Friday, July 30, 2010

I'll be back!!

So, it seems starting a new blog, right before you are going to leave on a 2.5 week youth conference to serve as the worship director is not a good idea!  I'll be back on August 8th -- with Manners Monday!  See you then!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Gatherings

I love the fact that its Friday, but I hate the fact that summer seems to be flying by!  I am not ready for shorter days or cooler evenings.  So, I am trying to squeeze every bit of summer that I can.  One of the thing I love to do in the summer is cook out doors.  I love grilling and smoking meats.  Last year I got a little tired of the same old plain grilling.  So, I went on a search for a cookbook that would give me some new ideas.  I found the cookbook Southern Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy with Family and Friends, my cookbook of the week this week.

Not only did this cookbook inspire me to try new recipes, it also inspired me to host new parties.  Rick Rodgers has some amazing recipes that put a new spin on old favorites and will add a little spice to your summer.  There is a whole section on Pastas and Risotto (which is one of my new favorite things in the world). 

I am not a huge fan of traditional BBQ, but I have found a new love for non-traditional BBQ thanks to this book.  My favorite is Grilled Chicken with White Rosemary Barbecue Sauce -- IT IS TO DIE FOR!!!  GO TO THE STORE NOW AND MAKE IT!!!

Grilled Chicken with White Rosemary Barbecue Sauce
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, crushed through a press
Two 4 pound chickens, each cut into 8 serving pieces
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

r1. To make the sauce, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, and garlic together. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

)2. Build a fire for indirect grilling in an outdoor grill. For a charcoal grill, leave the coals heaped in a mound in the center. For a gas grill, preheat on High. Then leave one burner on high and turn the other burner(s) off

.3. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Lightly oil the cooking grate. Place the chicken on the unheated areas of the grill (that is, on the perimeter around, but not over, the coals in the charcoal grill, or over the off burners of the gas grill). Cover and grill for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken, cover, and continue grilling until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°, about 20 minutes more

e.4. Move the chicken to the hot area of the grill (over the coals of the charcoal grill, and over the high burner of the gas grill). Brush the chicken all over with the mayonnaise mixture. Grill, turning and basting occasionally with the remaining mayonnaise mixture, until the mayonnaise has reduced to a mostly transparent glaze, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve hot, with the remaining sauce passed on the side, if you wish.

I strongly recommend this book, if you love summer cooking, light fare, and entertaining!  Have a wonderful Friday, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for Supper Saturday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere.....

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!  Wednesday is kind of like my Friday because Thursday is my Sunday.  Does that make any sense?  Even if Wednesday is not your Friday, it is the 1/2 way point to the weekend!  YEAH!!  So, I think that Wednesday is the perfect day to start a Jamaican Vacation in your mind --- even if for just a few minutes.  One of my favorite ways to take myself away is a local drink from Pensacola Beach, where I was born and raised -- A Bushwacker.  It is a heavenly drink, but deadly.  No matter what you think, you can only drink one of these.  The Bushwacker originated in a dive called The Sandshaker Lounge.  While many have tried to make it their own, to me the only real Bushwacker is a Sandshare Bushwacker!  I am lucky enough to have the recipe and YOU are lucky enough that I'm going to share it with you! This recipe makes about 4 drinks.  I normally guesstimate on the measurements while I free pour.  However, just for you I'm using the numbers today

Simply place all the ingredient, except the 151, in a blender with a couple of cups of ice.  Pour into glasses and place a shot of 151 on top of each drink!  Put a little umbrella in it and enjoy your vacation, ya'll! 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Traditional Tuesday....

When I was little, we had certain days that we always ate the same thing.  On Sundays, we had Sunday Roast at my granny's house (she was British).  On the last Friday of every month, we had Baskin Robin's ice cream.  Tuesday always seems to be the traditional dinner night -- meatloaf, spaghetti, pot roast, etc.  Other nights of the weeks, we were more adventurous.  Tuesday, we ate like the rest of my friends.  In my house now, even though I still try to honor traditional Tuesday, I always add a little bit of something to make it extra special.  For this Traditional Tuesday, I bring you Not Your Mama's Meat Loaf.

1.5 - 2.5 pounds of ground meat -- I have actually grown to like ground turkey, but sometimes you just need some beef
1 package of dried onion soup
1 can of Italian style diced tomatoes   
1 can of tomato paste
1/2 a can of tomato sauce
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup or so of Italian style bread crumbs
Italian Seasoning

Mix together ground mean, dried onion soup, diced tomatoes (if you are using ground beef, you want to drain about 1/2 the juice off the tomatoes -- if turkey I leave it all in), and garlic in a large bowl.  Once they are mixed together well, begin adding the bread crumbs, I start with 1/2 a cup and keep adding more as needed -- you want the meatloaf to be able to stick together, but not be super bready.  Once you have everything mixed together, place it into a loaf pan or a 9x9 pan for a thinner loaf.  Place in the oven at 350.  While the meat loaf begins to cook, empty the tomato paste into a small bowl and 1/2 the can of the tomato sauce, mix together adding some Italian Seasoning to taste.  Once the tomato sauce is to your liking, pull the meatloaf from the oven and spread over the top -- I like to drip it on with a spoon in lines across the top.  The total cooking time for the meat loaf is between 30-45 minutes at 350 -- depending on the size of the pan you use and the thickness of the meatloaf! 

Now you may be thinking, I cannot serve mashed potatoes with this meatloaf -- the traditional meatloaf side dish -- but try a little twist on your mashed potatoes and make garlic ones with Parmesan cheese on top! 

Have a Traditional Tuesday! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

30-Minute AMAZING Meal!

I love cooking wonderful meals for family and friends to enjoy, but sometimes I do not have a lot of time.  Yesterday, I had the church pot-luck, but I wanted to surprise my BF with an amazing meal after a long week of work -- he is a charter fisherman and has worked 5 days in blazing hot heat.  So, after doing my pastoral visits, I went to his house to throw this meal together for him

For those of you who get the updates posted on facebook, you got a sneak peak at this meal yesterday. Believe it or not, you can make this meal in 30-minutes, depending on how fast you are with a knife and how quickly your grill is!  Balsamic Vinegar Chicken topped with home made bruschetta, bruschetta pasta, and garlic creamed spinach.  So, easy and SO GOOD!

Start with a pound or so of thinly sliced chicken breast two hours before dinner.   These are something I just discovered, but I love them!  They cook so quickly.  Take each breast, dash balsamic vinegar on each side and sprinkle Italian seasoning -- let sit in fridge until ready to put on the grill. 

Begin by wilting the spinach (I use two bag of spinach from the pre-bagged salad section)-- you don't want to cook the spinach all the way, just put a little bit of water in the bottom of a LARGE cooking pan with a few cloves are garlic cut in half and toss the spinach while the water is boiling -- this should take too minutes. Drain Spinach.  If you have a charcoal grill, go start you coals now.

In a smaller cooking pan, put 2 clicks (Tablespoons) of butter and 4 cloves of chopped (or pressed) garlic in the bottom of the pan.  While the butter is melting, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  In about the time it takes you to put the water on to boil for the pasta, the butter should be melted.  Add the spinach, and other four cloves of chopped (or pressed) garlic, and 1 small container of whipping cream to the pan -- cook on medium low for about 20 minutes -- it is going to boil and the liquid is going to cook off. 

Next you are going to put the chicken on the grill, if it is charcoal, it should be ready, if it is gas, it is always ready.  While chicken is cooking, begin chopping 6 roma tomatoes and a jar of Sun-dried tomatoes for Bruschetta (I normally do this outside because then you can watch the chicken).  Once you are done with this, the chicked should be ready to be flipped, the water should be ready for the pasta, and the spinach should be stirred. 

Add a bunch of chopped Basil, all of the leaves from a bunch you buy in the store), 5 cloves of chopped (pressed garlic) a package of pre-cut Pico De Gallo veggies (it gives it a little extra kick).  Toss all the ingredients with 1/2 a cup of olive oil and 1/4 a cup of balsamic vinegar. 

At this point, the chicken should be done, the pasta is ready to be drain, and the spinach stirred.  Take two pieces of chicken and put on each plate to serve -- top with the bruschetta.  Toss the rest of the bruschetta with the pasta (you may need to add a little more olive oil).  Add a scoop of pasta and spinach, top with Italian blend cheese and serve! 

OK, for my readers who want more of a "recipe" to follow here you go:


6 Roma Tomatoes
1 Jar Sundried Tomatoes in Oil
1 packaged of Pico De Gallo
5 Cloves of Garlic 
1 Bunch of Fresh Basil 
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil (I free pour, but this is the best I can tell)
1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar (I free pour here too)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop tomatoes, basil, and garlic.  Combine with Pico De Gallo.  Toss with Olive Oil and Balamic -- salt and pepper to taste (HOW EASY IS THAT!!! And there is SO MUCH you can do with this!)

Creamed Spinach

10 Cloves of Garlic -- two halved -- eight chopped
2 Bags of Fresh Spinach
1 Small Container of Heavy Whipping Cream (A Cup I think they are)
2 Click (tablespoons) of butter

Wilt Spinach in pan with the two halved garlic cloves.  Melt Butter and 4 cloves of garlic in a pan, add spinach and cream when melted.  Cook on medium low heat until the cream is firm and not liquidity.    For a little extra something, you can add some Italian Cheese).

I don't think you need a recipe for the chicken and pasta, but if you want one let me know, I'll be happy to post it. 

On Fridays, I have a cookbook of the week, on Monday's I'm going to have a store of the week!  This week, I'm featuring the newest department store to sell my favorite Lilly Pulitzer -- BELK!  You can join their facebook page for give-a-ways, specials, and to find out what stores Lilly's coming to next!

Happy Shopping Ya'll!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Side Dish Sunday!

Happy Sunday Ya'll!  Sunday is the longest day of the week for me, but it is such a good way to start the week.  Today is going to prove to be extra long, but in a good way -- the Administration Support Committee at my church is having a staff appreciation pot-luck.  One of the great perks of being a pastor is I get PAID to go to POT LUCKS!!!  I do love me some fried chicken, but at a church pot luck, forget the chicken and give me some sides :)   I very rarely sit down for more than 2-3 minutes at a pot luck, so I figure I can eat as much as I want.  For tonight's pot luck, the staff was not supposed to bring anything, but I couldn't help myself.  I love to cook and can cook anything --so of course I'm bringing something.  Since I had left over ribs last night and was making Asian Cole Slaw, so I just made a little extra.  I have come to believe that everyone has their own version of this, but mine has a little something different.  So try a little something different.

Asian Cole Slaw

Two Bag of Shredded Slaw -- I normally use one regular and one broccoli -- mainly because my mom doesn't like broccoli and I love sneaking it in :)

Two bag of oriental flavor Ramen Noddles

1 Bag of Walnuts (to make my mom happy)

1 Bag of sliced Almonds (to make me happy)

1 Stick of Butter

About a cup or so Brown Sugar (Actually mix light and dark)

1/2 Cup or so of Apple Cider Vinegar

1 or a little less of Blended Oil

Two Pours of Soy Sauce (I use the low sodium)

Salt And Pepper to Taste

Candied Nuts

Melt the stick of butter a frying pan, add a 1/2 of cup of brown sugar, stir until melted -- add more brown sugar as needed -- it should be the consistency of Elmer's Glue.  Add nuts to coat with the sugar paste.  Place on paper towel or wax paper to dry.


Add 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
2 long pours of Soy Sauce (About two Tablespoons)
Flavor Packages from Ramen
Blended Oil -- I normally add about a cup, but you can start with 1/2 of a cup and keep adding until you like the way it taste
Salt and Pepper to Taste -- if desired.

Then it's simple -- add one bag of slaw to a bowl with one package of the Ramen noddles crushed up, 1/2 the nuts, and 1/2 the dressing -- mix well.  Then just at the rest of the ingredients on top of that and mix again.  Enjoy!  I know I will....

Look for photos on the facebook page tonight to see what's in store for tomorrow.  Happy Cooking!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Supper Saturday!

Saturdays is one of the few days that I do not end up working or running errands all day long.  It is the day I can truly relax.  Normally it is the day that I cook some of my best Suppers because I have all day to plan and prepare.  Summer Saturdays are a little different because I like to spend time by the pool at the Country Club and often that leads to dinner there. 

Of course, this Saturday does not include either of those things.  My mom is visiting for the summer from overseas and she had a flight to my sisters at 8:00 AM, so my day will start at 5:00 AM when she will get me up me up so we could leave for the airport by 6:00 AM.   Then I'm on my long run for the week (7 miles) and attending the Men's Bible Breakfast at church.  I'll be home in time for clean up for a trip to the first bit of "me" time in weeks and decided to take the rest of the day off.  So, instead of cooking a wonderful Supper, I am having leftover smoked ribs, which are amazing!  So, for this Supper Saturday, I will give you the guidelines for my smoked ribs.

Rib Rub:

A few Table Spoons of                  Brown Sugar (I would say 3 for each rack of ribs or  6 beef ribs)
A few Less Table Spoons of          SLAP YA MAMA (about 2)
                                                       SYM - is the best Cajun Seasoning around! See
                                                       link below to order some of your own!
A Little Bit of                                Salt  (1 ish)
A Tad of                                         Dry Mustard (1/2 or so)
                                                       Cumin  (1/2 or so)
                                                       Garlic Power (So, it should be the same as the
                                                       other two, but add more garlic because its my favorite)

Mix everything together in a small bowl.  It is not going to look like enough, but trust me it is!  You only rub a little bit on the ribs you don't want them caked -- think gram crackers dusted on top on top of a cheese cake -- not the crust underneath.

Place on smoker with warm coals and smoking chips.   I soak my smoking chips in Apple Cider Vinegar the night before. 

Let cook for 45 - minutes -- try to keep the temp of the smoker at about 175 degrees.

After 45 -- pour Apple Cider Vinegar with Red Pepper Flakes in the jug on the Ribs.  I just put the red pepper flakes in the large Apple Cider Vinegar Jug (1 gallon Jug with about 1.5 cups of pepper flakes).  For spicier ribs, put the pepper flakes in the night before.

Cook another 45 minutes --  then flip the ribs and pour more Apple Cider Vinegar

Cook Another 45 minutes -- then pour more Apple Cider Vinegar on the Ribs

Flip One more time after another 45 minutes -- pour more Apple Cider Vinegar on the Ribs

After another 45 minutes -- THEY ARE DONE!!!  Enjoy!

I normally end up using two things of Apple Cider Vinegar.  You need to be VERY generous in our pouring -- the extra vinegar will pool in the bottom of your smoker and turn into steam, which helps the ribs be even more tender and moist!

My favorite sides with Ribs -- Asian Cole Slaw and Potato Salad!  Look for Asian Cole Slaw tomorrow on Sides Sunday!

It's Really True......I CAN Cook Anything!

I have always loved to cook!  As the oldest grandchild, I was in my grandma's kitchen from the time I could stand.  I even had my own special "cooking drawer," filled with wooden spoons, measuring cups, and other tools of the trade just for me!  I began cooking for large groups when I was in college, when I cooked regularly for the campus ministry at Appalachian State University.  When I went to graduate school at UGA, I found another kitchen to call my own at the Presbyterian Student Center.  There I cooked with a friend Israel, who actually competed in cooking competitions, which I could never do because I do not measure anything!  In seminary, I cooked regularly for the Pentagon, my four best friends who were all boys from the south (OK one was from Southern Minnesota, but he was southern).   Now, that I am out in the real world, I find that my love for cooking is growing even stronger and I have become more adventurous as well.  It is not uncommon for me to call friends Wednesday at noon to let them know I am cooking Home-made brushetta over grilled chicken, garlic spinach, and whole wheat bread for dinner, if they are interested in joining.  I very rarely get turned down.

I am a cook that would drive professionals and housewives crazy.  I very rarely use recipes and if I do, I change it in some way.   Even if I "clean as I go," the kitchen is a HUGE mess whenever I am done and is not completely clean until after the meal is enjoyed.  I do cheat sometimes, and use store bought cookie dough, pre-made rolls, and already cut veggies.

It is only in the past six months or so, that I have begun to realize, that I can cook anything!  I can decide I have a craving for something (brushetta was the most recent one), run to the store to get what I think I need, and return home and make it!  Sometimes, I look around a kitchen (mine or someone else's) to see what food is there and figure out what to make.  Other times, I see something on a TV show that looks good.  So far, I haven't had any real disasters.  So, let's hope it stays that way!  However, I am sure there will be a few, especially now that I am taking this public!

At times, I will get distracted as I often do.  I'll share a little bit about great shopping deals, my training for the New York Marathon, faith, and adventures.  But, I bet you'll enjoy that as well!   So, join me on my adventure, as I show the world that I can good ANYTHING! 

While I do not use recipes very often, I do use cookbook for references. Each week, I'll feature a cookbook of the week!   And Every Now and Again, I'll give one away to a lucky fan!  When I reach 100 fans, I will have a drawing for one lucky follower to win their very own copy of my cookbook of the week!

Cookbook of the Week: 

 from the Junior League of Pensacola  

This is my staple cookbook and guide to cooking.  I am on my second copy in about 10 years because I reference it so much.  Everyone knows Junior League Cookbooks are the best and this is one of the best of the best!  It has great recipes for every southern staple -- with a good bit of Cajun favorites as well.  Look for lots of references to this cookbook in the future.

My favorite?  Recipes Bannana Fosters and Cheese Grit Souffle.