Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hoppin John

My Grandpa Bill would always say that eating black-eyed peas or Hoppin John on New Years Day would bring you good luck. That's an old Southern tradition... and it's one I like to follow! As my mama would say, "Even if you don't like'em... at least eat one spoonful!"

Happy New Year, Foodies!!!

Hoppin John


Half-stick of butter or 4 tablespoons
1 yellow onion, diced
3 strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces.
2 celery stalks (ribs), chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups black-eyed peas, cooked
2 cups rice, cooked
Salt & pepper to taste


1. Spray a large skillet with a non-stick spray and cook bacon pieces until crispy brown. Remove bacon to dish layered with paper towel and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet with the bacon grease. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic powder. Cook for 5-6 minutes.

3. Add peas, rice and a little salt & pepper and cook for 12-15 minutes.

4. Add cooked bacon. Stir.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Cooking Tip #9

Perfect Cream Gravy

Good cream gravy always starts with drippings from pan-frying sausage, bacon, chicken or pork chops. Your gravy will always turn out just right if you use equal parts drippings and flour. The basic proportions are 1/4 cup drippings to 1/4 cup flour to 2 cups milk.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pecan-Crusted Baked Chicken Breast

This was a new recipe I tried from Paula Deen's new cookbook, The Southern Cooking Bible. I admit, Paula has taught me a great deal about cooking in the last few years... I could probably do an entire blog just on her recipes... but then that wouldn't be nearly as exciting. This is probably one of my favorites... and what's crazy, is it's sooo easy to make. The hardest part is crushing the pecans... and that's easy. What's also great is how coating the chicken breasts in mayo, instead of egg yolks, makes the chicken much more tender. A perfect weekday meal for your family!

Pecan-Crusted Baked Chicken Breasts


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1/2 pound each)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup pecans, crushed
3/4 cup bread crumbs


1. Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking dish or coat with cooking spray.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Coat each breast with1 teaspoon of mayonnaise. In a shallow dish toss the pecans and the bread crumbs together. Dredge the chicken in the bread crumb mixture, pressing firmly to make sure it sticks well to the chicken. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and place in the prepared baking dish. Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the chicken is cooked through, 40 to 50 minutes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cooking Tip #8

To fully enjoy the tasty, tenderness of pork, and to ensure your pork is cooked to perfection each time, here's some cooking guidelines from pork experts for you to review.

  • Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160ยบ F.
  • Processed pork (fully cooked/smoked ham) should have an internal temperature of 120°F.
  • To prevent pork from drying out while cooking, baste with pan juices, fruit juice or a spicy sauce.
  • Pork's natural juices will run clear when meat is done.
  • Fully cooked pork may have a little pink in the center.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Scarborough Fair Fried Pork Loin Chops

Can you guess why I call these Scarborough Fair Fried Pork Loin Chops? Just sing the song and you'll be able remember the spices used in this recipe! I enjoy using the thin-cut loin chops because they fry up faster... but you could certainly use the bone-in pork chops if you wanted.

Scarborough Fair Fried Pork Loin Chops


1 pound of boneless, thin-cut, pork loin top loin chop (usually 7 to a package)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon pork seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley


1. Sprinkle pork on both sides with salt & pepper.

2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, seasoned salt, pork seasoning, pepper, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

3. In another bowl, add beaten eggs. One at a time, bathe each pork lion in the egg, then place in the flour mixture and coat all over.

4. In a skillet, heat oil on medium high. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the oil.

5. Place pork loin in the skillet and fry for 9 minutes one side and 5 minutes on the other... or until both sides are a crispy, golden brown and no longer pink in the middle.

6. Place on in a tray layered with paper towel to absorb excess oil.

7. Serve with mashed potatoes and creamed corn.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Cookies & Homemade Frosting

What would Christmas be without cookies, right? I think this recipe for Christmas cookies is just as good, if not better, than any cookies you would buy in a bakery. They're not difficult to whip up and they're great for getting the family together to make in the kitchen. You can also make a few dozen, wrap them up in gift boxes and mail them off to family & friends for the holidays! Ho, Ho, Ho!!!

Note: There is a recipe for frosting at the bottom. Again, it's easy to make and go well with these cookies.

Note: I didn't add enough red food coloring to my cookie frosting in the photo below... that's why tend to look a bit orange... or tomato sauce red... but they were still delicious!

Christmas Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together.

2. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract.

3. In another bowl, combined flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add sugar mixture and beat until smooth. (You may need to get your hands in there as it becomes doughy and mix it. It's ok to get a little messy!)

4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

7. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut cookies shapes out. (If you don't have a cookies cutters, I used the rim of a wine glass to cut out circles.)

8. Place the cut out cookies on the baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.

9. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.

10. Allow 15 minutes for cookies to cool before applying frosting & sprinkles.

Recipe For Homemade Christmas Cookie Frosting:

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or peppermint extract
food coloring

In a bowl, stir sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and extract until it becomes glossy. If too thick, add more corn syrup. Mix in food coloring to your likely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cooking Tip #7

Store spices in a cool, dark place. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Although the most convenient place for your spice rack may be above your stove, moving your spices to a different location may keep them fresh longer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curried Cauliflower Rice

I found this wonderful, filling, one-pot, vegetarian recipe in Martha Stewart's little magazine of recipes called Everyday Food, issue 80. I had an extra head of cauliflower that I had to use and some curry in my spice rack and thought I would try something new. I'm glad I did!! This was fantastic! Full of flavor and a big hit in my household. It's also stays well in the refrigerator for a few days and is great as left-overs. I'll be definitely making this again in the near future.

Curried Cauliflower Rice


4 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large head of cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
coarse salt & pepper
1 medium onion, diced small
2 cups of long-grain white rice
5 teaspoons curry powder
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Chicken or Vegetable broth


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high. Add cauliflower and stirring frequently, until browned in spots.

3. Transfer to plate and season with salt & pepper.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and onions to the pot; cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent, 5 minutes.

5. Add rice, curry, and chickpeas and season with salt & pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is coated well, about 2 minutes.

6. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil.

7. Scatter cauliflower over the top (do not stir to combine).

8. Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.

9. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cream Cheese Brownies

This recipe for Cream Cheese Brownies is a total keeper! Yeah, you may have to go to the gym the next day after eating a bunch of them... but they're totally worth it. Trust me! The first batch I ever made I didn't have any pecans or walnuts, but they're so delicious it didn't matter. I made these while performing in an Aida production in Virginia and ended up giving most of them away to the dancers in the show (I figured they all had a faster metabolism than I did and could burn them off faster - they're ridiculously athletic, ya know!) Like a school of piranhas during a feeding frenzy, they devoured these in just a few minutes. I knew right then and there that it wasn't just me, these brownies are crazy good!

Cream Cheese Brownies


* You're going to have two different types of batter in this recipe - your brownie batter and your cream cheese batter. Make separately, then blend right before baking them.

The Brownie Batter

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups self-rising flour

The Cream Cheese Batter

1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 package (8 ounces) of cream cheese, softened.


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a bowl, blend together ingredients for the brownie batter (sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa, and vanilla.) Add flour and mix.

3. In another bowl, blend together ingredients for the cream cheese batter (butter, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, pecans, and flour). Mix well.

4. In a grease 13 x 9 baking dish pour half of the brownie batter in.

5. Next, slowly pour in all of the cream cheese batter in the pan on top of the brownie batter.

6. Pour the rest of the brownie batter in the pan.

7. With a knife, slowly swirl the cream cheese and the brownie batter together. Careful not blend them too well... you want some separation between the two.

8. Add a few pecans on top, place in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cooking Tip #6

How do you tell if an egg is fresh?

Lower uncooked eggs into a bowl of water. If the egg settles horizontally, the egg is fresh enough for human consumption. If it settles vertically, feed it to the dog. If it rises to the top, feed it to the hydrangeas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mighty Meatloaf

This is truly a carnivorous delight and certainly isn't for wimps. Enjoy it with mashed potatoes and brown gravy or a cheesy loaded baked potato. The addition of the pork sausage and bacon strips make this a real favorite for the hungry man... or woman!

The MIGHTY Meatloaf


1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 eggs
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon pasley
5 teaspoons milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 thick strips of bacon
salt & pepper

The Glaze:
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar


1. For the Glaze - in a small pan mix together all the ingredients over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes until thick. Cover and set aside.

2. Saute onions in oil until soft. Stir in minced garlic and saute for a few seconds. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl add all the ingredients, except for the bacon, and mix together well with your hands.

4. Shape meat into a large loaf and lay on a foil-covered baking sheet. Brush with glaze mixture.

5. Broil the meatloaf for 5 minutes. Brush top and sides with the reserved glaze. Lay the 4 strips of bacon across the loaf and broil for 2 more minutes.

6. Brush meatloaf again with the glaze and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350.

7. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.