We have family in Maine and when we visit, we literally have fresh Maine lobster at almost every meal. It’s so delicious. Growing up, I always thought of lobster as such a fancy dish. Then, I visited Maine and discovered the best way to have lobster is at a picnic table with butter dripping down your elbows, and salt and vinegar potato chips on the side. Heaven!
Granny Guynell made the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had. Every year at Christmas time our family would pile in the car and make the 8 hour drive to North Georgia to see Granny. When we arrived at Granny’s house, there would be a huge display of desserts in the formal dining room. Red velvet cake, orange cake, tea cakes… There were so many desserts. The red velvet cake, though, was always my favorite. The vibrant red color of the cake, the decadent cream cheese icing, and the glass plate it was displayed on. It felt so fancy to me, and y’all know this country girl loves all things fancy.
Granny’s recipe is a classic southern red velvet cake. There’s no cocoa in her recipe, which would make some sticklers say it isn’t a true red velvet cake. As far as I’m concerned, though, Granny’s red velvet cake is the best I’ve ever had. Now, I continue her tradition and make this cake every year for my family.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. With a mixer, whisk the oil and sugar together until blended.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk and flour mixture alternately to the batter in the mixer.
In a small dish, mix the vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring. Carefully add this to the batter. Mix on low or by hand until the coloring is consistent throughout the batter.
Be very careful with the red food coloring. It will stain EVERYTHING. Your hands, your nails, your countertops, etc. I like to wear gloves & work over a plate or cutting board when handling it.
Butter & flour 3 9” round cake pans. Pour the batter equally into each pan.
I like to use Bakers Joy nonstick baking spray instead of buttering and flouring the pan. It works like a dream, and is a big time saver.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Let the cakes rest for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Line cooling racks with paper towels or parchment paper, then turn out the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.
FOR THE ICING
Add the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt to a mixer. Start on the lowest setting until everything is blended to prevent the powdered sugar from spilling out of the mixer. Once the icing starts coming together, slowly increase the speed to medium, then whisk on high for 60 seconds until light and fluffy.
To frost the cakes, start by placing a small amount of icing in the center of a cake stand or serving platter. Add the first cake layer in the center of the dish. Spoon some of the icing onto the top layer, and use an offset spatula to evenly spread the icing out to the edges. Repeat this process for the second layer. Place the third layer upside down on the top of the cake. Then, place a skewer through the center of the cake to stabilize it. Using small amounts of icing, frost the sides of the cake first. Then spoon the icing onto the top of the cake and evenly spread it out to the edges and over the sides.
Corey recommends putting the eggs in an ice bath immediately after cooking. This makes the eggs easy to peel. Otherwise you could end up with deviled eggs that look like dimpled golf ball. Ew. David.
Corey’s secret ingredient is… well, she has two secret ingredients. First, butter. Like any good southern belle, she believes that butta makes everything betta. (If you read that in your best southern draw, you read it correctly.) The other secret ingredient is, in the words of the great southern queen Trisha Yearwood, “what’s this here sauce.” A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce gives Corey’s deviled eggs that little something extra.
Spanish Olive Slice
Sprig of Fresh Dill
Blue Cheese Crumble & Grape Tomato Slice
Y’all, I can’t say enough about this beautiful soul. She’s my best friend in the whole world, my confidant, fellow foodie, and favorite travel partner. God surely had a plan bringing the two of us together. I’m blessed to have her in my life.
I made these adorable Grinch Fruit Skewers for my stepson’s elementary school Christmas celebration years ago. They were a hit with the kids and the parents loved them because it wasn’t packed with a ton of refined sugar.
WHAT YOU NEED
HOW TO DO IT
TIP: Make sure the fruit is dry before stacking it with the marshmallows.
To assemble a Grinch, place the items on the skewer in this order:
Large Marshmallow Half
Strawberry (Upside Down)
Viola! You just made yourself a Grinch. I paired these cuties with a simple baggie of rainbow colored fruit, and packaged them all in Christmas themed containers.
It doesn’t get any easier than this folks. Big Strong Handsome doesn’t typically eat white potatoes, but he’ll eat sweet potatoes and purple potatoes. So, roasted sweet potatoes is something I make almost every week.
This is a super simple way to prepare them, and they’re delicious every time.
This guacamole is delicious, and my little pumpkin friend here helped me display it perfectly for Halloween. Sorry, not sorry.
Now, prep your ingredients:
Using your rasp, zest your limes into the bowl. Then cut them in half and squeeze all of the juice into the bowl.
Grate your garlic on a rasp or just finely chop it. You don’t want big hunks of garlic in this, which is why I suggest the rasp. I think it’s easier than chopping anyway. Now, push it to a corner of your cutting board so you can prep the rest.
Dice the tomato into small little pieces. You can also seed the tomato if you like. I typically do. Once it’s diced, push it next to the grated garlic.
Dice the onion. Same thing as the tomatoes – you want it to be in tiny pieces. No big hunks of onion here. Now, push it next to the tomato and garlic.
Chop the cilantro. Leave it on the board with everything else.
Now you’re ready for the avocados. Cut them in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the avocado into the bowl.
Use the fork to mash the avocado into the lime juice & zest. You can make it as smooth as you prefer here, or leave it slightly chunky.
Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl, and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like a lot of salt in mine, but I think avocados and tomatoes beg for salt.
And listen… yes, you add a whole cup of sour cream to this guacamole. Maybe more if you’re feeling sassy. It’s delicious. If you want a lighter version, leave it out. If you want it to be delicious and have everyone rave about your incredible guacamole and beg you to bring it to all of the family gatherings… add the sour cream, aaaand maybe an extra yoga class that week. (wink)
OPTIONAL: If you want to kick it up a notch, add a diced jalapeno.
To store the guacamole, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, putting it directly on top of the guacamole so no air gets to it. Nobody wants brown guacamole.
Who doesn’t love a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? There’s something so comforting about sauce simmering on the stove, meatballs cooking away, and the intoxicating smell that dances through your home.
For the sauce, I love to use Michaels of Brooklyn. Y’all. This sauce is the bomb.com. Why in the world would I ever… ever, ever, ever spend the time and energy making my own sauce when these beautiful people have already created perfection.
You can serve these meatballs with pasta, or spaghetti squash for a for a healthy spin.
I’ve done several different versions of this salad, and I love it every time. It’s delicious y’all.
If you like mozzarella cheese, you’ll love burrata. (I’m talking FRESH mozzarella, not the pre-shredded stuff in bag that’s coated in sawdust.) You can usually find burrata in the deli section of your grocery store, or wherever they sell the boujee cheeses. It’s basically just like fresh mozzarella, but the inside is deliciously creamy.
As a rule, I like to make my own salad dressings. I just feel better knowing exactly what’s in it. I usually just grab a mason jar, add 1 part fat (olive oil for a vinaigrette, sour cream or Greek yogurt for a creamy dressing), 1 part acid (vinegar or citrus juice), seasonings, and sometimes I add an emulsifier like Dijon mustard, or honey as a thickener. Put the lid on, shake it up, and viola. Salad dressing. Use what you need, then put the lid on and in the fridge it goes. Now you have homemade salad dressing in your fridge. Look at you!
If I’m getting hangry and don’t have a jar of my homemade dressing ready, I reach for Garlic Expressions vinaigrette. It’s non-GMO, allergen-free, gluten free, and only has a few ingredients. I use this as a salad dressing and a marinade for meat and veggies. It’s really good.
Note: Go light on the dressing for this salad. The burrata is so creamy it acts like a dressing itself. If you add too much dressing to the greens, you’ll just end up with a soggy mess.
Prosciutto is a wonderful addition to this salad. You can take it right out of the package, tear it into smaller pieces and add it to the salad, oooor you can be fancy and crisp it up in a pan. Heat a nonstick pan to medium heat, add the prosciutto and cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Then, drain it on a paper towel. After it cools down slightly, you can break it into smaller pieces and sprinkle them on your salad. Crispy prosciutto is like thin little heavenly pieces of bacon that melt in your mouth.
I’m telling you… you’re gonna love this salad.
This is hands down my go to recipe for entertaining a crowd. For years, though, I would spend hours in the kitchen prepping everything, searing the meat, then braising it in various concoctions of beer or soda. It would take all day. As I got older, I grew wiser.
Now, I take a pork butt, season it with my favorite seasoning, and throw it in the crockpot for about 8 to 10 hours. Done and done. It’s super simple and it’s always delicious.
Carnitas means “little meat.” Save your jokes, people. It’s braised or roasted pork served shredded in small pieces.
Pork butt. It’s actually a pork shoulder, but for whatever reason, it’s called a pork butt. Let’s just go with it. My favorite is from Butcher Box, but the ones at Publix work just fine. You can get one with the bone in, or one with the bone removed, but it’s slightly more expensive.
Lots of salt. Don’t be afraid of it. Salt is delicious. As Anne Burrell says, “season ferociously!” You also want to use a mojo seasoning here. It’s loaded with citrus and garlic making for a very flavorful piece of meat. My favorite is Konriko Dry Mojo seasoning. It’s available in most grocery stores. It has all the delicious flavor, and no yucky chemicals or preservatives.
If you want to be extra you can toss in a quartered onion, and a few cloves of garlic. Either way, it’s delicious.
After the meat is cooked, take 2 forks and break apart the meat. Now, taste it. Does it need more salt? Season to taste.
I typically serve this as tacos, but it’s also delicious in rice bowls, salads, or avocado toast. You can even add it to a grazing table… but that’s another blog.
These smoothie bowls are delicious, healthy, and have been the secret to beating my sweet tooth lately. We make them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sometimes we make small ones for an after dinner snack.
I love fruit, so I top my blueberry smoothie bowls with lots of different fruits. Granola and dried coconut give it great texture, and a fun crunch. Big Strong Handsome is pretty picky when it comes to fruits and veggies, so I typically just put granola, dried coconut, or an apple on top of his.
TIP: If you’re worried it won’t be sweet enough for you, you can always add in some honey.
These are so good y’all. You’ve got to try it.
Who doesn’t love crab legs? Hot, steaming, Cajun seasoned, dipped in butter… crab legs. I love me some crab legs, and I love a low country boil, but who has time to lug out the big huge pot, bring gallons of water to a boil, make the whole house smell like seafood, and clean up that huge mess? Not me!
I saw one of my favorite Food Network stars, Sunny Anderson, do a Sheet Pan Shrimp “Boil” so I decided to try it with crab legs.
Now, I like to cook everything separately because that way I get perfectly cooked crab legs, delicious roasted potatoes, hot buttery corn, and smoky sausage that snaps when you bite it. When you boil everything together, it’s good, but everything gets watered down and the flavors get muddled together. This way, everything shines.
Over the summer Dustin had an abundance of fresh peaches and was looking for new ways to use them. This syrup was a winner.
Now, if we could just get mamma to make some of her biscuits to go with this peach syrup...
This is a super simple recipe, and one of my favorite ways to use leftover crab meat. When we have crab legs for dinner, we inevitably have a little bit of crab leftover. I crack open the leftover shells, clean all of the meat and store it in the fridge overnight. The next day… summer rolls baby!
Warning: This dipping sauce is addictive. You may want to make extra and store it in your fridge because it’s delicious on leftover chicken, shrimp, and veggies. It’s better than anything you’ll pour out of a jar. Promise.
If you want to make these even easier, pick up some prepared crab meat from the seafood section, and precut veggies from the produce section. Done and done.
These summer rolls not only look beautiful, they taste delicious, and they’re guilt free. For a vegan option, just leave out the crab meat.
Who doesn’t love a good juicy cheeseburger? There’s many different methods for a great burger, but this is my favorite way to make a delicious burger at home.
I’ve become a purist when it comes to cheeseburgers. I don’t add anything to the meat because then it becomes more like meatloaf, and I don’t want meatloaf. I want a big juicy cheeseburger with sauce that drips down my arm while I’m eating it. Don’t judge me.
There are a few things that make this burger a winner in my book:
Butta Yo Buns
Butter and toast the inside of a soft fluffy brioche bun until it’s golden brown. Trust me on this. It makes a difference.
Simple, yet brilliant. Recipe below.
I said what I said. Cheeeeeese. Skiiiiiiiirt. Your life will not be the same after this. I’m not talking about just one slice. Not just a little handful melted on top. I’m talking an absurd amount of shredded cheese piled up on your burger cascading down onto the griddle, melting and bubbling into cheesy perfection.
To get your cheese to melt properly you need to put a lid or dome over your burger. If you’re using an iron skillet, you can use a lid. If you’re using a griddle you can purchase a metal dome cloche, or you can use a metal mixing bowl. You can also toss a single ice cube under the dome to create even more steam and melt the cheese to ooey gooey perfection.
We’re going to sear the burger allowing it to cook in its own juices. When grilling a burger, the juices fall through the grates. Now, you won’t see me turn my nose up at a grilled burger, seared is just my preference.
This is a SUPER fast dinner, so here’s how I do it:
1 Set the table, because, duh… family dinners are the best. Get everything set so you’re ready to sit down and eat as soon as the scallops are finished cooking.
2 Make the salad. Mix everything in a big bowl. Then, spread it out on a big platter. Now, add your lemon wedges.
3 When your salad is plated and ready, start preparing the scallops. Remove the side muscle, pat them dry (like, really dry) with paper towels, line them up on a cutting board, and season them.
4 Now heat your pan. When it’s screamin’ hot, add the oil, then the scallops.
*It’s important that you let your pan get hot before adding the oil and begin cooking. You need the pan to be hot so it will sear the top of the scallop to a beautiful crispy golden brown. If your pan isn’t hot enough you’ll end up with a beige scallop, or you’ll leave it in the pan longer trying to get it brown and end up over cooking it. And let’s face it, an over cooked scallop is like chewing on an eraser. Yuck.
5 Cook, baby! Cook! This part goes fast. I typically make so many scallops for my crew that by the time I finish flipping them over, it’s time to take them out of the pan. So, if you’re doubling or tripling this recipe, move fast.
When the scallops are finished cooking, take them out of the pan and place them directly on top of your salad. Then walk that gorgeous platter of deliciousness over to the table and wait for the applause. (And the crowd goes wild!)
Now pat yourself on the back. You just made your family an AH-MAY-ZING dinner!
What in the world is a trough salad? I learned from the queen of trough salads herself, the fabulous Miss Katie Lee. A trough salad is basically a big ginormous salad that you eat right out of the big salad bowl. I’m not talking about a large bowl, I’m talking the big huge mixing bowl that you would typically serve everyone out of. Pile that sucker up with spinach, mixed greens, and a ton of fruits and veggies and viola. You just made yourself a trough salad. Now dig in, enjoy the deliciousness and feel guilt free.
PRO TIP: If your family isn’t laughing at you for the size of your bowl, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are a few of my trough salads:
*When I say 2 cups of greens, what I mean is, I reach in and grab 2 handfulls of greens. I’m not using measuring cups here.
My stepson requested poke bowls, so I created this recipe for a fun family dinner. A traditional poke bowl has diced raw fish, but we chose seared ahi tuna coated in everything bagel seasoning. This added a ton of flavor.
I like to take the tuna out of the fridge before I do anything else, just to knock the chill off of the meat. This allows for a more even cook on the tuna.
We chose some of our favorite toppings for our poke bowls, but you can use any toppings you like.
If slicing and dicing isn’t your thing, get some help from the grocery store and buy precut fruit and veggies. You can probably find a premade dressing for the rice noodles for an additional shortcut, but you’ll be missing out because this dressing is delicious.
Sometimes in this Florida heat, all we want is a fun frozen drink to sip on. Put an umbrella in it, and I mean, come on. Vacation in a glass! This drink is sure to help you beat the heat, and feel like you’re on a tropical island somewhere living your best life.
It’s not too sweet, not too tart, and if you add a little rum floater to the top…
whooooooooo mamma! It’s good!
I’ve made this salad several different ways, but this one is my favorite. The only thing I left out of the recipe that I always add, is cheese. Goat cheese is my favorite, but I’ve also used feta and cotija. Without the cheese, this salad is incredibly good for you and packed with nutrition. It checks all the boxes: vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, blah, blah, blah. So if you’re trying to eat clean, this one’s for you.
You know those egg bi… um… little crustless quiche like things that you can get from your favorite coffee shop? I love those things! I love them so much that I figured out how to make them at home, and y’all, they’re delicious. The only problem is that they disappear fast!
What I love about this recipe is that you can use almost anything you have in your fridge. Veggies, meats, cheese, anything! I honestly make them different every time, and they’re always delicious, so let your imagination run wild here. Or use it an opportunity to clean out the fridge!
I think the secret to these is: 1. Blending the cheese with the eggs, and 2. Steaming them while they cook. These techniques give them a beautiful silky texture.
Remember to put the pan on the oven rack before you add the water. Trust me on this. Otherwise you’ll be sloshing water everywhere. And for goodness sakes, when you pull them out of the oven remember there’s hot water still in there! Pull that thing out of the oven like you’re trying to slide out that last Jenga piece before the tower falls.
One of these days I might up my game by making these in a fancy silicone mold, but for now I’ll stick with my trusty old muffin tin.
I made this chocolate banana bread during COVID-19 quarantine, because apparently that’s what we were suppose to do during quarantine. Make bread.
My Big Strong Handsome is gluten free, so I have to get creative when I’m in the kitchen. This recipe was a big hit! He and my stepson devoured it in one night!
These taco bowls are guilt free comfort food! Well, that is if you don’t cover it in cheese and sour cream, which I’ve been known to do. Whoops!
This recipe, and most recipes, really, are all about “mise en place,” meaning everything in its place. This is a fancy way of saying get everything prepped and ready, then cook. It will make your life so much easier and you just might enjoy it. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some music, and get to chopping. It may even be a little therapeutic.
You can use almost any veggies in this dish, but I recommend sticking to onion, corn and some kind of pepper at the very least, then you can add on from there if you’re feeling creative. The more veggies, the better. Dice everything up the same size and set aside.
For the meat, I like to use an organic ground turkey and a medium to hot Italian sausage. Truthfully, any ground meat combo should work here. I like this particular combo because I get the nutrition from the turkey and the flavor from the sausage.
With the seasoning, you can simplify the whole dish and just use a packet of taco seasoning. I opt for the individual spices so we don’t end up with any sugar, preservatives or yucky chemicals.
For the sauce, again, you can take a shortcut here and use a big jar of taco seasoning, but the control freak in me prefers to use a simple tomato sauce with my seasonings. It’s delicious either way, but a little “cleaner” by creating your own sauce and seasoning.