Welcome to my little corner of bliss. Most people adore a good donut, myself included but there is something about a beignet that brings out my hidden smile. You know what I mean. One of those sly devils hidden just so in the corner of your mouth, waiting for that perfect something to set it free. Beignets are my little something special. This Sunday I took it up a notch and made them with pumpkin. It is fall and even though it’s still 80 degrees here I’ve had pumpkin on the brain. I may never recover from the swoon y’all. If you wish to join me on the porch, fan in hand with a platter of beignets keep reading. I warn you, they are prone to induce giddiness.

Pumpkin Beignets Adapted from Chef Jamie Shannon’s recipe for Beignets

Serves 4-6

Beignet Batter

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Chicago Spiced Sugar mix (or substitute with the following spices)

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 cup milk

1 medium egg, beaten

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 quarts vegetable oil for frying

1/3 cup powdered sugar

caramel sauce

Combine and sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices in a large bowl.

Combine the milk, egg, pumpkin and vanilla in a small bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

Combine thoroughly. Is it just me or does mixing batter make you hum as well?

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot (you don’t need a deep fryer) over medium high heat until approx. 325 degrees. Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature, or if you don’t have one sprinkle a tiny bit of flour into the oil. If it sizzles instantaneously you’re pretty much ready.

You will need two teaspoons. One to lift a spoonful of batter, the other to push the batter into the hot oil. Part of the reason I love beignets is because they are so easy to make. They don’t have to be perfectly symmetrical and I adore the diversity that takes shape when those little beauties hit the oil.

Try not to fry more than 8 or 10 beignets at a time. Crowding them will lower the temperature of the oil and cause your beignets to be soggy. Make sure to adjust the heat of the oil while you cook to keep the temperature at 325 degrees, or at a constant slow rolling boil when you add in each batch.

Fry each batch for no more than 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through. Pull the first couple of beignets apart to see if they are cooked all the way through. This will give you a better feel of the golden color that you are looking for and the amount of time you need to leave them in the oil. Drain on a rack or paper towels.

Serve them fresh, hot and liberally dusted with powdered sugar. A little word of advice though. Make sure that you have set the table before you put the platter down, otherwise you can forget about getting a chance afterwards. These little lovelies will be gone before the napkins finds their way to the table never mind onto a lap.

I wish I could tell you that this look of glee came solely from the rapture of devouring a pumpkin beignet but that’s not the case here.

It’s actually a combination of astonishment and an Ah-Ha moment. Check out what’s happening to the left. Yep, that would be my love drowning his beignet in not only caramel sauce but pancake syrup as well.

Can you say gargantuan sweet tooth and lets not forget an instigator on all levels. Who am I kidding, go for it guys.

Would you just look at those little golden nuggets of breakfast delight. Dusted and drizzled to perfection. They almost look to good to eat.

Almost my friends. Ask me if there are any left.

What brings out your hidden smile?

You so have to make these and let me know what you think. Have fun playing in the kitchen this week.

Love ya,

Tickled Red

Do y’all remember those Sunday suppers at your grandmother’s when you were growing up? I do. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins packed into the house laughing or possibly squabbling. A table so full that we actually had to eat somewhere other than the dining room. Usually supper ended up becoming a musical chair symphony but the food and family made it all worthwhile. I have to tell you those memories find me often and fill me full of warmth.

Pam Anderson and her family know all about time well spent in the kitchen.  Creating not only their own long-lasting memories full of joy but also some ingenious recipes that have evolved from their lively gatherings. Fortunately Pam, along with her incredible daughters Maggy and Sharon, share some of their culinary creations with us on their blog Three Many Cooks. Pam has also been tempting our taste buds with her sensational cookbooks for some time now. Her latest book Perfect One Dish Dinners (which is her second book to hit the NY Times best sellers list) has now become a weekly resource for my family inspiring some exquisite, yet deceptively easy meals. Especially for some of our Sundays gatherings.

Pam brilliantly planned the recipes ahead of time for you in Perfect One Dish Dinners. She grouped them into meals consisting of an entrée, an appetizer and a desert. She even went so far as to give you helpful alternatives and recommend the perfect beverage to accompany each dinner. The beauty of her new book is that you can also mix and match the recipes as you please.

Just to give you all a little taste of what awaits you in her new book here’s what we had this Sunday. The guys and I spent a wonderful afternoon with my dad, step mom and sister enjoying what is a staple dish here on the coast. We made a Low Country Boil or as Pam calls it, Frogmore Stew. It’s a  spectacular blend of shrimp, kielbasa and vegetables infused with garlic and spices.

We paired it with Pam’s  absolutely delicious salad of Greens with Apples, Dried Cherries and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Now you are probably saying to yourselves, “Where are the pumpkin seeds”? Funny story about that. It involves three guys and you’ll just have to wait for it. We replaced the missing pumpkins seeds with pecans, which worked out just as well.

I also made this. Oh yeah, read it and weep y’all.

Better yet look and weep. Can I just say drool buckets! I couldn’t help myself, I’ve a passion for cheesecake.

Here is what you will need to make this beauty straight from Pam herself.

Rum-Raisin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Serves 12 to 16

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

24 gingersnaps, preferably Nabisco

2 pounds cream cheese (regular or light Neufchatel), softened

4 large eggs

1/3 cup dark rum

1 cup dark raisins

4 teaspoons all-purpose flour


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring 1 quart water to a boil for a water bath.

Mix butter and 2 tablespoons sugar until well mixed. Coat a 9 inch springform pan with vegetable-oil cooking spray.

Place a single layer of gingersnaps, flat side down, on pan bottom (there will be spaces between them), and generously brush with butter mixture. Brush flat sides of remaining gingersnaps with remaining butter mixture, and place them, rounded side out and slightly tilted toward the outer edge, around pan sides. Bake until sugar on cookies bubbles, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile beat cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixture until fluffy. Gradually add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down sides after each addition. Beat in rum, or as Pam and her girls would say…” Perfume the cream cheese”. Toss raisins with flour and stir into batter. Cover exterior of springform pan with a double sheet of heavy-duty foil to ensure that no water can seep in; set in roasting pan. Pour batter into springform pan.

Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake until perimeter of cake is set but center jiggles when pan is tapped, 55 to 60 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let stand in water bath for 30 minutes. Remove springform pan from water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Slice and serve.

Light and creamy with a hint of rum, sweet plump raisins and a crunchy spicy crust. What else can I say but that everyone loved it.

It was so yummy that my surfer was busted by M2 sneaking seconds. “Dad!!”“What?!? I don’t have anything!”

This cheesecake  is just too bloody brilliant for words. Look at all that rum soaked creamy goodness. Now that makes any Sunday mo bettah!

I’m not the only one who has found Pam’s new book, well excuse the pun, perfect. Today you will find quite a few people posting some recipes from Pam’s Perfect One Dish Dinners. I have listed the ones that I know of below, have fun checking them out. I just wanted to say thank you so much to Pam, Maggy and Sharon for passing along the gift of this lovely cook book when I was at their Big Summer Potluck. It has a few spots on the pages now and flour in the crevices but then again it’s loved.

Love ya,

Tickled Red

Warm, gooey, feta, sage sausage stuffed mushrooms happen to be one of my biggest down falls. Now if you don’t like fungus, as some people call mushrooms, make a creamy dip from the same recipe and serve with baguette slices. Don’t forget the olive tapenade on top. Goodness I could just swoon now…sigh.

I’m not allowed to show up at Thanksgiving or any other family event without these little babies in hand. I’m kind of proud of them seeing as how when I first met my surfer I evidently couldn’t cook. At all, what so ever. He still tells everyone to this day that he’s the reason I’m such a good cook and he’s right. I came up with this recipe because I adore stuffed mushrooms. Unfortunately most of the ones that I’ve tried have been dry or bland. These have flavor baby and by not frying the sausage before hand they stay moist. Also you’ll have plenty of the stuffing batch leftover from the recipe to make some dip if you choose to make both like I do. This of course appeases my love. He’s not a fan of mushrooms one little bit. He thinks that they taste like dirt gasp,blasphemy. Although he does love my stuffing recipe, so voila. Two recipes from one. The tapenade was one of those whims that I came up with one night. It’s ended up being the “cherries” on top so to speak.

These mushrooms are really simple to make, even if you go to the trouble to make them with homemade bread crumbs.


3-8 oz containers of button mushrooms

1-package of Jimmy Dean Sage sausage

2 or 3-4 oz Tomato basil feta cheese (depends on how much you love feta)

1-12 oz bottle of Cardini’s Caesar dressing

Pepperinchini to taste (1/2 tsp)

2- French baguette (or 1/3 bag of Pepperidge Farms Italian bread crumbs)

First preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Tear up 3/4 of one of the baguette into small pieces and place in a baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes or just until crisp. Pulse in a blender until the pieces are crumbs.

Clean the mushrooms, then remove the stems & hollow them out (be careful not to go to deep). Arrange the mushroom caps in two glass rectangle baking dishes.

In a large mixing bowl mix sausage, 2 1/2 packages of feta cheese, the entire bottle of Cardini’s Caesar dressing and half of the toasted bread crumbs. Mix well. Add more bread crumbs as needed. The stuffing mix should resemble thick oatmeal.

Use a teaspoon to stuff your mushrooms, try to keep the stuffing around 1/2 an inch above the mushroom rim.

Cover the baking dishes with foil and bake the mushrooms at 350 degrees for 25- 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake a little longer until golden and bubbly (2 to 3 minutes max)


Left over stuffing

1-8 oz package of cream cheese


Take the left over stuffing, add the remainder of feta (if you have any), cream cheese and egg. Mix well. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Cut the rest of your baguette into approx 1/2 in slices , rub a garlic clove across the slices (this gives just enough flavor). Toast the slices under the broiler on low until lightly toasted (don’t step away, they will burn)

Olive Tapenade

1 1/2 cups mix of Kalamata, black olives,green olives, pitted (rinsed)

3  roasted red peppers out of the jar (rinsed)

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Chop olives and peppers between a fine and rough chop. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in oil and vinegar. Add to your lovely Feta Dip baguette slices.

I hope that y’all enjoy these as much as my family and I do. If you happen to hate them, lie to me.  Just kidding, you guys know that I love your honest direct comments. By the way I’ve finally caught up on my responses, I know I’ve been a bad, bad Red 🙂

Remember to have fun in your kitchen this weekend. Go ahead and play with this recipe, tweak it with some of your favorite flavors.


Tickled Red

Did any of you out there guess what the slice of decadence is up there? If you guessed bread pudding pat your self on the back and treat yourself to something sweet. I would send you a slice but it’s all gone. Don’t ask me! I came home and all that was left of my bread pudding were some crumbs in my skillet. I must have mice.

I have had this recipe on the brain for quite sometime. It is a mix of two recipes. One from my great-grandmother and a creole bread pudding recipe from Commander’s Palace. I sort of threw the pantry into it so to speak. Lets just say that you have 2-3 hours to kill this weekend, here’s how you’ll want to do it. All you will need to go with it is a cup of coffee or a glass of milk and some mice.

Here is what you will need to get started…

1 tablespoon butter

12 medium eggs

3 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons pure vanilla

1 cup sugar

1 cup honey

1 teaspoon Chicago Spiced Sugar mix

1 oz dark  rum

1 loaf of french bread

1 cast iron skillet

Preheat the oven to 250

Whisk together the eggs and the cream in a large bowl. Yes 12 eggs y’all.

Add the dark rum. If you don’t have a weight at home use a little less than a shot.

Then add the vanilla.

And the honey. Y’all can thank my great grandma Effie Joe for the dark rum and honey contribution.

In a separate bowl…

Combine the sugar and the spiced sugar mix, stirring until well blended. I have always found a fork works best. Then add the sugar to the hopped up liquid mixture and whisk until well blended.

Slice the entire loaf of french bread into approx. 1 inch thick slices.

Arrange as many whole slices evenly in a large cast iron skillet. Tare some of the slices into small pieces and fill in the gaps.

Pour the mixture over the slices of bread. Can I just say, if I were a cat we wouldn’t make it past this part.

The bread will float so use a fork to push those little suckers back down. Make sure that they’re covered completely and begin to absorb the liquid.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 2  to 3 hours or until firm all the way through, depending on the heat of your oven. I use a kabob skewer to check. The bread pudding will puff up and expand while cooking so you don’t want the foil to bind it down. See…mid way through and all puffed up.

Remove the aluminum foil during the last 10 minutes or so to get that lovely golden toasted crust. Let the bread pudding cool when you remove it from the oven. Don’t be  alarmed when the bread pudding drops like a souffle gone bad. But this isn’t bad, this is soooo good.

Spoon some of that gloriously sweet rich bread pudding on a plate and serve warm. If you are daring and aren’t scared of sending your body into sugar shock add some white chocolate drizzle over it. I ain’t scared y’all!  Guess what? If by chance you have to run out but you’re wily like me and are on to those mice, cut yourself a slice and hide it way back in your fridge. I recommend the spot behind the science experiment. No one would dare to look there. It’s even better the next day. It might not be as gooey but it tastes divine.

Now I have a small dilemma with this recipe. My bread pudding needs a name, and Oscar is already taken. Do I call it Skillet Bread Pudding, Rum Bread Pudding, Rum Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Drizzle or Bread Pudding Suprise-Watch out for a spoon in the middle? I’m going to let you all decide.

As always have fun making this recipe and by all means, play around with it to make it your own.


Tickled Red

There’s the possibility that I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating, I love Greek flavors. Feta, lemon, capers and tangy Greek yogurt; these are all staple ingredients in my kitchen and I use them frequently in meals. Especially Greek Yogurt, it’s my substitute for mayo. I’m not a total health nut, if I were fried shrimp, bacon and redeye gravy would be off the menu but by no means am I about to let that happen. I will however make concessions because I do care about what I eat.

So we enjoy our fried foods and meat candy (bacon) in moderation and I use Greek yogurt when making classic creamy salads like tuna salad, macaroni salad and of course my favorite chicken salad sandwiches. Creamy chicken salad with a tang of yogurt and bite of capers, on a mini pita is one of my favorite lunches.

Now I know y’all are probably wondering to yourselves, “It’s October right? What’s up with the chicken salad, where are the soup and pumpkin recipes? You do know it’s fall right Red?” I do indeed and they are coming I promise but I have never really been one to follow along, to be honest up until this morning it has still been 75-85 degrees here. I need that cool touch of fall in the air to motivate me into cooking harvest foods. So in the meantime here is what you will need for my favorite chicken salad recipe.

Chicken Salad


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

For the salad:

3 1/2 cups chopped boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/3 cup chopped (slivered) almonds

1 cup celery

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon capers

1/2 cup greek yogurt

spinach leaves

tomato slices

mini pita bread

salt& pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425.

Mix the olive oil, balsamic & rosemary in a bowl.

Place the chicken breasts in a dish and pour the marinade on top. Turn the chicken breast in order to coat each side and let them sit in the marinade for approx. 15 min.

In an oven safe skillet on medium high heat, sear each side of the chicken breast until slightly golden. Then place them in the oven at 425 for approx. 25 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and let them rest for 5-10 minutes.


While the chicken is baking, chop the almonds and dice the celery. After the chicken has rested chop it into approx. 1 inch pieces. Mix in a large bowl the chicken, almonds, celery and capers; salt and pepper to taste.

Then comes the best part…Greek yogurt! Slice the mini pita’s add some crisp spinach leaves, slices of ripe tomato and look at what a gorgeous, tasty healthy lunch.

Now y’all know why these would be one of my favorite recipes, these little beauties have been making my lunch hour at my new job 🙂

I hope that you all enjoy giving them a try, by all means add your own flavors to the mix and have fun playing with the recipe. Let me know what you end up creating.


Tickled Red

Guess what is just around the corner?!? Are the boxes a big enough hint? To say that I love Halloween would be an understatement. It could be my superstitious Irish side or all the years engrossed in theater, who knows. Halloween for me is the kick off into the fall holiday season. The beginning of a three-part series saving the best for last. With Halloween though you get to throw caution to the wind and walk on the macabre side for a bit. Eat your heart out Poe.

To start Halloween off this month  I had the pleasure of being invited by Kitchen Play to participate in their SideCar Event. Kitchen Play teamed me up with….drum roll please… Wilton Industries Inc. Can you see my happy dance? I’ll give you a visual, think Sandra Bullock in “All About Steve”. Kitchen Play couldn’t have picked a better theme for me or teamed me up with a better company. I have always loved using Wilton products even before this invitation. This opportunity allowed me to play with some of their products and techniques that I have never tried before.

When I first found out that Wilton would be generously providing all of these fun Halloween goodies for me to play with I wanted to go crazy huge and over the top. Y’all know me, but instead I decided to ease you guys into some of their products. I ‘m also wise enough to know that 9 times out of 10 life has a habit of getting in the way of our grandiose ideas and expectations. Such as work, school and our kid’s tremendous extracurricular activities. Oh, let’s not forget unexpected accidents and such. Sorry I had to throw that one out there and y’all know why.

Here is what I played with in the kitchen this past weekend. Each of these recipes, tips or ideas is simple, quick and are a blast when the monkeys help out.

Halloween  Fun  Menu

Skeletons Arise: Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes & Coconut Cupcakes (strawberry filling)

Oozie Eyeballs: Mini Spice Cupcakes with Honey Spread Topping

Pick Your Poison: Spiced Apple & Butternut Squash Bites with Vanilla-Caramel Yogurt Dip

Brain Strain: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Snot Shooters


Skeletons Arise & Oozie Eyeballs

Candy Molds, can y’all believe that I have never ever played with candy molds? Me either, go figure! The little skeletons and eyeballs that Wilton provided were just to darn cute so we began with those first.

For the adorable little skeletons you will need the mold, your choice color of  Candy Melts, candy flavoring oil and a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler you can do what I do. I use a glass bowl over the top of a small sauce pan. First you heat up the double boiler and then remove it from the heat. Add a handful of candy melts and stir until nearly smooth. Add just a drop or two of the oil into the candy melts, continue stirring. Don’t add to much oil, trust me a little bit goes a long way.

Take a spoon and fill each space with the melted candy. Lastly set the mold in the refrigerator to cool and harden. Once they have cooled twist gently and pop the cuties loose. Look at that! Easy Peasy, adorable and yummy. I’m so addicted to candy molds now. The monkeys were thrilled and can’t wait to make more fun candy shapes with me during the holidays.

We made a few batches of chocolate and coconut cupcakes with some strawberry jam in the center for that ghoulish ooze of blood. Nutella and crushed Teddy Graham’s made the perfect topping of dirt for my skeletons rising from their dank confining graves. I also find black and white decorating themes during Halloween classic and gorgeous.

Oozie Eyeballs

Now with any of Wilton’s candy molds that have 3 dimensional possibilities you will need to apply one color at a time with a paint brush. With the eyeballs you want to paint the veins, pupils & iris before you add the white. If you heat each of your different color candy melts at the same time they will harden before you’re finished. Take your time and have fun. The end result is so worth it.

See, Oozie Psychotic Eyeballs. The monkeys thought that these guys were entirely too cool. The little knuckleheads kept trying to eat the eyeballs before I had them on the cupcakes. We made spiced cupcakes and used Honey Spread for an easy topping that really made the eyeballs look like they were oozing gross, squishy fluids.

Pick Your Poison

The next idea I actually came up with when I saw Wilton’s  little cupcake toothpicks that say “Pick Your Poison”. The first thing that came to my mind was Snow White biting into the poison apple brought to her by the witch. So I made Spiced Apple & Butternut Squash Bites. Wicked and healthy.

Preheat the oven to 400 . Butter a cookie sheet, cut up an apple and a half of a butternut squash into approx. 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes on the buttered pan and then sprinkle them with The Spice House’s-Chicago Spiced Sugar. Cover them with foil and bake for approx. 20 min. Make sure to turn them every 5 min. in order to caramelize each side. Take the other half of the butternut squash,  remove any pulp and seeds from the cavity section with a spoon. Slice a section of the skin down the middle on the backside of the squash. This will keep it stable and from rocking on a plate. Fill the cavity/bowl with vanilla yogurt, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Like Snow White,everyone who comes to your next Halloween party will succumb to your tempting Poison Bites, baked in decadent spices of yore along side a bubbling cauldron of sweet nectar.

Brian Strain

Okay I’ll come right out and admit it, I am not anywhere near the stratosphere of Martha Stewart but I have always wanted to make her Brain Cupcakes for Halloween and this post gave me the perfect opportunity.

Red velvet cupcakes stuffed with gray cream cheese frosting, one ten inch Wilton pastry bag, a size 7 Wilton tip and a steady hand are all that you will need. Simply fit the pastry bag with the tip and fill it with cream cheese frosting tinted gray. Put a dollop of cream cheese on the cupcake (a little height helps). Then make a squiggle line on either side and two lines down the middle. The more you make the better they look. Dad and mom always did say practice makes perfect.

Remember all of the gray brain matter the monkeys have lost playing video games? I finally found it. Want some?

Snot Shooters

Did y’all think that you were going to get away without something over the top? Now you all know better than that. If there wasn’t something silly going on around here I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. The Shot Glass Ice Mold from Wilton by far TICKLED me. I couldn’t help but think of Snot Shooters. Which of course makes everyone cringe when I say the name. Does it make you cringe?

You will need one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch and green food coloring. Combine the milk and cornstarch in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the mixture thickens. Do not stop stirring, I mean it. Otherwise the bottom will scorch. Don’t ask me how I know because I will plead the 5th. Then pour the snot into your frozen shot glasses and serve. Serve quickly because this is ice y’all, they won’t last long. Then again how long does it take to toss a shot back? It’s been 13 years since I’ve had one, so I couldn’t tell you.

I Double Dog Dare you to take a Snot Shot 🙂

I have to say thank you very much to Kitchen Play and Wilton Industries Inc. for this wonderful opportunity to discover some extremely fun new products and share the experience not only with my boys, but everyone else as well. I can’t tell you how much fun we had doing this post. We spent three days tearing up the kitchen and being silly. I won’t tell you all gross snot stories I promise.

We only hope that y’all have a blast this Halloween playing in the kitchen. You can find everything that you need to make some easy, creative treats at They have a plethora of fun products to choose from such as baking tools, a variety of icing and fondant, cute gift boxes  and even rotating cake stands. You can also find some helpful tutorials on-line.

My next adventure during the holidays will be playing with fondant. I’m so excited. Keep me posted as to what y’all decide to play with, I can’t wait to hear all about it.


Tickled Red

Even though we are already into late September we still have a wee bit of veggies and fruit hanging on in the garden. That’s one of the many things I love about living on the southeast coast. This week I picked one of our last watermelons to enjoy and thought that I would share something with you that some people do here in the south.

You all have probably seen watermelon or cantaloupe paired up with prosciutto, well we use country ham. Okay, some of us do…okay, I do.

It’s super easy and well in my opinion scrumptious, Country Ham & Watermelon Bites. If you are feeling the need for a little something extra or enjoy balsamic vinaigrette with your fruit, you can always try some Watermelon Balsamic Vinaigrette with this unorthodox recipe as well. Here is what you will need for a retro southern twist on a delicious snack .

1/2 of a small watermelon-cut into approx. 1 inch cubes

16 oz country ham, sauteed in a cast iron skillet

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

approx. 2 tbsp watermelon (remove seeds)

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine the balsamic vinegar with the sugar and cook until well blended. Then add the watermelon in thinly sliced pieces and cook until the pieces are nearly dissolved. Some pieces left are okay. Be careful not to scorch your vinaigrette. That’s it. Easy peasy.

Wanna bite y’all? Come on, don’t be scared of the country ham. It won’t bite but you should, it’s yummy! Now if you don’t like balsamic vinaigrette go ahead and eat these little babies plain…I do.

I hope that you guys enjoy giving these a try. Let me know some fun ways you all accentuate your watermelon, I’m curious now.


Tickled Red

Good Morning y’all! I hope that you’re having a fabulous weekend and enjoying a nice lazy morning. It’s Sunday kick your heels up for a few. Sundays for us mean a big fun breakfast. Something other than granola or oatmeal. Don’t get me wrong we love both of those but on Sunday mornings we are not rushing out the door to school. We have a few moments to relax over that cup of coffee and hot coco. This morning I was craving eggs and beans so I whipped this up today.

I fried a couple of eggs.

Added a handful of Cannellini beans.

A sprinkle of  salt, cracked pepper, a dash of basil and a little oregano. Then I folded those love eggs around the beans all nice and snuggie.

Then fried them on both sides until perfectly golden.

Served it up on toasted french bread with the mozzarella cheese melted until gooey. Voila! Breakfast in a snap. If I wanted to be really fancy I could drizzle some marinara over this but I’m being lazy this morning and this TICKLES me just fine. I’m starting to wonder why I don’t do this more often during the week. I’ll have to ponder that… over another cup of coffee.

What’s for breakfast at your house this morning y’all? Seriously, I’m curious 🙂

May your slippers keep your tootsies happy until noon.


Tickled Red

Say you decide to rearrange one day. Not a move the sofa from the left side of the room to the right side of the room type of change. I mean two bedrooms and one guy cave completely, entirely turned inside out & upside down. There is a word for this, well actually there are a few but I will stick with deranged and astronomical. I’ve come to the conclusion that the finished product we sometimes picture in our mind is a whopping tease.

The point to all of this is that I assumed I could have everyone’s closets cleaned out in a day or two while they were all out of the house. Then I could paint the rooms on the sly while they were off playing this weekend. Mmm,Hmm…Not! Can I say “Stuff”. Loads & loads of stuff. Clothes, toys, games, shoes…heavens the shoes. And no, they are not mine. Itty bitty pieces of “What is that, what does this go to & do they really need this?” all over the place. Well guess what? I’m busted.

The guys came home yesterday to find half of the boys closet out in the living room. Half mind you, which left us with about a 4×4 area of clear space in the living room. You can shudder now. The three of them were suffering from slack jaw and shock all evening. I could have lobbed popcorn into their mouths all night and not missed a shot. Did I mention the guy cave is their video game headquarters? The reality of my plan to turn that room into M2’s bedroom could explain the deer in the headlights look on their faces. They had an idea what was coming, they just didn’t know it would be now.

With the house still in a state worthy of a special edition episode on Hoarders, I decided to employ distraction via their stomachs. What could appease them better than steak and potatoes? Okay something sweet but that is coming soon. Now the meat and potatoes would suffice for the monkeys but my surfer would need a touch extra.

Wild Turkey (otherwise known as Kickin’ Chicken), Cajun spices and rich juices from Angus beef . Can I hear an Aw-Yeah! I had seen a menu with bourbon steak sauce listed and figured I would add a wee bit of bourbon to the juices from my steak, throw in some Cajun kick and see what happened. Boy am I glad that I did.

Now this is one of those play in your kitchen, use all five sense’s and feel your way through it recipes. I am going to walk you through this as best I can but when you go to make it your self the amounts per ingredient may vary a smidgen. Here is what you will need to get started…

Kickin’ Chicken Steak Sauce

Steak Juice (rendered from approx. 2.5 lbs tenderloin)

2 dabs of butter

1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce

1.5 oz Wild Turkey 101 (approx. one shot)

1 tsp Cajun spices

Preheat the oven to 400. Then season the steak with sea salt and cracked pepper. Rub it in ya’ll, it will make your steak ever so happy.

Prep your cast iron grill skillet  or your grill. I brush a little olive oil across mine. If you are cooking your steaks on a grill be sure to place an aluminum pan below the steaks in order to catch the juices.

Sear the steaks on both sides for approx. 3-4 minutes.

Then repeat for the same amount of time making a lovely cross hatch pattern, but do not cook it all the way through. Gotta love those grill marks!

Finish the steaks in the oven. The amount of time they cook will depend on how you like your steaks so just keep a close eye on them. Some people like their steaks to sit up and moo. Personally I am not fond of steak Tartar, I like my steak D’ Ead.

Once the steaks have finished baking let them sit while you make your side dishes. The longer they rest, the more juice. We want the juice. We need the juice. This is all about the juice people. See it up there? That my friends would be brown gold.

Now for the fun part. Time to engage all of your senses because this will go fast, approx. 10 minutes or so. You will be adding the next four ingredients within a minute of each other. Just enough time to stir them around and marry the flavors before each new addition.

Keep the steak juices in the same warm pan they baked in, set the pan on an eye with the heat set to medium high. Drop in a couple dabs of butter. Once the butter has started to melt add 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce. Sight-Melted Butter…Sound-A slow simmer, just beginning to boil.

Okay, here’s the punch. 1.5 oz of “Kickin’ Chicken”, 101 proof Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The amount of bourbon that you add will be to suit your taste, so only a little bit at a time. I of course went for it.

Here is my favorite part. Add  1tsp of your favorite Cajun spice mix.

See that low boil up there…that is what you want, but only while you put in the ingredients and for approx. three minutes after that. Once all of your ingredients have been added, lower the heat to medium low and simmer. Keep stirring the sauce until it is near the consistency of A-1. Smell-From strong bourbon to a hint of bourbon. Taste-You tell me 🙂

You know that you have reached perfection when you taste the sweetness of reduced bourbon, the tang of Worcestershire and the subtle kick of divine Cajun Spices; all married into one glorious sauce. You can’t help but smile and want to hog it all for yourself. Let’s just say I did well and my surfer has not only forgiven me for the house being wrecked but he can’t stop asking for more Kickin’ Chicken Steak Sauce. He is TICKLED ya’ll! TI-ICK-LED.

You really, really have to try this recipe! The next time that I make this steak sauce it will be with the juices rendered from about 50lbs worth of beef. Seriously! That way I can have a bottle or two to last me a while. Let me know how yours turns out.

Feel free to take this recipe tweak it, play with it and make it your own.

Love ya,

Tickled Red

Nope, we didn’t fall into the ocean ya’ll or run away to a deserted island with perfect swell. Nor did we grow gills and swim off. The crazy surf family is still here on the south-east coast but we are definitely into what I call, ” Full on busy mode”, with school for both monkeys now back in session . Which makes me glad that we have decided to scale back on some of our extracurricular activities this fall. As it is we will have plenty to keep us busy with homework, piano, surfing & who knows what else. There is always something fun and interesting presenting itself for us to try.

I realize that our family is not the only one adapting to back to school schedules so I thought that I would share with you all an easy, quick & healthy meal that I came up with on the fly tonight. Trust me this one isn’t rocket science at all. My family looooves beans and rice. Let me stress that again, they are totally hooked on beans and rice, to the point that we eat them two or three times a week. As we were running late this evening I was thinking to my self, how can I make our favorite dish quicker than usual. As luck would have it I had recently purchased some new rice pouches that were of course on sale. You know how it works, you don’t usually try a new product unless it’s on sale.

Do ya’ll remember those taco pouches made with Frito snack bags? Where you would add the taco mix right into the bag and how much fun your kids enjoyed eating straight from the bag? These Uncle Ben’s rice pouches had me thinking along those lines, but healthier. There are so many flavor choices that we each could have our own individual meal.

How many times have you heard around the table…”But I wanted Italian, no I wanted hamburgers, why can’t we have chicken tonight?”  Those are the nights that your mother’s voice seems to crawl out of your throat with “This is not a restaurant and you will eat what is set in front of you.” I know that ya’ll remember those days. These little pouches solve that problem as well as being nifty when you are in a time crunch. Not to mention they work well for a picky monkey or two. So here is what we did tonight.

Bean & Rice Pouches- 4 servings (15-20 min)

2 cans of beans-your choice

4 pouches of Ready Rice-your choice

1 bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, diced

2-3 okra, sliced

1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms.

2 tablespoons olive oil

3-6 tablespoons soy sauce (depending on your personal taste)

salt and pepper to taste

All you have to do is squish the pouch a bit in order to loosen the rice. As you can see it’s even easy enough for M2, who likes to help me out in the kitchen.

Tear the pouch open across the top, partially. Tip: make sure that you have the rice below the tear line or it will spill out… as my darlin’ surfer discovered. The monkeys and I cracked up over that one this evening 🙂

Then just pop it into the microwave for 90 seconds. Easy peasy!  Repeat the process with each of your family members individual flavor choices.

While the rice pouches are cooling chop the vegetables.

And saute the vegetables in 1 tablespoon of olive oil & 3-6 tablespoons of soy sauce. If need be, add 1 teaspoon of water to keep them moist. I have separate sauce pans for our veggies since my surfer is not a fan of either mushrooms or okra.

Warm your beans in a sauce pan over medium heat while you saute the vegetables. When the beans are done, rinse them with warm water. Set up a serving station for your family with the vegetables and beans in separate bowls.

MmmMmm…beans baby,beans!

Monkey Two decided  he would demonstrate the process for you all. He chose original flavored rice…

He added the pinto-northern bean mix to his rice.

And stirred. All done 🙂

Sometimes he will add soy sauce. That would be his all time favorite dish to eat on the planet but my monkeys will not mix veggies into their food but that’s okay, they enjoyed munching on some raw.

You’ve gotta love easy, quick, healthy as well as a breeze to clean up. Rinse and recycle, supper along with clean up is done in a snap.

Now if you don’t feel like eating out of a pouch don’t, I didn’t. I had pinto-northern beans with mushrooms and okra, layered over a mix of original rice and brown rice in a lovely bowl with a glass of white wine.

Talk about TICKLED, everyone was happy in my house this evening with their own individual “custom” meal.

Have fun playing in the kitchen with this one. It is definitely an idea that you can play around with and make into your own.

I’m off to look at some of our summer photos. Maybe I’ll do a summer re-cap for ya’ll. Have a great evening.


Tickled Red

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