Zucchini Carrot Tea Bread

Zucchini Carrot Tea Bread_open
Are you looking for a versatile baked good? Look no further than this Zucchini Carrot Tea Bread. There isn’t a bad time of day to have a slice or two. You can serve it with coffee or OJ for breakfast, as an appetizer for afternoon tea, or end your day and have a slice for dessert! The bread has hints of ginger from the Ginger Sugar and is loaded with zucchini, carrots, raisins, coconut, and walnuts. Are you a fan of carrot cake? You have to give this bread a try!  Continue Reading

Lemon Spiced Walnuts

Spiced nuts make a great snack to accompany a cocktail, mix-in for a salad, or as the topping on a brie cheese wheel. Generally spiced nuts are something that you see on fall or winter menus, but they will work equally as well on your spring table. The trick is to change the flavor combination to complement light, bright, and refreshing flavors of Spring. Using Lemon Sugar as her inspiration, Sally was able to create a Lemon Spiced Walnut that is perfect for the warm Spring weather and the flavors that come with it!

Orange Earl Grey Mini Chip Cookies


Do you like the combination of orange and chocolate? It might sound a little strange and not one you would be immediately drawn to, but there is just something about it that works. With a fresh batch of orange earl grey flavored sugar on hand, and the chocolate orange flavor combination in mind,  Sally decided to create a chocolate chip cookie that tasted eerily similar to my favorite ice cream.

If you have ever been to Student Union at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, you can get a scoop or three of my favorite ice cream! Orange Custard Chocolate Chip might sound like a strange ice cream combination, but ever since giving it a try my freshmen year I have been hooked. Whenever I am back in Madison, it is on my list of foods to eat. Yes, even when there is snow on the ground, I will have a scoop.

While I would love to have some orange custard chocolate chip ice cream to accompany me as I watch my Badgers in the Final Four tonight, Madison is a little too far away. But fortunately I have found a substitution. These Orange Earl Grey Mini Chip Cookies will be my snack throughout the game. These cookies aren’t just for Badger fans, they work well for a tea party, picnic, or can be frozen and enjoyed whenever you have a cookie craving.

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Flavored Sugars: Lemon, Ginger and Orange Earl Grey



Making Lemon, Ginger and Orange Earl Grey sugars can enhance the fun factor in many a recipe. The making of flavored sugar alone, is like returning to childhood sandbox play! Lemon sugar is a delightful addition to a sugar cookie recipe. Use Lemon Sugar to up the volume of a simple syrup for a whiskey sour base. Rim a glass with Ginger Sugar when making a Moscow Mule. Mix the Ginger Sugar with cinnamon and make zesty cinnamon toast or add it to your favorite ginger bread recipe.  Orange Earl Grey Sugar bolsters the flavor of hot tea. Mix the Orange Earl Grey Sugar in Vanilla yogurt for a flavorful topping for fresh fruit. Muffins, scones, cookies and quick breads will all benefit from using a flavored sugar in place of granulated sugar.

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Paprika Baked Chicken


Baked chicken is one of those staple recipes that you can always count on to feed a crowd or as the foundation for the coming week’s make ahead meals. There was a few month stretch where every Sunday afternoon was baked chicken day. I would fill a sheet pan with 6 to 8 chicken breasts. After a sprinkling of salt and pepper, it was off to the oven. Once the chicken’s skin was crispy and the meat had cooked through, I would let it cool and then pull the meat off the bone to use as lunch or dinner throughout the week.

A little warning for you guys out there who are recently married. Pulling chicken can be a slippery business. I lost my wedding ring, for the first time, when pulling apart baked chicken. Luckily a dig through the trash revealed that it had slipped off while pulling. 

I was looking to up my baked chicken game, so I turned to my Mom (Sally) for help. I explained to her about the chicken rut that Sara and I were starting to fall into and she had one word to solve our problem: PAPRIKA.

I wasn’t sure what my Mom had planned, but upon seeing a sheet pan of deep red colored chicken with vibrant orange pan juices emerge from the oven, it became clear that Sally was right. Paprika was exactly what my baked chicken needed. The mix of smoky, sweet, citrus, and the smallest amount of heat was a welcome change to my traditional baked chicken. This Paprika Baked Chicken pairs well with Elegant Cauliflower Puree or can be a great foundation to a chicken salad. If you find yourself in a baked chicken rut, give Paprika Baked Chicken a try.

Elegant Cauliflower Puree

Cauliflower is an interesting word. I can pronounce it correctly in polite conversation. When my brain is on auto pilot, I pronounce it, “Collie flower.” Lately, to keep me safe from embarrassment, I mentally morph back to the 4th grade, and pronounce it, “chou- fleur” (meaning cabbage flower) .  I loved 4th grade french. It was all nouns and zero grammar! It was 1968  and all the girls wore colorful fish net hoisery, garter belts and go-go boots. Nancy Sinatra’s hit, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” (1966) was our anthem! If you can not relate to this ramble, ask your Mom, or go to YouTube and watch Nancy sing for yourself!

In the 1960’s, little cabbage flowers (cauliflower) were frequently seen as part of a crudite platter, served with curry dip (also all the rage back then). Sadly, cauliflower was also boiled until it was as limp and grey as wet newspaper!  To avoid serving this grim side dish, cook your cauliflower with milk and broth. The milk keeps the cauliflower blonde and the broth acts as a flavor booster.  Creamy Cauliflower Puree is smooth and velvet on the tongue. Visually, this side dish is ivory and oozing elegance. The puree can be served immediately or chilled and reheated the next day. Thin any leftover puree with stock or cream, adjust the seasonings, and you have have a sophisticated cold soup.

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Buttermilk Biscuits with Country Ham, Red Eye Gravy and Molasses

Buttermilk Ham Biscuits With Red Eye Gravy
Taylor’s great grandmother, Elizabeth Hancock James could flat cook. She was a little girl in upstate South Carolina when her mother passed away. Raised thereafter by the family cook, Mama J’s collard greens were the best I have ever eaten. Salty country ham and sweet potlikker that tasted like candy!  Coconut cake, Impossible Pie and Franklin Nut cake were always on the sideboard when I visited. As a child, I loved to watch her work her magic in the kitchen. I smile as I remember Mama J barking at my father, Carl, to get outside as he tried to sample whatever she  was cooking.
Mama J. would make buttermilk biscuits without measuring. She was an intuitive cook and had made biscuits so many times that she just had a feel for it. I would watch her pop the dough in the oven and walk away while telling me, ” not to worry, the biscuits will tell us when they were done.”  I loved the idea of talking biscuits!

Mama J and Big Carl (Taylor’s country ham loving grandfather) are now enjoying well-deserved down time in the part of heaven reserved for biscuit makers and lovers. I have passed the biscuit craft on to Taylor and his three siblings as a way to mark a tradition for their families going forward. I must confess, Taylor currently makes a mean biscuit, bacon and egg sandwich!  The following recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits, Country Ham, Red Eye Gravy and Molasses is great for a weekend breakfast. Or, serve these ham biscuits as a brunch item along with creamy scrambled eggs, ambrosia, and B&B Mango Bellinis

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Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich with Cheddar Hot Sausage Gravy

Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich with Cheddar Hot Sausage Gravy_compare

An Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich with Cheddar Hot Sausage Gravy is a meal designed for any occasion where you are looking for a satisfying meal that will leave you full until dinner. My favorite time to eat one is when adult beverages are involved. Planning on a long day of tailgating? This sandwich is perfect for a noon kickoff where you only have time for one meal, or an early morning reward for those who were there to set up the tents and claim your game day parking spot. Taking a weekend trip to the beach, mountains, or lake? This sandwich is the perfect Sunday brunch item to wipe away any hangovers before loading up the car and heading home. So if you find yourself feeling rough after a weekend of too much green beer or Midori Sangria this weekend, give the Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich with Cheddar Hot Sausage Gravy a try.

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St. Patrick’s Day Midori Sangria

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is all about the color green! Wearing green and drinking a green beverage are two things you have to do to celebrate. Wearing a green outfit is much easier than finding a green beverage. Many bars will dye their drafts green, but if you don’t enjoy beer or want to consume a bunch of food coloring, your options are somewhat limited. Well they are no longer limited. Let me introduce you to this St Patrick’s Day Midori Sangrira. This white wine sangria gets its beautiful green color from the Midori. When you add honeydew, kiwi, limes, green grapes, and granny smith apples, you have a drink that is perfect for any St. Patty’s Day Party.

All-Purpose Pan Rolls

When looking for a lifetime baked good partner, it is easy to overlook the humble yeast roll.  Face it, they are not exactly the pin up dolls of the food blog world. Forget embellishing them with ganache, salted caramel or edible glitter.  Pan rolls are not food porn. All-Purpose pan rolls are practical, versatile (for any meal, any time), reusable (they freeze well) and are easy to make.
Consider getting doughy and making yeast rolls for your family and friends. Your kitchen will smell fantastic!  Pan rolls are not intimidating. They support leftovers, they absorb pan juice spills and  they never fail to respond to a good buttering up!  All-Purpose rolls will, however, yield to you. With minimal effort they will become pleasing cinnamon buns, handsome pepperoni rolls and crazy good garlic knots.

Get to know pan rolls over the long haul.  I have been making All-Purpose Pan Rolls for almost 35 years of family meals and celebrations. Like a good partner, these rolls always make me (and others) smile!

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Golden Onion Soup with Jarlsberg Toasts

It has been warm enough in Charlotte to summon the daffodil bulbs out of the ground. The plants at the edge of my drive are on the cusp of showing their blooms. The sight of these golden heralds of Spring boost my mood.

As luck would have it, the forecast calls for temperatures to take a downward dip. Cold enough to warrant warm soup for supper. Golden Onion Soup is a tawny version of the classic French onion soup. Lighter in color, but not lighter in taste! Served with Jarlsberg Swiss cheese toast and garnished with chives, this soup promises that Spring is just around the corner…

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

The Quartermaster in U.S. land armies is the person/unit in charge of acquiring and distributing supplies and provisions to the troops. Parents, especially parents of perpetually hungry teenagers, are expert Quartermasters!

Occasional, as well as occupational, Quartermasters will appreciate this easy to prepare, palate pleasing Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing. Buttermilk Blue is the creamy, mellow cousin of some of the more assertive members of the blue cheese family. This versatile dressing is piquant yet not overwhelming. Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing will transform game day takeout wings and elevate weeknight burgers and salads to first string status. Take it to your next pot luck with cut vegetables. Try a dollop or three of dressing on your steak and potatoes. Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing is a great provision to have on hand the next time you are in charge of feeding your “troops!”

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