Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm finally back in the dot-com loop thanks to my brother, Robert, the computer genius. (Two recipes of Becca's Double Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and we called it even.) One severed cable cord and a distasteful computer bug seemed to be the only items left to deal with after our whirlwind home re-renovation project. I guess it wasn't all bad. I did get a couple of bedrooms finished in hardwoods and the entire house now has 1/4 round next to the baseboards. I must say, it looks pretty sharp.

During all of the construction madness, I made it a point of planning easy access meals, as well as items that could be made once and eaten on twice. One that came in handy was Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage. It's one of those meals that's flavorful and comforting without having to put in too much effort. I make it a little different each time, however I scribbled it down last week so that I could share it with you.

Plan to pick up pantry items to keep on hand week to week such as: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cans of kidney beans (some of these items are not in this version of the dish), that way, when you're in a pinch, most of your main ingredients are already in-house.

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
Makes 6 Servings
Prep: 15 min., Cook: 4o-ish min.

1 lb. Conecuh smoked sausage, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth
2 (15-oz.) cans light red kidney beans, drained
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
Hot cooked rice, sliced green onions, hot sauce

Brown sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Remove from skillet. Saute onion, celery, and bell pepper in drippings until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning and stir in cooked sausage, broth, and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice with sliced green onions and hot sauce.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


Step out in high style without sacrificing comfort on game day. When considering a bold pair of red kicks, you need to keep it pretty simple. The color alone is statement enough. And, there are many great choices at every price point. Looking good need not break the bank. There's always an affordable option.

Roll up your jeans a tad and show a little ankle... strap:

Gabriella Rocha Neve: $79.95 + Free Shipping from Zappos

Moschino: $369 + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos
Photo courtesy of Zappos.

For those that like a little more pink in their red:

Boden: $108 + Shipping
Photo courtesy of Boden.

Donna Karan: $179 (47% off original price) + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos

My pick:
Love the piping trim and sporty feel of a moc in a flat. I'm also a sucker for patent leather. They're going to really look great season to season. Just wipe and go.

Kate Spade: $202 + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Gumbo and Potato Salad Yum-Yum.
I was introduced to the unlikely union, (unlikely, so I thought) last week at the tasting table. Photography leftovers and recipe testing just happened to collide in holy matrimony before me. A rich, warm bowl of smokey sausage gumbo along with a generous helping of equally delicious potato salad. Come to find out, this is a pretty typical pairing in Louisiana. Mmmm...two of my favorite dishes side by side. All I can say is "I do" and "I will".

Here's my take on the two:

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Prep: 15 min., Cook: about 2 hrs. and 15 min.-- give or take a few

I like to make a speedy roux that turns a nice rich dark color in about 5 minutes. You'll need to stir every inch of that pot to keep it from burning and maybe even slide the Dutch oven off of the heat momentarily to keep your roux a steady color. If a medium-high heat makes you nervous, take your time at a slightly lower temperature. Personally, I just like to get on with it already. Also, the 1:1 ratio of flour to oil I use is simply my comfort zone.

Game Plan: Plan to chop the holy trinity (onion, celery, and green bell pepper) on Thursday and prepare the rest of the recipe on Friday.

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup flour
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Creole seasoning
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 32-oz box chicken broth
1 14-oz can chicken broth
2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 (16-oz) package frozen okra, divided (You can add it all at once, I think it's prettier like this.)
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
Go-withs: cooked rice, sliced green onions, , saltine crackers, hot sauce

Stir together the oil and flour (See image 1) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until your reach the color just shy of a Hershey bar (a nutty aroma will fill your kitchen-- See image 2: You're almost there-- But keep going! See image 3: Further along in the process, but check roux color. Nice and dark). Add the onion and next 3 ingredients and cook 8 minutes (See image 3). Stir in Creole seasoning, next 5 ingredients and 1/2 bag of okra. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, and keep slightly covered as it cooks (I just cock the lid to one side) for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Remove chicken and fish out any bones, if necessary. Pull chicken from bone with a fork and shred. Stir into pot. Brown sausage on in a skillet and add to the pot, along with the remaining 1/2 bag of frozen okra. Cook 30 minutes. (The okra will add additional thickening power, so thin with a little water if you like.) Serve with desired "go-withs" (I like mine with hot sauce... I feel like the rice and crackers are a bunch of filler.)

To pack for the game: Cool gumbo at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator with the lid cocked to one side so that additional steam can escape, if necessary.

On Saturday, portion gumbo into containers, and pack in an icy cooler. Reheat at your tailgate location in a slow cooker and add additional water to thin slightly, if necessary.

The Extra Point: Easy enough to make during the week, no really, I kid you not. Once you get past the roux and saute the vegetables, you have time to pick up around the house and do a load of laundry with the occasional stir here and there. Great to serve for company too.

Images in method above: 1. Getting the roux started. 2. You're almost there!-- But keep going. 3. Ready to add the seasonings, broth, and such.

Big Easy Potato Salad
Makes about 8 servings
Prep: 10 min., Cook: 30 min., Stand: 15 min.

Serve this along side your piping hot bowl of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

Game Plan: Prepare Thursday night.

2 1/2 lbs. whole baking potatoes (The smaller ones you can buy in a bag.)
11/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. creole mustard
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Bring potatoes and water to cover to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let stand 15 min.

Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Peel warm potatoes from their jackets with a paring knife. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and fold into dressing mixture. Do not over mix.

The Extra Point: Delicious warm or cold. You may need to add additional salt after it's been refrigerated. Season to fit your taste. Serve as a side to burgers, grilled chicken, or BBQ-- really with anything you see fit.

Fill your belly before kick-off and get ready to yell, yell, yell...the boys are going to need us. Roll Tide.


Saturday, October 31, 2009


My mom used to make us this really great cake when we were growing up that called for a six-pack of candy bars. She liked to take it to our annual fall festival in elementary school for the Cake Walk raffle and it always received rave reviews. She was a rare breed, of a handful of moms, that would actually deposit fresh home baked goods for all of our functions requiring fresh home baked goods. Many times, after surveying the other selections available, we would leave with the same item we had brought.

After years of success, the candy bar cake no longer baked properly for her. The experience haunted her for decades. Not like haunted her scared, more like haunted her out of frustration. She always wondered what had happened and why she wasn't able to get the cake to rise in her oven as it had for all of those years before. Her new oven was scolded time and time again for being the culprit, and she never did figure out for certain what was causing the issue. (Another theory had to do with changes in candy bar size.)

Well, if you've never had a Milky Way bar cake, then you're just plain missing out--Super sweet icing and moist tender cake with hints of caramel throughout. So, more than just several years ago, when we decided to run a story in Southern Living about what to do with leftover Halloween candy, I thought, we could finally, once and for all, get that Milky Way bar cake to work and my mom would be happy. And so we did. (After working a good deal with candy bar size and ratio.) We made several tweaks to an old recipe by converting the layer cake into updated cupcakes and used Milky Way minis instead of full-size candy bars.

All you need to do is rely on your neighbors to hand out the sweets for Halloween.

Heavenly Candy Bar Cupcakes:
Photo courtesy of myrecipes.

Be safe and enjoy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Why not be a spreadhead instead and make a simple bowl of crowd-pleasing pimiento cheese.

I must admit, it's pretty yum-errific and one of my most requested recipes. We published it in Southern Living several years ago. So easy and super fast to make, I encourage you to give it a try. Perfect for parking it in front of the television with a sleeve of your favorite crackers or plan to carry it to your next tailgate party with assorted vegetable dippers. Either way, rave reviews will follow in short order-- even if they may be from yourself. (Go on, it's okay to give yourself a pat on the back.)

Spicy Roasted Red Bell Pepper Pimiento Cheese:
Photo courtesy of myrecipes.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


And order some take out this weekend which is what I'm planning on doing. It will be a busy one with loads of football still on the docket and Halloween to boot. Not to mention all of those errands and lists you have put off for 8 weeks. Personally, Marrow and I will be picking up the pieces from an unfortunate home reno gone bad. We're still looking for a hardwood flooring expert if you know of any good ones in the Birmingham area.

Still need some snack ideas? Don't worry. I'll be sure to post several before Friday. Otherwise, gear up for LSU and look for my NOLA inspired menu next week.

As for the tote, one more fun idea with Halloween right around the corner. From Boutique To You and retails for $22:
Photo courtesy of Boutique To You.


Monday, October 26, 2009


Pair either of these chic totes with your most basic wardrobe essentials: a simple white tee, dark denim jeans, a black blazer, an oversized scarf, and sunglasses. Slip on some shimmery gold flats and you have one WOW of an outfit.

Marc by Marc Jacobs houndstooth inspired tote. Retails at Saks for $148, practically a steal when you consider the mileage you'll get for football seasons to come.
Photo courtesy of Saks.

Dolce and Gabbana red Heather high-style tote. This investment piece will set you back a whopping $1450. Go ahead and splurge... even if only in your dreams. (Definitely in mine.)
Photo courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman.

Sunday, October 25, 2009





Friday, October 23, 2009


After the band dies down and the game is over, you need a little tummy fill-me-up, so why not keep it short and sweet. Plan to pack your cooler with a lovely post game snack. Wrap it pretty to make it extra special.

Easy Ham-Brie-Apple Sandwich: Spread one bakery fresh French baguette with Dijon mustard. Layer with thinly sliced ham and slices of brie with the rind removed. Cut sandwich into quarters and wrap in parchment paper 9with a little twine would be nice), then place into a zip lock bag, a Granny Smith apple, a paring knife, and some napkins. Just before serving, slice apple and divide between sandwiches. Enough to serve 4.

Really nice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Try Marrow's Sloppy Southern Dog, posted yesterday, topped with this simple dish:

Stovetop "Baked" Beans
Makes about 12 hot dog topping servings or 4 side dish servings
Prep: 5 min., Cook: 15 min.

Game Plan: Prepare Friday night and reheat in a cast iron skillet on the grill or keep warm in a crock pot. Add a touch of water or beer to thin, if needed.

1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1 tsp. oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 (28-oz) can baked beans (I buy Bush's Original)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. hot sauce
3 cooked and crumbled thick-cut bacon slices
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Saute onion in hot oil in a medium saucepan 8 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in beans and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until hot. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

The Extra Point: Serve as a weeknight side dish with grilled or baked chicken. Have leftovers? Layer up warm shredded chicken, warm beans, and shredded Cheddar over tortilla chips, and broil until cheese melts. Top with sliced green onions and cilantro. Serve with BBQ sauce and sour cream.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I order one from every stadium or ballpark and yes, even though the hot dogs are simply average at best, I must try the house special or my sporting experience isn't complete.

Bryant-Denny's? A Bryan hot dog with a few squirts of that ketchup-mustard combo thingy and a mildly sour kraut... Assembled 3 hours before kick-off, waiting for me in the bottom of a Styrofoam cooler, and wrapped in a foil/wax paper blend that works much like the Snuggie concept. Okay, whatever. But it does taste like a Crimson Tide football game.

Why not use that money this week and feed the entire gang? If you can catch a 2 for $4 special on Oscar Mayer bun length hot dogs, you're half way there. Fill in with some buns, hon, and get your peeps to bring some sides and toppers.

Marrow's Famous #2: Salty Dogs
Makes 8 to 16 servings (C'm on, the guys are gonna eat 2 or 3.)
Prep: 5 min., Stand: 20 min., Grill: 6 min.

Much like the original that ran in Southern Living years ago, however, as with many recipes, sometimes you continue to tweak until it's different but really much the same. Either way, according to Marrow, the key to a most deliciously good dog is grilling them... and an equal hot dog to bun ratio.

Game Plan: Prep dogs on Friday night so they'll be ready to toss on the grill when you get to campus.

2 packages Oscar-Mayer Bun Length Wieners (Nathan's are good too, but expect a more pronounced "snap" and a juicier dog.)
1/2 cup Dale's Steak Seasoning
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrin's, please)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
16 hot dog buns

Place first 4 ingredients in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight. Toss into an icy cooler before heading out to the game. Grill over direct heat 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning occasionally. Serve in buns with assorted toppings.

The Extra Point: Toss a 4-count on too, when grilling other meats, then reheat them in the microwave until hot to enjoy for lunch the next day.

Big Bacon Chili Cheese Dog
Cooked bacon slices (Slip 2 slices into the bun, on either side of the dog.)
Spicy brown mustard
Game-Day Chili (Thanks, myrecipes.)
Shredded Cheddar

A Mockery Reuben Dog
Trailer Sauce (See Tidefan Fare Gourmet Burger Bar post)
Swiss cheese, melted

All American Burger Dog
American cheese, melted
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Diced onion
Yellow mustard

Taco Dog
Fresh salsa (See Tidefan Fare Grilled Chicken Fajitas post)
Sour Cream
Fresh cilantro
Taco beef (You know, the kind you make on taco night and stuff into shells.)

Sloppy Southern Dog (Pictured above)
Stovetop "Baked" Beans (Look for the recipe on Thursday)
Barbecue Sauce
Spicy brown mustard

Asian Slaw Dogs (Thanks, myrecipes.)

Oh and BTW, is that ketchup-mustard combo thingy really that big of a time saver?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


2 cute 2 B 4-gotten
There is absolutely no need to spend days baking cupcakes and cookies-- dredging in icing no.1, then piping in icing no. 2. And then-- pretend you're a color mixologist searching for the perfect shade of crimson in order to show your friends you have school spirit on game day. Uh, really? Pfff... leave that to your hair stylist. Please. Seriously, who has that kind of time anyway? Okay, maybe Martha, but not me.

My philosophy-- Make mine "in moderation". Sometimes all you need to do in order to give your signature treat that special little touch is an understated nod to the occasion for which it's being prepared. Which brings us back to tailgating.

A colleague of mine introduced me to a yummy website: Really fun. You can find all sorts of baking supplies and packaging materials. I have pulled a few things that I thought may be of interest to you:

The cute cupcake carrier makes transporting treats across campus a breeze. Or, go for the fun liners-- your go-to cupcake recipe with vanilla icing and red or white sprinkles are all you need. No time to bake your own? Just drop the liners off to your fav bakery ahead of time or plan to slip already baked cupcakes into the specialty liners for an extra special look.

All images courtesy of Bake It Pretty... now, go place your order!

Friday, October 16, 2009


Don't worry. There's still time to make a game day munchie, but hurry up already. You'll be surprised how a couple of cans of black eyed peas or chickpeas can transform into some tasty snack time treats.

Chili-Roasted Black Eyed Peas:
(Thanks, Southern Living and myrecipes for the recipe and image.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Bring it on home.
Enjoy some easy tailgate eats. Have friends call dibs on arriving with a different item and it's a breeze.

Grilled Chicken Fajitas with You'll Never Look Back Homemade Salsa
Makes enough to serve 6 to 8
Prep: 15 min., Grill: 12 min.

Game Plan: Get your chicken and vegetables ready for game day grilling on Friday night. Plan to place them in separate Ziploc bags to hang out in the refrigerator overnight. Pack in an icy cooler just before heading out the door.

1 (2-lb.) bag frozen chicken tenderloins, thawed
1 Tbsp. McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. oil
3 medium yellow onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 bell peppers, cut into quarters (red, yellow, or green-- let your wallet decide)
Juice from 1 lime
Flour tortillas (Wrap in foil and warm them up on the grill.)
You'll Never Look Back Homemade Salsa
Toppings: sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro leaves, chopped avocado

Combine first 3 ingredients in a gallon-size Ziploc bag with 1 Tbsp. oil, push out as much of the air as you can as you seal it. Coat chicken well with seasonings by gently shaking bag. Place onions and peppers in a Ziploc bag with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and refrigerate overnight.

Grill chicken over direct medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from grill, squeeze with fresh lime juice, and slice, if desired. Grill onions and peppers 6 to 8 minutes per side or until tender. Slice peppers, if desired. Serve in warm flour tortillas with You'll Never Look Back Homemade Salsa and desired toppings.

The Extra Point: Easy enough to consider for a weeknight meal. Nix the tortillas and toppings if you like and serve with the salsa over rice and warm seasoned black beans.

You'll Never Look Back Homemade Salsa
Makes 5 cups (Enough for the crowd to snack on with chips while grilling the meal.)
Prep: 10 min.

You'll wonder why you ate salsa from a jar all of those years when you see how easy it is to make... and nothing beats the fresh taste... nothing.

Game Plan: Prepare Thursday or Friday night.

1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves (a few stems aren't going to hurt you)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped: Mild- seeded and membrane removed/Moderate: half seeds and membrane added/ Medium: all seeds and membrane added/ Really, Really, Really Hot: add the entire darn jalapeno-- seeds, membrane, and all.
3lbs. plum tomatoes, quartered
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt (You have a lot of vegetables to season.)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Juice from 11/2 limes

Combine first 4 ingredients in a food processor fit with a blade and pulse several times. Add a few tomato wedges and process until well blended. Add roughly half of the remaining tomatoes and process until well blended. Pour into a large plastic container with a lid. Pulse remaining tomatoes until slightly chunky and add to the mixture. Stir in salt, pepper, and lime juice. Taste it and adjust seasonings, if desired. Remember the chips will be salty-- so proceed accordingly. That's it. Easy enough?

The Extra Point: Use leftovers in meatloaf, with grilled meats, or add anywhere you may add a can of diced tomatoes.

Have fun at the parade. Always hoping no one rains on it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Pretty much a tailgate staple, whether watching the game at home or on the road. But why not make them interesting and offer an array of toppings so that everyone can customize their own. So very simple to do. If you want to go a step further, post a menu of topping suggestions to help guests out a little. Chips and dip will keep hungry fans busy while the burgers are grilling.

Be sure to offer good buns. Publix makes a French hamburger bun in their bakery. Slice them and brush them with a little olive oil before grilling a bit.

Pick up coarse grain mustard, barbecue sauce, and olive oil-- ketchup, if you must. Once you decide on the toppings you want to offer, use the burger ideas as your grocery list.

Make Mine A Salad... Burger: (Photograph above)
Saga Blue Brie Cheese (Spreads easily on bun.)
Arugula and chopped chives tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper
Toasted Walnuts or Pecans
Apple or Pear Slices
Shortcut Aioli and coarse grain mustard

Barbecue Bacon Burger:
Cheddar Cheese
Grilled Red Onion
Cooked bacon
Barbecue sauce and coarse grain mustard

Italian Burger:
Provolone cheese
Fresh Basil
Roasted red bell pepper (Pick up a jar for a shortcut.)
Marinara Sauce (Barilla Spicy Marinara sauce is good)

Gussied-Up Traditional Burger:
For those who don't like to stray too far away from a classic.
Swiss cheese
Grilled Red Onion
Trailer Sauce or Shortcut Aioli

Simple Grilled Hamburgers:
Makes 4 servings (adjust to fit your crowd size)
Prep: 10 min., Stand: 20 min., Grill: 6 min.

Game Plan: Form patties Friday night. Slide into a zip lock bag and refrigerate overnight.

1 1/2 lb. 80% lean ground beef (I like juicy burgers. Feel free to choose your fav.)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup Dale's Steak Seasoning Sauce

Pour Dale's and pepper in zip lock bag with hamburger patties and seal; let stand 20 minutes (place them in your cooler). Grill over medium-high, direct heat for 3 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness. Add desired cheese just before removing from grill to melt. Serve on toasted French hamburger buns with desired toppings.

The Extra Point: Serve with your favorite gravy for an easy hamburger steak weeknight meal with mashed potatoes plus something fresh and green.

Trailer Sauce:
Stir together 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 pressed garlic clove, and 1 Tbsp. each: sweet pickle relish, finely chopped pepperoncini peppers, finely chopped green bell pepper, finely chopped green onion, fresh lemon juice. Stir in freshly ground pepper to taste. Makes about 1 3/4 cups. This is for the mayo, ketchup, and Big Mac lovers out there. (I don't care for the traditional Reuben sandwich, however I love this slathered over pastrami on a slightly chewy Italian white with melty Swiss and sauerkraut.)

Shortcut Aioli: Stir together 1 cup mayonnaise and 2 small cloves pressed garlic. Makes 1 cup.
Okay, not making my mayo from scratch, but hey, be my guest.

3 Easy Dips and Spreads
Munch on these while the burgers are a grillin' (Recipes and images below are courtesy of and

Cowboy Caviar:

Spicy White Cheese Dip:

Roasted Garlic-Edamame Spread:


Sunday, October 4, 2009


Giddy, Giddy Gumdrops.

For years I have dreamed and dreamed... AND dreamed of owning my very own set of All-Clad cookware (the Prada of cookware people), but it was always just too darn expensive. So last Christmas, Santa left me a little cash to use on something for myself. Well, I'm not one for blowing the entire wad on one thing. I'm also pretty savvy, in that I will usually find a way to get something I've had my eye on for a very long, long while. So I decided to research it further.

I looked into the sets. Pricey. Pricey. And did I say pricey? And after an even closer look, I realized they simply weren't going to meet my needs anyway. A stock pot? I kind of needed a Dutch oven to maneuver easily, being short and all. I also wanted a mix of stainless and non-stick pieces and kept finding the pieces in the set weren't matching the items on my list.

My conclusion? Purchase open stock pieces over time. It really makes a lot of sense. Either buy a set of cookware that only has two pieces I need or actually buy the investment pieces I'm going to use. I recommend checking a few Internet sources as well as retail stores to be sure you get the very best price. I like Metro Kitchen because they offer free shipping and I don't have to pay tax. Williams-Sonoma runs great "exclusive" deals from time to time too... that's how I scored my 12-inch, non-stick frying pan. Hello breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Now, about that Viking range...

What's your fav pot or pan and why do you like it so much?

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Plan to keep your favorite crackers, nuts, and snack nibbles on hand to create custom blend tailgate snacks. (You don't want to show up empty handed.)

The idea can be your back pocket, go-to when all you have time for is a toss and go. Adjust to fit your crowd size and feel free to mix and match flavors.

Ages 3 and Up Blend
Teddy Graham Crackers or Goldfish Crackers
Mini Marshmallows
Pretzels Twists
Plain M&M's

Standard Blend
Cheez-It Duos (your fav)
Triscuit Thin Crisps
Pretzel Sticks
Smoked Almonds
Peanut M&M's

Up A Notch Blend
Wasabi Peas
Pretzel Sticks
Rice Chex Cereal
Sesame Sticks

*Add a bag of freshly popped popcorn to any of the above combinations.


...which is pretty rare for me when dining out. Marrow and I tried Moe's Original Bar B Que in Vestavia Hills recently and according to the "Q" peeps at the joint, it's the Bama Sandwich-- not on the menu so luckily I inquired before ordering.

OMG. Huge, sloppy, good. Piled high with smoked pulled pork, spicy red vinegar based sauce, white Q sauce, slaw, and dill pickles. Somehow, they were able to fit it all on the bun. Roll Tide.

Marrow ordered the ribs. They were nice. Spicy, tender, and smokey with a slight tug from the bone. The owner overheard us talking about the smoked chicken wings on the menu and although we didn't order them, he brought a few over for us to sample. Yum.

What a pleasant surprise.
Give 'em a try.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009



I had promised them to Marrow all summer and never delivered. However, now is just as good a time as any to enjoy them. Easy to pack and take to the game for tailgating or simple to serve if planning to host a house full of hungry friends.


The dressing can also be used for potato salad. 2 1/2 lbs. potatoes cooked whole, then peeled and cut should do.

A large coffee filter will do in a pinch if you don't have any parchment paper to line your food baskets.

Reach for the bakery fresh hot bog buns, the ones they make in house. Slice the rolls across the top and not quite through to the other side. You should have a nice little pocket for stuffing.

An effortless app and my favorite brownie recipe from myrecipes and we're well on our way to some good eating.

Really Easy Shrimp Rolls
A whole lotta taste for very minimal effort.
Makes 4 or 8 servings
Prep: 15 min., Cook: 4 min.

Game Plan: Cook shrimp Friday night and remove tails.

For the shrimp:
1 1/2 lbs. peeled and deveined large frozen shrimp ($9.99/ bag @Publix)
Salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning

Bring a large pot of water, seasoned generously with salt, pepper, and Old Bay, to a boil over high heat. Add frozen shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Remove tails. Place shrimp in a colander, add ice, place colander over same large pot and refrigerate overnight.

For the dressing:
2/3 cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 sliced green onions
1 generous Tbsp. freshly chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hot dog buns or 8 dinner/ slider rolls, split

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Coarsely chop half of the chilled shrimp. Toss together shrimp (chopped and whole) with the dressing. Place in a plastic container, snap on lid, and toss into an icy cooler.

On-site: Generously stuff shrimp mixture into rolls.

The Extra Point: Special enough to serve for company and easy enough to pull off during the week. Just make sure to chill the shrimp down well before tossing it with the dressing. Nice over mixed baby lettuces, too.

Super Simple Tomato-Pesto-Goat Cheese Crostini: Cut a baguette into 1/4-inch slices and brush with olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool. (Transport in a zip-top plastic bag, if traveling.)

Have guests spread with goat cheese, drizzle with a little refrigerated pesto, and top with seeded, chopped tomatoes. Have some salt and pepper handy so guests can season them the way they like them.

So Good Brownies (And they truly are, so good!)
(Thanks for the recipe and image, myrecipes!)

What are you planning to try?

Monday, September 28, 2009


Affordable Accessories

Such as this sturdy plastic ware from Target. Count on 45 pieces for $2.99. Very Crimson Tide. For an extra nod to the team, wrap butcher's twine around each set and tie with a simple knot so that fans can grab-and-go and get to enjoying that generous tailgate spread. Look for butchers twine at Williams-Sonoma or check the automotive section of the grocery store for simple white string. The white cups can be found at Target too.

I stumbled upon a fun little website, for the pint baskets (company name is simply garnish). Line them with parchment paper and fill with either snack mix or a wrap sandwich and some chips. The bonus is that you'll be able to reuse them all season long and into the next. Expect each piece to set you back a half dollar.

As for the natural food baskets... LOVE THEM... also from garnish and retail for 50 cents each. They're the perfect size and shape for a hot dog and potato salad or a shrimp roll and slaw. There again, I would line them with some parchment paper so you can plan to use them again. Truly the best part of all is that they will be delivered straight to your door... Nice.

See you at the game.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I was quite surprised to learn that Lucy, my 7 year old niece, wanted cupcakes with peace signs on them for her faux spend-the-night birthday party on Saturday night. Did I hear a "huh"? Don't worry I had to ask too. Come over in your PJ's, talk some girl stuff, watch some High School Musical, listen to some Taylor Swift, and before you can get too cranky the 'rents come back for you at 9 pm... Smart, Mommy. Very smart.

Anyway, after a quick phone chat, Lucy decided on vanilla on vanilla (eat your heart out Mr. White), with a pink, blue, and green color palate, a "yes" for sprinkles, and, well uh... peace signs. Groovy.

For the cupcakes, I knew I had to go with a tried and true SL friend, Memorial Day Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting:
Actually, three of us in the Test Kitchen prepared this recipe to celebrate different occasions this week. I'll post pics as they become available.

Make Ahead: Allow the cupcakes to cool completely once baked, then frost. Or, you can bake them up to 1 month in advance and freeze them right in the muffin pans (Saran, then foil. Once frozen, you can stack the pans to save space). Frost frozen and thaw for a few hours before you serve them. It's up to you.

Equipment: I like the el cheapo Wilton cupcake pans that retail for about $8.99 each at BB&B. They are silver non-stick, very well made pans as opposed to the expensive ones that are dark. Steer clear of dark pans because you'll get over browned i.e. burned baked goods if you don't watch out. (Oh and, shhh... don't let Wilton know we like the shiny ones or they'll jack up the price).

Psychedelic Hue: Lucy requested 3 colors, so I used the NEON food coloring drops you can buy at the grocery store on the cake decorating aisle. For the green frosting, I added a little leaf green food coloring paste to the drops to cut the bright intense shade to balance the pink.

Peace, Man: For the peace signs, I made a simple butter cookie that doesn't have any leavening in the dough so that the shapes will hold and not spread when baked. You could use a vanilla wafer if you'd like.

Cupcake liners: I baked the cupcakes in white liners, then slipped them into the pink Wilton brand liners (Hobby Lobby) just before serving. I feel like they look a little more polished this way.

I hope you enjoy the pics.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



I made a bee-line over to Naji's on West Valley when I decided on gyros for the game . If you've never been, plan to add it to your short list... serving up the very best pita bread in the Birmingham area... baked fresh daily and selling to most of the Greek restaurants in town, it's quite the little gem. Naji's also serves lunch and dinner, although I've never tried it myself. I just go for the still-warm-from-the-oven flat bread and peruse the small food market for tahini paste, sesame seeds, and the like.

So I guess you could say that I'm a pita bread snob, to drive clear across town for some flat bread... although I like to think of it more as a loyalty. Not from around here? Check Mom and Pop joints in your hometown for their specialties and be sure to show them and your tummy the love by visiting often.

The Easy Grilled Chicken Gyros are so simple to make. For extra tastiness, we'll drizzle them with a Quick Tzatziki and top with a Tomato-Olive Relish.

Tomato-Olive Relish
Makes about 2 1/3 cups
Prep: 8 min.

Game Plan: Prepare Friday night. Allowing the feta to hang out on top of the olive mixture will keep it's color bright and fresh looking.

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved and lightly salted (Plenty of salt in olives & feta, so don't go crazy.)
2/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 Tbsp.+1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley (Don't spend all day on it. A rough chop will do and a few stems are fine too.)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2/3 cup feta

Stir together first 4 ingredients and transfer to a 3-cup plastic portable container. Top with feta and snap on lid. Refrigerate or pack in an icy cooler.

The Extra Point: Serve with fish or make a Greek-style salad and serve over lettuce with cucumber slices, pepperoncini peppers, and red onion slices. Fresh mint can be substituted for parsley.

Quick Tzatziki
Makes 1 3/4 cup
Prep: 8 min.

Game Plan: Prepare Friday night. Delicious with Greek-style yogurt. Expect a thicker, richer sauce with more cellulite. (Personally, I would have gone with the cellulite option myself, but Target and Wal-Mart were plum out.)

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 medium cucumber; peeled, seeded, and sliced (use a spoon to scrape the seeds out)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 small garlic clove, pressed
Salt to taste

Stir together first 4 ingredients and sprinkle with salt to taste.

The Extra Point: Try it with mint for a fresh twist. Simply omit the dill.

Easy Grilled Chicken Gyros
Makes 8 servings
Prep: 15 min., Grill: 8 min.

Game Plan: On Thursday, soak 8 skewers in water to prevent them from catching ablaze on the grill (or up to 30 minutes before threading).

8 chicken tenders (Buy frozen ones & thaw in fridge overnight.)
8 (12-inch) wooden skewers
2 tsp. Montreal Chicken seasoning (McCormick Grinder)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 of a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste (use it if you need it)
4 pita rounds, cut in half

Thread chicken on wooden skewers (think snake-like, and secure at close intervals). Place chicken skewers on a long piece of plastic wrap (horizontal... let the sticks hang off of the wrap), sprinkle both sides with seasoning, and drizzle with olive oil (you can grill now if you'd like to... I don't mind cold chicken in my pita). Roll up plastic wrap with chicken skewers and wrap well with foil so that everything is well contained. Place in a 2-gallon zip-top bag, seal, and refrigerate.

For the onion, spray both sides with Pam and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slide into a Ziploc bag and refrigerate (or go ahead and grill, if you want to make it ahead of time). Refrigerate, then toss in an icy cooler along with the chicken just before you leave the house.

Grill chicken skewers and onion slices over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) for 4 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked and onion is tender. Squeeze both with fresh lemon and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve with Quick Tzatziki and Tomato-Olive Relish in pita halves.

The Extra Point: Think beyond the tailgate. Simple enough for any weeknight meal and special enough to serve company.

***Don't forget to pick up some hummus dip (I'll show you how to make your own another time) and pita chips from the deli section of the grocery store. Try the Sabra Classic Hummus, I think you'll like it.***

Hold the pita bread in your hand, fold it, and give the skewer a tug to remove.

Does this sound do-able to you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Say what?"... Fresh Take for a Fast Supper

Turn those leftovers into a Mexican fiesta... in your mouth.

Low Country Pilau Super-Stuffed Soft Tacos:
Microwave 1/2 cup or so of the leftover Low Country Pilau on HIGH for 30 seconds or until hot. Heat 2 corn tortillas over gas stove-eye flame using a pair of long tongs until a little charred on both sides. Fill tortillas with chix/rice mixture and squeeze with fresh lime juice. Top with Becca's Quad-Side Guacamole, and if desired, salsa, shredded cabbage, and cilantro leaves. Makes enough to serve me. Adjust to fit your needs.

Do you need other ideas on how to reinvent leftovers?
Chow, y'all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


A.K.A Marrow's fav supper. Pronounced "per-low" by Marrow and his family, who grew up in the Low Country, Pilau can be prepared many ways (I know, I know... the "R" is a South Carolina thing). Basically, it's a glorified dish of chicken and rice with lots of salt and pepper cooked right in it's own chicken stock-- no skimming the fat here. So easy to make, but you need to tend to it every now and then. Definitely something you'll want to consider preparing on the weekend. Once it's made though, I'm out of dinner duty for 3 days straight! Ahhh... more time for flowers and such.

For the chickadee, I like the ones they sell at Target because they don't have that goodie bag to fish out from the cavity and they retail consistently for the bargain basement price of $3.50 each (with a savings that just scored some cash for the handbag and shoe cause). Squeamish about manhandling a raw bird? Pick up some powder-free, disposable rubber
gloves-- definitely helps with the ick factor.

For the stock, (When you boil that chick, one of the byproducts produced will be stock, so save it.) I have some leftover carrots and celery that I'll use to season the chicken stock as the bird cooks and I'll be sure to add an onion for even more flavor. (If you don't have these items on hand, it's not a deal breaker, just proceed without them.)

For the rice, let's stick with long grain. I don't want this to get too complicated.

Low Country Pilau
Makes 6 Servings
Prep: 15 min, Cook: about 1 hr, 45 min.

Refrigerate any additional chicken stock overnight and skim the fat from the surface. Freeze and save for another dish.

1 whole chicken, (Remove goodie bag from cavity first... no really... #1 intern mistake.)
3 or 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in half (Use innermost portion- what else u gonna do w/ 'em?)
1 or 2 carrots, cut into quarters (I don't even peel them.)
1 medium onion, cut into 6 pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 stick butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken stock
Marrow's Secret Sauce (not traditional stuff, but it's how he likes it)

Rinse the chicken under cool running water and place in a Dutch oven with celery, carrots, first onion, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper- (about 1 Tbsp. salt and 1 tsp. ground black pepper-- sounds like a lot, I know-- but we've got a lot in that pot). Fill with enough water to cover bird. Bring mixture to a boil, cover loosely with lid (you want some of the steam to escape so just cock the lid to the side), and reduce heat to low or a slow simmer (it will bubble occasionally). Cook about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat begins to fall off of the bone.

Carefully remove chicken from stock-- tongs work well (I place it on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan). Place a strainer or colander over a large pot and carefully pour stock through to catch all of the solids. Discard solids. (I place it in the sink so that I don't have to lift the stock pot very high.)

Now, we're not going to remove the fat from the stock. I hope you're okay with that... it's how the Low Country peeps like it.

In the same Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle enough salt and pepper over the onions so that you can see it; cook 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in the rice, then the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes.

While the rice cooks, pull chicken meat from the bone (may still be a little warm). Stir into the cooked rice and serve, if desired, with Marrow's Secret Sauce and a healthy dose of good-for-you vegetables (as opposed to the starchy ones) and a green salad.

Marrow's Secret Sauce: French salad dressing. That's how they ate it at his house growing up, but I prefer it without. To be quite honest, I favor it in other ways. Look for those ideas coming soon...

Leftovers can be frozen. Simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave until hot... not just warm, HOT.

How does a day or two off KP Duty (Kitchen Patrol) sound to you?
Chow, y'all.