Alabama Beauties

Peach-Blueberry Bread Pudding I’m not talking beauty queens y’all, these beauties are Chilton County peaches! One of my most treasured southern landmarks is just off 65 south right in the heart of Alabama. Clanton may be proud of their peach queens but … Continue reading

Roots

Potato Salad Two Ways

“In the South, perhaps more than any other region, we go back to our home…hoping it remains what it was on a lazy, still summer’s day…”

-Willie Morris

Everything that is summer in the south is at the root of who I am. No matter where I have lived or where I’ve been, my roots bring me back to the lake, celebrating a summer holiday with perfect potato salad.

My Nana was the queen of holiday meals and July 4th is still my favorite thanks to her. Aside from the grilled hamburgers, baked beans and deviled eggs, potato salad is one thing every good southern cook knows how to make by heart. It’s the cornerstone of any summer holiday meal in the south.

So here’s a lightened up version of Nana’s and twist from Lolleigh – potato salad two ways!

 Recipe:

3 lbs red new potatoes, washed

1 hard-boiled egg

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 tbsp chives, chopped

2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup light blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup Hellmann’s Mayo

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup 0% Fage greek yogurt

1 tsp white vinegar

salt and pepper

Place whole potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and let cook for about 45 minutes or until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork.

Pour off water and let cool. Cube potatoes and divide evenly into two bowls.

For the dressing:

Combine Hellmann’s, sour cream, greek yogurt and vinegar. Set aside.

Classic Potato Salad:

Into one bowl of diced potatoes add egg, celery, relish, salt and pepper. Toss with half of the dressing mixture and chill before serving.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad:

In the remaining bowl of potatoes add bacon, chives, sun dried tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, salt and pepper. Toss with the remaining half of the dressing mixture and chill before serving.

Notes:

I never subsitute anything for Hellmann’s, not even the reduced fat version. The real deal is just better!

Happy 4th of July!

My Father’s Daughter

Pepsi Cola Baby Back Ribs

It’s funny how the older you get the more you seem to appreciate your parents, especially when you become a parent. I knew when I was little my dad worked extra hard so that my sister and I could have really cute outfits. He always put us first and made sure that we had a great life.

As I got older, I realized that my dad’s actions had spoken louder than words and what those actions taught me was instilled deep in my character. Because of my dad, I have a deep-rooted love of family, the ability to put my son first, a work ethic to be proud of, how to be fair and above all how to set an example for others to follow.

For those of you that know me well, you know that we grew up in a Pepsi Cola household. My dad began working for Pepsi in college and still does to this day. At our house on Halloween, instead of candy, we gave out Pepsi. So cheers, to Pepsi and my dad!

Ribs and Dry Rub:

1 rack baby back pork ribs

1 – 2 liter Pepsi Cola

Take ribs out of package, rinse and pat dry. Turn the ribs over so that the meat side is down. Tear off the membrane from the back of the ribs.

Place ribs, meat side down in a large pan and cover completely with Pepsi. Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

After the ribs have soaked in Pepsi for 12 hours, remove from pan and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl and rub generously on the front and back of the ribs.

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp paprika

1/2 tbsp black pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Wrap dry rubbed ribs in aluminum foil and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

In the meantime, fill a large pan half full with wood chips and cover with water. The wood chips will need to soak for 30 minutes.

After the wood chips have soaked, pour off about half of the water and fill another pan with about 2 inches of water. You will place these on the grill and bring the temperature to 225 degrees.

Once the grill temperature is at a steady 225 degrees. Place the ribs on the top rack of the grill. The pan of wood chips and water should be directly over the heat of the grill and the ribs above so that they are being smoked from the indirect heat. Close the lid and go back every 30 minutes to flip the ribs.

I like to brush a bit of water on the ribs each time I go to flip them so they don’t dry out. The ribs should cook in about 2 1/2 hours. You’ll know they’re done when the meat begins to loosen away from the end of the bones.

While the ribs are cooking, you’ll want to get to work on the sauce…

Pepsi Cola Barbecue Sauce:

2 cups Pepsi Cola

1 cup ketchup

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp yellow mustard

1/4 tsp pepper and salt

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 tsp white vinegar

1/4 tsp chili powder

Place Pepsi in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. The Pepsi will continue to cook and reduce to a syrup.

Once the Pepsi reduces to a syrup, add remaining ingredients and reduce heat  low and let cook for about 30 more minutes.

While the barbecue sauce is simmering, grab the ribs from the grill. Baste ribs with barbecue sauce and wrap in foil, keeping warm until ready to serve.

I promise these ribs are worth the extra effort. They are smoky sweet and won’t last long!

Notes:

I used Niman Ranch pork baby back ribs – they were excellent.

I typically don’t use foods that contain high fructose corn syrup. I use Heinz Simply Ketchup but I did use real Pepsi, which contains corn syrup.

Grilled!

Simple Grilled Chicken

 “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Abraham Lincoln

You can’t fool a good cook with a bad recipe and good cook knows most of the time that simple is better. In all my years of cooking, the most important lesson learned has been the less ingredients and steps a recipe requires, it is usually a better recipe.

It’s the same principle when spotting liar. The more information and the more complicated their story, you can usually bet they’re not telling the truth. So the problem with lying is that all the little details usually add up and get you caught. The same goes for a bad recipe – all those little details and steps add up and the result is a bad dish!

Recipe:

4 chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp orange juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Wash and dry chicken breast, place in a large ziploc bag. Whisk together remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour over chicken and seal bag. Place in fridge and let marinate for 1-3 hours.

Preheat grill to a medium-high heat. Grill chicken 8-10 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Juices will run clear when chicken is done.

Notes:

If you like a little bit spicier marinade, just add more crushed red pepper flakes.

Make a meal on the grill. I like to grill fresh corn and vegetable kabobs when I make this chicken dish.

Mmmm…Mama

Lemon Berry Tart

Life is a funny thing – full of ups and downs, great joy and sorrow, heartache and love. A mother’s greatest gift to her child are roots and wings to navigate this sometimes bumpy life and I find myself using these tools more than ever these days.

I am grateful to be a mother today but I am even more grateful to the woman who taught me how to be a mother. It’s funny that at age 36, I need her just as much today as my 14 month old needs me.

We love you to the moon and back – Happy Mother’s Day!

Recipe:

1/2 cup almonds, dry roasted and unsalted

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp butter

1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, fat free

2 eggs, separated

1/3 cup lemon juice, fresh

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tbsp sugar

strawberries and whipped cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grind almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Combine almonds with graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter.

Press mixture into a tart pan with a removable bottom. Make sure to firmly pack the crust down with the bottom of a glass. Bake for 5 minutes and then let cool.

In small bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and lemon zest and then set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into the condensed milk mixture and the pour into the tart pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until center is set. Let cool for an hour on a wire rack and then transfer to fridge and let chill for another hour before serving.

Serve with whipped cream and a strawberry.

The Good Stuff

Stuffed Potatoes

The stuff of life can sometimes be a lot like a potato. Most people, experiences and events can have a nice outer skin. It’s after you dig into the inside that you know what you’re dealing with.

I ran across this quote saying,

“Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things fall together”

While a potato may be good plain, when you open it up, take it apart and put it back together again the outcome will surely be better.

Recipe:

3 large baking potatoes

3 slices pepper bacon

1 cup sweet white corn, fresh or frozen

2 tbsp butter, unsalted

3/4 cup light sour cream

1/4 cup milk, warm

3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 2% or low fat

2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and dry potatoes. Pierce a few times with a knife, then wrap each potato in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven, unwrap foil and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Carefully cut potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the meat of the potato. Leave a little bit of the potato attached to the hollowed out skin so that they will stand up to the filling.

Add butter to the potato and mash with a fork or potato masher until butter is melted and incorporated. Then fold in sour cream and warm milk.

Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and cook until crispy. Remove from pan, place on paper towels to drain excess fat. Wipe leftover fat out of pan and place back over medium-high heat, add corn and saute for about 2 minutes.

Stir bacon, corn, fresh chives and cheese into the potato mixture. Season well with salt and pepper. Once the mixture is well combined, carefully fill the potato skins with the mixture.

Bake stuffed potatoes in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Backstage Pass

Backstage Pass

This has to be one of the coolest jobs around, feeding the crew of Sugarland. Three meals a day, rolling into different towns, setting up a mobile kitchen and hitting the ground running the minute you get there takes one organized chick to get it done.

My sweet friend, Peanut, is just that girl. She hops on a bus after a show and begins planning her menu for next show. Before getting to the new venue, she calls ahead her shopping list to a runner, gets off the bus, does a little more shopping and then gets to work with the catering crew. 

Breakfast is done, lunch is out and now it’s time to prep beef tenderloin for tonight’s menu featuring filet mignon with béarnaise sauce.

Ready for dinner, grilled halibut with olive tapenede.

The dinner menu for the Nashville Sugarland show. Yum!

Ready to eat!

Peanut and Jack living like rock stars!

Thanks to all for a fun, stress-free day, love and support,

Lolleigh