Today’s post is short and sweet. Think lean ground beef, lots of veggies, and flashbacks to my seventh-grade self in hot rollers.
The video below is maybe the most fun I’ve ever had making chili. For me, chili brings back great memories- warm fall nights, the smell of cumin wafting from a slow cooker, football tailgating, salty Frito’s- but the most hilarious of all involves the hunting camp, staking out turkeys, and ensuing get-togethers with freshly caught wild game at the center of the chili pot.
And now, living in Nashville, I had the joy of NOT trampling through the woods, avoiding ticks and carefully tiptoeing around leaves in my 1990 Timberlands. Instead, I took a leisurely trip to the farmer’s market in my flip-flops to purchase Walnut Hills dry-aged lean ground beef and Smiley Farms produce.
So, check out this version of “dieter’s chili” from The Nashville Cookbook. For me, chili=happy place, and I am wishing you a bowl full of beefy joy today.
I also dare you to find the Randy “Macho Man” savage cutaway in the mix.
I love local food. I always have; it’s how I grew up in the South. I remember the hot Alabama sun streaming down my back as I ran through my Aunt Nelle and Uncle Honey’s Jackson, Alabama back yard, sweat dripping down my … Continue reading →
Shout outs for this project are absolutely due to my incredible husband. He not only wrote the musical score for this whole series, he edited these videos late into the night, and arranged the clips just perfectly (he shows me love and grace in countless ways). Also shout out to friends of ours for lending invaluable opinions to the reviewing process! We couldn’t be prouder. I hope this first video will be a launching point for many, many more to come!
So, take this Wednesday, and be reminded of the fact that dreams DO come true. That things happen in our lives that are beyond our imagination or understanding. And for that, we take marshmallows, roll them sweet potatoes, pecans, and cornflakes, and bake their happy selves until they are lightly toasted. Let’s raise a gooey treat to the fact that life is good- and dreams are worth pursuing.
Sweet Potato Puffs
Sweet Potato Puffs by Faye House from The Nashville Cookbook
These easy sweet potato treats will be the hit of your next get-together! They take only a few minutes to throw together after you boil the sweet potatoes, and you get to use an immersion blender.
What You Will Need
4 large sweet potatoes (I like Plano Farms in Nashville; about 2.6 lbs)
4 tablespoons melted butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons heavy cream (I like JD Country Milk– their chocolate milk is LEGIT)
1 cup chopped pecans
5 cups cornflakes
Jumbo marshmallows (the big daddy kind- absolute biggest you can buy)
What You Will Do
Boil the sweet potatoes until they are tender. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray.
Drain potatoes, then pour into a large bowl. Add the butter, sugar, heavy cream. Whip with an immersion blender until smooth. Wear large apron to guard against sweet potato splatters. Consider wearing a hair net because if, like me, you have long hair, it might end up on your ends.
Stir in pecans to the potatoes.
Pour cornflakes into a large bowl, then crush with your hands (#fun).
Dip jumbo marshmallows into the potato mixture, covering evenly. Now, roll the marshmallows in the cornflakes, then place into 9X13 baking pan.
Once the pan is full, bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are toasty brown and the marshmallows have melted a bit. Enjoy immediately! (This is a now tater, not a later-tater!)
Hi all my amazing Luv Cooks readers! Have I told you lately HOW MUCH it means to me that you read these posts? You are cooking rock stars and to that I say, rock on friends, rock on.
Also, EXCITING news to share with you! As many of you know, I have been wanting to incorporate Luv Cooks video content for eons now. Pretty much what feels like a half century of my lifetime, which means I probably felt this way in about the time period Brooklyn was being filmed. Ok, back to the task at hand….
The official FIRST EPISODE of our Luv Cooks series is about to be arrive. That’s right- Southern recipes, straight from The Nashville Cookbook, live and on Luv Cooks You Tube!. Which means any time you are craving a dose of Luv Cooks kitchen shenanigans, you can tune in. Night or day. You get the picture.
So, here is our teaser video, getting you primed for this month’s recipe- which, if you like sweet potatoes, pecans, butter, and marshmallows, you are going to be over-the-moon about.
So check out the video, and I’d love to hear what else you’d like to see me cook! Luv y’all!
As you know, I am a passionate foodie, sweet tooth, peanut butter lover. I am also a fan of all things beautiful. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of praying and thinking about the blog. What do you, my precious readers, want to see? What would bless you? What would fill you up- both literally and creatively?
I think you, like me, share a love of beauty. It’s part of what makes me who I am (my name is actually Greek for beauty, shout out to all my Greek sisters!), it’s a large part of why I feel so connected to my Maker, and it’s a huge part of why I got into this whole blogging thing in the first place. Plus, doing food and prop styling full time means I get to be surrounded by beauty a lot. It’s pretty amazing.
So, in an effort to try a few new things around the blog, here, my wonderful friends, are the beautiful things that inspired me both in and out of the kitchen this week.
The colors, textures, Italian grandmothers, pasta, and produce stand in this campaign are heavenly. My love for the look of Dolce and Gabbana’s ad campaigns runs deep. If I had $4,000 to spend on a dress and sunglasses, you better believe I’d be sporting the ones above. Oh, and have you seen the VIDEO?!
To say that I want to live in a kitchen with an open, airy view of the Grecian sea while gazing across my white marble countertops towards my Anthropologie cake stands and colorful cook book collection- understatement of the century. They do such beautiful work with cool, bright props and ceramics. #LUV
Recipe taken from Eater.com, a screen shot capture of the episode “Fire” (contributed by Netflix.com and Jigsaw productions)
I laughed, I cried, I was a tad grossed out, I wept for joy. You know, just a normal Tuesday night watching Cooked. Y’all- Michael Pollan not only is one of my favorite, down-to-earth food personalities/experts, his new show Cooked (on Netflix now) is my fave. As in, I am trying to focus on writing this right now and secretly wishing there was a way to watch the Water episode at the same time. Oh wait, you want to go to Morocco to run a grain mill now too? I knew you would!
I aspire to style something like this one day. The drips on the ice cream are purrrfeect. And the blue background is spot-on.
Alright, my Luv Cooks family- I hope you have a sweet, beauty-filled weekend. Enjoy these last remnants of winter and at some ice cream in front of a color block wall, while wearing a fabulous handbag with somebody you love. Peace!
I want it to be sunny. I want the snow to melt, the windshield of my Prius to unfreeze, and the clouds to part to reveal a glorious, warm stream of sunlight onto the city of Nashville.
However, the reality of our current situation is that it’s hovering around 30 degrees outside, two of my plans with my girlfriends have been cancelled due to inclement weather (and my lack of a 4-wheel drive vehicle), and I am suffering from small-space-affected-disorder. Well, that last phrase might have been a bit extreme. With all due respect to those suffering from a dread of small spaces, our current situation looks like this: me attempting to meet my New Year’s resolution of circuit workouts (aka doing jumping lunges and wobbly tricep dips) while my husband plays guitar and the heater is on.
So when my amazing creative friend Victoria of Prophet Hall invited me to be a part of her pop-up shop last Saturday I was GAME. Fresh air, new friends, and fabulous clothing were all I needed to hear in order to jump out the door and into the 35 degree sunshine.
This week’s recipe is one I made for the event, and comes from our amazing, The Nashville Cookbook. All you need is fresh lemons, local honey, a batch of strawberries and a little sugar, and you are well on your way to mid-winter refreshment. And a pseudo-springtime moment.
Ok y’all- so join me this week in pretending that it’s spring and bring a little Southern sunshine to your neighbor with a tall glass of lemonade. No need for ice, just leave it outside for a few minutes.
Strawberry Lemonade (adapted from “Lemonade” by Virginia Swoopes in The Nashville Cookbook)
This lemonade is so easy, only takes a few ingredients, and tastes better as it sits. Slice up some extra strawberries and lemon for a pretty garnish.
What You Will Need:
1 tablespoon sugar
6 strawberries, sliced, plus more for garnish
Juice of 4 lemons (about 1/2 cup fresh juice)
6 tablespoons local honey
6 cups water (spring water is great here)
6 thin slices lemon
What You Will Do:
In a small bowl, stir together sugar and strawberries. Mash together with a fork until a chunky paste forms, and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together honey and lemon juice until combined. Add strawberry mixture, then transfer to a pitcher. Stir together with water and lemon slices.
Add additional sliced strawberries and lemon slices as you feel! Pour into individual glasses and share the luv.
The Honeysuckle’s Gulf Grouper with Brown Butter Caper Emulsion
The Honeysuckle is sweet.
Here at Luv Cooks, you know that we are all about loving people well with food. And I hope that as we continue on our blog journey we will learn how to do that better, with more intention, and with better results. I also want to introduce you to places in Nashville- and across the world- that do this well. That treat you like family and are totally Luv Cooks style. The Honeysuckle is one of those places.
I had the privilege of joining several other amazing food bloggers here in Nashville Monday night for one of the best welcome dinners to the city I’ve had. As part of a complimentary press dinner (y’all, I felt so special) our group of bloggers was treated to a several course dinner introducing us to all the restaurant had to offer.
And now, allow me interrupt this review to say something. Y’all- they served us Southern vegetables. That were delicious, and charred, and popped alongside flavorful sauces. The brussels and carrots and okra and cauliflower were the highlight of my meal. I love, love when you are dining out and alongside more traditional fare they offer local, fresh options. Winning!
Gorgeous roasted cauliflower
As we ate, I learned that The Honeysuckle only uses direct source, “day-boat fish.” They dry age their steaks and cook their heirloom vegetables sous-vide style to keep things the most nutritious. Plus, their Executive Chef Josh Weekly is present at the restaurant (unlike some other places). Because they care about their customers and their experience, they make sure he is there. I think that shows some major Luv.
And the night really felt so warm; we were seated beside a crackling fireplace, snow fell softly outside, and tucked away in a corner we were served an array of Southern, heart-felt food. Oysters that were bright, almost floral; followed up by a beautiful charcuterie platter that was prepared in house (the tasso ham and fig preserves were my favorite). Then, then, the goat cheese shuffle was presented, drizzled with chive oil and served with wild mushrooms and charred tomato jam. The texture on these grits was superb, and the goat cheese kept the dish light, but satisfying.
Goat Cheese Grit Souffle
Soon after arrived their gorgeous charred vegetables- roasted heirloom carrot, charred okra, caramelized brussels-arrived. Oh, and the roasted cauliflower with chive oil and spicy red pepper aioli. The color on that dish was fantastic (see above).
The entrees were not to be missed; my seared salmon with sour mash succotash and bacon-sorghum glaze was flakey and slightly crispy on the outside from the caramelized sorghum. The succotash was spot-on and hit that warm/Southern comfort craving. The pan-fired gulf grouper, with braised leeks, wild mushrooms and spinach, and brown butter caper emulsion, was delicious as well. Really, you had me at brown butter.
Seared Salmon with Bacon-Sourghum Glaze
Plus, they do this really cool technique at The Honeysuckle where they can serve your choice of ahi tuna, filet mignon, or sliced scallops on a Himalayan salt stone heated to 700 degrees. This technique was lovely and now I want to own one and serve meats cooked on it to you at my house. #dreams
In addition the the seafood, they also offer chicken-fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and a wild mushroom meatloaf that I hear is not to be missed.
The meal was beautiful; our waiter was lovely, and he explained everything in detail to us. I felt at home, which I believe is the feeling the restaurant hoped to evoke from the beginning.
Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce
And to bring a “sweet finish” to our meal, we were brought an array of desserts. The spiced apple bundt cake (above) was drizzled with a salted caramel sauce, but my favorite item, oh y’all, was the honey orange biscuit (you can see it on the platter below). The chocolate ganache was good, especially swirled in the lava salt sprinkled near it. But y’all. I had to ask our waiter Michael to send me home with an extra box of them. And because it was The Honeysuckle, and they are incredibly generous, they did.
Please order these sweet biscuits (above). They are so good.
So, the next time you are in Franklin (outside of Nashville), and you are looking for a wonderfully warm, fresh, generous, delicious dining experience- check out The Honeysuckle. I think your night will be sweeter because of it.
In my book, chocolate is one of the best ways to luv somebody.
I mean, as my friend Angela Roberts of Spinach Tiger blog recently said, “Chocolate is my favorite food group.” Agreed, whole heartedly, my friend.
And readers, have I told you lately? I LOVE YOU! So, here is my virtual love gift: chocolate cake.
This week’s recipe from The Nashville Cookbook is one of my favorite chocolate cakes I’ve made. If the title of the recipe wasn’t enough- I mean, who can resist “Wacky Cake?”- it involves ONE BOWL. One mixing bowl! Can you imagine? The chocolate cakes I’ve tried in the past involved layered steps of beating in liquids, egg shells, mayonnaise, chocolate batter all over my hands, flour in the crevices of my counter tops, and needless to mention, icing in my hair.
All this recipe requires is a quick sift of the dry ingredients; adding them to the wet ones in a mixer bowl; and a good beating for two minutes. Bake in oven. Viola! This recipe is simple, straightforward, reliable, and good.
***We interrupt this post for a historical fact. Gettin’ you educated!****
The reason why this cake is called “Wacky Cake” is because the traditional version allows you to sift, mix, and bake ingredients in the same pan. I like the mixer method this one uses because I am always concerned with cakes sticking to my pan, thus my love of greasing with shortening. This cake is also called “Three Hole” cake because you can potentially put the dry ingredients in your pan, make three holes, then fill those holes with your liquid mixture. Kids would LOVE this recipe too because it’s so easy and they get to dig in cake mix and make holes. You’re welcome.
Oh, and the recipe has ties to the Depression era because of it’s lack of butter and eggs (due to rationing). Our ancestors were so smart.
****Historical Fact Time Ended. You know, just loving you with some conversation starters this week.***
Also, in the spirit of all things fun and Luv Cooks, this cake is presented to you in honor of Valentine’s Day (it’s topped with cute pink chocolate balls for goodness sake). I know it will make anyone in your life who loves chocolate, eats cake, and loves you happy. And for those of you who are vanilla or strawberry people on Valentine’s Day, I apologize. This blog will probably not ever go in that direction. But we luv you anyway!!
Ok y’all- so saddle up those kids, your significant other, your dog- whoever you love on Valentine’s Day, have a BLAST, and make a wacky cake. Silly string not included.
Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting
This cake could not be easier. All you need is a mixing bowl, a few minutes of prep work, and you will be baking a light, chocolatey cake in no time.
What You Will Need:
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Frosting:
1/2 pound powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water (plus more if needed)
1/4 cup (plus 1 tablespoon if needed) corn syrup
What You Will Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a mixer bowl. Add your wet ingredients (oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla) and mix on medium speed for two minutes.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake should also spring back when you touch it.
Allow to cool in the pan before you ice this beauty!
Now, make the icing:
Combine the sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until no lumps remain and things are looking smooth.
Pour the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan, and heat the mixture to simmering but don’t boil it (you want gentle bubbles to start forming, then take it immediately off the heat). Pour your warmed syrup mixture into the mixing bowl.
Beat the icing at a low speed until smooth and glossy. My icing wasn’t smooth and glossy at this point, it got a bit too thick. So I added one more tablespoon warm water and 1 more tablespoon corn syrup. If your icing is still thick, continue adding warm water and corn syrup until it loosens.
Now, frost the cake! You want to do this while the icing is warm, or it becomes hard to smooth.
There are a host of reasons I feel this way. It’s a fresh start to the year, my schedule seems to become slow enough to give time for some goal setting- but most of all, it’s this:
Jake strums on his guitar next to me. My desk is leans against a large window; I turn my head to the right and look out at the city where I’ve always dreamed of living. Cars rush past outside and their rhythm beats sweetly alongside the guitar riffs. This is the start of Nashville for me.
And the beginning of 2016 has been a sweet one. The start of life in a new space; living in a tiny one (#loftlivin’); and new friendships forming that I feel will be lifelong. Up until this moment, I have yet to experience feeling so at peace, so in that “right where I am supposed to be” position. Life is good.
And it’s funny how I feel already that I owe something to Nashville. The smiling faces, the creativity, and the overwhelming support to people pursuing their dreams; there’s something here that I want to jump into, be a part of, bless people with. And, fortunately for me, my sister gave me just the way to do it.
Cue video intro here!
The Nashville Cookbook: Recipes of the Cumberland Region is where this year begins. This book is a treasure trove of history, Southern tradition, recipes yet to be explored, all from a city I long to know more about. Written by the Nashville Area Home Economics Association in 1976, one of my favorite quotes in the book’s forward is “Food is essential for the nourishment of the body, and books are essential for the nourishment of the mind and the imagination. A good cookbook can meet both these essentials, and that is what the Nashville home economists have provided here.” It is a collection of the history of places- there are beautiful prints and historical pieces on the Maxwell House Hotel, the Parthenon, Fort Nashborough and places in the Cumberland Region. It is my introduction to Nashville as a city, as a food culture, from the point of it’s history and its fascinating, “zany”, carefully crafted recipes. As the opening pages state, “We wish the book to be a joy to read, to use, to savor, and to treasure!”
So this is where Luv Cooks lands. I will cook from these recipes, aiming to make them as authentically as I can. I will include local product, produce, meat, cheese- when I can and where I can- and hope that through this process I have the pleasure of meeting the people who are bringing these fantastic foods to our table.
I will also most likely offer my variations on the tried-and-true. This week’s recipe- such a warm, comforting start to a below freezing week in Nashville- already involves some tweaks, based off of cooking methods I have learned in styling. But I hope that each of these changes will bring something new, and helpful, to your table.
So, saddle up this year for a fantastic, fun, wild ride through a cookbook, written in 1976, full of Southern flair, ingredients, spice, and the joy of life that is wonderfully unique to Tennessee. Let’s eat!
This week’s purveyors:
Meat: Delicious, lean stew meat by KLD Farm (Their beef is 100% chemical free; grass fed and grain finished; contains no antibiotics or growth hormones; and is dry-aged for 14-18 days . In other words, deliciousness.)
Weekly tip: Quality Stew Meat + Relax with Some Soup
Gourmet Stew from The Nashville Cookbook
This beef stew is perfect for a cold winter night, and so simple to make. The hardest part is probably waiting for the meat to tenderize, which for me took a about 2 1/2 hours. The recipe in total takes about 3 1/2 hours, but I made mine on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it was perfect.
What You Will Need:
2 lbs lean boneless stewing meat, cubed, and patted dry
If you haven’t, I need you to stop what you are doing right now and put it in your Netflix que.
Babette’s Feast is the story of two sisters who live in a tiny Danish sea village. Now, this village isn’t the type found in romantic fantasies; it is incredibly windy, cold, and seemingly full of dried fish.
Both of the sisters are raised by a very conservative, minister father who encourages them to stay at home and live the life of Godly, puritan women. Each has the chance to leave the village- one to marry a soldier, the other to be swept away as a performer in the Parisian opera house- but both choose to live at home and instead give their lives on behalf of the poor.
Danish music plays and winds sweep across the ocean. Scenes of boats. Women in long cloaks. And then…
Babette arrives. Perfectly on cue, she, amidst pain and suffering of her own, arrives on the scene and becomes the color to these precious womens’ meager kitchen. She swaps what appears to be cement-like brown stew for fresh rolls; clear broth dotted with dumplings and fresh herbs; bacon, and fresh fruits the townspeople had never laid eyes on, let alone tasted. The story continues and, without giving too much away (You must see this movie!!) Babette’s fortune changes as fast as a mail carrier can reach her. The rest, as they say, is movie- and food- magic.
I watched Babette’s Feast this afternoon with two beautiful, inspiring Creative women. Each has their own area of expertise- and is incredibly skilled and intelligent in their prospective realms- but, in their heart of hearts, is an artist. It expresses itself in the light in their eyes; the way Jan set our table for lunch, taking time to light the candles and tweak the Christmas greenery on the table runner; the way Ana beautifully whisked her own farm-raised basil sheep’s cheese into golden olive oil, berry red wine vinegar, maple syrup and a dash of dijon mustard to dress our greens salad.
There was such an artistry and experience and heart-felt loveliness to the afternoon. It was just what I needed after a busy holiday rush, tracking miles in our tiny Prius, to sit in a warm living room, the afternoon sun setting, snacking on peppermint ice cream and toasted pumpkin nut bread and Ana’s dark chocolate sheep’s cheese truffles.
It truly fed my soul, and echoed what Babette said- “An artist is never poor.”
You know- in my limited experience- I agree. When we do what we were brought on to this earth to do, just like Jan and Ana do, just like I attempt to do as a stylist and Creative mentor- it makes us come alive. It colors the world around us and brings what was once a gray environment alive and awake to the beauty of it’s Creator. It’s transcendent and generous and soul-stirring. It is true and loving and in the moment. It’s love and it’s food and it’s spiritual.
The reason I love this french toast is because it started off with an act of generosity, that also came from the heart of an artist. My husband and I ran into Vance, who owns Savage’s Bakery in Homewood, a few weeks ago during a Christmas open house near where we live. With a sparkle in his eye he shared about all they are baking these days, the history of his family’s recipes, and how important it was to him that every one of his customers experience all of the tastes and flavors that come from their ovens. I went in expectant to try a few things- and walked out with armloads of fresh rolls and a loaf of the best cinnamon raisin bread. It’s fantastic. Not too sweet, warm and soft on the inside, with cinnamon lacing around in swirls towards the thin crust, lightly glazed with icing. It’s perfection in a slice, and I knew I had to share it with you. I had to find a way to share the beauty of his generosity with you.
So, here is my spin on Smitten Kitchen’s Boozy French Toast, something I am calling Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Bake. The recipe calls for the mixture to sit overnight, but I’ve tried it both ways (sitting overnight and sitting for about 30 minutes) and each version is delicious. I think it just depends on what your schedule allows! But please do make this. Put it in your oven, pour some maple syrup in a small sauce pan to warm, and invite the people you love over to share it with you. Style your table however you like and create beauty how you see fit. Because those are the moments and memories, like Babette’s-like my afternoon- that last forever.
You can either let this french toast sit overnight, or chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Both ways seem to work!
What You Will Need:
1 loaf Savage’s cinnamon raisin bread, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
butter, for greasing baking dish
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
maple syrup, warmed, for topping
powdered sugar, for topping
What You Will Do:
1. Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter.
2. Arrange bread in one tightly-packed layer in the pan. If you have end pieces left from your slicing, I like to cut them in half and stick them in or around any gaps you see in the layer of bread. Also, feel free to snack on the extra scraps (just a hint of what you will be in for ).
3. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt and nutmeg and pour over the bread.
4. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.
5. Bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
6. Cut into generous squares and top with warmed maple syrup, powdered sugar, or both.