Sunday, August 16, 2015

My first - and perhaps last - Shrimp Risotto


Spent hours making shrimp stock. Then spent hours stirring in said stock slowly into the arborio rice for Shrimp Risotto (adapted from this recipe).

Son said it reminded him of Spaghetti-O's.

Behold my first - and perhaps last - risotto!

Boiled Peanuts in a Crockpot


It does defy logic. When I posted on Facebook that I was going to try the infamous "boiled peanuts in a crockpot" technique, I had a friend immediately post, "It's not gonna work. You need a rolling boil. Crockpots are great for keeping them warm but not for cooking them."

But guess what? It works! 

It turns out a crockpot on high is about equivalent to a simmering boil, and that's obviously all you need. (This also fixes the tendency of some to literally boil the hell out of the peanuts until they lose all peanut-like consistency...unless that's your thang, of course.)

I modified this recipe because I only had 2 lbs. of peanuts. I recommend only two pounds too. I have the huge crockpot and, with water, two pounds was close to the limit.

The great thing about this discovery? Thursday night football! Wash your peanuts and put them in the crockpot. Put 3/8 cup of salt on top of the peanuts (or more or less, depending on how you like them). Fill the crockpot with water as far up as you feel safe leaving it on high. Put it on high when you go to work and switch it to keep warm when you get home! (This time, I cooked mine on high for seven hours and switched to keep warm overnight because I was too lazy to fool with them before bed.)

Lagniappe: An elderly lady at the grocery story was picking through the peanuts very carefully. Of course, I had to ask - and I'm glad I did. Seems that the ones that I've always thought looked almost dried are the ones that you need to find. The wetter, darker ones (that I always thought were the ones I wanted) are the ones that cook to mush in the end. Honestly, I didn't quite believe her but she seemed like she knew more than me, for sure, so I tried it. She was right! Pick out the ones that look almost dried and use those. I have 2 lbs. now of boiled peanuts and not one pound of peanuts and the other of boiled mush in shells!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

How Sweet Potato Biscuits Lose Their Sweetness: A Primer


Do you know how some things require a bit of time and space - and healing, really - to write about them? That's pretty much how I felt about these sweet potato biscuits I made for supper last night.
First off, Chow lists the difficulty level of these biscuits as "Medium." The rate-setter was obviously not comparing the difficulty levels to my usual way of grabbing the bag of Mary B's frozen biscuits and plopping however many I need on to the pan. I understand that. But this recipe I would not even rate medium as to my regular ol' homemade biscuits even.
Sometimes, when you're in the middle of a first attempt at a recipe, you hear voices from your past. Sister Rose in third grade sighing, "You're a smart girl, Shawn, but you need to LOOK before you leap." My fifth grade teacher saying, "If you read the instructions carefully more often, it will make your life easier."
Recipes teach you that knowing the ingredients is not the same as knowing the directions of what you will have to do with those ingredients to actually make it until the end product. It's a mistake I make time and time again - in life and cooking.
Like many plans in my life, halfway through this recipe, I can't even remember why I thought sweet potato biscuits was a good idea. Such a good idea that I planned an entire dinner menu around them. (What's WRONG with regular ol' biscuits, Shawn? You have to bake a sweet potato for an hour here before even getting started.)
I get to the part about flouring and kneading and just can't take it any more. I cry out for help. My poor husband just sees mashed sweet potatoes and bowls of flour and the remnants of my just-before Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream. "Find me a cup with a three-inch diameter! I had no idea I was going to have to knead and roll these damn biscuits!"
"Did you not read the instructions first?" "We're not gonna talk about that right now. Find me a cup. Pronto."
So I rolled and kneaded these damn sweet potato biscuits and I cut them out and I said to my husband, "These better be the best damn biscuits we have ever put in our mouths. We better be talking about these biscuits a year from now and raving - because we are never, ever having them again."
I then left him to fry the ham and watch the collard greens so I could go for a walk. With a glass of wine. (Gini Dietrich gave me permission and all.)
Twenty minutes later, I came back a bit calmer and we ate supper. They were very good. They were not the best biscuits I ever had.
And I still don't understand why the recipe calls for brushing the tops with whipping cream - cinnamon butter would have been much better. (The frozen butter is genius, though - you should definitely try that with your biscuits. My Grandma Annie always said the secret to a biscuit is the butter melting in the oven - not in your hands or in the kitchen on the pan.)
If you are one who truly believes that life lies at the end of your comfort zone, then these biscuits are for you. If you just want fantastic biscuits without too much work (like me), then I recommend these Pimento Cheese Biscuits instead.
Learn, dear readers. Learn from my mistakes...

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter


We got this recipe from Wine Awesomeness (who got it from www.Food52.com). We made the butter for the original recipe, but have since used it on tilapia, cornbread muffins and risotto. In other words, it's not just for grilled corn (even though it does make the best grilled corn I have ever had!).

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

8 ears of corn, shucked
Olive oil
Salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup basil, loosely packed
1 tbsp sea salt

Preheat the grill to medium hot.

Roll corn in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. When grill is hot, add corn and close lid. Rotate the corn a few times, until some of the kernels are blistered and the rest are bright and shiny yellow. This shouldn't take longer than 8 minutes. Be careful not to overcook, or the corn will be dry.

Meanwhile, add the butter, basil, and salt to a food processor and let it rip. You many need to scrape down the sides once or twice. When the basil is finely chopped and the butter has a light green tint, it's done.

When the corn comes off the grill, slather it with the basil butter. Sprinkle with a little more salt if desired. Eat immediately.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jesse Houston's Hot Quail with Black Pepper Ranch


Jesse Houston, formerly of Parlor Market and now at his own Saltine in Fondren, offered a recipe in the February/March Garden & Gun magazine inspired by Prince's Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville (and as a lover of spicy foods I have a sudden hankering for a Nashville road trip)!

"It was a religious experience," he said of the "hurts-so-good spicy fried chicken." His own recipe works just as well with chicken or cornish hens, but he pays tribute to local Mississippi hunters with the quail. 

The buttermilk and pickle juice bath is most intriguing to me. The buttermilk tenderizes the meat and the pickle juice adds tang. The dressing helps take the edge off the heat. He recommends serving it with "cheap white bread at the base and supermarket pickles on the top."

He adds, "There's a flavor profile you can only get from cheap-ass pickles."

p.s. If you do go to Saltine, you must order the Caramel Cake. It will look and taste nothing like you expect, but you will thank me!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Louisiana Dog


For some reason - I know not why - my husband decided to start making every variation of hot dog in this Wikipedia entry. (OK, OK. We've only gotten through the Chicago Dog and the Kansas City Dog, so far.) Coney Island Dogs tonight, but last night, we created our own Louisiana Dog (because Louisiana and Mississippi don't have a variation listed).

Personally, I consider the Lucky Dog very much the traditional hot dog of Louisiana (or of New Orleans, at the least). I was surprised it wasn't mentioned in the entry. With all deference to that staple, we gave a Louisiana Dog our best shot.

Andouille sausage for the dog. Dark red kidney beans. (Use one can - all of the juice and 1/2 the beans - and mash with potato masher until soupy. Add the remainder of the beans. Add a dash of tarragon vinegar, a pat of butter, and salt to taste, and let simmer until heated through.) Top with grated Cheddar cheese, diced green onion, roasted garlic, and pickled purple cabbage. Bake in oven at 400 for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Put Tabasco sauce on top before serving.

It was fabulous!

Next up: A Mississippi Dog. Deer Sausage. Mississippi State Cheese. Pickled Okra relish. Comeback Sauce. 

Who knew hot dogs could be so much fun?! ;)



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Short Rib Chili Cheese Grits with Turnip Greens


It all started with Melissa Clark's recipe for Short Rib Chili Nachos right before the Super Bowl.  I found out the hard way to never start reading to your husband about mountains of soft, spicy, chile-braised short ribs, rivers of molten cheese, soft mounds of salsa, hillocks of guacamole, and creamy pools of sour cream unless you're willing to spend three hours making nachos... And they were yummy, but I thought the fantastic sauce was a bit wasted on nachos. (I mean, you had me at cheese and chips.)

Said hubby had the thought of adding them over my cheese grits, which I thought was brilliant. We made it tonight (halving the recipe this time) and served it with turnip greens on the side.

Next up, I'm trying her sauce from this recipe over a beef roast in the crockpot. I'll report back afterwards!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cajun Bloody Mary


Today is National Bloody Mary Day. And since many of you may be seeking the hair of the dog, I found for you (many, many years ago) the PERFECT Cajun Bloody Mary recipe, courtesy of Coastal Living magazine. It makes a pitcher (so you can share with your friends too or save the rest for Sunday brunch).

Cajun Bloody Mary

1 (46-ounce) bottle tomato juice 
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 
1/4 cup liquid from jar of pickled okra or jalapenos
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning blend
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish 
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 1/2 cups vodka
Garnish: Lemon wedges and pickled okra

Stir together ingredients in a large pitcher, and chill. Pour into tall glasses. Garnish, if desired.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Cherry Cheesecakes

For our company Christmas e-card this year, we collected holiday recipes and traditions from staff members to share. As much as my son loves cheesecake, I knew I would try these Merry Cherry Cheesecakes first! (See all of our fabulous recipes here.)

4 8-oz blocks cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Nilla Wafers
Aluminum-foil-lined cups
Cherries

Beat cream cheese through vanilla extract together until smooth. Place foil cups in cupcake pan and place Nilla Wafer in bottom. Fill cups 2/3 full with cheesecake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Put one cherry on top and let cool. Refrigerate. Makes about 32 cupcakes.

I used the basic cheesecake recipe but alternated Double Stuff Oreos (halved) with Nilla Wafers. I also drizzled caramel and Heath toffee bits on top of some and cherry pie filling on top of others. I left some plain too. If you use the basic recipe, you can finish them off anyway you like!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chicken & Waffles

In the October issue of Food Network magazine, they suggested readers celebrate Columbus Day with a fun brunch of Chicken & Waffles. I have no idea what Columbus Day has to do with Chicken & Waffles, I will admit, but they suggested using corn muffin mix for the waffles...and a light bulb went off in my head. (Plus I was looking for something to do with leftover fried chicken from the Piggly Wiggly after the in-laws sent us home with the extra after a Saturday lunchtime visit.)

In the South, Chicken & Waffles can be found often on the brunch menu, but most serve them with regular breakfast waffles. I have never understood the appeal of putting a piece of fried chicken on top of a regular waffle. But when the light bulb in my head turned on, it reminded me of all of the times my son has requested cornbread or corn muffins with syrup. Now fried chicken with cornbread is a good idea any day.


I didn't have any corn muffin mix, so I just made my favorite corn bread recipe (from the back of Aunt Jemima cornmeal). 


I warmed up the leftover fried chicken in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.


I cooked the waffles just I would normally. I did have to add a little extra milk to make the cornbread batter a bit more like the consistency of waffle batter.


Voila! Chicken & Waffles. (So good my son even ate the fourth waffle with no syrup at all!) NOW will never have to think about what I'll be doing with leftover chicken in the future again!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poke Salad Update: Two Hot Tamales

I will use this (sometimes) daily update to collect all of the interesting things I found throughout the day (for work and play). It's my own recipe, but, as always, I hope you find it tasty too! (Eat your greens. They're good for you!)



Betty Lynn Cameron, Main Street Greenville Executive Director and Delta Hot Tamale Festival Coordinator, swears you can't say the words "hot tamale" without smiling. She convinced me of it this weekend.

In 2012, Greenville held its inaugural hot tamale festival. In 2013, it was officially declared the Hot Tamale Capital of the World. But my husband and I took a birthday trip in December of 2010 to try Scott's Hot Tamales - not knowing the infamy to come for our food trek. I had read an article in Southern Living about Scott's Hot Tamales and wanted a road trip for our birthday weekend, so we took off.



In addition to hot tamales, we were in search of every thrift store, flea market and secondhand store we could find on the way. Once we got to Greenville and started hitting the thrift stores, folks would as where we were from and why we were visiting. I'd tell them the Scott's Hot Tamales story. And every time, someone would point me to some other tamale place that REALLY had the best hot tamales but that would never make Southern Living. Some regular stop-in stores and some along the lines of "Go to the house at the end of the street. Turn left and go down a dirt road. Knock on the door three times and ask for Ralph." Before this trip, I had no idea tamales were such a big deal in the Delta. I had had my share of tamales with knock-you-naked margaritas on the patio at Fat Mama's (and did right before this trip too).



I came back from the trip and immediately started googling hot tamales and the Delta. At the time, I found a Delta Hot Tamale Trail was in the works and learned a little about the history of the tamale in the Delta.



The Southern Foodways Alliance says Greenville has more hot tamale restaurants and/or food stations than any other city in Mississippi! So, of course, I had to add visiting the Delta Hot Tamale Festival to my must-do list.



Because I heart hot tamales, the Mississippi Delta and Greenville!

(OK, OK. AND a knock-you-naked margarita with a hot tamale on Fat Mama's patio!)

Regardless of where you get your tamales, remember they freeze very well. Buy extra and stash them away!

I have added making my own hot tamales from scratch to my culinary to-do list this year. I'll have to report back on my experiments! Subscribe to my Poke Salad (Sometimes) Daily Updates and read past updates here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Teddy's Ice Box Pie Ice Cream


As a follow up to my Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream, I decided to try and duplicate another family favorite, Lemon Icebox Pie, in ice cream form. And I had a bit of a Eureka moment when I passed the lemon curd in the grocery store. (Eureka!) In my grocery story, lemon curd is found by the pie fillings.

Of all of the ice creams I have made so far, THIS is my favorite. The lemon curd makes the ice cream smooth and creamy and very lemony. The Teddy Grahams are perfect in the ice cream (and cute too!).

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar lemon curd
1/2 box of Teddy Grahams (or more or less, to taste)

Mix together the whipping cream, sweetened condensed milk and lemon curd in mixer on very low speed (just enough to blend). Add to ice cream maker. Add Teddy Grahams about 5 minutes before ice cream is through.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pimento Cheese Biscuits


I will admit that Belinda Ellis is a culinary genius, but I think even she will give me that it's pretty hard to go wrong by combining biscuits and pimento cheese!

This recipe was in Garden and Gun magazine - and I knew I had to make it as soon as I saw it.

I think the biscuits taste just like cheese straws. My son said he thought they tasted like hushpuppies (and even dipped them in ketchup...I would complain but he gets that from his grandfather so it makes me smile). My husband said just make more.

Luckily, there are many more biscuits to try from Belinda's mad genius in her Biscuits: A Savor the South cookbook.

And Belinda KNOWS biscuits. She has worked 20-plus years as test kitchen and marketing manager for White Lily flour. (And, yes, Ms. Ellis, my Grandma Annie taught me how to make biscuits. The trick, she insisted, was touching the biscuits with your fingers as little as possible. She cut cold butter in with a knife and a fork. She insisted that you wanted the cold butter to melt in the oven, not on your fingers. Biscuits were one of the first things I learned to cook. I never knew they were considered "hard" to make by some until I got older!)

When I made the pimento cheese biscuits, I shaped some like more traditional biscuits lightly with my fingers. Some I just dropped with the spoon. (Those would be great on top of soup like a gigantic crouton. You could drop them by teaspoon if you wanted them to be closer to normal size.) But these would make great breakfast sandwiches too, and I would want the ones shaped more like a biscuit for those!

Here's a few more of Belinda's biscuits recipes. (Trust me. After tasting these, you'll want ALL of them!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coast Seafood Trail ending in August


The Mississippi Gulf Seafood Trail is a campaign encouraging Coast restaurants to promote fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. It started in June and ends on August 14.

 Established by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, the trail kicked off the "Summer of Seafood 2014" with over 40 restaurants.

After too many years away from the Gulf Coast, when I think of a seafood trail I think of all the miles I drive down there and back to Jackson to get my stash of oysters, Gulf shrimp, and, amazingly, cocktail crab claws. (I say amazingly only because I can't believe with a Fresh Market AND a Whole Foods in the Jackson metro area, I cannot get the cocktail crab claws that are sitting at Rouse's or Winn Dixie on the Coast. I also have to drive to get Barq's in a bottle, but that's another story.)

These cocktail crab claws are the best summer appetizer. They taste even better on the back of a boat. They are super simple and they will make everyone think you are a gourmet chef without even trying.

Get one Ziploc bag. Get one container of cocktail crab claws. (I've only seen them in one size.) Get one bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing. Pour the claws and the dressing into the Ziploc bag. Marinate overnight. Pour the claws into a colander the next day, allowing the excess dressing to drip off. Put back in bag.

Voila! Folks will be beating a seafood trail to your door for another bite! Promise!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned...


...but it was sooooo worth it!

Somehow, we ended up having Sonic night at our house tonight. It started with the chili cheese dogs. Then we couldn't think of anything remotely healthy to go with chili cheese dogs. So then we decided to just go all in...and THIS is where it ended.

My son was very confused. "Where are the vegetables? Or the salad?" "Nothing green. It's Sonic Night!" (This didn't work well as all my son ever wants from Sonic is the cheese sticks, no matter how many times I tell him I could make the same greasy sticks at home and it would be warm even.)

I halved the recipe for Cheesy Bacon Ranch Tater Tots and it was still more than enough to feed four. (Though I'm sure the Spinning class I took right before eating this won't even cover one-fourth of the calories of the tots alone. *sigh*)


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream




As promised, Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream! Ta da!

I make Hummingbird Cake every Thanksgiving and for my mother's birthday every year. (And my father always says the exact same thing, "How'd you get those little wings off?") 

The infamous recipe first ran in Southern Living in February 1978 but has been repeated many times since because it's so popular. It was elected favorite recipe ever in 1990 and has won blue ribbons at several county fairs across the South.  

Let's hope my ice cream recipe wins half as much notoriety. Or anyone ever else makes it, at least. (Or just reads this blog entry. I'd settle for that. Sheesh!) ;)

Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream
2 bananas, mashed
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix 1 tbsp cinnamon into the sweetened condensed milk and then whisk together milk, cream, and vanilla. Add mashed bananas and pineapple. Add mixture to a 2 qt ice cream maker. 

Over medium heat, melt butter, then add in pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread on wax paper and cool, then mix in to ice cream when the ice cream is almost set.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Banana Nut Bread Ice Cream


So I set out tonight to create an ice cream that tastes like Banana Nut Bread...and I came pretty close, so I had to share. (This was made in a 2 qt. countertop ice cream maker.) Next up, Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream!

Banana Nut Bread Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups whipping cream
3 bananas, mixed in food processor (I used frozen, but I don't think it would matter)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together milk, cream, bananas, and vanilla, and add to ice cream maker. Over medium heat, melt butter, then add in pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread on wax paper and cool, then mix in to ice cream when the ice cream is almost set.

(Special thanks to Todd Defren for posting his ice cream recipes on Facebook and inspiring me to start experimenting again...and for sharing the recipe for his ice cream base!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Black Bean Salsa


1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 8-oz. can white shoepeg corn, drained
1 can Ro-Tel, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tortilla chips

Combine all ingredients except chips in a large bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. (Adapted from Square Table)

Pears with Goat Cheese


1 can of pear halves
3 oz. Goat Cheese with Honey
Balsamic vinegar
Chopped pecans

Put a dollop of goat cheese in center of pear. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle on chopped pecans. 

(If you can't find Goat Cheese with Honey, mix in a little honey with plain goat cheese.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Save hundreds of dollars each year with a salad spinner


We eat a lot of salad at my house. Mostly because it's the one of the few vegetables I can serve at dinner with no complaints or turned up noses (as a Caesar salad, but still).

I relied heavily on bagged salads most of the time until I read this blog. The listeria scare started my doubts about bagged salads - and then I ended up home with a few that were a bit on the brown side (which I couldn't see through the colorful packaging).

So I was ready. Ready to try Tamie's experiment. Romaine lettuce at my Kroger is about $1.50 and it gives me about 1 1/3 of the amount of a bagged salad (which is about $2.99 if you're lucky...sometimes more if it's not on sale).

Unlike Tamie, I go ahead and put the lettuce in small bags to take to work (where I don't have to eat Caesar salad anyways).

I bought the OXO Salad Spinner, and I have loved it. Strangely, spinning salad is a bit therapeutic. (Go ahead and laugh. But buy your own. You'll see. You'll find yourself giving that salad one more spin...just to be safe!)

We eat salad at least twice a week, and I am now saving at least $4 each week. I'm thinking with the money I've saved I can buy a Soda Stream and a pressure cooker next! I think those are the only two kitchen gadgets I do not currently own.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bread Maker King Cake















I finally did it! After Mardi Gras seasons and seasons of trying, I mixed enough recipes together to make the PERFECT (and relatively easy too) king cake.












First, you start out with Mam Papaul's King Cake mix. (In the Jackson area, you can buy this at Kroger.) You won't follow any of her directions though. Except the ingredients. Mix the ingredients for the cake as directed and put it in your bread machine on the Dough cycle.

Once the bread machine is through doing all of the work, roll the dough into a long rectangle (but remember that you need room for the filling). Prepare the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling.

I stole the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and the Lemon-Sugar Icing from this recipe in Garden & Gun magazine.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
½  cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Dollop the cream cheese down the middle of the long rectangle. Fold the dough over to close. Pinch and seal. (Make sure it's sealed or it will split open while baking.)  Form into king-cake-shaped oval. Bake according to the king cake mix directions.

After the cake has cooled, top with lemon-sugar icing and colored sprinkles. (The mix will come with powdered sugar and sprinkles, but it's not enough of either, really, so don't use those.)

Lemon-Sugar Icing:

1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine icing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until it achieves desired consistency (adjust with more liquid or more powdered sugar if necessary).

The mix also comes with a baby. (And, yes, you should use that!)

Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lynn Rosetto Kasper - 1, Shawn - 0


So we were listening to the Splendid Table after our Sunday trip to Lowe's, when Lynn insisted that you could cook black-eyed peas in the crockpot without soaking them. This perked my ears up because I had a bag of dried black-eyed peas in the pantry I needed to cook. (I panicked a bit at New Year's when I couldn't find black-eyed peas in one store and I MAY have overcompensated a bit when I finally found some. By a bag. Or two.)

I have always heard that you need to pre-soak beans and peas, even if they tell you not to. Don't fall for it. So when Lynn said you didn't have to soak the peas - just put them on high for four and a half hours - I'll admit I was a bit skeptical. Even of Lynn.

But I do have some bad juju to blame. My first kitchen failure involved a "quick soak method" and red beans and rice. I learned my lesson. Well.

So Lynn was right. It worked. But I had nothing to put in with the peas because I wasn't planning on it working. (I'm no Lynn Rosetto Kasper and all.)

In the spirit of Lynn, I raided my refrigerator to see what would work. I had leftover cherry tomatoes from stir fry last week and a brand new jar of Brooklyn Brine Damn Spicy Pickles that I bought in a moment of weakness (and what moment isn't there?) at Whole Foods. I chopped up about three of the pickles and put them in with the peas after they cooked and poured in some of the brine too. I added the diced cherry tomatoes and....yum!

(Lynn would be proud!)


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Pinterest Effect on the Modern Marriage


"This morning, I am making us a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon and Fried Egg for breakfast."

"Could you just make me bacon, eggs and toast? Just plain bacon, eggs and toast?"

<silence>

"Well, you could make that breakfast sandwich thingie for yourself if you want to try it."

<silence>

"It sounds good though. Really."

<silence>

"Ok, Ok. Just make me a damn breakfast sandwich thingie."

<Couldn't hold the laughter in by this point.>

Sunday morning plain ol' eggs, bacon and toast with strawberry jam at the Rossi residence...brought to you by Pinterest! 

But just wait till he sees the Grilled Cheese Croutons in Tomato Soup Shot Glasses I have planned for lunch... ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Feta Pizza Bread Appetizers


  • 1 large Baguette (Long and thin, cut into thin slices)
  • 2 cups Finely Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup Crumbled Basil & Tomato Feta
  • 16 oz. Crumbled Italian Sausage (Cooked)
  • 1 large Red Pepper (Diced)
  • Fresh or Dry Basil (Chopped)
  • Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a layer of sliced baguettes on two large cookie sheets/baking pans. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except olive oil. Mix well. Drizzle enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. Spoon enough mixture just to cover the top of each baguette slice. Baked for approximately 12-15 minutes until cheese has melted and bread slices have crisped.

Monday, December 30, 2013

YoMamas Frozen Fruit

My husband, in observance of his 10th anniversary with his company, received a Wal-mart gift card. As he hates going to Wal-mart, he gave it to me. I told him if he gave it to me that I would buy nothing useful with it and would spend it all on kitchen gadgets I have talked myself out of buying. He said that was fine.

He didn't think I'd do it. He didn't think I had it in me. Then I came home today with a Yonanas machine and a Ninja Professional Blender (among other things).

I have been coveting this one for awhile, but have resisted, sure it would not really work. It's an intriguing machine with an unfortunate name. (We renamed it YoMamas at my table because YoNanas seems like you're making crusty, stale jokes about your grandma, which just ain't allowed at my house.)

The premise is that you take frozen fruit, put it in this machine, and it turns it into ice cream. It's my version of Rapunzel's spinning wheel - turning straw into solid gold!

I was skeptical. I had mixed frozen fruit in the freezer, so just tried that. And it worked! It was delicious and it tasted just like sherbet. And that was just a bag of frozen mixed fruit, so I can't wait to try all of these other recipes!

p.s. If you're looking for a new product idea, my son decided that  YoMama Joke Machine that actually came up with some original material would be a quick sell to the teen set. Maybe a YoMama App. Hmmmm. ;)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Waffle Iron Hash Browns

I am, admittedly, a kitchen gadget junkie. It's a weakness. (Somehow, I've stopped myself from the Soda Stream thang so far, but I think that's the only restraint I've shown.)

I'm also a breakfast junkie. Breakfast for breakfast. Breakfast for lunch or brunch. Breakfast for supper. So I was excited when I found (on Pinterest, of course) a new use for my waffle iron for one of my favorite breakfast items: hash browns.















The great thing about this idea - using tater tots to make hash browns with your waffle iron - is that it also eliminates the need to buy hash browns just for breakfast. You can just use tater tots!

Here was my first test (on just one). 


I experimented for you. If you have a square waffle maker like me, just put three rows of three tater tots on each square, close the lid tight (lock it if you have that feature) and cook for 5 minutes.


Perfect hash browns. They taste an awful lot like McDonald's hash browns too (without the strange shape)!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

We made these during the 4th of July festivities. They are easy and delicious!

Jalapeno Peppers
Cream Cheese
Bacon

Cut large jalapeno peppers in half and get seeds out. Fill with cream cheese and wrap with a piece of bacon. (We put it on the grill with other stuff but you can also bake at 350 degrees until the bacon is done.)

FREE Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Cookbook Download

Right now you can get a FREE download of the Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving Cookbook. This digital copy has the same content as the popular hard copy.

You’ll find favorite recipes like:

  • Brined Turkey Breast with Lemon-Parsley Gravy 
  • Bread Dressing with Celery 
  • Broccoli with a Crunchy Crumb Topping 
  • Ginger Pear Torte
[ via Saving with Shellie ]

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Eggs Benedict Breakfast Pizza


So I decided at some point last week (what brought this on I cannot remember) that instead of just cooking, my husband and I needed to start creating our own recipes. We do this all the time in theory, but rarely in practice - so I started searching recipe contests online to give us a direction and some incentive. 

Ironically, this breakfast pizza recipe that came to me this morning fit none of the recipe contests we are currently working on. (This is just how my brain works. No matter what structure I try to force upon it, it will find a way to revolt!)

It all started because I needed to use up a tube of Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Dough that I bought on sale a while back and had been sitting in our fridge since then because we lacked pizza sauce or cheese or toppings or whatever I needed then whenever I grabbed it.

This is why Google is both your friend and your enemy. I thought this was SUCH an original idea...and then googled it and found over 5,000 with the same original idea, of course. (I immediately clicked off the page so as not to be tempted to read ANY of them.)

We enjoyed our final product, but it is very rich. (In other words, we have a LOT left over even after three of us had it for brunch - and we're not sure yet how easily it will save). We both agreed next time we might add tomatoes. Maybe thinly sliced Roma tomatoes over the hollandaise sauce. And I followed the directions for the crust, but I think it should have cooked a little longer.

Eggs Benedict Breakfast Pizza

1 tube Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust 
Hollandaise sauce (recipe follows)
6 eggs, scrambled
6 pieces bacon, Canadian bacon, or pancetta,  cooked and crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup Mozzarella/Cheddar mix

Follow the directions for the pizza crust but add 2-3 minutes on the first round of cooking. Prepare hollandaise sauce and spread over crust when removed from oven. 

For the scrambled eggs, crack six eggs and place in bowl with 1/4 cup milk. Whisk briskly for 5 min. Put 1 tbsp of butter in a medium saucepan over med-lo heat and cook the scrambled eggs until just done (because they will cook even longer in a hot oven). 

Sprinkle eggs over hollandaise sauce and then sprinkle bacon and cheese over the eggs. Return to oven, and bake for an additional 8 minutes. 

Hollandaise Sauce: In a small to medium saucepan, heat an inch of water on medium-low. Separate four eggs. Put yolks in stainless steel bowl with 1 tbsp lemon juice. Using a whisk, stir the mixture constantly but gently until it increases in size by about half. Smooth out any bubbles that form by continuing to stir. When the water is just below simmering, place the stainless steel bowl on top of the saucepan. (Make sure it does not touch.) Continue to constantly stir the mixture while slowly drizzling in 1/2 cup of melted butter. Keep stirring until sauce reaches consistency to coat bottom of spoon. Remove from heat and add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Set in warm place until ready to be served. (If the sauce starts to take on a custard-like consistency, you can drizzle in a small amount of hot water to thin the sauce.)


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Delacata Style Catfish Tasting



To celebrate the retail debut of Delacata Style Catfish to the metro-Jackson market, Simmons Catfish, a Yazoo-based farm and processing plant, will offer free Delacata tastings at McDade's Maywood Mart location on Friday, August 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. Country music station Miss 103 will broadcast live in front of the store, giving away prizes and promoting the event. 

Delacata Style Catfish is an earth-friendly, sustainably sourced whitefish developed and marketed by The Catfish Institute. A premium seafood option comparable to redfish, snapper and grouper, Delacata has a mildly sweet flavor that works well with sauces, marinades and herb rubs. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mississippi Foodie on Flipboard


Mississippi Foodie is now available on Flipboard. It is available online but looks even better on your smartphone or tablet. Hope to see you there too!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mississippi Chef John Currence participating in Music City Eats


Nashville food, wine, and spirit festival Music City Eats recently announced that Mississippi chef John Currence will be participating (along with more than 25 local Tennessee chefs). Taking place from September 21st to September 22nd, the event includes restaurant tastings as well as panel discussions and cooking demonstrations.

The festival is produced by Caleb and Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn, and C3 Presents (whose festival production credentials include the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza).

For more information or for tickets, which begin at $275, visit www.musiccityeats.com. Follow on social media at www.twitter.com/musiccityeats and www.Facebook.com/musiccityeats.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Food Network names Moon Pie-RC Cola Ice Cream Sandwich best in Mississippi


Ice cream. My one weakness. Chocolate. My other one weakness.

Moon Pies? Not so much. Unless they are warmed up ever-so slightly in the microwave to the point the marshmallow gets perfectly almost-mushy. But I digress...

The Hook Up Bar & Restaurant in Biloxi (no...not that kind of hook up) has combined many of my one weaknesses into their one Food Network award-winning Moon Pie & RC Cola Ice Cream Sandwich. So I had an official excuse to try it. It wasn't dessert. It was research!

Before I say anything, let me say it was good. It was very good. But it could be better. 

It needs more ice cream. It's winning a Food Network award for best ice cream treat, but the one and only thing it needs is more ice cream. The ice cream should be between both layers of Moon Pie and not just one.

It is a brilliant combination and the idea deserves all kinds of accolades. And it did inspire me to create The Elvis.

Make this peanut butter cup ice cream. (Yes, it's as yummy as it looks here. And, somehow, miraculously, it stays just as creamy even after sitting in the freezer for days.) Separate the two cookie sides of a Mini Banana Moon Pie. Put softened ice cream in between the two layers and put the Moon Pie back together. Wrap in aluminum foil and store in freezer.

Yum!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grape Salad


I went to the Neshoba County Fair today (for the first time). It was hot. And humid. So, thankfully, everyone kept trying to feed me and give me something to drink. And I just had to have the recipe for this Grape Salad. (And I asked. And they even gave it to me! Special thanks to the Murphys for the hospitality, the Sunshine - and this recipe!)



Cabin #210 Grape Salad

2 lb green seedless grapes
2 lb red seedless grapes
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, crushed

Wash and stem grapes. Set aside.

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla by hand until blended. Mix with grapes in large bowl.

For topping, combine brown sugar and pecans. Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely. Chill overnight.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Wine Spectator honors Mississippi restaurants


Mississippi has been honored in Wine Spectator’s newly released 2013 Restaurant Wine List Awards, which highlights the eateries around the globe that offer the best wine selections. This year, 3,793 restaurants were named award winners, spanning all 50 states and 76 other countries and territories, along with 11 cruise ships. Overall, 16 Mississippi establishments were honored.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hal & Mal's P.J. Lee: From Lawyer to Restauranteur



P.J. Lee recently changed careers. He is the son-in-law of Hal White, and after he passed away, he has taken over the reins at the restaurant.

“Going from a law practice to a kitchen is a big difference, but I’m enjoying it,” Lee told the Clarion-Ledger. “I don’t like the circumstance, but I’ve enjoyed the change ... This is my job and my life now.”

Lee has added Grilled Mahi Tacos with Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa to the Hal & Mal's menu, but he considers his signature dish to be Crystal Scallops.

Stop by and see P.J. soon, but in the meantime...


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fast and Fresh Summer Pasta


The Clarion-Ledger recently published Sara Moulton's recipe for Fast and Fresh Summer Pasta. I was looking for more Meatless Monday (and Tuesday and Wednesday and sometimes Thursday too) recipes, so decided to give it a try. It's a keeper!

I did not use fresh tomatoes. I used a large can of diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained. I used 1 tsp of olive oil (and no lemon zest). Honestly, I think it would have been fine with no oil. The goat cheese makes it creamy enough.

3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1-inch pieces)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 ounces whole-wheat penne or fusilli pasta
1 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, oregano, mint, dill, chives, cilantro and tarragon)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl toss the tomatoes with a few hefty pinches of salt and some black pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes, then add the lemon zest, oil and goat cheese and toss well.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir and cook according to package instructions until just al dente. Drain the pasta (it’s fine to have some water still clinging to the pasta), then add it to the bowl. Toss until the cheese is melted.

Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the pasta between 4 serving bowls, then sprinkle each portion with some of the herbs. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 360 calories; 110 calories from fat (31 per cent of total calories); 12 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrate; 7 g fibre; 5 g sugar; 17 g protein; 390 mg sodium.