Friday, September 26, 2014

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

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When life gets busy and I feel pulled in 20 different directions, it's easy to get overwhelmed, especially with the age old question "what's for dinner" coming from a hungry family.  One of the ways I take back a little control of the craziness is with my slow cooker.  Most weeks, I use it for at least one meal and many times, my trusty helper gets used twice.
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
This week I got a little inspiration from my buddy Stacey Little, blogger & writer of the cookbook, The Southern Bite.  I took a few of the ingredients from an appetizer recipe and turned it into something for the slow cooker…buffalo chicken!  I think this recipe has a few extra lives like turning it into a hot dip, nachos or served over a baked potato.  This is one easy dish that solves so many problems…mostly, just helping to keep this Southern Soul sane.
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken
4- 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 package ranch dressing
1 bottle buffalo hot sauce
1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
5 tablespoons butter cut into individual measurements
  • Put pats of butter in bottom of slow cooker and layer chicken on top.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing on top of chicken.
  • Pour buffalo sauce over chicken and cook on low for 5 hours.
  • With two forks, shred chicken, add sour cream and mix well with sauce.
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homemade Croutons~Soup & Salad

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Ah, the humble, unassuming crouton is crunchy, savory & buttery.  Coutons can change a warm bowl of soup into a new level of comfort or a salad into something unexpected.  Friends, I challenge you to get creative with dried or fresh herbs, cheeses, hot or mild peppers, butter and olive oil to make your own wonderful mix.  Here's my "go-to" recipe that is fast and easy…just add your own favorite flavors that mix beautifully with the dish you are serving.
Left over bread never tasted to good!
 Homemade Croutons
4 cups of cubed day old bread
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • Heat butter and olive oil in cast iron skillet or pan on medium heat.
  • Once butter has melted, add salt, pepper, thyme & cheese.
  • Add bread cubes and toss to coat.  Turn burner down to medium low.
  • Continue to sauté, tossing bread until cubes are golden brown.
  • Taste and adjust salt and pepper.  
  • Serve either warm or let cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Here are few ideas to use homemade croutons…

Salad with my FAVORITE VINEGRETTE dressing

Rich broth Mushroom Soup

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

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There's just something special about a warm bowl of homemade soup, right?  Even though we are not completely into cooler weather here, I decided it didn't matter, I'd make a pot of soup in anticipation of beautiful fall days, cozy sweaters and cool nights by the fire.
Everyone in my family loves sweet potatoes no matter how they are cooked, so coming up with this easy, fast recipe was a labor of love.
After ladling up a bowl of this beautiful, creamy soup, I added a few savory, homemade croutons, a drizzle of sour cream and dinner was served.  This recipe makes enough soup for 4 along with a couple of extra servings for lunch the next day.  What a nice way to start thinking about all the comforts of fall...
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
3-4 sweet potatoes - scrubbed and sliced
2 carrots - scrubbed and cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves - peeled
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup half & half
hot sauce
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place sweet potatoes, carrots & garlic on a sheet tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat.
  • Roast vegetables in oven approximated 25 minutes or until golden brown and fork tender.
  • Place roasted vegetables in blender along with chicken stock, paprika adding a dash or two of hot sauce.
  • Blend until very smooth - you can also use a blender, immersion blender or food processor - whatever you have.
  • Pour into a medium size stock pot and place on medium low heat setting.
  • Add half & half as soup warms.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve with addition hot sauce, sour cream and homemade croutons.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Farmers Market Recipes & Tips

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If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know what a fan I am of shopping at farmers markets.  I love wandering down the aisles, checking out locally grown produce, tasting fresh breads, cheeses and other homemade foods.  I often run into friends who have baskets full of beautiful ingredients and love to discuss how we will turn them into something special for dinner.  I have learned so much from the farmers and vendors at our market, like how to best store their fresh grown food and also, how they like to cook & serve what they grow.
I've had the pleasure of being a part of several fun and special events at the market was a volunteer.  The people I've worked with have become not only my friends but have been encouraging, supportive and some of the best cheerleaders for A Southern Soul.
So, this Saturday, I will be up early with my market basket in hand because it's Farmers Appreciation Day!  I hope that wherever you live, I encourage you to get up and head out to your local market.  It's the perfect time to enjoy all the wonderful flavors of summer…

Farmers Market Recipes & Tips

~ This is a great chart to help you know when your favorite produce will be in the market ~

~ Check out this link on how to store your fresh finds ~
~ How to Master Your Local Farmers Market is a helpful post if you are not used to shopping there ~

~ Fresh peaches are still available and this recipe shows off summers sweetest fruit ~

~Tomatoes are in season!  This is the easiest salsa recipe EVER ~

~ Make sure to pick up lots of fresh veggies like zucchini & onions, then head out to the grill ~

~ Last but not least, I always pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers from my favorite friends ~
Have a wonderful, tasty, beautiful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grilled Chicken Tostadas with Charred Onion & Tomato Salsa

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We've had beautiful weather here over the past few days, so of course, we are grilling and dining alfresco.  This was also the first week of school and I wanted to prepare an easy, tasty dinner so that our family could spend as much time as possible lingering at the table sharing about their day.  It took just a few minutes to come up with my menu due to a stocked pantry and fridge ~ grilled chicken tostadas, sauteed black beans, grilled onion & tomato salsa and fresh fruit.
I set the table with fun colorful place mats (I found them at the Dollar Store and all 4 were just $1.00!), a combination of white and striped napkins, a few candles and a little bit of greenery from the yard. It was welcoming and happy.
Lastly, I lit the torches to keep away the "spoilers", made the salsa, grated cheese, shredded some lettuce and got a few other extras ready.  A menu that packed a little heat and spice, with fresh summer flavors thrown in along with great conversation and lot's of laughter…it was a glorious end to the day.
Grilled Chicken Tostadas
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes
1 large onion - cut into thick slices
  • Place chicken in a zip lock bag.
  • Mix next 4 ingredients together in a small measuring cup.
  • Pour over chicken making sure pieces are totally covered in marinade.
  • Add onion to bag.
  • Let marinate in fridge for 2 to 4 hours.
  • 30 minutes before cooking, remove chicken to kitchen counter.
  • Heat grill to medium high.  Oil grates with vegetable oil.
  • Cook chicken until done and slightly charred.  Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice chicken, across the grain and place on warm tortillas.  Add shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa if desired.
Grilled Onion & Tomato Salsa
1 onion marinated and grilled
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños - chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
  • Roughly chop grilled onions.
  • In a small bowl, add all ingredients and gently mix.  
  • Serve on tostadas, tacos or with chips.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Brown Sugar & Cream Cheese Pound Cake

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Whew!  It's been a crazy summer for our household which I'm sure you'd already guessed, since I've been missing for a few days here and there.  There are times that unexpected events in our lives take over and you just have to focus on the people in your life, be present and work through whatever you are presented with.
During those days when it was a little hard see through the fog, I found a way to help make the day seem a little brighter...cake!  I've always enjoyed experimenting with different recipes for pound cake and this one has proven to be a winner.  The original recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.
I changed it just a tad and it came out wonderful.  I hope you'll give this yummy pound cake a try but remember…you don't have to have a bad day to eat cake!

Brown Sugar & Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 8-ounce package cream cheese - softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter - softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar - packed
5 large eggs - room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan, bundt pan or 2 loaf pans
  • Add cream cheese, butter and sugars to mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing well about, 1minute after each egg.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small measuring cup and stir.
  • Alternate adding flour and milk to butter/egg batter - starting and stopping with flour.
  • Pour batter into buttered, floured tube or bundt pan.
  • Bake for approximately 1 hour or up to 1:15 hours.  Check if done with a cake tester or wooden skewer.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes then gently remove from pan.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Berry Sangria

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July is National Berry Month and I've had the privilege of working with Driscoll, producers of delicious berries and Rios de Chile Winery to create a new recipe for summer.
I've had so many ideas bouncing around in my head on how to use these flavorful ingredients.  Salads, glazes for meats and maybe even a BBQ sauce but I finally decided on Sangria.
The rich Cabernet Sauvignon from Rios combined with the fresh, sweet berries from Driscoll are the perfect marriage for a pitcher of liquid happiness!
Even though July has come to an end, berries are easily available so pick up a bottle of Rios Cab, grab a pitcher and start stirring.  All you need to add is a few good friends and you are ready for a great time!
Berry Sangria
1 bottle red wine- Rios Cabernet 
1 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries - halved
1 cup blackberries
1 lemon - sliced
2 limes - sliced
1 oz. grand mariner 
1/4 cup of simple syrup (1 tablespoon of sugar can be substituted)
1 bottle club soda
  • In a large picture add wine, berries. citrus slices grand mariner & simple syrup.
  • Place in refriderator to chill - at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to serve, pour chilled club soda into pitcher and stir gently.
  • Serve in chilled glasses with mint garnish.
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