Family, friends and good food are the foundations of our lives. We celebrate with them, mourn with them and nothing can bring us comfort more than a steaming bowl of soup or a slice of chocolate cake except for the love of our family and friends...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


A bowl of Heirloom Tomatoes

This year I made our favorite jam with heirloom tomatoes that we grew; I combined yellow, orange and red tomatoes and my jam is beautiful dark amber color. Next batch I hope I have enough all yellow. Our house smelled wonderful (almost like Christmas Wassail) as I was making the jam and my daughter said it was strange because it was 100 degrees outside and it smelled like winter time!

I use good brand spices such as Spice Island or McCormick when making this and recommend that you do the same; I found a Saigon Cinnamon that is by Spice Island that smells like red hots and has a wonderful flavor, try it the next time you buy Cinnamon.

This jam is wonderful on a block of cream cheese served with crackers! But more on that later….

3 cups prepared tomatoes (about 2¼ pounds)
1½ teaspoon grated lemon zest/peel
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4½ cups sugar
1 box powdered pectin
¼ cup lemon juice

To Prepare Fruit: Wash firm-ripe tomatoes. Scald, peel and chop tomatoes. I chop what I can but the majority of my tomatoes I put in a piece of muslin and squeeze the juice through, that way I don’t have any seeds in my jam.

Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Measure 3 cups tomatoes into a sauce pot and add lemon peel, allspice, cinnamon and cloves.

To Make Jelly: Place prepared fruit into a sauce pot. Add lemon juice. Measure sugar and set aside. Stir powdered pectin into prepared fruit. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Add sugar all at once. Stir and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Then boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Pour hot jam immediately into hot, sterile canning jars, leaving ¼-inch head space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process for 5 minutes in boiling water bath.

Yield: About 5 -6 half-pint jars

Spiced Tomato Jelly/jam on FoodistaSpiced Tomato Jelly/jam

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


A few of my Florida cookbooks.

Although I have not lived in Florida in almost 30 years, I still crave fresh citrus and citrus infused food. This recipe evolved from my husband's family sauce and it is wonderful on both grilled chicken or pork. Please if at all possible buy locally grown citrus.

32 ounces catsup
1/2 stick of butter
Juice of 1 lime
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/2 Jar Orange Marmalade
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 ounces spicy mustard
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar

Heat butter, sugar, juice and vinegar over medium heat. Add rest of the ingredients and cook over low heat 10 to 15 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking. May be frozen.


½ cup chopped red onion
½ can black beans, drained
1 small mango, peeled and diced
1 small can pineapple tidbits, drained
½ T of McCormick's Caribbean Jerk seasoning
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded, and finely chopped
2 T dried cilantro
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup olive oil

2 T olive or vegetable oil
½ to 1 tsp of  McCormick's Caribbean Jerk seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste 
2 boneless chicken breasts

Mix first 9 ingredients, set aside. This mixture may be made up ahead of time at home, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. I usually freeze the rest of my beans to use in soup, etc.

Cooking Directions:

Combine 1/4 cup of oil and seasoning, brush oil on both side of meat, place meat on prepared grill and cook over med-high heat, brushing with oil during cooking. Cook about 15 minutes until no longer pink. Serve with salsa, and a rice dish or fesh salad.

*Recipe may be doubled to feed 4.


This recipe has been handed down through 4 generations of my family. It was a favorite summer treat that both my mother and grandmother whipped up. It may be used as either a salad or a dessert. You can also use canned peaches, pears or other mixtures of fruit. Serve it on a crisp leaf of lettuce for a wonderful presentation.

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
3 1/2 cups fruit cocktail drained
1 small jar maraschino cherries halved and drained (reserve liquid)
2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

Blend cheese and mayonnaise, stir in the fruits and marshmallows. Add a few drops of cherry juice for color. Fold in whipped cream and pour into two loaf pans. Freeze until firm, about 6 hours. To serve, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, remove from pan and slice. Place each slice on a lettuce leaf.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Mmmmm as Althea would say. Thought I'd share what my homemade pizza looks like. This one has light sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, thinly sliced fresh Roma tomato, fresh chopped basil (from my garden), sweet onion, Parmesan cheese and just enough cheddar to add a little color.


These are wonderful... sweet and tangy like a Bread & Butter pickle but made with squash.


3 small yellow summer squash, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard


In a large bowl, combine the squash, onion, red pepper and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour; drain.

In a large saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add squash mixture; return to a boil. Remove from the heat; cool.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 4 days before serving. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Yield: 4 cups.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Sometimes I get bored, even in the kitchen and that is why I love to collect cookbooks and watch cooking shows. I have become a huge fan of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa and have great success with every recipe of hers I have tried.

Recently I decided to try a dish that I have heard about on the many cooking shows from The Food Network and that is Polenta. Even though we eat ground corn (grits) here in the South I just could not fathom eating cooked cornmeal unless it was in cornbread but I jumped in with both feet and tried it.

I served a Polenta that contained both herbs and cheese along side it a Pot Roast with Italian herbs and a wonderful tomato sauce. I didn’t know if my family would eat it, but they did and even agreed they’d eat it again …

Another new recipe I found is from a show called Everyday Exotic with Roger Mooking… I have just begun watching this show but I’m a fan already. His Chili with Okra (yes you read this correctly) is a wonderful, hearty meal. My family loved it, even those who aren’t Okra fans. You can read about Roger and his wonderful style of cooking here at

Sunday, June 13, 2010


This is a wonderul salad that makes 50+ servings. I used this recipe at my daughter's wedding and again at a church social.


6 bags baby greens
2 packs Romaine
3 cups peeled and chopped Golden Delicious Apple
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese
2 packs of bacon cooked and crumbled
2 cups walnuts


6 cups frozen raspberries
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped apple
6 tablespoons sugar

Cook about 5 minutes on medium until apples are soft. Cool.

Put in blender with

1 1/2 cups white balsamic or raspberry vinegar.
Cover and blend until smooth, slowly add
1 1/2 cups salad oil and mix until blended.

Chill until ready to serve. Toss greens with dressing and top with apples, bacon, cheese and walnuts.


3 to 4 cups diced Apples
2 cups diced Celery
2 cups of mini marshmallows
Juice of 1 Lime
2 cups of Mayonnaise
1 cup red Grapes cut in half
1 ½ cups chopped Pecans or Walnuts

Mix Apples with Lime juice then mix in all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly then chill until ready to eat.


Made fresh this morning... ahhhh.

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I use it all the time in both my cooking and just to brighten up the kitchen and give it a wonderful smell.
When I first tried this lemonade I was hooked and asked for the recipe and recieved it. With a little tweaking I made it my own and it is a wonderful treat during the hot summer here in South Carolina.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from 2 squeezed lemons
2 sprigs of rosemary, at least 3 inches long
Pinch salt
8 cups water

Combine sugar, one cup water, rosemary, salt, and lemon peel in a saucepan and bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook at least 10 minutes at medium heat to infuse flavors. Strain or pick out the rosemary and lemon peel and discard. Cool the sugar mixture. Stir it with the fresh lemon juice and the water and serve over ice. A rare treat


This is such a simple recipe but one that I have used over and over at birthday parties, showers, church socials, etc.

Frozen Apple juice
2 liters Ginger Ale

Mix 1 frozen can of Apple juice to 1 2 liter of Ginger ale, served chilled.


Cream of Potato Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and diced
1 gallon chicken broth or water
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes

In large stock pot saut̩ onions in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add stock or water, potatoes, salt and pepper to pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20Р30 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Stir in cream and instant potatoes, blend until soup thickens and remove from heat.

Loaded Potato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 pounds Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 gallon chicken broth or water
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup cream
8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese
6 sliced cooked bacon, crumbled
1/3 cup chopped chives

Follow directions above. Garnish each bowl with shredded cheese, bacon and chopped chives.

Italian Style Potato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onions
2 cloves of garlic, diced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 lbs white potatoes, sliced
2 quarts of Ccicken broth
2 quarts of water
Salt and black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup of cream
1 lb Italian Sausage, cooked and sliced or you may use bulk sausage
1/4 bunch of Kale, chopped

Follow directions above but add garlic, red pepper flakes before cooking. Just before serving stir in the cooked sausage and kale.


A favorite Winter soup here at our house is Roasted Red Pepper Soup. In Dothan AL there is a little bistro called the River Nile. This is where Andrew took Julie for their first date and the place where they were later married. They make a wonderful Roasted Red Pepper Soup, and I tried my best to duplicate it as not only is it a favorite of Julie’s but I loved it as well. I believe that this recipe comes as close to the original as you can get.

6 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup light cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil

Salt and pepper

To roast pepper put them on a long handled fork or skewer and place them over high heat or stove burner or gas grill. Turn quickly to char skin evenly. When the skin is brown ad crackly remove from heat and place pepper in a bowl of ice water. Run under water and rub the skin off. You may also place them under the broil 4 inches below the element and turn to char each side.

Then combine peppers, oil, onions, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and cayenne in pot. Cook 3 minutes over high heat then stir in stock and 1/4 cup of cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer stirring for 7 minutes. Pour mixture into food processor or blender and process until smooth about 2 minutes. Return mixture to pot and add remaining cream, heat on medium to low heat before serving.

Serves 4 to 6


2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cp chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
6 clovers garlic, minced
3 cups sliced okra
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 pound shrimp (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth, warmed

In a large Dutch Oven combine oil and flour and mix together over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook while stirring for about 10 minutes until mixture (Roux) turns light brown.

Stir in onion, celery and green pepper along with the garlic, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook on medium for about 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add hot chicken broth a little at a time, then add the sausage, okra, chicken and bay leaves, bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

If using Shrimp add the last 5 minutes and cook until Shrimp turns pink. Discard Bay Leaf. Serve over cooked rice with a loaf of crusty French bread and hot sauce on the side.


1/4 pound bacon, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 cups peeled, diced potato
1 cup half and half or light cream
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon until crisp, then scoop in out and drain. Place onions and peppers in bacon drippings and cook until soft then add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Add potatoes and broth then cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add corn and simmer 5 minutes longer.

Stir in half and half and season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle with the bacon bits. Serves 6 to 8 people.


½ lb dried garbanzo beans then cooked
1 ham bone
7 cups of water
1 can chicken broth
1 tablespoon salt
¼ pound ham cubed
1 onion finely chopped
1 chorizo (Spanish sausage) sliced into thin rounds and browned (may substitute smoked sausage)
1 clove garlic crushed
2 potatoes peeled and diced
pinch of saffron
½ tsp paprika

Wash and cook bean as directed with ham bone until almost tender or use 3 to 4 cans of beans rinsed and drained with water and broth added. After beans are just tender add rest of ingredients except sausage and cook until potatoes are tender. When done add cooked browned sausage and serve hot. Serves 4


Small Palm along the coast of South Carolina

2 cups cooked boneless chicken cut into cubes or chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp of McCormick’s Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 small can crushed pineapple—drained

I like to use grilled chicken or left-over rotisserie chicken for this recipe. Simply mix all of the ingredients in bowl. Let chill and serve with your favorite crackers. Seasonings may be adjusted to taste and for a crunchier version just add 1/4 cup of celery finely chopped.

Serving suggestions:

For a small party you may place this in a mound along with a selection of grapes and crackers on the same platter. Or fill small croissants or party shells with salad and arrange on tray. Also wonderful served on a bed of crisp lettuce with either crackers or dinner roll.


3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread made into croutons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce rough chopped


1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Spicy Brown mustard
3 tablespoons White Wine vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


½ French Baguette cut into thin slices
1 ½ tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 – 2 tablespoon of your Favorite Seasoning Mix (Italian, Herb de Provence, etc)
Pinch of salt

Brush bread slices with olive oil, toss with seasoning and either grill until golden brown or toast in pan over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add to salad.


This recipe makes a wonderful meal or appetizer.

2 balls of pizza dough
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic diced
2 or 3 links grilled sweet Italian sausage sliced
1 grilled chicken breast sliced
4 ounces whole mozzarella cheese with herbs sliced
2 ounces black pepper goat cheese crumbled
2 cups of your favorite sauce

Pizza dough can be bought at Publix and some restaurants will sell you a ball of theirs.

Bring dough to room temp and roll or pat out on floured surface. Have all other ingredients ready.

Preheat grill on med-high. Rub oil on one side of dough and place dough oil side down and immediately oil up side of dough.

Cook dough 3 to 5 minutes on each side until dough is nicely brown (don’t worry about charred spots), remove crusts from grill and place sauce and garlic on both crusts then put sausage, onion and mozzarella on one crust and the chicken, garlic and goat cheese on the other. Return to grill and cook with cover down 4 minutes at 350 degrees.

Makes enough pizza for about 6 to 8.


2 cups chopped tomato
1 green pepper or 4 Serrano peppers minced
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons cilantro (fresh if possible)
1 teaspoon cumin
8 tablespoons of water*

Combine all but water and only add it if extra juicy salsa is desired. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before using, may be made 3 to 4 hours before needed


1 cuo Mayonaise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 3 ounces), divided
1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed
lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste using
freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup blue cheese, half and half, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and salt, until smooth. Gently stir in the remaining 1/4 cup blue cheese and season with pepper to taste. Use now or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


This salad is adapted from a wonderful meal Frank and I had while vacationing in Florida and is a favorite meal at our house. It goes great with the Spanish Bean Soup.

Courtyard at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Vilano Beach, FL


½ head iceberg or romaine lettuce
1 ripe tomato cut into eighths
½ cup Swiss cheese cut into strips
½ cup ham cut into strips
½ cup black olives (optional)
2 tsp grated Romano Cheese


1/8 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp lemon or lime juice

Mix garlic, oregano and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, beat until smooth with whisk add oil and beat to blend together, stir in vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, add to salad and toss well.

Serves 4


Nothing beats a really good homemade soup. It warms you up filling you with love and brings comfort to your soul, or at least it does mine.

Served with a salad, crusty bread or toasted sandwiches, we often have soup suppers here and with company and nobody goes away hungry and we even had a “soup supper” once for Christmas Eve where we sampled several types of soup along with warm bread and salad

Years ago I knew one recipe for soup and that was the standard vegetable soup that almost all Southern cooks learn to cook at a young age. Beef stock, meat if you have it and whatever vegetables you have on hand; corn, cabbage, lima beans, green beans, potatoes and carrots combined with stewed tomatoes and cooked till done then served with cornbread or crackers and you’ve got a meal.

The Spanish Bean Soup is similar to one that my grandfather, Gigi used to bring home from the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa Florida. I fell in love with it and basically forgot about it until a trip to St. Augustine with Frank. I bought a cookbook and gradually adapted the recipe to my own taste. It has become a family favorite served with a warm crusty loaf of bread and a salad it makes a wonderful meal.

Another new favorite is the Roasted Red Pepper Soup. In Dothan AL there is a little bistro called the River Nile. This is where Andrew took Julie for their first date and the place where they were later married. They make a wonderful Roasted Red Pepper Soup, and I tried my best to duplicate it as not only is it a favorite of Julie’s but I loved it as well. I believe that this recipe comes as close to the original as you can get.

Served with a salad, crusty bread or toasted sandwiches, we often have soup suppers here and with company and nobody goes away hungry and we even had a “soup supper” once for Christmas Eve where we sampled several types of soup along with warm bread and salad.


1 Carton Beef Stock
1 cups water
1 ear of corn - remove kernels
5 Roma tomato's
6 small (2 inches or smaller) white, red or yellow potato's quartered
1 small zucchini sliced
1 small onion diced
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1 can of green beans
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Bring water, stock, corn, tomato's, onion, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to boil, cook 8 minutes then add the potato's and cook for another 8 minutes, add zucchini and cook until veggies are fork tender.
salt and pepper to taste


4 cups water
3 family-sized tea bags
2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 (33.8-oz) bottle peach nectar
1 (6oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup Simple Sugar Syrup (see recipe below)
1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled

Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add tea bags and 2 cups mint leaves. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

Remove and discard tea bags and mint. Pour into a 1 gallon container; add peach nectar, lemonade concentrate, and Simple Sugar Syrup. cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Simple Sugar Syrup: Makes 2 1/2 Cups

Bring 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool to room temperature.

Pour chilled tea mixture into a punch bowl. Stir in ginger ale and club soda just before serving. Garnish, if desired.