This is the dip recipe to end all dip recipes. It’s yummy. It has veggies. It has cheese, mayo, and sour cream. It has ranch seasoning. It’s served warm. It’s perfect for any gathering at any time of the year. We had it originally at a baby shower and quickly decided to find a recipe and try it as soon as possible. Thanks, Pinterest.

Black-eyed Pea Dip

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)

2 16-ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 envelope buttermilk ranch mix

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Chop the onion and sauté it in butter until translucent. Mix the sour cream, mayo, and ranch mix in a large bowl. Then, add everything else to the bowl and mix in your sautéed onions. Pour into a baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes. Serve with tortilla or pita chips while warm.



Yesterday on my trip to Baton Rouge, there wasn’t much of a view during the drive down. It will still darkish from springing forward an hour in the wee hours Sunday morning; and to be honest, I was a little caught up in the final episode of season 1 of Serial. But on the drive back to town, the sights of spring were everywhere. I went towards campus before leaving Baton Rouge to pick up a little lunch, and the azaleas blooming were so perfect. As I made my way around St. Francisville, it was amazing to see just how far ahead an hour south of Natchez can actually be. Most of the bushes are completely open already and some have actually started to tinker out. What I did notice is how each patch of azaleas is treated different. Some yards have precisely manicured hedges of the same color bush all throughout the yard. Others let them grow wild almost around the bases of huge Live Oaks. My favorite are the houses that treat an azalea hedge as a 6-foot fence of sorts around the property so you only get a glimpse when passing by. I actually pulled into Afton Villa Gardens to take a few pictures of the driveway. It looked like something straight from an episode of The Joy of Painting with a bunch of happy little trees, bushes, and sky.

When I bought my house, I added a row of azaleas to the front of my house; and last year when I chopped down my 100-foot pines, I added a few at the foot of my driveway. I plan to add more this year and really make a mound of blooms in the future. Even though it’s a tad cooler this week, it helps liven up the senses when so much color is surrounding you.


I love a strawberry; and by that, I mean that I just like strawberries. I usually don’t care for strawberry cake. I have a hate for strawberry ice cream. I don’t even really care for strawberry flavored candy. Just give me the actual berry.

That all changed this week when my mom made this strawberry cake she found on Southern Living’s Facebook page. It’s light but decadent. It’s sweet, but you can taste the fresh lemon juice throughout it. It’s perfect in every way possible. It needs to be on your Easter menu (or your weekend menu) now.

Strawberries and Cream Sheet Cake

For cake:

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 tablespoons strawberry-flavored gelatin

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries



For frosting:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup sugar, divided

2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1 drop pink food coloring gel (optional)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating 4 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.

Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients; add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in strawberries.

Grease (with shortening) and flour a 13-inch by 9-inch pan; line with parchment paper, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over long sides. Lightly grease paper with cooking spray. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Lift cake from pan, using parchment paper sides as handles. Invert cake onto wire rack; gently remove parchment paper. Cool completely (about 1 hour).

For frosting, beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth; add strawberries and food coloring (if desired); beat until blended. Beat cream and juice at medium speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold half of cream mixture into cheese mixture; fold in remaining cream mixture. Use immediately.

I can remember that the months of March and April always gave me hives in high school and college. Everything in Natchez seems to sandwich into those two months and leaves very little time to breath; however, we are used to this lifestyle. So, we take it gladly each year that tourists still come to town and want to know more about our little hamlet.

Luckily, this year will be condensed into about a two full weeks of balls to attend, pageants to watch, and hunts to perform in for this Guido family. While Aimee and I may not be in the Tableaux anymore, my two kids sure are. This year, we are also extremely excited to welcome our “little sister”, Julia Rachel Kuehnle into the royal family since she will be serving as Natchez Garden Club’s queen this year. My how time is flying!

So, between cocktails parties before Tableaux, seating guests into the boxes each night, and wrangling the Beagles before their showtime, I’m going to be one tired puppy come April.

I feel like we have tried every way imaginable to cook fish. Lucky me when I was proofing the March edition of Country Roads that I found a new recipe that seemed simple and all of the ingredients were a quick trick to Red Stick Spice away.


This recipe for Cast-iron Catfish worked perfectly with the fresh Alaskan Halibut we had in the freezer from our great-white North friends. The recipe called for some interesting ingredients that I’m excited to try in other recipes, too. The blood orange avocado oil will soon be used when roasting Brussels sprouts. The Chackbay seasoning blend will go great in the flour mix for other fried fish dishes to come.

Follow the link above in “Cast-iron Catfish” to see this easy recipe and head over to Red Stick Spice’s site to order some yummy treats!

I think everyone knows I’m a fan of HGTV. I’ve always been a follower of Trading Spaces and While You Were Out; but now with Fixer Upper, Hometown, and Property Brothers, I’m pretty much glued to that particular channel.

Luckily, I have quite the fixer upper of my own and have slowly been going room by room and inch by inch changing, re-changing, and changing again the look of my house. Some rooms were easy: paint, floors, lighting. However, some rooms needed (and still need) some elbow grease and a budget. Two springs ago, we tackled my “master” bath. Since there isn’t a master suite in my house on Auburn, I dedicated one of the two identical bathrooms (the one with actually 6 more inches of width) as my own. After shiplapping a wall, subway tiling the shower, and bricking the floors, I had a bathroom that Joanna Gaines would gladly call her own.


Don’t worry, I’ll admit that I was a bit of a design diva throughout the process. This was a DIY project that my entire family helped with in some form or fashion throughout the 2-month timeline. Dad was the “Chip Gaines” of it all with his crowbar and nail gun within arms reach at all times. I did throw him for a loop with the niche I just had to have in my shower. I’d seen them on all of the renovation shows and really thought it would be ideal in my shower. No harm, no foul. Right? No. Major harm. Major foul. We were able to tile the entire shower within a couple of days, but that damned niche caused weeks of turmoil. There was thinking. There was Pinteresting. There were times we were all thrown from the premises so that Dad could think it through on his own. I have to say it turned out perfectly, and every time I grab my shampoo I think “Hmm, that’s a might fine niche.” 


With bathroom two on the horizon by the end of March, I’m excited to get to tiling again and see what this version of shiplap, subway, and brick looks like. I have given up the niche in the guest bath. Sorry, future guests, baskets will have to do.

I tell you what. I love breakfast food. Any kind and any excuse, I’m going to go for it on a menu versus an actual lunch or dinner option. I’m known to order brunch when everyone else is ordering burgers. I’ll ask for a side of pancakes instead of bacon or sausage. I love my waffle iron and think that you can never have enough syrup on top.

Here is a hash brown casserole that is a go to for brunch menus we put together and special dinners that need a really gooey starch.


Delmonico Potatoes

2 pounds Ore-Ida frozen Hash Browns (1 bag)
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 ounces)
1/2 stick butter, cut into small cubes
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1 container sour cream (16 ounces)

In a large bowl, mix defrosted potatoes, sour cream, soup, scallions, and cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer ingredients into a casserole dish, and place small cubes of butter over the mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half or until golden brown.

Sprigs of Spring

I think we have all been a little skittish to say that Spring is finally here; but after several days of warmth, humidity, and a little pollen on top, I think it’s safe to say it’s here. Now, I know that we are due an Easter cold snap thanks to our thunder in early February, but that I can handle. It’s more ice, snow, and need for layers upon layers that I’m ready to get rid of. It’s time for a little sun on my cheeks and saying goodbye to sweater weather!

Japanese Magnolia

My rides to and from Baton Rouge have been tricking me lately to think that Spring has been here for weeks on end. The campus at LSU has been covered with Japanese Magnolia blossoms for weeks, and mine in the backyard on Auburn are just starting to burst open. It’s always been a late bloomer, but I’ve been waiting to see if the cold snap got it or not.

Unfortunately, my inevitable Spring sinus infection has hit this week, too. I spent most of Sunday doped up on Benadryl and Tylenol trying to make the pressure behind my eyes go away. I guess I’ll just have to live with it for a little while longer; I mean, the real pollen hasn’t even started to collect yet. I haven’t seen any streaks of missing yellow in my carport, so there’s still that to look forward to.


Since I was a little dazed on my drive yesterday morning and I have a couple more days of travel this week, I decided to put the e-books to rest for a little while and try a new podcast. I’ve been told several times since I’ve started listening to different ones on the drive to give “Dirty John” a try. Well, after 4 episodes on my drive Monday, I’m hooked. I did do a little digging, too. I had to put a face to the name behind all of this craziness and was surprised how normal he looked. I guess that goes to show you that you just never know and to never judge a book by its cover.

Wedding photo from December 2014

I mean, how much more normal can you get? She must have not been a fan of the Google search yet or didn’t use Facebook to the best of its abilities before tying the knot after a few months of knowing him from Oh, well, I’m sure by the end of the week, I’ll be finished with this season and looking for more dirt. In the mean time, keep those suggestions coming! I’m new to all of this, remember?

It’s Lent again, and I can safely say that I will be eating quite a bit of white perch over the next 40 days. First of all, each Friday will be serving a fresh catch; but us Guidos are also giving up a bunch of good stuff for the season. I’m giving up bread of all sorts, which will only lead to an overload of carbs on Easter Sunday. Mom and Dad are also giving up bread but adding in sweets and fried foods, too. That should be really interesting. However, here is a recipe we tried a few weeks ago for Dad’s birthday dinner that I can’t wait to try again over rice instead of pasta.


Baked Perch in Lemon Cream Sauce

4 fresh filets, skinless and boneless

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoon shallots or scallions, finely chopped

Fresh parsley and lemon slices, to serve

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees. Place fish in baking dish. Ensure the fish isn’t crammed in too snugly. Sprinkle both sides of the filets with salt and pepper. Place butter, cream, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a sauce pan. Whisk together until thickened. Sprinkle fish with shallots, then pour the sauce over the top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked. Remove from the oven and transfer fish to serving plates. Spoon over sauce, and garnish with parsley and lemon if using.


I’ve always been an avid reader and someone who religiously buys books versus online options, such as ebooks and so forth. However, when you find yourself in a car for about five hours every week, you have to give in and listen to a good book versus actually cracking open a hard back and settling into that papery smell.


Enter, the Audible app. I know. I’m probably late to the party. Most people have been doing this for years; I just didn’t want to give in. Alas, I’m actually enjoying it. I like the little opening promo at the beginning of each book that sounds like an old-school advertisement for Paul Harvey’s radio shows or some type of infomercial for Citracal. I’ve already finished 2 audio books this year, and I actually think I may have retained more by listening rather than reading. Sometimes, when I read a book, I will come to pages later and realize I have to start over. When I was writing professionally, I had too many sentences, paragraphs, and themes floating around in my head fighting with the words on the page in front of me. This way, that’s all that’s floating around up there except for a few moments of road rage that can’t be avoided mid morning on the way to and from Baton Rouge.

Anyway, here is what I’ve listened to so far and started up on my way home yesterday:


Scrappy Little Nobody: I love Anna Kendrick and have thought for a long time that we could be friends in real life. Well, listening to this book, it was confirmed. We are sisters from another mister, best friends forever, and (I can only hope) bound to run into each other while she’s filming Pitch Perfect whatever the next installment will be. She’s witty, sarcastic, and doesn’t have time for bull shit, which I appreciate.


Grace: A Memoir: I love fashion anything. I’ve watched The September IssueIn Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, and The First Monday in May too many times to count. I love a good documentary on different fashion designers and house and who wore what and who is dressing who and so forth. I am addicted to Project Runway and House of DVF. I was sad when The Fashion Fund didn’t show up for another season on Amazon. I may not be able to afford it, but I damn well will know all about it in the mean time. Grace Coddington is a figure that shows up in most all of these documentaries, and (like Anna Kendrick) she doesn’t have time for nonsense. So when her memoir showed up on Audible, I snatched it up and started listening. Some people will find parts boring; but if you’ve spent as much time as I have watching endless documentaries on fashion throughout the ages, you’ll be able to plug faces with names finally and personalities with people who never really stood out before.


The Wife Between Us: I started this one yesterday on the way home after finishing Grace. So far, it’s pretty good; and if it’s anything like Gone Girl like the reviews said, I’ll be hooked in no time.

Guess what. Next week, right after Mardi Gras, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. I’m not a fan; I’m sure that’s a surprise to all you happy people. I like to enjoy that particular day drowning in chocolate, sour candy, and red wine to top it all off. So, for all of those out there not celebrating Valentine’s Day with someone special, spend it with this recipe. They are basically glorified brownies, but I’m in full support of whatever they are. Mom recently made a batch that I took down to the Baton Rouge office for everyone to kick their Monday off with. I think they were a hit. When I left at noon, only a couple were left. Here’s a yummy hint; zap a couple in the microwave before gobbling them down.

Fudge Cake 

1 cup unsalted butter

4 1-ounce squares semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

Dash of kosher salt

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place butter and chocolate in a large bowl and microwave on high until completely melted, about 1 minute and stirring every 20 seconds. Add granulated sugar, and stir until combined. Cool 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and stir until blended after each addition. Fold in the flour and salt. Stir in chopped pecans and vanilla extract. Coat a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, allowing 4 to 5 inches to extended over the sides. Coat parchment paper with cooking spray. Pour cake mixture into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick comes cleanly out of the center, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Lift cake from pan using the parchment paper sides as handles, and cool completely. Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar before serving.


(Featured in Southern Living from Elizabeth Heiskell’s What Can I Bring?)

I have lived in my little house on Auburn for a little over 5 years now, and I have slowly transformed as many parts of it into a smart home as I possibly can. For a house that was built in the 1950s, that’s quite the accomplishment and challenge all at the same time. Wiring is usually an issue. Door jams and locks aren’t usually ready for automated features to be added. Don’t even get me started on the thinness of my windows and what keeping heat in this house has been like this winter. But, for those looking to add a few of these smart features to your house, here are the ones that I’m using to help keep my home secure and download as many apps possible to my iPhone, too.

Nest Learning Thermostat

This one is fun for me. I recently upgraded my security system so that I could include one of these bad boys in my house and run it through my Vivint app. Now, I did download the Nest app, too, because I can study the schedules of my Nest Thermostat and help keep it at the temperature I want it to be. The best part about this is that if I leave the house in a rush and forget to turn the air up and kick the heat back down, I can easily get into the app and make that change. But this thing is so smart that it tracks my whereabouts through my iPhone’s GPS and can register when I’m not at home (or even in town) and go into energy-saving mode. When I start getting closer to my house, it will start to heat or cool my house so it’s ready when I get in the door. Also, if I wake up super cold at night (which rarely happens. I have two space-heating Beagles.) I can reach over and adjust the temperature from my comfy bed. Geniuses these days.

Keyless Locks

Now this one really helps in a pinch. I’ve had the keypad locks on my doors at home for several years now. Not only can I unlock my house without fishing for my keys but also can unlock my house from my phone. The ones I have on my doors are connected to my security system and work perfectly for when I’m out of town and need to let the parents in or if someone is visiting from out of town and needs to get in and out while I’m not home. Recently, we’ve had a bit of a crime spree around town, and we thought it might be a good idea to add one to my carport door where my laundry room is. I didn’t necessarily want to order another one through Vivint (They can get pricey that way.), and I recently have gotten onto the Amazon Prime bandwagon. (I know. I know. What took me so long?) So, I found a knob version of the keyless/keypad entry. It was here in two day and fairly (Thanks, Aimee, for the power tools.) to install. Once again, those geniuses.


Ring Security Light and Camera

This one is also new to the Guido smart home. I really needed another way to watch the house other than the security system with keyless/keypad locks, a smart thermostat, and (OH) wall-socket plugins that I can turn on and off from my phone. So, we ordered this security camera/motion light/Big Brother. Right now, I’m mainly catching birds that are ready for their close ups or neighborhood dogs and cats making themselves at home. Hopefully, the alerts I get saying, “A person was detected” never actually ends up being anyone besides Mom or Dad; but at least I can listen in on their conversations, take their pictures, or use the two-way speaker to tell them to “get off my lawn”.


Ok. Confession time. I’m a big shopper. I love all kinds of shopping, too. Clothing. Home decor. Re-sale shops. Groceries. You name it, I’ll shop for it. Now that I travel to Baton Rouge each week, I am able to find an easy excuse to hit a store or two before I leave town. One of my favorites that I’ve discovered thanks to my co-workers is Red Stick Spice Company. This place is everything that a person that loves to cook or is thinking about starting to cook needs in his or her life.

It’s such an experience. You walk in and are instantly hit with the strong, but welcoming, smell of spices, teas, and ingredients waiting to be tried, tested, and taken home. You walk the aisles slowly taking in every kind of salt, pepper, sugar, spice, and blend you can possibly imagine. I had no idea that were so many different salts. Grey sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, Hawaiian red and black salts, and (one that I can’t wait to figure out what to use it for) merlot salt. Don’t even get me started on the tea options. There is a tea for everything from sore throats to stomach issues, and there is one in particular I think I should buy in bulk (just in case) a Hangover Tea. It helps with nausea and such after a little too much vino. Who would have known?

The first time I went, I was overwhelmed. I ended up with several small sample packages of rubs and blends for fish for Dad to try on white perch, a couple of bags of granulated honey, and teas for Mom and I to give a shot. I realized very quickly that I didn’t get everything I needed. So back I went the next day before heading home for Christmas to invest in a flavored olive oil (of which they have so many options), more tea, and their home version of a ranch dressing packet for my Mississippi Roast for Christmas Eve dinner.

I went back a couple of weeks ago for some more teas to give a try (I probably should do a post on those alone); and while I was there I found this packaged mix for a ten bean soup. YUM! The package suggests adding a pound of sausage, but I had leftover roast in the freezer for Christmas Eve, so we threw that in at the end for some extra flavor and heartiness.

This one is delicious, so click through the link above to order your own (or let me know if you want me to pick one up on my next visit).


Ten-bean Soup with Roast Beef

1 package Ten-bean Soup (Red Stick Spice)

1 – 2 pounds roast beef, cooked and shredded

1 can beef broth

3 cups water, divided

While the directions on the package explain using a Dutch oven of sorts, I went for the crock pot (let’s be honest; that makes it easier and tastier). I did soak the beans in cold water for about 30 minutes before adding the seasoning packet and roast beef; however, I think you could skip that step, put everything in at once, and add a full can of beef broth at the beginning. I did add about 3 cups of water throughout the cooking process. It cooked on high for about 6 hours and stayed warm in the crock pot for another 1 or 2 until we were ready to eat. It could have used a little more water to thin it out, but it was the consistence of a hearty stew that could have used a little rice to go along with it.


I’m a binger. I binge on Netflix. I binge on Hulu. I binge on iTunes. I binge on every app I can download and connect my DirecTV Now app to on my Apple TV. If it’s watchable, I’m probably going to binge it.


Some of my favorite shows that I’ve watched (or am watching) are:

  • Breaking Bad: I started this series WAY after it had started. I spent all of college with no idea that this show was such a good show to get addicted to. I had spent most of those years watching Intervention or doing the snail-mail version of Netflix to get DVDs of movies that weren’t that great. When I moved home and started really getting into Netflix, I found Walter White and fell in love with it. Now, the version on Netflix has a little less editing than the AMC version. I actually started watching it right after the series finale aired, so the real reason I got into it was because I had read a review about the ending (SPOILER) and the death of Heisenberg. So, I watched it within a month or two; and now, I watch it anytime I happen to catch a marathon on Sundance or AMC. Sometimes, I open it up on Netflix and randomly scroll to an episode, watch the darkness unfold, and root for the meth chef. heisenberg-poster-irina-march
  • The Office: This, too, was a show that I started at the end of the series. It was in deed my first binge experience when I first bought my Apple TV in 2010.I actually timed my binge to where I finished all the other season and shows at the actual night of the series finale. I love Jim, and I want one of my own. I think that Michael is probably a real human somewhere. It’s something that I now follow fan pages on Facebook that play bloopers reels that I find too funny and laugh at a little too hard. flat,800x800,075,f
  • The Great British Baking Show: I’ve watched every season. I have LOVED every season. I’d watch them all again gladly. There is actually a spin off called The Big Family Cooking Showdown on Netflix that may actually be better than the original. (To be honest, I kind of fell in love with one of the contestants.) Watch them both. The-Great-British-Bake-Off-Illustration
  • Big Love: Y’all. This show is crazy. I have to admit though; I am big into watching anything that has to do with Mormons, polygamy, Scientology, or cults. Now, I’m not one of those that gets sucked in, sends all of my money to some crazy person, and ends up brainwashed. I find it hysterical that people can actually be brainwashed. So, the more I know, the more likely I am to stay like I am — a non-practicing Catholic that is thankful for Mother Mary. Big Love is on the HBO app, and the ending made me extremely sad. original
  • Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Thank you, Netflix, for putting this show on my rotation. I started it over the latest ice storm to lighten the load of Law and Order: SVUBlue Bloods, and Chicago PD that my parents had playing nonstop. Quickly, I was into it. They are 15 minute episodes that are hilarious, lots of talking, and an opportunity for me to learn more about people that I love to binge on other shows like Sex and the CityMaster of None, and SNL. If you need something to watch in short spurts, add to your watchlist today. My favorite episode so far was with Sarah Jessica Parker in a station wagon.

With the Super Bowl coming up, why not have a soup-er bowl of our own with some of our family favorites (and a few new ones, too)?

This week, I’m highlighting a recipe for Baked Potato Soup that my mom found in a local women’s group cookbook, Working for a Cure. This is an easy and yummy new take on potato soup that has a little hint of flavor you just can’t get out of a boiled potato. It’s thick. It’s chunky. It’s everything you want on a cold winter’s day.

Give this one a shot and let me know some of your favorite soup recipes. We’re always looking for something new to try.


Baked Potato Soup

4 large baking potatoes

2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

6 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 8-ounce package sour cream

4 green onions, chopped

Wash potatoes and prick several times with fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until soft. After cooling, cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp and reserve; discard shells. Melt butter in Dutch oven over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk. Cook over medium heat until think and bubbly. Stir constantly or it will stick. Stir in potatoes, salt, pepper, cheese, bacon, and green onions. Cook until heated but do not boil. Stir in sour cream. Can be served with additional cheese, bacon, and green onions on top. If soup is too thick, thin with more milk after all ingredients have been mixed together.


Yes. I’m a Beagle mom, and my two kids couldn’t be anymore different if they actually tried to be. Jackie, the eldest (and the one screaming in the above picture), is relatively laid back, well mannered, easy to handle, and minds to a T. At the same time, she is a hunter (of birds and squirrels), is upset fairly easily by passersby, hates all things healthy and only likes French fries and such, and has a very loud “bugle” that she enjoys singing. Now, Jo, the youngest, is quite the opposite. She doesn’t bark; and if she does, something is majorly wrong. She is pretty calm but still has puppy-spurts of energy, has no idea what manners actually are, has a large appetite, loves all fruits and vegetables, and never misses an opportunity to snuggle.

When someone refers to them as dogs, I’ll admit that I’m a tad offended. They are as close to children as I plan to have right now; and to be honest, they act better than any human child I’ve ever come across in a restaurant, store, or in the car. They don’t interrupt me while watching TV or talking with people. (Now, when I talk on the phone, Jackie tends to talk, too; but I can always let her outside to bugle it out.) They may wake me up in the middle of the night, but it usually only lasts for 10 minutes or so before we are back in bed. When we go to a pet-friendly restaurant, they both sit quietly waiting for little bits of whatever I’m having and never make a peep. They ride in the car with ease and usually fall fast asleep before we get to our destination.

No, I wouldn’t trade them for humans for the world.


I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of dips of all kinds. Hot dips. Cold dips. Meaty dips. Veggie dips. If you can dip a chip, cracker, or vegetable in it, I’m most likely going to try it. Last Friday, a group of us girls got together to enjoy a pizza night at home in front of the fire; and I volunteered to bring another dip to try. Hopefully you can give it a try at an upcoming Super Bowl party?


Man Rotel

1 pound mild sausage

1 can rotel tomatoes

1 package cream cheese

Brown and drain the sausage. Add the drained can of rotel tomatoes and mix into the sausage. Add the cream cheese in pieces and melt together. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

First, a tree update. It didn’t make it. Two days after posting my last blog about how well it was doing and how I was going to help it grow, I walked into the living room to find it leaning drastically towards the floor. So, out it went with the trash.


Now, I’ve been traveling to and from Baton Rouge for a month now for my new job with Country Roads; and yes, I’ve been listening religiously to “Up and Vanished” just like I said I would. On Monday morning, I finished the tale of Tara Grinstead. Twenty-four episodes later I was convinced I knew exactly who killed her and who was taking the fall for it. These two that were arrested (Ryan Duke and Bo Dukes – no relation) have quite the story and so many missing pieces. You have to go listen if you haven’t. I don’t want to spoil the not-so-finalized ending you’re left with.


In the mean time, I’ve started up a new podcast. It’s by the same producers of “Up and Vanished”. It’s called “Atlanta Monster“, and it’s all I can do not to jump ahead and search Google far and wide for missing information. I’ll keep you posted on what I think. I’m only through Episode 2 as of today.



Recently, I received a little note of thanks from Natchez-extraordinaire Kathleen Bond for a recipe I shared with readers a few months back. Here it is:

Kudos to Jennie Guido for sharing her fabulous family recipe for
breakfast casserole. Its flexibility made it so easy to customize to
my personal taste (sautéed spinach and mushrooms on the first try). I
made two lasagna pans of it for our annual Christmas brunch – and
greedily portioned out the little bit that was left over to enjoy all
by myself over the next few days. I’m now contemplating what variation
I’ll try next – and I guarantee it won’t wait for a party – it will
get divvied up and frozen in single meal-sized bits for me to pull out
whenever I want a special breakfast treat in the new year. Maybe with
some awesome Louisiana strawberries on the side!

It’s definitely a popular recipe that we have used during a couple of different functions and luckily are left with plenty of left overs to enjoy for days to come. Mom found the original in Flavors of Natchez and tweaked it to meet our needs. Whether veggies or meats, this breakfast casserole should be first on your list of recipes to try in 2018. Give it a go with your favorite ingredients, and let me know how it turns out. We are always looking for new variations to try.


Breakfast Sausage Casserole

1 pound medium or hot sausage, browned and drained
Fresh vegetables of choice, chopped and sautéed
8 eggs, well beaten
1 large onion, chopped (We used green onions.)
12 slices white bread, quartered
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Cook sausage until browned or vegetables and onions until tender. Drain the drippings from the sausage except for about 2 tablespoons for the onions. Sauté the onions, if using sausage, until tender. In a greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, layer the ingredients. Begin with half of the bread, then half of the sausage, half of the onion, and half of the cheese; repeat layers. Beat together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and dry mustard; then pour over layers. Cover and refrigerate overnight before cooking. When ready to bake, bring to room temperature. Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. This recipe serves 10 to 12.

Christmas Tree 2017 (Pictured in early January 2018)

I have a Christmas tree that won’t kick the bucket, and I’m not about to take it down before it starts dropping. I was opening the blinds last week and noticed these little down nodules on the tips of the branches (as seen in the picture above). Now, they didn’t worry me because I’ve seen these before. My tree from 2014 did the same exact thing. However, I let it go well into January of 2015 and finally was forced (by my mother) to take it down and move it outside. I had neighbors tell me they used to replant their trees as children, cut it down again, and bring it back inside the following Christmas. I was determined to let mine grow that year outside in the stand for as long as possible, but a frost got it finally in March.

Christmas Tree 2014 (Pictured in late January 2015)

You see, those little nodules sprout off the ends of the limbs and continue on as new growth. It’s quite the site on my white, flocked tree. They are soft to the touch and fragrant as all get out. I’m not going to be fooled into taking it down too early this year or letting it freeze. I’m going to see if the damned thing will grow all year long. I think I’ll plant it in my tomato pot out back and see what happens next. So, if you drive down Auburn Avenue, don’t be alarmed by the Christmas tree in the window when February rolls around. It’s just getting started.


I’m not much of a baker, but I love to bake this particular pie. It’s simple, yummy, and comes out perfect 90% of the time. This week, I was determined to have one baked up and delivered for a friend’s birthday happy; however, I did encounter the worst one I’ve ever put into the oven. It cracked completely around the edge of the pie; and usually I’m used to a single crack in the middle, which no one ever seems to mind. But, out of this continual crack, the insides started bubbling out like an active volcano. So, that one went to the testers (also know as the parentals). But I will say that my second attempt came out perfectly without a crack, which has never happened before. So, Happy Birthday, Chelsea! It was quite the pie to complete this week.

Chocolate Chess Pie

1 graham cracker crust

1 stick unsalted butter

1 ounce square semi-sweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Melt the butter and chocolate together. Pour into a bowl and whisk together with the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Pour the filling into the crust, and bake in a 325-degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the top is set. (It’s best served warm!)

I’m sure you’re aware, but it’s cold. On my morning commute to Baton Rouge this morning, I watched the temperature bump around 16, 17, and 18 degrees until I hit the interstate. Gladly, once I got to the office, it was a crisp 23 degrees. Woo Hoo.

However, I stayed entertained the entire ride with a new adventure for myself — podcasts. In fact, it was my first podcast experience to date. I did a little research over the holidays, found a couple of good ones to add to my library, and decided at 6:45 a.m. today to give “Up and Vanished” a try.


Y’all. I’m hooked. We are a family that enjoys crime dramas on T.V., and I love a good thriller or legal movie to hunker down with on Netflix or iTunes. We watch Law & Order: SVU and NCIS (of all variations). I loved Making a MurdererThe People vs. OJTrue Detective (which has FINALLY been confirmed for a 3rd season), Breaking Bad, and (most recently) Law & Order: True Crime (The Menendez Murders). I always say we are best when fighting crime from the sofa. And today was no different. I am in the middle of fighting crime with the help of Payne Lindsey in 30-minute spurts. I was actually able to get into the 4th episode of the tale of Tara Grinstead this morning. So, of course, I’m not finished with this cold case yet; but I did want to do a little Googling on the subject. I wanted to be able to put faces with names. Being an English major, you would think I don’t need to see a visual since my imagination alone should be able to paint the picture. However, I loved when I finally got to match faces (and the correct pronunciation) with the names of Harry Potter. So, I found Tara’s “missing” poster:


Then, I followed the website on the poster and found several videos to help connect some dots from the podcast. However, I’m only halfway through the entire season after listening to it going and coming home from Baton Rouge. I do have my suspensions on who killed this missing beauty queen, but I think this may be a job for Internal Affairs to solve. Seems fishy. Give it a listen when you need something to keep you occupied while riding in the car.

As most of you know, I have an extreme love for writing. It was my major. It was my profession. I need an outlet for myself. At some point in college, I started a Tumblr account, which you can read here; but that was years ago (and I can’t remember my log in information). So, onto bigger and better blogs.

Just a few tips about what you will see here. Mostly tried recipes. Mostly Beagle-oriented stories. Mostly nonsense. I like travel (just not the plane ride). I enjoy shopping (too much).  I’m a bit of a grammar police, so you can expect to see several links to I am about to really get into podcasts (Monday morning meetings in Baton Rouge call for something more stimulating during the drive than my sing-a-longs with Taylor and Adele).

So, bear with me.