Finally Friday!

Simplicity is key when it comes to summer cooking.  I like to prepare a one dish meal in the morning that will be served that evening.  This recipe is quick and delicious.  We Southerners love our pie!  This is a savory pie filled with sweet Vidalia onions and heirloom tomatoes from Uncle Don’s Local Market!  I think you’ll love it!  Pair is with a crisp green salad and you’ve got a delicious meal that can be prepared the morning of or the day before you plan to serve it!

tomato vidalia pie2

Southern Sweet Vidalia Onion and Heirloom Tomato Pie


1 1/4 cups organic, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning, I use Sangre de Cristo Spice Company’s, organic and so delicious

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed

4-5 tablespoons ice water

Place all of the ingredients, except for the water, in a food processor.  Process until you have a crumble, corn meal like mixture.  With the motor running, slowly pour the ice water through the feed tube until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the processor bowl and forms a firm ball.  This can happen very quickly so be prepared.  Place the dough on a floured surface and shape it into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.  Return the chilled dough to a floured surface and roll out into a circle that is a couple of inches larger in diameter than your pie pan.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the rolled dough into a 9″ pie pan and crimp the edges.  Prick the crust with a fork, line it with foil and place pie weights of a small, oven proof plate onto the foil.  Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush the crust with one beaten egg white, reserve the yolk for the filling.


2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced

1 large Vidalia onion sliced

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 egg yolk

1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dry)

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the bottom of the prepared pie crust with 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.  Top with half of the onion slices and half of the tomatoe slices.  Whisk the mayonnaise with the egg yolk until pourable.  Drizzle 1/2 the mayonnaise mixture over the onion and tomato.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the thyme and 1/2 the basil.  Top with 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat this process again.  Top the final layer with the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 for one hour and ten minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Finally Friday!

Google Images

I’ve featured my Peruvian Chicken recipe before but it deserves another round.  The sides have changed and I think you’ll love them.  I’m exploring different grains as the weather warms up, cool salads packed with nutrition and light desserts.  Have a wonderful weekend….stay cool and enjoy!

peruvian grilled chicken

Peruvian Chicken

2 3-4 pound chickens, butterflied (I asked the butcher at Harris Teeter to do this for me and he did a great job!)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon dry marjoram leaves

5 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

Place the chickens in two large zip lock bags.  Combine the marinade ingredients and mix well.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag, seal and refrigerate overnight, turning every few hours.  Heat your grill to 400 degrees, or if using charcoal, heat until coals are turning white.  Grill for about 6 minutes on each side.  Cut into the chicken to make sure the juices are clear.  Cut into serving pieces and place on a platter.

These Veggie Fritters Taste So Good, You’d Never Guess How Great They Are For You!

Quinoa and Vegetable Fritters

I have to give credit for this recipe to 12 Tomatoes, one of my favorite spots on the internet when it comes to good eating!  These are so yummy and you can vary the vegetables as desired.


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and drained overnight, optional
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or seasoned breadcrumbs)
  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, as needed


  1. Wrap grated zucchini in paper towels and wring them over the sink to squeeze out excess moisture.
  2. If beans are not already dry, pat them dry with paper towels, then transfer them to a large bowl and lightly mash them.
  3. Add zucchini, quinoa, garlic, parmesan, panko and basil to the bowl, and season everything with salt and pepper.
  4. Add your egg and egg yolk and, using two forks or your hands, mix together until combined.
  5. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and let the pan get really hot.
  6. Form quinoa mixture into 2-3-inch patties, then carefully drop them into the hot oil.
    Note: only fry a few pancakes at a time so that the pan stays hot.
  7. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown, then flip and repeat on other side.
  8. Continue with remaining fritters.
  9. Transfer cooked patties to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then serve immediately as is, or with sour cream or yogurt

Recipe For Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad - This cucumber salad is light, just as you would expect anything with cucumbers to be.

Cucumber Cilantro Salad

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Golden Isles Olive Oil Persian Lime Olive oil

Juice of one lime

1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

sea salt to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

Toss the cucumbers and cilantro with the olive oil and lime juice to coat.  Add the remaining ingredients, toss and chill for an hour.



A nice bowl of frozen vanilla yogurt with fresh raspberries and chopped pistachio nuts completes the meal….yum!  Easy cooking for easy summer living….enjoy!

Finally Friday!

Nikki Dinki photo

Nikki Dinki with Bobby Deen

So many doors have opened for me as I have written The Permanent Tourist over the past two years!  But I have to say that one of the most exciting opportunities is being contacted by the publicist of a budding new star on the Food Network’s Cooking Channel to write about her, the new show she co-hosts with Bobby Deen and the time she spent filming here on St. Simons Island last February.   I got to speak with Nikki Dinki about her career and her flair for incorporating vegetables in unexpected ways so that anyone can love them!  It’s all about thinking outside of the box, enhancing vegetables with sauces and butter, yes butter, in ways you may never have considered. The show made its premiere appearance on the Food Network June 2nd and offers a blind taste test of foods we might consider junk food and how Nikki and Bobbi create a healthier version.  You’ll find participants, blind taste testers, choosing the healthier version, much to their surprise, when they learn which dish is which!  So without further ado, here is a delicious recipe Nikki kindly sent for me to share with my readers!  It’s easy and perfect for weekend entertaining, especially since it features shrimp and we all know how tasty our sweet Georgia shrimp is!

Nikki's brown butter rigatoni with cauliflower breadcrumbs

Brown Butter + Lemon Rigatoni with Cauliflower Breadcrumbs

Serves 4

½ head cauliflower, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ cup loosely packed parsley

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

1 ½ ounces parmesan cheese, shredded

1 pound rigatoni

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup heavy cream

2 lemons zested + the juice of 1 lemon

1 pound large shrimp, peeled + deveined

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat for cooking the pasta and preheat the oven to

400°F. While they are heating, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped.

Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil and ½ teaspoon

of the salt and bake until brown – about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

2. Turn the oven heat up to 450°F. Add the parsley, parmesan and panko to the bowl of the

food processor. Toss in the browned cauliflower and pulse until everything is finely ground.

Transfer the mixture back onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes more, stirring

every 2 minutes until breadcrumbs are crispy and brown. Set aside while preparing the pasta.

3. Cook the pasta in the now boiling water until al dente according to the package directions.

Once it is finished cooking, drain the pasta and return to the pot. While the pasta is cooking,

make the brown butter lemon sauce.

4. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat and cook it until browned – about 5

minutes. Turn heat off and let the butter cool for 5 minutes; then add the cream, lemon juice

and zest, parsley and 1 teaspoon of the salt and stir until combined. Add the sauce to the

pasta and toss together until well combined; leave over low heat while you make prepare the


5. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the

shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the black pepper in a medium bowl; then

add to the skillet and sauté until pink and slightly charred, turning once – about 4 minutes


6. Serve immediately, dividing the pasta among 4 dinner plates and topping each portion with

one-quarter of the shrimp and scatter the cauliflower breadcrumbs evenly over the tops.

Meat On The Side

Look for Nikki’s cookbook in 2016.  Published by St. Martin’s Press, this book will guide you on your way to creative cooking!  I cannot wait to get a copy!  One more to add to my ever growing cookbook collection!  Get to know Nikki better here:, you’ll find more yummy ideas and recipes!

AND, before I end!  When Nikki and Bobby were here on St. Simons Island they filmed a segment with one of all of our favorite local restaurants, Southern Soul BBQ.  If you’re a fan of the restaurant I know you’ve tried the Drunken Cubano sandwich made so famous there.  The show airs this coming Tuesday, June 16th at 9:00 pm on the Food Network’s Cooking Channel.  You’ll get to see how Nikki and Bobby added a healthy touch to this classic favorite and see how participants responded!  Talking with Nikki was delightful and I know you’ll enjoy the show when you tune in!  Another fabulous offering from Food Network’s Cooking Channel to program into my smart tv for regular taping!  For more on Junk Food Flip go here:

Finally Friday!

Sometimes I just like to have fun in the kitchen.  I’ve found some pictures of foods I absolutely love on Pinterest and I’m pairing them with my recipes today!  It’s all about deliciousness and letting my culinary imagination go!  If you have not visited Golden Isles Olive Oil in Redfern Village here on St. Simons you are truly missing out!  Last weekend we had such a great time discovering what can be done with flavored olive oils and the many variations of balsamic vinegar that you’ll find there.  Go for an olive oil and balsamic tasting!  The ladies in the shop are super helpful and ready to help you get your collection going or put a gift basket together for a friend!  I’m sold and I think you will be as well!  So, without further ado!  Here is my “fantasy” meal…..I think I’ll be making it this weekend for Mr. T to enjoy as well!

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Asparagus, Bacon and Cheese Tart

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes with Blackberry Sauce


heirloom tomato salad


Heirloom Tomato Salad

1 each, yellow, red and green heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh tarragon


1/4 cup Golden Isles Tarragon Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic

1/4 teaspooon dry mustard

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Whisk the olive oil and vinegar together, add the seasoning and drizzle over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with fresh tarragon for garnish.

asparagus tart


Asparagus, Bacon and Cheese Tart

1 package puff pastry, thawed

1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off and lightly steamed, not more than 3-4 minutes (If you like your asparagus really crisp you won’t want to steam it…personal preference)

6 slices of Smithfield applewood smoked bacon, fried and crumbled

1 log goat cheese, softened and crumbled

1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced

Roll the thawed puff pastry out to an 11×14 rectangle.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Roll the edges of the dough slightly to create a “crust”.  Cover the dough with the goat cheese and mozzarella.  Place the asparagus on top of the cheese and sprinkle with the bacon.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.



Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes with Blackberry Sauce

I’m not going to even think of taking credit for this recipe.  I found it on the Dixie Crystal Sugar website.  But I will suggest adding a bit of blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar to the puree for a little “zing”.  I even learned that a little balsamic added to vodka and some sparkling makes a pretty refreshing cocktail!



  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (zest from approximately 2 large lemons)
  • 1 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (juice from approximately 1 large lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries (or berries of choice)
  • 2-4 tablespoons Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    For filling

    1. Lightly butter and sugar four 10 ounce ramekins or five 7 ounce ramekins and set aside.
    2. In a small bowl measure out sugar.
    3. Add lemon zest and with your fingers, rubbing firmly, rub zest into sugar.  This will release oils from citrus zest and perfume th sugar with lemon flavor and scent.
    4. Sift flour and salt into bowl with zested sugar and set aside.
    5. In a mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, buttermilk and lemon juice and mix until combined.
    6. Turn speed to low and slowly add sugar and flour and mix just until incorporated.  (Batter will be runny.)
    7. In a separate bowl whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.
    8. Add batter to whipped egg whites and gently fold the two into one another until mixed.
    9. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan (or similar) and fill with hot water around ramekins so that it reaches half way up sides.
    10. Pour batter into buttered and sugared ramekins dividing evenly and bake 40 minutes until they’re golden brown and spring back when gently pressed.
    11. Allow to cool slightly then invert gently onto a serving dish and serve with puree of choice.
    12. Garnish with whole berries and mint sprigs.

    For puree

    1. Using a stand blender, food processor or emersion blender, add berries and 2 tablespoons sugar and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust sugar if needed.


    Recipe developed for Dixie Crystals by Christy Landry @myinvisiblecrwn.

Finally Friday!


It’s not summer without pesto.  Many people think of basil and basil only when they hear the word.  I have expanded on the subject and add spinach, arugula, parsley, pecans, walnuts, or even almonds in place of the traditional basil and pine nuts.  Actually, pesto comes from the Italian word, which means to pound or to crush.  My menu today is short and simple, yet really delicious!  The pasta I use is gluten free so no worries there!  Also…join me at Golden Isles Olive Oil tomorrow where you’ll have a real treat.  I’ll be there with books for signing and delicious sweets for you to taste.  Chefarmer, Matthew Raiford, and Jovan Sage, food alchemist, will be offering a savory bruschetta bar with a twist.  Culinary fun from noon until 3:00 pm!


Quinoa Spaghetti with Fresh Pesto

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salsa

Outshine Pomegranate Fruit Bars

Pinot Grigio


Quinoa Spaghetti with Fresh Pesto

2 cups fresh, organic baby spinach, stems removed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup pecans or walnuts

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 – 3/4 cup good olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 package Quinoa Spaghetti, cooked for eight minutes in rapidly boiling water, drained, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside

In a food processor, combine the spinach, basil, nuts, garlic and cheese.  Process until well ground.  In a steady stream, pour the olive oil through the feed tube until a thick emulsion forms.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss with the warm pasta , top with a large spoonful of the tomato salsa and freshly shaved parmesan cheese.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Salsa

1 small box heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 clove garlic peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE:  You may also serve this is as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.  I love it on its own on a warm summer evening!

Outshine® Pomegranate Package

This is my newest, refreshing discovery for cooling off on a hot summer day!  I love the slightly tart flavor of pomegranate and this bar delivers!  The perfect dessert!


Finally Friday!


LA bayous

I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, outside of Houston.  The neighborhood was as much a part of Louisiana as it was Texas.  I remember eating Shrimp Creole, Chicken Gumbo and all of the various seafoods that were available in the local waters .  Every holiday meal that involves a turkey in our home results in a big pot of gumbo to be served a couple of days later.  Otherwise, as in this case, I use chicken, with the bone in and andouille sausage.  You can add oysters and shrimp to the mix as well!

One of the most important parts of making any gumbo is the “roux”.  If the roux isn’t right the gumbo will not be either.  When I say in the recipe that you want to slowly cook the roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it is the color of rich peanut butter, I mean this:



Come to think of it, there really isn’t a recipe that I follow.  I’ve made this for so many years it just comes together instinctively!  I think I can list everything in a way that you can follow, however.

Melissa’s Chicken Gumbo

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken pieces in the oil, season with salt and pepper then add the browned chicken to a dutch oven, cover with water and boil for 2-3 hours.  Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, take the skin off and debone the pieces, returning the meat to the pot with the cooking liquid.

For the roux:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unbleached flour

This takes a bit of time and patience, but it’s worth it!  Combine the oil and flour in a cast iron skillet and cook over low heat,  stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture’s color is the same as the photo above.  Then add the Cajun Trinity and the other ingredients.  Let this simmer for 10 minutes, add to the pot with the chicken and broth.


The Cajun Trinity:

1 cup chopped sweet onion

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

To the Trinity add:

1 cup chopped scallions, green ends included

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup minced, fresh garlic

To season the pot

1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning (I use Sangre de Cristo Spice Company, Zatarains’s or Tony’s will also do…add more if desired.)

1 bay leaf

1 pound andouille sausage, thinly sliced

Let the gumbo simmer, covered for a couple of hours.  In the last half hour you can add 2 cups of fresh, sliced okra if you desire.  Make a big pot of sticky white rice to serve the gumbo over.  I use a professional ice cream scoop to get just the right serving size.  To serve I sprinkle each bowl with chopped flat leaf parsley and scallions.

chicken gumbo

This is a great meal for a rainy Saturday evening, served with a crisp green salad, or the traditional creole potato salad you would find on the table in Louisiana.  Hot garlic bread is a must and plenty of ice cold beer, whatever your favorite brand is.

Creole potato salad

Courtesy of Chef Patrick Mould (thank you
January/February 2013

  • 5 cups peeled and cubed red potato
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Creole mustard
  • 1/4 cup minced green olives
  • 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brine from green olives
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, combine potatoes, eggs, and 1 teaspoon salt with enough water to cover. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes, and refrigerate until cold. Cool eggs by running under cold water; peel and dice eggs, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, mustard, olives, bell pepper, celery, all onion, parsley, relish, vinegar, olive brine, Worcestershire, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fold in potatoes and eggs.

pecan pralines

For dessert you might make a batch of pecan pralines, let them harden and crumble them over good vanilla ice cream.  We’re talking delicious now!

Pecan Pralines

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

1/2 cup of milk

2 tablespoons Karo syrup (light)

1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla

2 cups pecan halves

Mix sugar, salt, milk and Karo syrup in a heavy pan and bring to the soft ball stage.  Add butter and vanilla, beat with a whisk and cool.  Add pecans and drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.  When the pralines are firm they are ready to eat.

As they say in New Orleans……Bon Apetit, ya’ll!

I am now accepting sponsors for this site.  If you are interested in a unique, affordable way to promote your business or service please contact me:


Finally Friday

Easy summer living…’s the only way to go!  We’re cooking fresh chicken sausages with peppers and sweet Vidalia onions.  My family loves this dinner accompanied by grilled, garlic Ciabatta bread.  This is one of my “go to” menus when it’s been a long hot day.  Everything goes right on the grill…’s oh so easy!

sausage & peppers

Italian Chicken Sausage

Grilled Peppers & Vidalia Onion

Grilled Garlic Ciabatta Bread

Red Wine Spritzers


Italian Chicken Sausage

Most supermarkets carry Italian chicken sausages.  At our local Harris Teeter they have them, freshly made, in the butcher’s case.  Simply take them out of their container, score them a couple of times on top, spray your grill with a bit of olive oil and place the sausages on the grill.  We like ours to be medium well and that takes around 4-5 minutes on each side.  Remove from the grill and cut the sausages in half to serve.

peppers & onions

Grilled Peppers & Vidalia Onion

1 large Vidalia onion

1 large green bell pepper

1 large red bell pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

I always keep plenty of green and red bell peppers this time of year.  We love them raw or grilled.  You’ll want to remove the stem, core, seeds and any membrane on the inside before slicing the peppers into thin strips.  Peel and half the onion, then slice in “1/2 moon” slices.  Chop the garlic and toss it into the pepper and onion mix with seasoning and olive oil.  I have a teflon grilling “wok” that I use to cook this.  Simply place the wok on your grill top and cook the veggies for 7 – 10 minutes, depending on how done you want them.  My crowd prefers the peppers to be slightly crunchy so I go with  seven minutes.


Grilled Garlic Ciabatta Bread

Split a loaf of Ciabatta bread in half, lengthwise.  Generously brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh garlic.  Place the bread split side down on the top rack of the grill and cook until golden brown.

red wine spritzer

Red Wine Spritzers

I like to use a sweeter red wine for spritzers, Barefoot makes one “Sweet Red Wine” that is great mixed with lime seltzer and plenty of lemon and lime slices.  This makes a light, refreshing summer drink and the slight sweetness compliments the spiciness of the sausages.

There you have it!  An easy summer menu sure to please just about anyone…..and you didn’t have to heat up the kitchen!  Summertime life is good!

Finally Friday!

Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday!  My daughter always makes me breakfast and then I prepare a special midday meal for my mother.  It’s always a great time for celebrating each other and the love that we share.  I thought I give you a little peek at what will be on the menu!  Feel free to copy me if you like!  Yummy things for a very wonderful person…..Mom’s everywhere!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cedar Plank Salmon

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Chilled Tomato Salad

Fresh Berry Compote with Buttermilk “Pudding”

Springtime Asparagus Soup |


Cream of Asparagus Soup

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 pound of asparagus, stemmed and cut into two inch pieces

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Sea salt and white pepper to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream.

Creme Fraiche and chopped chives for garnish

Heat the oil slightly in a small pan and saute the shallots until just tender.  Simmer the asparagus in the broth until tender.  Add the shallots and simmer for five minutes.  In batches, ladle the mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Return to the pan and heat until just beginning to simmer.

For the creme fraiche, combine 1/2 cup sour cream with 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Mix well.

To serve:  Ladle into soup bowls and spoon a small amount of creme fraiche into the middle of each bowl.  With a toothpick or bamboo skewer, begin at the middle and pull the mixture through the soup to create a spiral effect.  I like to garnish with a couple of asparagus tips that I’ve lightly sauteed in olive oil, but this is a personal choice.  Sprinkle with chopped, fresh chives and enjoy!

Cedar-Planked Salmon pairs smoky cedar flavor with a  Sweet-and-Salty Salmon Rub for this simple and delicious salmon dish.


Cedar Plank Salmon

1 cedar plank, soaked in water for 30 minutes

1 1/2 pound salmon filet

2 lemons thinly sliced

3 scallions finely chopped


1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dry dill weed

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dry minced onion.

Mix the rub mixture and rub it into the salmon without skin. Heat the grill to medium-high, 350-400 degrees. Place the plank, which you have soaked and drained, onto the grill and heat for three to four minutes.  Place the salmon, skin side down, on the plank and top with with the lemon slices.  Put the plank with the salmon back on the grill, close the cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  Garnish with chopped scallion and serve.

Fried Wild Mushroom Risotto


Wild Mushroom Risotto

I could stand over the stove and stir risotto for the time it takes, but this is Mother’s Day and I’m supposed to be celebrated as well!  Short cuts are in order and this one works very well.  I use the package of “Alessi” mushroom risotto that is for sale at most grocery stores.  I also purchase about a quarter pound of shitake mushrooms.  I saute the caps, which I slice thinly in about a half tablespoon of butter, I add a good 1/2 cup of chopped, fresh, flat leaf parsley and stir this all into the risotto mixture that I have cooked according to the package instructions…EXCEPT…I cook the risotto in vegetable broth instead of water.  It adds flavor and that’s important!

Heirloom Tomato Platter is always a perfect picnic menu winner. Serve along side Aunt Nellie's Pickled Beets! #ANRPicnic


Chilled Tomato Salad

1 yellow heirloom tomato

1 red heirloom tomato

1 greem heirloom tomato

1 hothouse cucumber

1/2 vidalia onion, peeled and thinly sliced


1/2 cup extra virgin garlic olive oil from Golden Isles Olive Oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes in thin slices, peel and slice the cucumber and onion.  Combine the dressing ingredients and toss with the vegetables.  Chill until ready to serve.

Fat-free creamy buttermilk puddings with fresh berry compote


Fresh Berry Compote with Buttermilk “Pudding”

1 pint fresh, organic blueberries

1 pint fresh, organic blackberries

1 pint fresh, organic raspberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons stevia or good organic, raw sugar


1 cup buttermilk

1 8 ounce package cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the buttermilk and cream cheese together until it is the consistency of “pudding”, add more buttermilk if needed.  Add the sugar and vanilla and mix.

To Serve:  Place pudding in the bottom of 4-6 serving “glasses”  and top with the berry mixture.  Garnish with a fresh mint sprig if desired.

Finally Friday!

It’s Friday and I’m sharing one of my favorite menus with you!  This is perfect for a Spring evening, shared with friends over a nice bottle of Riesling!  I originally found this menu on Ina Garten’s site for The Barefoot Contessa show on The Food Network.  It has served me well over the past few years and appears on our table when the weather is warmer.  You can substitute grouper filet for the chicken if you so desire and I’ve also served steamed lobster tails over the top of this same salad and it’s a huge hit!  I think it works in many ways and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

Parmesan Chicken with Spring Green Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette

Berry Crisp

Chilled Riesling


We tasted Bex Riesling at our Easter dinner and it was fantastic…..see Mark at Harris Teeter if you’re on the island and he’ll point you in the right direction.

Ina's mushroom soup lg.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup

Just looking at this recipe makes me hungry for this soup.  My family are not mushroom lovers so I puree the soup before serving and they love it.  The flavors meld together and create the most amazing flavor!

Serves 6

5 ounces shitake mushrooms

5 ounces baby portobello mushrooms

5 ounces crimini mushrooms

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 stick butter

1 cup chopped onion (I use Vidalia)

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 sprig fresh thyme

Himalayan Pink Salt (order here:

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 cup chopped leeks (1 leek, white and light green part….wash them well!)

1 cup chopped shallots

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine (I like a Pinot Grigio for this)

1 cup half and half

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chopped, flat-leaf parsley

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry cloth.  I do not wash them.  Remove the stems from the  mushrooms and coarsely chop  them.  Slice the caps of the mushrooms.  For the stock:  Saute the mushroom stems in the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add the onion, carrot, thyme sprig, salt and pepper and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  The vegetables should be soft.  Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil, reducing the heat to a low simmer.  Cook for about 30 minutes.   Strain the liquid and you should have about 4-5 cups of stock…if not, add water.

In another large pot heat the remaining stick of butter and add the leeks and shallots, cooking over low heat for about 15 minutes.  Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to coat the vegetables.  Add the white wine and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add the strained stock, thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for about 15 minutes.  In a blender or food processor you will process this mixture in batches until all of the soup is pureed.  Return to the pan and add the half-and-half, cream and parsley.  Taste and season with pink salt and pepper if desired.  Serve the soup hot and enjoy!

Ina's Parmesan Chicken

Parmesan Chicken with Spring Green Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup all purpose flour (you can use gluten free flour for this as well)

1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt, see above recipe for ordering

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon water

1 1/4 Panko crumbs (these are also becoming available in gluten free form)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Unsalted butter

Good olive oil

Salad greens for 4-6 (I use organic red leaf with arugula and baby spinach)

1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1/2 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick.  You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.  Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a shallow plate.  On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water.  On a third plate, combine the panko crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.  Coat the hicken with the flour mixture, dip in the gg mixture and dredge in the crumb and cheese mixture on both sides.  Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan, cook 2 chicken breasts at a time until golden brown, 2-3 minutes on each side, making sure they are cooked through.  Add more butter and oil to cook the remaining chicken breasts.

Toss the salad with lemon vinaigrette.  Place a mound of salad on each plate and top with a chicken breast, garnish with parmesan cheese.

berry crumble on a spoon

Berry Crisp

This is the perfect way to use the rest of the blackberries that you did not use in the canapes.

1/2 cup fresh blackberries

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup sliced, fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together and place in a pie pan.  Top with Crumb Topping

Crumb Topping:

6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped almonds

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mix together and spoon over the berry mixture.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until browned and bubbly.

I’m so pleased to announce the new line of beautiful handbags from my friend Marsha at the wonderful blog Splenderosa!  A fellow Texan, her taste is impeccable!  Go here to read more:

Finally Friday!

I’ve been experimenting with lighter fare now that the days are longer and the grill is set to go!  We love good Mexican food in my family.  Having been raised in Texas that is just a given!  Wednesday night was always the night to go to the local Mexican restaurant.  I continue the tradition, but normally prepare the meal here at home.  This particular recipe had everyone asking for MORE!  It’s simple and delicious!  Let me know if you try it

Displaying IMG_0444.JPG

Fajita Quesadilla

1 pound of chicken tenderloin strips

1 green pepper, cleaned and cut into thin strips

1 Vidalia onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 jar red pepper jelly

2 cups shredded Colby/Jack cheese

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas (2 per quesadilla)


juice of 1 lime

1/2 olive oil ( I use the extra virgin from Golden Isles Olive Oil)

1/2 teaspoon pink salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Sangre de Cristo Spice Company Mexican blend (or substitute 1/4 tsp. ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon good chili powder)

1 teaspoon dried, minced onion

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

Mix the marinade in a glass bowl or measuring cup and pour it into a large zip lock bag.  Add the chicken tenderloins to the bag and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.  Heat your grill and cook the chicken strips, onion, peppers and garlic in a grill “wok” until the chicken is well browned.  Shred the chicken.  Keep the grill heated for the next step.  Spread pepper jelly on each tortilla.  Top with the chicken and veggie mix then top with the shredded cheese.  Top with a second tortilla that has been spread with pepper jelly as well.  Place the “quesadilla” back on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove from the grill and cut in serving wedges.  These are so delicious and easy to make.  The perfect meal for a light, warm weather meal!