Friday, May 22, 2015

Tomato Pie with Cheese & Pesto

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There are some dishes that just scream All American like apple pie, hot dogs & hamburgers, BBQ, and in my family, tomato pie!  Once summer tomatoes start coming in, I make one of these pies almost every week either for us or a gathering we might be attending.  Yesterday, I made one for a sweet, sweet couple who became just became new parents.  I've known the Mom, Kori, since she was ten years old and that fact that she just gave birth to a precious baby boy has had me in tears more than once over the past few days.  It was wonderful to get in the kitchen and make the new family a meal because Mama and Daddy needed a little TLC even though I did have somewhat of an ulterior motive - hugging & kissing on that sweet baby!
A Southern Soul
This weekend, I'll be making another one of these yummy pies for special event - Memorial Day.  Lot's of folks call this weekend the official start of summer but it's something much, much more.  There's a very important reason that Monday is a holiday…it's to remember and honor those who have served and died protecting our freedom and our country.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the rush of things that we forget the true meaning of a special day, so here's a few ideas on how we can remember Memorial Day ~
  • Raise the American Flag.
  • Attend a parade.
  • Visit a local veterans cemetery.
  • Attend a memorial service.
  • Visit a battlefield.
  •  Honor the National Day of Remembrance - In 2000, Congress addressed the fact that many Americans simply use Memorial Day as a day to eat burgers. They created the National Moment to make sure our troops are honored. At 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, every American is asked to pause for just one minute to honor the fallen.
    • full list of Memorial Day traditions found here.
A southern Soul

So, whether we are celebrating the birth of baby or one of our nations important holidays, I hope we can stop and truly remember what that special time is about.  For me, it's about spending time with family and friends making memories that will last a lifetime.
Happy Memorial Day, friends…this Southern Soul is counting her blessings.
A Southern Soul
Tomato Pie with Cheese & Pesto
4-5 large tomatoes
1 pie shell

1/3 cup of thinly sliced sweet onions
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese - shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese - grated
4-5 large basil leaves - sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup good quality mayo - not salad dressing
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Slice 4-5 tomatoes with skin on and place on paper towels to drain - about an hour or longer if you have time.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out pie dough and place in pie or tart pan and trim edges.  Prick pie shell to prevent rising.  Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and let cool for about 20 min.
  • Layer onion on bottom of pie shell then sprinkle on grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to form an even layer.
  • Spread pesto over cheeses.
  • Layer half the tomatoes over pesto in a circular pattern overlapping.
  • Mix mayo with grated cheddar cheese and spread on top of tomatoes. 
  • Sprinkle on fresh basil.
  • Layer remaining tomatoes over basil.  
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes minutes.  If the edges get brown early, put a pie ring on top or use a homemade one made out of tinfoil.
  • Remove pie from oven and sprinkle on additional Parmesan cheese.
  • Allow pie to rest at least 30 minutes, sprinkle on basil, slice and serve.
A Southern Soul

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pickled Shrimp

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Don't you love it when a recipe does double and sometimes triple duty?  If you do, then we are destined to be friends and I've got the perfect recipe for us to share…my Pickled Shrimp.  In the south we really love these beauties from the sea so it's no surprise that this recipe has become a staple in my kitchen.  Whether I make a large amount for a party, serve as an appetizer for a small gathering, enjoy as a starter for a weeknight meal or spoon over crisp greens for lunch, this dish is always a hit.
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The key to bringing out the best flavors of this dish is to make sure that the shrimp have marinated in the pickling brine for at least 24 hours and if you do have any leftovers, the longer they sit, the better they get! These briny, spicy pickled shrimp never last long in my house but will keep for about a week if they are covered with the oil.  So, if you've never tried pickled shrimp, please do me a favor and give them a try…I promise, this is one southern dish that will soon become one of your favorites.
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Pickled Shrimp
2 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and devained
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley - chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
4 bay leaves
1 lemon - sliced very thin
1/2 onion - sliced very thin
  • In a large pot, bring 6 cups water and Old Bay seasoning to a boil.  Add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, until shrimp are pink.  Remove shrimp and place in a bowl with ice water to cool.  Drain shrimp when chilled.
  • Add celery seed and coriander seed to a zip top bag and crush with a heavy object - I use a rolling pin.  Place in a medium size bowl.  
  • Add olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, parsley, red pepper, salt, garlic and bay leaves.  Stir, mixing well.
  • In a glass jar or serving bowl, layer onions, shrimp and lemons.  Pour pickling brine over layers.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator overnight until ready to serve.
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Grilled Flank Steak

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It's grilling season y'all and if you've got meat lovers in your house then this recipe is for you! Mr. A Southern Soul and the boys are always up for a juicy, grilled ribeye or filet but sometimes you've got it mix things up a bit, so, let me introduce you to flank steak.
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This inexpensive, flavorful cut of meat is best when cooked on the grill and can be used in so many ways.  It's great in a stir fry and is perfect for fajitas.  To make sure that you get the most from your investment, here are a few tips - 
  • marinate the meat for 3 to 5 hours and not more than 24.  Any acid in your marinade will start to break down the tissue and "cook" the meat.
  • grill your steak over high heat.
  • after letting the meat rest, slice it against the grain for optimum flavor.
We enjoyed this delicious steak with grilled onions, a fresh salad, glass of pinot noir out on the deck.  With some good conversation and a few laughs we ended a busy day with grateful hearts and full tummies.  So, step outside friends, fire up your grill and make your summer special!
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Grilled Flank Steak
1 two to three pound flank steak
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend
2 tablespoons honey

  • Place steak in a zip top bag.
  • Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour marinade over steak, seal bag and place in refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours.
  • Remove steak from fridge and let come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat grill to high - 500 degrees.
  • Remove flank steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Grill on high heat for 4 to 5 minutes on first side.  Flip steak and grill for 2 minutes.
  • Place steak on cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Slice meat against the grain and serve.
A Southern Soul Flank Steak

Monday, May 11, 2015

Strawberry Tips and Recipes

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Every year with the announcement of Spring, I start counting down the days till I can pick fresh strawberries. I love those red, juicy berries in anything from pies, cakes, salads, ice cream and jams. 
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Most of the time I buy my berries at my local Farmers Market but I always make a little time to go out to the strawberry fields to pick some myself…it's great therapy.  With so many wonderful ways to use fresh strawberries, I thought I'd share a couple of tips on how to grow & clean them along with a few of my best recipes.  Enjoy, friends.

~ If you want to grow them on your own, here's a great link on How to Grow Strawberries.
~ More great help from this post by Ten at the Table.
~ Once you bring your berries home, place them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.  DO NOT wash them ahead of time - this will cause them to mold.  My favorite way to store strawberries is in a "green bag" which you can buy here. You can also store them in a plastic container.

~ When you are ready to use your strawberries, just rinse them under cold water then drain in a colander.  If you need an easy way to hull your berries and want to save as much of the juicy fruit as possible, here's my trick - use a grapefruit spoon.  The pointed, serrated spoon works wonders by gently sawing around the cap to remove all of the stem!
A Southern Soul's photo
~ One of my favorite ways to enjoy the fresh taste of strawberries is by using them to flavor my water.  I just slice up a few berries, throw in some basil leaves, ice and cover with water…ahhh.  
A Southern Soul's photo
~ Of course there are many, many delicious recipes to make using strawberries and here are a few of my favorites!
A Southern Soul

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Grilled Corn Salsa

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Yes, it's Cinco de Mayo which means many, many people will be celebrating even if they are not from Mexico.  Probably the most popular way that we'll all be enjoying this day is with food.  I'll be making a beautiful taco bar and one of the dishes that'll be part of my spread is Grilled Corn Salsa.
With only 5 ingredients, you might think it's just "one more thing" you can add to your taco. Well…friends, this salsa is far from boring.  It's crunchy, lightly smokey with a little heat and packed with fresh flavors.
I hope you'll trust me and make this delicious salsa whether you're having a fiesta or not!
Grilled Corn Salsa
4 ears fresh corn - shucked & cleaned
1/3 cup red onion - diced
1/3 cup cilantro - chopped
2 jalapeƱos - minced
2 limes - juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of hot sauce

  • Grilled corn on medium high heat until lightly charred. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Carefully cut corn from cob and place in a medium size bowl.
  • Add all other ingredients and toss until blended.
  • Serve with chips, on tacos, salads, tostados, fish or meats.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Honey & Pistachio Goat Cheese Appetizer

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With warm sunny evenings on the way it's time to start dinning out doors.  I don't know about you but I have missed sitting on our deck with my family and friends enjoying great food and each other.  We've been hard at work here, cleaning up the yard, washing down furniture along with planting new flowers and veggies. While getting all this work done, I needed to give my work crew a little encouragement so I put together an easy, delicious appetizer made with local fresh ingredients.
A Southern Soul
I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to buy incredible foods from many farmers and craftsmen that live my area.  I combined a log of rich and tangy goat cheese from The Goat Lady Dairy, sweet golden honey from my friend Bill Mullins and homemade fig jam that was a gift from my neighbor.  After sprinkling on a few chopped pistachios, the result was a savory, sweet crunchy bite of goodness.  The whole thing took about 10 minutes to pull together and my crew loved it!  This is one appetizer you'll find being enjoyed on my back deck all summer long…
A Southern Soul
Honey & Pistachio Goat Cheese Appetizer
1 log goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fig preserves
1/8 cup chopped pistachios
  • Place cheese log on serving dish.
  • Heat honey and figs in a glass bowl in microwave until preserves are melted.
  • Drizzle honey syrup over goat cheese and sprinkle on chopped nuts.
  • Serve with crackers.
    A Southern Soul

Monday, April 13, 2015

Baked Egg In Avocado

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Hey friends!  Over the past 10 days I celebrated Easter with family, spent some time at the coast, celebrated my birthday and enjoyed great times with friends.  While I was "out" I tested a few new recipes and explored a few new cooking methods.  I am happy to report that one of the new dishes I discovered has quickly become my favorite for breakfast!
http://asouthern-soul.blogspot.com/2015/04/baked-egg-in-avocado.html
Baked egg in avocado may sound a little crazy but y'all…it is so good.  This power packed recipe takes seconds to prepare, then during the 15 minutes it takes for your egg to bake, you've got time to clean up the kitchen, make lunch for your kiddo or just sit back and enjoy your morning cup of joe. I love to sprinkle on a little salt, lots of black pepper and chives but if you need an extra kick in your morning, just drizzle on some hot sauce.  I know you may not be sold on giving this a try but come on, go for it…sometimes starting your day off a little crazy is a good thing!
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Baked Egg In Avocado
1 ripe avocado
2 eggs
kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1/8 teaspoon chopped chives

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Slice avocado in half and remove pit. Scoop out about a tablespoon of flesh from center of avocado - just enough so the egg will fit snugly in the center. Place avocado half in a small baking dish.
  • Crack an egg into a small bowl then gently pour egg into avocado half. Some of the egg white will spill over the avocado but will cook along with the yolk.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes - cooking time will depend on the size of eggs and avocados. Cook until the egg whites are set.
  • Remove from oven, season and enjoy!
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