A Deep Fried Birthday

It’s been way, way too long since sharing a recipe or two on here.

Here’s what’s been going on lately: a family surgery, a bug infestation in the garden that resulted in ripping out my zucchini plant, a malfunctioning coffee maker, my dog ate my favorite undergarments, sleeping in the guest bedroom because of new house construction next door, a re-discovered love of reading, car shopping, bidding Harry Potter farewell, and my husband is a year older!

Yes, from the everyday mundane details to the big events, July is quickly escaping. Before we know it, we’ll be bundled by the fire, ringing in the new year, and wondering where the past one went. It never ceases to amaze me how with each passing year, life continues to whiz by at a faster rate.

It makes me want to seize life, grab it for all it’s worth, and eat fried chicken. This was my husband’s birthday requested dinner this year. Paired with some mashed potatoes and green beans, and with fried green tomatoes, we had a comfort food feast fit for two. Just how we like it.

Garlic Fried Chicken
Recipe adapted from Southern Living Ultimate Quick and Easy Cookbook

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into approximately 3-4 strips each
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Tabasco, to taste
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Cayenne, to taste (I used 1 tsp)
Oil, for frying

1. Cut all chicken into strips. Mix together milk, eggs, and desired amount of Tabasco. I use several dashes. Soak chicken in milk mixture while prepping other ingredients.

2. In a large zip-top bag, mix flour, salt, pepper, and other spices. Shake to mix well.

3. In a 9 inch cast iron skillet placed over medium-high heat, pour in oil until 2/3 full. Allow oil to heat until glistening, slightly bubbling, and a small amount of flour dropped in as a test sizzles well.

4. Move chicken pieces from milk mixture to zip-top bag, seal, and shake to coat well.

5. Working in batches, place about 5-6 pieces of coated chicken into the hot oil, being careful not to splash. Turn occasionally, and cook until golden brown on all sides. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool. Continue until all chicken is cooked. Serve.


All the Rage

Cupcakes are all the rage these days. There’s a cupcake store on nearly every corner with a delicate cake, piled high with frosting, calling your name.

Maybe with nursing I’m in the wrong business. I long to be covered and flour and powdered sugar serving delectables to the public. But, for now, I cook for those I love, the families and friends that make life sweeter.

I made these for a wedding shower not too long ago, and they were a hit! Better than your cupcake store on the corner, you can serve up a little portioned controlled sweet from your oven (unless you eat more than one, which is possible with these!).

Hummingbird Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 3 large bananas)
1 tablespoon clover honey
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup hot water
1 batch of vanilla bean cream cheese icicng (see recipe below)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

2.In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

3.Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add sugar, and cream together until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

4.Add eggs, one at a time, beating slowly after each addition. Add banana and honey and mix on low until well combined. Add pineapple; mix on low until combined. Add 1/2 cup pecans; mix on low until well combined.

5.With the mixer on low, slowly add one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the hot water. Repeat process twice, alternating flour mixture and hot water, and ending with hot water. Mix until just combined.

6.Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cupcakes cool completely.

7. Top with icing and remaining chopped pecans.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe slightly adapted from

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla extract, cream cheese, and vanilla bean seeds in a mixer and mix until well combined and fluffy.

June 23, 2011, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Breads, Food and Recipes, Main Dishes | Tags: , , ,

Last night, in the cooler, but still sweltering humidity, my husband and I did a first. We grilled pizzas.

I thought it would be a perfect time to share these, since July 4th is right around the corner. They were delicious! Once again, weber grill recipes never disappoint, this pizza tasted like it was straight from a brick oven!

Grilled Pizza
Recipe slightly adapted from Weber Grill IPhone App

Dough recipe:
2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 packet dry active yeast
3 tbsp olive oil

Pizza topping ideas:
Tomato sauce
Red pepper flakes
Dried oregano
Shredded mozzarella
Goat cheese
Chopped basil
Canadian bacon
Green bell pepper or roasted red peppers

1. In a large bowl, mix together yeast, sugar, and water. Stir, and allow to sit for 10 minutes until foamy. Add remaining salt, oil, and 2 cups flour. Stir until dough forms. If still slightly wet, add remaining 1/2 cup flour.

2. On a floured surface, knead dough for 5 minutes, or until it becomes smooth. Place in a greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm part of the room for 1 and 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

3. After rising, cut dough into 4 equal pieces. On a piece of parchment, press or roll each piece of dough into an 8 inch round.

4. Preheat your grill, either charcoal or gas. Take dough and grill each piece (without the parchment of course) over direct heat for a few minutes, until browned a crispy. Remove crust, placing grilled side up, onto a baking sheet. Cover with desired toppings (take care not to soak the pizzas with tomato sauce, you don’t want them soggy). Place back onto grill, lid on, and allow to cook a few more minutes for the other side of the dough to get brown and crisp, cheese to melt, and toppings to warm though.

5. Remove, slice, serve.



Fried: So Good
June 17, 2011, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Appetizers, Food and Recipes, Side Dishes | Tags:

Tons of people have been asking me for my fried green tomato recipe lately, so I thought I would share it. These perfectly completement any veggie plate you may be making this summer and taste like something directly out of my grandmother’s kitchen. We had these frequently since my grandmother always had a garden in her backyard, but you can find fried green tomatoes at your farmer’s markets and often at your local grocery store.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler!

Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy of Ganache

Green tomatoes, sliced about 1/3 inch thick
Plain yellow cornmeal
Canola/peanut/vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Place your cast iron skillet over medium high heat and begin heating up your oil. Pour it in so it’s about one inch thick. Slice your tomatoes and place into the cornmeal, pressing the cornmeal onto the moist parts of the tomatoes so the coating adheres. Once the oil is hot, pan fry your tomatoes until golden brown on each side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess grease. Salt immediately while hot and serve while still warm.

June 14, 2011, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Appetizers, Food and Recipes, Main Dishes, Side Dishes | Tags: , ,

The first time I had gazpacho was in Washington, D.C. at Charlie Palmer’s Steakhouse. Until this time, gazpacho had never sounded so appetizing to me. Traditionally served cold, it’s not something that runs to the top of my mind for a main dish. I didn’t relish the thought of cold soup. Until the chef at this restaurant sent out samples to each table. Not served ice cold, but more at a chilled room temperature, this soup embodied summer, full of spice, fresh vegetal flavor, and loaded with cilantro, which is definitely my favorite herb to cook with.

I have not since forgotten that culinary experience. We tried so many new things to eat while overlooking the sunset and the capitol. It was a special moment.

I bought my husband a series of cookbooks for our anniversary, one of them being a new Weber grill cookbook on charcoal grilling. Being the serious grill finatics that we are, we practically own each Weber grill cookbook out there. In this particular cookbook, there it sat, a recipe for a grilled and chilled gazpacho. We are just now getting around to making it a few weeks later, but it was so good and refreshing that I have a feeling we will be making it all summer.

Grilled and Chilled Gazpacho
Slightly adapted from Weber Grill’s Charcoal Grilling cookbook

3 red bell peppers
6 large plum tomatoes
2 medium red onions
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Tabasco sauce
2-4 cups low sodium tomato juice
English cucumber, diced
Olive oil

1. Core tomatoes and sliced in half lengthwise. Remove bell pepper seeds, cutting the bell pepper into about 4 chunks each, saving one slice for garnish. Slice onion into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Brush peppers, onion slices, and tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat for 5 minutes, flipping once, with lid closed as much as possible until all veggies are charred and soft. Remove to a heat proof bowl to cool.

3. In a blender, combine grilled vegetables and tomato juice. Blend until veggies are still slightly chunky. Add basil, a couple dashes of tabasco, amd vinegar. Blend again. Add more tomato juice if not yet soup consistency, or until the consistency you desire is achieved. Taste, adjust any seasonings as needed with salt/pepper/tabasco/vinegar. Place blender carafe into the fridge and chill as long as you have before dinner. Its even good slightly warm.

4. When you are ready to eat, pour soup into a bowl. Garnish with a good amount of diced cucumber, diced fresh red bell pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil.

Revisiting and Reinventing

I’ve been returning to a few older recipes lately, ones that I find myself going to time and time again. We’ve enjoyed these variations; hope you do too!

I took the stuffing from these stuffed pork chops and stuffed some chicken breasts, using local spinach and goat cheese and omitting the cream cheese.

I make roasted broccoli almost once every other week. Sometimes I use lemon pepper alone and if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll throw in a little crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder.

I made these roasted potatoes, but instead of rosemary, I used just season-all. It tasted like French fries (which is never a bad thing).

An oldie but goodie is this caprese salad. It’s not reinvented, but it’s always a sight for sore eyes, and is a good way to use that basil that’s growing by the bundles now.

With persian chicken, we used boneless akinless chicken tenders, eliminating the need for skewers.

Going Local

The past few weeks, I have been hitting up the farmer’s market something ridiculous. All the fresh vegetables, fruits, and local organic meats have me fired up for cooking.

Reasons you should do this too:

1. It’s cheaper, my grocery budget dropped by nearly 100 bucks this past month.

2. You support local farmers and local economy. For some, it’s a way of life.

3. It’s healthy, you can buy what’s in season, know it’s fresh, and cook it within the week. Know your farmer, know your food.

4. It stretches you out of your comfort zone. We’ve found that we have cooked more varied, satisfying meals lately.

Here’s a little something to get you inspired:

Heirloom Tomato Salad
Recipe courtesy of Ganache

2 Heirloom Tomatoes (you choose the variety)
1 pack feta cheese (I used some from this guy)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 bunch of basil

Roughly chop tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, slightly more oil than vinegar. Toss, serve with crusty bread.

Pictured here with Lake’s Farm catfish, local kale and broccoli from Whitton Farms.