Land O’ Lakes Butter with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, July 23, 2012

If Pioneer Woman approves of it, I’m on it!

Hope they are paying her the big bucks for the commercials, too.  Go Ree!!!

And here are some of her recipes…

Wonderful Raspberry Lemon Muffins with Lemon Glaze

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, July 08, 2012

lemon muffin_edited

This recipe is from Williams Sonoma, but I tweaked it by adding a lemon glaze and more lemon to the batter.  You will love these muffins, they’re light, lemony, and yummy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg – I omitted this
2 eggs
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup milk
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
I added the juice of a lemon to the batter, as well as the zest
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Prepare the muffin pan
Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. (I didn’t have liners, I just sprayed the muffin tins with Pam, it worked fine

Mix the batter
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until blended. Whisk in the milk, butter and lemon zest. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until just evenly moistened. Gently fold in the raspberries until just evenly distributed.

Bake the muffins
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-fourths full. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then turn the muffins out onto the rack. Let cool briefly and serve. Makes 12 muffins.

Note:  I filled the muffin tins almost full, and used 12 tins.  It worked great filling the tins completely, they crowned nicely and didn’t run over the edges.

Lemon Glaze

1 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
Lemon zest from the rind
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon milk

Put all ingredients in food processor and process until thin consistency.  You want to spoon this on the muffins while they are warm, and let it run down the sides.  You may have to adjust, adding a bit more milk if your glaze is too thick.

I put the muffins on a cookie drying rack that sits on paper towel, so that the excess just runs off.

These are such good muffins, perfect for a summer breakfast with fresh fruit.


The Best White Wine Sangria, so easy, too…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, July 08, 2012


We made this for July 4th, and it was absolutely yummy.  Let it sit overnight, the flavors mellow, it’s totally light, refreshing and really simple to make.

3 bottles of Pinot Grigio
6 ounces of frozen lemonade concentrate, undiluted
6 ounces of frozen orange juice, undiluted
Orange Slices
Strawberries, Sliced
Peaches Sliced

That’s it, how easy is this?  Just stir together in a large container, refrigerate overnight and enjoy.

And since everybody likes a different sweetness to their drinks, this was tart, so we just added a packet of two of Splenda to our glasses instead of adding sugar to the entire batch.

It was just perfect….

~ jan

Maxine’s Sweet Potato Salad

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, July 03, 2012


There is a little deli lunch place in Indiana, Maxine’s, and they have the most wonderful sweet potato salad.  It is so unusual, it’s so yummy, and great for fall.

I don’t have their recipe, however, this was in the local newspaper, and it’s “supposedly” a good copycat.

Definitely a “must try” at my house.

Baked Sweet-Potato Salad with Vanilla-Maple Vinaigrette

4 large sweet potatoes
8 slices of double-smoked bacon
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2/3 cup celery,diced
4 to 5 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup beer nuts, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Vanilla-Maple Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons hot water
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons champgne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat gill to medium high

Place sweet potatoes on the upper shelf of preheated grill and close lid. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or longer, depending on size, until just cooked and tender but not mushy when pierced with a wooden skewer. Let cool slightly too handle, peel, and cut into bite-sized pieces, 1 to 11/2-inch chunks. Cool Completely.

Grill bacon slices until crispy, remove from the grill and dice in 1/2 to 3/4-inches

In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, red pepper, celery, green onions,beer nuts, parley, rosemary and thyme. Toss well and set aside.


Place vanilla bean and seeds in a bowl with hot water. Let sit 10 to 20 minutes.

Whisk together the syrup, vinegar, shallot and mustard. While continually whisking, drizzle in the oil to form an emulsion. Whisk in the vanilla mixture.

Pour the vinaigrette over te sweet potato salad and mix well to coat. Serve immediately.

The World’s BEST Banana Nut Cake, SERIOUSLY!!!!

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, June 16, 2012


I made this last weekend when the family was home and it was a huge hit.  I found the recipe on AllRecipes and it had 1000 positive reviews.  I read all the tweaks, and ended up making the recipe pretty much like the original, except I baked it at 300°instead of 275°, and I added pecans to the batter as well.  It took about an hour and twenty minutes to bake in my oven.  This is a heavy, dense cake, reminiscent of banana nut bread, but better! I wish I would have weighed it, I would guestimate 7 lbs.  The consistency reminded me of our much loved Elsah’s Landing Hawaiian Carrot Cake, another winner that I’ve made for my family for the past twenty-five years. You can read the recipe for the Carrot Cake by clicking here.

I did put the cake immediately in the freezer for 45 minutes as the recipe told me to do, but then I frosted it, covered it and left it at room temperature so that it would moisten.  I would refrigerate this after 24 hours, since it has cream cheese in the frosting, but I think it’s best served if you bring the sliced pieces back to room temperature before serving, so that the frosting is creamy.  This cake improves with time, every day it gets more moist.

This is such a great recipe, going into my Tried ‘n True Hall of Fame it’s so good.  I did use buttermilk, some people didn’t, and I used the entire recipe for frosting as we like a lot of icing.


1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
I added a cup of chopped pecans to the batter, you can toast pecans if you like for a richer flavor


1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 275°. – I baked this at 300°
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan, I sprayed with Pam
In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.  I had 5 bananas, very ripe, that’s the secret, you want your bananas turning black, they have the best flavor.  I used all of mine, I didn’t measure, I just used them.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.  I sift all of these ingredients together.

Using a mixer, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.

Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
Stir in banana mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  This is not long enough, even at 300° it took mine an hour and twenty minutes to bake and I have an accurate oven.

Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

Spread on cooled cake.

Sprinkle chopped pecans over top of the frosting, if desired, or you can mix the chopped nuts in with the cream cheese frosting. 

You’re going to love this cake, it is totally awesome.


Tips to organize your refrigerator…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, June 16, 2012

This great video from HGTV has some super ideas.  Now I need to find those lemon/onion containers that hang off your shelf.  Nifty idea!

Portillo’s Chopped Salad, an AMAZING recipe…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, June 01, 2012


My friend Barb, told me about how awesome Portillo’s Chopped Salad is.  Portillo’s is a Chicago institution, a hot dog stand that was started in 1963 by Dick Portillo’s in a small trailer with no running water, and has now grown to 47 locations.  Their chopped salad is famous, and rightly so.  Oh, what a great summer recipe this is for all of you…  The recipe is widely available online, this is how Barb makes hers…

Portillo’s Chopped Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
1 – 2 heads Romaine lettuce, depending on size
1 small head red cabbage, minced or 1 bag sliced red cabbage, chopped
1 small red onion, finely minced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2  c. ditalini pasta, cooked and cooled
1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (Amish Blue Cheese from Sam’s is awesome)

Vinaigrette dressing, bottled or homemade

Wash and dry the lettuces. Finely chop until the lettuce is in small pieces, this is the secret, you want this to be finely chopped, not large chunks.

Put in large salad bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except dressing, and toss to combine well.

Serve dressing along side the salad or pour on and combine just before serving.


Barb uses a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, I’ve also read that Marzetti’s Sweet Italian Dressing is a dead ringer, Commenters also say that Aldi’s Grandesse House Salad Dressing tastes really similar.  I also found a homemade recipe with positive reviews  if you would like to try it.

This Italian Dressing is from  the Chicago Sun-Times. It is similar to the dressing found on salads at Portillo's and Maggiano's restaurants.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Place vinegar, garlic, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.

While the machine is running, slowly drizzle olive oil through the blender top or feed tube until dressing is combined and emulsified.

Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks

Wilted Lettuce, I just had the best salad of the year so far…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, May 25, 2012


You all know about my continuing obsession with Salad-In-A-Jar, and lately I’ve been eating Sam’s Spring Greens, hubby buys me two gigantic containers of it at a time.

And, I’m counting calories, and even though the bacon and dressing aren’t healthy, my salad came in at 350 calories, so that’s a good thing.  And the bacon fat is soooo satisfying! *wicked grin*

I took this huge, and I mean huge pile of greens, added chopped red onion, and meanwhile I sautéed 2 strips of bacon.  I measured 1 tablespoon of the drippings, added a packet of Splenda, salt, lots of cracked pepper, a tablespoon of white vinegar, brought it to a boil on the stove, put it in my favorite stainless steel bowl that was ma’s, then put a plate on top and let it sit for a bit to wilt.

Then I added the crumbled bacon, croutons and blue cheese crumbles and it was TO.DIE.FOR!!!

I’ve always adored wilted lettuce, and the only way this would have been better was if it would have had a chopped hardboiled egg added. But of course, if I would have doubled the bacon drippings and the vinegar it would have taken it to another level, but I didn’t do that…

Oh, SO good!!!

The best snack I’ve had in awhile…

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, April 30, 2012

fageI’ve been busy with other things lately, so I’ve been buying Fage Unflavored Greek Yogurt instead of making my own.  I know, bad girl, bad girl…

I seriously adore Greek Yogurt, seriously.  I eat it on baked potatoes, I make dips with it, I add Splenda and fresh berries, and now…

jifI’m eating it with Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, and it is totally awesome!  I take 1/2 or 23/ cup of Greek Yogurt, add 2 packets of Splenda, a tablespoon of Peanut butter, stir thoroughly and eat!  O.M.G. ladies, it you are a peanut butter person, you will love this.  Good for you, and under 200 calories.  It’s a great snack!  I’m also reading that you mix Greek Yogurt with Jello Cheesecake Pudding, the kind in the little four-packs.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m hearing it tastes like real cheesecake.  I’ll update you…

~ jan

Trisha Yearwood’s Brownies with Coconut Frosting

by 👩‍🍳 Cooking With a Southern Vibe in Music City USA 👩‍🍳, April 14, 2012

Brownies with Coconut Frosting                                                                   Photo:  Courtesy FoodNetwork

Trisha made these on her debut Cooking Show.  What’s not to love, brownies that are reminescent of German Chocolate Cake.  Oh my….


Cooking spray
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pam an 8x8 pan and set aside.

Melt chocolate and shortening, either in the microwave or over a double boiler.

Beat eggs, add sugar and combine, then stir in chocolate mixture that you’ve slightly cooled.

Sift together dry ingredients,  and by hand, stir in the chocolate/egg mixture.  Then stir in vanilla extract and nuts.

Don’t overbake, bake just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  Cool slightly, spread with frosting and cut in squares.

Coconut Frosting:

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
10 ounces fresh or frozen grated coconut, thawed
1 1/2 cups nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds), finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the evaporated milk, sugar and egg yolks in a saucepan. Stir with a wire whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated. Add the butter, melt, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture thickens, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the coconut, nuts and vanilla extract and let cool. Yield: 4 cups.

Trisha stirred the milk, sugar and egg yolks with the butter constantly.  She said don’t leave them, you have to constantly stir them for at least 12 minutes until they thicken.