Picture-Perfect Meals

Category: Cooking

Cooking

White Chocolate Mousse

Black and White: When it comes to my husband’s opinions (and particularly when it comes to his annual birthday cake), there is no grey area. I’ll take you back to early February of this year. “You see that?” Adam says in an accusatory tone, pointing to a food magazine while we are waiting in line […]

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Frogmore Stew

Coastal Living: “Strummin’ my six string… On my front porch swing…. Smell those shrimp they’re beginning to boil…” _ Jimmy Buffet I am happy to say that the first time I shared a pot of Frogmore Stew, it was on the back deck of our good friends’ home a few years ago. An enviable outdoor […]

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French Bistro Burgers with Caramelized Onions, Bacon and Brie

Cheeseburger in Paradise: “Heaven on earth with an onion slice.” – Jimmy Buffet The best burger I have ever had in my life was in the summer of 1995 at a place in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Adam and I were enjoying a leisurely day in this quaint little town and stumbled upon a bar […]

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Beef Kabobs

The Name Game: “Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.” -Thomas C. Haliburton Nicknames are funny things – sometimes they’re obvious abbreviations or less formal adaptations – like, say, Chuck for Charles, Sam for Samantha, Di for Diana. Frequently, they’re just terms of endearment – Babe, Sweetheart, Love. Many times, […]

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Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwiches with Bacon

Pressing the Issue: “Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” –James Beard I hate disappointment. I suppose we all do, but I don’t handle it very well, I’m afraid. So when this new restaurant opened not too far from where we live, I got excited. Yay! I thought. Finally, a decent place for date […]

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Mushroom Lasagna

Circle of Friends: “Once again, I’m saved by the miracle of lasagne!”-Garfield I have a story about lasagna that I’m not exactly proud of. Well, the story, not the pasta. Flashback to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, circa 1984. The common kitchen. I’m making lasagna. Yes, when everyone else was ordering pizza, […]

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Homestyle Chicken Pot Pie

Taking Comfort: “Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” -Shelia Graham A tall stack of fluffy pancakes dripping with buttered maple syrup. A dose of silky mashed potatoes with creamy butter. A bowl of pasta shells cloaked in bubbling cheese. Old-fashioned meatloaf. Or a warm blueberry cobbler, fresh from the oven and topped with […]

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Caramel Popcorn

Scary Good: On Hallowe’en the thing you must do, is pretend that nothing can frighten you. And if somethin’ scares you and you want to run, just let on like it’s Hallowe’en fun. -19th Century Halloween postcard Unlike my sister, who is a Halloween fanatic, I don’t usually pull out the stops for All Hallows […]

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Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Whipped Cream

“Taylor-Made” Conversation: Friday morning. Waking up. Coffee. Second or third cup but who’s counting? Me: Well, I am officially in hell. Adam: Why? (looking at the television and not at me) What’s wrong? Me: (hands on face, shaking my head) I have a Taylor Swift song stuck in my head. Adam: Which one? I snap […]

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White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger

 Lost and Found: “Not all those who wander are lost.” –J.R.R. Tolkien Me: Hey, guess what I did today? Adam: I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking. What? Me: (clapping giddily) I saved two ladies from complete and total despair and quite likely from experiencing Western North Carolina Tourism Ruinism. But I may […]

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Cinnamon Palmiers

Random Acts of Kindness: “But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts […]

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Red Velvet Cake

Family Ties: “Sometimes being a brother is better than being a superhero.” – Marc Brown It’s rare for me – Adam – to step out from behind the camera and dare the written word, but it’s a special occasion. It’s my sister’s birthday. She lives in Australia with her husband Darren. I miss her. My […]

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Cast-Iron Skillet Fondue

Merry and Bright: “Christmas dreams come true when they’re dreamed by two.” -From a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament It’s pretty unusual for me to be blasé about the holidays – especially now, given that we live in the heart of Christmas Tree Country, and people are flocking from all over to choose and cut their very own […]

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Crab Cake Bites with Spicy Rémoulade

For Auld Lang Syne: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and new year’s words await another voice.” – T.S. Eliot As a self-professed food magazine junkie, it is unquestionably one of my favorite pleasures and pastimes, even though technically, it’s really part of my work and research. (That’s my story and I’m […]

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Real Sloppy Joes

Not Your Average Joe: “A sandwich is a sandwich, but a Manwich is a meal.”  -Hunt’s advertising slogan In the grocery store recently, I picked up a can of “Manwich” sauce and the memories came flooding back. Bear with me. I was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up traveling throughout the world. The whys and wherefores of […]

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Cinnamon Swirl Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Hill: When it comes to baking up a really, really good blueberry muffin, I finally found my thrill. Many of you know that when it comes to my recipe development, I go through rigorous testing, tweaking, re-testing and re-tweaking until I feel it is exactly right before I would ever let it grace this […]

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Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Throwdown: He made, She Made

As Different as Chalk and Cheese: “Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted mostly.” – Robert Louis Stevenson “I make the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever,” Adam mumbled, his mouth stuffed full with an overly generous bite from the one he had just slid onto his plate as he sat down to the dinner […]

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Beefy Nachos with Pico de Gallo and Roasted Poblanos

Nacho Ordinary Snack: “Leftover nachos aren’t good so make sure there aren’t any.”-Andrew Knowlton Unless you’re stationed in Antarctica or you’re the last person in the free world to not have cable, you and 97 million others will be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday for one of the following reasons: 1.You’re a huge football […]

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Easy Wild Mushroom Risotto

Stir Crazy: “Rice is born in water and must die in wine.”  – Italian proverb The first time I had risotto was in Rome, Italy, June 1995, and it was a life-altering experience. Adam took me to Il Buco (“the hole”), a small restaurant he frequented while living in the Eternal City in the 80′s. It was […]

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Coconut Blondies with Macadamias and Toffee

Blondies Have More Fun: Forget the dumb blondie jokes. Brownie’s sexy sister is one smart cookie. Why, I ask you, should brownies always steal the spotlight? I mean, I love a good brownie as much as the next guy, er, girl. But blondies? These blondies? I could tell you how moist they are. Chewy on the […]

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Cabernet-Braised Beef Short Ribs with Rosemary

A Bone to Pick: “Always do right – this will gratify some and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain  When I was, I guess, about five or six, I stole a small, plastic blow-up Tweety Bird doll from a Goodwill store, sneaked it home and hid it under my play clothes in my dresser’s bottom […]

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Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sauce

The Whole Enchillada: Some people claim that there’s a waiter to blame, but I know it’s my own dang fault… Last June, Adam and I hosted a television production crew for a show we were all working on and decided that for dinner, we’d take them to the new Mexican restaurant close to the hotel […]

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Chicken Waldorf Salad

Flying the Coop: “Sins, like chickens, come home to roost.” – Charles W. Chestnutt This is the story about how being polite can sometimes get you into big trouble. Before we permanently moved from Nashville about seven years ago (my how time flies!), we made many weekend trips to oversee various work projects around the property, including […]

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Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Cream of the Crop: “Beautiful soup, so rich and green
…Waiting in a hot tureen!
 Who for such dainties would not stoop? 
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland Soup is one of those primordial comfort foods that can soothe the soul just thinking about it – a piping hot pot […]

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup

The Rainbow Connection: “You are more likely to find a pot of gold than the end of a rainbow.” –Irish saying Late fall, about three years ago, I had one of those Stop-In-Your-Tracks experiences. You know, the kind that makes you feel really small in the scheme of things…a humbling, Imagine-World-Peace-Is-Possible kind of moments? It was […]

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Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

18 Carrot Gold “Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie.”  –Jim Davis Carrots, those orange-hued gems, have been playing starring roles in baking since medieval times. Prized for their high sugar content (second only to sugar beets) and availability, they stood in nicely for desserts when sweeteners […]

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Guinness Beef Shepherd’s Pie

Guinness Business “My number one choice would be Guinness. My number two choice would be Guinness. My number three choice would have to be Guinness.” –Peter O’Toole on his favorite Irish “food.” This kind of started with leftover pot roast. No, wait a second. Actually, it started about four years ago on one of our dinner […]

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Apricot-Glazed Ham with Garlic, Mustard and Rosemary

Ham for the Holidays This is a story about how something quite unlikely became as much of a fixture at our holiday table as the glazed ham and deviled eggs. Traditions, I think, ground us – they give us a familiar sense of time and place – kind of like the ultimate security blanket. They […]

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Strawberry Fool

April’s Fool fool (foohl) n. 1. a victim of a trick, etc. dupe.  2. a creamy and fruity dessert with strawberries. A good while back, I received a forwarded e-mail about a man and his wife who were banned from Wal-Mart because of the retired husband’s impish antics during many of his wife’s shopping trips. […]

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Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches

Critical Condition: A story about the disparaging difference of television-watching styles between the sexes and a delicious way to save all those dyed Easter eggs before they expire. When I think about eggs – deviled eggs in particular – I inevitably think about two things. The first is Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Went Down to Georgia. […]

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Jumbleberry Cobbler

American Woman: A story about Adam’s mom, her delightful quirkiness, her surprise involvement in a patriotic game of hide and seek and a favorite all-American dessert. I have to say that my mother-in-law, quite the character and eighty-five years old in just a few weeks (I can’t believe it’s been five years since that epic […]

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Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles

Using Your Noodle: “Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” -James A. Garfield When I was in middle school, we lived a few miles outside of town on Island Ford Road in a modest ranch-style house on a very hilly lot. There was a steep flight of outdoor stairs directly across from […]

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French Dip Sandwiches

Mother of Invention: “I don’t believe in accidents. There are only encounters in history. There are no accidents.” – Pablo Piccaso Have you ever noticed how many iconic foods were actually born from happy accidents (or some, like old Pablo there, may believe they happen accidentally-on purpose)? Although they say that necessity is the mother of […]

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Key Lime Pie Pavlovas

A Few Random Things… At the risk of assuming you’re the teensiest bit interested, I’m going to tell you a few things you may or may not know about me/us, only because some people have asked. Okay, three people to be exact – but I had writer’s block, so since the words for this amazing, […]

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Beef Tacos with Homemade Taco Shells

Nacho Ordinary Taco: “You know how I feel about tacos. It’s the only food shaped like a smile. A beef smile.”-Earl Hickey, My Name is Earl Ah, yes! Tacos! Do you remember eating your very first one? Well, I sure do. It was in Florida at Taco Bell many years ago. I was going to […]

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Flat Iron Steak Fajitas

Bundle of Joy: “If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.” – Dick Cavett I always dread that look on people’s faces when we’ve first been introduced and after a few minutes of conversation, they ask me if I have any children. “No, just three furry kids,” I respond with a nervous […]

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Mixed Berry Fruit Tart with Lemon Curd

Curd Appeal: “This is a special feeling towards fruit, its glory and abundance, is, I would say, universal.” – Jane Grigson My idea of the perfect spring Saturday? Adam and I hit the Farmer’s Market in the morning, followed by two sets of tennis at the club, enjoy a light afternoon picnic while we cruise around […]

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Strawberry Shortcakes

Flour on the Apron: “Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” – Carl Sandburg Family dinners were the center of our household life when I was growing up. Eating was more than just an essential; it was an event, a requisite, that everyone attended, dressed and washed, with no questions asked. The table was always […]

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Classic Grilled Hamburgers

The Size of the Matter: “Welcome to King Burger where we can do it your way…. but don’t get crazy.” – Bon Qui Qui, Mad TV There are a few conversations with my husband that I avoid like the plague. How much we spend on groceries towards the end of the month. Little white lights. And […]

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Peach and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Fresh Blackberries

Upside-Down: “You know you turn me. Inside out. And round and round.” -as sung by Diana Ross The truth is, I went in looking for strawberries. I drove to my favorite produce place that always has one of those old grocery store tiered floats parked by the check-out with the freshest pick of the day […]