Welcome to my Food Journey

Curious Southern Cook on a journey to learn...and to create exceptional dining experiences. I love entertaining and preparing food for loved ones & friends and sharing those experiences with others. My wish is that you will be fed too. Bon Appetite!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Purpose Salad (for Meatless Monday)

The home gardens, Farmers’ Markets and Grocery Stores are laden with options aplenty
for fresh salads and assuredly they’re not always consistently the same items.  If you
make a habit of growing/selecting a multiplicity of ingredients to keep on hand from the
six categories below…you will have a tasty, balanced formula for making interesting
salad combinations that you may not have thought of before.  I am always concerned
when one or more daughters changes their diet to vegetarian (no meat) and do want
to make sure that they consume adequate protein.  With this formula, it’s there…
it’s all there on purpose stocked and ready to mix and match to make salad magic. 
Thus the name “Purpose Salad”, plus I would like to think that by being purposeful
about eating healthy with local, sustainable ingredients that my/our purpose gets
a little clearer.        

Purpose Salad (for Meatless Monday)


Base – Iceberg, Spinach, Arugula, Mesclun, Romaine, Kale
ProteinTofu, Cheese, Nuts, Seeds  
Veggies and Fruit (fresh, steamed, roasted, pickled, dried) – Carrots, Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Radishes, Celery, Tomatoes, Onion, Squash, Brussel Sprouts, Green Beans, Peppers, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Strawberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Pear, Melon, Cranberries, Apricots, Pineapple, Peaches
Dressing – too many choices to mention…I prefer homemade Vinaigrette
OtherSprouts (various), Croutons, etc.


Procure ingredients, wash veggies, fruit and prepare each item to advance to the state
desired for salad readiness.  Ex: if roasting veggies, slicing/grating cheese.  Begin to
layer in a visually appealing way starting with base and the next items go from largest to
smallest, ending with nuts cheese and other small item toppings.  Tip:  Pre-moisten Base
with dressing in a bowl before plating.

The salad I prepared in the photograph was made with, Arugula, Carrots, Red Onion,
Peppers, Steamed Small Purple Potatoes, Radishes, Steamed Green Beans, Orange, Pan
Sautéed Tofu, Clover Sprouts,
Sunflower Seeds, an Irish Cheddar Cheese and dressed with a homemade Orange Vinaigrette (see recipe below).

Orange Vinaigrette:

1/2 c freshly squeezed Orange Juice, strained
1/2 c White Wine Vinegar
1/2 c Canola Oil
1 T Granulated Sugar
2 t Yellow Mustard
1/4 t salt
1/4 t white pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid and shake until combined. 
Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Apple-Pear Cobbler

It's late and we have just returned from visiting the "Country Mice".  You see our dear friends Michael and Contina live way out where signals refuse to roam and legends of "Big Foot" are absolutely plausible.  All kidding aside... Neil and I, the "City Mice", escape a couple of times a year to spend time with our friends and just "be".  Sit on the dock, fish, walk in the woods, talk about the most trivial or important subjects of the day and admire the latest art works in process by our very creative friends.  We always have a meal there too and tonight it was Contina's special grilled chicken using herbs from the garden.  Being a "Southern Lady", I just can't show up empty handed... so I requested to bring a dessert.  Cobbler is always a winner and in this case was very appreciated.  I hope you have a chance to make it for your family and friends...guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of country mice and city mice alike.

Apple-Pear Cobbler (for the Country Mice)
Yield: 6 servings
4 Granny Smith Apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced
3 Bosc Pears, washed, peeled, cored and sliced
Acidulated water (about 8 c water with 2 T lemon juice)
3 T cornstarch
1 c brown sugar (divided)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t salt
4 t crystalized ginger, diced fine
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c Old Fashioned Oats
Whipped cream topping (Optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Prepare fruit and place in container with acidulated water until all is processed. 
  • Drain and dry the fruit with paper towels. 
  • Place back in container, add cornstarch and with clean hands toss until well distributed. 
  • In a small bowl, mix 1/2 c of brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.  Add to fruit and mix thoroughly. 
  • Place in 11x7 baking dish. 
  • Sprinkle ginger on top of fruit. 
  • In small bowl combine butter, flour, remaining 1/2 c brown sugar, flour and oats, mixing again with clean hands and place over top of fruit. 
  • Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. 
  • Let cool slightly, serve warm (Optional) with whipped cream topping.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Cheesyroni with Ham

Friday nights and comfort food just go together... and you don't get much more comforting than mac and cheese.  Tangystringycheesydeliciousness!  Add a salad and you have a complete meal.  One of our favorite movies is on..."Shawshank Redemption", so I better go.  Y'all have a great one! 
Cheesyroni with Ham
Yield: 8 servings

1 13.25 oz. box whole grain elbow macaroni
4 T unsalted butter
¼ c all-purpose flour
2 ½ c milk (I used 2%)
¾ t salt, plus 1 t extra for pasta water
¾ t garlic powder
½ t white pepper
½ t paprika
½ dried thyme
4 c grated cheese (I used a combination of cheddar and mozzarella)
3 c cubed ham

·         Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
·         Prepare macaroni as directed adding salt to the recommended amount of water, drain and hold until needed.  
·         Heat milk in a pan or microwave and have ready to the side. 
·         Melt butter in another pan, add flour and stir until thoroughly combined. 
·         Add milk stirring with a whisk until smooth and thickened. 
·         Add salt, white pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme and stir until combined. 
·         Add 3 c cheese and stir until smooth. 
·         Add prepared macaroni and ham and stir until combined. 
·         Pour into a baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. 
·         Sprinkle remaining 1 c of cheese on top and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
·         Cut into portions, serve and enjoy!           

Monday, April 22, 2013

Veggie Pad Thai for Meatless Monday and Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.  A day to reflect on Mother Earth and how we can improve our stewardship...hopefully not just today, but make meaningful changes and habits that will make a difference beyond today.  I have been trying to make meatless meals on Mondays believing it to be good for my health and hopefully make my footprint more positive here on Earth.  Planting a tree once a year is nice and without preaching...there's so much more each of us can do today and everyday. 
We love Thai food.  Having limited restaurant options locally, I wanted to experiment using as many fresh ingredients as possible to create this recipe.  Also, wanting to know more about beverage pairings for this dish, I spoke with a friend and neighbor who lived in Thailand for 5 years. 
Pamela Brown is a former U.S. Diplomat and is still very passionate about her experiences there... with the people, food and culture.  Her recommendation pairings for spicy Thai food are Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc for wine or Singha or Chang if your leanings are toward beer, noting that Thais drink their beer with ice in the hottest months.
We have come through quite a week with Boston and West in our prayers... I also lift you up and our home, we call it Earth... and know that together we can make a difference.  Enjoy!  

Veggie Pad Thai
Yield: 4 Servings

14.2 oz. package Stir-Fry Noodles
1/2 c Tamari
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t chili oil
1 block firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
4 c shredded bok choy
6 green onions (scallions), sliced keeping white and green separated
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 t grated ginger
1 T sesame oil
2 carrots, shredded
8 oz. cup bean sprouts
1/2 c chopped peanuts
1/4 c chopped cilantro

·         Cook noodles according to package instructions. 

·         Combine Tamari, lime juice, peanut butter, brown sugar and chili oil in a microwave safe bowl, Heat in 2 1 minute intervals stirring in-between until thoroughly combined…set aside. 

·         Heat wok, add 1 t sesame oil.  When shimmering add cubed tofu and sauté until light and golden brown.  Remove from pan and hold to the side. 

·         To wok add 1 t sesame oil and when shimmering add the shredded  bok choy and sauté until there is no more liquid.  Remove from the pan and hold to the side. 

·         To wok add 1 t sesame oil.  When shimmering add white part of sliced scallion, ginger and garlic…sauté for about a minute.  

·         Add noodles and 1/3 of the sauce, stir until all combined. 

·         Add carrots, reserved bok choy and 1/3 of the sauce, stir until combined. 

·         Add bean sprouts, reserved tofu, green part of sliced scallions and last 1/3 of sauce, stir until combined all heated through.  Turn off heat. 

·         Plate and garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Lyrics for the Earth Day Anthem set to "Ode to Joy"

Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment
Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Maple Pecan Oat Waffles

Early on Saturday mornings… typically I will leisurely catch up on my recorded cooking programs while drinking the coffee required for all of that carpe diem stuff.  Today was a little different in that I only watched part of one show.  I love Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” and this particular episode was all about “Oats”.  One of the featured recipes was for “Waffles” using…you guessed it, “Oats”.  I don’t make waffles near enough to please my husband and I love oats, so I had to copy his recipe and tinker a bit. The result is what you see below and I think makes excellent oooaaahfffles.     

Maple Pecan Oat Waffles


2 ¼ c buttermilk (room temperature)
6 oz. old fashioned oats, by weight (toasted)
3 oz. chopped pecans, by weight (toasted)
5 oz. all-purpose flour, by weight
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
¾ t salt
¼ c maple syrup
2 oz. melted unsalted butter (cooled)


·         Reserve 2 T toasted oats and 2 T toasted pecans and add remaining to a food processor.
·         Process together until it resembles the texture of flour.  Add all-purpose flour baking powder, baking soda and salt to oat pecan mixture and process until combined. 
·         In a large bowl add eggs and slightly beat, add buttermilk, maple syrup and melted butter stirring until mixed. 
·         Add dry ingredient mixture in thirds stirring after each and until well combined.  Add reserved pecans and oats to batter and stir until combined.
·         Let batter rest while preheating waffle iron.  Follow manufacturer’s instructions about the operation of your waffle iron.  
·         When preheated, ladle amount to cover surface of waffle iron without overflowing. 
·         Cook until golden brown.  Continue until all batter is used… keeping waffles warm in oven until all cooked and ready to serve. 

Tip: oats and pecans can be toasted on the stovetop separately in a dry pan continuously stirring for 3 minutes or in an oven.

Serving suggestion:  heat syrup and additional pecans together and pour over waffles…enjoy!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Smoked Salmon Dip

Busy week night wind down…time to chill out.  Not feeling like spending much time in the kitchen, so “simple” is the word.  This Smoked Salmon Dip is ready to serve in 5 minutes or less with the combined classic flavors of smoked salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese and sour cream. That's it...5 ingredients and ready to serve in a jiffy, enjoy!

Smoked Salmon Dip


8 ounces Cream Cheese (room temperature)
4 ounces Smoked Salmon (shredded)
1/2 cup Capers (drained)
1 cup Red Onion (chopped)
8 ounces Sour Cream

  • Add Cream Cheese and shredded Smoked Salmon in a bowl, mix until combined
  • Add Capers and chopped Red Onion, mix until combined
  • Add Sour Cream, mix until combined
  • Transfer to serving dish, serve with crackers, enjoy!
Tip: Try reduced or fat-free cream cheese and sour cream to lighten it up...it is still delicious and actually I can't tell a difference.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sunrise Smoothie

I am feeling the need to eat healthier, still be creative and without question...enjoy the taste of what I consume as nutrtious body fuel.  This smoothie will fit all criteria and if you have the problem of getting veggies into your kiddos, this may be an option for you.  Make sure your ingredients are very cold to start as processing will increase the temperature.  Enjoy!

Sunrise Smoothie

Yield: 2 12 oz Servings


4 oz Silken Tofu
1.5 c Vanilla Soy Milk
2 T Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 medium Orange, peeled
2 T Honey
2 Carrots, peeled washed and cut into half inch sections
.25 c Craisins


Place ingredients in a blender or Vitamix in the order as follows:

  • All of Tofu, .25 c Soy Milk, Orange, Oats, 1 T Honey.
  • Process until smooth and pour into 2 12 oz glasses until each is one-third full.
  • To the remaining mixture in blender/Vitamix add .5 c Soy Milk, Carrots and 1 T Honey.
  • Process until smooth and pour gently on top of orange layer until each is two-thirds full.
  • To the remaining mixture in blender/Vitamix add .75 c Soy Milk and Craisins.
  • Process until smooth and pour gently on top of Carrot layer.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pineapple Honey Pepper Frozen Yogurt

I feel very fortunate to be able to help organizations in our community. 
Recently my husband and I hosted a principal cast member from
Shreveport Opera’s production of “Rigoletto” for 3 weeks.  When departing,
he left behind some well appreciated food gifts.  Along with a gift of fresh pineapple shared by my Mother-in-law, I decided to challenge myself and
create a recipe featuring those ingredients.  You know…like as if you
were on one of those cooking competition TV shows. 
Well except for the wine, which I am saving, I used all of the other gifts
in this creation; pineapple, pepper jelly made with ghost peppers and
honey with honeycomb.  The contrast of flavors is off the charts.  
When thinking about them together at first…you can’t imagine it working,
but just imagine creamy honey frozen yogurt with pineapple tinged slightly
with heat strewn throughout and topped with honeycomb, drizzles of
pepper jelly and more pineapple.  Thanks to all for the gifts… they inspired
me to come up with this unlikely creation and the next time you are
feeling a little adventurous, I say go for it.  Enjoy!       

Pineapple Honey Pepper Frozen Yogurt

Yield: 1 quart


1.5 c fresh pineapple, cut into tidbits
1 T unsalted butter
4 T honey (divided)
1 t hot pepper jelly, plus additional for garnish (I used one made with ghost peppers)
Dash of salt
2 c plain whole-milk yogurt
2 c plain nonfat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
.5 c Splenda
Honeycomb for garnish


·         Melt butter into a pan; add 1T honey and pepper jelly and salt stir until combined.

·         Add pineapple, stir and continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed.

·         Place pineapple on a Silpat covered sheet pan (or non-reactive pan) and into a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes, let cool.

·         Meanwhile whisk yogurts, Splenda and honey syrup in a bowl until combined.

·         Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

·         Divide pineapple, rough chop two-thirds; reserve the remaining third for garnish.

·         Add the chopped pineapple to the frozen yogurt.

·         Transfer the pineapple frozen yogurt to a covered container and freeze for up to 2 hours.

·         To serve, scoop desired amount into bowl(s), garnish with reserved pineapple, additional pepper jelly and honeycomb.

 Inspiration from Food Network’s recipe – “Almost-Famous Frozen Yogurt”


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Roasted Garlic Beer Soup

Don't judge.  I was trying to efficiently use up remaining bulk garlic and create a recipe for a "Meatless Monday" meal for tomorrow.  It all works fabulously together and is very tasty indeed.  Even though there are 2 cups of garlic cloves in this soup, the roasting sweetens and mellows the flavor.  It's not overpowering, but the old rule of thumb still applies...make sure your sweetie has some too.  Wink Wink! 

Roasted Garlic Beer Soup

Yield: 9 cups (4 to 6 servings)
Cooking time: 2 Hours

2 c garlic cloves (plus additional for garnish, optional)
3 T olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, medium dice
6 T all-purpose flour
1.5 t salt
1 t pepper
2 12 oz. beers (Killian’s Red was used in testing)
2 c whole milk
1 c plain yogurt

  • Place garlic in a baking dish with 1 T of the olive oil, cover and roast in a 300 degree oven for 1.5 hours.
  • Meanwhile place the remaining 2 T of olive oil in a heated pan, add onions and cook on low stirring until just beginning to caramelize. 
  • Add the flour, salt and pepper stirring to combine and continue to cook for 2 minutes. 
  • Add beer, stir and continue to cook until it begins to boil.  
  • Turn down the heat, add milk and garlic and continue stirring until heated through.  Turn off. 
  • Process the soup safely in batches with a blender or a Vitamix.  Return to pan. 
  • Remove a cup of soup and mix with the yogurt returning to pan and stir until thoroughly combined. 
  • Check seasoning and adjust if needed.   
  • Heat soup on low until it reaches serving temperature.  Ladle portions into bowls and garnish if desired.
Garnish:  Slice cloves of garlic thinly add to a heated pan with 1 T olive oil, add a dash of salt.  Continuously stir until garlic is a light golden brown.  Remove from pan quickly as it will continue to cook.  Place gently on top of soup, serve and enjoy!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quick Mini Binis (Beignets)

I have quite a reputation for making Beignets that I serve at our local
Shreveport Farmers’ Market.  It doesn’t start until June 1 and lasts through the Summer.  You wouldn’t believe how often I get asked when it will be and why don’t I have a regular venue.  Everyone misses those sweet, (made from scratch) yeast dough pillows of goodness.  There’s the standard Beignet order of 3 and then what we call Mini Binis…a smaller bite sized, easier to share form of the standard, plus the kiddos love them.  I decided to create a quick version to share with you as most care not to commit the 4 plus hours per batch to make them from scratch.  The slow yeast dough method is best of course…but you’ll just have to come see me at the Farmers’ Market to get those.  In the meanwhile…enjoy!

Quick Mini Binis

Yield 12 Mini Binis, 2-4 servings

1 c self-rising flour
1/8 t salt
Dash of nutmeg
2 T honey
1/2 c buttermilk
Vegetable oil – enough to make a minimum of 2 inches in your frying pan
1 c powdered sugar
(have measured in a heatproof dish, ready to receive hot Mini Binis)

  • Measure all ingredients.
  • Pour oil into the pan and begin to heat.
  • Mix flour salt and nutmeg in a bowl, add honey and buttermilk and stir until combined.
  • When oil is at the proper frying temperature of 360 degrees Fahrenheit, drop the batter in batches (I use a small cookie scoop) into the hot oil.  Do not crowd with too many at a time as this will decrease the temperature and allow for oil absorption.  Continuously monitor temperature, turning Mini Binis as they brown. 
  • When golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil and place into the powdered sugar, coat and plate. 
  • Continue cooking in batches until all batter is used.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

PBJ Smoothie

Last year, we were on a smoothie kick about this time and unfortunately we got off of it. 
It takes planning to keep items in stock to have enough variety so that you don’t get tired of them.  I think that's what happened, but I do remember feeling much better at that time and even shed extra pounds.  This one was a favorite and when I texted my husband that we were having PBJ Smoothies for dinner tonight, he texted back “Can’t Wait”…I jest not.  I do wish health and happiness to all of you, and try a smoothie every once in a while, besides really liking them…you may just feel a “little” better.
Tip:  When you go to the Farmer's Market or find fruit or veg (yes veggies too) on sale at the market...buy extra and freeze them prepared and ready to go for future smoothies.   

PBJ Smoothie

Yield: 2 12 oz Servings
8 oz Silken Tofu
1 c Vanilla Soy Milk
.5 c Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
.25 c Creamy Peanut Butter
2 T Honey
.5 c Frozen Blueberries

Place ingredients in a blender or Vitamix in the order as listed.
Process until smooth.

Serve and enjoy!