Twice baked potatoes…so ’80s but it was the very first dish I ever learned how to make and it was the very first dish I taught my daughter, Ashleigh, to make on her own….No, not gourmet, but delicious? For sure! Hubby is grillling some steaks tonight, the kids are home (yes, they are adults but still kids to me) and this is the perfect  side dish!image

My mother taught me how to make these when I was in my mid-teens and I have tweaked the recipe over the years so that now, I think I have finally gotten them exactly how the Pitt family likes them.  (Please never buy those pre-made ones in the store….yuck!)


  • 5 large Idaho baking potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 4 tbsps butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Season the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet and place in the oven.


Cook until fork tender, about 1 hour. Remove and cool.  (I like to put them on a separate plate to cool so they don’t absorb any more heat)

While potatoes are cooling, place bacon in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Slice 1/4 of the top off each of the potatoes. Using a spoon, scrape out the flesh of each potato into a mixing bowl…don’t forget to scrape the potato out of the 1/4 top, too!  

Using a hand held masher, mash the potatoes until smooth…I mash each time I add another potato.  Add the butter, sour cream, milk, s cup and a half of the cheese, bacon, and the chives. Season with salt and pepper; mix well.


Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells.image

Top the potatoes with the remaining cheese and place back on the baking sheet and bake until the cheese melts, about 8 to 10 minutes.


Ready to serve and I promise that there won’t be one bite left! Enjoy!

No longer just my favorite condiment on a hot dog…now my favorite remedy for what happens OFTEN in my kitchen:  BURNS!  image

I had heard about this home remedy for years but could never seem to remember it when I  actually needed it….until last night when I touched a pan I had forgotten had just come out of the oven!

I immediately put my injured thumb under cold water and asked Jeff if he would get the mustard out of the fridge for me.  Perplexed, he got it for me but seemed to be quite alarmed when I asked him to pour some on my burn.  I shared my new “mustard healing tidbit” and with much doubt on his face, he kindly obliged.

Within 5 minutes, the burning sensation was completely gone and this morning there is no blister or even a sign of my little mishap! My love for mustard kindles in my heart but isn’t burning on my thumb! 🙂 Give this home remedy a try!

If you grew up in the south, beans, greens, and ham were usually a regular favorite on the dinner table and the February 2014 edition of Southern Living Magazine featured a recipe with it all in one bowl!  Southern Living was pretty much where I got all my recipes when I was first married and I have the annual editions from 1985 through today :-).  They hold a special place in my heart and I get very excited that they are still producing quality recipes today!

After learning to love collard greens (turnip and mustard as well) growing up, I was very lucky that the man I married loved them just as much!  He doesn’t quite have as deep south roots as I have but I have taught him well!  I knew this dish would be something he would love too!


1 pound dried cannellini beans (the store was out of cannellini so I substituted northern beans)
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
9 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
6 fresh thyme sprigs
5 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 fresh sage sprigs (optional – I didn’t use)
3 fresh basil sprigs (optional – I didn’t use)
Kitchen string
2 (1-lb.) smoked ham hocks
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind (optional – but I think this makes the flavors blend so nicely)
4 cups chopped fresh collard greens
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes


Rinse and sort beans according to package directions. Place beans in a large bowl; add water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours. Drain beans, and place in a large saucepan. Add onion and 8 cups broth. Tie together thyme, parsley, bay leaves, and, if desired, sage and basil with string; add to bean mixture. photo 2

Add ham hocks and, if desired, rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 1 hour or until beans are tender but hold their shape.

Skim off foam with a spoon.  Remove hocks, and cool 5 minutes. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. (I was a litttle disappointed that my ham hocks did not have enough meat but not the recipe’s fault.)  Return meat to bean mixture. Add collards, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until collards are tender.

Sauté garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until light golden. Add tomatoes, and sauté 5 minutes. Stir tomato mixture and remaining 1 cup broth into beans, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. unnamed

Discard herb bundle and cheese rind; season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (I actually let it simmer all day and it was just fine!)image

Bottom Line:  I thought this was a great way to blend together some of my favorite southern ingredients into one dish.  It was a perfect stand-alone dish for me.  Hubby, however, thought it would be perfect along side a big fried pork chop!  I guess that would be good, too!  Try this dish and you won’t be disappointed..thank you, Southern Living!
Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman, Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen and Hog & Hominy, East Memphis, TN, Southern Living

Have extra lemons and limes lying around and don’t want them to waste?  Try freezing them!  Slice lemons, limes, and even oranges and arrange on a cookie shoot.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.  When they are frozen solid, transfer to resealable freezer bags and put in the freezer section where they will be most visible.  Grab a couple when you need to add to cold drinks with ice cubes or just use them as a lovely garnish to one of your favorite fish dishes!

lemonslimes3Save $$$$ and add eye-catching flavor!

I always love when I make a dish one night, I can turn the leftovers into something completely different the next day…such as the case of the recent Seafood Stew Recipe I posted.

Spicy Seafood Stew
Spicy Seafood Stew


Reheat your stew, add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste and your favorite Italian seasonings.  Serve over your favorite pasta (or even rice) and Viola!…you have another meal without spending much money or time in the kitchen.  Serve with some crusty, hot bread and dinner is served!pasta2 (2)

Healthy, delicious, and sooooo easy to make!  As I have mentioned before, Soups and Stews are my favorite kind of meals.  Something about all that savory broth just warms my soul.  This is a recipe that I personally created with some of my favorite tastes.  It is very “change friendly” so feel free to substitute or add ingredients and don’t worry about precise measurements…let your taste buds guide you!3


  • 2 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup of dry, white wine
  • 2 cups of chopped tomatoes (I use my frozen ones from the garden but you could use canned as well)
  • 1 tablespoon of hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (you could use dried if necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2-3 cups of V-8 juice (depending on how soupy you want your result; I use Hot & Spicy V-8)
  • One fish filet, cubed (I like Snapper but any meaty whitefish will do just fine)
  • 1/2 pound of shrimp, cut into chunks
  • 8 oz of lump crab meat (I use jumbo)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste


Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan, add onion and red pepper flakes. Saute until soft and tender.Seafood Stew


Add jalapeno and garlic and saute 5 additional minutes.  Pour wine into the pan and deglaze to get all the flavorful bits.  Simmer until reduced (about 5 minutes).  Add tomatoes, hot sauce, thyme leaves, and parsley.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Taste broth and season with Salt & Pepper to taste.unnamedYour heaven in a bowl is ready to serve!  Add some hot, crusty bread and your dinner is complete!  Enjoy!

Spicy Seafood Stew
Spicy Seafood Stew

photoWhile I don’t often have white wine leftover, I usually always end up having extra red wine.  Instead of throwing it away, pour it in ice cubes and freeze to use later in sauces and braises! Saves money as well, especially if you need just a little wine for cooking purposes only…try it; it works!

Who doesn’t love Chinese food and even more who doesn’t love Mu Shu?!  Guy Fieri recently prepared a Mu Shu Chicken with Chinese Crepes with Scallions on Guy’s Big Bite on the Food Network Channel and it looked wonderful so I couldn’t wait to try it.  Warning:  the ingredients list is long but the result was satisfyingly flavorful.  Jeff couldn’t get enough of it!
I am almost ashamed to admit this but this was my first attempt at making crepes.  Needless to say, you can expect to see more recipes with this delicacy because I loved them and certainly see the versatility in making them with a variety of ingredients!  The first one came out a little thick and I trashed it but the rest were perfect.  I did add a little hot sauce to my batter (just because) and it was a nice addition.
The only thing I don’t like about this recipe is the vegetable to chicken ratio.  I used 1 1/2 lbs of chicken and even after I left out the green cabbage and only used the napa and red cabbages, I still have to much vegetable so either add more chicken or just do less vegetables.  The recipe below is my new version.  (Note:  make your crepes first and keep warm while you prepare the Mu Shu Chicken)
1/3 cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger (I used the Ginger Paste you can find in the produce section)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 red pepper, seeded, membrane removed, julienned
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 medium head purple cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup shaved bamboo shoots, drained
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds
1 small bunch scallions, finely shaved
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving, optional
Sriracha, for serving, optional
Chinese Crepes with Scallions:  (Double this recipe so you will have extra for your leftovers)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rice flour (I found this at Fresh Market but I think you could omit this and use all-purpose flour instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 eggs
2 scallions, finely sliced
Nonstick cooking spray
Note:  I added a teaspoon of hot sauce to my batter to enhance the flavor!
Directions Whisk the hoisin, soy, mirin, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sliced chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate the chicken, covered, at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. image

Once 5 minutes of marinating time remains, heat a large wok or skillet over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil to heat. Using a slotted spoon, strain the chicken add to the very hot wok or skillet. Cook, allowing it to brown, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. (Note:  I’m a stickler for having my onions cooked perfectly so I did this part a little differently.  I sauteed my onions until slightly softened, removed them, added the chicken to the wok, and then followed the directions as stated.)  Add the red bell pepper and the onion slices, allowing them to soften, another minute. Next, add the cabbages and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until just browning, about 2 minutes.image

Push the chicken and vegetables to the side of the wok and stir in the mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm. (I just kept wok on low)


Place a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add the beaten eggs to the skillet, allowing to scramble, 2 to 3 minutes. Once cooked, break up the eggs with a rubber spatula and add to the chicken. (Note:  Here I just added the eggs from the skillet into my wok where the chicken and the vegetables were cooking.)  Toss to combine. image

Chinese Crepes with Scallions:

In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk the flours, salt, 1 cup water, the sesame oil and eggs; the batter should be smooth and free of lumps. Again, I also added hot sauce here and do not forget the salt!

Heat a crepe pan or 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Very lightly coat the skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle in 1/4 cup of the batter. Gently rotate the skillet for a few seconds, swirling the batter to create a thin, even layer over the bottom. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons scallions to each pancake at this point. Cook the pancake until the underside is pale and just firmed up, about 1 minute.

Flip the pancake over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a plate and cover with a kitchen towel. Continue with the rest of the batter until all the pancakes have been made. Keep warm until ready to serve.imageimage

Mu Shu Chicken is served alongside a bed of Jasmine Fried Rice!  image

Bottom Line:  A fantastic dish that I will make again with the above modifications and highly suggest you try it.  You may not do take out ever again!  This was a yummy treat for lunch today 🙂

Kitchen Tip:  Keep your Sesame Oil in the fridge…it has a tendency to turn rancid in the pantry

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As part of the Valentine’s Day special last Friday, Michael Symon made what looked to be a very delicious cheese fondue.  Since Jeff’s Valentine’s Day gift was a 1 1/2 hour massage at Massage Envy late Sunday afternoon, I thought that would be a perfect dish to try for a nice dinner afterwards.  How did it turn out and should you try this recipe at home?  Read on……!



1 cup Dry White Wine
1 Shallot (minced)
1 pound Gruyère Cheese (shredded)
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard


  • 1 cup each of broccoli and cauliflower or any other veggies like bell peppers and carrot
  • 1 cup each of your favorite cold meats such as Salami (or add some sautéed kielbasa)
  • 1-2 cups apple slices
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite crusty breads, such as sourdough and rye

(Note:  When using broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots in my fondue, I prefer to blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then rinse with cold water, dry, and keep in the refrigerator until chilled and crisp.  This is entirely optional)


In a medium sauce pot, combine the White Wine and Shallots. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce for 2-3 minutes.

In the meantime, mix together the Shredded Cheese and Cornstarch. When the Wine has reduced by at least 1/3, whisk in the Cheese/Cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly until all of the Cheese has melted then season really well with Salt and the Dijon mustard.  (Mix the mustard into the fondue at the end so it doesn’t break down)image image

Serve with your favorite dippers (crusty bread, apples, blanched vegetables, etc.).  I served this in a mini crock pot dish at the table.


Keep warm to serve.  (Tip:  If you notice your cheese sauce curdling (separating into lumps) add a little lemon juice)

Bottom Line:  This was YUMMY!  If you like Gruyère Cheese, you will love this recipe!  You could also do the same recipe with the same parts of Cheddar and Beef for a different twist.  It made way too much for two people but my daughter, Ashleigh, is coming by after work to pick up the leftovers for a quick bite tonight!  Make this recipe….you will NOT be disappointed!


So the food was great but do you really want to keep smelling it in your kitchen?  You don’t have to….here is a fool-proof way of getting rid of unwanted cooking odors that we all have on hand.  Coffee grounds!

indexSimply pour some in a small bowl (or two) and the coffee will absorb the smell in just a couple of hours.  Discard after 12-24 hours (do not make coffee out of it…ha, ha!)

FYI…If you are entering the Publix gift card contest by making the Filet Mignon with Compound Butter, you will definitely be glad you had this tip 🙂

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