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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Christmas, Holidays

Marble Mantle Decor


“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.”

This is truly my favorite time of year. I love the warmth of this season–which may sound strange given the outside temperature–but it’s a warmth of giving, of goodness, and light, that ignites in me as soon as we pack up the Thanksgiving leftovers (who am I kidding–I start getting giddy after Halloween). As I looked back at #12DaysofChristmas last year, I noticed I didn’t have a roundup of all of the 2016 recipes in one spot. Here they are below for your gifting/eating/drinking pleasure. Stay tuned next week for 2017’s 12 Days of Christmas Recipes (culminating in another awesome giveaway), but in the meantime, enjoy these 11 fantastic holiday recipes!

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Breakfast, Sweet Treats

Apple Cider Donuts

    Sugar or glaze? Both!

As a New England transplant to the Deep South, there are a few things I desperately miss about the Northeast around this time of year. I’ll rank them in order of importance, from least to most:

3. Leaves changing
2. Apple picking
1. Apple cider doughnuts

That’s right; the thing I miss most about New England is a crinkly, white paper bag, full of freshly fried, subtly spiced, apple cider doughnut goodness. Picking actual apples comes second, with the eye-searingly gorgeous array of fall foliage bringing up the rear. 

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Cookies, Halloween, Holidays, Sweet Treats

Double Chocolate Monster Cookies

A version of this article was originally published in Best Version Media’s Spring Hill Living and Historic Midtown Living October 2017 magazines.

One of my favorite things to do with my kids (5 and 2) is bake. I’m a sucker for any sort of dessert, and my children, unfortunately, have inherited my sweet tooth. On the plus side, they’re always willing to help out in the kitchen, as long as they get to “sample” the finished product. Because Halloween is almost upon us, I thought it would be a great time to share a favorite spooky treat of ours: Double Chocolate Monster Cookies. Yes, including children in a project involving sprinkles and frosting is most likely to end up in a mess (and the end result might not be stunning) but the smiles on their sticky faces are totally worth it.

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Main Dish, Mediterranean Diet

Thai Steamed Clams
Thai-Style Coconut Milk Clams with Ginger and Lime

Exactly a year ago today, I hit “publish” on my first post for Lemon Baby: grilled Mediterranean-style octopus, which remains one of my most popular posts. Our first blog birthday coincides with my own birthday, which was yesterday. As I said in the octopus post, I am one of those people who genuinely wants to spend their birthdays cooking a sumptuous meal. And if I make the mistake of asking my oldest kid for input, his answer is always going to be “clams and mussels.” It may seem odd that a five-year-old can get jazzed about shellfish, but jazzed he is. We have been known to fork-fight for the errant, shell-less morsels at the bottom of the bowl. These Coconut Milk Steamed Clams with Ginger and Lime were a hit with both the littles and the bigs this birthday.

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