going to film 4 segments.  Two were culinary professors, one was a local chef, and they wanted the last segment to feature a culinary student.  Me!! I was really excited but really nervous.  I had never been on camera before and didn't know how to act. I was also nervous about picking a dish to make! My dad and I decided on doing Porter's crab fritters that he used to make for my dad's family back in the 60s at Windy Point.  I explain this a little in the video.  More on Windy Point later! That is a whole other story best saved for another day.  I don't like the way I sound on the video or how nervous I seem to be, but in the end I'm actually really proud of this video. It only took one take!

Meet My Cats!

Let me introduce you to two of my favorites beings. They are Malon and Faron. Both named after characters from the Legend of Zelda series. I call them my own Hyrule Warriors.

Snuggled up together in their favorite chair

Welcome to Extra Counter Space!

Welcome to Extra Counter Space! My name is Ellen and I am a cook in Charlotte, North Carolina. I graduated from culinary school in 2013 and have been working ever since.  This blog is my personal counter space to share with you some of my recipes, basic culinary skills, and tips and tricks I find useful.  Also a few posts on makeup because that's something else I really enjoy.  Let's face it, kitchen or bathroom, everyone needs more counter space.  So this is mine. Thanks for stopping by!

Who I am:

My name is Ellen. I am 25 years old, born and raised in the small town of Florence, SC.  Two of my favorite things ever are beer and cupcakes.  I started cooking when I was 17. I attended culinary school from 2011-2013 and loved every minute of it. I have a boyfriend, Drew, a sister, Amanda, two cats, Malon and Faron and of course my awesome Mom and Pops.  I am excited to start this blog and share with you all of my favorite things and more!
I am a huge fan of beer.  All kinds.  Incorporating beer into food and desserts is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. Also, notice the bottle here...Chive on!

Mom's birthday dinner at Frank's Outback in Pawley's Island, SC

My awesome family.  Couldn't ask for a better one. We don't always agree, but come on now... who does?

Happy Father's Day!

My Mom and Dad.  They have always supported me no matter what I was into.  And that means a lot because I was into everything when I was younger.  I have always had a good relationship with my parents.  I was never that kid that was embarrassed to have their parents around.  I don't understand why some kids can be like that!  I always wanted them involved in everything I did, and they were.  And they still are.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  I enjoy so much when they come to visit me in Charlotte.  Especially when they come eat at the restaurant in my hotel and let me serve them good food!  I would say my dad is my number one fan when it comes to my cooking.  When I first started getting interested in cooking,  I was young and didn't really have any money.  They were nice enough to give me some cash to buy ingredients then cook them a meal! Or sometimes TRY to cook them a meal...  In my early days things didn't always turn out so great! Thanks Mom and Pops for always being there and supporting me!

My parents and me on my last day of culinary school.  They came to eat in Fowler Dining Room, the schools restaurant, where I served panko crusted salmon, Israelii couscous and roasted asparagus with an herb compound butter.  This was also on Valentine's Day!

Heading to the Nutcracker at Blumenthal Performing Arts

My sister Amanda.  When we were growing up we were about as opposite as you can get.  We barely agreed on anything and had almost nothing in common.  Even down to the color of our hair.  Somehow though we always managed to have a good time together despite our differences.  We have always stuck together through thick and thin.  If a boyfriend broke up with one of us...sure, we'd cry, but then we would always go to the mall and Sonic together to feel better. We built a lot of forts, spent a lot of time outside riding our bikes, jumping on the trampoline, but I think our favorite times were spending weekends with our grandparents, Gam and Pa.  Now that we're grown, we've found a lot of common interests.  Mostly cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, makeup and beauty products, but probably most of all...our cats.

Nitro and Mia
Nitro and Mia.  My nephew and niece!  Click here to check out her blog where she too posts cooking tutorials and recipes, but also a lot more.

After our anniversary dinner at Baku

My boyfriend, Drew, my sous chef.  I wouldn't be anywhere without him.  We love all things nerdy, especially Game of Thrones and Star Trek!  We love to cook together.  It has been great fun for me to teach him a few things about cooking.  I love that he enjoys being in the kitchen with me even if he is just kicking back having a beer chatting with me.  We are excited for what the future holds for us.

Enjoying a little snow in West Hartford, CT
Gouveia Vineyards

 He even bought me my first Boos Block! ( I was a little excited, can you tell?)

Where I live:

I live in Charlotte, North Carolina!
Charlotte is the perfect city for me.  It's not too big and not too small.  It has just about anything you could want.  When I was in school in Myrtle Beach, I knew that I didn't want to go too far from home, but that I had to go to a city because that is where the food scene is.  I chose Charlotte because the food scene here is very modern, but with a twist.  That is totally my style of cooking, so I thought I'd fit right in here.  Charlotte has great restaurants, shopping and it's home to the Carolina Panthers!
I'm still settling in here in Charlotte, even after 1.5 years. But I like it so far!

What I do:

I love love love to cook.  I haven't always been interested in cooking though.  It started when I was a senior in high school.  I would come home every day and watch Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals.  I can safely say that this woman has taught me more about food than I thought possible.  It amazes me how much I learned about cooking from watching a 30 minutes TV show everyday.  She inspired me to go to culinary school and pursue a career in cooking.

Here are a few pictures of what I love to do!:
Spicy tuna rolls with cucumber, scallion and avocado

I love to experiment with different cuisines. Above is my attempt at homemade sushi!

Gotta start the day off right...veggie omelet!

Seared scallops with vegetable medley and beurre rouge

Peppercorn crusted ahi tuna over basmati rice with a grilled pineapple salsa.

"Healthy" pancakes.  Made with spinach, green peppers, scallion, and lime.  Served with a lime butter.

Feta stuffed roma tomatoes with basil and balsamic glaze.

Grit Fritters. Or as my dad likes to call them...Gritters! Grits bound together with egg and panko bread crumbs, cajun seasonings, andouille, deep fried to golden perfection.  Served with a tobasco cream sauce.

I hope you will enjoy my blog.  I wanted to do this to have a place to post all of my recipes to share with family and friends.  So many people on Facebook and Instagram ask me questions when I post a picture of something I've made.  How to make it, what's in it, what spices I used, etc. etc.  So I want this blog to be a place anyone can come to to get the answers to those questions.  My goal is to post very basic to not so basic culinary skills tutorials and also post recipes that use those basic skills. Thanks for reading and please subscribe!

Uovo di Raviolo

Pasta with an egg inside!