Tag Archives: Food

Pucker Up Buttercup

Tart Frozen Yogurt

The first time I ever had tart frozen yogurt was on a mother-daughter trip to New York City. Mama and I had shopped till our feet were numb, there was some brief crying on Broadway in Midtown Manhattan but we were determined to make it to Bloomingdale’s. Like all Southern women, we forged ahead for the greater good, which was shopping the shoes at Bloomies!

We landed ourselves in Forty Carrots for an iced tea break and discovered tart frozen yogurt. As we sat, swollen feet and all, going on and on over this delicious treat. Out of the corner of my eye, not staring of course because that’s rude, I noticed a lady enjoying her iced tea and tart yogurt. She looked so familiar, all I could peg is that she was a Southern mama.

For the next few days, mama and I found ourselves at Forty Carrots enjoying our new-found gem, that tart frozen yogurt. Low and behold that same lady would be sitting right there minding her manners and enjoying that yogurt too! It was Celia Weston, an actress that has built a career on playing Southern mama’s.


1 1/2 cup 0% Fage Greek yogurt

3/4 cup 2% Fage Greek yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp light Karo syrup

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and water. Microwave for 1 minute then stir to make sure sugar is dissolved. Add buttermilk, stirring well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine yogurts, simple syrup mixture and Karo syrup. Whisk until well blended and smooth. Pour directly into ice cream maker and follow instructions for maker.

This Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is one of my favorites. It is around $50 and you can usually find it at Macy’s or Williams-Sonoma. The best part is that it makes ice cream in just 20 minutes!

Best if served immediately.

I usually end a post with a few notes about the recipe but instead here are a few words of wisdom from my Southern mama:

Put some lipstick on, you need to brighten up your face.

Never wear white before Easter or after Labor Day.

It is never too soon to write a thank you note for anything.

No matter what, always keep a pleasant look on your face.

Always mind your manners no matter where you are.

King of the Road

Fried Corn

It must be a southern man thing… riding around. My granddaddy loved cars, loved to drive and lived life flying by the seat of his pants. When my mom was growing up, it was no big thing to hop in the car for a Sunday drive and wind up in Panama City Beach.

My dad was also notorious for getting us in the car on a Saturday afternoon and riding all over Tennessee. As we got older, my sister and I would crack up, as my dad wove through the back roads of his childhood for hours showing us his elementary school, where he grew up and commenting on the miles and miles of corn growing…it’s a beautiful thing!


12-15 ears fresh, sweet corn

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup milk

1 tbsp sugar

salt and pepper

The best way to enjoy corn in the summer is to head straight to a farmer’s market and buy it right off the back of a truck. This corn was picked a 6 am and I bought it at 9. You can’t get any more fresh than that!

To shuck the corn, hold corn at the bottom and peel the husk back from the top, tearing away at the bottom of the ear of corn. Peel off the silk and the rinse under running, cold water. Wipe dry with a paper towel to remove any remaining silk.

Using a sharp knife, cut a small piece off of the top of the ear of corn. Stand flat side down in a shallow dish and run a knife down the ear of corn to remove kernels, scraping as close to the cob as possible.

In a large, heavy skillet melt butter over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add milk, season corn with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in sugar.


Picking good corn is easy. Choose husks that are bright green and free of any dark brown patches or bruises. If you peel back the husk, the corn should be bright and juicy with no dried areas of corn.

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 the Peach Park is the real crown jewel!

Every year as we make our way to the white sands of the gulf coast, the stop at the Peach Park is almost more important than getting to the beach. You don’t eat breakfast, hop in the car, and make a beeline for exit 205, all the while planning what you’re gonna eat first and what you’ll take for later.


5 cups french bread, cubed into 1″ pieces

2 tbsp butter

3 cups low-fat buttermilk

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups fresh peaches, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

2 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cube or tear French bread into 1″ pieces to make 5 cups and place in a large bowl. Pour buttermilk over cubed bread, gently toss to make sure buttermilk is evenly soaking into bread and let sit for about 2o minutes.

Slice about 3 large peaches, enough for 2 cups then add blueberries. Toss with brown sugar and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla and set aside. Then put 2 tbsp of butter into a 8×8 or 9×13 baking dish and place in the preheated oven. Once butter melts, remove dish from oven.

While the butter is melting, add egg mixture to buttermilk soaked bread and combine gently. Then fold in peaches and blueberries.

Pour mixture into baking dish with melted butter and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until center is set and the edges have pulled away from the baking dish.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


I used an 8×8 baking dish because I like a thicker bread pudding, so it will require about an hour and a half of baking time.

You won’t need the entire loaf of French bread, just enough for 5 cups. Do what any good southern girl would and spread pimento cheese on the leftover bread!

Modern Woman

Fried Green Tomato Wedge Salad

My great-grandmother, Nanny, was a modern woman before her time and if she were alive today she would have still broken the mold when it comes to strong, southern women.

Growing up in Mississippi, she had her sights on going to college in Tennessee to become a teacher and star basketball player. So she set out to make her way by selling tomatoes on the side roads of the Delta to get where she intended to go and never looked back.

Nanny was so independent that she once drove herself to Nashville, checked in the hospital for surgery not even telling my great-grandfather, Frandaddy. Her reply was that he didn’t need to know!

Nanny never slowed down, some of my fondest memories are picking vegetables in her garden and watching her tend to her beloved tomato plants. It was nothing for her to go out in the morning, wring a chicken’s neck and the next thing you know it was fried chicken for breakfast.

In her seventies, she won the Van Buren county beauty pageant, walked 10 miles to raise money for cancer and got up every morning to work-out on her stationery bicycle.

So yes, I come from a long line of strong, southern women. I like to think I have Nanny’s steely will and her love of tomatoes.  Enjoy an updated classic wedge salad with a modern twist!

For the blue cheese dressing:

1 – 4.4 oz light Boursin Cheese

4 oz light blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

In a blender, combine Boursin cheese and buttermilk until you reach a smooth consistency. Add fresh parley, blue cheese crumbles and salt and pepper. Pulse a few times, until the blue cheese is incorporated. If you like a thinner dressing just add a bit more buttermilk. Chill until ready to serve.

For the fried green tomatoes:

2 medium, firm green tomatoes

buttermilk for soaking

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

Canola Oil for cooking

Slice green tomatoes in 1/2″ thick slices and place in between paper towels to soak up excess moisture. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Place tomatoes in a shallow dish and cover with buttermilk. While tomatoes are soaking, combine cornmeal and flour in another shallow dish. Season well with salt and pepper. I prefer my favorite Cajun seasoning instead of salt and pepper for the extra kick.

In a large skillet, heat about an inch of oil over medium-high heat. Take tomato slices, shaking off excess liquid and dredge in cornmeal mixture, place in hot oil and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. After cooking, place fried tomatoes on paper towels to drain off excess oil.

For the wedge salad:

1 head iceberg lettuce, chilled

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 red tomato, diced

hot jalapeno pepper jelly

blue cheese dressing

fried green tomatoes

Cut the iceberg lettuce into 6 - 8 wedges. Top each wedge with a spoonful of blue cheese dressing, diced tomatoes, crumbled bacon and fried green tomatoes. Drizzle a spoonful of hot jalapeno pepper jelly over the wedge salad before serving.


Need a fast hor d’oeuvre, pour the rest of the pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese and serve with Triscuits!


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!


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.


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

Happy 4th of July!


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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,


Old Faithful

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

“It’s not that chocolates are a substitute for love, love is a substitute for chocolate. Chocolate is, let’s face it, more reliable than a man.”

- Miranda Ingram

For better or worse, in sickness and in health, these little gems are tops on my list of comfort foods. Since I can remember, a batch of this 5 minute miracle can make even the worst day seem a bit more bearable.

Next time you are faced with a broken heart or a bad case of PMS, head straight to the kitchen and in 5 minutes you’ll be on your way to a happier place!


2 tbsp butter, unsalted

1 cup sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp peanut butter

1 1/4 cup oatmeal, quick cooking

Over medium-high heat, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well until butter is melted. Stirring occasionally, allow to come to a rolling boil. Once a rolling boil starts, let cook for exactly 2 minutes.

After the mixture has boiled for 2 minutes, remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla, peanut butter and oatmeal.

Quickly drop spoonfuls of mixture onto wax paper. The cookies will harden as they cool.


In the event of a chocolate emergency, don’t even bother dropping onto wax paper, just dive in with a spoon.

If you can wait until the cookies cool, top one with a spoonful of peanut butter.

Need more chocolate, this recipe can easily be doubled.