Jun 27, 2012

Sandy's Squash Casserole

Now, squash casserole is a summer staple.  We used to get heaping bowls of it for lunch in the cafeteria at school- replete with bread crumbs and cheddar cheese.  I'm not sure of the actual squash content.  This recipe comes from Sam Beall's daddy, Sandy.  I have posted it before, but with the bumper crop of squash on hand, it's time for y'all to make it again.

Another favorite from the Blackberry Farm Cookbook (seriously, go buy that cookbook- it's photographs are gorgeous, and the Bealls know their way around the kitchen), you will never want a bread-crumb laden, can of cream of whatever, squash casserole again.  Unless you are my husband, but that is another tale all together.

So the recipe-


  •  1/2 stick of unsalted butter, plus two tablespoons
  • 1 large vidalia onion finely chopped
  • 4 medium yellow summer squash (about 2 pounds total- sometimes I add a bit more, since I love, love, love summer squash), cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (this doubles the original recipe)
  • 1 and 1/2- 2 cups grated manchego (ditto, and I just can't get enough cheese)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I had to use panko, as Buddy had decided to carbo-load and eat my loaf of bread)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten,
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
2.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion to the butter, and cook, stirring often until the onion is softened (about 5 minutes).
3.  Add the squash and stir well.  Cover and cook, stirring often until the squash is tender but not browned.  (The recipe says 7-8 minutes, it normally takes me about 15)
4.  Transfer the squash to a large bowl, and let it cool for a few minutes.
5.  Stir in the cheese, but reserve 1/4 cup of the manchego.
6.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.
7.  Stir in the eggs and salt and pepper.  Transfer the mixture to the baking dish.
8.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining manchego, bread crumbs, and 2 tablespoons of melted utter.  Scatter the crumb mixture over the casserole.
9.  Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is crisp and golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Serve hot.

Another perfect example of nap time cookery.  I put this together without baking early in the day, while Miss Priss deigned to nap longer than 20 minutes.  Then I just had to pop it in the oven along with my pork tenderloin when my company came over.  While they enjoyed a pre-dinner drink, I bathed and fed Miss Priss, paraded her around in all her pre-bed pj-ed adorableness while my dinner cooked.

Plus, the manchego cheese just takes it above and beyond.  What is your favorite squash casserole recipe?  Morgan's involves cream of chicken, sour cream, and pepperidge farm bread crumbs in large quantities.  It's tasty, I must admit,  and more importantly, it's how his mama made it, which always taste best of all!

Jun 26, 2012

A Blackberry Farm Supper

Sunday night I made a glorious dinner of skillet okra, pork tenderloin, squash casserole and blackberry dump cake.  I'm sure that I have featured all these recipes on the blog before, but they are tried and true favorites of mine.  In this summer heat, make them early in the day, then get out of that sauna of the kitchen.  Pretend you are in the East Tennessee hills relaxing at Blackberry and enjoy!

First, from the Blackberry Farm Cookbook, is Skillet Okra.


  • 5 strips of good quality bacon
  • 1 large vidalia onion
  • 1 pound okra cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large oven proof skillet cook the bacon over medium heat.  Leave the drippings in the pan, and using tongs, place the bacon on paper towel lined plate.  Crumble when cool.

Add the onion to the bacon drippings in the skillet and cook stirring often until soft (about five minutes), the remove and set aside along with the bacon

Add the okra to the pan along with the salt and pepper.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once until the okra is tender.

Add the bacon, onions, and tomatoes, toss gently and bake another 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

Sam notes in the recipe that this can be prepared "well in advance of dinner, covered, and kept in a warm place without losing a bit of its appeal".  Damn straight!

My love for okra knows no bounds.  Recipes for the rest to follow!

Jun 25, 2012

The Haps on the Craps

We took Dell Harper on her first boat ride last Sunday for a Father's Day boat ride with the entire family.  The life jacket was hilarious and adorable.  It was so funny- I mentioned to my boss that I was ready to take her on the lake, and just needed to find an infant life jacket.  He said "Oh, don't buy one, I'm sure we still have ours from when the kids were little!  You can have it!"  Ha! His kids are in their early twenties!  A life jacket for Miss Priss is an area where my Scotch Irish parsimony will gladly give way.  I marched into the marine store and demanded their most expensive infant life jacket.  That little girl was a little unsure about the whole situation however, and gripped me pretty tight.

A little cruising had her right relaxed.

 Also pretty relaxed?  A lovely summer dinner of Mediterranean munchies.  Hummus, cantaloupe, prosciutto, salami, olives, tomatoes and artichokes?  I'm in seventh snacker's heaven!

What else?  I ordered this suit set from Lands End as part of bikini confidence post baby.  I think the cami layer will help ease my c-sectioned middle into bikinis.  We have a picnic at the local "splash-pad" to attend next Friday night, and I am excited to try my mama suit out.

Source: landsend.com via Samma on Interest

In other news the house is just about finished.  We moved furniture and cleaned and arranged all day Friday.  Unfortunately, Hubs' back has gone completely out in the meantime, so we are still waiting to move back in, as I need help moving a couple pieces of furniture around.  Mama and I would have it knocked out in about 2 minutes flat, but she is in a cast due to thumb surgery.  As I am physically incapable of hang in pictures without her, my planned gallery wall will have to wait. . .

I have my eye on this bookshelf from Ballard Designs for my mudroom.  in the catalog they had rain boots on it.  I think it is just the right height for tossing my purse, briefcase, gym tote, pumping bag and diaper bag.  I was going to put hooks up for these various items, then realized they'd probably tear the damn wall down with their combined heft!

Finally, I was flipping through the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living, and these darling napkin rings caught my eye.  I adore the seersucker, but think they would also be great with any fabric- a perfect way to use up all those scraps.  Now I only need to re-learn how to sew. . .

Jun 19, 2012

Little Stone Cottage Sneak Peek

Cabinets are painted!  Floors are in! Hardware is on the cabinets!  Walls have vanished!

I keep gazing around in wonder at my new house.

I can't wait to do a house tour and show y'all the before and after when everything is ready.

Miss Priss is ready to return to her happy little red crib.

I can't wait to get everything dusted and sparkly, furniture arranged, and pictures hung.  I was OBSESSED with my dollhouse as a child, spending hours making new furniture and accessories out of matchboxes and fimo clay.  My little stone cottage is my adult version.  Although I will never be done tweaking- I joked with my contractor that after this latest project it will be time to move. The arranging and changing is the fun part!

Mama and I were talking about spoiling kids the other day.  I mentioned that it will be hard for me to not buy Dell Harper everything dollhouse related if she is interested (I have to restrain myself from buying dollhouse furniture already for her- the tiny pots and pans get me every time!).  Mama said that i will enjoy watching her and helping Dell Harper use her creativity building her own things far more than buying them.  This is probably true, because as much as I would like to be decorating with an unlimited budget (or even a loose one!), I love re-purposing old things, working on a tight budget, and finding good deals even more.  It probably stems from all that time painstaking fashioning rugs out of potholders and bunk beds out of giant boxes of matches for that dollhouse, instead of having a massive amount of tiny little perfect furniture.

I much confess however, I still am perusing lots of dollhouse furniture on Ebay. . . maybe the repainting and fixing will someday make Miss Priss a flea market aficionado?

Jun 18, 2012

Picky, Picky, Picky!

The other night we were having an old fashioned super of salmon patties, pole beans and my grandmother's famous flat biscuits at my parents' house.  Mama and I were laughing about how, with the addition of fried okra, this was one of my favorite meals as a child.  Hubs was rather bemused, because it is a rather strange meal for a little kid to consider their favorite.  I just love me a salmon patty though.  That shit is good.

Anyway, I was always an adventurous eater, as was my brother to a lesser degree.  Raw oysters, alligator tail, frog legs, escargot- I ate anything.  Except peas.  Still not a fan of those.  I'm more picky now, for waistline reasons, frankly.  If something is not worth the calories to me, I won't eat it.  However, if someone serves me something, I consume it with gusto and enjoyment.

This is an extremely long introduction to my subject, which is my disdain of picky eaters.  Especially children who consume food solely found on a kid's menu, with the removal of any condiments or seasoning.  Once Dell Harper gets old enough to eat food, I am going to have a difficult time solely frequenting restaurants which feature chicken fingers.  Now, I realize we will go to kid-friendly places when she is a toddler.  However, if she is ordering pasta with butter or a plain cheeseburger at 10 (or even 7), I am going to struggle.

Picky eaters drive Hubs crazy too.  Does this mean karma is going to bite us on the tail?  Are we going to be sentenced to drive-thru runs before or after family affairs to grab something "not gross"?  I will lose it.

 When Kate introduced me to "Baby Led Weaning" I was immediately intrigued.  It makes sense to me, and I appreciate the fact that my baby is not eating a separate meal from the rest of the family.  Instead she is enjoying a (slightly modified) version of what we are eating.  Seems like a good way to start.  You start the process at 6 months, so we have a little over a month to go, but I am so excited.  I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, and a mess won't bother me a bit.  Actually, I don't know who is more excited- Buddy or myself.  Or Dell Harper- she grabbed her rice cereal bowl and started gnawing on it yesterday.

So multiple questions here
1) Are/were you a picky eater? 
2) If you were a picky eater, did your parents make separate meals for you?  How did they handle your pickiness?
3) If you are a parent, are your kids picky?  What do you do in that situation?
And, finally
4) Have you heard/done baby led weaning?

Okay, my quiz is over.  If I was a sociologist/scientist, I would perform a study on pickiness in children and it's cultural aspects, because it just intrigues me so much.

Y'all are all going to be laughing at me in two years when my culinary experiences consist solely on Wendys and Fudruckers.  Shudder.

Jun 13, 2012

You're My Tomato Pie

I know that if it was summer all year round I wouldn't find it special, etc. etc. Maybe I just wish for summertime tomatoes all year round.  A watery, pale wintertime tomato is just plain depressing.  Summertime tomatoes are a completely different animal.  I like having a plate of sliced tomatoes with every meal through September.  Or, if I am feeling ambitious, this simple tomato pie.


  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pre-baked pie shell
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar (please do not buy pre-grated nonsense please)
  • 1 cup mozzarella, grated (GRATE YOURSELF)
  • salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Bake your pie crust as you would to prep for a quiche (normally about 400 for 15 minutes)

Peel and slice 4 tomatoes (did you know that if you stick your tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, the skins will pop right off?)

Lay the tomato slices in a colander, salt and let drain for 20-30 minutes.  If you have some particularly juicy tomatoes, pat down on them with a paper towel.  Making a non-watery tomato pie takes vigilance.

Mix the cheeses together with your mayo.

In your pie crust, layer the tomatoes (make sure all the moisture you can get out is removed),  Top with green onions and basil.  Top with the cheese mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes, then let rest for about ten.  This will help prevent the watery issue!  Yum!

My other tomato pie is getting into this rice cereal thing- I can't way to start her on some finger food in a month and a half!

My other kiddo got a prompt bath as well.  He loves staying out in the country at my parents house.  Despite numerous and strenuous efforts to keep him restrained, Buddy cannot be contained.  The lure of deer and wild turkeys was too much and he escaped through a barricaded screen door to return covered in deer droppings.   A cold hose did not dampen his enthusiasm.

So messy, simple pleasures seem to be the thing around these parts lately.  That sums up my summer philosophy quite nicely I think- tomato pie, muddy fur, and dirty mouths!  And of course, grocery store feet!

Baked Étouffée

When I first glanced at this recipe, I was rather skeptical.  Cream of whatever soup?  Canned French Onion soup?  Cheese?

Well, my doubting was decidedly unjust.  This recipe is fabulous, with an added bonus of easy preparation, dinner party appropriateness, and freezable.

Adapted from here


  • lb crawfish tail
  • 1 can French onion soup
  • can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes & chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 heaping cup chopped bell pepper ( I used a mix of red, green and yellow)
  •  cup chopped green onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 and 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
  • cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease a casserole dish or dutch oven.
Mix everything but the cheese together, and pour into your baking dish
Cover and bake for an hour and a half.
Remove from over, top with cheese, and bake another 15 minutes uncovered.

Now this recipe allegedly serves eight.  There were five of us eating tonight, and nary a grain of rice remained at the end of the meal.  I served it with good bread, and a simple green salad.

Perfect for having guests, because there is a nice hour and a half to clean up your house, or as Mama suggested, take a disco nap before your company arrives.  Or if you have a mane of hair like myself, blow dry your hair, and dab on some lipstick.  We would have continued in this vein for a good while, if the boys hadn't of cut this line of brainstorming hour and half activities to a halt.

Sometimes an old fashioned recipe featuring can of whatever soup is not Paula Deen glop, but a delicious not-too-bad for you (since I tripled the veggies and made it with brown rice) concoction.  Lesson learned. Although I am maintaining that healthy fear of canned biscuits.  Those just aren't right.

Jun 12, 2012

So Many Firsts

All dressed up to attend Miss Priss' first birthday party- her best little buddies, Audrey, Elizabeth, and Claire turned one on Sunday.  Miss Priss was too excited to nap all day in anticipation, then fell asleep on the way to the party.  Promptly on arrival, she woke up wailing, with an extreme diaper issue.  After a quick change and cuddle she was ready to enjoy the party, although quite embarrassed.  Hee.

After getting home, I immediately got in my pjs, and tried feeding Dell Harper some rice cereal.  Her doctor has recommended we try some rice cereal (in addition to her prevaicd and zantac, sigh) in the evenings to help with her reflux.

I don't know if it helped, but I was quite entertained!

I think she was a bit disappointed that it was not this ice cream business she has heard so much about from her Granddaddy.  When I was about Dell Harper's age, Mama came home to my Mama Faye (her mother), feeding me butter pecan ice cream!  Mama was completely nonplussed, but had company so she had to keep her mouth shut.  Now her and Daddy think it is hilarious to threaten to do the same with Dell Harper.  It did take a rather lengthy explanation of infants' digestive systems to convince Daddy that a little melted ice cream would be a bad thing.  I completely understood his confusion, as I have trouble convincing my trying-to-reduce-my-waistline self that a little ice cream would be a bad thing every night after dinner.

Jun 8, 2012

Fantasy Land

I'm perusing a stack of cooking mags and catalogs and pinterest, and planning my next cocktail party.  Some entertaining is long overdue, and I am longing to celebrate (i.e. show off) my renovations once they are complete.

The party won't be until later this summer, so cool drinks and zinnias will be in order.

Italian Greyhounds whipped up on my adorable gold bar cart?  Yes, I think that will be lovely!

This red number will do quite nicely.

Source: rstyle.me via Samma on Pinterest

Or perhaps a floaty hostess gown, to entertain in ease.

Cheese and wine are essential to any party.

Of course in reality, the pin I most need will be this one-

Forty ways to entertain your baby while lying down.  You know, if you are sick, or pregnant, or injured. . .or had a lovely evening the previous night?  Ahem.

Jun 6, 2012

Perfect Summer Pork Chops

I found this recipe for grilled pork chops in this month's Southern Living, in an advertisement by the National Pork Board.  A little bored with steaks and grilled chicken, but always looking to enjoy something grilled, I pulled it out.  I figured the National Pork Board knows what they are doing when it comes to pig preparation.  I was correct in this assumption.  I think I would be an outstanding recipe taster/tester for the National Pork Board, by the way.  Pig is one of my favorite foods- a road trip game in college was me naming types of pork products, Bubba Gump style.  I can go for days just on types of sausages.  Then when I get into cured meats?  I could take you from Athens to Montgomery right there.

Anyway, grab a whole bunch of basil out of your garden (or your Kroger), and make these delicious and nutritious pork chops.  You can get free range organic bone-in pork chops for about a quarter of the price of steak, and they feel just as fancy.

So the recipe (from here)-

4 pork chops, bone-in, sliced about 3/4 inch thick
1 cup basil, packed tight
2 cloves garlic peeled
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

With the machine running, drop garlic through the feed tube of the food processor to mince.  Stop, add fresh basil, and process until chopped.  Add lemon juice, oil salt and pepper. and process to make thin wet rub.  Coat both sides of the pork chops with basil mixture and let stand 15-30 minutes.

Prepare a medium hot fire in the grill.  Brush grate clean and oil the grate.  Grill chops over direct heat, turning once, 5-6 minutes per side, followed by a three minute rest.

These pork chops are excellent example of nap time cookery.  While Miss Priss was taking her early evening cat-nap (or chilling out on a quilt on the kitchen floor), I prepared the garlic rub, marinated the chops, cut up the zucchini and squash and put together a baked mac and cheese.  This sounds impressive, but the sink was filled to the brim with dirty dishes, and it only took me about 25 minutes.

Hubs took care of the mac and cheese going into the oven, and grilling the chops, while I bathed and fed Miss Priss.  After putting her in bed, we sautéed the squash, and sat down to a fresh and healthy supper.

Jun 5, 2012

The Most Perfect Dinner Party Dish

If you have ever eaten Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook, you are likely nodding your head in agreement when I say that it is the most ideal dinner party dish.  Now, you may look at the recipe and sneer in disgust.  Prunes?  With capers and olives?  Brown sugar?  Fear not.  It works to salty/sour/sweet perfection.

Pretend you are a boho Spanish hostess in the manner of the Barefoot Contessa (movie, not Ina Garten), and serve with aplomb.

The lovely thing is, Chicken Marbella is so easy, and requires so little last minute preparation, that you will have time to beautify yourself and your home to Ava Gardner like proportions by the time your guests arrive.  Then you can twinkle merrily to the oven, pull out your fragrant dish, serve over some couscous, and let the compliments wash over you.

• 1 (12-ounce) package pitted, bite-size dried plums

• 1 (3.5-ounce) jar capers

• 1 (0.5-ounce) bottle dried oregano

• 6 bay leaves

• 1 garlic bulb, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

• 1 cup pimento-stuffed olives

• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

• 1/2 cup olive oil

• 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

• 2 teaspoons pepper

• 6 pounds chicken boneless breasts and thighs
• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup dry white wine

• 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a large zip-top freezer bag or a large bowl. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat well; seal or cover and chill for at least 8 hours (overnight is best), turning chicken occasionally.

2. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two 13- x 9-inch baking pan(s). Pour marinade evenly over chicken, and sprinkle evenly with brown sugar; pour wine around pieces.

3. Bake at 350° for  45 minutes, basting frequently. (The original recipe calls for 50 minutes to an hour, but uses bone-in chicken).  Sprinkle the parsley on top.

I like to shred the chicken into bite size pieces.  This is excellent with couscous, rice, or even angel hair pasta dressed with Italian parsley and olive oil.  Serve with good French bread and a simply dressed crisp green salad.

NOTE- I just realized while googling this recipe that I have featured the recipe on the blog before-  check it out.

Jun 4, 2012


  • Dell Harper helped me in the kitchen today.  It was really cute.  Then I dropped a jar of artichokes on top of her.  It glanced off her forehead.  I threw it to the ground, scooped her up in my arms and bawled more than she did.  Mama tried not to laugh as I worried about whether I should take my smiling baby to the emergency room.
  • I'm right proud of myself for managing to convince to put away laundry and do dishes before watching Mad Men.  It's amazing what listening to a trashy novel on my iPod will make palatable.
  • The day lilies are so beautiful right now.  My yard and my parents' have yellow, but the orange are my favorite.  
  • Speaking of orange, I have been craving a frosted orange from the Varsity like no other lately.  Maybe a trip to Atlanta is in order?
  • I made the Piperade Pie for my family on Saturday night.  It was good, but not as good as previous times.  Why?  I'm not exactly sure, but probably due to the fact that I was rushing and distracted while cooking.  This resulted in forgetting to bake the crust before addding the filling, and improperly tempered eggs.  Moral of the story?  There are no bad cooks, just ones who aren't paying attention.
  • Did y'all enjoy this beautiful cool weather this weekend?  Miss Priss and I took a few walks and hit the pool with all of her buddies today.