Category Archives: favorites

the southern belle

January 2, 2014

awhile back i stumbled upon the grilled cheese academy’s annual recipe showdown in one of my weekly email feeds. while most would promptly filter this into their spam folder, i forwarded it to my husband and with an abundance of exclamation points that required our participation. lucky for me, he was just as excited about inventing a grilled cheese sammie as i was. (one of the many reasons i adore him). so after a few days of brainstorming, planning, and ingredient tweaking we constructed the southern belle: a refined, yet savory take on a southern classic featuring a charming combination of rosemary bacon waffles, havarti, and buttermilk fried chicken. 

the southern belle

the contest itself was simple, create a unique grilled cheese that features wisconsin cheese, name it, snap a photo and submit your recipe. this creation was inspired by my love for making waffles for my family every sunday as a kid in our cast iron waffle maker that has been used for several generations. plus i needed some southern appeal to rep my texas roots. most chicken and waffle dishes lend themselves better to breakfast, so we opted for a savory rosemary bacon waffle and nixed the syrup.  we didn’t win, but at least we ate well, and we’re already dreaming up ideas for this year’s competition.

the southern belle

for waffles:

4 slices applewood smoked bacon
a heaping ¾ cup of all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk
¾ cup milk
¼ cup cooking oil
1 egg white

1. cook bacon slices in a cast iron pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to cool. once cool, coarsely chop, and reserve for later.

2. in a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, rosemary, and chopped bacon.

3. in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolk with a fork, and then whisk in milk and oil. add this to the dry mixture all at once and mix until batter is slightly lumpy.

4. using a mixer (or a whisk if you want a workout!) beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. gently fold in the fluffs of egg white into the batter with a spatula, being careful not to overmix.

5. pour batter one batch at a time into your lightly greased waffle maker and cook until golden brown. keep finished waffles in the open air and do not stack to ensure that they don’t get soft from moisture.

for fried chicken:

2 chicken breasts, filleted
1 quart buttermilk (1/8 cup set aside)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tablespoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 pinch red pepper
1/8 cup milk
vegetable oil for frying
4 slices of havarti cheese

1. fillet each chicken breast lengthwise so you are left with four thinner breast pieces. then, place chicken in a large bowl (or freezer bag) and cover with buttermilk. refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours – overnight if possible. when ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30 minutes to remove the chill.

2. preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and red pepper in a very large bowl. In a small bowl combine the 1/8 cup buttermilk and the milk. pour the milk mixture into the flour and use a fork to mix until there are little lumps throughout. the mixture should be patchy with moisture.

3. heat 1 ½ inches of oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat with lid on. thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. i flip and press each piece through the mixture 4 times for a good thick coating.  add the chicken to the oil 2 pieces at a time. cover pan and fry approximately 6 minutes (but check to make sure chicken isn’t getting too brown). using tongs turn the chicken, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more.

4. place chicken on a wire rack (with a baking sheet underneath it) and continue frying the second batch of chicken. when done, bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until chicken cooked through (use a meat thermometer to check if needed). when chicken is done, turn oven off and place a slice of havarti on each chicken piece. also, place your waffles directly on the oven rack if they need warming. once cheese is melted, remove chicken and waffles and assemble. cut each sandwich in half and enjoy!

NOTE: Prepare the waffles before you begin frying the chicken, as you’ll want to eat the chicken fresh from the oven!

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figgy crepes with honey basil mascarpone

July 2, 2013

figgy crepes

i am on a serious crepe kick right now. it’s sort of the perfect summer dessert right? decadent without being too rich, refreshing without being too sweet. and ever so versatile. seriously y’all, you can put just about anything in a crepe. we had some  friends in town for dinner the other night who requested something ‘healthy’ after binging on tex-mex the day before. thus, this figgy crepe with honey basil mascarpone was born.






2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
two pinches of salt
a few shakes of cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey

mix all ingredients by hand with a whisk, or keep it easy by mixing it in your vitamix on level 1. (if you don’t have a vitamix, go here to read why you should). lightly butter a medium sized pan on medium/high heat and pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. you’ll want to tilt the pan to get a nice even thin coat of batter. cook for about 2 minutes until the top side has set and then flip and cook for about 10-15 more seconds. crepes can be stacked on a paper towel-lined plate until ready to eat. if you wrap them well they’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 days. (the batter can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge).

crepe filling:

8 oz mascarpone
fresh basil, finely chopped
local honey
lemon zest
fresh black mission figs, rinsed and sliced

your crepes can be made ahead of time, and simply served room temperature or warmed slightly in the oven for a minute. i’d actually recommend making the mascarpone filling ahead of time to allow time for the flavors to get friendly with one another. again you’ll notice that i didn’t tell you how much of each ingredient to add, because i believe it should be done to taste. teach yourself to listen to you palate and learn what it likes. it makes the process of creating dishes much more enjoyable than just following my specifications.

assemble crepes by spreading the mascarpone filling along the middle of the crepe and adding as many fig slices as you’d like. if you prefer it a little sweeter, drizzle some honey in there too. fold the sides of the crepe so that they overlap and garnish with a tiny dollop of mascarpone, fresh basil, and a touch of honey. and then eat to your heart’s content!

crepe recipe slightly adapted from here.

yummy beet smoothie

April 22, 2013

beet smoothie 2

it’s no secret that i love beets. we start almost every day with a smoothie, and this is probably my favorite combo right now. when you’re eating smoothies for breakfast every morning you have to learn to mix it up and keep your taste buds interested. let me tell you, strawberry-banana gets old real quick. so we’ve been thinking outside the box to find fun new combinations. if you’re not too keen on the taste of beets you can always add a bit of raw honey to sweeten it up. and the recipe above is just how i like it, there are several other fruits you could add to the mix – pineapple, blueberries, etc… the key is to have fun with it. above being delicious, you seriously can’t beat this color. i mean what a gorgeous smoothie. happy mornings start with happy bellies.

beet smoothie

1 roasted beet
1 banana
¼ cup frozen cherries
¼ cup frozen mango
splash of orange juice

a lil’ detox

April 2, 2013

so we’re doing a mini detox for the next two weeks. i have a long history with cleanses and detoxes – a history that consists of  being out of control committed to the idea only to quit half way through. my issue is that i want what i can’t have. usually around day 3 of a cleanse even though i feel wonderful, all i can think about is disgusting foods that i shouldn’t have, and normally wouldn’t even want to eat. we’re talking chili dogs, mile high burgers, brownie sundaes, you name it, i crave it. this leads to me sitting austin down and explaining to him that logistically a cleanse just doesn’t make sense for us because we already eat so healthy. then i beg to go out for a pizza and wine.

this time is different folks (at least i’m hoping). i’ve recently stumbled across an excellent herbal detox tea that focuses on the entire body and tastes surprisingly delicious.


we’ve decided in order to maximize its detoxyness (a real word, i promise) we would cut out dairy, sugar, caffeine, flour and fatty foods.  the key this time is that nothing is absolute. there’s no point in detoxing your body if you fill your mind with guilt for wanting/having something that’s off limits. i had a bit of goat cheese today. what of it? i’ve decided to detox by my own rules. all of our meals for the next two weeks will be mostly vegetarian, if not vegan, and sourced from my recent blog obsession, my new roots.

this tea is the bomb. with a simple mix of herbs we will be giving a good spring cleaning to just about every aspect of our bodies (see below). and i can still have the occasional glass of wine. it also gave me yet another excuse to go to herb bar, which you know i love more than anything.



it’s best to get a few people on board to split the costs since they have a 1 ounce minimum. here’s how much we bought to make enough tea for 3 people for 4 weeks.

3 oz dandelion leaf (kidneys)

2.5 oz  dandelion root (liver, gallbladder)

3 oz burdock root (blood, liver, gallbladder)

3 oz milk thistle seed (liver, gallbladder)

2 oz cleavers (lymph, kidneys)

2 oz lemon balm (digestive tonic, nervine)

2.5 oz pau d’arco (blood, parasites)

2 oz horsetail (kidneys, skin)

1 oz red clover (blood)

1 oz chickweed (lymph, colon)

2 oz angelica root (liver, digestive tonic)

2.5 oz yarrow herb (liver, gallbladder, blood, general tonic)

1.5 oz nettle leaf (kidneys, blood, general tonic, nutritive)

2 oz plantain (skin, lungs, gastric system, internal healer, antiseptic)

detox tea recipe.

just beet it

February 18, 2013

so if i were to throw a party in a bowl, the guest list would be as follows: arugula + goat cheese + beets. it’s really all you need. however in this case, salmon showed up fashionably late and really got things going. but before we get to the recipe, i’ll share some deets on the benefits of beets:

these babies are high in antioxidants, excellent for digestion, and even known to lower blood-pressure, act as an anti-inflammatory, and support a healthy metabolism (huzzah!)

now on to the recipe. ingredients are as follows:

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1-2 beets
crumbled goat cheese

normally i roast beets in the oven, but i wanted to try sauteing them, which worked out great.first wash, skin, and dice your beets.

in a pan with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil saute the beets until tender, then transfer to your bowl with the oil from the pan (this will serve as your salad dressing).

add in the arugula and goat cheese to your preferred ratio. i like the beets to be the bulk of the salad. toss the three and set them aside.

meanwhile, in the same pan heat another tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat. season your salmon with sea salt and fresh pepper to taste. cook the salmon in the pan (skin side down)  until the lower half of the salmon is opaque. then flip the salmon and increase the heat slightly. i remove the skin at this point and flake my salmon into chunks so the pieces get just the slightest bit of crisp to them.

once your salmon is just at the point of cooked remove the pan from heat (the salmon will cook on it’s own a bit longer anyway) and immediately transfer it to your salad. the warmth will melt the goat cheese just enough to act as a salad dressing.

from there, grab a fork and enjoy!

french toast bread pudding

February 9, 2013

this is the perfect weekend treat.

if you have guests in town, this is an easy dish to make the day before. then you can just roll out of bed and turn on the oven. seriously it’s so good and so easy, and you’ll look like a rockstar. pairs well with coffee and my favorite breakfast salad (recipe coming soon!).

for the bread pudding:
1 loaf of french bread (day old is best)
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk (i use 2%)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

for the topping:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
1 stick cold butter (cut into pieces)
fresh fruit (optional)

grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. tear bread into chunks and evenly distribute in the pan.

in a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. pour evenly over the bread. cover tightly and store overnight to let it soak up all of the yummy.


in a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. add butter pieces and mix until it’s the texture of pebbles (if you don’t have a pastry cutter like me, use the pulse option on a food processor). trust me this works. store in a ziploc in the fridge for the night.


when you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. remove bread pudding from fridge a good ten minutes before baking and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top (if you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture). bake for 40-45 minutes. your house will smell delightful.


i serve mine with honey and blueberries. but maple syrup works. or just eat it straight up. we devoured this before i could snap a proper picture, but here’s what was left after breakfast.

crumble done

feeds 8-10 people

(recipe slightly adapted from here.)

let them eat cake

February 6, 2013


last month we had family in town to stay with us for a few days and cooked up a storm. we also realized we have an extremely un-kid-friendly house. nice furniture, endless sharp corners, and the only small cups we had were for espresso – not to mention we don’t have ketchup, which is apparently every child’s favorite vegetable.  we’re going to work on that.

however the ladies (austin’s sister sheri, his niece zoe, and myself) had a good ol’ time baking a cake together. in true form i chose a guinness chocolate cake (again, not the most appropriate dessert for a 7-year old) but it was delicious and zoe was pretty excited to taste the beer in each bite, however the novelty wore off quickly and she decided to just eat the icing.

this cake was easy as well, pie. we followed the original recipe exactly although next time i may experiment with a few variations. i don’t own a mixer, so we actually did all of the whisking & mixing by hand. it wasn’t bad at all – no pulled muscles!


you intentionally don’t ice the sides of the cake so that it resembles a pint of that stout delicious guinness we love so much. we ate ours with wine, but pairing it with it’s inspiration, or a nice whiskey sounds like a winning combination to me.

guinness chocolate cake

cake ingredients:
1 c. and 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 c. guinness
3/4 c. dutch process cocoa, sifted
2 + 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. sugar
2 medium eggs
2/3 c. sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

frosting ingredients:
1 + 1/3 c. cream cheese
1+1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 c. cream, whipped

preheat oven to 350F. add butter, cocoa and guinness to a saucepan. warm over a medium heat and stir until melted. set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly.

add flour, baking soda and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. pour in the guinness/cocoa/butter mixture, lightly combine, add the eggs, vanilla and sour cream and beat everything together until well combined. the batter should be thick and dark chocolate in color.

pour into a greased and lined 10″ angel food pan (or another straight-sided tube pan) and cook in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake.  this cake is very moist inside, so use your judgment regarding the skewer test. do not leave in the oven until the cake has totally dried out — cook long enough so there is no uncooked cake on the skewer but there may be a few moist crumbs sticking to it after an hour of cooking. [note: i used a normal rectangular cake pan and it only baked for about 25 minutes.]

leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the cake tin (or cake pan) and place on a wire wrack to cool completely.

for the frosting:
place the cream cheese into the bowl of a mixer and beat on a low-medium speed using a whisk attachment [i don’t have a mixer so i set the cream cheese on the counter to get room temperature] whisk until the cheese is smooth and there are no big lumps remaining.

gradually, using a large spoon, add in the sifted powdered sugar and beat gently to combine. after 2 to 3 minutes, stop the machine (in my case, my arm), scrape any excess frosting from the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed until lump free.

remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream, mixing to fully combine. then place cooled cake on a cake stand and add the frosting, spreading out just to the edge without going over the side.

(original recipe source)