Kurt’s Favorite Pot Roast

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Peel potatoes and be sure to chop all your ingredients the same size for even cooking.

When the weather starts to feel like fall in Savannah, it isn’t long before my husband, Kurt starts requesting pot roast for dinner. When we were dating, I needed a tire changed on my car. When Kurt came to the rescue, I said, “What do I owe you?” With that sweet Southern boy charm, he smiled and said, “Three pot roast dinners will do it.” He has always loved pot roast.  Continue reading “Kurt’s Favorite Pot Roast”

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Episode 5 of SKG-TV: Chicken Pot Pie with Fresh Herbs

This classic Southern comfort food dish doesn’t disappoint. I use a store bought pie crust to save time, and the fresh herbs in the filling really make this chicken pot pie stand out. Enjoy! Continue reading “Episode 5 of SKG-TV: Chicken Pot Pie with Fresh Herbs”

Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul

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Have you ever been in a ground beef rut? I found myself there recently when the ultimate question came up: What’s for dinner? Continue reading “Hearty Hamburger Soup for the Soul”

Pumpkin Spice Pie with Buttermilk Whipped Cream, anyone?

Pumpkin Spice Pie
Pumpkin Spice Pie

It doesn’t get more traditional than good ol’ pumpkin pie. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it! Inspired by Paula Deen’s Maple-Buttermilk Pumpkin Pie in the magazine “Paula Deen’s Fall Baking,” this recipe is a slight variation of the original, but doesn’t deviate too far off the course. Have you ever heard of Buttermilk Whipped Cream? That is a new one on me, and boy am I glad I discovered it. Thank you, Paula! Whatever you do, resist the urge to eat this pie with standard Cool Whip. Take the extra 5-minute step to make Buttermilk Whipped Cream. You won’t regret it! I took the liberty of using Pumpkin Spice Syrup instead of maple, and added just a touch more sugar. Sweet and creamy, it’s mouth-watering served warm or cold. Enjoy a slice with a cup of hot coffee and a good friend. Add this dessert to your Thanksgiving table or Autumn baking list and your entire home will beckon the changing leaves!

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Pumpkin Spice Pie
1 (15-Ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup of Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) pumpkin pie spice

One 9-inch store-bought frozen pie crust (I’m not above it!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin and next 8 ingredients. Roll thawed pie crust over 9-inch pie plate, crimping edges with a fork. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake for 85 to 95 minutes or until center is set and a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 1 hour before serving.

Buttermilk Whipped Cream
(Makes about two cups)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon good pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, beat cream with a mixer at high-speed until soft peaks form. Add all remaining ingredients, and beat until stiff peaks form. Plop a big dollop on top of a slice of pie, then sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Then EAT!

 “What kind of Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where’s the turkey, Chuck? Don’t you know anything about Thanksgiving dinners? Where’s the mashed potatoes? Where’s the cranberry sauce? Where’s the pumpkin pie?” ~ Peppermint Patty

Foolproof Apple Crisp for the Love of Fall

imageThere are 14-layer cakes, lattice pies, meringues and souffles. Then, there’s Apple Crisp. Labor intensive, complicated desserts have their time and place, but a dessert that’s good enough for a weeknight is good enough for me. No other delicacy screams fall and comforts the home and heart like it. What’s more, the dish is easily adaptable for large or small crowds. Dinner for two? Serve it in ramekins. Family coming for Thanksgiving? It’s time to dust off that trusty ol’ casserole dish. With its warm nutmeg and cinnamon spices, served alongside a scoop or two of cold vanilla ice cream, it’s the fall season in a nutshell (or in this case, a bowl).

wpid-IMG_20131009_210507.jpgAfter a dinner of chili, Apple Crisp hit the spot. The crunch of the granola and earthiness of the pecans, with the tart and sweet combination of apples is foolproof flavor. My home smelled just like the mountains, and made me wish I was sipping coffee in a rocking chair somewhere up in Tennessee, admiring the changing leaves.

My recipe serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Filling:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Red Delicious apple, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Teaspoons each of cinnamon and nutmeg or more to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup of granola
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (This keeps the apples from turning brown).

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • A good handful of chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup cold butter

Directions:

Peel and slice apples. Place in a medium bowl and add the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together flour, sugar and chopped pecans. Cut in cold butter with a fork or you can blend the ingredients quickly with your hands. Pour filling into a 1 1/2 quart or 8 x 8 casserole dish and top off with the brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with granola. Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve with ice cream and coffee, preferably on the porch.

Don’t forget to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day!

Celebrate Summer with Local Blackberry-Georgia Peach Crumble

wpid-0622142020b.jpgSummertime may be my absolute favorite time to visit the farmers’ market and fruit may be my absolute favorite thing to purchase. On Saturday morning, I scored a large package of plump blackberries and the season’s first Georgia peaches. You can imagine my excitement when I came across a delicious recipe for Peach-Berry Crumble in the latest edition of Southern Living. Sunday afternoon just got better.

Fruit from the fields of Screven County.
Fruit from the fields of Screven County.

I paid $5 for this huge container of blackberries. You can’t beat that! Well worth the money, especially knowing I’m supporting the local farming community. Thanks Ricardo from Poor Robin’s Produce! The peaches came from my friends at Jacob’s Produce. I snuck a few pieces while slicing them for the crumble. Irresistible, juicy and sweet.

Blackberry-Peach Crumble
Blackberry-Peach Crumble

Crumbles make the perfect summer dessert. Simple to throw together, they’re special enough for entertaining yet quick enough for a post-dinner weeknight treat.

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I substituted 1/2 cup of uncooked regular oats with Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla. It’s what I had on hand and it got the job done! Assembling this dessert is so much fun because it’s rustic and hands-on. Butter makes everything better.

wpid-0622141830a.jpgBake for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees.

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The end result is a crunchy, buttery topping filled with warm, sweet fruit. Serve with cold vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. Garnish with fresh mint. Savor summertime!


 

wpid-0622142020b.jpgHere’s a quick glance at the recipe. Thanks Southern Living for the inspiration!

Peach-Berry Crumble
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 1 Hour, 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh peach slices (about 3 medium)
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup uncooked regular oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Vanilla ice cream

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Place first 2 ingredients in an 11- x 7-inch (or 2-qt.) baking dish. Stir together egg, egg yolk, and next 4 ingredients with a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over fruit; drizzle melted butter over topping. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until light brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes; serve warm with ice cream.

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Roasted Root Vegetables Reinvented

wpid-0416141949a.jpgIt may be springtime, but let’s face it: the weather can be crazy and unpredictable. For those not-so-springlike nights this season, I’ve got a recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Homemade Thyme Croutons that’ll give you an excuse to transform leftovers and get the most out of your farmers’ market finds.

wpid-0415141945.jpgThis recipe is a classic example of technique. Once you master it, you can substitute whatever ingredients you choose. Roma tomatoes and onions would be absolutely fantastic with a grilled cheese sandwich. I made Roasted Root Vegetable Soup using leftover carrots and turnips that I’d made for Easter dinner with my Roasted Leg of Lamb and Mint Chutney. I seasoned the vegetables with salt and pepper, then tossed them in a good quality olive oil and roasted them at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. I love reinventing leftovers. It’s ultimately fun to create something totally new with the same ingredients from another dish.

wpid-0416141858.jpgIn a food processor or a blender, puree the vegetables until fluid, adding a little chicken broth or water to help the vegetables liquefy. You can also use an immersion blender, but that’s a fancy tool I’ve yet to acquire. If you’d like your soup to have a little texture, don’t puree them totally. Just pulse your blender a few times, leaving some of the vegetables chunky. I enjoy bites of carrot here and there, rather than pure creaminess, but it’s personal preference.

wpid-0416141944.jpgTransfer the pureed vegetables to a stock pot. Then add 3 – 4 cups of chicken broth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Let simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.

wpid-0416141944a.jpgI just so happened to have a french baguette on my counter top that was more than a few days old. What better way to give stale bread new life than to chop it into cubes and make crunchy croutons? I did just that. With the Holy Trinity of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil, I added dried thyme, and roasted them in the oven, also at 425 degrees, for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

wpid-0416141949b.jpgIf you look closely, you can see chunks of carrot adding texture to the soup. With a pop of green color from my carrot tops for garnish and the addition of my Homemade Thyme Croutons, soup never tasted better on a cool, springtime night.

Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need:

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup featuring Carrots and Turnips

  • 1 Bunch Carrots, peeled 
  • 3 Large Turnips, chopped 
  • 3-4 cups Chicken Broth
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Oregano
  • Parsley or Green Carrot Tops for Garnish

Homemade Thyme Croutons

  • Day old bread or Stale Bread, such as a French or Italian baguette
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil or enough to coat bread well

 

 

 

 

 

Crack This: Farm Eggs vs. Store-Bought

I’ve eaten eggs from the grocery store my entire life. I’m sure at some point in my childhood I’ve tasted an egg fresh from the chicken coop because my Grandpa raised chickens, but that was before my palate was experienced enough to appreciate the difference. It’s true that when you’ve never experienced better, you don’t know what you’re missing.

wpid-IMG_20130510_185756.jpgSo, when my good lookin’ boyfriend showed up at my door last week with one dozen, light brown and cream-colored farm eggs in one hand and a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the other (I know…keeper), I set my sights on cooking the eggs just the way a farmer recommended: in a little bacon grease with salt and pepper. I’ve never tasted anything like these eggs…it was pure eggstacy (had to do it!). Seriously, the flavor is out of this world, and sure to make you crack a smile (okay, okay). During cooking I found them to be more fluffy than a store-bought egg. Produced by free-range chickens, farm eggs are more nutritious because the chickens are able to roam freely and eat a natural diet. They contain no added hormones or fillers and are not processed. 

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wpid-20130520_195545.jpgOne meal that exemplifies comfort food for me and really lets the farm egg shine, is the tried and true bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. A fancy meal has its time and place, but it’s not always the five-star, fine dining plates that trip my trigger. Sometimes, a good ol’ familiar meal is the only thing I need to feel centered, satisfied and one with my kitchen again. Served with a side of cheese grits, breakfast for dinner has never been better.

Here’s how I make the classic McDonald’s biscuit-turned-sandwich at home:

  • Thick cut, hickory smoked bacon
  • Nature’s Own Honey Wheat Bread
  • 2 Farm Fresh Chicken Eggs
  • Blackberry Jelly (I used homemade jelly from the Amish country that I got from a quaint market, but Smucker’s works great if you don’t have that).
  • Kraft’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese, sliced

Cook three strips of bacon in a skillet on medium heat until just crispy (I like mine slightly underdone). Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off some of the grease, reserving enough to cook the eggs, about 1-2 tablespoons. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper. Pour the eggs into the pan and let set. Cook for about 2 -3 minutes on each side, flipping once for even browning. Meanwhile, slice or grate the cheddar cheese and toast two slices of bread. Spread toasted bread with blackberry jelly, then build the sandwich. Serve with a side of cheese grits for optimum enjoyment!

wpid-20130520_194926.jpgAnd remember, when building the sandwich, it’s all about good architecture! Somehow, the sandwich tastes better when cut into a triangle shape too. At least, that’s the way mama always sent me to school, with a neatly packed cut-in-half sandwich in my brown paper sack.

Have you ever tasted a farm egg? If so, how would you describe the difference?

Dine Southern Style on the Georgia Coast with Barbara Jean

imageBarbara Jean’s Restaurant & Bar
St. Simons Island, Georgia

There’s something comforting about the never changing–those restaurants you’ve been going to for years that you know and love, and have come to expect. You know the quality, you would bet your life savings by the she crab soup and nothing excites you more than sharing the experience with friends and family who’ve never tasted and seen. At the corner of Mallory and Beachview streets located in the Pier Village of St. Simons Island, Georgia sits one of my family’s constants: Barbara Jean’s. You may have visited in the Golden Isles, or in one of the four locations in South Carolina or Florida. Whether you go for the famous crab cakes or the pumpkin bread and the sweet jalapeno corn bread with cinnamon butter, Barbara Jean’s Easy Southern Dining makes deciding where to eat lunch or dinner a cinch!

It's rare to visit without a wait, but always worth it.
It’s rare to visit without a wait, but always worth it. I’m on the left and that’s my mom, Debbie, on the right.
Ahh, the blessed bread basket. It is the thing I look forward to most at Barbara Jean's. Caution: Sample each variety and take the rest to go!
Ahh, the blessed bread basket. It is the thing I look forward to most at Barbara Jean’s. Caution: sample each variety and take the rest to go!
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The appetizer portion of coconut shrimp comes with four large shrimp and a mango dipping sauce. It is more than enough to fill me up!
This is the she crab soup. It's cream based and filled with fresh, lump crab meat. I like to pepper mine heavily and sprinkle crushed saltines over the top.
The she crab soup is cream based and filled with fresh, lump crab meat. I like to pepper mine heavily and sprinkle crushed saltines over the top.
I took a friend who had never been to visit recently and upon getting his drink, he said, "Now that's a tea glass!" I recommend a half and half tea with a fat wedge of lemon.
I took a friend who had never been to visit recently and upon getting his drink, he said, “Now that’s a tea glass!” I recommend ordering a half and half tea with a fat wedge of lemon.
Barbara Jean's is known for their famous crab cakes. This is the crab cake and grilled shrimp over rice dinner with stewed tomatoes and broccoli & cheese casserole.
Barbara Jean’s is known for their famous crab cakes. This is the crab cake and grilled shrimp over rice dinner with stewed tomatoes and broccoli & cheese casserole.

My favorite seat in the house is by the bay window overlooking the Pier Village shops. In the summertime, every table is usually full and the place is bustling with wait staff, bus boys and hungry tourists and locals. Traveling with Fido? Grab a seat on the patio. Dining alone? Pull up a chair at the full bar and order up your favorite cocktail. The menu prices range from $4.99 for a cup of soup to about $24 for the most expensive dinner entrée.

The food is Some Kinda Good y’all, and my best friend swears by “The Chocolate Stuff.” Cobbler-like and better than a brownie, it’s Barbara Jean’s signature dessert and is served in a big bowl with homemade whipped cream. Other menu items include Tuna Steaks, Shrimp & Grits and Chicken Fried Steak. The restaurant is coastal and down home all at the same time…my kinda place!

After dinner,  walk along Mallory street or take a seat at the Pier to see what the fisherman are reeling in. Of all the places to eat in the Golden Isles, Barbara Jean’s should be at the top of your list.

Barbara Jean's on Urbanspoon

An Autumn-Inspired Pork Chop Package

wpid-20121023_203126.jpgAt the start of each new season, there are a few dishes I anticipate cooking greatly. My Apple-Pecan Honey Stuffed Pork Chops in White Wine are at the top of the list in the fall. Apples, onions, pecans and nutmeg exemplify autumn in this comforting, home-cooked meal. It starts on the stove top and finishes in the oven. Special enough for company and simple enough for a weeknight, these tender, juicy pork chops put chicken and beef to shame. It ought to be a crime to eat this good!

Let’s get cookin’! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3-4 thick cut pork chops
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg seasonings
  • 1-2 Tbs honey
  • 1 medium granny smith apple
  • 1 small Vidalia onion
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • Unsalted butter
  • White wine of your choice, I used Pinot Grigio

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Start by dicing a granny smith apple, an onion and your pecans. Be sure to dice them up small, keeping them the same size for even cooking. A smaller dice will also make your pork chops easier to stuff.

Melt a tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the diced apples, onions and pecans, season with salt and pepper and dot with butter. Cook for a few minutes, then drizzle in some honey for a touch of sweetness.

Meanwhile, prepare your pork chops. Season both sides with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Rub it in good.

It’s really important to get a thick cut pork chop for this recipe. They should be at least a 1/4 of an inch thick.

You’ll need a small, sharp pairing knife to make the incision. Cut them right down the middle, keeping the back and sides of the pork chop intact but making a large enough incision to create a good size pocket. Don’t be scared. Own it!

By this time, your stuffing will be ready. With a large serving spoon, fill each pork chop to the brim. Pack the stuffing in there, getting down in the crevices. Don’t overfill them, but make sure each one is plump. If you put too much stuffing in the pork chops, it’ll just fall out during cooking. You want them to hold as much as possible. Just remember, deep pockets do the trick. You can use toothpicks to secure them, but I find they just get in the way.

In the same pan (easier clean up and building flavors – winning), melt another tablespoon or two of unsalted butter. Gently lay your stuffed pork chops in the pan and brown on each side for 3-4 minutes until the outsides are golden brown and caramelized. When you flip them, handle with care. You will lose a little stuffing, but don’t fret. Before transferring to the oven, hit the pan with a good splash of white wine and inhale. 😉

Finish cooking the pork chops in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. I find it much easier to finish a thick cut of meat in the oven than on the stove top. The meat cooks evenly and you don’t have to worry about one side getting darker than the other or constant flipping. Plus, you’re not standing over the stove and you can take a moment to sip some wine or devote your attention to side dishes.

They taste phenomenal–warm flavors of nutmeg and pork compliment tart apples in every sweet and savory bite. Don’t forget to drizzle the chops with the pan juices. Having one of these on your plate is like having your own little gift. You’re also getting fruit, protein and vegetables all in one little package. What’s not to love?

A sweet potato or brown rice are a pork chop’s friend.

Feel free to change-up the stuffing. Rosemary is awesome with pork. Don’t like pecans? Use walnuts. Even if pork is not in your diet, chicken is always an alternative. The idea is to have fun and experiment with flavors. Enjoy!

What are your favorite fall meals?

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