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.