When In Nashville…

You that saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Well when in Nashville, do as the Nash-Villains do.” That is exactly what my husband and I did while spending a long weekend there over New Year’s eve. We only ate from the 3 primary food groups offered in Tennessee:

  1. Pork BBQ
  2. Hot fried chicken
  3. Biscuits (with sausage gravy or with country ham)

Let me break down the food groups for you:

  1. BBQ: Always pork – no beef – this is hog country. Ribs, pulled pork, and often a strange dish of “BBQ Nachos” offered at most places.  the Nachos consists of tortilla chips piled high with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, jalapeños & cheese. One side note: incase you needed to lighten things up a bit – BBQ chicken was offered at most place as well. Each place had it’s small unique touches too like “Kool-Aid pickles” or “pimento Mac-n-Cheese.” Our favorite of all the places was a joint called “peg leg Poker” and it didn’t disappoint! click here!
  2. Hot Fried Chicken: A unique Nashville style fried chicken preparation. Think fried chicken doused in a thin, spicy sauce coating. Served on white bread with a pickle or in sandwich. Totally different than “buffalo style”  – it is hard to explain. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart. Even the “mild” (supposedly not hot) is totally spicy. Don’t go above “medium” unless you know what you are getting into! We waited 45mins in line at “Hattie B’s” for ours and it was worth every minute of the wait! click here!
  3. Biscuits: A staple at every meal. If I told you how many biscuits I ate each day I would have to kill you. Let’s just say it was an embarrassing amount! At breakfast you eat them with country sausage gravy  (white cream gravy with lots of black pepper and bits of sausage) or at supper time with slices of country ham. Country ham is hard to explain – it’s salty, (cured but not usually/always smoked) kinda dry, thickly sliced ham. Served on biscuits. meat on bread. nothing more. Some do enjoy some mustard or if you are feeling sweet some honey or sorghum or jam. Just plan on eat ing at least 2 or maybe 12. We saw them everywhere but here is the most famous and we thought very delicious. click here! (bonus points – they ship!)


P.S. If you go – be sure to get some boots!



Looking Ahead (And Back)

happy new year

Looking back on 2017 I can safely say it has not been the greatest year and I really neglected my blog/readers. Sorry about that.

However looking ahead to 2018 I can optimistically say I am looking forward to a new year of culinary adventures! Both in the kitchen and in the restaurant scene!

So I leave you on on this Christmas eve with the hope for a fresh, optimistic and new year filled with delicious eating!


Pear Inheritance

The year after my father passed away his beloved pear tree had a banner year. Tons of big beautiful pears were produced and we were able to harvest them before the local raccoons could. We said at the time “all those years, hardly producing a decent pear, and NOW it decides to be amazing!” Wish he could have seen it. For the next 5 years it went back to its rather anemic performance – producing small, pitted pears- in small amounts.

This year my mother passed away and of course the tree put on a show stopping performance – huge, blemish free pears and TONS of them. Wish she could have seen it.

If that isn’t the universe speaking in some way I don’t know what is.

So of course I felt the need to harvest the pears  – making some baked goods right away and cooking some down to pear sauce and freezing for another use well into the winter. So much like my blueberry inheritance I could enjoy a little of my pear inheritance for a while longer.


The first thing that came to mind to make with these amazing pears was of course coffee cake! Wouldn’t that be your “go to” baked goodie too?

I’m no baker so I just bought a quality box mix for coffee cake (complete with streusel mix) and added sliced pears, brown sugar and melted butter to the bottom of the glass baking dish before mixing up and adding my coffee cake mix according to package instructions. Just be sure to slice the fruit fairly thin so it will definitely get soft in the baking process.






Christmas Mash-Up

Mashed potatoes are not my specialty. They are more than just “not my specialty” – they are my arch nemesis! I just can’t seem to master them. They usually come out gluey or lumpy or both all at the same time!

I think making mashed potatoes are a lesson in patience (which I am short on) and require some amount of technical ability.  You need to put the peeled (patience needed) potatoes into the big pot of cold water and bring it all up to boil together (more patience) for the potatoes to cook evenly. You really should warm up whatever dairy product you are adding – milk, cream etc. Don’t over mash and make sure you season liberally.

For Christmas lunch – I decided to be patient with my mashed potatoes and I was rewarded with lovely, creamy, perfect mashed potatoes!

And then I added a few things…

Some roasted garlic cloves. Some grated Parmesan cheese…Some chopped spinach. Yup, chopped spinach. I thought the chopped spinach would be a fun “mash-up.” Like having creamed spinach and garlic mashed altogether.

While my mother and I thought it was tasty, my husband did not!  Weird because cooked spinach is one of the few veggies he really likes and he likes mashed potatoes very much. So what’s not to love about mixing the two?

Ingredient list to fill a 9×13 baking dish

5 lbs Yukon gold potatoes – peeled and cut into similar sized pieces.

3-6 large garlic cloves – roasted and mashed

1 box of chopped spinach ( 9 oz +/-) defrosted and squeezed of excess water.

1/2 stick salted butter

1 cup whole milk – warmed

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tb “Better Life Foods” Depot spice ( or more to taste)

Ground black pepper and additional salt to taste

Easy-Fancy Potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes are the perfect blend of  “easy but looks fancy!”

What are they? Basically they are baked potatoes that have been sliced in a decorative manner. They were a Swedish invention at the “Hasselbacken Hotel” in Stockholm, where they are called “hasselbackspotatis,” back in the 1700s.

I decided to test these out as a possible Thanksgiving dish. We were always more of a baked potato family than a mashed family so a twist on the family standard seemed like a good idea. I washed and sliced some potatoes, poured melted butter and seasoning over them as the many internet recipes suggest and baked them in a high oven ( 450!!!) for 50 mins. They were easy and they look impressive, but I think next time I will slice and bake them with just a bit of oil rubbed onto the potatoes and at a slightly lower heat. I will save the butter-garlic-topping for when they come out of the oven because I noticed that garlic pieces burned unless you conscientiously tuck each one into a slice – who has time for that on thanksgiving!

Here is a look at my “test drive”

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Home Opener- A Day Later

ready for the grill

Home opener for the Red Sox was yesterday – Home opener for my grill was today!

Both have some meaning around here. Red Sox means crowded subway lines during games and neon colored tags on ladies purses worn as a small badge of pride that they were recently at a game. Home opener for my backyard grill means an entire category of cooking opens up after along winter of “same old same old.”

I was planning on cheeseburgers but since I had the grill on I decided to throw on a few other items I had kicking around in my fridge – creating the “trifecta” of baseball grill food: sausage, hot dogs and burgers.

I did put a twist on things by not just making any old cheeseburger, but a green chili cheese sauce burger. (on toasted English muffin cause everyone knows they make the best rolls!)

green chili cheeseburger.jpg

A green chili cheese sauce can easily be made by melting 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour, creating a roux. Add in about a cup of milk whisking constantly till thick. A pinch of seasoned salt and some black pepper to season. Add in 2 slices of provolone cheese and about 4 oz mild cheddar cheese. Whisk in a few dashes of the green Tabasco® sauce and about 2 oz of chopped green chilies (this is half of the small can – if you want to use the whole can, double the other ingredients and make a big batch of cheese sauce for a crowd!)

Serve warm drizzled over burgers, nacho chips or just about anything!