Dress Me Up and Take Me Out

Anyone else in the grilled meat, fresh vegetable, no creativity, summer cooking slump? I absolutely love summer food, but the meat choices are becoming boring to me. I was looking for a way to dress up my steak, without losing it’s flavor.

Until recently, I have been a salad-dressing -mariander. The idea of making my own marinade had never crossed my mind. Blake headed out to work the other day and took some filets out of the freezer. As he was walking out the door he said, “steaks on the grill OK, babe?” “Sure” I replied dropping my shoulders and thinking about the monotony of another grilled steak dinner.

Right then, I knew it was time to give my steak a boost, and I got to work.  I have always liked the flavors in a Chimichurri Marinade, but I never knew how easy it could be. I got the meat marinating, threw a little cilantro spin on our potatoes and took the corn off the cob and added black beans. Soon, we had a transformed dinner packed with flavor and ready to hit the grill.

Chimichurri Marinade

(We used on Filet Mignon, but would also be delicious and tenderizing on skirt steak, flank steak, hangar steak, London broil, lamb blade or lamb chop)

Makes 2 cups- MUST use fresh herbs, not dried!

Chimichurri Marinated Steak


– ½ cup red wine vinegar

– 1 tsp coarse sea salt

– 4 cloves of garlic sliced thin (if you don’t have a mandolin, try using the long side of a cheese grater)

– 1 shallot chopped finely

– 1 red jalapeno, finely chopped

– 2 cups of minced fresh cilantro (use a food processor if you have one)

– 1 cup of minced flat leaf parsley

– 1/3 cup chopped oregano

– ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine vinegar, shallots, garlic and jalapeno in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in FRESH herbs.
  4. Whisk in olive oil using a fork.
  5. Remove ½ cup of marinade and put aside as a sauce.
  6. Put meat in a glass dish and cover with remaining marinade.
  7. Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight for more tenderness.
  8. Remove meat, pat dry and grill as usual.
  9. Top meat with reserved sauce.

Showing Off

Well, I did it again. I decided I was going to cook for the family. I guess the summer thing is leaving with me too much time on my hands and too many food magazines for inspiration. I am initially inspired by home grown produce in the summer, then by magazine recipes. I absolutely love the concept of fruit and fish.

When my father in law visits, he typically brings us something fresh from a road side stand from his drive down. The last visit came with peaches. I could smell a ripe peach for hours. It is definitely on my top 10 list of favorite smells, toward the bottom, but still on it.

I knew I wanted salmon, and I knew I wanted peaches, but I had to figure out how to combine them. I went with salmon with a peach salsa. We had two home grown tomatoes, some fresh basil, a perfectly ripe avocado and red sea salt I picked up on sale the other day. In about 25 minutes, I had dish that was gorgeous. I will admit, I was showing off a bit with this one.

Salmon with Peach Salsa

Serves 4
Total Cost- $19.90
Total per person- $4.98

Salmon with Peach Salsa

Sales used in this recipe- Free peaches, free tomatoes, free basil, red sea salt on clearance at William Sonoma, salmon from Costco, buy one get one free olive oil at Publix







– 4 filets of salmon
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 ripe avocado, cubed
– one tomato, seeded and cubed
– one ripe peach, peeled and cubed
– 3 tbsp chopped basil
– 1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded (if desired)
– 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp coarse sea salt
– 1 tsp cracked pepper


Peach Salsa
1. Combine avacado, tomato, peach, basil, lime and lemon juice, jalapeno, salt and pepper and a tbsp of olive oil in a bowl.
2. Put int he refrigerator for. 10 minutes at least

1. Pat the salmon filets dry and allow them to reach room temperature.
2. Rub them on both sides with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle with a good sea salt and cracked pepper.
4. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice.
5. Turn grill to medium high heat and spray grill grids generously with butter spray.
6. Cook salmon for 5 minutes on each side or to your liking.
7. Top with peach salsa and enjoy.

***We ran out of propane, so we broiled the salmon for 7 minutes on each side, and it was good this way as well. I just like to grill in the summer, so that was my first choice in preparation.

Grill Envy

Jones Bridge pool is one of my favorite places within the Georgia state lines.  I became a member when I was a baby, and spent approximately 50 hours there a week until I was 16. Last year, Blake and I were looking for a community pool to join so that we could establish some new friends with kids for Lottie as she was getting a little bored of watching Blake play video games and grocery shopping with me. I knew that Jones Bridge was going to be place we were going to join. From the second I made the decision, it was as if my Barracuda fins instantly grew back in.

The coolest thing about this pool is that you don’t know a stranger there. Everyone talks to everyone whether they have been introduced or not. In fact, I have met several friends there that I was never introduced to…we just started talking. It just feels like home when I walk into the gate.

This summer Blake and I have been grilling out a lot. The other night we decided to grill at the pool. We ran through our options…steak, chicken, fish, veggies…. I was simply bored with the choices. Blake decided that pizzas would be fun. Instantly, I thought pizza stone, rolling dough, expensive, hassle….

Blake proved me wrong. He headed out to Ingles where he found Naan, an Indian flat bread, on sale for about a dollar each. He picked up six of them and we were ready to go. We pulled out all of the cheeses and toppings we could find in the fridge, and created an awesome meal that was quite impressive. Of course, we made enough to share with our friends at the pool and a little more for those we hadn’t yet met.

Grilled Pizzas

-Naan, Indian bread

-Olive oil

-Pizza sauce

-Cheese (be creative)

– Toppings (be creative)


1. Brush a bit of olive oil on the Naan bread.

2. Top with pizza sauce of choice, olive oil, pesto, or whatever sounds good.

3. Apply toppings and cheese of choice.  These can be made ahead of time and wrapped in aluminum foil to make at a later time or assembled right at the grill.

4. Preheat grill to medium-low heat

5. Place pizzas on grill and leave on until crust is at desired crispness and the  cheese is melted/browned. (about 8-12 minutes)

6. Leave lid down as much as possible.

Pizza Ideas

-Bacon, ham, jalapeno, pineapple, mozzerella cheese and pizza sauce

-Caramelized onion, goat cheese and Gruyere, arugula, and olive oil (Thanks Jenny!)

-Buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, tomatoes with olive oil

-Grilled onion, mushroom, red and green pepper (slice them up really small) and Gruyere or mozzarella

-Traditional sausage and pepperoni

– Pulled pork, cole slaw, BBQ sauce

– Hot sausage, Granny Smith apples, reduced Balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, mozzarella and olive oil

– Shrimp with buffalo sauce, diced celery, blue cheese, mozzarella cheese

– The list keeps going on and on….. this is an amazing meal to get rid of leftovers or have fun with whatever is in the fridge.

The Not So Ordinary Chicken Sandwich

There are few things worse than really craving a Chick-fil-A sandwich on Sunday afternoon. Sure, other restaurants have fried chicken sandwiches, and you could always add a dill pickle, but everyone who has ever had a Chick-fil-A sandwich knows that other chicken sandwiches don’t pale in comparison.

Blake saw an article once on trying to replicate this extraordinary edible masterpiece.  We tried it by the recipe one time, and neither of us could talk because the salt content had truly absorbed every ounce of saliva we had. Blake tried another route for a second time. They were perfect, and I truly think with the exception of the perfect pickle duplicate (we are still trying to find this), one would not be able to differentiate between Blake-fil-A’s Not So Original chicken sandwich and Chick-fil-A’s Original Chicken Sandwich.

Go ahead…try for yourself!

Blake-fil-A’s Not So Original Chicken Sandwich

Serves 4-6

Total Price- $6.50

Price per Person- $1.08

Average Retail Price- $20.94

Total Savings-$14.44



-4 Chicken Breasts cut into “chick fil a-sized” cutlets

– 2 Cups Milk

– 2 Eggs

– 2 tsp Sugar

– Pinch of Pepper

– Pinch of Salt

– 1 1/2 Cup Flour

– 4 1/2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar

– 1 1/2 Tbsp salt

– 1 tsp paprika

– 1 tsp garlic salt

– 3 1/2 cups Peanut oil (Canola or Vegetable are ok)

– 8 Plain, Cheap Hamburger Buns

– 1 tbsp butter


1. Mix milk, eggs, 2 tsp sugar, pinch of pepper, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl

2. Soak Chicken Breast cutlets in milk mixture

3. Mix flour, powdered sugar, salt, paprika, garlic salt in a large bowl

4. Heat Oil over high heat in a pressure cooker with the lid off

5. Dip the chicken cutlets in the flour mixture, coating thoroughly, and setting aside one at a time.  Let the milk mixture drip off before dipping.

6. Dip the floured cutlets back into the milk mixture, and then re-dip the cutlets into the flour and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

7. Once oil is heated to 350-375 degrees (it should fry vigorously if a tip of a cutlet is dipped in), place the chicken cutlets into the oil quickly and close the lid of the pressure cooker.

8. Cook for 3 minutes once it starts to steam steadily.

9. Quickly cool and relieve the pressure in the cooker (cold water in the sink cools it fast if dipped, and cool water ran over the lid)

10. Remove the chicken and set aside

11. Serve with lightly butter toasted hamburger buns and 2-3 pickle slices

12. Smash bun down with your hand to make it more Chick-fil-Aish

Why Do You Build Me Up, Butternut?

In the past, I would choose a pre-salad over pre-soup on any given day at any given restaurant. Since having Lottie, my taste buds and food cravings have changed tremendously. Now, when given the opportunity, I will always choose soup over salad.

In the winter, I typically have a pot of butternut squash soup in my fridge at all times. I love making shrimp to put in the soup to add texture and Enoki mushrooms provide a unique twist. Lottie loves it as well as a pasta sauce over whole wheat Rotini.

For awhile I stopped making this soup because cutting and peeling the whole squash was too hard for me (and my knives). Once again, Costco came through for me. Get this: They have fresh, precut and peeled butternut squash in the veggie section for $4.99/2lbs. Not only is it cheaper, but it is so easy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves- 8

Total Price (no shrimp)- $8.24

Total Price per Person- $1.03

Average Retail Price- $14.98

Total Savings- $6.74

Butternut Squash Soup


-2 lbs (one large or two small) Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed- seeds removed

-1 small sweet onion

– 2 medium sized carrots

– 1 stalk of celery

– 1 sweet potato (optional)

– 3-5 cans chicken of vegetable stock

– Sauteed or grilled shrimp (optional)

– Enoki mushrooms (optional)



1. Cut celery and carrots into small pieces.

2. Diced onion.

3. Put celery, carrots and onions into large pot and cook on medium heat for five minutes. Add a little salt and pepper.

4. Add all cubed butternut squash.

5. Cover with chicken stock until all vegetables are just barely covered.

6. Boil until squash is fork tender.

7. Turn off heat and allow everything to cool.

8. Blend until smooth (add water or stock if you like it thinner).

9. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

10. Serve and Enjoy!


Sales used in this Recipe:

2 lbs. Butternut Squash- Costco- $4.99


Unseasonally Seasonal

I absolutely love when fresh herbs are on sale in the winter. I get so spoiled in the summer with the endless supply of my home grown herbs, that I miss them so much in the winter. Generally they run between $2.00-4.00 for a small bunch of herbs when you buy them at the store. I was at Ingles the other day when I found them Buy One, Get One FREE! I grabbed a pack of sage and a pack of basil. I really like to use sage with chicken whenever I get the chance. I also noticed Boar’s Head prosciutto was on sale for $1.10 off per pound at the Publix deli. I knew that I could make something delightful with these items.

I have always been a huge fan of the under-appreciated, yet salty and lean meat, prosciutto. Recently, I have noticed it gaining popularity in the food magazines which makes me very happy. In fact, a prosciutto and egg biscuit graced the cover of Food and Wine in January. Go prosciutto…way to keep up the fight to the top!!!

Prosciutto and Sage Chicken Breast

Serves 4

Total Price- $5.42

Total Price per Person- $1.35

Average Retail Price- $9.75

Total Savings-  $4.33

4 8-oz chicken breasts

12 fresh sage leaves

4 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 12 strips

4 tbsp extra virgin oil

2/3 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tsp corn starch

4 lemon wedges

Directions – preheat oven to 375:

1. Dry, salt and pepper chicken breasts

2. Place 3 sage leaves on each breast

3. Wrap each breast with 4 strips of prosciutto securing the sage in place

4. Sear chicken 2 minutes each side in a pan over medium-high heat with 2 tsp olive oil

5. Remove chicken from pan and place in the oven for 6-7 minutes or until done

6. Combine broth lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, stir with whisk until well misked

7. Add lemon juice mixture and one tbsp olive oil to the pan

8. Bring to a boil stirring constantly

9. Cook for one minute until thickened, stir with a whisk

10. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with angel hair pasta or polenta.

Sales used in this recipe-

Sage- BOGO Ingles

Prosciutto- $1.10 off per pound Publix

Angel Hair- Publix- $0.50 off

Swimming Upstream

For a long time, I refused to cook salmon at home. I always found it
to be too expensive for what it was, and when I made it, it was so
fishy tasting. The weird thing was that when I went to
restaurant, I loved to order salmon, and it was never fishy.

One day at Costco, I decided to get some salmon that was frozen (less than $3 per serving). I always get the frozen scallops and shrimp from Costco,  and
they are always delicious. Buying this salmon was the best thing I
have ever done for my bank account, palate and waistline. I literally
have been eating it 3-5 nights a week. Blake makes this amazing brown
sugar and dill marinade, and then we broil it. It is so good and crispy.
Sometimes we put it on a sandwich and add bacon, but my favorite is to
serve it with a trendy grain(in this case a bed of cauliflower) and some steamed broccoli. This tops my recipes as my favorite!!!

Brown Sugar and Dill Broiled Salmon on a Bed of Cauliflower

Serves- 4
Total Price- $11.40
Total per person- $2.85
Average Retail- $37.96
Total Savings-  $26.56


– 4 filets of salmon

– 2 tsp. olive oil

– 1 1/2 tablespoon mayo

– 2 tsp lemon juice

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup chicken broth

– 1/2 cup water

– 2 tsp. dill (dried)


Preheat oven to broil- place top rack 4-5 inches from top.

Make sure it is all the way preheated before you put the fish in the oven.

Dry Salmon pieces before starting.

1. Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

2. Turn on medium to high heat and whisk until blended.

3. Bring to a boil until reduced by 80%.

4. Add tsbp of Rum (optional)

5. Reduce until it is the consistency of syrup.

6. Put in a bowl to cool.

7. Coat salmon pieces in sauce.

8. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.

9. Place salmon in pan.

10. Drizzle more sauce on top of each salmon.

11. Broil 7 minutes on one side and flip.

12. Drizzle remaining sauce and broil for 7 more minutes until crispy.

13. Serve hot!!!

*TIP: If the sauce reduces too much and becomes like molasses add chicken stock or water 1/2 tbsp at a time and stir until it is the desired thickness.*

Sales on this meal:

Salmon-Costco- 8 pieces for $22

Brown Sugar- Publix- BOGO

Mayo- Publix- BOGO

Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson

My favorite thing about trendy social networking sites is the ability to keep in touch with people in your lives. One other thing I like about it is getting to know things about people that you may have never known. I have followed the lives of a lot of people I knew in high school. One of my friends, Kirsten Robinson, started a really cool business called Mrs. Robinson’s Twigs and Berries.

She sent me a sample of two of the mixes, and they were delicious! We made the most delicious and savory pork tenderloin with the Pistachio Twigs. I would highly recommend ordering a few packs to make this delightful dish time and time again. Not only is it wonderful and full of flavor and texture, but it is beautiful as well. It’s a great dish for entertaining.

To order from Mrs. Robinson, visit: www.twigsandberriesmix.com

Twigs Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6

Total Price- $14.86

Total Price per Person- $2.47

Average Retail Price- $18.50

Total Savings- $3.64

– 1 Pork Loin
– 1 Package of Twig’s Pistachio Trail Mix
– 2 tbsp each Dijon mustard, yellow mustard, honey mustard.
– 1 tsp salt, pepper, garlic salt

1. Stab the pork loin a few times with a knife or fork to allow for marinating
2. Combine pork, mustards, salt, pepper, and garlic salt in a large bowl or gallon sized Ziploc bag
3. Let marinate for 2-4 hours
4. Pour package of trail mix into a baking dish big enough to hold the pork loin
5. Roll the marinated pork loin in the mixture until coated evenly
6. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour

Sales in this recipe:

Twigs: Free sample

Pork Tenderloin- $2.49/lb at Publix

Crazy for Cauliflower

I am so glad that cauliflower has received the recent spotlight in several cooking magazines lately. As long as I can remember, I have loved cauliflower more than most people. I think it is key to any salad and also adds a unique flavor to any assortment of roasted vegetables. The thing I love the most about it is the ability to transform it. It packs flavor, but it’s flavor can be transformed in any way. One of my favorite snacks is raw cauliflower dipped in yellow mustard. I was eating it the other day at school when one of my students came to my desk and greeted me with a simple, “gross”.

In 2007, when I was on an disgustingly limited diet to prepare for my wedding, I ate only vegetables. After a few weeks, the raw and roasted stuff was becoming boring, and I needed a new twist. Blake made mashed cauliflower, and I fell in love with it. We replace mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower all the time now. Last month, Blake had a brilliant idea. He wanted to make a mashed cauliflower souffle. BEST.IDEA.EVER.

The pictures will never do this side justice. For two reasons, it is basically a colorless dish, and I am horrible at taking pictures. Trust me, this one is worth making.

Asiago Cauliflower Souffles

Serves 4

Total Price- $2.63

Total Price per serving- $0.66

Average Retail Price- $4.39

Total Savings $1.76

(You will need 4 equal size baking ramekins)


– 1 head of cauliflower

-1 tbsp butter

-1tbsp sour cream

-1/4 milk

-3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese


1. Break the cauliflower into large heads

2. Boil until fork tender

3. Strain and cool for 5-10 minutes

4. Blend with butter, sour cream, milk and salt and pepper (adjust seasonings and ingredients to your liking.)

5. After blending, the mashed cauliflower should be the consistency of grits.

6. Pour mashed cauliflower into baking ramekins.

7. Top with shredded Asiago (just enough cheese to cover the top)

8. Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

9. If you want to make these the day before or the morning of, compose them, place them in the refrigerator and bake from cold at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Savings in this side dish

Cauliflower $1.38/head at Super H Mart

Asiago cheese $2.99/lb at Costco

Merango Tango

I am not a big fan of casseroles or meals that are all mixed together. For example, I don’t like Chicken and Dumplings or Chicken Pot Pie because each bite tastes the same. I love to have a variety of meat and sides, so I have the ability to transform every bite into a new taste. There are a few exceptions to my stance on this. One is Chicken Merango.

My aunt has made this meal for as long as I can remember. My sister-in-law made it last night. It made me think “what a good blog entry!” It is easy to make and it’s delicious. My brother is determined that egg noodles are a must. I was thinking of serving it on rice, but my brother said that would be like eating “Rice-a-cini Alfredo” and no one wants that.

Chicken Merango

Serves 4

Total price- $4.89

Total price per person- $1.23

Total savings- $5.67

Average Retail- $10.56

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks

-2 cups of wide egg noodles

-1 can tomato soup

-1 can Golden Mushroom soup

-1 medium onion, cubed

– 1 jar of sliced mushrooms or 3/4 cup of fresh mushrooms

-1-2 tsp garlic powder

– 1tbsp of canola oil

– salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute the chicken until browned.

2. Pour in both cans of soup.

3. Add garlic powder, onion and mushrooms.

4. Simmer low heat for 30-40 minutes.

5. Do a little Merango Tango and enjoy!

Savings in this meal:

Chicken Breast on sale at Ingles- $1.48/lb

Campbell’s soup- BOGO Publix