Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

A Southern classic, shrimp and grits seems to be on the menu at most restaurants in the south, especially if there is a fresh supply of seafood just down the street!  I have loved this dish for many years but was always intimidated to try to serve it as I wasn't equipped with a really good recipe.  That was until I had a holiday lunch at Sallie Norton's house a couple of years ago.  She made this delicious dish and I was hooked!  I made it for my family at Sunday dinner soon after that and ever since it has been our go-to recipe whenever we have a craving for shrimp and grits.  After trying my Aunt Jean's tomato grits, I thought it would be delicious to combine the two so while we were on Amelia Island I decided to try a little experiment.  I made the tomato grits but used extra sharp white cheddar cheese and then followed this recipe for the shrimp.  It was a lovely combination and everyone seemed rather pleased with the outcome!

Shrimp and Grits

2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
3/4 cup hall-and-hall
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup regular grits
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 bacon slices
1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all·purpose flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves. minced
1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free
chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.  

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving I tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.  Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour.  

Saute mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and saute 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and garlic, and saute 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. 
Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, 
stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.  

Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. 
Top with crumbled bacon; serve with lemon wedge

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

704 North 12th

When I think back on the house in which I grew up I feel as if I am recalling a relative, a member of the family, for my childhood home was just that, an extension of the family, a part of my self.  It was not simply bricks and mortar that made 4025 Sunnybrook Drive a home, it was the love, joy, laughter and tears that were shared in that house that bring tears to my eyes to this day.  I think of all the Christmas mornings I woke up to try and catch Santa coming down the chimney, I think of when it was really cold and my parents would let my brother, Allen, and me make a pillow bed on the floor of the room we shared while Mom and Dad would hang a huge blanket over the windows to keep all the cold air out.  I am flooded with the memories of catching lightning bugs in the back yard, playing home run derby with our neighbors down the street until the glow of the street light called us home, and sledding down the hill that seemed a secret shared only with our neighbors and a few select friends.  I could go on forever about my cherished memories of my childhood home, but what I remember most are the times spent on the back porch.  We celebrated milestones, we mourned the loss of loved ones, we rang in the new millennium with friends, we stayed up until all hours of the night solving the problems of the world and we would watch a thunderstorm roll through under the safe overhang of the house, all of this we did from the confines of a porch simple in its architecture, yet sacred in all that it was.

For as long as I can remember my mom has told me stories about her childhood home.  She simply referred to it as "704".  Though the times were quite different, for she had 3 generations living under one roof, the theme of joy, laughter, family and friends all remain the same.  When mom speaks of this house it is as if she is taken back in time by the memories that engulf her mind and bring a smile to her face.  Much like the house in which I grew up, "704" is a part of my mother.  When I moved into my grandmothers house I came across a brick that had a small label on which was written in my grandmother's most recognizable handwriting "704 North 12th Street".  After finding this, I had an idea!  I thought it would be a special gift for my mother to needlepoint a brick cover for this brick that simply read "704".  So that is what I did!

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Tracy's Zucchini Bread

When you come home from vacation to not only find a plethora of cucumbers growing in the garden but also two (yes, count them TWO) six pound zucchinis your mind quickly goes to the kitchen! With the cucumbers resting peacefully for two weeks in their jars, properly pickled, my mind moved on to the 12 pounds of zucchini I had in my refrigerator. I decided I would use one of them to make a huge batch of zucchini bread. Recently my friend, Tracy, brought me a loaf of her zucchini bread and I knew immediately I had probably tasted the best version of this classic yet! I have made and tasted some really great zucchini breads in the past, but this beat them all!!! As gracious as always, Tracy quickly brought me the recipe and that is what I used for this enormous batch of bread. Fifteen loaves later (and that didn't even use up all the zucchini I had) my kitchen was a disaster and I was exhausted, defeated by the enormous squash with the spoils of war safely tucked in my freezer....I was off to bed!
After taking almost an hour to get the zucchini properly seeded (which I don't typically do when making zucchini bread but these seeds were the size of pumpkin seeds) and shredded the game was on! The kitchen was covered in flour, loaf pans were everywhere, the dogs were watching me in disbelief and pandora was playing loudly on my was perfect!

Tracy's Zucchini Bread

2-3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking power
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (can use ½ oil, ½ apple sauce)
2 ¼ cups sugar (can reduce to 2 cups and split 1 cup white, 1 cup brown)
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups grated zucchini (can use as much as 3-4 cups, just increase flour a little)
1 cup nuts, optional

Grease and flour 2 8x4 pans (or divide among mini loaf pans - fill halfway). I always like to coat the pan in butter and them cover that in a very thin layer of flour but you can certainly use cooking spray as well!

Sift flour & salt, baking powder, baking soda, & cinnamon together in bowl. 

Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, & sugar together in another bowl. 

Add sifted ingredients to creamed mixture and beat well. 
Stir in zucchini and nuts until combined. 

Pour in pans. 
Bakes at 325 degrees 40-60 minutes (20-25 minutes if using mini loaf pans).  

Note: This totally depends on the oven because I baked the large loaves at 400 degrees for 1 hour and the small loaves for 3o minutes and it was perfect so this can be adjusted depending on your oven.  If you are unsure just keep an eye on them.  If you pull them out of the oven and they begin to sink in the middle they are NOT done!  Put them back in until they are done.

Cool 20 minutes & remove from pan completely cool. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Jenny's Creamed Spinach

Over vacation we did a whole bunch of cooking in which I loved!  Wednesday night I thought it would be fun to cook shrimp and grits (YUM) but we needed a vaggie to go with the meal.  We already had a green salad so we wanted something else that wasn't too heavy but would go well with the meal.  Maggie suggested that her sister, Jenny, make her creamed spinach.  Coming from someone who isn't typically fond of cooked spinach unless it is with artichokes in a dip you serve with chips, I found myself in love with this new dish!  Next time you are looking for a veggie side to take to a potluck or just for a meal at home you should try this.  It was easy, delicious and the first time in my life I wanted seconds on creamed spinach!!

Jenny's Creamed Spinach

2 packages of frozen spinach
1 package cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

Note from Jenny: Ingredient quantities listed are for 4-6 servings. I usually cook this in a meatloaf dish. The 9x12 casserole dish pictured is 4x the quantities listed. Great dish - whether for a family of 4 or a family of 15!!

Thaw spinach and drain well.  
Use a towel to get all of the moisture out of the spinach.  Combine cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spinach and mix thoroughly.   Spread into a casserole dish.  Bake in oven at 350 degrees until heated through.  Top with additional shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.
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The Surf

One of our favorite places in Amelia Island to go for lunch is the Surf.  It has the laid back beach feel that welcomes anyone wearing anything from a golf shirt and khakis to a bathing suit and cover-up.  The food is your typical beach fair but always hits the spot!  Beer served out of a can or in a plastic cup, this is seriously my kind of place!
Fried Aligator
Fried cheese sticks...
Fried oysters (are you getting the point yet?)...
Blackened grouper...
Oh, the basic BLT....
Fried fish platter........
And then we napped!
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spaghetti Sauce and Noodles

For the past few weeks I have been craving Italian food of any type!  Just a good bowl of spaghetti sauce and noodles sounded like the only thing I wanted for dinner so that is what I made tonight!  My dad has always made my favorite spaghetti sauce and it seems that the way I make it is just the same as he has for years, with just a few little twists!  If you want your basic meat sauce to fulfill your craving for a home cooked meal, it doesn't get much easier, and more delicious, than this!  Love you Daddy and thank you for teaching me so much of what I have learned through the years in the kitchen!

Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 package hot (or mild) sausage
1 large onion, diced
 green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
2 (29 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (with the basil, garlic and oregano included)
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup red wine
1 package fresh sliced mushrooms

 In a large pot, saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Add ground beef (or turkey) and sausage.   Stir frequently until meat is cooked through.   Once the meat is done, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, mushrooms and tomato paste.  At this point, season away!!!  

Typically anything with tomatoes requires quite a bit of salt (don't get crazy but add enough to flavor enough) just remember, you can always add more, but cannot take it away.  I generally use around a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of pepper.  Add Italian seasoning to taste along with a little more oregano and garlic powder.  Now for what I think is the absolute secret to a good spaghetti sauce, a little red wine and a tablespoon of sugar!  

Stir everything together and simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving.  

Serve over any type of noodles you prefer...I like to be able to stick a fork in my pasta so I really like such pastas as bowtie and penne pasta.  And of course you absolutely MUST serve this with cheesy garlic bread.  Enjoy!!!

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Hot and Spicy Pickles

With the copious amounts of cucumbers, Maggie and I decided that we would also try to make some hot and spicy pickles to go with the sweet and spicy pickles I made a few weeks ago and the dill pickles we made today. I think the hardest part of making these is not actually trying one before they are ready....which takes TWO WEEKS!!! It was a fun process and turned out looking beautiful and I have no doubt they will also be delicious as well.

Hot and Spicy Pickles

Canning jars
30 -40 medium pickling cucumbers
4 cups vinegar
3 quarts water
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh dill
1 garlic, bulb whole cloves and some chopped 
3/4 cup kosher salt or 3/4 cup sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons peppercorns
red dried hot chili peppers
1 tablespoon pickling spices
crushed red pepper flakes

Clean cucumbers in cold water. Place water, vinegar, sugar, salt in large pot. 
Place sprigs of dill (stems and all) and pickling spices in cheesecloth. 

Knot the cheesecloth and place in pot with the rest of ingredients. 

Bring to a boil to make a brine solution. Place a few peppercorns, few garlic cloves or chopped garlic, 1/8 teaspoons Alum, a couple dried whole chile peppers in each empty canning jar that is going to be used. 

If you desire hotter pickles, add optional 1 - 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes to each jar. Then place pickles in jar and fill with brine solution. Can for 8 minutes in water bath. 

COOL JARS VERY QUICKLY. Pickles are ready to eat in about 2 weeks. Enjoy!
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Pepper Jelly

A few years ago when I lived in Atlanta, I came home to find my roommate, Will, making pepper jelly.  Since then I have loved any kind of pepper jelly especially served over cream cheese!!  With a plethora of jalapeno peppers coming from the garden, I thought it was time to make some pepper jelly with my own peppers!!!

Homemade Pepper Jelly
2 chopped red bell pepper
6 chopped fresh hot green pepper, such as jalapeno or serrano
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
4 ounces pectin (recommended: Certo)
6 (1/2-pint) canning jars with lids

Process bell pepper and hot pepper in a food processor until finely minced.  Combine pepper mixture, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Add pectin and boil for one minute (it is important that you time this as you don't want to boil it too long and break down the pectin but you do need to boil it long enough to activate the pectin).

Pour into sterilized jars and seal by processing in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Serve over cream cheese with crackers.  
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Dill Pickles

After over a week away in Florida on family vacation, Maggie and I both came home to our gardens overrun with cucumbers! With 37 cucumbers between the two of us we knew what we had to do, we had to make some pickles!! We decided to make a couple different types but here is how we made some dill pickles!

Homemade Dill Pickles
Jars with lids & rings
fresh dil, heads & several inches of stems shaken free of bugs
cucumbers, washed, scrubbed
1 garlic cloves ( or more)

8 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup pickling salt

Wash jars in hot, soapy water (or dishwasher), rinse and fill with hot water; set aside.  Fill canning kettle half-full with hottest tap water; set on burner over high heat.  

In a medium saucepan, fit lids and rings together, cover with water, bring to a simmer.In a large saucepan, bring water, vinegar and salt to boil; turn off the heat; set aside.

Fill the jars: place a layer of dill at the bottom of each jar, along with one garlic clove (if used)

Tightly load the cukes into the jar to the neck of the jar (depending on size you may get two nice layers with a few small cukes in the top)---squeeze cukes into the jar tightly--uniform size helps; add a few tiny spriglets of dill at the top, too, and another garlic clove if desired.

Once jars are loaded, pour in the brine leaving half-inch head space in each jar.

Add lid and ring to each jar, tightening evenly. Place jars into canner with water just to the necks of the jars. Bring water almost to a boil (about 15 minutes--depending on how fast it heats up). Remove jars, set on a dish towel on the kitchen counter, cover with another dish towel & let cool. Check for seal (indented lid), label jars or lids, store in cool dark cellar or cupboard.  Best if you let them sit for two weeks before eating!

Notes: When washing/scrubbing cukes, sort them into piles by size. This really helps make your jars look nicer, if you have uniform sizes (and this impresses the judges too!). And makes for easier packing, too.
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Friday, July 22, 2011


After a photo session with the whole "Fam-Damly" on Amelia Island, we ended our evening at the beach side restaurant, Slidders.  What a fun evening it was!  The service was fantastic, even able to easily accommodate our large group of 13 people without hesitation.  With a large menu including fresh oysters on the half shell, crab cakes, fried shrimp, blackened grouper and even your basic favorite burger, everyone is bound to find something they like. After dinner the girls went to play on the beach, Emory slept (kind of) in his stroller and we all sat enjoying the good company, the live music and a great meal!



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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Falcon's Nest

 Another great meal on Amelia Island! Tonight we landed at the Falcon's Nest, a great restaurant and bar with  neighborhood feel, friendly service and both indoor and outdoor seating!  Nicely nestled on the Plantation, Falcon's Nest offers a laid back, casual dining experience that promises a lively bar atmosphere after the grill closes when the patrons come more for the spirits than the wings!

Paige wanted to give the Fish and Chips bunny ears in one picture! 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cucumber Ranch Dressing

This is a shout out to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Katie B.  When we were little we spent a great majority of our days together, whether it be playing German Spotlight in her neighborhood, babysitting 6 kids together while we were at the ripe old age of 12, or spending our days jumping on a trampoline for hours, we were pretty much inseparable!  When exhaustion would head home to some sort of healthy snack her mother, Kathy, had waiting for us.  No matter what it was, Katie always seemed to add Creamy Cucumber Ranch dressing.  I have recently been in search of anything I can make with a cucumber as they have taken over my garden!  When I came across this recipe I immediately thought of Katie and knew I absolutely had to make it!

Cucumber Ranch Dressing
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 
grated on the large holes of a box grater 
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped 
3/4 cup sour cream 
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk 
1/4 cup mayonnaise 
3 1/2 tablespoons (about 1 lemon) fresh lemon juice 
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt 
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 
3 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped 

Stir together cucumber, shallot, sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, cayenne, parsley, and chives in a medium bowl. Season with additional salt and cayenne, if desired.

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Rachel Ray's Tomato, Onion and Cucumber Salad

This is a recipe I found from Rachel Ray that proved to be a fantastic, light, refreshing way to use up some of the abundant vegetables that came from my garden.  If you are looking for a way to add some fresh veggies to your meal and want something that everyone will love you should definitely try this!!!

Tomato, Onion and Cucumber Salad
5 medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced 
1/4 red onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced 
1 Kirby cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 
A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, 
about 2 tablespoons 2 splashes red wine vinegar 
Coarse salt and black pepper 

Dress the tomatoes, onions, and cucumber with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.  
Let stand while you prepare dinner, about 20 minutes. 
Re-toss and serve salad with crusty bread for mopping up juices and oil.  
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Mary Burns' Egg Salad

In my humble opinion, there is not a cook in the South let alone in the country who makes a more delicious egg salad than Mary Burns.  It was always a treat when I would go to my parents office for lunch to find that Mary had made my favorite, her egg salad.  It is exactly what egg salad should be, simple as that!  Lacking all pretension, this is an absolute MUST for lunch time in the summer!

Mary Burns' Egg Salad
Eggs - Boil, of course - chopped and let cool (if you add a tablespoon of vinegar to the boiling water it makes peeling the hard boiled eggs easier)
White Onion - chopped to your desire, usually fine
Hellman's Mayo - until creamy
McCormick's Celery Seed - add very small amounts (dashes) at a time.  (Small container will last a long time and is located in the spice section.)
Salt & Pepper

Note from Mary: I like for the guests to know I do not use much salt.  
They can always add to their liking. 

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Linguine with Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage

This is one of those recipes I only allow myself to make once, maybe twice, a year as it does not rate high on the list of healthy dinners, but regardless it is a family favorite.  One that we typically have on vacation. A combination of several recipes, I have basically gone through and simply added all the ingredients I love and poured them all over pasta!  This is perfect for a large crowd as it feeds a bunch of people while not breaking the bank to do so.  It is also a recipe to which ingredients can be added just as easily as they can be removed so feel free to make it you own and add what you like.  I thought the next time I make this I might add some sundried tomatoes....the possibilities are endless!!

Linguine with Shrimp, Chicken and Sausage

1 1/2 pounds cooked fresh shrimp, shelled and deveined
I package Cajun style andouille sausage, cubed
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
sliced mushrooms
1/4-1/2 cup sherry
8 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole shallot, minced
1 onion, diced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 (16 ounce) package linguini pasta

Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions.  While linguine is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet. Add garlic, shallot and onion; saute briefly to release flavor. Add cream; heat just to boiling, stirring frequently. Add parsley, thyme, sherry and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and continue to stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate skillet, cook sausage until brown.  

Remove sausage to drain and to the drippings add the chicken.  Cook until done.  While the chicken is still cooking, add the sliced mushrooms (at this point you may need to add another tablespoon of butter).  

Once the chicken is cooked through add the chicken, mushrooms and sausage to the sauce mixture.  Finally, cook the shrimp in the same skillet in which the sausage, chicken and mushrooms were cooked.  Do not overcook the shrimp.  

Add shrimp to sauce mixture.  Lower heat, and stir in parsley, and thyme. Continue cooking until shrimp are just heated through. Do not overcook shrimp! 

Remove sauce from heat.  Drain the pasta, and toss lightly with the sauce. Toss again with cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh basil. 

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Gruyère Scalloped Potatoes

I think I have finally found the easiest, most delicious scalloped potatoes recipe!  We made these the other night to go with the grilled pork tenderloin and they were incredible!  I think the trick is using the right kind of potatoes and good Gruyère cheese!

Easy Scalloped Potatoes

Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Layer potatoes in a 13- x 9-inch or 3-qt. baking dish.  

Stir together cream and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour cream mixture over potatoes.  Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. 

Let stand on a wire rack 10 minutes before serving.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Salad and more importantly Hellman's Mayonnaise

There are some things in this world that I just don't feel too strongly about.  Nice cars are fine, but lets be honest, I don't need a car that can go 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds and really couldn't care less about horsepower, V8 engines or chrome trim.  Fancy gadgets are fun to play with but I tend to drop then before I get the full use of such novelties.  Gourmet coffee, caviar or sparkling bottled water are great for some people but they just really don't peak my interests.  There is one thing, when it come to the kitchen, that I am most adamant about and that, my friends, is Hellman's mayonnaise.  I have tried everything from Miracle Whip to Dukes to homemade mayonnaise and I am here to tell you that any Southern classic ranging from chicken salad, pimento cheese, deviled eggs to egg salad are all made better when made with Hellman's Mayonnaise.  Perhaps it is because I was raised on Hellman's or just maybe it is because it is truly the best!  With that said, there are two things that are important to remember when making homemade chicken salad: 1) the key is in how you cook the chicken and 2) always use Hellman's Mayonnaise!

For a time, especially in college, when I would go visit friends across the great state of Georgia I would search out new and old cookbooks, always looking first to see their recipe for chicken salad.  There are so many varieties and so many different ingredients that can be added but for your traditional chicken salad, here is what I have found works best!

Chicken Salad
4 chicken breast, bone-in, skin on
Celery, divided
Onion, quartered
Carrots, coarsely chopped
lemon pepper
bay leaves
garlic powder
Lawry's Season Salt
Chicken Bouillon cube
Hellman's mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
juice of half of a lemon

In a large pot, cover chicken breasts in water.  Cut the leafy tops off the celery and add to the water.  Add onions, carrots, lemon pepper, bay leaves, garlic powder, season salt, peppercorns and bouillon cube.  I typically don't measure the amounts of the spices but if you feel you need amounts I would do 2 tablespoons of each spice and 2 bay leaves.  Bring everything to a rolling boil and cook that way for 30 to 40 minutes or until the chicken is done.  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chicken to stand in the broth for at least another 30 minutes to prevent the chicken from drying out.  

Remove the chicken from the bone and shred or chop to the size which you prefer.  Some people like their chicken salad chunkier than others.  Add mayonnaise to desired consistency.  Add sugar and lemon juice.  At this point you can add sliced grapes, walnuts, sliced granny smith apples, and/or celery.  I typically only add diced celery but that is a personal preference.

Salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the refrigerator over night and serve any way you like it!!

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin

A couple of weeks ago my best friend's aunt, Lori Canale, had us out to her house on the Harpeth River for dinner.  It was the most delightful visit!  Entertained by Lori and her husband Dan, who both admit they "fight for air time", we laughed, drank, ate, laughed some more and drank a little more too!  The meal they prepared was divine and I just knew I had to do a blog post on the pork tenderloin.  I typically don't think to cook pork very often as I find it sometimes bland and dry but this was one of those recipes that made me want to find more like it to introduce more of the "other white meat" into my diet.

I thought I would make it for our first night of vacation.  Our dear friends, Sean and Candace, came to dinner with their adorable son, Dylan (aka Emory's new BFF).  It has become a fun tradition that every summer when we come to Amelia Island for vacation, Sean and Candace come have dinner with us. Friends from college, they are truly special people to our family.  

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with a Dry Rub

1 (4 pound) boneless pork top loin roast (single loin)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Place boneless pork loin on large cutting board or platter; brush oil over all sides. Set aside. Meanwhile, stir together dry rub seasoning (I doubled the rub recipe as I thought it needed more but that is a personal decision). Rub over pork to cover.

Prepare charcoal grill to cook over direct and indirect heat. Place pork loin over medium-hot coals (direct heat) or on medium-hot (about 400 degrees F.) gas grill. Cook for 10 minutes on each side to brown. 

Move pork to area on grill over indirect heat.

Cook, covered for 70-90 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. On gas grill, move pork to one side of grill; turn off the gas directly under the pork. Leave the rest of the grill on medium heat. Cook, covered for 70 to 90 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with your favorite sauce.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Reunion

With the sweet arrival of summer comes the picturesque family gatherings.  For more than 20 years my family has gathered for the great, ever-growing, Allen Family Reunion.  As the oldest of 7 children, my grandfather, Pa, had a bond with his siblings that filtered down throughout each family.  They raised their babies together, they sent the cousins off to camp together, they celebrated milestones, they mourned the death of family members but through it all they loved each other.  This undying devotion and eternal sibling love is what has kept this tradition alive.  Two years ago, when I moved into my grandmother's house, I made her a promise that as long as I lived in her house I would continue to host the Allen Family Reunion as she had done for so many years before.  Here are a few old pictures I have found of the Allen family through the years...


As most backyard BBQ's go everyone brought a little something whether it was a side dish, a dessert or an appetizer.  Here is a glimpse into some of the dishes that were made, the fun that was had and the beauty that is generations of my family coming together once more to remember those who have gone before us, appreciate those we still have and love the promise possessed by the newest generation!

Cucumber Salsa
2 medium cucumbers - peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12 ounce) package tortilla chips

In a medium bowl, stir together the cucumbers, tomatoes, green pepper, jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, dill, and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Marinated Mushrooms 
(Louise Corcoran December 25, 1983)
1 package large mushrooms
Good Season’s Zesty Italian dressing (made by directions on the packet)
Add ¼ cup vinegar (extra)
1 sliced onion

Marinate overnight.

Annie sure does love Richard!

See!  Brothers can play nice!

Amanda's Corn and Tomato Salad
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
1 cup full-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon each dried dill, oregano, and garlic
juice 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

Mix everything together. Taste. The dressing might taste a bit more muted than you want, but beware of adding too much more seasoning. As Cookiecrumb said, let it burgeon.  Allow the dressing to sit for a day. Taste. Cut corn from 4 corn cobs and cut up some tomatoes. If you have some purple basil that can be sliced (about a cup or so) and added. Add salt and pepper and as much dressing as needed to coat.
Shoepeg Corn Salad (Lee Gordon)
2 cans shoepeg corn
6 scallions, chopped
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients and let sit overnight before serving cold.

Eddie's Corn Cakes
Pat's Homemade BBQ
That is one good lookin' kid!
Jessica's Broccoli Salad
2 bunches of broccoli - cut into small pieces
1 med. red onion, minced
1/2 cup raisins or craisins ( or a mix of the two)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
8 - 10 cooked bacon slices - crumbled

Dressing - sometimes I add a little more to each ingredients to make a little more dressing
1 1/4 cup mayo 
1/2 cup sugar
 2 tablespoons cider vinegar  

Whisk mayo, sugar, & vinegar then pour over the other stuff, mix gently, cover & try to refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Serves 6 - 8

Aunt Jean's Slaw
1 medium head cabbage, shredded
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin

Bring to a boil:
1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1-Tablespoon mustard (dry or prepared)
1 Tablespoon celery seed
Add: ½ cup Mazola oil
Bring to boil again. Dribble over cabbage. Press down.
Let stand overnight. Keep stored in refrigerator.
And now it is time for the desserts....

A family favorite has always been when Jim brings out the watermelon!  For years we would have a contest to see who could spit the seeds the farthest.  I must say, my grandfather always seemed to think there was no point in a seedless watermelon as that would take out all the fun!

No-Bake Black Bottom Pudding Pie
Brought by Amanda Allen, recipe found at
for the crust:
4 sheets graham crackers, smashed
2 T butter, melted
1 T powdered sugar
for the ganache layer:
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 pint cream
for the filling:
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
2 pints cream (not half n' half...use heavy whipping cream!)
cocoa to finish

Mix together the graham crackers crumbs, powdered sugar and melted butter with your fingers and press into a glass pie plate (or 9-inch casserole pan).  Freeze two hours or overnight until hard.
Next, make the ganache. Place chocolate chips in a bowl and bring the cream to a simmer on the stove (watch it so it doesn't scorch!). Pour cream over chocolate and mix well until smooth. Pour onto frozen crust and place back in the freezer for two more hours.
To make the filling, beat together the cream and instant pudding on high until stiff peaks form. Smooth onto chocolate layer of pie. Freeze until hard (about an hour).
Right before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Aunt Jean's Lemon Chess Bars
1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix together.  Pat in bottom of 13x9x2” pan, lightly greased.

           Mix together with mixer:
          1 –8 oz. package cream cheese
          3 eggs
          1 tablespoon lemon juice
          1 box powdered sugar

Pour over top of dough.  Bake 350 for 38 to 40 minutes.   
Don’t overbake.  Cut in squares.  Freezes well.

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