A Road Trip to Remember


As a final ode to summer’s end and in celebration of our one year wedding anniversary, my husband and I took a road trip to visit family on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a little slice of Southern coastal heaven. Before last week, I had never been to The Magnolia State. I’ve been missing out! Continue reading “A Road Trip to Remember”

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White Chocolate Almond Bark for Your Special Valentine

wpid-20131217_222814.jpgTake a trip to Wal-Mart during Valentine’s week and you’ll see them everywhere…those guys with good intentions carrying around fluffy teddy bears and mass-produced, heart-shaped boxes of less than desirable chocolates. I just want to walk up to each of them and say, “No.” There’s simply nothing romantic about getting the same thing every other girl on the block is getting, and whoever said it’s the thought that counts, lied. A better idea, is my two-ingredient white chocolate almond peppermint bark that requires no cooking at all. If you’ve got a microwave and a sheet pan, you can do this. It’s festive, flavorful and definitely takes the romance to the next level. wpid-20131217_205828.jpgChop up some good quality white chocolate bark. You can kind find it on the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

Place the chocolate in a microwavable bowl and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one. Once melted, spread the chocolate evenly in a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  wpid-20131217_204945.jpgMeanwhile, bust up some peppermints with a hammer or a rolling-pin. Whatever you have around the house will work. This is great for stress relief too. Not a peppermint fan? Use chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit. You could even use heart-shaped sprinkles. However, the red and white in this candy works really well with the February 14 holiday and gives the chocolate a nice minty flavor (Kissy. Kissy. Wink, Wink.). wpid-20131217_205736.jpgOnce the candy is crushed… wpid-20131217_211253.jpgSprinkle liberally over the chocolate. Gently press the peppermints into the chocolate with your palms. That’s it. Let it set at room temperature for at least one hour. wpid-20131217_222819.jpgRemove the parchment paper onto a cutting board and give the chocolate block a rough chop. You don’t want all the pieces to be even, that’s what gives it a homemade look. wpid-20131217_223555.jpgPlace several pieces of the bark in a pretty package and tie with red and white ribbon. You’re all done! Now that’s a unique, homemade gift that you can be proud of, and is sure to make your sweetheart swoon. Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a quick glance at what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • One package of peppermints
  • Good white chocolate almond bark

Equipment

  • Microwave
  • Glass bowl
  • Spoon for stirring
  • Sheet pan
  • Knife
  • Parchment paper

What’s your take on the retail boxes of chocolate? Love them or hate them?

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Paula Deen is Not a Racist Y’all

Me and Paula hanging out in her gift shop in historic Savannah, Georgia.
Me and Paula hanging out in her gift shop in historic Savannah, Georgia.

I’ve never met Paula Deen, but this I know: She is not a racist. I write this post on the heels of yesterday’s breaking news–that Food Network will not be renewing her contract.

Paula Deen’s Hashbrown Casserole

Like many of her fans, I too am from the South, her native state of Georgia. We share a love for Southern comfort food, seafood and the coast. For years, I’ve cooked from her cookbooks, eaten at Savannah’s The Lady and Sons, visited her gift shop and looked forward to Saturday mornings when I could sit down and learn from her as I watched Food Network. I’ve spent many an hour in the kitchen following her recipes and laughing with my Grandma over how long it took me to bake her lemon cake, and how easy they made it look on TV. I can’t count the number of times I’ve eaten a delicious cake or herb-roasted pork tenderloin with the family, and upon that first bite of pleasure uttered the words, “It’s a Paula Deen recipe,” as everyone tasted in agreement. I’ve read her book It Ain’t All About the Cooking and have found myself in her as I admired her rags-to-riches story. I’ve tasted some of the best food I’ve ever put in my mouth from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible. Paula Deen is a nationwide household name. As fans, we feel a connection to her, relate to her and associate good memories with her food and her name.

Just this week before the news was revealed, I made known my ambitions to cook with Paula on her Best Dishes Food Network show. She has been a huge inspiration for me in the kitchen and without her, I wouldn’t be the cook I am today. Paula paved the way for many Southern TV food personalities that have come and are coming after her. For that, I’m thankful.

I believe Paula Deen is a kind-hearted, generous and caring woman. Her fans–black and white–are loyal. Those that know and love Paula admire her courage. I believe her apologies were sincere. When reading the fan’s reactions to the news on Food Network’s Facebook wall just yesterday, one comment said it all: “Leave my Paula alone. Yes, I am African-American.”

Paula, Michael, Jamie and Bobby…if any of you read this, know that this morning we sit around our breakfast tables saddened. We’re wondering how this will affect Jamie and Bobby’s Food Network shows, how we’ll ever be able to watch the network again without hearing Paula’s laugh and seeing her familiar, friendly face. No matter what lies ahead, we love you all and will always be fans. Know that our thoughts and prayers go out to your family.

Paula Deen is not a racist, and that’s just the truth y’all.