Flourless Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

Last week, Sally and I were talking about our Thanksgiving menu. She isn’t afraid to step out of the box from your “traditional” Thanksgiving menu items. We have a few staples like macaroni and cheese, which are always on the menu, but every year Sally likes to try out new dishes and add them to the rotation. This year, she had the idea for a rich chocolate flourless cake covered in a thick chocolate ganache. The word flourless had me thinking.

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Bucatini Pasta with Pancetta and Sun Dried Tomatoes

     It has been Winter chilly in Charlotte this week!  I craved a quick to prepare dish that was warm, comforting and ample enough for leftover servings. Bucatini pasta with Pancetta and Sundried Tomatoes to the rescue! If you are acquainted with Bucatini, you already appreciate the hollow center of the noodle that hoards a secret stash of delicious sauce for you to savor with every bite. If you have not experienced Bucatini, I promise you that the two of you will make fast friends…for life! If you have a food mill, take a few minutes to de-seed your tomatoes. This extra step will make your sauce smooth, velvety and devoid of bitterness (***tomato seeds if cooked too long can make a sauce bitter. If this happens, no worries, just add fresh herbs and/or a small bit of sugar to your sauce).
If you want to make this recipe more substantial, add some grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp. Any left over  Bucatini with Pancetta and Sundried Tomatoes can be scarfed cold from its storage container or re-heated with extra cheese for a hearty side dish.

Triple “T” Chili


I must say, I really love this chili.

It has the hearty, stick to your ribs quality that I expect from a good bowl of red. Thankfully, this chili has packs a protein punch that will not side line you for the afternoon if you over indulge with an extra bowl (or two!). Triple “T” means that this chili is a three-time turkey treat. Lean ground turkey, spicy hot Italian turkey sausage and rich smoked turkey legs are slow simmered and seasoned with just enough heat to make this chili one I will reach for time and time again. Try Triple “T” chili over a baked sweet potato with some shredded Chipotle Gouda. Or, eat it over roasted brussels sprouts for a post work out re-booting meal.  Any way you try it, Triple “T” Chili will make your tummy feel good while you feel great about yourself for making a healthy, wholesome meal!

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Apple Bourbon Streusel Bars with Bacon Shortbread Crust

The weather is cooler and the local mountain apples are filling the aisles at the farmer’s market. I was craving  all things apple and wanted something portable, satisfying and fun to make for this weekend’s tailgate. Hand pies, while a great portable option, do not have the pop of sugar and the slightly salty crumb found on apple streusel pie. I settled on  making an apple streusel bar cookie. Hand held. Check. Satisfying crumble topping. Check. Fun factor? Not really…
Apple streusel bars are a tasty, homey bar cookie that are a bit like sitting in Grandpa’s lap as a kid. It felt great to be there, and yet, once there, I could not wait to be put down on the floor and run back to the action outside.
What in the world could make my Grandpa apple bar cookie a worthy rival of the smoky, cheesy, frosted and grilled flavors sure to be found at this weekend’s tailgate spread?? BACON and BOURBON. You betcha, I went there! The result is a quaint, yet indulgent bite (good bourbon does that) that finishes with the taste of a buttery, bacon shortbread crust. Taylor’s brother Harrison, (of Harry’s Hot Ball fame, if you are familiar with The Southern Tailgating Cookbook) pronounced these little gems of apple “fun.” Seriously, he kept saying these bar cookies are really FUN to eat! So, unlock the good bourbon from the liquor cabinet, cook up some apples and bacon and make Apple Bourbon Streusel Bars with Bacon Shortbread Crust for your next gathering. Because being the “fun” one never goes out of style….
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White Cheddar Whipped Potatoes with Bacon Pancetta Crust

For this weekend’s tailgate, I wanted to add a bit of elegance to a tried and true mashed potato side dish. A delicious casserole of whipped Yukon gold potatoes and white cheddar cheese gets ramped up with a crunchy crust of bacon, pancetta and caramelized onions. This yummy side dish is pretty enough to be in a sterling chafing dish on your holiday meal side board. Or, serve White Cheddar Whipped Potatoes with Bacon Pancetta Crust with a char-grilled thick cut ribeye, baby arugula salad and a hefty glass your favorite Cabernet!
To make my Football Friday Night tailgate preparation a breeze, I made the whipped potatoes yesterday and refrigerated them overnight in a deep dish disposable pan. I made the pancetta, onion, shallot and garlic topping and baked the thick cut bacon and stored them separately in sealed containers in the refrigerator. Now all I have to do is assemble the casserole and warm it in the oven while I shower up for kickoff!

If you will have a grill at your tailgate site, make and bake the casserole ahead of time, refrigerate, and then warm it up, foil-wrapped, over indirect heat on the grill while your guests drool with anticipation.  Or, assemble and bake the casserole onsite, by bringing the bacon, pancetta topping and potato base wrapped separately and chilled in a cooler (hint: cook extra bacon. People will want sneak a snack while you cook!). Give this casserole a try. You will love the textural contrast between the creamy, cheesy potatoes and the crunchy, hearty, meaty topping.  Enjoy! Continue Reading

Purple, White, and Orange Sweet Potato Hash with Country Ham

Purple White and Orange Sweet Potato Hash with Country Ham
Did you know that sweet potatoes aren’t just orange? You can find them in purple and white as well! When Sally brought home a bag of these multi-colored sweet potatoes, there was one thing on her mind. A sweet potato and country ham hash perfect for tailgating during a noon kickoff! With a noon game, you will generally only have time for one filling and hearty meal. This Purple, White, and Orange Sweet Potato Hash with Country Ham when served with a fried egg is the perfect start to an early autumn game. You can make the hash ahead or time, refrigerate, and transport in a metal casserole dish or pan to your tailgate. You can heat the container and hash over a medium grill and cook the eggs to order.
Purple White and Orange Sweet Potato Hash with Country Ham_2
Clemson fans, you can use all three colors of sweet potatoes for a team-themed breakfast! If your school’s colors are purple and white (Furman or Holy Cross) you can theme your tailgate with just the purple and white sweet potatoes. Tennessee and Texas fans can use the orange and white sweet potatoes at their tailgate!

Chipotle Sausage Bacon Pinwheels

     My four children have all been active in high school and year round sports teams. Taylor, as many of you know, was a Division I distance swimmer in college. My youngest son, currently a high school Senior, will play Division I lacrosse in college. These facts mean that I am an expert by default in three things: distance highway driving, bulk laundry, and making supper. I will confess that the steaming suppers borne out of casseroles, crock pots and stew pots were probably lacking in the looks department, but they were really, really tasty! I would affectionately call my weeknight culinary high art, “ugly but good”. Taylor is still bugging me about the recipe for crock pot Caribbean Chicken ( chicken breasts, jerk sauce, cream cheese and peach jam…you get the picture).

     This said, not all things crazy tasty have to be low-brow in the looks department. Chipotle Sausage Bacon Pinwheels are  make ahead, pert, pretty, meaty, spicy and delicious! Soft yeast dough is made ahead and kept chilled until you are ready to assemble the pinwheels. The roll dough is spread with Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce cream, cooked bacon, sausage and chopped scallions. The rolls are brushed with Tabasco Sweet and Spicy Pepper Sauce butter. Bake them free form or nestle them in round disposable aluminum pans. If you wish, freeze some or all of the rolls and thaw and bake at a later date.
     Chipotle Sausage Bacon Pinwheels make a great  grab and go tailgate breakfast. Or, serve them on a platter as a buffet  brunch selection. The rolls are hearty and stand up well to  tailgate soups and stews.  Bring some whimsy to your next tailgate or gathering and make Chipotle Sausage Bacon Pinwheels.  These piggy pinwheels look like cinnamon rolls and taste like hog heaven!Continue Reading

Bacon Cheese with Fig Jam


The best appetizers have two qualities. They can be made a day or two ahead of time and they are easy to assemble and serve at your tailgate. Bacon cheese can be made, molded and stored in the refrigerator midweek. On gameday, pack the bacon cheese in a cooler and transport to your tailgate. When ready to serve, remove the bacon cheese from the cooler, unwrap and place on a serving platter. Spread a layer of fig jam on top of the cheese and you are ready to go!

Bacon cheese is savory, salty, sweet and creamy. Mascarpone cheese adds a lighter touch to a traditional cream cheese-based spread. Bacon cheese is hearty, not heavy. As an appetizer, it will satisfy your tailgaters while getting them ready to dig in to your main dish.Serve with a cheese knife and an assortment of your favorite crackers, vegetables, or apple slices.

For this image, we used a round bowl, but feel free to use any team themed cheese mold that you might have! If there is any of this appetizer left when the main meal is ready, try spreading bacon cheese on top of your burger!

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French Bread Crisps with Roasted Grapes or Grape Tomatoes


A key to a successful tailgating season is to always serve a menu with variety and versatility. Having dishes that can be used in different ways throughout the day and in different ways throughout the season will keep your guests coming back to every game eager to take a bite out of your tailgating spread. When it comes to appetizers, you make think that offering variety means a lot more work in the kitchen. This is not the case with these French Bread Crisps. These buttered slices of french bread are covered in a rich and creamy blue cheese spread. On top, you can add either roasted grape tomatoes or roasted grapes! Serve both at your tailgate for variety or serve tomatoes at one game and then grapes at the next!

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Feta Greek Yogurt Dip

       Are you excited for college football season? With only a few weeks to go, Sally and I are testing and figuring out what recipes we will take with us tailgating this year. If you are an experienced tailgater, you know that a delicious dip serves a variety of purposes. You can pair it with a vegetable or chip tray for a pre-game snack. When the entrees come off the grill, you can use it as a sandwich spread on top of a burger! A variety of dips are a great thing to have in your tailgating repertoire this season.
     This Feta Greek Yogurt Dip is big on flavor, but won’t leave you feeling weighed down. It is a refreshing mixture of non-fat greek yogurt, crumbled feta, a touch of olive oil, garlic, lemon, capers and parsley. You can pair it with an assortment of vegetables or spread it on a lamb burger, salmon,or lemon grilled chicken sandwich. If you thin it out with a bit of milk, it turns into versatile salad dressing.

Individual Chipotle Tabasco Cheddar Sausage Frittatas

Individual Chipotle Tabasco Cheddar Sausage Frittatas

In spite of the heat and humidity, I love August in the Carolinas. High School  football preseason practices are in full swing. NFL preseason games are happening as I speak (or at least the rebroadcast of last evening’s match-ups). Opening weekend of College football is at the end of the month. Most importantly, the arrival of August means that it is time to tailgate!

That said, Taylor and I have been busy testing tailgating recipes ideally suited for warm weather game days. Individual frittatas are hand-held, portable, and can be made in advance, refrigerated and brought to room temperature at the tailgate. You can hold your favorite beverage or corn hole bean bag in one hand and have light, yet filling, frittata goodness in the other hand. Not limited to tailgates, individual frittatas are also great for picnics, busy day grab and go breakfasts and lazy day brunches.

If you are new to frittatas, think of eating a crustless quiche or munching on a dripless, slipless omlette. The frittata is a egg-based Italian dish that can can be filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables and/or cooked pastas. Frittatas are a great way to utilize leftovers!

In this recipe, peppers and onions are sautéed in butter and  Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce and then blended with eggs, cheese and cooked sausage. The result is a frittata with a uniform smoky, cheesy flavor in every bite.  Bake Chipotle Tabasco Cheddar Sausage Frittatas in Texas-sized muffin cups for 6 main dish servings or bake them in traditional muffin pans for 12 snack-sized frittatas. Served warm from the oven or at room temperature, these frittatas are great for a wide range of palates, including gluten-free and low-carb tailgaters!


Individual Chipotle Tabasco Cheddar Sausage Frittatas

Serves 6

Texas- sized muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage, cooked crumbled and drained on paper towels
2/3 cup green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped scallion ( white and green part)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 Tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
12 large eggs
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the green pepper, onion, scallions, garlic, Chipotle Tabasco, and butter into a large non-stick skillet. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the Chipotle vegetables from the heat. Let cool and set vegetable mixture aside.

2. In a large bowl add the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Stir until just blended. Add the cheddar cheese. Stir until just blended. Add the cooked, drained sausage and Chipotle vegetables and stir until just blended into the egg mixture. Divide the frittata mixture evenly between the 6 sprayed Texas-size muffin cups.Bake  frittatas for 18 to 22 minutes or until the center is just set. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
3.Invert the muffin pan to remove the frittatas. Place the frittatas right side up on the wire rack. Serve frittatas warm or at room temperature. Cooled frittatas may be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days before serving. Transport chilled frittatas in a cooler to the tailgate and serve them at room temperature.

Disclosure. Tabasco has hired us to develop a series of recipes using their product and is compensating us for the recipes and images. However, our opinions and views on the product are our own.

Nectarine Galette

nectraine_galette_intro_imageWhen you eat pie, do you prefer the filling, or the crust? If you are like me and prefer the filling, a gallete if the perfect summer dessert for you. With a pie, the fruit filling is sandwiched between a top and bottom and bottom layer of crust. With a galette, you only have a bottom layer of crust with a little bit on the sides. A little warning about transporting a galette: don’t travel with it uncovered. Here is what the galette looked like when I put it in  my passenger seat before the 15 minute drive from Sally’s place to my house. The scale of the image may be deceiving. Keep in mind that this galette is the size of a full pie and is meant to serve 8 people.