DIY

Solid Perfume with Essential OilsScent is inextricably linked to the acts of cooking and eating. My nose tells me when the onions are getting ready to caramelize, and it warns me that if I don’t take the skillet off the heat right this second, the pecans will be beyond toasted. As a child I would rub vanilla extract behind my ears as “perfume.”  In my later teenage years, I discovered Demeter fragrances. These perfumes embodied the scents of foods (Lemon Meringue Pie, etc). Recently, I decided to experiment with DIY solid perfume and capture some of my favorite food scents into wearable, easy DIY solid perfumes.

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Holidays, Mardi Gras, Sweet Treats

Clockwise from top: Warehouse, Cartozzo’s, Bake My Day, Le Bakery.

I’ve learned one thing about king cake while living in the Gulf Coast: people have strong feelings about this confection. Last year, when I devised the idea of a king cake tasting, everyone chimed in with their own area favorites–and they varied considerably. This year was an even bigger fête than the last, with a spread of fifteen king cakes. For our tasting, Fairhope Roasting Company generously donated a pound of their Holiday Blend coffee, a bold dark roast that blended perfectly with the sweetness of the king cakes. Need to know where to get your Gulf Coast king cake this Mardi Gras? There’s something for everyone here.

Fairhope Roasting Company’s Holiday Blend coffee

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Main Dish, Mediterranean Diet

Sheet Pan Dinners with chicken, white beans and peppers


Have you tried sheet pan dinners yet? They are so incredibly easy, and the cleanup is a breeze. If you haven’t guessed, they’re called “sheet pan dinners” because you toss a bunch of ingredients together (normally vegetables and some sort of meat) and bake them on the same pan. You know those evenings you’re frantically scouring the fridge for something that can pass as dinner? Sheet Pan Italian Chicken with White Beans, Peppers and Kale to the rescue!

Sheet Pan Dinners with chicken, white beans and peppers


This dish is so easy to throw together. You just toss some veggies of your choice (I used peppers and kale, but you could use zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, asparagus, whatever) along with a drained can of whatever beans you like (I like cannellini or large butter beans) in a bowl with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour out the veggies onto a large sheet pan with a lip. Add your chicken breasts to the same bowl, add some balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, Greek or Italian seasoning, and a little olive oil, toss and nestle the chicken breasts into the veggies on the sheet pan. I garnished with basil, but you could do what you like.

Sheet Pan Dinners with chicken, white beans and peppers

Sheet Pan Italian Chicken Dinner with Peppers, Kale, and White Beans

An easy one-pan, weeknight dinner with juicy chicken breasts, tender white beans, sweet peppers, and crispy kale.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Amanda

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers red, orange, or yellow, sliced
  • 1 14- ounce can large butter beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups washed chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peppers, kale, and beans.
  3. Drizzle with about two tablespoons of olive oil (just eyeball it.)
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix with a spoon and scatter out onto a half sheet pan with a lip.
  6. In the same bowl, put mustard, vinegar, Italian seasoning, and drizzle with olive oil.
  7. Mix thoroughly and add chicken breasts, turning to coat.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and using tongs, place chicken breasts on the sheet pan among the vegetables.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Bottom line: This is one of the easiest, most delicious 30-minute dinners I’ve ever made. Three out of the four of us raved about it. The two-year-old just ate basil. #toddlerlife

Review, Travel

Stop 1 on the Bienville Bites Food Tour
The Tour

When I visit a new place, I tend to research food first and foremost. I want to know the “must-eats” of the region. Downtown Mobile is enjoying a boom. There are new restaurants and establishments popping up every month, it seems. Two Mobile residents, Chris and Laney Andrews, of Bienville Bites Food Tours, have a unique and tasty way of showing some of the best of what downtown Mobile has to offer to tourists and locals alike in their food tour. The three hours of this Bienville Bites Food Tour passed like minutes in the stroll down Dauphin, as we listened to Chris tell fascinating stories of the history of our fair city and its most famous dishes.

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Mardi Gras, Sweet Treats

King Cake with Cream Cheese Filling


King cakes come in myriad fillings, from fruit to chocolate to cream cheese.  Last year, I made a semi-traditional Pecan Praline Cream Cheese king cake. The year, on the advice of my 5-year-old son, I went a little out of the box with a Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese king cake. We had a plethora of Meyer lemons from the plea I put out on Facebook a few weeks earlier. (Our former home had a citrus orchard that I desperately miss, and some kind-hearted neighbors filled the void with their own bounty.) Meyer lemons are a sweeter, less tart cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and they make a fantastic curd, which is what I used in the filling of this king cake.

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Main Dish, Soups

First Place ChiliChili and I go waaaaay back. When my husband and I lived in Montana, I entered a chili cookoff. I came in third out of four entries, which did not leave me best pleased. I wrote a food column for the local newspaper, for Pete’s sakes. I could not be coming in second to last in any cookoff. So I perfected my recipe, and the result is this Blue Ribbon Chili.

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Christmas, Giveaway


On the 12th day of Christmas, there was an awesome giveaway! This lovely set of Williams Sonoma* Ginger- Jar Measuring Cups will be my present to one of you. Stoneware with hand painted decorations, they’re a classic blue and white must-have for any kitchen. It’s a set of four, 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup, each in a different pattern. Continue Reading

Cocktails

Hot Buttered Rum


Hot Buttered Rum is a classic winter cocktail. It’s sweet, slightly spicy (thanks to nutmeg and allspice) and delightfully boozy. I had no idea how many iterations there were until I researched recipes. The preparation is much the same; you cream butter and sugar together, add cream or melted vanilla ice cream, and winter spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. When making a cocktail, you add two tablespoons mix to a heatsafe mug and add a shot of rum and top with hot water.

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Christmas, Main Dish

BBQ Rub


DIY BBQ rub would make a perfect gift for the BBQ-obsessed on your list. Pulled pork in the South is more than a picnic staple; it is an institution. Southerners guard their barbeque recipes so close, you’d think they were printed on hundred dollar bills. I get it. It’s a serious thing to bequeath a treasure to the world. My mother spent most of her youth in North Carolina and Virginia. I grew up eating only North Carolina style pulled pork; consequently, it’s my BBQ of choice.  Continue Reading

Christmas, Cocktails

Homemade Kahlua


Give the gift of booze this holiday season, and whip up a batch of this easy homemade coffee liqueur. It makes a killer White Russian, and it’s dynamite poured over vanilla bean ice cream. Friends of my father used to gift us a bottle of their homemade recipe, and it was absolutely delicious. I researched several recipes to make this, but I bypassed the ones calling for instant coffee. I wanted a more authentic coffee flavor. In the end I really had to improvise and combine elements of a few recipes. Continue Reading

Christmas, Entertaining, Sweet Treats


If the Christmas Wreath Pavlova wasn’t enough of a showstopper for you, I’m thinking this Flourless Chocolate Bûche de Noël might be what you’re looking for. It’s also gluten free, as an added bonus. Bûche de Noël, or French for “Yule Log”, and I go way back. My senior year of high school, we were assigned a final project for our International Baking class. I, ever the Martha Stewart fan, decided to make her Bûche de Noël recipe –a three-day endeavor. Her beast requires a chocolate mousse filling, chocolate genoise cake, ganache frosting, and fussy little meringue mushrooms. Kudos to my mother for indulging my ambitions and forging on with this project that I never would have completed without her help. It was success. I got an A+++ on the project (formerly thought mathematically impossible) and a recommendation from my teacher that I go on to the CIA (which confused me until I realized she meant the Culinary Institute of America).

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Breakfast, Christmas, Sweet Treats

Stollen: German Christmas Bread


Last week, some good (nay–amaaaazing) friends gifted us a loaf of Stollen–a German Christmas Yeast Bread; we ate it record time. There may have even been a few squabbles between me and my husband regarding who just exactly ate how much of this stuff. When the inevitable heel of the loaf appeared, I thought, “hey–this can’t be that hard to make.” And I was right. It takes the a day to bake and the better part of a week to let the loaf “ripen” into its decadent glory, but most of it is inactive, soaking or rising time.

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Appetizers, Christmas, Holidays

Is there anything more indulgent than a baked brie? Puffy, crispy layers of puff pastry encasing warm, gooey triple-cream cheese is #holidayappetizergoals. Usually, I use cranberry sauce, but for this Brie en Croute (Baked Brie) with Pepper Jelly, I decided to give this one a little Southern twist. For those of you not familiar, pepper jelly is a jelly made out of peppers–both mild and hot. It’s delicious–sweet and spicy and usually served with cream cheese and crackers (or if you’re feeling fancy, some goat cheese).

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Christmas, Sweet Treats


Pavlova, Australia’s national dessert, is one of my favorite desserts, both to eat and to make. It looks seriously complicated but couldn’t be easier. Its foundation (literally) is a cloud of meringue–crusty on the outside with a pillowy marshmallow interior. Next is a layer of sweetened whipped cream, and then usually a fruit of choice. I thought cranberry would be perfect for this Christmas Wreath Pavlova, and I happened to have these fantastic Sparkling Sugared Cranberries for a garnish.

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Christmas, Cocktails

Thyme Cranberry CocktailFor my #12DaysOfChristmas cocktail, I wanted to do something really different. I got the idea for this ChristmasThyme Cocktail from Inspired by Charm’s  “A Very Merry Ornamentini.” I went with his idea for the vessel and garnishes (a clear glass ornament and rosemary and the aforementioned Sparkling Cranberries)  but made a completely different cocktail, as I wanted something less sweet and a little herbal. And what a cocktail it is!

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Christmas, Cookies, Holidays, Sweet Treats

Chocolate Crinkles

On the second day of Christmas, there was an unbelievably fudgy, deep-dark chocolatey, ooey-gooey cookie. Deep Dark Chocolate Crinkles are pretty much the exact opposite of yesterday’s Pecan Snowballs. Where those are hard and crumbly, these are soft and chewy. But hey—it’s #12DaysofChristmas and who says we have to choose? Make both and enjoy the compliments. Continue Reading

Christmas, Cookies, Holidays, Sweet Treats

Mexican Wedding Cookies


I began last year’s #12DaysofChristmas with a Meyer lemon snowball cookie, and this year it’s going back to the original Pecan Snowball. These things go by so many names it’s hard to keep up. I’ve called them tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, pecan meltaways, etc. What more do you need to know other than they’re delicious? Melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly shortbread, studded with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. It’s impossible to eat just one.

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Review


I spent some of my childhood living in Charlottesville, Virginia, and when guests came to visit us, we often visited colonial sites like Jamestown and Monticello. We amassed souvenirs like bonnets and aprons, and my older sister and I would roam the woods surrounding our country home, pretending we were Revolutionary War-era young ladies, relying on the wilderness for sustenance. When presented with an opportunity to review Laura Kumin’s (of the food blog Mother Would Know) new cookbook: The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World (Post Hill Press), I jumped at the chance to see how our forefathers ate, drank, and made merry.

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