Category Archives: Recipes

January 12, 2023

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Festive Good Luck Cornbread Skillet

In the true spirit of my Southern heart…this year we are kicking off January 1st with this Good Luck recipe.  My father-in-law knows how much I love to cook, so on one of his trips from Chicago to Florida he stopped at the Lodge outlet to pick me up a few cast iron pieces.  He also bought me a cookbook, The National Cornbread Festival winning recipes from 1997-2011.  This recipe was the 1998 first prize winner by K. Shankles in Tennessee.



1 lb smoked sausage, cut lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch slices

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 (15 oz) cans black eyed peas, drained

1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped collard greens, thawed (I used fresh)

Cornbread toppings

2 cups Martha White self-Rising Corn Meal Mix

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In 12 inch cast iron skillet, over medium heat, cook sausage, onion and garlic until sausage is browned and onion is translucent.  Stir in remaining filling ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

In a large  bowl, combine all cornbread topping ingredients, stir until smooth.  Spoon batter over sausage mixture in skillet, spreading evenly.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until cornbread is browned.

Tip: Garnish servings with sour cream, pickled jalapeno slices, and fresh cilantro leaves.

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New Years Day and Black Eyed Peas

DSC_0002Most of us who grew up in the south know that eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day is a must, but I found myself this morning asking why…here’s what I found. 

The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.  Today, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for the New Year has evolved into a number of variations and embellishments of the luck and prosperity theme including:

  • Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.
  • Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
  • For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.
  • Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.
  • In some areas, actual values are assigned with the black-eyed peas representing pennies or up to a dollar each and the greens representing anywhere from one to a thousand dollars.
  • Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is another tradition practiced by some. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year, unless of course, the recipient swallows the coin, which would be a rather unlucky way to start off the year. (In the spirit of being responsible with my little guys, we opted for the large Gasparilla coin instead).


New Years Day Soup

3/4 pound ham fully cooked and chopped or cubed

ham bone

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons butter

1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 can stewed or petite diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 cup potato, peeled and diced

3/4 cup carrots diced

3/4 cup celery diced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon salt

In a 3-5 quart pot, saute ham, bone, onion and garlic in butter until the onion is tender or translucent.  Add all remaining ingredients; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Serve and cheer for whoever finds the coin… 🙂




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A Toast For the TaTa’s

Wrote this for the Junior League Cookbook Blog….

October is National Breast Cancer awareness month, and those of us over here with the Junior League Cookbook blog couldn’t let this pass by without raising our glasses to those strong, brave, and incredibly special women who have been touched by this in one way or another.  We lift our glasses and say, “Bravo girls!  We are here for you and we support you….all 1800+ of us!”

According to the American Cancer Society, September 2012, 1 in 8 women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.  The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a women’s death is 1 in 36.  Year after year these numbers are declining and that is believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.  So ladies get those TaTa’s checked regularly, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to screenings, another way you can help protect your body from cancer is by eating foods that are rich in cancer fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you.  Foods to explore are those that have the ability to help stave off cancer and some can even help inhibit cancer cell growth or reduce tumor size, such as:  avocados, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, chili peppers and jalapenos, cruciferous vegetables, fig, flax, garlic, grapefruit, red grapes, yellow and green leafy vegetables, kale, licorice root, mushrooms, nuts, oranges and lemons, papaya, raspberries, red wine, rosemary, seaweed, soy products, sweet potatoes, teas: green and black, tapioca, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips, and more.  So when you are planning your next meal, think about these foods and how you can slip them in for your loved ones.  Here are some recipes to get you started…

Fresh Carrot Salad – Everyday Feasts

Mushroom Frittata – Savor the Seasons

Berry Crumb Cake – The Life of the Party

Florida Avocado Salsa – Capture the Coast

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk is scheduled here in Tampa Bay on October 25-27.  Grab a lawn chair and head out to cheer on our fellow sisters; I’m certain they would love to see you.  If you are looking for more resources on education or just on how you can support the cause, hop on over to for more information…Bon appétit!   Kathryn Zahn


Pink Grapefruit Margarita

  • 1 1/3 cups pink grapefruit juice
  • 2/3 cup tequila
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  • Crushed ice
  • Lime slices or grapefruit slices
  • Coarse salt (optional)

Combine the grapefruit juice, tequila, Grand Marnier, lime juice and sugar in a pitcher and stir until the sugar is dissolved (I used Simple Syrup instead).  Add crushed ice to fill the pitcher.  Strain the margarita into the prepared glass and garnish with a slice of lime or pink grapefruit.  Process the mixture with ice in a blender for a frozen drink.  You may moisten the rim of the glass and dip in the salt before filling with the margarita if desired.


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Pizza Rollups

Pizza Rollups

1 package of Crescent Roll

2 mozzarella cheese sticks

16 pepperoni

pizza sauce

Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease a cookie sheet.  Unroll the Crescent dough.  On each triangle place 2 pepperoni and a 1/4 of the cheese stick.  Roll up and pinch the ends shut to prevent the cheese from leaking out.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Sauce on the side.  Yum!

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First Day of School Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes

Quite a few people have asked me what’s it like to officially be a stay at home mom, now that the kids are back at school that is…and I say that it is AWESOME!!!!

After Andy and I dropped the boys off, he left me back at home and headed off to work.  As I was standing in my kitchen, I explained to mom that if we had a grandfather clock, the ticking would have been the only sound echoing through the house.  It was stone silent.  No children, friends, TV, music, washing machine, dog barking, you name it…there was nothing.  Molly was looking at me suspiciously, so we went for a walk.  Afterwards, I went into cleaning mode!  The upstairs was my focus and my goal was to wade my way through the disaster of a mess by the end of the week.

I thought that it would be nice to make the kids a fun snack when they got home from school, so Pinterest was where I landed!  We love strawberry and we love brownies, so I knew that this was the recipe for the day.

Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes

  • 1 box of strawberry cake mix
  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • 1 can of cream cheese icing
    Preheat the oven to 325.  I used Pam and greased two cupcakes pans.  In one bowl, prepare the strawberry mix according to the package directions.  In another bowl, prepare the brownie mix according to the package directions.  Fill each cupcake with 1/3 brownie mix and then top with 1/3 strawberry cake mix.  Bake for 25 minutes or until done.  Top with cream cheese icing.

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Trix Crispy Treats

Yum Yum Yum!!!!  Kelly and I found this recipe on Pinterest and since we happened to have the three ingredients lying around, we thought, “Why not??!!  The kids will love them…”

Trix Crispy Treats

  • 4 Tbl Butter
  • 1 package of small marshmallows
  • 10 cups of cereal ( 1 whole box)

Melt butter in a large pot.  Add marshmallows and melt.  Add cereal and coat with melted marshmallows.  Place mix in a large 9×11 dish and let cool.  Cut and serve!

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Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

It’s Father’s Day weekend and while planning out the menu I decided on some oven baked ribs.  Andy loves ribs and it has been a while since we have made them, so this was perfect.  We are watching the US Open golf tournament so getting these in the oven in plenty of time turns out to be no problem at all.  In this recipe I used an already made sauce that we picked up in Georgia.  No need to get super creative today, and besides everyone knows how much we love to buy BBQ sauces from mom and pop shops on our vacation adventures. 🙂

Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

Dry Rub

1 Tbl Kosher salt

1 Tbl cracked black pepper

1 Tbl onion powder

1 Tbl garlic powder

1 Tbl paprika

Other Ingredients

2 slabs of ribs

1-2 teaspoons Liquid smoke

BBQ sauce of choice

On a large piece of foil place ribs.  Rub liquid smoke over the meaty side.  Combine all dry rub ingredients in a bowl and rub 1 teaspoon of the mixture on each side of the ribs.  Place ribs meaty side down and wrap up in the foil.  Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Heat  oven to 250 degrees.  Keep ribs wrapped in foil and place them on a large cookie sheet or in a roasting pan to catch any juice that may leak out.  Bake for 3 hours.  Remove ribs, open up the foil, and brush with favorite BBQ sauce.  Leave the ribs open and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.  Sauce will glaze over.

Once ribs are down, add extra sauce if desired.

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Ham Jambalaya

This article was written for the JLT Cookbook Blog…

When I first found out that I was going to be tasting and writing about the recipe Ham Jambalaya I was so excited because what immediately came to my mind was one-pot dinner. After working all day, picking up two kids from different schools, and trying to have dinner on the table for them and my husband by six, an easy recipe for dinner is always what I am looking for.

When I think of southern or Cajun jambalaya I think: chicken, shrimp, sausage, ham, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, celery…you know hearty and full of meats, vegetables, and rice; and as I jotted down the recipe at the end of the day before I ran into Publix, I knew with a sinking feeling that the dinner that I had planned on was not going to be enough food for them.

My intention is not to give this recipe a bad review, it is more for us to sit back and say, “Yeah, sometimes the recipes we pick don’t go as planned or taste like we would want them too…but that’s ok.” We learn through trial and error and they can’t all be perfect, right?

What this dish really consists of is 2 cooking onions, 2 cups of canned tomatoes, 1 cup of rice, and 1 cup of ham. Now if you do the math that is just a little over 4 cups. I put a scoop onto each of my kid’s plate and what you see in the bowl is all that was left for my husband and me. I ended up having to make each of them a salad, threw in some buttered bread, a big glass of milk, and then dessert. My husband ate what I served him and then proceeded to dig around in the refrigerator for more food.

The overwhelming ingredient in this dish is the canned tomatoes. If you love canned tomatoes, then you’ll love this dish. If you don’t, then most likely you won’t. We prefer fresh in our house. Canned tomatoes just have this distinct taste and it doesn’t matter how long you sauté them or what you sauté them in, they have a tendency to overpower the other flavors of the dish. Aside from this, my husband and I probably would have liked it more if more bacon was called for. In addition to using the grease, crumbling and adding the bacon to the dish would also add a little extra flavor to it. I also didn’t see the need to bake the dish for 30-40 minutes. If you simmered down the tomatoes, most of the liquid should be gone, so I am not sure what the extra time was needed for. I tasted it before and after the baking and to me it was exactly the same.

My kids loved this dish. If you have children and they eat rice, it was easy to make and I am certain that they will love it too.

It says 4-6 servings, and as a side dish then yes, I would agree to that. I don’t really have any recommendations as where to serve this dish; maybe at a potluck get together where there are a lot of different dishes to sample and taste. As for a dinner, we like to focus around protein and vegetables. The little bit of ham that it calls for was not enough for us, so it needs a complimentary meat as well as another vegetable or salad.

Keep in mind after reading this that not every recipe is for everyone. If you love these ingredients, then by all means cook away…you won’t be disappointed. As for us…I’ll be waiting for my next assignment… Bon Appétit!

Ham Jambalaya (The Gasparilla Cookbook, p. 111)

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup chopped or ground ham, ground preferred

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove from skillet and drain. Saute garlic and onion in bacon drippings. Add tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer 15 minutes. Add rice and ham and mix well. Bake in casserole in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Serves 4-6.

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Wk 50 – Thai-Style Pork Stew

Thai-Style Pork Stew

  • 2 pounds boned pork loin, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 cups (1 x 1/4-inch) julienne-cut red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 cups hot cooked basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts  
  • 8 lime wedges


  1. To prepare stew, trim fat from pork. Place pork and next 5 ingredients (pork through garlic) in an electric slow cooker. Cover with lid, and cook on low-heat setting for 8 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker, and coarsely chop. Add peanut butter to liquid in slow cooker; stir well. Stir in pork.

  1. Combine stew and rice in a large bowl. Top each serving with onions and peanuts; serve with lime wedges

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