Farmers Market Finds & A Goat Cheese, Bacon, Onion & Tomato Pie

This past Saturday, if you haven’t already figured out, I went to Pepper Place Farmer’s Market. Farmer’s Markets are obviously an addiction for me. I could be a Farmer’s Market Hoarder. Because I want everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I’ve bought cutting boards, bowls, jewelry, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, BBQ…pretty much anything I’m in the mood for at the time! Last post, it was strawberries. Before that it was honey. And this week, I just couldn’t make up my mind! Clearly….

Pepper Place Farmer's Market, Birmingham, AL

Farmers Market Goodies

But one thing that was very clear to me was that I wanted some tomatoes. And what a week to want them. They were just gorgeous! Heirlooms, Clusters, Beefsteaks, Cherry, Green…they were everywhere! Swoon!

Combination of Beefsteak & Cluster Tomatoes

Farmer’s Market Tomatoes, Basil & Onion

Now I just had to figure out what to make! I always make BLT’s. I mean who doesn’t?!?! But I wanted more! So the longer I walked around “sampling” the market with my The Home T Tote Bag (Seriously go check them out), it dawned on me. Tomato Pie. With Bacon. And Caramelized Onions. And GOAT CHEESE. Ahhh…this was going to be good. And it seriously was.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Just look at that Tomato Pie Goodness!

This is really an easy dish to make. And one that is so versatile you can eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Take it to a picnic, serve it at a party or a reunion! It’s really just good anytime!

First thing to get started. Slice your tomatoes about 1/4″ thick into a colander. I used a combination of Beefsteak & Cluster. You use whatever kind is in season and looks the best from your market. Lightly salt & pepper them and let drain of any excess juice and seeds for at least 30 minutes. You don’t want the pie to be soggy, and this will help.

Sliced tomatoes drained in a colander

Let these sit for at least 30 minutes!

While you are letting those tomatoes sit, prepare your other ingredients. Slice your onions, chiffonade your basil, prepare your pie crust & chop your bacon. If you have forgotten…click here for the easiest way to prepare bacon and always have some ready to go! For the pie crust, I wanted to keep it simple this time. So I used a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. All you have to do is place it in your pie plate and then pre-bake it for 10 minutes. Simple as that. If you want a homemade pie crust…you can click here for my homemade version from my Aunt Inez. Either way will work just fine.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

While your pie crust is baking and cooling, you need to caramelize your onions. Melt your butter in a sauté pan. Once its frothy, add your onions and sauté for about 20 minutes. Don’t stir these too often. Just enough so that they aren’t sticking to the pan. You want them to be a rich, warm & brown in color.

Once the onions are done and the pie crust cooled, it’s time to start layering the ingredients for the pie! Start with your tomatoes. You want these in a single layer barely overlapping each other. Next, add your onions and bacon. About half of each. Then spread out your herbs, shredded parmesan, pinches of goat cheese and mozzarella. About a 1/2 for each layer.

Goat Cheese Tomato Pie Layering

The First Layer of the Goat Cheese Tomato Pie

Continue with another layer of tomatoes and pinches of goat cheese & mozzarella. This is where I mixed together an egg, mayo, apple cider vinegar, the rest of the bacon, onions, herbs & parmesan cheese. Pour this over the top of the layers and spread it all the way over to the sides of the pie crust. Then top with some diced or whole tomatoes, extra herbs, extra freshly grated Parm…whatever you like!

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until your crust is golden brown, pie is bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned! Let the pie rest and cool on a wire rack or trivet for at least 30 minutes – up to an hour. Then serve! Serve it with a salad, drizzle some balsamic on top, or just eat it by itself! Which is what I did. All. By. Itself.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

We need Smell-o-Vision AND Taste-o-Vision for this!

This is definitely my new favorite way to make a Tomato Pie! And my inspiration came straight from the Farmer’s Market! If you haven’t been to your local market…go this week! It’s well worth your time. You’ll be supporting your local farmers…and who knows what other inspiration you may find!!

Let me know what you think! Enjoy! 🙂

“New Version of the Pie”

Fresh Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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4-6 Fresh Tomatoes (Heirloom, Beefsteak, Cluster) Sliced 1/4″ Thick
Refrigerator Pie Crust (Or Homemade…Click here for recipe)
1 Medium Onion Sliced Thin
3/4 lb Thick Cut Bacon, Cooked & Chopped (Around 6-7 Slices) Or use Smithfield Bacon Pieces
2 tbsp Butter
Handful of Fresh Basil & Thyme Chopped. About 2-3 tbsp.
4 oz Herbed Goat Cheese (I used a little over half of this)
1 c Fresh Mozzarella
1 c Shredded Parmesan
1 Egg
2 Heaping tbsp Duke’s Mayo
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Cornmeal for dusting
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Slice Tomatoes about 1/4″ thick and place in a colander. Salt & Pepper and let stand for at least 30 minutes to drain seeds and extra juice.
2. Slice onion into thin slices to caramelize. Set aside.
3. Chop fresh basil & thyme; set aside.
4. Place refrigerated pie crust in a pie plate. Pre-Bake for 10-12 minutes on 400 and set aside to cool. Once cool, dust bottom with cornmeal.
5. While tomatoes are draining & crust is baking/cooling, caramelize the onions.
6. Melt butter in a sauté pan and begin caramelizing onions until brown on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. About 20 minutes. Set Aside.
7. Begin layering tomatoes in the pie crust in a single layer overlapping a little.
8. Next, top tomatoes with 1/2 of these ingredients: bacon, onions, fresh herbs & parmesan.
9. Then add small pinches of goat cheese and mozzarella on top of layer.
10. Repeat one more layer of tomatoes, small pinches of goat cheese & small pinches of mozzarella.
11. Mix together the egg, mayo, apple cider vinegar and remaining bacon, herbs & parmesan cheese.
12. Pour mixture on top of last layer, spreading all the way to the edges of the pie crust. Top with diced tomatoes and grated parm.
13. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until cheese & crust are browning & pie is bubbly.
14. Let cool for 30 minutes – 1 hour before serving.

A Fresh, Beautiful, Sinful & Sweet…Homemade Strawberry Cake!

Fresh Strawberries. Is there a fruit much better than fresh Strawberries? No…no there isn’t. Unless it’s Peach Season. And then…there is no better fruit than Peaches. Well…until Watermelon Season…and then…well you get my point. I am a lover of all fruit. But as of right now…my favorite fruit is Strawberries!

After my latest trip to Pepper Place Farmer’s Market I saw SO much produce that I just wanted to take it all! But I since I couldn’t…I knew I wasn’t going to leave without one of the BEAUTIFUL buckets of Strawberries that seemed to stare at me with every turn. And since Memorial Day cookouts will be in full force this weekend, I decided that I should indulge in something other than my Updated, Old Fashioned Strawberry Pie (click the link if you missed it, because it’s a “can’t miss”). And trust me…that was a tough decision to make. So what could possibly come close to that goodness?? AHHHH….A Fresh, Beautiful, Sinful & Sweet…Homemade Strawberry Cake! YES!

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Everything is fresh in this cake. No boxed cake mixes (even though you totally could), no over-sweetened frozen strawberries and no food coloring. I really don’t see the need for food coloring. But again…you could totally add it. So here is how this recipe starts.

Homemade Strawberry Cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

This first step is really a taste preference. I didn’t use any of that frozen strawberry mixture that is loaded with sugar. Instead, I pureed my fresh strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar and juice of half a lemon. You don’t HAVE to add the sugar OR the lemon. But I tasted (or maybe had a small snack of) a few of the strawberries and wanted them just a TAD sweeter…and thought the lemon would just add a nice kick! So if you want to just puree them by themselves…that is just fine for this recipe!

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Now that this done & out of the way…preheat your oven to 325 Degrees. Then sift together the dry ingredients in a mixer or a mixing bowl. The flour (I use White Lily), baking powder, lemon zest, salt & sugar.

Strawberry Cake Mix

Strawberry Cake Mix

Next add the wet ingredients and start mixing. The oil & vanilla first…then add the eggs & whites one at a time until the batter is mixed. Careful not to over mix. Then finally fold in your strawberry puree until just incorporated. [If you want to add the food coloring for a cake that is brighter pink color…here is where you would do that. Just mix in couple of drops of red food coloring at a time until the cake is the color you want it. Remember…a little goes a long way.] Now, back to the important stuff. Time to pour this mixture evenly into 2 separate 9″ pie pans that have been greased with Pam Cooking Spray. Then bake for 30-35 minutes.

Strawberry Cake BEFORE the Oven

Strawberry Cake BEFORE the Oven

Now for the icing…Cream Cheese. Strawberry Cream Cheese. Just saying those three words makes smile. Or want to grab a shot of insulin. 🙂 And this icing is just your classic Strawberry Cream Cheese that everyone’s Grandmother has made. With just a little lemon zest added. You beat the butter & cream cheese together until creamy. Then add the strawberry puree & vanilla. Once this is mixed…start adding the confectioner’s sugar a little at a time until the frosting is the consistency you like it. Then store in the fridge until ready to frost your cake.

Cream Cheese Icing

Cream Cheese Icing

Once the cakes are done…let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then remove them from the pans and let them cool completely before trying to start adding the frosting. But once they are cool…get to it!

Homemade Strawberry Cake

Cakes are Ready for the Icing!

Here is where you can get creative. Just make sure to put the icing in between each of the cakes, the sides and the top! If you want to make designs or make it smooth…it’s whatever you want to do! And for garnish…I’ve added Strawberries, Blueberries, Mint, Coconut…anything that I already have on hand to make it look pretty! So many different options for you to make this cake fit your occasion.

So here is my very plain…but ever so delicious…work of non-art.

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

But WOW…doesn’t that still look awfully yummy! Once I finish this post…I may just have another piece!

Let me know what you think! Be sure to send me some pics, leave me a comment or message me on Facebook or Twitter! And be sure to share the blog with your friends to sign up via email! Hope you Enjoy!

Homemade Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Strawberry Puree

2 lb Fresh Strawberries
1/2 Lemon, Juiced (optional)
1 tbsp Granulated Sugar (optional)

1. Slice the green tops off of the strawberries.
2. Place Strawberries, Lemon Juice & Sugar in a Blender and Puree. Keep a Chunky Consistency in the Puree.
3. Set aside.

Cake

2-9″ Pie Pans Greased with Non-Stick Vegetable Spray
3 c. All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Lemon Zested & Juiced
1 1/2 c. Fresh Strawberry Puree
1 tbsp Salt
2 c. Sugar
1 c. Vegetable Oil
2 Whole Eggs
4 Egg Whites
1 tbsp Vanilla
**3-4 drops Red Food Coloring (Optional)

1. Preheat Oven to 325 Degrees.
2. Sift together dry ingredients into a mixer or mixing bowl. Flour, Baking Powder, Salt & Lemon Zest.
3. Mix in vegetable oil then the vanilla.
4. Mix in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
5. Mix in strawberry puree (and optional food coloring) until incorporated.
6. Pour mixture evenly into the greased baking pans.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cake. Careful not to overcook.
8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from the pans and let completely cool. Preferably on a wire rack.
9. Decorate with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing making sure frosting is smooth between both cakes, sides & top.
10. Garnish with whole strawberries, blueberries, coconut, mint, etc.
11. Store in Refrigerator.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

1 8oz Block of Cream Cheese, Softened (not low fat)
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Lemon Zested
1/2 c. Strawberry Puree
4-5 c. Confectioners Sugar

1. Beat cream cheese & butter together until creamy.
2. Mix in Zest, Extract & Puree. Continue to mix on medium speed
3. Slowly mix in Confectioners Sugar a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
4. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw

This weekend was the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship in Memphis, TN. And if you’ve been following me…then you know I love a good BBQ! Can’t you imagine all of that WONDERFUL BBQ pork smoke swirling through the air?!?! Gah…what a fun weekend that would be! My friend, Chris Lilly, and the Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ team from Decatur, actually went home Grand Champion for a record 4th time in the Competition’s History! And I’m in total awe of this achievement. Much congrats, Big Bob Gibson’s…still making Alabama proud!!

So with all of the Facebook and Twitter posts I saw this weekend about Pulled Pork, Ribs and BBQ sauces…it was clear that I NEEDED to cook some pulled pork. But not your traditional BBQ pulled pork or sauce or sandwich. I wanted some tacos. Some smokey, sweet & spicy pulled pork tacos. With a crunchy slaw. And cheese, of course.

So….

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw. Score! I love Chipotle Peppers. They are smoked & dried jalapenos. So you get the best of both worlds. A little heat…a little smoke. And I decided on radishes & honey because I went to the always fabulous Pepper Place Farmers Market on Saturday and they both seemed to be calling my name!! Here is what else you will need….

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

You Will Need at Least These Ingredients

I went to buy some pork and clearly everyone had the same idea I did this weekend, because there was no pork shoulder. So I used a boneless rib end pork roast (less fat than a shoulder). First thing you will need to do is season it well on both sides with salt & pepper. Then brown it on every single side (ends included) in a little oil & bacon fat. You just want to sear it for a about 4-5 minutes on each side (The ends will not take as long).

Sear the Pork on All Sides

Sear the Pork on All Sides

While this is searing, you want to get your onion, garlic & chipotle peppers chopped and then mix up your braising liquid.

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with Lime, Radish Slaw

Some of the Braising Ingredients

Once your pork is browned on all sides, remove it from the pan while you brown the onion & garlic in the oil. This should only take a couple of minutes. Once the onions are translucent, add your pork back to the pan. Then pour the braising mixture over the meet. Spoon the onions on top as well. Since this is a braise…the liquid should only be about 3/4 way up the side of the meat. Don’t let the liquid cover the meat!

Chipotle Honey Pork Tacos with Lime Radish Slaw

Ready for the Oven! Wow…that looks good already!

Now…just cover it and place in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours (based on 2 1/2 lbs) until fork tender for shredding. While that is cooking, mix up your slaw and let chill until ready to use. All you need is cabbage, radishes, honey, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, lime, salt & pepper. Very Simple.

Lime, Radish Slaw

Lime, Radish Slaw Ready to Chill

Once the pork is done cooking, let it rest out of the heat before shredding. About 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan and shred it using 2 forks. Then spoon in the braising liquid as little or as much as you like. Just make sure you use enough so that the pork is very moist and packed with the chipotle and onion flavors.

And now it’s time to assemble your tacos! I used flour tortillas and just toasted them over my gas stove for a couple of minutes on each side. You can certainly use corn tortillas as well. Whatever your preference. Spoon on your meat, then your slaw and finally the queso fresco cheese! You can also add cilantro and more lime juice. And then…..just DIG IN!

Chipotle Braised Pork Taco with a Lime, Radish Slaw

Swoon!

These tacos are so easy to make and PACKED full of flavor. One pot is all you need. Or if you want to use a slow cooker, that would work just fine, too. These tacos have the perfect balance of smokey, sweet & spice with all of the ingredients together. Kind of like me, I guess! I kid, I kid. 🙂

Let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Chipotle & Honey Pork Tacos with a Lime Radish Slaw

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Inspired by Chef Michael Symon & the Local Farmers Market

The Tacos:

2 1/2 lb Boneless Rib End Pork Roast (or 3-4 lb Bone-In Pork Shoulder)
1 tbsp Bacon Fat
1 1/2 tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
1 Spanish Onion, Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
1 tbsp Cumin
1/2 tbsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 Lime, Juiced & Zested
1/4 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 c. Water (or more if needed for braise. Can also sub Chicken Stock)
1 can (7 oz) Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, Finely Chopped & Adobo included
2 1/2 tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper
Lime & Radish Slaw (recipe below)
Queso Fresco Cheese, Crumbled
Cilantro for Garnish

Preheat Oven 300 Degrees. Salt & pepper pork roast well on all sides. Then brown in vegetable oil & bacon fat mixture. Make sure to brown all sides including the ends. About 4-5 minutes each. While pork is browning, mix together braising liquid ingredients (Lime Juice, Lime Zest, Honey, Onion Powder, Cumin, Coriander, Water, Chipotle Peppers, Adobo, Apple Cider Vinegar, Salt & Pepper to taste). Once the pork is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Next saute the onions & garlic in the oil just until onions begin turning translucent. About 2-3 minutes. Add Pork back to the pot and pour braising liquid on top making sure to also spoon on some of the sauteed onions & garlic. Cover & bake for 2 1/2 hours or until pork is fork tender and easy to shred. Let rest off of the heat for 10-15 minutes. Then shred using two forks. Spoon braising liquid into the meat for the extra moisture and for the added flavors of the onion & chipotle peppers.

Assemble tacos topping with the queso fresco cheese, cilantro & extra lime juice if needed.

Lime & Radish Slaw

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 Bag of Shredded Cabbage
1/2 c. Thinly Sliced Radishes
1/4 c. Light Sour Cream
2 tbsp Honey
1/2 Lime Juiced & Zested
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Mix sour cream, honey, lime & apple cider vinegar. Fold in cabbage & radishes. Slaw should be lightly dressed. Mix in salt & pepper to taste.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha, Honey Sauce

Fried Chicken. Not much more to say than those 2 words….

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken with Grilled Potato Salad

I’m just kidding (not really). Fried chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. Picnics, Family Reunions, Tailgates, Sunday lunches, Breakfast…. 🙂

I can remember years ago as a kid always devouring the fried chicken at our Lexington family reunions. And there was SOOOO much homemade food around that 2nd Sunday in May to make you feel like you gained 20 pounds in 2 hours! Aunt Ivene’s Green Beans, Vida Mae’s Fried Pies, Hilda’s Strawberry Delight… and on, and on, and on. My families very small contribution to that day??? Sweet tea, ice and fried chicken. Not homemade fried chicken…but a KFC fried chicken bucket. Yep…the “dirty bird”. And I loved it. Every last bite of it. And maybe a couple of last bites from someone else’s plate.

So 30 years later, when I visit new cities and new restaurants…if they have fried chicken on the menu…I’m still a total sucker to try it. Last year, one of my BF’s and I went to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami. Oh. Em. Gee. What a fun trip! And one of my favorite memories of that trip (and goodness there were so many)…My brunch at one of Miami’s best restaurants: Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar. Because of the fried chicken. Ah-Mazing. And now, oddly enough, one of the founders of that South Beach Food & Wine Festival, Lee Schrager, has a new book coming out on May 20, Fried & True, that is showcasing over 50 of America’s Best Recipes & Sides! That trip was clearly fate…..

Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar--Fried Chicken

Holy Fried Chicken, Y’all–Yardbird, Southern Table & Bar, Miami

But I digress. Although I can’t wait for that book to come out or to eat at Yardbird again…I’ll still have to say, my personal fried chicken recipes are always my favorites. It’s simply hard to beat the inspiration of some of your best childhood memories….So here we go.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Sriracha Honey Dipping Sauce

To get started…the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you are planning this 1-2 days in advance, because you’ll need to brine the chicken for 24-26 hours in the sweet tea mixture. For the brine, you’ll simply make a normal gallon of sweet tea but with 2 tea bags instead of 1 (I always use Luzianne or Red Diamond), the juice of 1 large lemon, 1 c of sugar, 3/4 c of salt & 1/2 c pepper. Then submerge the chicken legs & thighs in the tea and refrigerate overnight.

After the chicken has been taken out of the brine and patted dry, drop it in the buttermilk and let it soak for at least 30 minutes to an hour. In the meantime, mix up your flour with the cayenne, onion powder, salt, garlic powder & paprika.

Flour Battered Chicken Legs

Thighs in the Buttermilk…Legs in the Flour

Now you’re ready to dredge the chicken. I like to do it in batches of the legs first then the thighs. But you don’t have to. It doesn’t actually do anything except make my OCD go away. Next, you’ll need to let the excess buttermilk drain off of each piece. Then coat it well in the flour mixture on all sides–also shaking off any excess. Let the pieces rest either on a wire rack or on parchment paper for at least 10 minutes. This will help the coating stick better while you fry it. While the chicken is resting…heat the oil to around 325 degrees in a cast iron or deep dish frying skillet. But in my opinion…a well-seasoned cast iron is the best way to ever fry chicken. Then fry the chicken in batches of similar size pieces (about 3-4 of them at most) so they will cook evenly on each side.

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Can’t you just hear that sizzle?

I usually cook the legs & thighs for about 10-12 minutes on each side turning 3-4 times to make sure all of the coating is golden brown and chicken is evenly cooked. And start your fry with the skin side down. The most important thing is to not OVER cook so the coating burns or UNDER cook so you get sick. 165 degrees as an internal temperature with a golden brown coating is the goal! Once you get the hang of it after a couple of times, you’ll be a frying chicken like an expert!

Finally, drain on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil then sprinkle with a little salt while it’s still hot!

Serve it with a side of my Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad (click the link in case you missed that favorite recipe), a side of Sriracha Honey and a mixed green salad then you are all set!

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce and a side of Grilled (or Roasted) Blue Cheese Potato Salad

I can’t wait to dig in to this deliciousness! Leave me a comment with your favorite recipes and memories..and of course…let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Sweet Tea Brined, Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Sweet Tea Brine:

2 Tea Bags
1 c Sugar
3/4 c Salt
1 Large Lemon, Juiced
1/2 c Pepper

Boil 2 quarts of water. Once a rolling boil, add tea bags and remove from heat. Let steep off of the heat for about 10 minutes. Add in sugar, salt, lemon & juice, pepper. Stir until sugar & salt are dissolved. Mix in 2 more quarts of cold water to cool.

Fried Chicken

Sweet Tea Brine
3 1/2 lbs of Chicken Legs & Thighs, Skin On
1 Cup of Shortening + 1 Cup of Vegetable Oil (There should be at least 2 – 3 inches of oil in the skillet. But no more than 1/2 way up the side of the skillet)
1 quart Non-Fat Buttermilk
2 c AP Flour
1 tbsp Salt + More for Dusting
1/2 tbsp Pepper
1 tbsp Onion Powder
1 1/4 tbsp Cayenne
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
1 tbsp Paprika

1. Place Chicken in cooled, Sweet Tea Brine for 24 hours and no more than 26. Store in refrigerator.
2. Discard Brine & Pat Chicken Dry with Paper Towels.
3. Place Chicken in Buttermilk and Let Soak for 30 min up to 1 hour.
4. Mix Flour, Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Cayenne, Garlic Powder & Paprika while Chicken is in Buttermilk.
5. Remove Chicken from Buttermilk & Place Pieces in a Collandar so Excess Buttermilk Will Drain Off.
6. Dredge Chicken Pieces in Flour Mixture, Coating Well on All Sides. Shake Off Excess then Set Aside on Wire Wrack or Parchment Paper for 10 Minutes.
7. Heat Oil in Cast Iron Skillet to 325 Degrees.
8. Begin Frying Chicken in Batches, Starting Skin Side Down. No More than 3-4 Pieces at a Time.
9. Continue Frying Pieces, Turning Chicken 3-4 Times for Around 10-12 Minutes on Each Side until Golden Brown & Internal Temp Reads at least 165 degrees.
10. Place Cooked Chicken on Paper Towels to Drain any Excess Oil.
11. Dash with Salt while Chicken is Still Hot.
12. Drizzle with Sriracha Honey when Ready to Serve.

Sriracha Honey

2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Sriracha
1 tsp of Water

Mix ingredients together for desired consistency and flavor. There is really no recipe for this…just what your tastebuds like! If you don’t like the thickness of the sauce, just mix in drops of water to loosen the sauce.

I Can’t Grill–But Here’s a Fabulous Roasted (or Grilled) Potato Salad!

It is finally May here in the South. And May usually means sunny days, warmer temps (humidity), flowers blooming…and barbecue’s! The smell of food cooking on a grill makes me SO happy. Charcoal Grills, Gas Grills, Big Green Eggs, Big Blue Eggs, Polka Dot Eggs…doesn’t matter to me what kind it is…as long as it’s grilled!!!

And now I have a confession to make. I can’t grill. Well…I can. Sometimes. Maybe. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.

To explain…I can grill vegetables and beef VERY, very well. And other things…let’s just put in the category of “needs work”. The recipes are always super delicious, though! It’s just that the EXECUTION needs some fine tuning. I have a terrible tendency to get distracted & then turn around to a massive flame of fire that gives new meaning to “char” grilled pork chops. And so luckily for you…this isn’t a post about grilled pork chops! But rather a roasted (or grilled) potato salad! One that I can honestly say I have perfected on the grill…AND in the oven. Because it’s just that good. But being able to grill this in the summer…yummmmmmm!!!!! I first found a similar recipe from Jeri Ryan in an issue of Food & Wine several years ago. And I’ve just made it my own over time with a ridiculous amount of compliments.

Char Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

Char Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

Now…just an FYI…I’ve made the post pics about roasting the potato salad since not everyone has a grill. But if you do…then grill it. It’s by far the best way to make this! I’ll explain those few MINOR differences in the recipe card. So here are the ingredients to start….

Grilled Potato Salad Ingredients

Grilled Potato Salad Ingredients

Oven Roasted:

First thing you will need to do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees. You’ll want to make sure to wash your potatoes really well and the slice them into bite size pieces. Keep them as close to the same size as possible so that they cook evenly. Next slice the onion into pieces, keeping these evenly sliced as well. Spread both on an aluminum foil wrapped sheet pan & mix with the oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Set Aside.

Roasted Potatoes & Onions

Roasted Potatoes & Onions

If you haven’t seen my post on how I cook bacon…then click HERE to see. Because this is your next step.I used Wright’s Applewood Smoked for this one. Once you have both of your sheet trays full of the bacon & potatoes…then put them in the oven to bake.

Roasted Potatoes & Oven Cooked Bacon

Roasted Potatoes & Bacon

The bacon will be done first. I always put it on the top rack. Bake about 20 minutes so it will be a little crispy for texture. Drain well on paper towels, then chop into pieces. The potatoes should bake for about 30-35 minutes or until tender. You can broil the potatoes for the last 5 minutes to add a little “crispiness” to them if you want.

Roasted Potatoes, Onions & Bacon

Roasted Potatoes, Onions & Bacon

Blot the potatoes & onions with a paper towel just in case there is an excess oil you want to take off. In a bowl, toss together with the bacon and more salt & pepper to taste (if needed). Mix your sour cream, lemon, Duke’s mayo & blue cheese in a separate bowl so you can spoon in as little or as much as you need (I don’t like mine TOO saucy). Then fold into the potato mixture. Make sure to stir gently while the potatoes & onions are warm so they soak in all of that yummy flavor!

Char Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

Char Grilled or Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

Top it with some sliced green onions, a little fresh grated parmesan cheese or parsley and serve warm or room temperature!

Make sure to leave me a comment below on what you think! Share with your friends on FB & Twitter, sign up for more updates via email at the bottom of the blog…and most importantly…ENJOY!!!

Roasted Potato & Onion Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Jeri Ryan, Food & Wine July 2006

3-4 lbs Baking Potatoes Chopped into Quarters
1-2 Large Red Onions, Chopped into Quarters
1 pkg Thick Cut Bacon (Preferably Wright’s Applewood Smoked)
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 c. Low-fat Sour Cream
1/2 c. Low-fat Duke’s Mayo
3-4 oz Low-fat Blue Cheese
Juice of Half a Lemon
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice potatoes into pieces about 1/4″ thick. Keeping pieces as close to the same size as possible.
3. Slice red onion into pieces about 1/4″ wide. Keeping pieces as close to the same size as possible.
4. Spread potatoes & onion onto an aluminum foil lined sheet tray. Toss, just to coat, with the oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
5. Layer bacon on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray to roast at the same time as the potato mixture.
6. Place both in the oven. Bacon should roast for about 20 minutes or until crispy for texture. Drain well on paper towels then tear or chop into pieces.
7. Potatoes should cook for about 30-35 minutes until tender. Broil for the last 5 minutes if you want to add extra crispiness to the potatoes. Blot to remove any excess oil.
8. In a bowl, toss together the bacon, potatoes & onions.
9. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, sour cream, lemon & blue cheese.
10. Fold in blue cheese sauce into the warm potato mixture. Use as little or as much as you like, not to over sauce the potatoes. Add in any salt or pepper to taste if needed.
11. Top with fresh parm, green onions or parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Potato & Onion Salad with Bacon & Blue Cheese

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Jeri Ryan, Food & Wine July 2006

3-4 lbs Baking Potatoes Chopped into Quarters
1-2 Large Red Onions, Chopped into Quarters
1 pkg Thick Cut Bacon (Preferably Wright’s Applewood Smoked)
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 c. Low-fat Sour Cream
1/2 c. Low-fat Duke’s Mayo
3-4 oz Low-fat Blue Cheese
Juice of Half a Lemon
Salt & Pepper to Taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Preheat grill to med-high heat.
2. Slice potatoes into pieces about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.
3. Bring potatoes to a boil in a salted pot of water. Once boiling, cook for about 5 minutes until starting to become tender. Then drain.
4. Slice Red Onion into pieces about 1/2″ wide.
5. Layer bacon on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray to roast.
6. Bacon should roast for about 20 minutes or until crispy for texture while the potatoes are cooking. Drain well on paper towels then tear or chop into pieces.
7. Toss, just to coat, the potatoes & onions together with the oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Grill either directly on the grates or using a grill pan. Just make sure you are able to get the “char” & smoke flavor on both the potatoes & onions.
8. Grill until potatoes & onions are charred & tender (5-7 minutes).
9. In a large bowl, toss together the bacon, potatoes & onions.
10. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, sour cream, lemon & blue cheese.
11. Fold in blue cheese sauce into the warm potato mixture. Use as little or as much as you like, not to over sauce the potatoes. Add any salt or pepper to taste if needed.
12. Top with fresh parm, green onions or parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Maple & Orange Baked Ham…Perfect for Easter Dinner!

Easter is finally in a few days. And this is one of those Holidays that I ABSOLUTELY love. There is just so much meaning in Easter Sunday! Church Services, Easter Dresses, Bunnies, Easter Egg Hunts, Families Gathering Everywhere…and Ham. Lots and Lots of Ham.

Yep! I admit it. Ham is one of my favorite things about Easter. I could eat Baked Ham for almost every single meal. And luckily after Easter “Ham” Dinner…I’ll at least enjoy it for an entire week!

Baked Ham is really so easy and versatile that ANYONE can cook it. Glazes, rubs, marinades…so many options to try. And so few ways to mess it up! This year, I have decided that I want to use Oranges. And Maple Syrup. And Brown Sugar. And…

Orange & Maple Glazed Ham

Ingredients for the Easter Ham

First thing you want to do is clean & trim the Ham. Wash any excess juices off & trim any fat or skin down to no more than 1/4″ thick. Next, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

While your oven is preheating, score the Ham in a criss-cross or diamond pattern. This will help the glaze/marinade/rub or whatever, really get down into the meat. Once it’s scored, place whole cloves into the Ham where each criss-cross meets.

Scored Ham with Cloves

Scored Ham with Cloves

Now, whisk up your marinade/glaze well. Place the Ham in a large roasting pan and pour half of the marinade over it. Make sure to baste the whole thing well. Cover loosely with aluminum foil then bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Or 10 minutes per lb. You’ll want to make sure you baste this every 20 minutes with the pan drippings/marinade/glaze mixture.

Once this is done, take the Ham out of the oven & crank up your temperature to 425 degrees. Uncover the Ham and pour the rest of the marinade on top. Make sure this time you baste it again with the pan drippings until it’s totally covered with the marinade/glaze. Bake uncovered for about 30 more minutes basting one last time after 15 minutes. Take the Ham from the oven, cover & let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Hopefully it will look like this….(My. Mouth. Is. Watering.)

Orange & Maple Baked Ham

Almost Ready!

Pour some of the juices from the pan on top of the Ham and start slicing! Depending on your cut…slice it thin, slice the spirals, or just slice up some ham steaks! However you want to savor this beautiful feast! Garnish it with oranges once you are done…and you are ready to serve!

Maple & Orange Baked Ham

Finally!!!

This ham will make a lot of servings. Which really makes it cost effective to cook several more meals. You can freeze it for later, make some sandwiches or whip up a ham & cheese pasta bake! I’m already craving that pasta bake….

Let me know how yours turns out or what you do different! Hope Everyone has a Blessed & Happy Easter! 🙂

Orange & Maple Glazed Ham

  • Servings: A Lot
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Country Living & Simple Southern Living

1 Fully Cooked 8-10 lb Ham (Whole Bone-In or Bone-In Spiraled)
1/2 c. Sprite
1 c. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
2 Tbsp Orange Zest
2 Tbsp Whole Grain Mustard
1/2 c. Maple Syrup
1/2 c. Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
Whole Cloves
Orange Wedges for Garnish

1. Preheat Oven to 325 Degrees.
2. Rinse & clean the ham to remove any excess juices. Trim the skin & fat around ham to no more than 1/4 inch.
3. Score the ham in a criss-cross or diamond pattern.
4. Insert cloves into the ham where the criss-cross meets at each point. Then place into a large roasting pan.
5. Whisk together the next 7 ingredients, mixing well.
6. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the entire ham.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 12 minutes per lb. And basting with the pan juices every 20 minutes.
8. Remove ham from oven and turn up the heat to 425 degrees.
9. Pour the rest of the basting mixture over the ham making sure to fully cover it.
10. Bake for 30 more minutes uncovered, basting after 15 minutes.
11. When ham is done, remove from the oven, cover & let rest for 10 minutes.
12. Spoon pan drippings over the ham before serving.

Oven Roasted, Flavored Bacon! My Mouth is Already Watering….

I. Love. Bacon.

Let me say that again. I. Love. Bacon.

I mean who DOESN’T?!?! Well…those crazy kids that don’t eat meat dislike bacon. And I just feel sorry for them. Because bacon just makes EVERYTHING better! And there are so many different ways to use bacon! Chocolate-covered, maple-glazed, pepper-crusted, in a drink, crumbled, sliced, candied…the list just keeps going! I’ve even had a bacon topped ice cream sundae. And it made that plain ‘ole ice cream…BETTER!

But there is only ONE way that I actually prefer to COOK bacon. And that is in the oven. Yep. In the oven. I used this trick many, many years ago at the beach and it has just stuck with me since! Very little clean up, less bacon smell in the house (that’s an oxymoron, I know), little effort & almost fool-proof!

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

Oven Roasted, Mouth-Watering Bacon

The only things you need are a package of your favorite thick cut bacon (my personal fav is Wright Brand Hickory Smoked), aluminum foil & a large baking sheet. Very simple.

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line your baking sheet with several layers of the foil. Then layer your bacon. You don’t want your bacon overlapping too much, so if you need an extra baking sheet then use it.

Layered Thick Cut Oven Roasted Bacon

That was really, really complicated. 🙂

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you want your bacon (remember that it will keep cooking for another minute or so after it comes out of the oven). Drain on paper towels. Serve.

That’s all you say???!!! Yes…That. Is. All.

In this particular bacon extravaganza…I added some coarse pepper to a few of the slices, brushed some organic maple syrup on some, sprinkled a little brown sugar on a couple & left the rest alone. Clearly I couldn’t decide which flavor I wanted my bacon to be that day. And this also shows you how easy it is to mix it up without having to buy several different packages!

Crispy Oven Roasted Bacon

Mouth-Watering, Oven Roasted Bacon

**One last bacon cooking tipif you just HAPPEN to have any of that deliciousness leftover…just place it in a zip lock bag and freeze it! Then you can use the pieces as needed. Just place them on some paper towels and microwave for about 20-30 seconds! Simple way not to waste any **cough, cough**, leftovers. And really, really easy for the kids!

Let me know the different ways you decide to cook your bacon! Enjoy!

Crispy Oven Cooked Bacon

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 pkg Thick Cut Bacon
Large Baking Sheet
Aluminum Foil

1. Pre Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Wrap your baking sheet several times with the aluminum foil so that the grease is easy to clean up later.
3. Place your bacon strips on the lined baking sheet, careful not to overlap too much.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until desired crispiness.
5. Drain on paper towels then serve.

**You can add brown sugar, maple syrup, coarse pepper or other flavors to the bacon slices before it goes in the oven. Just make sure to use a plain, hickory smoked bacon so the flavors don’t overlap. Cooking times remain the same.

Updated…But Still Old-Fashioned…Strawberry Pie

Springtime weather is FINALLY just around the corner!  Thankfully!  And during the winter of 2014, the South has certainly experienced some very bi-polar weather!!  74 degrees one day…24 degrees the next.  Rain & thunder showers…followed up with 3 inches of snow & ice!!!  So tiring. So long.  So…OVER.

When I went to the grocery store this week and saw some Florida Strawberries staring back at me with their deep, beautiful red color & fruity, sweet smell…I knew Spring was finally upon us!!  And Spring for me always starts with strawberries!  I then decided that I’m going to celebrate this Spring arrival! And no better way to celebrate than with an updated, old-fashioned strawberry pie!  YES!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

For those that didn’t already know, I come from really long line of family that are really, really good southern cooks.  In fact…they even have a cookbook of just a FEW of their recipes!  It’s one of the things I cherish more than anything!  So, the homemade pie crust I use and file away into the recipe category of  “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, is one from my Great Aunt Inez.  She was born in the early 1900’s and lived to be in her 90’s.  I’d say that gives her enough experience in cooking pies!  And this one proves it.

Owens Family Cookbook--Lexington, AL

Owens Family Cookbook–Lexington, AL

Now…to get started.  The first thing I do is get that crust formed!  The ONLY thing I do different than Aunt Inez is make sure every single ingredient to be used in the crust is very cold!  Including the bowl!  So refrigerate everything for about an hour before you get started.   First you will need to cut the Crisco shortening & salt into the flour (I use White Lily, of course).  You can either use your fingertips, a pastry cutter or 2 knives.  Whatever will work best to get the mixture looking like pea-size pieces.  Don’t over work this dough because you don’t want the shortening to melt!  Next whisk together the egg, vinegar & cold water.  Gradually add this mixture to the flour until it is incorporated.  When the dough looks all mixed and can be formed into a ball…it’s ready!  Here you will want to divide the dough into 3, 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch discs.  Wrap them up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Sorry no pics of the dough mixture…my hands were covered in flour & shortening.  **Note to self…buy a pastry cutter.  Soon.  Like yesterday.***And another note…if you don’t want to make a homemade crust…you can easily buy one already made.  Not the frozen ones.  In fact, just buy a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust.  Because they are the best.

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

While that dough is refrigerating…get your strawberries cut and mixed with the other ingredients.  Cut them in halves or quarters depending on how big they are.  Then mix well– the cornstarch, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, nutmeg & water. Let this refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.  This will let the the natural juices from the berries come out.

Can't you just smell the sweetness of this filling?  If you can't...guess you'll have to make the pie.

I Love Strawberry Pie Filling.  Love. It.

Once everything has chilled, you will need to roll out 2 of the pastry discs and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a really well-floured surface, you’ll want to roll the bottom out to about an 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick to fit the bottom and sides of your pie dish.  So about 11 or 12 inches around for a 9 inch pie.  For the top, you will want to roll out the same size and then cut the dough into 1 inch strips using a pizza cutter.  This will be used for the lattice crust.  The way I learned to do lattice crust was online.  Seriously.  And it was from Simply Recipes.  I’ve been following their blog for a long time! Make sure to click on the link to the Simply Recipes site where I saw the easiest way to weave the crust.  Kudos, Simply Recipes…Kudos!

Lay the bottom crust into the pie dish, spoon in the strawberry mixture, then finish with the lattice top.  Brush the strips with heavy cream and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Why can't their be smell-a-vision?

Why can’t there be smell-a-vision?

You will bake this little beauty for about an hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Once this has cooled somewhat,  just slice it up and top with orange whipped cream & a sprig of mint!  Or just plain whipped cream and no mint.  Or top it with nothing and just dig in!  Your choice!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Just look at that beauty!  Topped with orange flavored whipped cream!

This is really an easy recipe to keep, adjust and make your own!  Let me know how yours turns out!  Enjoy!

Updated, Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Inez White & Simple Southern Living

Pie Crust

3 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. Crisco Shortening
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1 tbsp Vinegar
½ c. Cold Water

1. Put all of the ingredients into the refrigerator (including the bowl) for at least 30 minutes to chill.
2. Once cold, cut the salt & shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture resembles pea-like pieces.
3. Mix together the egg, vinegar and water. Gradually add the mixture into the flour. Mix together well until dough can be formed easily into a ball.
4. Divide dough into 3 even pieces. Roll out into a disc about ½ inch thick.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Freeze any unused dough.

Strawberry Pie

3 lbs Sliced Fresh Strawberries
½ c. Cornstarch
¾ c. Sugar
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tbsp Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 tbsp Orange Zest
2 tbsp Water
Heavy Cream for Brushing Lattice Top

1. Slice the Strawberries in halves or quarters. Mix well with the next 7 ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Take 2 of the refrigerated pie dough and place on a well-floured surface. Roll each out to 1/8 -1/4 inch thickness until it will cover the bottom & side of the pie dish. About 11-12 inches for a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Repeat rolling the other pastry disc out to the same size & thickness.
5. For the 2nd pastry disc, cut it into ½ inch strips with pizza cutter once it is rolled out. This will be for the lattice top.
6. Place the bottom crust into the pie dish. Then spoon the strawberry mixture on top of the bottom crust.
7. Next weave the dough on top of the strawberries for the lattice top.
8. Brush lattice top with heavy cream and lightly dust with sugar.
9. Bake pie for 45 minutes to an hour until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool and serve.

Sunday Brunch with a Sausage, Potato, Onion & Italian Cheese Frittata

Weekends.  I LOVE the weekends! But…I REALLY, REALLY love the weekends when SUNDAY BRUNCH is involved!!  Brunch is one of my absolute favorite meals especially in the Spring & Summer!  And since the weather is starting to warm up…I’m really getting the fever for my favorite times of year!! Hundreds of different egg dishes, french toast, shrimp & grits, bloody mary’s, mimosas, BACON, sweet, savory….Oh. My. Goodness. There are just so many things I LOVE about Brunch!

So in preparation for those soon-to-be weekly Sunday Brunch’s…I’m reminded of one my easy to make favorites.  The Frittata.  Sounds Fancy doesn’t it?!?!  But in reality…it’s one of the easiest & cheapest meals you’ll ever make!  A Frittata is just an egg dish with no crust!  And it is not just for Breakfast or Brunch!  It’s a supper, a lunch, a snack…basically ANY time of day.  With ANY meats or veggies you want to add to it!

For this particular one, I used what I had in the pantry.  Eggs, onions, cajun sausage, hash browns, creme fraiche, italian cheese blend & fresh herbs.

Frittata

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Take your sausage and slice into 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces.  And also slice your onion into small slices…not chopped.  I always buy Conecuh Sausage...because it’s simply the best around!

Make sure you have greased your cast iron or non-stick skillet well with the butter before you start so nothing sticks. Now, brown the sausage and onion together until the sausage is heated through and the onion is close to translucent.  Keep stirring occasionally so neither burns or overcooks. Add hash browns at the very end just to heat through and slightly brown.

Browning the onion & sausage just for a few minutes

Brown the onion & sausage together

While the sausage & onions are cooking, whisk together your eggs, thyme, creme fraiche, salt & pepper.  Make sure to use a whisk and not a fork to mix.  You want the egg mixture to be frothy and mixed well. If you have trouble finding creme fraiche, here are some tips…You can order it online, buy it at gourmet food stores or if you have a Fresh Market nearby! I prefer to use Vermont Creamery for all of my dishes.

The rest of the ingredients...

The rest of the ingredients…

Once the eggs are mixed well, pour on top of the sausage, onion & potatoes.  Let cook on the stove top for about 5 minutes until eggs are set on the bottom. Top with Italian Cheese Blend and place in the oven to finish cooking.

Frittata is almost ready!

Frittata is almost ready!

Finish baking in the oven for another 10-12 minutes until eggs are cooked through and cheese is browned on the top.  If eggs are cooked and cheese still isn’t brown, just turn on the broiler to finish.  Remove from the oven to cool slightly.  Top with more parmesan cheese, fresh chives or parsley!

Ahhh....Frittata with some fresh tomato slices

Ahhh….Frittata with some fresh tomato slices

Slice a tomato & dig in!!  Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Cajun Sausage & Potato Frittata

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Credit: Simple Southern Living

1 medium onion sliced thin
1 lb Cajun Conecuh Sausage
2 cups frozen hashbrowns
6 large brown eggs
2 tbsp Creme Fraiche (or sour cream)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c of milk
1 sprig of thyme
Shaved Italian Cheese Blend (Asiago, Parm, Romano, etc)
Butter for Greasing the Pan

**Spinach would be good to add as well.  Just adjust the potatoes to about half and cook spinach down with sausage & onions mixture.

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees & lightly grease your skillet on the sides & bottom with the pat of butter.
2. Slice Sausage in bite size pieces and begin to brown over medium-high heat in cast iron skillet.
3. When there is some grease at the bottom of the pan, add onions until tender.
4. Then add potatoes and mix stirring frequently to heat through and lightly brown.
5. Whisk the 6 eggs, crème fraiche, milk, salt, pepper & thyme leaves together until mixed smooth (use a whisk and not a fork).
6. Pour egg mixture on top of browned potatoes & onions.
7. Sprinkle shaved cheese mixture on top of eggs while they are setting.
8. Let eggs set on the sides & bottom for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
9. Finish baking eggs in the oven until cooked through and lightly brown.  But not overcooked. 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with more thyme leaves, parmesan or chives.

Sunday Skillet Chicken Dinner! Or a Monday…a Tuesday…or a Wednesday Dinner!

Let’s be honest.  There are a MILLION ways to cook chicken.  And with that being said, I’ll admit…I don’t LOVE chicken anymore!  It’s just SO predictable. So much of the same all of the time.  So blah.  Yep, I’m a bitter chicken cooking, recipe ignoring, non-lover of the bird.  Or so I thought….

For the last few months, I’ve been trying to convince myself that steak (umm…swoon!!) isn’t the best protein EVER created and I need to eat healthier foods.  After countless, and often failed, bird-cooking tries I finally re-discovered that I really do LOVE a good chicken thigh!  The versatility of what you can do with this part of a chicken is just so…delicious.  So I decided to take 2 things I love and combine them.  My cast iron skillet…and chicken thighs!

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

I found my inspiration for this dish originally from Bon Appetit Magazine and adapted it to this!

For this easy recipe:  You will need chicken thighs, lemons, capers, white wine (and some for sipping), rosemary, chicken broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, shallot, garlic and some half & half.  Seems like a lot…but it’s really easy and flavorful.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  To get started, make sure you trim any excess fat and skin off of the chicken thighs, pat them dry & season well with salt & pepper.  Next, drizzle a little oil in your cast iron skillet & set the temp on medium to high heat.  Don’t let this to scorch or it will taste…well SCORCHED!  I use Herb Oil.  A local Birmingham, AL based company that makes their own herb-infused oils, salts, mustard, tapenade and bitters (click on the link for more info).  I use it for almost everything because it is soooo good!

I'm Slightly Obsessed  (There's More in the Pantry)

I’m Slightly Obsessed (There’s More in the Pantry)

If you don’t have your own Herb Oil, olive oil will work just fine.  Once this is sizzling, add in your chicken, skin side down.  As the fat from the skin renders…you’ll want to pour some of the oil out of the pan.  You want to keep the pan just barely greased.  We don’t want to deep fry this!  Let this cook for about 10 minutes or until chicken is about halfway cooked through.  Then add your lemons and place in the oven.  Scatter the lemons throughout the pan and make sure you get some on the bottom so they caramelize in the drippings!

Look at Those Lemons

Look at all of the Lemon Slices!

Let this continue to bake for about 10 more minutes and lemons on the bottom of the pan are caramelized.  Remove from the oven and take out the caramelized lemons on the bottom & the chicken.  Set aside.  Don’t remove the soft lemons that are not browned yet.

Add to those lemons and pan drippings your garlic, crushed red pepper, capers, rosemary and shallot.  Cook this for about a minute.  Remove from the heat and add the wine, then back on the heat!  Don’t want to catch on fire here!  You’ll cook this until the wine reduces down by half stirring up those yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Just simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add your broth and more lemon juice!  (**Note…if you don’t want to use wine, just skip that step.  You’ll just want to reduce the chicken broth the same way).  Then add your chicken back into the pan skin side up along with the caramelized lemons.  Place back in the oven for about 10 more minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through!  If you are using a meat thermometer, get the internal temp to 165 degrees.

Right before you serve it, stir in just a little half & half into the sauce.  Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and top with some fresh parmesan!

Cast Iron Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

Mouth. Is. Watering.

Isn’t that BEA-U-TEE-FUL??!!??!! Serve this with some Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes & this is perfection!

Perfection!

See…I Told Ya…Perfection!

Let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Cast Iron Skillet Chicken with a Caramelized Lemon, Rosemary & Caper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Adapted from: Bon Appetit Magazine

4 Medium Chicken Thighs, Trimmed
1 Tbsp Herb Oil or Olive Oil
1/3 c Dry White Wine
1/2 c Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Thinly Sliced Lemon
1/2 Lemon Juiced for Sauce
2 Tbsp Capers
1 Sprig of Rosemary
1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Medium Shallot Thinly Diced
1 Clove Finely Chopped Garlic
2 Tbsp Fat Free Half & Half
Salt & Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Trim the chicken of any excess fat or skin.  Pat dry and then season both sides generously with salt & pepper.
3. Heat oil in cast iron skillet on med-high heat until sizzling.
4. Add chicken, skin side down. Brown for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked about halfway through.
5. Add lemons on top of chicken and on the bottom of the pan to caramelize.
6. Place in oven and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
7. Remove.
8. Take chicken and caramelized lemons out of the pan and set aside.
9. Leave the soft lemons in the pan to continue cooking.  Add in shallot, red pepper, rosemary, capers & garlic.  Cook on the stove for another minute.  Just until cooked through and fragrant.
10. Add in wine and continue to stir until sauce is reduced by half.  Make sure to get the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet stirred into the sauce.
11. Add in broth, lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste and heat to a simmer.
12. Place caramelized lemons & chicken back into the pan. Skin side up this time. Cook in the oven for another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
13. Internal temp should read 165 degrees.
14. Stir in half & half to the sauce.  Spoon sauce over chicken & top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.