Thursday, December 29, 2011

welcome nana to the site

this is a test for nana :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mexican Cornbread

So one of my favorite foods of all time is bacon, and with good reason! It's very flavorful and you can use it in baked items, in sweet or savory recipes, or enjoy by itself!

On a road trip with my family, we brainstormed ideas of new ways to use bacon, because I love it so much. We all do. And really, who doesn't? One of my ideas has since become in high demand in my family and around the office, so it's time to share it with you, too.  You will need a cast iron pan or cast iron baking mold of some sort. Alright, get baking!

1 1/2 C. corn meal
1/2 C. self-rising flour  
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 jalapenos 
1/4 C. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled 
1/2 C. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 C. caramelized onions, diced
1 C. whole corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a cast iron pan to prep. 
Mix corn meal, flour, and kosher salt in separate bowl. In a second bowl, lightly whisk eggs and buttermilk together. In a larger bowl, mix dry and wet ingredient bowls together--mix with hand-mixer quickly. Do not over-mix. 
Add diced jalapenos, Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled bacon, diced onions and whole corn in bowl. Mix til all ingredients are incorporated. 
Add cornbread mixture to your buttered cast iron pan. Bake in 450 degree oven for 25 minutes. Keep an eye and make sure only lightly browned on top. Bake on lower-third of oven. Cornbread is finished when toothpick test pulls clean. 


Fall Frenzie: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

In a previous post I mentioned making cupcakes for work...well everyone loved them! Which is good, because I like to cook and am trying to practice baking more before heading off to culinary school....BUT now that everyone thinks my cupcakes are better, they ALWAYS ask me to make some sort of baked good for every birthday. A bittersweet problem indeed. But at least it gives me an excuse to get in my kitchen and do work, and we all know I love that :)

So now that it's October, we wanted to have a birthday celebration for a team member this month that was a little festive. What did we go with? Pumpkin. But I had a little confession: I had never baked with pumpkin before. Sure, I've watched my mom or grandmother make a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving thousands of times. But I've never made one myself. I've never cooked pumpkin either, it seemed quite intimidating. Not to mention it would have added to my prep and cook time with this chore. And I'll be honest, I don't like doing chores for work (off the clock) before I complete a to-do list for my apartment (that seems to grow by the minute these days). So I tried to develop a quick recipe to help out people like me who sometimes have a lot on their to-do list, but want to throw a pumpkin cupcake on their plate too! It was an experiment in kitchen and here's what I came up with for the cupcake recipe:

4 C. self-rising flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
2 C. packed light brown sugar
1 C. soft butter (2 sticks)
4 large eggs
15 oz. pumpkin puree, NOT pie filling 

Beat sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in pumpkin puree. On low speed, add all other ingredients just until blended. Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 

Yields 24 normal-sized cupcakes, or 48 mini-cupcakes 

Icing options:
I went with my classic cream cheese icing, and it was delicious! However, someone at work doesn't like typical icings, so they special ordered an option involving mixing vanilla pudding and cool whip together. I was skeptical at first, but it also paired well with this pumpkin cupcake. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Chambord Cream Cheese Icing

So I don't talk about my day job often on here, but I work for a mortgage company. We have a few social outings to try to keep stress levels down like many employers, and one of those involves having cake or cupcakes on a team member's birthday. One month, someone requested red velvet cupcakes. I had a new idea that I had been meaning to try, and I thought it would pair well with red velvet I volunteered to make cupcakes. My idea: incorporating Chambord into my cream cheese icing recipe to add a little fruity flavoring. And hey, everyone could benefit from a little boozy cupcake at work, right?


2 1/2 C. self-rising flour
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 1/2 C. vegetable oil
1 C. buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 T. red food coloring
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract  
NOTE: It's best for cohesive mixing to wait for the buttermilk and eggs to become room temperature before continuing with the recipe.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 lb. cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 C. sifted confectioners' sugar
1/4 C. Chambord liquor


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a hand-held electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. (I like to use an ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop to make sure each cupcake is the same size.) Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick to see if baked through. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting. 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add Chambord and beat on slow speed. Add the sugar and continue to beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Heart Healthy Hints

Reader requested post: living heart healthy!
This lifestyle change can be difficult for some people, so start with these few hints:

To control the amount and kind of fat, saturated fatty acids, and dietary cholesterol you eat:
  • Eat no more than 6 ounces (cooked) per day of lean meat, fish, and skinless poultry.
  • Try main dishes featuring pasta, rice, beans, and/or vegetables. Or create "low meat" dishes by mixing these foods with small amounts of lean meat, poultry, or fish.
  • The approximately 5 to 8 teaspoon servings of fats and oils per day may be used for cooking and baking, and in salad dressings and spreads.
  • Use cooking methods that require little or no fat: boil, broil, bake, roast, poach, steam, saute, stir-fry, or microwave.
  • Trim off the fat you can see before cooking meat and poultry. Drain off all fat after browning. Chill soups and stews after cooking so you can remove the hardened fat from the top.
  • The 3 to 4 egg yolks per week included in your eating plan may be used alone or in cooking and baking (including store-bought products).
  • Limit your use of organ meats such as liver, brains, chitterlings, kidneys, heart, gizzard, sweetbreads, and pork maws.
  • Choose skim or 1% fat milk and nonfat or lowfat yogurt and cheeses.
To round out the rest of your eating plan:
  • Eat 5 or more servings of fruits or vegetables per day.
  • Eat 6 or more servings of breads, cereals, or grains per day.

Health information brought to you by the Franklin Institute 

It's football time...

in Tennessee! and everywhere else in the country, but that's not what John Ward said ;) 

This wonderful Labor Day weekend will be spent finally finishing and publishing the SEVERAL blog drafts I have accumulated over the past few months (of course while watching football!). So if you're a follower, I apologize for all the emails that will soon be blowing up your inbox ;)

Some of you may know a bit about the history of this blog, but if you don't, here's a briefing. While studying at the University of Tennessee, I took a managing media web sites class. In the class, we were encouraged to have a blog to supplement a news story assignment. Our professor was wicked cool and let us choose our own topics, as we would be researching and working with them all semester. I knew mine had to be food related to keep my attention that long, and it was a fall semester my mind jumped to tailgating because I love football. So how did I turn that into an assignment piece? A news (ish) story about tailgating recipes and ideas. 

To commemorate the season, and the whole reason why I started this blog in the first place, I wanted to re-share this with you guys: Tailgating recipes revamped
The completed news story for the Tennessee Journalist, published in fall 2009. Thankfully, tailgating hasn't evolved too much. Happy eating, and I'll have some more tailgating ideas for you throughout this football season. 

For the record: I'm a Tennessee Volunteer for life and an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Culinary School...YES!

So this is a bit of a 'life update' post...

It's official. After searching for the right program since early 2009, I will be starting my Culinary Arts degree at Johnson & Wales University in March 2012. So yes, that means I will be relocating to Charlotte (most likely beginning of January, but that is still in the works). JWU has a 'Garnish Your Degree' advanced program option, and that's the program I'll be studying under. Rather than starting with general education courses (because I already took well over my fair share for my bachelor's degree), I'll jump right into culinary labs and be done with the program in 12 months.

While there's still a ton to plan (apartment hunting, job hunting, etc.) I'm still very psyched it's finally happening! I'm definitely in need of a change of pace, and would like to get started on the life I intended to live out--getting back to using my degree and going after my passion. Dream job, I'm coming for you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What's the price for fresh produce?

Fresh and organic food has become in higher demand over the past year or so in popular culture [i.e. people I don't really consider foodies, per se, because they don't immerse themselves in food issues, have a strict diet or simply have a love affair with food]. Let me first say that this is a fantastic turn in events. There may be hope yet for obese America. 

Associated Press reported more than 150 Tennessee schools will be receiving fresh fruit and veggies in their lunch rooms, funded from government grants. Grand total of $3.15 million. However, a HUGE step in the right direction. This makes me happy, as I went to kindergarten-high school in Tennessee, and even went to the University of Tennessee. It's good to hear that schools are taking their students health into account. 

here for the full reported story.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Knoxville's Baconfest Events Announced!

Baconfest 2011 will be held Sept. 16-17 and tickets are currently available for purchase. The events include:

* Swine and Dine Dinner, 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at John Black Photography Studio. Meal prepared by James Beard Award winning chef Sean Brock, executive chef of Husk and McCrady's, both of Charleston, S.C., and Joseph Lenn, executive chef of Blackberry Farm. Cost is $150 per person.

* Baking with bacon at Magpies, 846 N. Central Street., 12:30 p.m. Sept. 17. Learn to incorporate bacon into your baking creations. Magpie bakers will demonstrate how to prepare blueberry buckwheat bacon with maple buttercream cupcake and bacon shortbread. Cost is $20 per person.

* Smokehouse discussion, 2 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Glowing Body, 711 Irwin Street. Learn about all things smoke from sourcing, traditions and methods from Allan Benton of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, Jennifer Nicely of Riverplains Farm and Tracey Monday of Laurel Creek Farm. Cost is $15 per person.

* Bacon bits, 5 p.m. Sept. 17 at Ijams Nature Center, 2915 Island Home Ave. Enter your favorite bacon dish and enjoy a picnic dinner prepared by Rita Cochran. Cost is $25 for picnic and entry in bacon contest. Additional ticket prices are available.

* Baconfest bar food and corsair artisan distillery, 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Public House, 212 W. Magnolia Avenue. An evening to celebrate Baconfest's culinary guests. Small plates and a special evening of spirits from Corsair Artisan Distillery will be served. $75 per person.

For additional information or to purchase tickets, including VIP and weekend packages visit TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW, SO GET YOURS!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Knoxville area farmer's markets

It's that lovely time of year again--homegrown tomatoes, fresh herbs and cucumbers are starting to show up at area farmer's markets. And it's a great thing to shop for produce from members of your community! I encourage you to not only scout out their goods, but to talk to them and ask questions about their produce, any methods they use to grow differently from the booth next to them, etc. You'd be surprised of all the secret growing goodies a farmer or gardener will share with a friendly neighbor. 

 Don't know where they set up? No worries, I've done the research for you. Here's a list of area farmer's markets and their times of operation:

~ Dandridge Farmers' Market, downtown at corner of Meeting and Gay streets, 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays.
~ Dixie Lee Farmers' Market, 12740 Kingston Pike at Renaissance Center, 9 a.m.-noon, Saturdays.
~ Fresh from the Earth Farmers' Market, Grove Center Shopping Center, Oak Ridge, 2 p.m. Mondays and Fridays.
~ Gatlinburg Farmers' Market, 705 E. Parkway in Alamo Steakhouse parking lot, 8-11:30 a.m. Saturdays.
~ Greeneville Farmers' Market, Greene County Fairgrounds, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Wednesdays.
~ Lenoir City Farmers' Market, in front of Presstige Printing, 114 E. Broadway, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. (Opens June 18).
~ Loudon County Farmers' Market, Downtown Loudon behind Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor, 5-7 p.m. Thursday.
~ Norris Farmers' Market, Norris Commons, Mondays, 3-6 p.m.
~ Knoxville FARM Market, Laurel Church of Christ, 3457 Kingston Pike, 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
~University of Tennessee Farmers' Market, UT Gardens, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays.
~ Market Square Farmers' Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays.
~ Maryville Farmers' Market, 9 a.m. Saturdays at Church Avenue, and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at New Providence Presbyterian Church, W. Broadway.
~ New Harvest Park Farmers' Market, 4700 New Harvest Park, 3-6 p.m. Thursdays.
~ Oak Ridge FARM Market, Jackson Square at Georgia Avenue, 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays and 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays.
~ Seymour Farmers' Market, First Baptist Church of Seymour, 11621 Chapman Highway, 7-11 a.m. Saturdays.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Knoxville Summertime Food Events!

Summer is here and Knoxville cooks up the excitement early. Here's a list of events you don't want to miss to kick the summer off right! Keep in touch with the events as time comes closer, as event details may change.

International Biscuit Festival culinary events
The International Biscuit Festival will hold its culinary events on Saturday, May 28.
They include a biscuit breakfast from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. ($10), Biscuit boulevard, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ($5) and the biscuit bake-off, 1-5 p.m. (Free). Visit for more information.

Knox Heritage hosts Summer Suppers event
Fourteen culinary events will be held this summer as part of Knox Heritage's Summer Suppers Fundraising event. They include:
~"The Triple Crown," from 4-8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Historic Middlebrook, 4001 Middlebrook Pike. The menu includes hot brown sandwiches, Maryland crab cakes and grilled New York sliders. Cost is $100 .
~"A Taste of What's to Come," at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at the William E. Peters House, 1319 Grainger Ave., featuring a slider bar with slow roasted pork, Tennessee beef and Benton's bacon, a crostini bar with Sweetwater Valley pimento cheese, country ham salad and Tennessee caviar and farmers' market vegetables. Cost is $100.
~"Dressed to Kill, A James Bond Cocktail," at 2701 Woodson Drive, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 featuring thinly sliced roast beef with hollandaise sauce, twice baked potatoes, marinated and grilled vegetables, deviled eggs and sweet pastries. Cost is $70.07
~"Riverside Supper at the McBee Farm," 2590 Day Road, Jefferson County, at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. The menu includes pickled local vegetables, tomato cucumber dill bisque, rosemary pork loin, summer succotash salad and lavender custard with berry coulis. Cost is $100.
Space is limited and advance registration is required. Register online at or call 865-523-8008 between 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, for more information.

Williams-Sonoma hosts June cooking classes
Williams-Sonoma, 7600 Kingston Pike, is hosting 10 culinary classes in June.
They include: "Fun with Food," ($55), from 6-8 p.m. June 2, with a menu of raspberry chicken with grilled peaches over mixed greens and brownie sundae with fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream; "Sassy Shrimp," ($55), from 6-8 p.m. June 13, featuring a menu of shrimp binyon, cheese grits and lemon tart with fresh berries, and "Quick and Easy Italian," ($55), from 6-8 p.m., featuring shrimp scampi over linguini, sugar snap peas and asparagus and tiramisu cheesecake.
For a complete list of classes or to register call 865-539-1070.

Fleming's hosts June 15 wine tasting event
Januik and Novelty Hill Wines will be featured at a wine tasting event to be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 11287 Parkside Drive. The menu includes pecan smoked trout with avocado and radish, broiled lamp chop with blackberry sauce, slow roasted pork tenderloin with cherry balsamic glaze and caramelized apples and marinated ribeye steak with tri-colored scalloped potatoes.
Cost is $87.50 per person. Register online at

Lakeside Tavern to host beer tasting event
Mendocino High Gravity Beer will be featured at a tasting event at 6:30 p.m. June 20, at Lakeside Tavern, 10911 Concord Park Drive. The menu includes smoked trout crostini with golden beets and Globe radish, frisee and pork belly salad, grilled skirt steak with twice baked potato and fig with Marscapone mousse tart for dessert.
Cost is $45. Registermonline at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

[How To] Discover Spaghetti Squash

Like many writers, I like to take inspiration for stories from my friends or family's questions and general inquiries. This week, a dear friend of several years asked me for a recommendation for something new but relatively quick. 

My friend, we'll call her Molly, is a mother of three high-energy pre-school to elementary-aged boys. While she has the help of her husband, life is busy. Between scheduling neighborhood play-dates for each of her boys, keeping up with organizations she's involved with, cleaning the house and spending quality time as a family...somewhere in the mix, cooking dinner has been a rushed chore with a repertoire limited by time constraints. 

Molly says they eat many Italian-inspired meals because it's quick, relatively cheap and easy to prepare. She also relies on her crock pot slow cooker quite a bit, but desires to branch out from these culinary habits. 

So what was a suggestion I had for her? Spaghetti Squash. While she wasn't familiar with the wondrous vegetable, after I talked about its benefits I realized many people may be in the same boat as Molly. So this post is dedicated to discovering spaghetti squash for those who would like to for the first time.


So the most basic [and important] thing to learn is what a spaghetti squash looks like. How else are you going to find it in your market? So I took a series of pictures preparing it in the most basic form--taking it from it's raw to cooked state. Here is a picture of what the veggie will look like in your market: 
The cooking recommendations I have for spaghetti squash is to cut it in half and bake in the oven on 375 degrees for an hour. Cutting it in half is easier said than done, however. Use a [sharpened] chef knife to complete this task with all fingers in tact. Here's what it will look like after you've successfully cut the veggie in half:
Next, you'll want to use a spoon and get all the seeds and gunk out of the center. Remember carving pumpkins as a kid? This step is very similar to prepping a pumpkin for carving; you don't want to carve into the firm edge of the veggie. Here's what it should look like when you're done: 

The next step is super easy--just get a baking sheet pan and put the two sides face down and place it in the oven on 375 degrees for an hour. I like to line the pan with foil to make an easier clean up: 

 After the spaghetti squash has baked for an hour, be very careful when flipping it over. The veggie will be very hot for several minutes, so use an oven-mit. It should look like this: 

 Now comes the fun part. Next, take a dinner fork and scrape from one side to the other width-wise of the veggie. You'll notice before you begin that the baking process has changed the interior to a fibrous-looking texture. It will look like this as you begin the process: 
Those "spaghetti-looking" fibers will scrape out to become the squash veggie we all know, but in a spaghetti form. As you scrape out the complete contents of each side, it will yield between 4-6 Cups of vegetable-noodles, depending on the size of the squash. As you finish, it will look like this: 
So now what do you do with the mound of spaghetti squash once it's cooked? No worries, you can do anything you want! You can treat the squash as a spaghetti starch substitute if you're wanting to cut down the carbs and enjoy it with a pasta sauce. Or if you'd rather serve it as a side dish, saute it with a tablespoon of butter and top with Parmesan cheese for a velvety addition to any meal. 
Nutrition & Fun Facts

The best thing about spaghetti squash is you put it in the oven for an hour and you don't have to do a thing to it for the whole hour. No flipping, no oiling or anything. Very easy, and very healthy. It's a dieters dream vegetable--a whole Cup serving only has 42 calories, 0.4 g fat, 10g carbs and 1g protein (according to Prevention Magazine's Nutrition Facts). Most markets will carry spaghetti squash year-round, but the peak season is late fall through winter. If you're a bargain hunter, take note that it will also be cheaper during peak season.

Next time you're browsing your neighborhood produce section, save a spot in your shopping cart for a spaghetti squash. It's a fun and easy way to incorporate an additional whole food to any meal. And this is a menu item even the busiest of mothers can single-handedly prepare while solving the latest neighborhood play-date dispute. I can't wait to hear the verdict from Molly and her family. If you're a veteran spaghetti squash user, post a recipe for the newbies. More the merrier. Enjoy! 


Monday, March 21, 2011

Time in the freezer...

Life is absolutely crazy--I started a new job November 1, 2010 [at a mortgage company...who thought I would EVER work anywhere near numbers?! not me, but it's been a fantastic learning experience] and I have been extremely lazy about posting. 

Ironically enough, my lovely friends and family have brought up le blog in common conversation so much recently, I am putting an end to this no-new-updates business. Pinky promise. 

As I'm revisiting the blog, you may notice some new restructuring or maybe I'll even start a series. I'd like to keep my life organized :)

So I guess you can say I just took a mini vacation in the freezer...but the blog is thawing out and ready to rock in any recipe. Let's get back in the kitchen! :)