Tilapia with Warm Crab Salsa & Manchego Grits

tilapia with salsa cropped

The real challenge for many home cooks is using what is readily available in the neighborhood grocery store and turn it into something fantastic, something creative, something inventive. In many rural areas, such as mine, access to gourmet or specialized goods and grocery stores is quite limited. Granted, I can order just about anything I want on Amazon, but who plans menus and orders their food on Amazon?  Not me.  I work with what is available, what is fresh, and what is affordable.Continue reading “Tilapia with Warm Crab Salsa & Manchego Grits”

Bacon & Citrus Pizzas

bacon citrus pizza croppedLet me begin by saying, yeast bread dough is probably the most versatile “ingredient” you can learn to make.  Basic yeast dough can be turned into so many different meals.  From cinnamon roll breakfasts to pizzas, yeast dough can become sweet or savory with the addition/deletion of flavorings and fillings.  Continue reading “Bacon & Citrus Pizzas”

Bourbon Sugar Snickerdoodles

KIMG0185I may have unplugged and cooked minimally while on our trip to Savannah, but I was constantly processing ideas, writing recipes, and trying new products.

One of the coolest things about Savannah is the friendliness of the shop keepers and their willingness to let you sample EVERYTHING they make.  I’ve ventured into The Spice & Tea Exchange on Broughton several times before, and I’ve sampled just about every salt, sugar, and spice they make…AND THEY MAKE SOME AMAZING products!  This time, however, I noticed a Bourbon Black Walnut Sugar that I’ve never seen before, and as soon as I picked up the jar, the owner rushed over to let me sample.  She also offered up the suggestion of using the sugar to coat Snickerdoodles. Well…that was all she had to say.  My husband had “that” look on his face.  You know “that” look…the look of “oh you better buy that and make me some snickerdoodles!”

I can take a hint as any good wife would, so as a treat while watching his mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead,” I whipped up a batch of Snickerdoodles coated in the Bourbon Black Walnut Sugar.


Cookie Dough

1 c. butter-softened

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/8 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

2 3/4 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt


1 1/2 TBSP granulated sugar

1 1/2 TBSP Bourbon Black Walnut Sugar from The Spice and Tea Exchange

3 tsp ground cinnamon


In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars, and eggs. In a different bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  Add flour to egg mixture.  Mix just until incorporated.  Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine coating sugars and cinnamon.  After dough is chilled, using a cookie scoop, scoop out 1 TBSP mounds, roll into a ball, toss in sugar-cinnamon coating, and place onto a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Refrigerate cookie dough balls for another 5-10 minutes before baking.

20151129_183624Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.  Cool completely…if you can wait that long.

**My husband and children can’t usually wait until cookies have cooled, so feel free to eat immediately!

Finding Inspiration on the Road…Savannah (updated with punch recipe)

PART_1448557163134In addition to cooking, we travel…A LOT! Travelling so much isn’t a bad thing; there is so much to see and drink and taste. It’s one inspirational experience after another.

The first thing to understand is that we refuse to eat in any chain restaurant. There are so many amazing independent and creative restaurants in every city that resorting to a McD’s or Outback would be sacrilegious.  No,  we prefer to Google and Yelp new restaurants and take our chances.  So far, we’ve never had a bad experience,  and in the end, I come away with some phenomenal new recipe ideas.Continue reading “Finding Inspiration on the Road…Savannah (updated with punch recipe)”

Sangria’d Strawberry & Orange Zabaglione Parfait

strawberry parfaitAfter learning my lesson at World Food Championships in 2013, by not having a finals dessert planned, I now fully plan and prep for all rounds of competition.  Had I gone to Dessert Finals this year, this would have been my entry.  Too bad…this is a DELICIOUS as it is pretty!  Oh and it’s not just a girly dessert…my dad liked it too!Continue reading “Sangria’d Strawberry & Orange Zabaglione Parfait”

Braised Chicken with Peppers & Onions served w/ Saffron Polenta

chicken & polentaAs a competitive cook, I’m always testing recipe ideas. My husband and kids are fairly accustomed to the constantly changing, experimental menu.  Yes, I make the standards …spaghetti & meat sauce, tacos, meatloaf, chili, chicken n dumplings, etc. However, I like taking common, everyday ingredients and trying something new with them.  Sometimes it’s a hit; sometimes it’s not.Continue reading “Braised Chicken with Peppers & Onions served w/ Saffron Polenta”

Pumpkin Overload

pumpkin pieI love pumpkin bread, pumpkin scones, and pumpkin risotto, but I hate pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin coffee creamer, and everything else that has taken the humble pumpkin and turned it into something completely unnatural.  So now, let me say that I feel like a complete hypocrite. Continue reading “Pumpkin Overload”

Buttercream is a Food Group

buttercreamDisclaimer: My husband is a health nut.  He works out every day…running, weights, bike.  He’s lost 100lbs, and his only vice is…BUTTERCREAM!Continue reading “Buttercream is a Food Group”

Old Fashioned Southern Tea Ring

tea ringAs a young girl growing up in the south, going to church socials and covered dish luncheons was nothing unusual.  Whether it was the monthly, after-Sunday-service lunch or a holiday social, the ladies of the church always put their best dishes forward.  As a foodie from birth, I have always associated food with people and events—Mrs. Arrant’s cheese straws, Aunt Karla’s fruit dressing, Mrs. Weishaupt’s tea rings. Continue reading “Old Fashioned Southern Tea Ring”

Apricot Turkey Kebabs on Naan with Summer Slaw

apricot turkey kebabs on naanI find inspiration in supermarkets.  I LOVE the new wave of supermarkets that have come about over the past decade.  The focus on fresh, local ingredients and the addition of olive bars, wine tastings, and even beer growler filling stations in supermarkets excites me more than you can imagine.  When we go to Ohio to visit my husband’s family, a trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market just outside of Cincinnati is an all day field trip.  For me, Jungle Jim’s is Disney World. I means, seriously?  Who wouldn’t want to shop for groceries from all corners of the world while sipping a Founder’s Breakfast Stout?Continue reading “Apricot Turkey Kebabs on Naan with Summer Slaw”

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