You see what I did there? I’m ready for big bulky sweaters. Since it’s not quite there yet, I guess I’ll knock down the air conditioning and pull out the crock pot for this week’s easy, delicious chicken chili. Best part? It’s one of those “can dump” recipes that NO ONE can get wrong.

tumblr_inline_oeblkzM6Cv1ql71ln_1280

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

1 small onion, chopped
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
4-ounce can chopped green chili peppers, chopped
1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
24 ounces (3) boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (for topping)

Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomato, cumin, chili powder, and taco seasoning in a slow cooker and mix well. Nestle the chicken in to completely cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro and your favorite toppings!

Yesterday marked 6 years as a homeowner, and I have loved my relationship with my little house on Auburn Avenue. We get along nicely, and it doesn’t mind when I continually make it change and update its style. Over the past year, it’s seen a new coat of paint on the shutters and doors. It’s now got a nice pair of bathrooms that match. The blinds are slowly being changed out. (20 windows takes time and money.) We even got a little update in the laundry room (and some shiplap). I’d say it’s turning out nicely.

Hopefully over the next year we will see a fresh coat of paint for the siding. I wouldn’t mind a little hail damage either (hint, hint Mother Nature).

Happy Birthday, House!

September 17, 2012

img_1272-1

I’m on a fall kick with recipes, and this one is the quintessential Guido concoction. Growing up, when this smell filled the house, you knew that summer was over and fall had arrived. Now, when I walk up to the back door and can smell this aroma seeping through, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s just a simple trail mix; but my God, it’s absolute perfection.

tumblr_inline_nysvahuFEB1ql71ln_1280

Do-Dads

1 box each rice, wheat, and corn Chex cereal

½ bag pretzels

1 box Cheez-Its

1 bag oyster crackers

1 jar unsalted peanuts

1 jar cashews

4 cups pecan halves

4 cups almonds, unseasoned

1 ½ sticks butter

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 cup Worcestershire sauce

Tabasco to taste

¼ cup lemon juice

Put all dry ingredients in a large container, and mix well. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the seasonings, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Using a one gallon plastic bag, fill the bag half full with the dry mix. Drizzle ¼ cup of the butter mixture into the bag, seal the bag, and toss to coat the cereal mix. Spread onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for thirty minutes (or until the mixture appears dry). Spread in a larger pan to cool before storing in air-tight container or large plastic bags.

Every year brings back those same feelings from 2001 of anger, fear, and patriotism. In 2013, I had the honor to visit Ground Zero during a quick trip to the Big Apple. It may have been pouring rain but I wasn’t going to miss the chance to visit such a sacred American monument.

 

With fall quickly approaching (And let’s be honest, it’s September. It’s here.), I can’t wait to fill my home with the scent of fresh coffee, dreamy comfort foods, and pumpkin-spiced everything. Full disclosure, I upgraded to a full-time adult this week by ordering an actual coffee pot and getting rid of my one-cup Keurig. I actually set it to pop on 30 minutes before my alarm went off so my house smelled of freshly brewed coffee when I woke up. I felt like I was a grown up when I woke up this morning.

Here is a recipe that makes my senses happy when it’s roasting in the crock pot, PLUS it’s easy!

Mississippi Roast

4 pound chuck roast

1 envelope ranch dressing mix

1 envelope au jus mix

½ cup butter

4 – 5 sweet peppers, sliced

Seasoned salt and pepper to taste

Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray. Place the roast in the bottom and sprinkle with black pepper and seasoned salt to taste. Sprinkle ranch mix over the top; then the au jus mix on top of that. Place the peppers on top of the mixes and top with the butter. Set the slow cooker to 8 hours and let it go!

Over the weekend, we witnessed the burning of one of Natchez’s finest landmarks, The Prentiss Club. Some remember it for the Cellar in its basement years ago and others remember it after Buzz Harper came to town and revitalized the building with grandeur and a golden touch. What I remember the Prentiss Club for was a cocktail luncheon given in my grandmother, Doris Guido’s, honor in the spring of 2007 when my sister was the reigning Natchez Garden Club Queen. Our Queen Mum enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the grand ballroom and lavish dining room surrounded by friends, family, and guests of all ages. We wined from crystal, dined from fine China, and finished the event with a silver spoon filled with a strawberry trifle.

Now that my Nannie has passed away, the Prentiss Club has been the holder of the memories from that afternoon several moons ago. I hope that the future for the building and almost art gallery is bright. In Natchez, we restore our history for generations to come. The Prentiss Club still has many years to go.

With the kickoff of football season this weekend for the SEC world and a side of dove hunting this Labor Day weekend, here is an idea recipe to try on your friends and family. From Absolutely A la Carte, this recipe is rich, creamy, and perfect for a crowd!

tumblr_inline_odyq7nsaKJ1ql71ln_1280

Fireside Dip

2 pounds hot bulk sausage

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

3 15-ounce cans chili without beans

1 pound processed cheese spread loaf, cut into cubes

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes

2 – 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained

Cook the first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well. Add chili powder and next 6 ingredients to mixture, stirring well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted. Serve dip hot in a chafing dish with tortilla chips. (This recipes makes for 25 to 30; so you can adjust as needed for your crowd.)

So, I’m into cults. Not in a way that suggests I want to or would join one, but I like to know why these people are able to be brainwashed in joining groups that take all of their money, their time, and families. Well, if I think about it, maybe online shopping is a type of cult. It takes all of my money. Anyway, here are a couple of cult-themed resources I’ve come across lately.

460>_12556187

Cults of Our Lives

This podcast covers a new cult each week in 30-minute spurts. I personally have learned so much, but sometimes, the girls get off track and the sound quality isn’t top notch for both hosts. However, listening to this each week during my trek around the states of Louisiana and Mississippi led me to my next obsession — Patty Hearst and the SLA.

180111135105-card-image-patty-hearst-super-tease

The Radical Story of Patty Hearst

Ok. Did she or didn’t she? Was she or wasn’t she? Personally? I think she was full blown in that cult from the beginning.

Long story short. An heiress to media millions gets “kidnapped” by a smaller (but violent)     cult, the Symbionese Liberation Army, held “hostage” for months while releasing tapes to  her family through the media about ransoms and needs of the group, only to show up on security footage of a bank robbery holding a machine gun of sorts. If you watch all the way through the docuseries, you’ll see just how into it this rich bitch gets. Crazy people.

Yesterday, I woke up with a scratchy throat, sinus pressure, and the chills. I figured since I hadn’t been sickly since last fall I was probably due for a round of the crud. I called my favorite “nurse,” Mom, and ordered up a pot of soup. And did she deliver! It had all of my favorites: wild rice, English peas, mushrooms, and cans of that delicious “cream of” concoction that goes so well in all things yummy.

IMG_1099.jpg

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

4 – 5 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

1 package Uncle Ben’s wild rice

1 bag frozen English peas

1 can sliced mushrooms

1 can cream of celery soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

Salt and pepper to taste

After boiling the chicken, reserve the broth. Shred the chicken and set aside. Prepare the wild rice as noted on the package. In the pot of broth, add in the peas and mushrooms and allow them to cook. Add both cans of soup, the chicken, and rice; and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat. If the soup needs thickening, prepare a package of white gravy; and add to the soup as needed to thicken and add flavor.

GMRBR Artwork 2018
Artwork by Country Roads’ Jennie Guido and Kourtney Zimmerman

What started out as a design for this year’s advertising campaign in Country Roads quickly turned into the artwork to commemorate this year’s festival. Growing up in Natchez, you see these posters and t-shirts everywhere. Restaurants, offices, and homes cover their walls in the colorful designs year after year. It’s the ideal Natchez collection.

And this year, I get to be a part of the collection. When I was told the focus of the music this year at the festival would be on New Orleans Jazz since that River City was taking its turn at 300, this image popped into my mind. With the amazing help of our Creative Director and mind reader at Country Roads, Kourtney Zimmerman made my idea come to life.

I can’t wait for this year’s Balloon Races to get here! It’s going to be a good year.

This week, the City of Vidalia and Natchez, Inc celebrated and welcomed Vidalia Demin Mills with a fantastic reception and delicious treats from all over Concordia Parish. One such dish was the spinach and artichoke dip from the Duck’s Nest. Oh. My. I had dreams about it that night. It was creamy with a touch of spice. Slap. Your. Mama.

It made me think of another spinach and artichoke dip that I have dreams about occasionally from A la Carte in Cleveland, Mississippi. Thankfully, I am the proud owner of one of Charlotte Skelton’s last copies of her cookbook, Absolutely A la Carte (thanks, Aimee). Here is her version.

A la Carte Spinach-Artichoke Dip

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 – 2 tablespoons onion powder

Salt to taste

Ground white pepper to taste

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

Combine mozzarella and sour cream in a large bowl; stir in garlic and next 3 ingredients. Add spinach and artichoke hearts to mixture, stirring well. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Keep warm in a chafing dish.

Now, Charlotte says to serve these with home-fried tortilla chips, which (let me tell you) make this dip exceptional. So, in case you want to go the extra mile (which is completely worth it), here is that recipe.

Home-Fried Tortilla Chips

24 corn tortillas

2 quarts sunflower or safflower oil

Salt to taste

Stack tortillas into piles or 6; with a sharp knife, cut each stack into 6 to 8 equal wedges onto paper towels. When the temperature registers between 375 to 400 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer, add a handful of tortilla wedges into an electric deep fryer. Fry for 1 minute, stirring once or twice. Do not crowd the fryer, and fry the chips only until they’re crisp but not too dark. Transfer chips with a slotted spoon to paper towels, and season with salt. Continue frying other wedges.

Yes. We’ve added another. It’s something that we don’t necessarily have an excuse for, and we’re not sorry about it for the naysayers that think we’re crazy. We just love dogs. They are more than “part” of the family — they are family. Each one has a unique personality that fits into the Guido family mold; and when we have to say goodbye to one, we are all lost.

I had been planning on writing a post about our 2 “black kids,” the Black Labrador twins — Mae and TJ. However, over the past week, another “black kid” has come to live with us (at my parents’ house for all you people that think she’s living with me and the Beagles).

IMG_0846
Mae & TJ – The Twins

Last Tuesday, Mom and Dad were on their way home from early morning laundry openings and a side visit to McDonald’s when they spotted this black lab looking puppy on the highway near Grace Methodist Church. Dad, being the softy he is, instantly thought of our sweet Mae at home, wheeled the Ram Charger around, and jumped out to grab her from our Natchez rush minute. Luckily, Mom still had her warm McDonald’s biscuit, pulled it from the wrapper, and waved it wildly for the dog to see. Quickly making her way from the traffic, that puppy belly crawled into our lives, and “Grace” became a Guido.

I have to say, she’s definitely someone’s pet. We looked for her owner, shared her on  Facebook, checked for a microchip — and nothing. She is very mild-mannered, loves a good cuddle, and sleeps in the kennel all night. She sits. She stays. She stops when you say “no”. For a “puppy” of about 6 months or so, she’s pretty perfect. Now, we don’t think she is full Labrador. There is something else lurking in those bat-like ears. (We did a Google search and worried she may have some Great Dane in her. Search Labradane. We were scared.) But, she’s fitting in nicely with all of the Guido pups. The Beagles quickly took to her, and Mama Jo is teaching her who is boss. The Twins think she’s their long lost sister and roll her around the yard like a rag doll.

So, yes. We’ve added another. We saved Grace.

It’s finally Friday, and it’s cocktail time. When we traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, last September for my cousin Kari’s bachelorette bash, we spent an afternoon atop The Vendue at its amazing rooftop bar. We all quickly fell victim to the deliciousness of Peach Moscow Mules (and even took them “to go”). Ever since, we have attempted to recreate that yummy concoction and gotten pretty close to the real thing.

 

Peach Moscow Mule

1 shot peach-flavored vodka

Can ginger beer

Fresh lime juice

Ice

Fill a copper mule mug with ice. Pour in the vodka and top with ginger beer. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and enjoy!

This past weekend was chock-full of events, which were all fueled by endless wine, delicious food, and fun people. With a Friday afternoon with my freshly returned-to-America bosses around Natchez, Friday night landed the entire Country Roads crew (minus a few) at Natchez Food & Wine Festival’s Tastings Along the River. We wined; we dined; and we learned about the wine hammock/sling/yoke. (Don’t worry; those will be coming to a Supper Club near you this Fall.)

The Man. The Myth. The Wine Hammock.

Saturday was spent a little more relaxed with cocktails and cookies at my house before a delicious spread presented by Esther Carpenter and guest chef, Adam Ozga, at The Elms —  gazpacho with an avocado creme, a deconstructed tuna salad, charred short-rib with vegetables-a-plenty, and finished with a trio of desserts that all washed down nicely with an array of wines.

Finally, we Guidos celebrated Jackie O’s birthday the best way we know how — with a puppy party completely with pancakes and candles. I think she was happy to be off her strict diet for the night.

It’s an exciting foodie-themed weekend here in Natchez — Natchez Food & Wine Festival kicks off tonight with “Tastings Along the River”. I’m excited to get the Country Roads team in town this afternoon and start the festivities of a scrumptious weekend of taste testing and dinners.

In the meantime, I’m also planning a special party for Sunday night. My Jackie O turns 6 on Sunday, and we will be celebrating with a pancake feast! A couple of weeks ago, I used Joanna Gaines’ recipe for pancakes from her cookbook, Magnolia Table, for waffles. Let me tell you, it’s the best recipe I’ve used yet. Sometimes other recipes come out of my waffle iron flat and sometimes chewy. These were tall and fluffy. You almost didn’t need syrup — almost, though. Scatter some blueberries over the batter before closing the iron, and Voila! you have blueberry waffles to die for.

The Best-Ever Fluffy Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) vegetable oil

2 large eggs

Butter and syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, and eggs. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir together until well combined. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes. The batter will begin to get fluffy. (This is an important step.) Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat until hot. Generously oil the skillet. Carefully pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake into the pan, far enough apart that they won’t touch. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom and the top is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the rest of the batter, adding oil to the skillet as needed. Serve hot.

(I would double this because the batter is thick and you’re going to want to stuff yourself with these.)

OITNB_S6_Horizontal-Main_RGB-1_640x345_acf_cropped

This may be a bit of a spoiler post, but I’ll try not to give anything away. To be honest, it’s not as if there is much to give away this season.

I’ve been an avid follower of all things Netflix, including almost all of its original series, since the beginning. However, this season of Orange is the New Black was plain disappointing. You would think a group of misfit prisoners would lead to some really good story lines in gen. pop. in Max. No, we were just given regular old Piper complaining, Red worrying herself to death, and some drug addictions. What’s new, Litchfield? I miss several of the characters that didn’t follow to Max and that died last season. It’s just not the same. I will more than likely stick around for the next one since the finale was so so. You’ll see when you get there.

 

Luckily, we have friend with blueberry bushes (thank you, Greer family); and they don’t mind sharing.

One recipe that is our family go-to with fresh blueberries and usually on the Fourth of July is a scrumptious dessert called “Blueberry Yum Yum,” which was shared with MOM years ago by our neighbor, Lori Gaudet. Mom said that she can remember the first time she had it. It was at least 20 years ago on the Fourth of July, and she just couldn’t get enough of it!

Blueberry Yum Yum

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened

1 9-ounce frozen whipped topping, thawed

Combine blueberries, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat until berries are soft (about 15 minutes). Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in small mixing bowl. Stir well and add cornstarch mixture to berry     mixture. Continue cooking and stirring constantly until mixture is thickened. Set aside to cool.

Combine flour, margarine, and pecans in a small bowl and mix well. Press mixture into a  greased 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool.

Combine cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar. Beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping. Spread over the crust, then pour the blueberries on top. Refrigerate before serving.

Ok. It’s just been me and Netflix binging the past couple of weekends; and I found 2 crime shows that (one) I’d never heard of, strangely enough, and (two) they are both based on real events. Now, they kind of help each other out a little in my opinion, so be sure to watch them in this order.

22384422_525575277776593_856054422998934528_o

Mindhunter

First things first, this is based on the finding of the term “serial killer” by a special division of the FBI. What I like about this show is that it really shows a difference in the FBI before and after this division formed and started working. It also makes you think differently about crime. Just give it a watch.

Plus, David Fincher is connected to this project, which for all of you out there that took Dr. Hays’ film class in college (I took it in both undergrad and graduate school) you’ll see the style connections.

Bonus. Season 2 is in the works right now.

Manhunt-UNABOMBER-web-main

Manhunt: Unabomber

Again, this should be watched after Mindhunter because they roughly reference that division of the FBI with no explanation. So knowing that background helps develop the plot and show a little bit.

Now, this show was perfect for me for 2 major reasons. One, I like learning about true crime events that happened in my lifetime but was too young to be aware of. I find that interesting, and I usually spend hours Googling the offender or crime long after I’ve watched whatever documentary has sparked my interest. Second, it studies the English language. This was like sitting in a strange version of Dr. Sarcone’s History of the English Language course, and I. Loved. Every. Minute. Of. It.

I had no idea what or who the Unabomber was. I was familiar with the name, but that’s about it. So coming across this series was exactly what I needed to learn more. I kind of wish that the series would develop more into other seasons that dive into the “manhunt” of other true crime criminals. I would be on the edge of my seat waiting for those to be bingeable.

For Jo’s birthday party this past weekend, Mom whipped up a yummy “salsa” with lots of fresh-from-the-garden goodness. It’s light, a little spicy, and easy to over-indulge on without feeling too bad about it later.

IMG_0679

Italian Salsa

6 fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced

1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

4 fresh banana peppers, seeded and chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 can olives, sliced

1 can black beans, drained

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing, prepared

Combine all of the vegetables in a large bowl. Prepare the dressing per the directions, and pour over the mixture. Mix well and refrigerate. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Well, the baby Beagle that we rescued turned 2 over the weekend. She had a perfect day with her sister (Jackie), cousin (Honey), and her besties, the twins. Maw-Maw made her yummy apple-shaped cakes with vanilla icing, and we enjoyed a picnic in her honor Sunday night.

I tend to go above and beyond for my kids’ birthdays, but Jo’s are special. I know she probably doesn’t remember that first month of life spent eating from dumpsters and trash cans, but I’m trying my hardest to make sure she never does.

We love you, Jo Jo! Here’s to many more birthdays with you.

Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of potato salad. I think it was the yellow mustard that turned me off; but as I grew up, I found that the more you put into the mix, the better it is. Also, I found that Creole mustard is the only way to go with potato salad. Recently, we went to New Orleans and brought home a jar of Arnaud’s Creole mustard. YUM!

Potato Salad

2 pounds russet potatoes

2 pounds red-skin potatoes

4 eggs, boiled and mashed

1 ½ cup mayo

3 tablespoon Creole mustard

½ cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup bell pepper or banana pepper, chopped

½ cup sweet pickle relish

½ cup green olives, sliced

2 tablespoons green onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

Begin by boiling the potatoes in salted water until the skin begins to peel and they can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and remove the skin.  Place in a large bowl with the boiled and mashed eggs, mayo, and mustard.  Mash all together leaving the potatoes chunky and well combined.  Fold in the celery, relish, olives, peppers, and green onions.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Let chill overnight before serving.

If the potato salad is dry the next day, add a hefty spoonful of mayo to the mix.

IMG_0339

So, I’ve got a new fascination — stove top popped corn. I know. This is how it was done before that thing called the microwave was invented; but for us “millennials”, microwave-style popcorn is about the only way to go unless you go to the movie theater, hardware store, or bank regularly for a bag of the real stuff.

It’s pretty fantastic since you get to control your butter and salt topping (or any topping for that matter). You are able to control the serving size to a degree. I still am working on what serving size works for me. Last time, I made too much; however, it does hold up well in a Ziplock in the pantry.

The kind I ordered is Mississippi grown and made, too. When I was visiting in the Delta, my friend Allie had a bag of “Crop to Pop” on the counter; and I was intrigued but didn’t think about it again. Then, my sister comes home from Mississippi Wholesale Market with the card for this “Crop to Pop” business. She said it was good, so I gave it an order. Give it a try if you like crunchy, sweet popcorn that you can feel good about popping on the stove. The directions are easy, but be sure to constantly shake the Dutch oven with the lid ON. Otherwise, you’ll be finding popcorn all over the kitchen for days. Those things fly everywhere!

I have yet to meet anyone who is not a fan of fried okra. Let’s be honest. It’s delicious and the best way to enjoy that violent little vegetable. The way my mom fries it up is the only way you should in my opinion. It’s the recipe my grandmother used; and more than likely, it’s the way her mother fried it, too. It’s crunchy without being fully coated in batter. It’s salty with just the right amount of sweet from the okra. It’s not sticky and slimy on the inside. It’s perfect.

The Only Way to Fry Okra

1 mess garden fresh okra, chopped

1 egg, beaten

Yellow cornmeal

Vegetable oil

Salt to taste

Once the okra is chopped into similar bite-sized pieces, salt to taste. Pour the beaten egg over the okra and mix. Cover the okra with cornmeal and toss until all is coated. Fry in batches in hot vegetable oil until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined platter.

Last week, while attending the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, a family friend was leaving the room to head back to the office and said, “Enjoy the Heat!” while dashing out into the humid June morning. I’d never heard it said quite like that. Most people say, “Stay cool” or “Don’t get too hot out there.” But putting this positive spin on an inescapable heat like the one we are having this summer seemed the only way to make it through. Well, that and a good sno-cone.

IMG_0347

I’ll be honest; I’m the first one to complain when I start to sweat. It’s just not for me. My hair isn’t a fan; I can’t stand the tacky feeling you get after you cool off; and to be honest, no one looks good wilted from sweating. Yesterday, on my way back from Baton Rouge, I stopped in St. Francisville to get some work done before heading back home. I got so hot getting in and out of the car several times in an hour and a half span that my knee caps were sweating. I’m used to sweating behind my knees and such, but for the actual top-of-the-knee cap to be perspiring seemed a bit much. When I saw the sign for “shaved ice snow cones” I did a U-ie in the middle of the road and dared anyone to stop me from getting to that counter and ordering up a clear strawberry concoction for the ride home.

So, enjoy the heat. It’s here to stay.

Have I mentioned that the tomatoes are coming in in droves at the Guido house? Every summer, we try to come up with a new way to enjoy those little boogers, and this past week we gave bruschetta another try. Our family friend, Nancy Kuehnle, told us about the bruschetta method she uses by toasting the bread with a layer of cheese before topping with tomatoes. So we gave it a try. Let me tell you. That’s the way to go. You don’t end up with the entire topping hanging off the toast on the first bite that way. It’s much easier to navigate and gives it a better taste, too.

 

Garden Fresh Bruschetta

6 – 8 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped

1 loaf fresh French bread, sliced

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil, chiffonaded

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and finely chop the tomatoes. Allow to drain the excess juice in a colander while preparing the bread. Salt and pepper the tomatoes at this stage. Slice pieces of the loaf and brush both sides with olive oil. Top each slice with about a tablespoon of Parmesan and toast in a 350 degree oven until slightly crispy. Remove the bread from the oven, top with about 2 tablespoons of the tomatoes, dress with fresh basil, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Run back into the oven until the cheese on top is melted. Serve warm.

I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping up with the Netflix original movies lately, but they are killing it with new content this summer. I love to spend my weekends binging all kinds of Netflix original series, but this weekend I went for the Netflix original movies. Unlike the Disney Channel original movies of my childhood and teen years, these aren’t sappy and G (sometimes PG) rated. These are a little scandalous with a side of the “F” word. Enjoy.

e8451f115a0ffd0371d7ab3935fce32d6a010cb3

Brain on Fire

Based on a true story, this one has me worried now every time I have a brain “freeze” or headache. It really brings a new light on getting second, third, and possibly fourth opinions when you know something just isn’t right going on inside of you. Give it a watch and know that you are not one of the thousands that suffer from this rare autoimmune disease.

11060_Ibiza

Ibiza

I don’t know if I liked this because of Vanessa Bayer or because I just don’t see how they went so long without showers and sleep at their age. I feel like if I went on this trip, I would have to cry “uncle” a couple of hours in because they just don’t give up. They get shit faced each day and night without naps or sleeping in. They get on planes non stop and ride around in what looks like un-airconditioned cars while hungover or coming off of a high. I’m not sure I ever saw one of them brush their teeth. My point is I was amazed at how much I kept willing on this behavior scene after scene in order to find this mythical DJ.

set-it-up

Set It Up

This one is a good old fashioned rom com with an update. The update to the plot being that online dating and “ghosting” are both referenced in this one versus blind date set ups and such. I really liked this one because of the realistic characters of the over-bearing bosses and the over-qualified assistants. Plus, who doesn’t love it when the two characters who hate each other in the beginning (SPOILER) fall in love at the end? I mean, who didn’t see that coming from the first second of the trailer?

IMG_0045

We are up to our elbows in tomatoes. Dad picked 50 ripe ones on Wednesday and added them to the already heaping countertops of about 75-100 already ripened tomatoes. However, what we aren’t seeing loads of this year is a bumper crop of cucumbers. Usually, mom can’t make batches of pickles fast enough. This year they are few and far between.

And we are Bread & Butter Pickle people. We eat them on burgers, sandwiches, and on a fork. We chop them up for potato salad, chicken salad, and deviled eggs. Mom keeps jars and jars of relish she’s processed from the pickles in our pantry for use throughout the year.

So, in hopes that pickling cucumbers will magically appear on our door step, here is our recipe for this delicacy.

Bread & Butter Pickles

4 quarts medium cucumbers, sliced

6 medium white onions, sliced

3 cloves garlic

1/3 cup salt

5 cups sugar

3 cups cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

2 teaspoons mustard seed

Do not peel cucumbers; slice thin. Add onions, garlic cloves, and salt. Cover with cracked ice; mix thoroughly. Let stand for 3 hours. Drain well. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour over cucumbers. Heat just to a boil. Seal in hot, sterilized jars. Yield: 8 pints.

Ok. I’m falling into a podcast black hole. I’m listening to ones that I’m hearing about on the news or in other podcasts, but they just don’t seem to be doing the trick. One that I came across was My Favorite Murder. The reason I’m not a fan is because these 2 girls really don’t have any sense of the “too soon” concept when talking about murder or dead loved ones. It wasn’t for me, so I gave up on them an episode in.

plain

What I did come across was The Last Podcast on the Left when I was listening to that one episode of the aforementioned podcast. While it’s pretty crude, rude, and socially unacceptable, it does dive deep into some things I’ve been listening to all year — murder, serial killers, and the strange parts of history. So far, I’ve listened to a little bit about the Jonestown “Death Tape,” which will give you nightmares and keep you up at night. Some of ole Jim Jones’ voice comes through pretty demonic and filled with crazy talk. I doubt I listen to each episode because … well … it may be too much for me.

My main point is that I need more podcasts. I like history. I like true crime. I like weird and strange stuff. So, give me your suggestions. Please. I’m begging of you.

It’s my favorite part of summer. Finally, we have enough fresh vegetables to live off of them for the foreseeable future. So, here is a family favorite that we’ve enjoyed for summers as long as I can remember.

I know, it’s not the prettiest; but wow is it good. We talked about it last night; maybe try it over egg noodles. That would be delish.

Eggplant Casserole

3 – 4 eggplants, peeled, cubed, and boiled

1 pound lean hamburger meat

1/2 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped and seeded

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek seasoning

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

After boiling the eggplant, drain them and make sure all the excess water is removed. Brown the hamburger meat with the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Mix with the eggplant, soup, and greek seasoning. Pour into greased casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Yes. You read that correctly. I’m going through a bit of a ghost phase right now. As you know, I’ve taken to the podcast world full steam ahead and have been looking for some type of paranormal (slash) creepy ghosts (slash) true haunting story. However, the only ones I was finding were kind of cheesy; and after a few minutes, I would find myself changing the “channel.”

IMG_7928

However, a few weeks ago, I found one that was pretty amazing. It’s called Family Ghosts, and it tells a different story each week about a story that haunts a particular family, including two stories that haunt the host. I was hooked and quickly devoured it. Thankfully, Season 2 will be out this fall.

While ghosts are in the title, it’s not really filled with ghost stories. It’s more of things that plague you or gnaw at you from your past. Give it a listen if you like deep dark secrets with a side of gossip.

Another key point in my ghost phase took place last weekend here in Natchez. With the help of the Mississippi Paranormal Society, we at the Natchez Garden Club were able to host a paranormal tour and ghost hunting evening at Magnolia Hall. If you are familiar with Magnolia Hall’s history, you know that the home’s builder, Thomas Henderson, died in his bedroom on the first floor and still haunts it today. What I didn’t know is that more than just Mr. Henderson haunt this mansion’s halls. We met several children figures Friday night who seems to be in rather playful moods. They were playing with the light devices we had in the rooms, coming through the speakers we were using, and telling us about themselves in little broken phrases and words. I will say that I was thoroughly creeped out in the beginning; and by the time I left, I was ready to plan my next ghost adventure.

 

If you missed out on our first hunting experience, we’ve got a plan to have the team down again in the next few months. So, follow Natchez Garden Club on Facebook to keep an eye out for that event.

Well, the parents went berry picking this week and came home with quite the bounty. Luckily, Mom is good at experimenting; so we enjoyed Blackberry Cobbler for supper.

Blackberry Cobbler

4 cups blackberries

1 2/3 cups sugar (divided)

Juice half lemon

2 cups Bisquick

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups milk

Cook down the blackberries in water with 1 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Mix together the Bisquick, vanilla, sugar, and milk. Pour in the bottom of a greased baking dish, spoon in the blackberry mixture, and top with pads of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly and the “crust” is golden brown. Serve warm with a heaping spoonful of vanilla ice cream.

Delta Brick

This past weekend, I was able to spend time with some of my favorite people from those college years. They are the people that met me as a shy freshman, molded me into what you see today, and keep me coming back to the now bustling Mississippi Delta over and over again.

Not only did I get to see some of the Tri Deltas that I spent many a day and night with drinking too much, staying up too late, and sometimes talking about absolutely nothing with, but I also spent some time Friday afternoon with my best friend’s two little girls.

When I was in graduate school, Addelyn was born and was the perfect little baby doll that we all got to play with, teach things, and learn things from. I taught her about The Family Stone while reading the classics to her, and she taught me that no matter how many times I crawl around on the floor for her, she’s not going to crawl herself until she’s ready. A few years later after I moved home, her little sister Avery came to play. This past October I got to spend a little time with this adorable blond haired, blue eyed girl. She’s sweet as pie and loves a good snuggle. Basically, I couldn’t drive fast enough Friday to get to Cleveland so I could see these two (and their mom and dad).

So what did we do on Friday? We baked a chocolate pie. Addelyn went to Kroger with us to pick up all the ingredients; we picked up Avery from daycare; and we headed home to get to work in the kitchen. They were eager to help; and somehow, I was patient enough to let them. Addelyn slowly stirred the chocolate and butter on the stove while Avery helped measure out the sugar and vanilla and even cracked an egg for me. They both helped me temper the eggs with the hot chocolate and pour the mixture into the crust. While they weren’t as patient for the baking to finish up, they did love the outcome that night after dinner.

To date, it’s one of the sweetest chocolate chess pies I’ve made; and I didn’t even have a bite.

A La Mode

I’m halfway to the Delta and can’t wait to see some flat land. I’m going to get to see some of my favorite people, have a fantastic day with my first borns (i.e. my best friend’s kids), and possibly find my way out to McCarty’s in the process.

However, let me share a little recipe with you for the weekend to give a try. We had some extra apples lying around (a.k.a. my Costco fetish paid off), so mom concocted this fabulous pie for us.

Quick Apple Pie.jpg

Quick Apple Pie

10 – 12 small apples, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 stick butter

Pre-made pie crusts

Line a pie plate with a pie crust, add the apple pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and top with pads of the butter. Top with another pie crust and cut vents in the top. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees (or until the crust in golden brown). Serve warm with ice cream.

So I’m podcasting away on my weekly drives and have gone through MANY true crime series in the past few weeks. However, I’ve been on the lookout for some more conspiracy-theory based or paranormal based series that would not be too creepy to keep me up at night. Luckily, one of my lovely co workers shared a couple of options with me, one of which I started this morning.

Limetown-logo-SQ-Large

Limetown

This fiction-based podcast is one that seems to be taking a turn towards The Giver. I’m 3 episodes in and rather hooked. Give it a listen, I’m sure I will have follow ups as I get further in and make up my own mind if this actually is fiction or not. You just never these days what people in the backwoods of the south are up to.

133649

S Town

This one. I burned through it quickly. I’ve also done some research to see what these people from backwoods Alabama looked like. Wow. Not what I had in mind while listening. I don’t want to give anything away, but what you start listening to and hearing turns quickly and becomes much more intense. You really have to listen to this one. It’s perfect for the dark and twisty.

Y’all. My mom can make a birthday cake. While the actual cake may be a box version of whatever yellow cake she likes, that icing is what makes it sing. It’s creamy, sweet, and perfectly chocolate.

This week, we celebrated my sweet cousin Kari’s entrance into her thirties. But, with two days in Baton Rouge this week, baking wasn’t in the cards for me. Thankfully, Mom came to the rescue and whipped up her signature cake.

IMG_1508

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

2/3 cup Crisco (butter or regular)

1-pound box powdered sugar

2 – 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 cup water (for mixing)

For a lighter chocolate, use 2 tablespoons of cocoa. For a darker chocolate, use 3 or 4. Beat all ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth.  More water can be added if needed.

I’ve been on the war path with Netflix and Hulu lately. I’m running out of series and finding myself diving deeper and deeper into the black whole of crime documentaries. I’ll be able to apply for a job as a profiler if I don’t take a break and find something light and funny to watch for a while.

However, here are a few good ones that I think you should add to your queue if you’re looking.

netflix-evil-genius-1200x426

Evil Genius (Netflix)

This one is dark. It’s about a crime back in the early 2000s involving a neck-brace bomb and a pizza guy. Trust me and watch it as soon as possible and then follow up with an episode or two of something like Sex and the City or replay the Royal Wedding from this past weekend. It will help lighten the mood.

18-0050_AE_The_First_48_Marcia_Clark_Investigates_2000x500_FIN2

Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48 (A&E App)

What I liked about this show is that it went hand-in-hand with my previous binge experience of all things O.J. Simpson a couple of years ago. When the first season of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson came out, I found myself devouring that miniseries and them eating up each and every documentary about The Juice that I could find. So, when I saw that the Marcia Clark was gearing up for her own series, I knew I would be hooked … and I was. Between the Casey Anthony story and the Billionaire Boys Club, I learned a good bit about crimes I heard referenced in news and other shows over the years. Give it a watch and see if you can solve these (mostly) unsolved mysteries.

Screen-Shot-2016-12-16-at-1.png

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

This show is unbelievable. I was counting down the days for season 2 after binging through season 1 in about a week. Wow. All I can say is wow. I have been nauseous, horrified, pissed off, and peeking between my fingers through the majority of season 2 and we are 5 episodes in. I appreciate the slower release so I can’t go through them all in a day’s time; however, by the time each episode ends, I’m mentally drained but I could take the beating of another few episodes just to find out what the hell is going to happen to June/Offred.

Ok. Let’s be honest. I’m currently preparing for the BIG royal wedding watching event of the year tomorrow morning. I’ll be rising and shining well before sunrise and flipping between E! and HBO to watch the big event. I will be curled up with the Beagles and a cup of tea.

However, if you want to jazz up your viewing party, try these delectable cucumber sandwiches that we had last weekend for the Mother’s Day Tea. They are pretty tasty and fit for a queen or princess or your own royal highness still in pajamas.

DSC_0070

Cucumber Sandwiches

2 cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 2-ounce package dry ranch dressing mix

1 loaf white bread

1/2 stick butter, softened

Lightly salt cucumber slices and put on a paper towel to drain. With a mixer, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix until combined. With rolling pin, lightly roll bread slices. Cut bread into rounds with 2-inch round cookie cutter. Spread each round with a thin layer of butter (to keep bread from becoming soggy), then with cream cheese mixture. Place a cucumber slice on each bread round and garnish with fresh dill.

 

Yes. The bathroom project is finished, and I finally have use of my carport again. However, there was one little project we completed during that renovation that I don’t think I’ve covered yet.

Outside of that bathroom (and the other bathroom and every other room in my house) sits a square hallway of sorts that houses my fantastic closet I claimed for myself, a floor furnace, and a utility closet that holds my vacuum cleaners (Yes, I have 2.). When I bought the house, there was very little overhead lighting throughout. Only one ceiling fan was present, and (let’s be honest) there was no way I was sleeping in that house without fans. There was little to no insulation in the attic; and since we have started renovating rooms, we’ve learned there is no insulation in the walls. So basically, this house was an easy bake oven before I moved in. Since, I’ve added a fan or two to each room (Yes, my living room has 2 ceiling fans.) and had insulation blown into the attic.

I mention all of this because this hallway also has a large, full-length mirror on one wall which I use to get ready each morning. I have a little stool in front that I perch on while fixing my hair and makeup and catching up on whatever episode of Fixer Upper I haven’t seen in at least a week. However, the only source of light in this room was a single wall sconce with a 60-watt bulb coming through a muted glass shade. It was brass, too, and not in a good-brass way. So, after adding all of this fabulous overhead can lighting to the bathrooms, I knew that one needed to replace this sconce so I wouldn’t leave my house looking like a MAC counter makeup artist on steroids.

You may have noticed the fixture in this before picture I posted last week:

IMG_0411
Before (Sconce in Hall)

See. It’s small.

I also went through to find a photo to show just how much (or how little) light it produced:

IMG_0112
There weren’t that many options; but if you look in the top right corner, that will give you an idea of the lighting I had before.

But now with the addition of the can light and covering up the hole from the sconce, I’ve got a pretty nice hallway if I do say so:

IMG_1331
After

Artwork:

Top print by Catherine Herrington of Hi Y’all! Made in the South

Bottom print by Ketchings Company of Natchez (I found this in my grandmother’s house. She worked for Ketchings in the 60s and 70s, so this particular print is out of print.)

Paint color: “New York City Winter” by Valspar

 

I’m going to Foodie Friday it a little differently this week. Instead of sharing a recipe with you, I’m going to invite you to come do some taste testing this weekend.

In case you didn’t know, it’s Mother’s Day this Sunday; and we are gearing up for our second annual Mother’s Day Tea (click that link to buy those tickets) at Magnolia Hall in downtown Natchez. Bring your mom, bring your sister, your brother, your best friend. We don’t care. We are celebrating mothers of all kinds.

From 2 pm until, we will be serving up a classic Southern spread of a high tea-worthy sandwiches, homemade bite-size cookies, cheese wafers from Over the Garden Wall, and MORE! With hot tea and cool lemonade, you and mom (or whoever) will have a grand ole time.

Here’s a snapshot of last year’s event:

Exactly 2 years and 1 day after finishing the master bathroom, we finished up the guest bathroom. I do need to brag on my contractors, tile gods, and design assistants (the parentals) for a second. They worked hard and long hours to put this room together. I am one lucky little girl to have them both and put up with my picky ways. Thanks for understanding my need for two matching bathroom and helping me keep the original character with the tubs and wall-mount sinks. Both bathrooms are exactly what I wanted, and I’m glad there is only one room left – the kitchen (insert slight panic attack). However, it’s nice to be a two-toilet house again.

Here’s a little play-by-play of before and afters:

Paint color: “New York City Winter” by Valspar

Shower tile: “Taupe” subway tile from J & J Carpet & Natural Stone

Floor tile: “Greenwich Village” brick tile from J & J Carpet & Natural Stone

Toilet and Shower Baskets: Southern Pipe & Supply

Shower Door Package and Shower Faucet Package: Delta Faucet

Artwork: “Portrait of a Juke Joint” by Will Jacks

This recipe for One Hundred Cookies was shared with us just this past Christmas, and I can safely say we have baked these enough to call them a part of the Guido family repertoire of recipes. Originally, we got the recipe from Annette Burns when she made them for a Christmas Open House. They are crunchy, yummy, and easily taken out in one bite. Watch them closely in the oven; they bake quickly.

IMG_0989

One Hundred Cookies

2 sticks margarine

1 cup cooking oil

2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 cup rice krispies

1 cup oats

1 cup coconut

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups flour

1 cup nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together the first 5 ingredients; then add the rest. Roll into small balls. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees

MjAxMi03YWZiMjJiMTg3NDFhYTUy

Well, I did it. I joined Costco. I mean, why the hell not? I’m in Baton Rouge at least every Monday, and who doesn’t love buying toilet paper and plastic wrap in bulk?

I made my first official visit as a member on Monday saying I was only going in to “check it out.” Thirty minutes later I was pushing a cart filled with cereal for 20, Vitamin Water for 40, and enough Ziploc bags to completely organize a small village’s produce for the freezer this summer. I think it was a fantastic investment of my time and even found a few favorites to pass along.

Apples Wrapped in Plastic

Duh! Why hasn’t Wal-Mart and the locals been offering this for fresh produce? I can’t wait to fill the area around my trash can under my sink with these contraptions to be used at some point in the future for God knows what. I can promise there will come a project when I get to say, “I have the exact storage container for that. Let me grab the 20 plastic apple crates I have in my cabinets.”

Corn Popped by the Thousands

This bag the size of a large L.L. Bean backpack is home to the best organic and lightly salted popcorn there is. It’s better than Skinny Pop; Orville can step aside; and I have no need to throw a bag in the microwave again. I am one of those people that considers a bag of popcorn a meal; so finding Popcornopolis’ Organic Nearly Naked being passed around as a sample was like hitting the actual $195 million lottery. Plus, it was only $3.47 for a 14-ounce bag. Your average microwaveable option is a little over 2 and a half ounces with most of that being left in the bottom of the bag as hard kernels. So far, this bag of goodness has provided one meal on the road; and you can barely tell I’ve made a dent.

You know those events you go to and there are plates and plates of pick up foods to munch on? Well, in Natchez, cheese straws, cheese wafers, and cheese rounds are a huge hit. Whether you like them on the spicier side or want a mild crunch with a pecan on top, these will be quite the crowd pleaser and an easy treat you can whip up and share with friends.

This particular recipe that my mom famously uses (Let’s be honest; she keeps a stock pile of these rolls in the freezer.) comes from Over the Garden Wall, the now out-of-print Natchez Garden Club cookbook. We are in the planning stages of having them reprinted; but until then, enjoy this snippet.

IMG_1161

Cheese Rounds

1 stick butter, room temperature

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

Tabasco or red pepper to taste

Dash paprika

Pecan halves, for garnish

Blend ingredients (minus the pecans) together. Divide mixture into two balls, then work each ball into long rolls about one inch thick. Wrap in wax paper and chill. Slice very thin. Place pecan half on top of each. Place on uncreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Rolls keep a long time in the refrigerator or can be frozen and refrigerated the night before slicing and baking.

 

IMG_1085
Our view from The Water Campus Friday night.

If you’ve been keeping up with our little bathroom project, you know I’ve been waiting for the pretty to get installed. This past Saturday, after a whirlwind trip back and forth to Baton Rouge for Country Roads’ amazing “Dinner on the Docks,” we put down the bathroom’s brick-esque floor. Not to mention, the subway tile in the shower was grouted last Wednesday to perfection. To be frank, I think it looks pretty damn good.

Today is the Foodie Fridays to end all Foodie Fridays. Not only is it our second annual Press Day Potluck at the Country Roads office, but also it is our second round in the Spring Series of Country Roads Supper Club in Baton Rouge. It will be a day filled with yumminess, and I get to play Instagram-maven at the Dinner on the Docks. Be sure to check out @countryroadsmag later to see what we are up to.

In the mean time, here is the treat I’m taking along with me for Press Day Potluck. I tested it out on my “squad” earlier in the week. It was a hit.

img_1036.jpg

Easy Peach Pie

1 pie crust

1 can sliced peaches, well drained

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Line the pie crust with peaches. Mix together the eggs, sugar, flour, butter, and vanilla and pour over the peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour until brown, depending on the oven. Let cool, slice, and enjoy.

We are getting there with this guest bathroom project on Auburn. With the shiplap finished and painted and the tile hung in the shower over the weekend, it’s starting to fill up with the pretty and look like what we’ve been planning since we finished the other bathroom 2 years ago. The floors are waiting; the grout is next; and with the shower door and toilet waiting patiently to be installed, I’ll be ready for guests sooner rather than later.

Let’s let the pictures tell the story instead of me. Take a look!

I love carbs. They are wonderful things that do awful things. But delicious, YES!

While I lived in the Delta, I came across a love for pasta salad that I had never really explored before. Most of the pasta salad recipes I had before college were of the rotini variety and doused in Italian dressing. In Cleveland, Mississippi, each lunch spot had its own recipe for pasta salad that made it hard for me to pick a destination for lunches outside of the campus cafeteria. Whether the lighter version from Crave, the walnut-studded tortellinis from A La Carte, or the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten from The Warehouse, I left satisfied and wishing for a to-go container for my mini fridge.

 

While still living in Cleveland, I decided to break down that pasta salad recipe from The Warehouse and create my own version to make at home for the roommates. Once we figured out how simple it was, I put my own twist on it and made it almost weekly. It made for a quick and easy lunch between class and my graduate assistantship on campus. Now, I whip out this recipe every now and then for a trip down memory lane for my tummy.

Tortellini Pasta Salad 

2 packages Buitoni tortellini pasta

1/2 bag baby spinach, chiffonaded

1/2 bottle Ken’s caesar dressing

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring pasta to a boil, brain, and cool. Chiffonade the spinach, add to large bowl with the pasta. Toss together with dressing, cheese, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate overnight and toss again with more dressing before serving.

 

So, I’ve been taking a break from podcasting to listen to some audio book versions of actual books on my shelves. While I love an actual hard-back book with actual pages to flip, I haven’t quite figured the safest way to read and drive to Baton Rouge on Mondays. So, through my stereo will have to work for now.

7163ibQp6bL.jpg

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill

This one has been on my Kennedy-designated book shelf for years. I keep overlooking it and finally decided to give it a download when I had a free credit on Audible. Written by Jackie Kennedy’s secret service agent while in the White House, Mrs. Kennedy and Me tells the deep and dark of the Kennedy tragedy and also the brighter moments the family shared while living in Washington. I learned a lot about my first born’s namesake and found myself extremely sad by the ending. Even though I knew it was coming, it just didn’t seem right; and it made me hate history. Give it a listen or read; it’s nice to see another side of Jackie O.

51RnhoVElWL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_

Man Repeller by Leandra Medine Cohen

Now this one I happened across because I follow the Man Repeller account on Instagram and didn’t really know its back story. However, anytime that a blurb about a book involves fashion, blogging, and a 20-something, I’m probably going to like it. It’s kind of funny I started this one right after a Jackie Kennedy biography of sorts, but they kind of fit together perfectly. Maybe Leandra is a modern-day Jackie with style that catches on and no one knows why. Maybe it’s like another version of He’s Just Not That Into You, and all women can equate singledom with what’s in our closets. Whatever the connection, I loved this book. She tells it like it is and has experienced some of the exact same issues I’ve faced over the past ten to fifteen years while in high school, college, and the beginnings of the working world. Hey, if blogging about what made her single worked for her, why can’t it work for me?

 

IMG_0616

We recently celebrated our inaugural edition of “Press Day Potluck” at the Country Roads office, and I decided to get industrious. I went for it with a recipe for baked Lemon-Blueberry Doughnuts. They were a hit. I haven’t tried again because, frankly, I think it will be a bad move for my waistline; but they are semi-easy and scrumptious. They came from a cute little blogger called “The Recipe Rebel.” She goes into detail about donut vs. doughnut, which I appreciated, and even included a video.

Baked Lemon-Blueberry Doughnuts

For dough:

1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 – 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, depending on your tastes

1 cup buttermilk or substitute regular milk

2 2/3 all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh blueberries

For glaze:

2 cups powdered icing sugar

1 – 2 teaspoons lemon zest

7 – 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and grease your doughnut pans with butter or non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine butter, oil and sugar and whisk until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and buttermilk and whisk until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk just until combined. Stir in blueberries. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter into a large disposable piping bag or freezer bag. Pipe batter once around each doughnut hole – the batter shouldn’t quite fill the hole as they’ll expand and rise. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from the doughnut pan to cool completely.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl (not too deep as you’ll want to be able to dip your doughnuts), combine sugar, zest, and 6 tablespoons of juice or milk. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid if needed. You want your glaze to be thin enough to evenly coat your doughnuts, but thick enough that it will set and become dry to the touch. When doughnuts are completely cool, dip tops of doughnuts into the glaze and overturn so the glaze runs down the sides. Set aside for the glaze to set.