What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine

One of the skills I’m learning in culinary school is how to fabricate meats. What once was a very intimidating process, is now a proficient experience. I can honestly say I’m comfortable with butchering a whole chicken! Continue reading “What to Cook This Week: Italian Chicken in Red Wine”

Advertisements

Breakfast Just Got Better

Sometimes all it takes to inspire change is trying something new. I went grocery shopping this week and bought some light English muffins. I never buy English muffins, always whole wheat bread or occasionally even small bagels, but never English muffins. That changes now! The spongy, holey dough is truly a vehicle for any topping you can imagine. Crispy when toasted, English muffins have officially breathed life into my breakfast routine. Suddenly I find myself mashing avocado, slicing tomatoes and poaching eggs (trying to poach eggs, I should say. I tried and failed, but hey – the point is, I am inspired to try.)  Continue reading “Breakfast Just Got Better”

Say Cheers with Irish Mojitos

I’ve got a refreshing cocktail for y’all just in time to say cheers on St. Patrick’s Day: an Irish Mojito! Bright and a little on the dangerous side (because you can’t taste the alcohol), the Creme De Menthe gives this cocktail a minty flavor and a festive pop of green color. It’s fruity and just the kind of thing I love to sip on while watching the parade go by in the 80 degree Savannah, Georgia “spring” weather. Continue reading “Say Cheers with Irish Mojitos”

Your Go-To Guacamole Recipe

0204161804.jpg
Guacamole is a mixture of avocado, onion, tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno.

Full disclosure: The first time I set out to make guacamole, I had no idea my avocados needed to be ripe. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I got home from the grocery store with all my ingredients, and sliced open my hard-as-a-brick, bright green avocados. Much to my dismay, the avocados needed a few more days to become soft and able to mash. Fast forward to today, and guacamole is one of my favorite appetizers to make. Continue reading “Your Go-To Guacamole Recipe”

Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

0104161942b.jpg
Have you ever been in a ground beef rut? I found myself there recently when the ultimate question came up: What’s for dinner? In my mind, I thought through all my usual go-to recipes to possibly make my 1-pound package of ground beef shine – Penne casserole, spaghetti, stir-fry, hamburgers. None of those whet my whistle. I wanted something more. So, I took stock of my kitchen. Beef broth, check. Onion, garlic, check. Carrots, check. I knew where this was going. The true kicker? I had an unfinished can of tomato paste on the top shelf of my ‘fridge. Suddenly it was clear – Hamburger Soup!

All over the Southeast this winter, it’s been unusually warm. Soup made perfect sense on the first January day temperatures reached the 30’s. With a nice chill in the air, I set about chopping vegetables. I’ll be the first to tell you, I live to use my food processor – I do love a shortcut! But, there are times when nothing can replace the relaxing notion of knife-to-cutting-board. Exhibit A.

0104161835.jpg
Exhibit A: Diced tri-color bell peppers and carrots wait patiently for their moment in the sun.

As easy as it is, this recipe requires a good deal of chopping. With red potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, celery, onions and garlic, it’s hearty and satisfying.

0104161835a.jpg
Step 1.

Brown the ground beef with celery, garlic and onion. I used lean ground beef, so there was very little fat to drain. If you’re using a ground chuck with more fat, such as 80/20, it’s very important to drain the meat before moving on. The very act of using a wooden spoon and a big stock pot together gets me excited.

0104161837.jpg
Step 2.

Look how colorful and pretty this soup becomes! Toss in all your remaining chopped vegetables – the bell pepper and carrots, then add a can of whole tomatoes including the juice. Use the wooden spoon to crush everything up.

0104161842.jpg
Step 3.

Next up: Herbs and seasonings! Fresh parsley and thyme add a fragrant and bright note. I also threw in some dried oregano and a few bay leaves. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper for extra kick! The house really begins to smell scrumptious at this point.

0104161846.jpg
Step 4.

Add in the potatoes ( I almost forgot them!), then cover everything with beef stock. You’ll need about three cups to start, and more if you like it real soupy. You can also use water if you don’t have enough beef stock to go around. I used 2 cups beef stock and 1 cup of water. Add in the tomato paste to help the soup thicken up.


This is the moment I felt like Remy from my favorite Disney movie, Ratatouille. A little of this, a little of that…give it a good stir!

0104161937.jpg
Step 5: Serve and EAT!

Bring the soup to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the flavors have married. The warm beef stock coupled with the soft vegetables and flavorful ground beef are the ultimate comfort.

0104161942b.jpg
Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

Garnish with parsley and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread, or in my case, leftover Red Lobster biscuits. Dig in!

Recipe Recap
I took a page out of The Pioneer Woman’s book for this recipe! I used mostly fresh herbs and less ground beef, because it’s what I had on hand. Thanks, Ree!

Hamburger Soup

  • 1 pound Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (14.5 Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 3 cups Beef Stock, Plus More As Needed
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 2 whole Carrots, Peeled And Sliced On The Diagonal
  • 5 whole Red Potatoes, Cut Into Chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion, celery, and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off as much fat as you can. (Discard the fat once it cools.)

Return the pot to the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover the pot and simmer the soup for 20-30 more minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. Enjoy!

On the Menu: Luck, Prosperity & A Little Hoppin’ John

Pork chops, jalapeno corn bread, collard greens and hoppin' John make a fine meal to kick off the New Year.
Feelin’ lucky? Pork chops, jalapeno corn bread, collard greens and Hoppin’ John make one fine meal to kick off the New Year.

New Year’s Day is here, and every good Southerner knows what that means: It’s time to cook up a hearty meal that echoes the good vibes a brand new year can bring: luck, prosperity and cash flow.

Continue reading “On the Menu: Luck, Prosperity & A Little Hoppin’ John”

Three Thanksgiving Side Dishes For Your Family Table

With the biggest food holiday of the year just days away, I’ve got three side dishes to enliven your family feast. Each recipe offers something unique: 1) a family tradition, 2) a restaurant-inspired side dish and 3) an original. From sweet to savory, I’ve got you covered! Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving at home or traveling, cook up one of these Southern sides, and you’ll have everyone chowing down with gratitude. Continue reading “Three Thanksgiving Side Dishes For Your Family Table”

“Nacho” Ordinary Appetizer

Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub
Tater Tot Nachos Inspired by St. James Gate Irish Pub

Leave it to an Irish Pub to re-purpose a potato dish. A recent visit to St. James Gate Irish Pub on Folly Beach introduced us to Tater Tot “Nachos.”  What a concept! Who wouldn’t love crispy potatoes topped with good ol’ cheddar cheese, chili and jalapenos? Easy enough to recreate at home, the appetizer left us completely satisfied and reminiscing about our middle school days (Read: carrying our lunch trays through the cafeteria on tater tot day negotiating trades).

Move over tortilla chip, there’s a new nacho vehicle in town!

Paired with a couple good cocktails–a hearty Guinness for my man, and a local ginger bourbon + honey basil libation for me –the nightcap was a surprisingly better alternative to our initial desire for dessert. The waiter had us at “Our special tonight is Tater Tot Nachos…”

Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!
Get the recipe for my Beer Can Chili right here on the blog!

Just a few days after our visit, I came across a half bag of frozen tater tots in the freezer at home, just begging to be cooked. As fate would have it, I had some of my leftover Beer Can Chili in the fridge too, as is accustom this time of year. In no time at all, I was serving up “nacho” ordinary appetizer. HA!

Next time you have friends over, or if you’re just in the mood for a good snack, break out this recipe. With little effort and a Some Kinda Good return on your investment, you’ve got nothing to lose!

For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.
For a rustic approach, I served them fresh from the oven on the baking sheet in which they were cooked.

Tater Tot Nachos

  • 1/2 Bag of Frozen Tater Tots
  • 1 cup or more to taste of Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Pepper jack is great too! Combine them for fun!)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • Pickled or fresh Jalapenos to taste
  • Leftover Chili
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt
  • Other desired nacho toppings

Bake tater tots according to package directions (I like mine extra crispy for the perfect crunch). Add about a teaspoon of salt (or more to taste) as soon as the tater tots come out of the oven. Top evenly with diced onion, leftover chili and cheese, then pop the tater tots back in the oven until cheese is hot and bubbly (about 5 minutes). Once cheese is melted, take them out of the oven and add desired toppings. I like sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley to liven things up and a few jarred jalapenos to keep things spicy. Enjoy!

Seafood Marshside with Local Beer to Boot

Bowens Island Restaurant

Bowens Island Restaurant 
Charleston, South Carolina

In my short six months as a Charlestonian, I’ve learned one very accommodating notion about the food scene: The Holy City offers a dining experience for every frame of mind. Without a doubt, diners will find their every hearts’ desire–Want high-end fare, served with keen attention to detail on white tablecloths to the tune of jazz music? How about brunch in a funky roadside dive or on the porch of a historic Victorian home-turned-culinary delight? Maybe it’s serenity you seek in the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry–a place where you can gaze upon the marshlands while sinking your teeth into the ocean’s bounty. Chucktown has it all.

While hand-crafted cocktails and perfectly plated entrées are a luxury, sometimes just the taste of crunchy fried shrimp or a good hush-puppy dunked in cocktail sauce and chased by a cold glass of sweet tea does the trick. On a warm Friday night recently, I found such a place: Bowens Island Restaurant. Down home and casual as can be, you’d never know it existed (the restaurant has no website or Facebook page) unless you had a little insider insight.

The view as you walk up the ramp to go inside the restaurant.
The view as you walk up the ramp entrance to the Bowens Island Restaurant.

Just as traffic breaks free on the way out to Folly Beach, visitors will notice a large spray painted sign which points the way down a washed out dirt road to 1870 Bowens Island Rd. Take this road slowly, not just to avoid a flat tire, but because you won’t want to miss the glorious mansions on each side of the road, flanked by shade trees and grandiose Southern porches.

Guests stand in line to place their orders.
Guests stand in line to place their orders.

You’ll stand in line to place your order. It can be a long line, because people are willing to wait for good food. I met some friends there around 7 p.m. on a weekend, and we waited about 10-15 minutes.

A boater passes by the docks at Bowens Island Restaurant.
A boater passes by the docks at Bowens Island Restaurant.

Views of boats motoring up to the docks, the smell of fresh-caught seafood and the sun setting over the water will keep you pretty entertained. Not to mention the anticipation of at least 10 local brews on tap.

There’s not a bad seat in the house–or outside “the house” for that matter. Take your pick of where to rest your weary bones: Indoor dining room, indoor bar, or outside on the deck facing the water. Should you pick inside, be forewarned, there’s no air conditioning. Ceiling fans and the natural sea breeze keep the air circulating. The dining room is a bustling place. Waiters come barreling out of the kitchen with trays of hot fried seafood, hollering the name on your order.

Orders are served in recyclable cartons with plastic utensils. A big roll of paper towels sits on each table. The menu has everything from fried and boiled shrimp to in-season oysters and fried chicken tenders. The food is well seasoned, hot upon arrival and for those blessed to have eaten a lot on the coast, familiar. Unlike a large percentage of Charleston dining establishments, there won’t be an item on this menu you can’t pronounce or an ingredient you have to question. Hush-puppies, french fries and coleslaw come with just about everything. The “Big Ol’ Seafood Platter” is the most expensive thing on the menu, coming in at $19. Simple, and Some Kinda Good!

wpid-0605151856a.jpg
The only sign posted on the two-story shack-like restaurant faces the gravel parking area.

If your idea of a night on the town is a laid back, no fuss Lowcountry experience, this is your spot. Open six nights a week from 5 – 10 p.m., you can bet I’ll be there again soon, sipping on a cold Corona.


Food Enthusiast Rebekah Faulk
Food Enthusiast Rebekah Faulk

Now based in Charleston, South Carolina, Georgia native Rebekah Faulk is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program Statesboro Cooks. From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, Faulk’s work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for Moms and Modern Women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.

Click to add a blog post for Bowen's Island Restaurant on Zomato

Featuring “The Queen Julep” Just in Time for The Kentucky Derby

Contributed photo
The Kentucky Derby in action! (Contributed photo)
On the first Saturday in May since 1946 (the Derby actually debuted in 1875), thousands of revelers have graced the infield at Churchhill Downs to place bets on the fastest horse, go cow tippin’, don their fanciest hat and sip on mint juleps at the infamous Kentucky Derby. In fact, more than 80,000 onlookers are expected this weekend to experience the pageantry and tradition of the 141st “Run for the Roses” live in Louisville.
Though I’ve never personally been to a race, (I would LOVE to go one of these days), I’ll be celebrating from a far with mint julep in hand — and thanks to Charlotte, North Carolina Mixologist Bob Peters, I’ll be sippin’ in style.
Bob Peters doing what he does at The Punch Room in Charlotte, NC.
Bob Peters doing what he does at The Punch Room in Charlotte, NC. (Contributed photo)

Peters uses one of my favorite bourbons, Bulleit Rye, to make this sugar spirit-water cocktail. I use the same stuff to create the ultimate Blackberry Smash. An award-winning cocktail master, he’s the head bartender at Charlotte’s newest hot-spot, The Punch Room, nestled on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton.

With a mere four ingredients, you’ll be glad you made this drink at home. Word on the street is, one mint julep at the races will cost you $8 a pop.

055
The Queen Julep by Head Mixologist Bob Peters (Contributed photo)

The Queen Julep
Recipe by Punch Room Head Mixologist Bob Peters