Cooking Tips, Favorite Things, Recipes

Wednesday Links

The Fourth of July is just a week away! Here are some links and articles to help you get ready.

I hope everyone has a great holiday!



Cookbook Overviews

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn is another cookbook that I have had for awhile but haven’t cooked from much. Quinn is an editorial director for Martha Stewart, and she used to make regular appearances on Stewart’s live show, which I still miss. When Quinn came out with this cookbook in 2009 for feeding boys, I had to have it. I’m not sure there is that much difference in feeding boys than feeding girls, other than maybe volume; but as the mother of boys, I was still interested to see what advice she had.

There is nothing boy-specific about the recipes, but there are a lot of tips and tricks for how to get home-cooked meals on your table as often as possible. There is also an emphasis on teaching boys to cook for themselves, which I think is one of the best strategies for dealing with kids who are constantly hungry.

When it comes to feeding myself and my family, lunch is the meal I struggle with the most. Mad Hungry includes a chapter called “Lunch: It Really Matters,” so I might try out a lunch recipe this week. I will be back later in the week with a recipe and some more tips for feeding the “mad hungry.”


Cookbook Reviews

My Verdict: The Beach House Cookbook

Here’s my verdict for The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent by Mary Kay Andrews.

To Read: Yes, if you are on or near a beach. Andrews writes popular novels, and she has some entertaining family stories to go along with each menu, which is how this book is organized. There are just a few descriptive sentences to introduce each recipe. Unlike a lot of cookbooks, there are no “cooking tips” or “essential tools” types of chapters. It might have been nice to have ideas about shopping and preparing to cook while on vacation. The most detailed recipe, including both the story to go with it and recipe instructions, is in the epilogue of the book, and it’s for biscuits. Not something I can see myself making while on vacation, but maybe that’s why it’s at the end.

To Look At: Yes, there is a gorgeous photo for every recipe, with some family and beach photos thrown in for fun. If you are not at the beach, this book will certainly make you wish that you were.

To Cook From: Probably, the recipes that I made were quite simple and didn’t even necessarily involve cooking. Personally, that is what I want when I’m on vacation. Food that is delicious, but easy to make. Most of the recipes in this book are pretty standard. The directions are clear cut, and nothing is very complicated.

The thing I liked most about this cookbook was the menu ideas and recipe inspiration for what I might want to cook (and eat) while on vacation. We will be renting a house with my family for our vacation this year, so I might try out some more of these recipes. I hope it’s OK that we will be in the mountains instead of on the beach!



Bonus Recipe: Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I often see this dish called “Cowboy Caviar.” It’s a great, healthy snack, and the beans make it more filling than regular salsa.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 (15.5 ounces) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
2 tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Tortilla chips, for serving

  1. Combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, and serranos in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together the lime juice, oil, cilantro, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the black bean mixture and stir well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with the tortilla chips.

My notes: I used this recipe more as a suggestion than an actual recipe. One kid didn’t want bell pepper in and one didn’t want onion. It still tasted good, and I had to do less chopping. Win, win!

Adapted from The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent by Mary Kay Andrews.


Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip

I told my son the other day that my favorite food is dip. He told me that dip isn’t really a food. I disagree. Here’s a yummy dip recipe from The Beach House CookbookIf you also love dip, I have another recipe for you tomorrow.

Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip

3 large bone-in chicken breasts
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 (10 ounces) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for serving (optional)
4 green onions, chopped
Tortilla chips for serving

  1. Place the chicken in a large stockpot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool. Skin and debone the chicken, and shred the meat with two forks.
  2. Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Beat in the Cheddar, chili powder, hot sauce, garlic, cumin, oregano, and paprika. Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Sprinkle the dip with additional cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

My notes: To save time, I used cooked rotisserie chicken strips, the kind you get in the deli meat section. I do think the texture of this dip might be better with the shredded chicken. Otherwise, this is a tasty, but spicy dip. I might mess around with the proportions a little bit. I would probably like fewer tomatoes to the amount of cheese and maybe a tad less spice.

Adapted from The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent by Mary Kay Andrews.



Favorite Things

Tuesday Links

I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime associates, food, for me, has always been an adventure.    Anthony Bourdain

It’s Tuesday, and you are already procrastinating! That’s OK, here is some stuff to read while you procrastinate:

Hope everyone has a great week! I will just be trying to stay cool.



Cookbook Overviews

The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent

No, I do not have a beach house, but a girl can dream. I do spend a lot of weekends at my mom’s lake cabin, and we vacation with friends at the beach fairly regularly. So to get some ideas for vacation cooking, I wanted to check out this book.

The Beach House Cookbook: Easy Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent is written by author Mary Kay Andrews. Andrews’ romance and mystery novels are New York Times bestsellers, whhich is how she got that beach house.

This book is full of southern-inspired recipes (her beach house is in Georgia) to feed a crowd. The recipes are presented as menus, such as Low Country Boil, Beach Picnic, and Souper Supper. I am a sucker for menu ideas. I like that someone else has made all of the decisions for me, from what to drink to what to serve for dessert. In reality, I don’t think I actually ever follow any of these menu ideas verbatim.

Regardless, The Beach House Cookbook contains lots of inspiration for summer cooking, so I look forward to trying out a recipe or two and reporting back later in the week.

Cookbook Reviews

My Verdict: A New Turn in the South

I got a little behind with this cookbook, but here is my verdict on A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson.

To Read: Only if you are a foodie. There is a lot in here about using the right ingredients that you should order from a special place in Georgia or whatever. That is great, and I’m sure the items recommended taste wonderful. If you are just a home cook on a budget, like me, you may not have the option to pick the most expensive ingredients. I didn’t think there were a lot of interesting stories or super important cooking tips, so I would not bother reading the whole thing.

To Look At: Not particularly. There are some photos for the recipes, but not for all. The photography, by Rinne Allen, is pretty muted and more artistic than instructive. The food in the photos did not jump off the page like they do in some of the other cookbooks I have reviewed.

To Cook From: Yes. The two recipes I made were excellent. The directions are clear with enough information to keep the recipes from being too complex, but enough information to make it very clear how to complete the recipe successfully. Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes included ingredients that are not easily available; so as I stated before, I did have trouble finding recipes to try.

I do think this cookbook is worth taking a look at. I will definitely make the shrimp and grits again, probably soon if my husband has any say. If you like your southern cooking a little more on the gourmet side, than check this book out.


Bonus Recipe: Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Serves 6

8 eggs (2 extra in case of peeling trauma LOL)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. About 12 hours before you cook the eggs, pull them out of the fridge, and lay each egg on its side in the carton. This will center the yolks for cooking.
  2. Place the eggs in a heavy pot, cover by an inch with lukewarm water, and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil and then add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the teaspoon of white vinegar. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare an ice bath by filling a medium bowl half with water and half with ice to cool the eggs. When eggs are done, place them in the ice bath and let cool completely.
  4. Gently crack the eggs by rolling them against a counter. Place the eggs back in the water to soak for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to peel the eggs.
  5. Peel the eggs and cut them in half. Pry out the yolks and place in a bowl. Set aside the whites.
  6. Place the yolks in a food processor and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the paprika, cayenne, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water. Process until smooth. Pipe the filling into the eggs. (I just spoon it in.)
  7. Garnish with more paprika. Other topping ideas: chives, cooked lobster, bacon, ham, chopped shrimp

My notes: I think I skipped some of the steps when I made these last. Since peeling eggs can be tricky, it would probably be worth it to go through the whole process. The kick from the cayenne is a nice addition, so don’t leave it out!

Adapted from A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson.


Shrimp with Andouille & Hominy Grits

My husband and I both lived in Louisiana for a little while, long enough to become big fans of Cajun food. When I asked him to pick a recipe from A New Turn in the South, it was no surprise when he picked this dish. It was a surprise to how well it turned out.

Shrimp with Andouille & Hominy Grits

Serves 4

3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hominy grits
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1/4 cup celery stalks, minced
1/2 pound andouille sausage, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup clam juice
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped, fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice

  1. In a saucepan, combine 3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the grits. Place on high heat and bring to a boil, stirring with a wisk. As soon as the water boils, reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook the grits, using a wooden spoon to stir every 5 minutes for an hour. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the butter, then set aside.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, and when the butter bubbles, add the onion, celery, and andouille. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
  3. Add the garlic, red peppers, tomatoes, Old Bay, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 more minutes, then add the tomato juice and clam juice. Stir well and reduce the liquid for about 2 minutes.
  4. Season the shrimp with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and add the shrimp to the pan. Stir well to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the pan and finish with the thyme, parsley, and lemon juice.
  6. Serve shrimp mixture over grits.

My notes: My husband gave this dish an A++. There’s a fair amount of chopping, but it’s not hard to make. I did not find hominy grits at my grocery store, so I used Bob’s Red Mill polenta corn grits. They cooked quite fast, more like 10 minutes instead of an hour. They turned out rich and creamy. Even if you don’t think you will like grits, give these a try. Other substitutions I made: V8 for tomato juice, dry herbs for fresh.

Adapted from A Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen by Hugh Acheson