The Recipes

Some of these are tried and true and some of them were first time tries that were a hit. Thank goodness Alan and Darrian are willing to be my guinea pigs. Bless their pea pickin' hearts. 


Buttermilk Pie

Y'all, Alan loves the pie. I mean, what's not to love? Buttermilk...pie...custard-like...heaven in a pie pan. I first heard of buttermilk pie about 5 years ago and just happened to have an abundance of buttermilk, so pie needed to happen, and happpen it did. As fate would have it, it has become a favorite in this house. This is also amazing with homemade whipped cream on top...because what isn't better with homemade whipped cream, right? 
**Not my pic...found it on :)**


3 eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

3 Tbs all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 9-inch pie crust


Prepare crust as normal. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until frothy; add butter, sugar and flour. Beat until smooth.

Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg; pour into pie shell.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until center is firm. 


Once it is cool, cut into slices and serve with some of that homemade whipped cream on top. Stand there and let everyone love you because you made an amazing pie. 


Marinated Carrots

I've been making these since my oldest kids were little, so at least 15 -20  years. Every time I make them, someone always asks for the recipe. I got it from one of those old Sunset cookbooks (like, 1988), this one is called Gifts from your Kitchen. You can find it here: I usually add more crused red pepper and garlic, because that's how we roll around these parts, but once you get the basic recipe down, you can adjust the seasonings any way you want to. And once you eat the carrots, just cut up some more and put them in the jar! No need to waste that good stuff! 

*Not my pic..found it on The Garden of's pretty though, huh? 


1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into fatty matchstick like things, a little less that the height of your pint-sized jar

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup white vinegar (white wine vinegar is really yummy here too!)

1/4 cup water

3 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp each salt, mustard seeds, and dry dill weed

1/4 tsp each crushed red pepper and dill seeds

1 clove garlic, minced


Arrange carrots in a vegetable steamer. Cover and steam over boiling water until just tender when pierced (about 8-10 minutes). Plunge into cold water to cool quickly, then drain. 


Arrange the carrots vertically in a clean 1-pint jar. Tuck in bay leaves. In a bowl, stir together vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, dill weed, red pepper, dill seeds, and garlic until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the carrots and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 days or up to 3 weeks.


Makes 1 pint. I usually double this recipe and make a quart at a time because they don't last long around here. 

Pickled Eggs

In all of the years that I've been married to Alan, it is strange that 17 years later I'm just now finding out that he likes pickled eggs. I should have suspected, but when I was looking for ways to preserve all of our eggs, he mentioned that he liked them. Whodathunk? Not me, that's for sure. I gave a jar of these to my brother-in-law and he loved them! He's an easy man to please. :)

*not my pic...they got eaten before I could take a this one from The Guam Guide.

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup hot sauce

1 Tbs red pepper flakes

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs each salt & pepper

1 Tbs cayenne pepper

1 Tbs onion powder

1 bay leaf


Put the spices in the bottom of the jar and put the hard boiled eggs on top. I used a half-gallon jar and filled it half-way with the eggs. 


Boil the liquid for about a minute and pour it over the eggs. Put the lid on the jar and shake it to get everything all mixed up and happy.


Keep it in the fridge for at least 5 days before eating, but they'll keep for at least 2 months. I kept mine in the fridge, but after they're pickled and if you seal the jar, I don't see why they couldn't live in the pantry too. 


I got this recipe from a gal on one of my chicken Facebook pages, but I can't remember her name. But hey, thank you random FB gal for the great recipe! 

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

This is absolutely my go-to recipe for chili. We all love it, and with the temperatures hovering around 10 right now, its perfect with some buttermilk cornbread! 

We're having a bunch of people over for Darrian's 16th birthday and this is one of his very favorites, so I'll be making a massive pot of this.

Feel free to share this recipe! I think its an Emeril recipe base, but I might be wrong too. **Disclaimer: not my photo...I found it on, but this is exactly what the dish looks like. 


2 Tbs canola oil

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 cup chopped red bell peppers

2 Tbs minced garlic

2-3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (I usually do 3 since we like it spicy)

1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean and cubed

2 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs ground cumin

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne

4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or the equivelant of 2 15oz cans of fresh canned tomatoes

3 cups cooked black beans (or you could really use just about any bean here...pinto, kidney...)

1 15oz can tomato sauce, or the fresh equivelant

1 cup vegetable stock (chicken stock works well too)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I add a bit more because we love it)



sour cream (homemade, if you have it!)

diced avocado

chopped scallions

shredded cheddar cheese


In a large, heavy pot (I love to use my cast iron dutch oven for this), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.


Remove fromt he heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. 


Serve with the garnishes on the side.


Its rare that we have any leftovers of this, but if you do, it will be even tastier the next day. This is the veggie version, but you could also use the chicken stock and add some shredded chicken for the meat lovers in your life. Either way, this is comfort food, at its best. 

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Seriously, who doesn't love some freaking scalloped potatoes? I've determined that the only wrong thing that you can do to a potato is not eat it. I love them and I would eat them every day of the week if it were acceptable. 

This recipe is so good, so easy, and soooo creamy! I can't remember where I got the recipe, but it is one of our go-to's. This calls for Asiago cheese, which we can all agree is heavenly, but this would work just as well with a good cheddar, or OOOO!!! Smoked gouda! Feel free to get fancy and add stuff like crumbled bacon bits, jalapenos, or make it a meal with some roasted chicken!


2 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 Tbs flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded

1/8 tsp paprika (for the topping)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp dried time or 1 tsp fresh

1/2 tsp garlic powder


Butter (or bacon grease is most excellent too) an 11x7 inch baking dish and set aside. Scrub the potaotes and slice them thin, about 1/8 inch-ish. Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and cook until almost done. Drain and set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 2 1/2 quart sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onion and cook for about a minute. stir in the flour and salt. Add the seasonings (except for the paprika) and mix well. Add the milk and cook until it starts to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sour cream and cheese. Cook on low until its all melted and creamy. 

Now later half of the potatoes in your prepared pan, pour half of the sauce over those suckers, layer the rest of the potatoes on top and pour the rest of the sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the potatoes with the paprika. 

Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until its getting golden brown and bubbly.


If you let this sit for about 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven it looks really pretty when you slice it. If you don't care about pretty, wait about 5 minutes, otherwise you'll burn your tongue off. 

Homemade Italian Seasoning

I think one of the craziest things I've ever done is buy seasoning blends. I mean, all they are is blends of stuff that I already have in my cupboard. And if it's something that we grow here on the homestead, then it's even cheaper. The stuff that we don't grow, we buy in bulk, so that saves a bunch of money too. Here's one the first blends that I made. We add a little extra garlic powder and red pepper flakes, because we like stuff with a little kick to it. 


3 Tbs dried basil

3 Tbs dried oregano

3 Tbs dried parsley

1 1/2 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


Either mix everything up in  spice grinder or in a bowl, smashing it all up with the back of a spoon. That's it!

This will keep in an airtight jar for about 6 months (although ours never lasts that long).

Pasta E Fagioli

We eat a lot of soups around here and we love pasta, so this is pretty much a bowl of heaven for us. I always use dried beans and soak them overnight because they're a lot less expensive and I don't have to worry about the BPA lined cans or even recycling the cans. And feel free to add more garlic if you want if you're like us and have all the love for garlic. Serve this with a nice, crusty bread dipped in a mixture of olive oil and Italian seasoning. Mmmmm....


8 oz dried great northern beans (about 1 1/4 cups)

1 Tbs butter

2 ribs celery, cut into about 1/4 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into about 1/4 inch pieces

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary

4 oz orechiette pasta

1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled

2 whole canned tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp sea salt

3 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock

1/4 cup packed fresh basil

1/4 cup packed fresh Italian parsely

5 large fresh sage leaves

6 Tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese


Put the beans in a stockpot or bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Cover it and let it sit overnight. The next day drain the beans and set them aside.


In a stockpot, melt the butter over medium to low-ish heat. Add the celery, onion, and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the garlic and saute until the veggies are translucent. Add the beans, 1 Tbs of the rosemary, stock, potato, tomatoes, pepper, and 3 1/2 cups of water. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/4 hours. Fifteen minutes before the beans are done, add the salt.


Meanwhile, cook the pasta until slightly underdone, about 5 or 6 minutes. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. Keep the soup warm over low heat.


Add the rest of the minced garlic. Minc the rosemary, basil, parsley, and sage and add that to the pot. Stir it all up and serve with some of that shredded parmesan on top. 


This might serve about 6 people if they're super polite and don't want to go back for seconds. If they're not Miss Molly Manners, it might serve 4 or 5. 

Buttery Oven Potatoes

Ok, I'll admit, these potatoes aren't for the "I have to watch my lady-like figure" kind of people, but dang, they are SO good. Buttery, cheesy, bacon-y...I've died and gone to heaven. 

You can do this two ways, either get the small red potatoes and just cut them in half or you can use baking potatoes and slice 'em thin. Either way works perfectly. 

And these go perfectly with that Beef with Rosemary-Mushroom Sauce recipe that I post a couple days ago. 


4 pounds unpeeled baking potatoes (or small reds)

Whatever you use to grease a big ol' cast iron skillet

1/3 cup butter

3 cups whole milk

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

6 slices bacon

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves


Put the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until just done. Drain them and let'em chill out. 


Cook the bacon until crisp and crumble it up. Put the onions in the bacon skillet and cook them until they're translucent.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large cast iron skillet.


Now either slice your baking potatoes into about 1/2" slices or red potatoes in half and put them in the pan. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the milk, 1/2 of the cheese and let the cheese get all melty and the milk heats up, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, add the bacon, onions, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper and mix it up. Pour that goodness over the potatoes and make sure all of the potatoes are good and coated. 


Bake for about 45 minutes, sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, then bake for about another 15 minutes, or until that cheese is nice and melty. 


This makes a lot, so it should serve about 10-12 people. Perfect for a potluck, so invite all your peeps over! 

Beef with Rosemary-Mushroom Sauce

Again, we love a good steak, but then go and add the rosemary mushroom sauce that has red wine it in?? Whaaa??? Make sure you use a good red wine, one that makes you want to finish the bottle, and a nice, thick, perfectly aged balsamic vinegar. It will make all the difference, I promise. Our favorite sides with this is my Come to Jesus Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus with Garlic Butter Sauce. Just top it off with a good, crusty sourdough bread and the rest of that bottle of wine and you're in business.

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (just buy the loose ones, they're less expensive and so much better for the environment)

1 cup dry red wine

1 lb boneless top sirloin steak (about 3/4 inch thick)

Olive oil

1 cup scallions, chopped

1/4 cup Italian parsley, divided

1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 cup homemade beef consomme' or thick bone broth

1 cup fresh or home canned tomato sauce


Combine the mushrooms, wine, and steak in a large, shallow dish and marinade in the refridgerator for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally to make sure its all good and covered. 


Remove steak from the dish, but keep the marinade to the side. Put a large, really well seasoned cast iorn pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the steak and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until its as done as you like it (medium rare is perfect here). Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest. 


Put the onions, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, rosemary, the remaining ingredients, and the reserved marinade to the pan. Bring to boil and cook until it reduces to about 2 cups, stirring frequently to avoid that burnt taste.


Cut the beef on the diagonal, across the grain into thin slices. Put the beef on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the beef. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley.


This could serve 4, but its so good that you'll be lucky to get 2 or 3 servings out of it, unless you pile up the sides and use it more like a side dish. 

Tomato Pizza with Garlic & Smoke Gouda

Tomatoes are abundant, so this is the perfect time to try this recipe. I use plum tomatoes because they're nice and firm, but you can just use what you've got. I also pre-bake the crust a little so that the tomatoes don't make the crust and yucky and soggy. You can make your own dough, buy some ready-to-use stuff, or bribe your kid into making a batch of homemade dough. I find that bribing works pretty well in these parts.



Dough for 1 pizza

Olive oil

1 Tbs yellow cornmeal

1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (you can get this at the deli counter-just ask for a chunk)

1 1/2 cups sliced tomatoes

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced (add more if you love garlic)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbs fresh basil, sliced really thin (chiffonade)


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.


Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about a 12" circle. Drizzle the pizza pan or baking sheet with a little olive oil and spread it around and sprinkle it with the cornmeal.  Crimp up the edges so that when you put the toppings on they don't all run off onto the pan. Put the pizza crust on the pan. Now is when you would prebake the crust, if you want, for about 5 minutes.


Sprinkle the cheese all over the crust, but leave a little border, about 1" all of the way around. Top that with the tomatoes. Combine the olive oil and garlic and drizzle that all over the tomatoes. Now sprinkle with the pepper.


Bake that sucker for about 15 minutes, or until it nice and golden brown and the cheese is all melty. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil. 


This might serve 4 people, but I doubt it. In our house we usually make 2 or three of these because Darrian will eat an entire pizza by himself. Ugh...teenagers. 

Better Than Butter Sauce

Now, I love butter just as much as the next gal, but sometimes I want something different. This sauce is SO good on fresh, steamed veggies. It's also great for those times when I feel like I need to watch my girlish figure. This would also be tasty added to soups. Let your imagination go hog wild!




2 tsp arrowroot powder or potato starch

2 tsp dehydrated chicken stock or 1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp dried savory

Pepper to taste

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

2 Tbs water


In a saucepan, combine the first six ingredients. Whisk in the milk and water until its smooth. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook over medium heat for about a minute, until it gets thick and bubbly. That's it!


This will make about 10 tablespoons, so enough for us to drizzle over our veggies, but if you have leftovers, you can always stick it in the refrigerator for a day or two. 

Oven-Fried Catfish

Two things I love: Hot sauce and catfish. Now put those two babies together and it's heaven. You can use any kind of hot sauce that you like, but really, if you're eating catfish, let's do it right and use one from Louisana. Am I right? And be sure to use yellow cornmeal because it does make a huge difference. It gives it that nice, crispy coating and there ain't nothin' like it. 



1/2 cup light beer

1/2 cup hot sauce (if you don't like it spicy, cut this in half)

4 6-ounce catfish fillets (best if you caught them first thing this morning!)

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

2 Tbs arrowroot powder or potato starch

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil or lard


Combine the beer and hot sauce in a shallow pan, but deep enough to hold the fish. Add the fish to the dish, flip'em over a few times to make sure they're good and coated, then marinate them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Grease a baking pan with the olive oil or lard. Or you can even use a sheet of parchment paper, but the bottom of the fish won't be as crispy.


Combine the cornmeal, arrowroot powder (or potato starch), salt, and pepper in another shallow dish. Dredge the fish in the cornmeal mixture and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle the top of the fish with a bit of olive oil. 


Bake for about 15 minutes or until the fish is nice and flakey.


If everyone sticks to just one piece of fish, this will serve four. If not, it will serve 2, so make extra, just in case. 

Chocolate Chip Banana Cake

Ok, here's something that might make you want to throw tomatoes at me...I'm not a huge dessert fan, especially when it comes to chocolate. If it ceased to exist, I wouldn't even care. But I do like this cake. It's not too sweet, needs no icing, travels well, and is super quick to make. Sure, I eat about a square inch of it and I'm done, but still, it is nice little nibblet for every once in a while. I think this came from a Cooking Light magazine, but I'm not totally sure.


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 cup very ripe, smashed up banana

1 tsp vanilla (get the good stuff or even make your own!)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips (you could even use carob chips)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, but I love them)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 baking dish (glass is best for this). In a medium bowl, beat the butter until its fluffy. Slowly add the sugar and beat it until its nice and creamy. Beat in the sour cream. Now add the eggs, one at a time, making sure its really well blended after each one. Add the bananas and vanilla and mix that in really well. 


In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Now add this to the mixing bowl, a little at a time, but just until blended. Don't overmix the batter or your cake will turn out tough. 


Pour the batter into the pan, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and walnuts and bake it for about 35-40 minutes, until its nice and golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Make sure you serve this after its completely cooled or it might have a tendency to be crumbly.


This can serve up to 12 really well mannered people. 

Jalapeno-Tequila Marinated Shrimp

At first glance this might look like its super involved, but its really not. Its crazy easy and absolutely delicious. If you like your stuff a little spicier than some, just don't take the veins and seeds out of the jalapenos. And please, please, make sure you use a decent tequila. Gut rot Mescal would totally ruin this dish. Try a nice Hornitos or Patron instead. Just think, if its something that you'd enjoy drinking, you'll probably enjoy eating it too.

This can be done in the oven or on the grill too.


2 1/4 pounds shelled, deveined, uncooked jumbo shrimp

2 cups chopped, loosely packed fresh cilantro (I usually add a little extra, cuz we love the stuff)

4-6 jalapenos, veins and seeds removed, then chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs good quality tequila

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 Tbs butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tbs cilantro, chopped

2 limes, cut into pretty wedges


Thread the shrimp onto 6 skewers. If you use bamboo skewers make sure to soak them in water for about 20 minutes beforehand to keep them from burning up in the oven. Put them in a single layer in a baking dish.


Combine the 2 cups of cilantro, jalapenos, onion and 3 garlic cloves in a food processor and finely chop. Gradually add the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, tequila, salt, sugar, cumin, and pepper until it becomes a nice paste. Pour this deliciousness over the shrimp, cover the baking dish with baking sheet, and refrigerate for about an hour. Try to remember to turn them several times while they're marinating. 


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the 2 garlic cloves and the 3 tablespoons of cilantro. Cook for about 2 minutes, just until the garlic starts to get soft. 


Just before your going to cook these bad boys, either heat up your broiler or grill. Put the kabobs on the broiler pan or grill and discard the rest of the marinade. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until they turn nice and pink, basting with the garlic butter. 


Serve these with lime wedges and margaritas. Ole'! 


This might serve 6 people if you've got other stuff to go with it. If not, it will probably serve 3 nice people or 2 piggies. 

Ancho-Fired Flank Steak

Like I've said before, we love a really good steak around here, especially locally raised, organic, fresh beef. There's really nothing like it, is there? And there's something about the combination of cumin and a good grilled steak that just makes my heart go pitter patter. 


The perfect partners for this juicy morsel is some creamy smashed potaotes, fresh, sliced tomatoes, and then garnish all of it with lime juice and fresh parsely. Life is certainly wonderful, isn't it?


1 ancho chile

5 cloves garlic

1 tsp kosher salt

2 Tbs fresh lime juice

1 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 lbs flank steak


Preheat your grill.


Toast and grind the ancho chile. Smash the garlic and salt together to make a paste. Now add the chile, garlic paste stuff, and the rest of the ingredients except for the steak. You should have a nice rub now. Coat the steak with rub, getting it into all of the grooves. 


Grill 5 minutes on each side. Let it rest for a few minutes before slicing in, otherwise you'll end up with a dry steak and no one wants that. 


This should serve about 4 people, if they're really nice to each other. 

Jalapeno Corn Bread

The big man on campus around here loves cornbread and I love jalapanos, so this is a match made in heaven for us. It's super moist, exactly the way a Southern corn bread ought to be. I also like to add cheese to this sometimes, because, well, you know....cheese. 


This can also be cooked over an open fire in a cast iron dutch oven, if that's the way you roll.


1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeded

2 Tbs vegetable oil

2 Tbs dark molasses

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups cream style corn

Lard or bacon grease for greasing the pan.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cast iron pan with the lard or bacon grease. 


Combine all of the ingredients in large bowl and mix it up really well, but don't overmix it because that will make your cornbread turn out a little tough. Pour the mixture into the cast iron pan.


Bake for about 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. 


This should serve 10-12 people-ish. 

Summer Vegetable Salad with Grilled Bread

I love summer almost as much as I love salads. I also love just about anything grilled (except maybe cereal). I made this ages ago for a potluck and everyone loved it, even the kids. The vegetarian crowed was pretty happy too! I think I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, but I could be wrong. Either way, it's all good. You can switch up the veggies with whatever you've got that fresh and yummy too!




2 Tbs red wine vinegar

1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbs honey (local is best!)

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 clove garlic, minced



1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

4 1-ounce slices of diagonally cut day-old French bread, about an inch thick

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 large tomatoes, cored, cut in half crosswise, and seeded

1 red bell pepper, quartered

1 yello bell pepper, quartered

1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch think wedges

Olive oil to "grease" the grill

3 cups zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick

3 cups yellow squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 cup cooked cannellini beans or wother white beans (if you use canned, drain and rinse them)

1 Tbs fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbs fresh thyme

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


Prepare dressing by combining the first 6 ingredients in a glass jar and shake the heck out of it. 


Heat up your grill. 


Prepare salad; combine 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 garlic clove in a small bowl. Brush 1 side of each bread slice with the garlic mixture and sprinkle with 1/8 tsp black pepper. Grill the bread for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they're golden brown. Let them cool and the cut into 1/2 inch pieces.


If you're using a grilling basket, grease it with the olive oil. If you're just using the grill, grease the grate with the oil. Assuming you're using a basket, put the tomatoes, bell peppers, and onion in it and grill about 6 minutes on each side, until they're all nice and tender. Remove them from the basket and put the zucchini and squash in the basket. Grill these guys about 6 minutes each on each side too, or until they're done. Combine all of the vegetables and let them cool.


Once the vegetables are all cool, chop them up into large-ish bite size pieces and put them in a big bowl. Add the vinagrette, toasted bread cubes, beans, basil, and thyme. Stir it all up to make sure everything is good and coated. Sprinkle with the cheese. 


If you're going to make this ahead of time, don't add the bread or cheese until the last minute. 


This should serve about 6 people, but it probably won't because people will want seconds. 

Tomato and Gorgonzola Tart

This is one of our favorites during the summer when the tomatoes are ripe and so full of flavor. It goes great with the Skirt Steak Diablo recipe that I posted yesterday too. Just add a loaf of crunchy, sourdough bread with baslamic and oil dip and a good bottle of wine and you'll never want for anything else. I wish I could remember where I got this recipe, but alas, I cut the name off when I saved it in my book.

Make sure you use the right size pan or else your dough will shrink and the toppings will spill over the sides. Been there, done that. 


1 sheet frozen puff pastry

3/4 pounds plum tomatoes, sliced thin

1 1/2 cups Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced


Put the oven rack on the bottom position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. 


On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out into about a 10-inch round, or about 1/4 inch thick. Put the pastry in a 9 inch tart pan and press the bottoms and sides in so that its nice and in place. You should have a little bit of dough overlapping the top edges. Take your rolling pin and roll it across the top of the pan and it will cut those overlapping edges off and make it all pretty. Prick the bottom of the crust all over, otherwise you'll end up with big bubbles in your crust. 


Bake the crust for about 10 minutes and remove from the oven. If you do end up with some bubbles in the bottom of the crust, just prick them with a fork and they'll deflate.


Arrange about 2/3 of the tomato slices in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with the cheese, pepper  and thyme, and then top it off with the rest of the tomato slices. 


Bake about 25-30 minutes, until the crust is nice and golden brown. Put it on a wire rack to cool at least 20 minutes before serving. If you take it out of the pan too soon, the crust could fall apart, so you want it to set up a bit. 


This should serve about 6 polite people or 3 who don't like to share. 

Skirt Steak Diablo

One of my hobbies is collecting recipes. I have an entire accordian file of recipes I've yet to try. I can't remember where I got this one and I first made it years ago, but heavenly days, it never fails to transport us to a meat-lovers heaven. 

It cooks really fast, so to make sure that you get a good char on the outside and pink inside, keep it in the fridge until you're ready to throw it on the grill.


2 cups homemade roasted garlic salsa (or you can just used the jar stuff too)

3 Tbs apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs oregano

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1-1/2 pound skirt or hanger steak


Mix one cup of the salsa with the vinegar, oregano, sugar, and salt in dish that is big enough to lie the steak flat in it. Put the steak in the dish, turning over a few times to make sure it coated with the marinade all the way. Cover and marinate at least 30 minutes, but up to 4 hours, the longer the better. Turn the steak a few times while it is marinating too. 


Heat your grill to high. Slap that steak on the grill and grill 3-4 minutes on one side, then another 3-4 on the other. Remove from grill. This baby is going to be medium rare and perfect. Don't forget to turn the grill off.


Now you can either slice it thinly, against the grain and serve it on top of a yummy salad or cut it into 4 big ol' pieces and serve it that way.


This should serve about 4 people, or two who really love meat. 

Southwestern Mac & Cheese

So, heads up: you're going to find a LOT of mac & cheese recipes here because we love the stuff, aside from the fact that is the food of the gods. I found this recipe years ago (can't remember where) and then tweaked it a bit to fit our tastes. You can switch up the cheeses or do whatever flips your pancakes. Either way, this stuff is dang good.




8 ounces elbow macaroni (the big kind)

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup flour

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 can (2 oz) chopped green chiles or the equivelant of pickled jalapenos (yum!)

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 cup dried bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or whatever you've got. Panko crumbs are bomb!

1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (or just regular, if that's what you have)

1 tsp olive oil


Heat oven to 400 degrees. 


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes or just until barely done, just before al dente. Drain and put it in a big ol' bowl. 


Grease a 2 quart baking dish with your favorite stuff (we use bacon grease). In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the milk and the flour until its smooth.


Heat the rest of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium and you start to see little bubbles around the edges. Add the flour/milk mixture and cook about 2-3 minutes, until is starts to bubble and get thick, whisking constantly so that it doesn't burn. Remove from heat. 


Now add the cheese and stir until it melts. Add the chiles (or jalapenos), scallions, cilantro, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and stir so that its all nice and mixed. Pour this goodness over the pasta and stir so that the pasta will well coated. Now dump all of it into your baking dish. 


In a small bowl mix together the crumbs, paprika, and oil. Sprinkle this stuff over the pasta.


Bake, uncovered, for about 35-45 minutes, until the crumbs are golden and the cheesy saucy goodness is bubbly. 


This makes about 6 1-cup servings, so in this house, it serves about 3 people, depending on if the 15 year old boy is here or not. 


Garlic Oil

Now, who doesn't love some garlic, especially when it's been all nice and roasty toasty or simmery? This can be used in salad dressings, marinades, or you can even add the garlic to stuff like mashed potatoes! Oh, be still my tastebuds. 


There are two methods to do this, one on the stove, the other in the oven. Take your pick, because they're both amazing.



Method 1: On The Stove

1 head of garlic

1 cup of olive oil

Fresh thyme, about 4-5 sprigs (optional)


Peel all of the garlic cloves and smash'em up. Now put them in a small sauce pan with the olive oil and thyme sprigs. Heat over medium, just until it starts to bubble, then reduce to a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool all the way. Now you can either store all of it in the fridge if you're not going to use the garlic right away or you can strain out the garlic and thyme and store just the oil in the fridge. Make sure you store it in a glass jar because metal will make it taste weird and plastic it too porous. This will keep in the fridge for about a week. 

Method 2: In The Oven

I usually do about 4 heads of garlic at a time with this one. This is better for making things like garlic butter because the garlic gets all creamy and spreadable. 


4 heads of garlic (elephant garlic is SO good)

About a 1/2 cup of olive oil

Fresh thyme, about 4-5 springs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Cut off the top 1/4 of the garlic heads and put them in an oven safe baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper. With the cut sides up, drizzle all of them with the olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. 


Now close up the parchement paper top, creating and envelope-like thing that will basically steam the garlic. 


Roast the garlic in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the cloves start to pop out of the peels and looks slightly brown.


Once they're done, let them cool all of the way, pour the oil into a glass container. pop the cloves out of their skins and add them to the jar of olive oil. Or, if you want to use the cloves right away, just set them aside. 


They'll keep in the fridge for about a week this way, but they never last that long around here.

Rosemary Potatoes

I have determined that the only wrong thing that you can do to a potato is not eat it. I would eat potatoes every single day if I could, especially these. I adore fresh rosemary, I usually add more garlic than is called for (lawdy, I love me some garlic!), and butter is the lubricant of life. Butter is ALL the business, especially when it's homemade. These are quick, delicious, and pretty too! Did I mention that I love potatoes? 



2 Tbs butter (you could use olive oil, but why when you can use butter?)

1 tsp garlic, minced

Either 1 tsp of dried rosemary, or a couple Tbs of fresh

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered, or if they're the little ones, just cut them in half


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 


Melt butter, removed from heat, and add the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper to it. Put the potatoes in an oven safe baking dish (I love my stoneware bakers, but cast iron is awesome too). Pour the butter goodness over the potatoes and stir them up so that all of the potatoes are good and coated. 


Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are done. If you like'em crispy, add another 5-10 minutes. 


Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and put them back in the oven for about 5 minutes, just to get the cheese soft. 


This will serve 3-4 people, depending on how much the love potatoes. In our house, it's a solid 3 servings. 

Roasted Barley Pilaf

Sometimes we get tired of the choices of pasta, potatoes, or rice, so I like to make this once in a while. I got this years ago from one of my Martha Stewart books, I think. I love this because it's not only a nice change, but I can add all kinds of stuff to it, just to mix up, ya know? Besides, barley is really good for you (even the chickens like it! I usually like to add garlic, and lots of it, but leeks would be good, or even spinach or kale. Let your imagination run wild! 


1 Tbs olive oil

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed

2 shallots, minced

1/4 pound mushrooms (whatever kind you like or can get your hands on)

2 cups homemade chicken stock

3/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt, whichever you like

Lots of freshly ground black pepper


In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Throw in the barley and cook until it starts to brown and gives off that heavenly-nutty smell, about 10 minutes-ish. 


Add the shallots (and garlic, if you're throwing some of that in the mix) and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they're soft and wilted, about another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the stock and salt. Bring it all to a boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.


Season with pepper and add more salt if you think it needs it. 

Serves about 4, unless you have a teenage boy. In that case, it might serve 2 or 3, if you're lucky. This also reheats really well, so go ahead and make a double recipe! 

Easy Homemade Pinto Beans

This is so simple that it doesn't even really need a recipe. Darrian, our teenager, loves beans in all forms, so I try to make sure that there is a dish of these in the fridge at all times. It's certainly better than Cheetos!


You can usually find dried beans of all sorts in the bulk section of the grocery store. Take your own cloth bag and just fill that up. It's light enough that the weight shouldn't make a difference.


Ok, here's what you'll need:

Dried pinto beans (I ususally do about 2-3 cups, but just eyeball it)

Bacon, 1 thick slice

Cumin, about 1 1/2 tsp

Chili powder, about 2 tsp

Garlic salt (make your own!), about 2-3 Tbs, depending on how much you like

Ground black pepper, about 2 tsp


Pick over your beans for rocks before starting, then rinse them (the beans, not the rocks) with cold water. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with plenty of water. Let'em sit overnight for a good soak. 


In the morning (or just when you're ready), rinse the beans and put them in a big ol' stock pot. Cover with enough water so that when the water evaporates you don't end up with a pot of dried, burnt beans. Add the bacon and the seasonings. I don't even bother to stir it, but feel free to stir if you are compelled to. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, for about 3 hours. Keep an eye on the water level!


I start checking them for doneness at about 2 hours, depending on how long they soaked overnight. They're done when they're nice and tender. 

Drain the beans, discard the bacon strip (or give it to the dogs), and there you have it. A great source of protein, inexpensive, and super easy. The hardest part is waiting for them to cook!

Long live the bean. 

Crazy Good Homemade Butter

Butter is one of the easiest things to make and once you go homemade, you won't go back to least, not by choice. I do this in my KitchenAid, but you can also do it in a mason jar (really easy if you have kids that you need to keep occupado). You'll also need a thermometer that will reach the bottom, but not touching, the bottom of the bowl (the ones they make for cheese making are perfect for this). A candy thermometer isn't so great for this because it's too close to the side of the bowl. 



1 pt. fresh, pasturized (NOT ultra-pasturized) or raw, organic, whipping cream

A bit of salt


Put the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a mixing bowl) and let come to 60 degrees. Using the whisk attachement, whisk cream until the curds seperate from the buttermilk. You'll know it's done because you'll have largeish/smallish clumps of pretty yellow butter and the buttermilk will be all of the liquid. This is when you turn of the mixer and remove the whisk attachment (get all of that good butter out of the whisk!)


With a rubber or silicone spatula, press the butter bits into a mass on the side of the bowl. The goal here is to get as much of the buttermilk out of the butter as possible. The more buttermilk that's left in the butter, the quicker it will go rancid. There will be some butter bits left in the buttermilk and that's is buttermilk after all. 


Drain the buttermilk off into a bowl. Continue to press the butter, moving it around and folding it onto itself, in order to get more of the buttermilk out. Continue to drain off the buttermilk into the bowl. Once you've gotten out as much as you can, run a bit of cold water over the butter, press some more, and drain the water off into the sink. Do this a couple of times until the water runs as clear as possible. 


Add a bit of salt to taste to the butter and mix it in. This will also help to keep the butter from going rancid too quickly. 


Pour your buttermilk into a jar and save that for making biscuits, pancakes, whatever!! YUMMY!!


Now put your lovely butter into a pretty dish and admire your work. Now eat it. :)


Seriously, who doesn't love a kale chip (or all of them), especially when it tastes like CHEESE? Even our dogs like these and Darrian will eat the entire bowl by himself if not closely monitored. Sheesh...teenagers...

Cheesy Kale Chips

Make sure you make a double batch of these, otherwise you won't get any because they'll be gone before you turn your head.



A bunch of kale

About 3 Tbs olive oil (or whatever oil you like)

About 1/3 cup nutritional yeast


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 


Wash, dry, and tear up kale into bite sized pieces in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil on top. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Toss with your hands and makes sure all of the kale is good and coated and happy.


Put the kale on a cookie sheet (one bunch of kale usually requires 2 cookies sheets for us) in a single layer. Stick them in the oven for about 45 minutes or until they're nice and crispy. 


Dump them in a bowl and move your fingers out of the way. 


*Don't try to rush this. You're dehydrating them, not baking them. If you raise the temperature, they'll burn.


*Make sure they're in a single layer, otherwise you'll end up taking the crispy ones off of the top layer and then having to keep drying the rest.


*Feel free to get creative with the oils and seasonings. Other good combos you might want to add would be cilantro oil & cumin, oregano oil & thyme.... all yummy stuff. If you're going to add an essential oil to the olive oil, only add 1 drop of the EO to the olive oil and let it sit for about 10 minutes to get good and acquainted. 

Are you ready to take the next step in your journey?

I'm looking forward to speaking with you to see how I can help you!

Tatia Elizabeth Childers

Sustainability Consultant

South Eastern Rep, Life Without Plastic, Health & Wellness Coach, and Homesteader


Simple Solutions


Phone: (828)550-7573      


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