Category Archives: Southern

Friends, Foodies and Corn Lovers, Lend Me Your Ears

Every food magazine I thumbed through this month has featured golden, delicious, fresh corn. I have always loved me some corn so I didn’t mind some outside-the-box ideas with this crunchy, sweet vegetable and two recipes that piqued my interest were in Cooking Light magazine including Corn Pancakes with Salmon and Lemon-Chive Cream ( and Saucy Crawfish with Whole Corn Grits (

I just adored both of these for their creativity and combination of flavors in each dish. With the corn pancakes, I definitely have a new entertaining dish I can serve when we have friends over. This is an impressive looking and well, more importantly, tasting dish. It’s elegant and refined and heck, y’all, it’s a corn pancake! We loved the fresh salmon and the absolutely perfect pancake. Put a dollop of the lemon-chive cream on top and it was mouth-wateringingly good. I served with a fresh side salad of arugula, feta and lemon-oregano dressing.

Mmmm, moving on to the grits recipe. I’m such a Southerner when it comes to food and this reminded me of my childhood in a big way. When I was little we would go to this super fancy place called Johnny Cace’s in Longview – still one of my Mom’s favorites. This place is an institution in East Texas and and they can serve up some serious Creole y’all: At first glance it can seem like there’s a lot going on but this dish came together quite quickly. Those grits are to DIE FOR with the fresh corn, as is that sauce…yum, yum, yum. I substituted shrimp instead of crawfish but could see this being killa with some mudbugs. I urge you to make both of these before the summer fresh corn is gone.

Oooh the new Bon Appetit and Cooking Light have uploaded to my Kindle – must go read!

Girl Power!

You might be saying to yourself, “self, doth my eyes deceive me or is this really a new Cooking Inside the Lines post?” Yes it is, and I also made you sound like a Shakespearean actor, ha! I know, I know. I’ve been really bad about posting but I have managed to try some fantastic recipes recently, even in the midst of planning a wedding and running my own pie business. I still can’t believe I get to marry the man of my dreams next month. I am just dripping with happiness that I get to be Mrs. Emily Kealey!  Sorry, I digress.

Food and Wine magazine has this excellent little slideshow featuring recipes from top female chefs, and I have the pleasure of telling you that the three I tried were all rock stars. Go ladies, do your thang! I liked these so much, that I’m trying three more from this round-up this week to see how they turn out. Scout’s honor, I will keep you posted. In the meantime, give these three beauties a try. Here they are with my thoughts:

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore – Deep , rich, spicy flavors. A beautiful dish from Chef Barbara Lynch. We loved this “deconstructed” version of a chicken cacciatore, and I love me some chicken cacciatore so I’ve tried many at home. See, you don’t have to pick from the litter, just make this one!

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore (Photo by Marcus Nilsson)

Seared Scallops with Basil, Anchovy and Sweet Corn Pudding – When I saw the pairing of these two dishes I thought, “hmm not sure if they fit together, but they both sound so delicious, let’s just see.” Well, they don’t pair really. I would like to serve the Sweet Corn Pudding with some kind of ham smothered in some kind of gravy. The scallops were just delicious with the basil and anchovies, and I think I would have liked it better if they were nestled on top of a turnip or parsnip puree. They are just so elegant that the pudding kind of threw us off. Either way, both were delicious, and quick to boot.

Seared Scallops with Basil, Anchovy and Sweet Corn Pudding (Photo by Anna Williams)

Hanger Steak with Herb-Nut Salsa – Hands down our favorite of the group. They had us at herb-nut salsa and Chef Naomi Pomeroy is one of my favorites. This was quick, delicious, crunchy, savory, herbalicious and packed a super flavor punch. if I’m in a pinch and want something I know is going to be the bomb, this is it.

Hangar Steak with Herb-Nut Salsa (Photo by Petrina Tinslay)







Nom Nom Nom

So I had to share this photo of me with my new favorite t-shirt ever. Yes, it’s a brontosaurus eating tree leaves that says “Nom Nom Nom.” Thanks to my friend Kari for an awesome t-shirt. You know, it’s the little things that make me a happy panda, er, brontosaurus.

Nom, Nom, Nom!

Speaking of nom nom noming, this Chicken with Cornmeal Dumplings recipe from Everyday Food magazine was spectacular. I love dumplings. I grew up eating my Mimi’s chicken and dumplings dish when I was little – my gosh she made the best I’ve ever tasted! I’ll have to share the recipe with you someday won’t I?

This dish had tons of flavor with a wonderful blend of carrots, celery, green onions, green bell pepper, thyme, beer (!) and chicken thighs. What we couldn’t get over was the texture and taste of the sauce; it was thick, creamy and packed a delicious punch.

I pretty much followed this to a “T” but did include about a 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic with the veggies, and I threw in a pinch of cayenne pepper when I added the vinegar to give it a little spice.

This was one of David’s first experiences with dumplings and he loved them. YAY! And as he likes to state after a successful meal, “Absolutely blog worthy.” The recipe is not online so here you go lambs. As the magazine states “This stew has a zesty New Orleans feel,” well, I  say let the good times roll with this one poodles, it ROCKED.

Chicken with Cornmeal Dumplings, Everyday Food, April 2011 (p.114)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 ½ pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ½ bunch scallions, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
  • 2 celery stalks, diced medium
  • 2 medium carrots, diced medium
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 bottles pilsner or another light-or-medium bodied lager (12 ounces each)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 recipe Cornmeal Dumpling Dough
  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons butter, scallions, bell pepper, celery, and carrots to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions and celery are soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in thyme and flour and season with salt and pepper; cook 1 minute. Return chicken to pot and whisk in beer. With your hands, roughly tear tomatoes and add to pot along with juices. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook, uncovered 30 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar.
  2. Reduce heat to a medium simmer and drop dough by rounded tablepoons on top of stew. Cover and simmer until dumplings are cooked through 7 – 10 minutes.

Cornmeal Dumpling Dough

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), 1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal,  1 ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Using your fingers, work in 1 tablespoon unsalted butter until small crumbs form. Stir in ½ cup buttermilk.


Bread Pudding With A Little Erskine On The Side

Everything I’ve tested and tasted this week has been pretty good but not really C.I.T.L material if you know what I mean – until last night. I spotted this Sausage and Caramalized Onion Bread Pudding when it came out in October 2009 and then it got lost in the recipe shuffle. I revisited last week and decided to put on my menu plan or forever hold my peace. Good things come to those who wait!

Sausage and Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding (Photo by Becky Lugart-Stayner)

This was so yummy and savory and bread puddingy. We gobbled up one piece, both went back for seconds and had it for lunch today too.  The only addition I made was a little fresh thyme since I had some handy and I love adding fresh herbs whenever I can. Moving on to the salad I chose to accompany the fantastic bread pudding. The name is quite unique: Hotel Russel Erskine Salad. Turns out, Russel Erskine was a businessman from Huntsville, Alabama and was the president of Studebaker motor cars for several years. The Hotel Russel Erskine building is still in Hunstville, but is now an aparment complex. Sigh, that makes me think of the beautiful Plaza Hotel in New York City. I digress. This dressing, served at Hotel Russel Erskine, is a funky combo of flavors THAT ROCKS. Hoseradish, sweet paprika, dry mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. This reminded me of a typical French dressing but was much thinner and lighter in flavor; perfect for the watercress. I highly recommend both of these!

Salute the Captain!

As I was thumbing through the new Cooking Light, I kept coming back to this Vegetarian Country Captain recipe due to it’s unique combination of ingredients: curry, mango chutney, heavy cream, cauliflower, edamame, and a Granny Smith apple? My brain kept trying to figure out just how these would all taste together and finally intrigue got the best of me. Two cheers for intrigue. We LOVED this. It is an Emily and David favorite hands down.

OK back to what the heck a Country Captain is exactly. According to Cooking Light: Traditionally, Country Captain is a mild chicken stew seasoned with curry powder. Myth has it that a British sea captain working in the spice trade introduced this classic, comforting dish to the southern U.S. in the 19th century. Here, we’ve replaced chicken with edamame and cauliflower for a version loaded with vegetables to help you meet your daily produce goals. For a more in-depth history of this very popular Lowcountry dish (FDR adored it!), read more here. If anyone has favorite Country Captain recipes please share in the comments as I’m dying to make more versions of this.

This was so easy to put together and the layers of flavor were insanely delicious. I loved how all the ingredients played off each other and it is really filling to boot. For the love y’all, make this right now! One note, if you are working off of the magazine do not pay attention to the photo above the recipe.  It’s  the wrong image and I saw on their website that Cooking Light is aware of the error. As I was making this I kept scratching my head and worrying because mine was looking nothing like the beauty shot. Lo and behold I flipped to the page ahead and put two and two together. Whew, that photo DID look like this….

Vegetarian Country Captain (Photo by John Autry)


Kids Night!

Looking over my blog I realized, gosh darnit, we eat pretty well around these parts. Lamb the other night, Moroccan dates another. I was feeling a little too fancy for my own pants and decided to take it back a notch. Nothing can make me feel like a kid again than crunchy chicken fingers with a dipping sauce and creamy mac and cheese. I grew up in a house with a home cooked meal every night (thanks Mom!) with fun food items like these to look forward to when I came home from school. Something about this simple combo just made me giggle like a little Emily again.

I chose these Pan-Fried Chicken Fingers with Spicy Dipping Sauce and the Chicken, Bacon and Ranch Mac and Cheese both from Cooking Light plus some adult grape juice aka a nice bottle of a 2008 Cols Du Vents Corbieres to go along with. Trust me it just sounds fancy, it was on sale for $9.00 at Whole Foods Market! 

I also like Cooking Light’s comparison of regular chicken fingers versus their creation:

703 calories per serving
1,000 milligrams sodium
10.7 grams saturated fat
Deep-fried in lard
Drowning in sauce
Greasy, heavy coating

414 calories per serving
495 milligrams sodium
1.5 grams saturated fat
Pan-seared in canola oil
Just enough spicy mayo sauce
Light, crispy, crunchy

Pan-Fried Chicken Finger with Spicy Dipping Sauce (Photo by John Autry)

Dude, the sodium and saturated fat difference alone should be enough to convince you to give these a try. I couldn’t find the recommended Kashi brand cereal at our HEB so I winged it and grabbed Grape-Nuts Flakes cereal. YUM! This cereal made a delicious sweet crust for the chicken. I pan-fried two minutes per side as instructed but had to chunk the whole batch into the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees to finish them off as they were still pink inside. After that though? Awesome chicken fingers with a crispy, crunchy crust and not greasy just like they say plus the chicken was still juicy. I heart this sauce. It was so simple but y’all it is a spicy little fireball so watch out and lower the amount of Sriracha if you are not a heat seeker. Of course I loved it’s spicy kick.

The mac and cheese. Nom, nom, nom. I omitted the chicken from the recipe because well that’s too much poultry for one night. Also, I decided to use turkey bacon and used three slices instead of regular bacon and only using one slice. I can’t help it, I love bacon or bacon flavor in anything! Otherwise I followed this to the letter and it turned out perfectly. I especially loved the ranch flavor of this dish. With the onion and garlic powder and fresh dill, it just zinged and zanged but without all of the calories of a true ranch dressing.

After dinner, bellies full but not too much, we sat down and watched Zombieland. This was David’s first time seeing the film and my second. My goodness I love this movie. I think every single line of Woody Harrelson’s is an excellent one-liner. My favorite…? Here you go. We have leftovers for lunch today and I’m thinking about making a chicken tender salad with the Pioneer Woman’s – don’t you just heart her?! – homemade ranch dressing with the remaining mac and cheese on the side.

Update! Leftover chicken fingers on top of mixed greens with above mentioned ranch dressing and mac and cheese – SUPER LUNCH!

“My, My That Was Good!”

Those were my exact words friends as I finished my plate of Greens and Eggs Migas from the cookbook Simple Fresh Southern by the Lee Bros. who are, you guessed it brothers, hailing from South Carolina and are food/wine/travel journalists. For someone who works in the food industry I had not come across the Lee Bros. yet but if this recipe and the gentle cookbook they created is any testament to their talent then shame on me.

I wanted to test this recipe for two reasons, one they called this dish “Austin-Style” and of course anything featuring my home city I’m drawn too and two it has eggs. Well and three, I love having breakfast for dinner. Gosh, I could eat the most important meal of the day three times a day!

Lee Bros. Cherry Tomato Soybean Salad

According to the book: “migas means ‘crumbs’ in Spanish, and the roots of the dish can be traced to the Old World, specifically to Portugal and Spain.” For this dish you actually make the Collard Greens with Poblano Chiles and Chorizo first and then incorporate it into the migas. I loved this so much. It is easy, quick – even with two recipes if you think about it – and the flavors are absolutely awesome. I’m going to stop talking now and let you see for yourself with the two recipes below from the cookbook. Thanks boo for the awesome cookbook, this rocked!

Greens and Eggs Migas
Serves 4
Time: 25 minutes, preparation, 10 minutes cooking

1/2 cup canola oil
Three 6-inch corn tortillas, cut pizza-style into 8 triangles
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
8 large eggs, beaten (obviously I culled this recipe down for just moi)
4 ounces, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1 recipe Collard Greens with Poblano Chiles and Chorizo, warm (I saved the rest of this for breakfast tomorrow!)
Fresh or store-bought salsa, for serving

Heat the oil and one of the small tortilla triangles in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat until the tortilla sizzles vigorously. Add the remaining tortilla pieces and stir them in the hot oil until they become crispy and browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted metal spoon, transfer them to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and set aside.

Pour off the oil, and add butter to the skillet, and when it’s completely melted and frothing, add the onion and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs and the tortilla chips, and scramble until the eggs are curdy but still moist, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, cover, and cook just until the cheese melts, about 45 seconds.

Divide the collard greens with poblanos and chorizo among the 4 warm serving plates, and top each portion with eggs and spoonfuls of salsa.

Lee Bros. Brandied Plums

Collard Greens with Poblano Chiles and Chorizo
Serves 4
Time: 5 minutes preparation, 15 minutes cooking

2 teaspoons peanut or canola oil (I used canola)
8 ounces of fresh chorizo, casings removed, cut into roughly 1-inch pieces; or 4 ounces cured chorizo, kielbasa, or other smoked sausage, finely diced
3 poblano chiles, seeded and sliced into thin 2-to 3-inch strips (about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 pounds collard greens (about 1 bunch), ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (1 packed quart)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet or saute pan set over high heat, and when it shimmers, add the chorizo. Cook, chopping up the (fresh) sausage with the back of a spoon, until the sausage has rendered most of its fat, about 2 minutes. Add the poblanos, and continue to cook until they have softened slightly and the chorizo is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Add the garlic, half the collards, the salt, and 2 tablespoons water to the skillet. Cook, turning the collards with tongs and adding more greens as those in thee pan wilt, until all the collards are in the skillet. Continue to cook until the collards have softened and become dark green, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and continue to cook the collards, turning them occasionally, until the vinegar has completely evaporated and the pan is dry, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, if necessary, and divide the collards, poblanos, and chorizo among 4 warm serving plates. Serve immediately.

An Oldie But a Goodie

I’ve mentioned a few times that out of all of the cooking magazine issues I keep, it is usually the holiday issues. Not only am I a 5-year old trapped in a 29-year old body when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I love the food so much it is almost painful for me when the holidays are over. (You should see me when I have to take down my holiday decorations, there might be tears involved).
I was thumbing through my old Cooking Light 2007 and 2008 December issues last week and as if I was looking through an old photo album of loved ones, I kept sighing and pointing to certain recipes saying internally, “I remember the time I made that, how delicious and I need to retest and see if it is Cooking Inside the Lines worthy!” Now, you can imagine the grumblings that occurred internally too when I found three delicious looking recipes from the 2008 issue that I had not tried. Quel horreur!

I have to say I planned the timing out pretty well and everything came together very easily, even towards the end of cooking which can sometimes get pretty insane. The Pork Chops were pretty darn awesome. I really liked the Colonial Corn Pudding a lot. Instead of oyster crackers I used multi-grain saltine crackers and they tasted great in the dish. The baked potatoes were good but I think I used too much chipotle that overpowered the other flavors a bit.

Finally, the cobbler. I found some quince at Whole Foods Market the other day and because when cooked it can lend an apple flavor to dishes, I decided to use these instead. This was my first time working with quince and I have to say me likey. Quince is a tough little bugger so it’s best to poach or cook for long periods of time to bring the full flavors out and soften it up. I poached the cut-up quince for 45 minutes before placing in my cast-iron Dutch oven to finish the cobbler recipe. It was delicious! I loved this topping and the quince did take on an apple flavor but had a more firm texture than an apple would have.

I think this meal was a perfect comfort dinner for a rainy night here in Austin. Give them a try!

Got Milk?

When I see that a recipe has made any kind of “Best Of” on the Cooking Light Web site my food antennae perk-up. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out this Creamed Corn with Bacon and Leeks recipe was voted “Best Side Grain Dish” in the magazine. I love creamed corn and put bacon and leeks with it? Wow, I’m in heaven.
I get home, get settled, shuck and cut the fresh corn off the cob. I’m so excited, I prance over to the refrigerator to get out the 1% milk and my jaw drops…no milk. Really? We usually have too much milk in the house and now, the one time I need the precious stuff I don’t have any? Sigh.

So I’ve got this fresh corn shucked, but like any good Southern girl I also have a can of Creamed Corn in my pantry. I decide to go rogue and try my own thing, kind of. So, I cook the bacon, then sauteed the leeks and fresh corn together and finally place the canned cream corn in the pan to combine and warm through. I have to say I was proud of my sheer determination to get my daily dose of bacon and leeks. Even though I didn’t try the full recipe, I think the real lesson learned here is that corn, bacon and leeks are an awesome flavor combination together.