The World’s Best Biscuit Pan

CL Biscuits 2

I’m not sure I made mention of it here, but we lost my sweet Gran in February, just three days shy of her 91st birthday. Gran was the kind of person I aspire to be–a loving wife and mother, a dedicated leader in her church and a positive person who spoke only kind words. I think of her every day.

Our family is full of sentimental souls, and that was more than apparent when we all made our requests of her things we’d like to keep as memories. Everyone asked for something with personal meaning. Audubon nature guides went to my brother, Gran’s sewing scissors for my mom. I chose her collection of Reader’s Digest condensed novels, which were marked on the spine with a sticker after she had read them, and also her skillets.

I ended up with two pieces of cookware–an 8 inch cornbread pan that she used pretty much daily, and a thick bottomed, flat piece of cast iron with a handle. The latter was passed down from my great grandmother and is used for making biscuits. It’s a treasure.


Gran and me feeding Bambi the deer, one of many animals on their farm.

As a child, I often spent Friday nights with my grandparents and always requested biscuits for breakfast on Saturday. Granddad and I would go out to feed the farm animals and when we returned, Gran would have fresh biscuits ready on this pan. We ate them with her homemade jelly or gravy, depending if we preferred savory or sweet that day. It’s a beautiful childhood memory for me.

I’ve had the pan tucked away for quite some time now, not really having the heart to use it. This morning, I woke up a bit earlier than I meant to, and thought it was high time to celebrate my Gran with a plate of fresh biscuits.

I used this recipe from Cooking Light to save time, which Gran would have appreciated. It’s got an ingenious method for eliminating the “cut butter into flour” step and I thought worked just right. I’d recommend it for a weekday breakfast where time is a factor.

I’m curious–do you have any treasured cooking tools passed down through your family? Isn’t it amazing the memories they conjure up?


Vegetarian Baked Beans in the Crockpot

Baked Beans

Vore’s prized Boston Butt with vegetarian beans and a side salad, for posterity.

Let’s just say you’re a vegetarian, and you’re invited to a potluck cookout for Memorial Day. The main dish is…barbecue. Great. You can:

  1. Go and act holier-than-thou, eating nothing. (Bad idea, if you want another invite.)
  2. Make a meal on chips + potato salad and leave starving.
  3. Offer to make the baked beans, so you know they’re vegetarian AND you have something filling to eat.

I choose #3! Since Vore has been in a Boston Butt smoking mood lately, I’ve had a few chances to work on baked beans. It took three tries to get these just so, but we have a winner!

This recipe takes 10 hours in the slow cooker, so it works well with Vore’s overnight smoking routine. The beans aren’t too tart or too sweet, and they’re smokey enough to satisfy bacon lovers. Here’s how to make the perfect baked beans:

Vegetarian Baked Beans in the Crockpot

1 pound dried pinto beans

1 tablespoon EVOO

2 cups onion, chopped

1 medium bell pepper, chopped (1.5 cups)

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 scant tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon dried mustard

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup all natural ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 bullion cube dissolved in 2 1/4 cups water

Crockpot Beans*Rinse and sort the pintos, looking for stones.

*Set them in a large bowl, cover with a ton of water and let them soak for 8 hours, or overnight.

*Get our your 4 quart slow cooker and add the olive oil. Use your hands to smear it around the crock. No sticking on my watch!

*Add the onion and bell pepper to your slow cooker crock, then the beans.

*In a separate bowl, mix everything else–the spices, sauces, vinegar, sugars, bullion, water–e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Wisk together, then pour into the slow cooker. The liquid should just barely cover the beans.

*Set your slow cooker to low and let the beans cook for 10 hours. Keep the lid tight–no peeking!

*Give your beans a taste–are they cooked through? If so, transfer to a serving dish and be on your way. Happy Memorial Day!


What Do I Feed a Vegetarian for Dinner? Part 2

Bottega 1

Fabulous example of a veggie plate at Birmingham’s Bottega

Yesterday, I shared a few tips for hosting a vegetarian. Now then, are you ready to eat? I pulled out my trusty recipe files to find favorites I’ve called on again and again, and have listed them below. There are two ways to approach this: vegetarian main course or side items paired to make an entree.

Option 1: We’re All Eating Veggie! 

These robust recipes shouldn’t make meat eaters feel like they’re missing anything. Each can be paired with a simple salad to make a complete meal.

Vegetarian Chili, Cooking Light

Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf, Oh She Glows

Spinach-Mushroom Skillet Enchiladas, Cooking Light

*Artichoke, Spinach and Feta Stuffed Shells, Cooking Light

Spinach and Black Bean Lasagna, Southern Living

Crepes with Ratatouille, Cooking Light 

Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Tarts, Cooking Light

*This was the first meal I ever served Vore. Turns out, he doesn’t love tomato sauce, yet he still ate his entire plate. He must have liked me!

Option 2: Make a Meat Main Dish and Plenty of Sides

I love a vegetable plate. Choose three of these and voila–you have a meal! For example,  Baby Blue Salad + Roasted Cauliflower + Pink Eyed Peas would make a delicious plate.

Baby Blue Salad, Southern Living

Zesty Broccoli Casserole, Cooking Light

Feisty Green Beans, 101 Cookbooks

Pinked Eyed Peas with Smoked Paprika, Cooking Light

Cheesy Black Bean Mash, Southern Living

Roasted Cauliflower with Browned Butter, Cooking Light

Creamy Light Macaroni and Cheese, Cooking Light

What’s your favorite vegetarian recipe? 

What Do I Feed a Vegetarian for Dinner? Part 1

Veggie Dinner

There is really only one thing I hate about being a vegetarian: It seems to strike fear in the heart of anyone who may be hosting me. What on earth will they feed a girl who doesn’t eat meat? Should meat be present, will Britt stage an animal rights protest? (Answer: Not hardly!)

First off, I’d like to give an honest thank you for the concern about accommodating folks who eat a little differently than you. We appreciate it! I promise, feeding us is not as daunting as it sounds. I thought I would share a few tips, and also tried and true recipes the whole group will love. Ready?

Tips for hosting a vegetarian: 

  • When you offer the invitation, ask if there are any dietary restrictions. If you have a vegetarian, ask if he or she eats fish, dairy or eggs. Leave it at that. NBD.
  • Don’t feel like you have to change what you planned to cook. I can guarantee you that I will be much happier eating your delicious sides than I would be enduring the angry looks of people forced to eat tofu on my account.
  • Remember the stock. After you’ve been eating vegetarian for a while, any kind of meat bi-product becomes disagreeable to your stomach. Soups made with beef broth or mashed potatoes with chicken stock will not likely sit well. Luckily it’s an easy fix. Just sub in veggie broth.
  • Don’t make a fuss. It’s embarrassing when people go out of their way to accommodate us! Before everyone gathers at the table, explain to your vegetarian what is appropriate for her to eat. Please don’t single us out in front of the entire group.
  • Set a portion aside. If meat is used as a garnish or is stirred in at the end of cooking, keep a small amount separate, then discreetly offer it to the veggie folks. “Darling, I know pork isn’t your thing. I set this broccoli salad aside before I sprinkled the bacon on top.”
  • If you are eating out, choose an ethnic restaurant-Mexican, Italian, Indian, Chinese, etc. Other cultures tend to feature more plant-centric dishes, i.e. beans at a Mexican place, and tofu at a Chinese establishment. Outback Steakhouse or a barbecue restaurant are a little tougher for us. Vegetarians end up eating a salad and plain baked potato for dinner. (Which is fine every once in a while!)

Vegetarians, do you have any additional tips to share with our hosts? I’ll be back tomorrow with a few favorite recipes perfect for your dinner party.

The Most Decadent Little Cake in Town

Almond Butter Blondie Cakes

Vore and I have long loved Mama’s Pea’s Peanut Butter Blondies With Chocolate Ganache, a recipe printed in her first cookbook. I’ve made them a million times, always with almond butter, because confession: I don’t like peanut butter. I know, gasp.

I’ve tinkered with the recipe quite a bit, adding a coconut flair, upping the moisture content, lowering the sugar, adding eggs and changing the frosting entirely. Oh, and I ousted the 8×8 pan in favor of cupcake tins. At best you could say these are a distant cousin of the original. But they’re your favorite cousin–the one you look forward to seeing at Christmas every year. Holy yum!

These little cakes retain the texture of dense, rich bars, but avoid the baking pan problem I always run into: cooked on the outside, runny in the middle. With the cupcake style, you’ll have perfectly moist bites with built in portion control.

If you’d like your cakes to be dairy free, you can melt a little dark chocolate and almond milk for drizzling on top. You could also sub a gluten free baking mix for the whole wheat pastry flour, if that’s a concern. Now let’s get to baking, shall we?

Almond Butter Blondie Cakes

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup coconut flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup almond butter

1/3 cup coconut oil, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup stevia (I use this. Or you can stick with plain sugar)

1 4 oz container apple sauce

1/4 cup milk of choice

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the almond butter and coconut oil. Add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Now add the apple sauce and milk, beating all the while. Finally add the eggs, one at a time. Finish with the vanilla.

Now it’s flour time! Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition. You should have a thick, rich batter.

Pour into a 12 muffin tin. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes, or until tops are ever so slightly brown and the cakes are set. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar. Voila! Frosting.

Ice the cooled cakes with the frosting, then store in the fridge. Enjoy!

Guacamole on the Fly

Guac lo res

You know what we have been loving lately? Fresh, simple recipes that come together without fuss. A couple of weeks ago, I whipped up a simple guacamole on a whim. I’ve made it 5 or 6 times since. We can’t get enough!

The two of us go through this entire recipe in one sitting. Should you have leftovers, squeeze a little extra lime juice over the top and place plastic wrap directly on the guac’s surface. Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Fresh and Sunny Guacamole 

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

1/2  jalapeño pepper (generous tablespoon), finely diced

1/4 cup diced tomato, seeds removed

2 tablespoons, finely chopped cilantro*

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 large ripe avocado

the juice of 1 lime

Place all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mash together using a fork or pastry cutter. Serve immediately.

*The recipe still tastes great even if you don’t have cilantro.

The “Greek Chick” Burger

Greek Chick sized

Veggie burger, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. You’re full of protein. You’re simple to prepare. You help me blend with meat-eaters at a cookout…

I used to buy the packaged kind religiously. I actually wrote an angry letter to MorningStar Farms when they changed the formula on my favorite black bean burger. **I acknowledge this scores crazy points. Please don’t judge too harshly.**

Not long after, I discovered there is more to a product label than nutrition facts. The ingredient list on most freezer aisle burgers is scary long, with far too many unpronouceables.

The good news is, it’s easy to make your own veggie burgers. They are less expensive and far less processed. And heck–they taste better! I’m a threat to make a double batch, then freeze the leftovers for quick meals down the road. Here’s a Greek version that I’ve been loving lately.

The Greek Chick Burger

2 slices of bread (I used Ezekiel heels)

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1/2 cup carrot, diced

1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup basil leaves, loosely packed

1 large egg

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons no-MSG Greek seasoning

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Greek Chick slider

Greek Chick Slider, get in my belly!

Get out your food processor! Add the bread, and pulse until its good and crumbly.

Add the remaining ingredients–yep, all of them–to the processor. Run the processor on a low setting, until everything combines. You should have a paste, but it doesn’t need to be completely smooth. A few chunks of beans and carrots are lovely!

Form into patties. I made 9 medium sliders, but the size is really up to you.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with olive oil, then add about half of your patties. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

I enjoy my burgers on a bun or as a salad topper. They’re also great as a component of a vegetable plate. Enjoy!