Sweet Potato “Bread” Turkey Sandwiches

Sweet Potato Bread Sandwiches! from Callie Blount on Vimeo.

Who’s excited about Thanksgiving? Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP?

I hear Criss Cross pumped UP in the background of this post!

That’s right. Thanksgiving make ya wanna, “JUMP JUMP!”

And it’s so NOT “wiggly wiggly wack.” It’s where it’s AT!!

Ok, I will stop. But it’s not that I want to!!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons; one, it’s like Christmas without all of the gifting pressure; two, it involves CRANBERRY SAUCE SLICES, and three, you get to eat lots of carbohydrates with the ones you love. #signmeup

This week’s recipe is an easy way to eat the rest of that leftover turkey AND the sweet potato that didn’t make it into the casserole. Actually, come to think of it, if you tried really hard I bet you could smash up the mashed sweet potato and instead make a patty/bread slice of sorts. However, this way is much easier if you are like me and plan to binge-watch the new season of Gilmore Girls in your pajamas with your sister the day after Thanksgiving. So this way definitely appeals.

 

In case you missed it, Luv Cooks Sweet Potato Sammiches! (me making these tasty treats). You can always tune into Luv Cooks on Facebook Live to check out the week’s recipe; right now, my goal is post videos Tuesday afternoons.

Alright my friends! Happy almost Turkey Day and mad PROPs to you for doing your leftovers planning already. #winning

Sweet Potato “Bread” Sandwiches with Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Sauce

These roasted sweet potato slices act like bread in a delicious, post-Thanksgiving treat.

 

Thanksgiving Sandwiches❤️️🙌🏻 from Callie Blount on Vimeo.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 medium sweet potato, sliced into about 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil mayonnaise (to taste)
  • Shredded turkey
  • Slices cranberry sauce (to taste)

What You Will Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a dark metal baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, toss sweet potato slices with olive oil, then add salt and pepper to taste and combine.
  3. Spread sweet potato slices on baking sheet, making sure to leave room around the edge of each slice so the air can circulate and ensure crispiness similar to a bread crust.
  4. Bake the slices for 10 minutes, then flip. Bake 10 minutes more, remove from oven, and allow slices to cool slightly.
  5. Once the slices are cool to the touch, spread each sweet potato slice with mayonnaise. Top one slice with shredded turkey, and the other with a cranberry slice.
  6. Sandwich the two slices together and chow down!

 

 

 

Slim Jim Chili + Summertime Joy

Slim Jim Chili

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.

Luv y’all! Happy summertime!

 

 

Sweet Potato Puffs & Luv Cooks FIRST full-length video!

 

 

GUYS. This could be the most exciting Wednesday I’ve ever had.

Today, this morning, I am so excited to put our first Luv Cooks full-length video into the internet stratosphere!

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.

Luv y’all!

Sweet Potato Puffs
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

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes until they are tender. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in pecans to the potatoes.
  4. Pour cornflakes into a large bowl, then crush with your hands (#fun).
  5. Dip jumbo marshmallows into the potato mixture, covering evenly. Now, roll the marshmallows in the cornflakes, then place into 9X13 baking pan.
  6. 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!)

 

Strawberry Honey Lemonade + Sunshine

Strawberry Lemonade

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.

Hot yoga has nothing on Kayla Itsines workouts in the loft.

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.

Strawberry Lemonade

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

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Whisk together honey and lemon juice until combined. Add strawberry mixture, then transfer to a pitcher. Stir together with water and lemon slices.
  3. Add additional sliced strawberries and lemon slices as you feel! Pour into individual glasses and share the luv.

 

 

The Honeysuckle Is Sweet

Brown butter Grouper
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.

Honeysuckle Seating

Oyster shucking

Southern Charcuterie menu

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!

Southern Vegetables
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.

Grits souffle
                                                              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.

Salmon with Succotash
  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.

Desserts from High Up

Spiced Bundt Cake
 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.

Dessert platter with the biscuits
 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.

The Honeysuckle

Restaurant info:

The Honeysuckle

1770 Galleria Blvd

Suite A

Franklin, TN 37067

website: The Honeysuckle

Tel: 615-771-2111  |  Email: original@thehoneysuckle.com

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Bake + Babette’s Feast

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast-3870

Have any of you ever seen Babette’s Feast?

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.”

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast-3856

 

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.

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast-3874

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Bake (Adapted a bit from Smitten Kitchen’s Boozy French Toast)

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 eggs
  • 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.

Southern Grandmas & Chewy Molasses Cookies with Raspberry Jam

 

Chewy Molassas with Rasberry Jam-3853

Y’all- there is nothing like Southern women. Those of you who know me know my deep love for the classic, Southern-drawl, all-out fabulous women of the South. But grandmothers in particular are my total favorite.

Yesterday I was on one of the most fun video shoots I’ve been on in a while, and it was entirely about Southern grandmothers. Their presence on camera was perfect. Open, ridiculously honest, hilarious, yet still maintaining the epitome of Southern charm (all the while sporting a host of fur-trimmed clothing items and pearled accessories) they were stunningly beautiful. I found myself praying that I would one day become like them- each had such a spark, a love, a vitality and joy to them.

But the thing that struck me the most about these women was their love for the food they cook and the people they cook it for. The majority of them grew up family farms and ate like queens. As in, fresh produce from the backyard, homemade cornbread, fresh milk at their disposal- hallelujah!

And as many of you know, there has never been a better time to be a Southern grandma than at Christmas. Glittery ribbon, sparkly Christmas sweaters, baked goods only they can make taste that fantastic- they rule the season with pizazz. Their love for celebrating all things life brings me a comfort that resonates with my spirit.

And speaking of spirit- this week has been a really sweet one for me. My precious mother in law gave me the She Reads Truth‘s advent calendar last month, and it has been my complete happy place. This study has kept me sane, praise the Lord!

But the coolest thing about the readings have been the constant reminder that this season happens because our Redeemer is indeed on His way. This promise fills my heart, and spirit, with joy. We celebrate Him- and the life He brings- above all else. That fact is truly miraculous and worth celebrating every moment.

And just as fate would have it, the holiday cookie recipe in the She Reads Truth study is called “Grandma Marlene’s Molasses Cookies.” So of course, I had to make them. And they were worth every minute (and baked and photographed for this post). They are so good, in fact, that a friend of mine said, and I quote, that “I can’t even tell you how much I loved them!”

Y’all. In this season, isn’t that what we are shooting for? To show people love on a day when the Ultimate Love was given? I leave you with this quote from She Reads Truth’s study I’ve been thinking a lot about:

“So now we pause. Still. Ponder. Hush. Wait…Wait for the coming of the God in the manger who makes Himself bread of run near starved. For the Savior in swaddlings who makes Himself the robe of righteousness for us worn out. For Jesus, who makes precisely what none of us can but all of us want: Christmas.”- Ann Voskamp

 

Chewy Molassas with Rasberry Jam-3847

Coconut Milk Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Y’all- today is the day. The day I turn 30. The day to celebrate all things fun, sparkly, sugary, and swirled with peanut butter. I have a precious German friend with the best accent ever staying with us for the next three days while she is in the States; I get to spend the day tomorrow with another beautiful friend in Nashville. I mean, these are the rock-stars of long-distance friendships- so creative, inspiring, and lovely. I can’t wait. Life just seems to be humming, humming, humming by…

Yet, I woke up at 2:00 this morning in a panic. My husband spent the night, whooping-cough style, planted in the center of our bed, his lungs echoing reverberations to the top of our ceiling. I couldn’t sleep, so I moved to the sofa, only to be waken by throat pain that felt like the inside of a burlap bag. And, to be honest- the tiredness, and throat pangs, have gotten worse as they day has progressed.

So here we are, the day of all days, the golden birthday, and I feel like I got hit by a small moped then lightly tethered to a rusty Ford pick up and hung out to dry.

But- you know what? I couldn’t stop thinking about this blog post. How the last thing I want to do right now is type; how I want to lay in my bed and lament and have a pity party until I have to pick my friend up in a bit.

But, here is the deal- Luv Cooks means a lot to me. You, my readers, mean a lot to me. Yesterday as I drove home from a shoot I was thanking God for you, for your love of food and fun and for watching these videos and being a part of life with me. I was grateful for my husband, and my friendships, and all of the inspiring people that I encounter every day. For 30 years of laughter, tears, dancing (see below, what!), dreaming, and the moments that stir up such joy a knot forms in your throat. For every bit of thirty years lived in awe of the power of love and life and hope. For joy in the morning and dancing in the evening. For life, and breath, and food. Glorious food.

If there ever were consistent loves in my life- outside of the obvious- coffee is one of them. And this latte, this pumpkin spice latte, is the ultimate birthday indulgence. I adore espresso, but my budget, and time, don’t allow for the daily routine of a fancy green lady version you can purchase with an iPhone app.

This latte reminds me of bullet proof coffee- coffee blended with butter- but much tastier. The whole thing can be made dairy-free (just omit the whipped cream and substitute coconut oil for butter), and low sugar (substitute stevia for the maple syrup). The entire coconut milk mixture can be blended together on its own and used as coffee creamer. It’s healthy, has real pumpkin, coconut milk and cinnamon. Deliciousness.

So, ladies and gentleman, as I leave to pursue the rest of my 30th day on this planet, I once again want to say thank you. Thank you for being you, for making Luv Cooks happen, and even cooking a recipe or two. Thank you for making my birthday, and the years moving forward,  so special.

I invite you to join me, pumpkin spice latte in hand, to a toast- to life, to luv, to food. Glorious food.

Coconut Milk Pumpkin Spice Latte

Pumpkin-Spice-Latte

Recipe taken from Yahoo Health

What You Will Need:

  • 1 (13.5-oz) can full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2-4 tbsp maple syrup, I used 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp  vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups hot, strongly brewed coffee or 4 espresso shots
  • 4 oz whipped coconut cream or grass-fed heavy whipping cream, for garnish
  • Ground cinnamon, for garnish

What You Will Do:

  1. Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Warm the pumpkin milk over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the milk starts to steam.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your coffee or espresso (I used two tablespoons coffee per cup of water in a drip maker).
  4. Once your milk is hot, place it back into the blender and blend for about 10 seconds to froth the milk, making sure your hand is on the lid to avoid any messes.
  5. Divide the hot coffee and milk between 4 cups. Put on a dollop of whipped cream (or go Luv Cooks style and bust out the Redi Whip), and cinnamon, and treat yo self!

For sticking with this recipe, I have a birthday surprise for you:

That’s right, Kerri Bunn and I don’t want no scrubs people.

Easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Sometimes, as a food stylist, you make things for a shoot, praise the Lord it’s been shot, and throw the lukewarm leftovers in the trash. This is normally accompanied by a vow that you never want to see, or taste, or smell the ——- (pot roast, pot pie, slow cooker chicken casserole, etc.) again. Because frankly, you’ve worked with it for so many hours, bent over it with tweezers, and the dish made your hair greasy because you had to fry the chicken with metal pins in order for it to look good. Your back hurts… you’re just done.

Butter you up because you’re toast.

Stick a fork in you, you’re done.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt on a Granite

It’s rare that I actually crave anything I make for a shoot. Except for the things I make for the blog. Luv Cooks is special to me, and you are special to me because you read these posts (thank you, thank you, thank you….) And you know what else is really special? Besides Julie Andrews? Five-minute strawberry yogurt.

On my way back from making prop returns this afternoon, the late-summer heat was getting to my psyche. New bangs plastered to my forehead and dying of thirst (well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration), the air conditioner in my hybrid car was about as cold as dog breath and all I could think about was how I was sweating through my pants.

It was at that moment that I direly, passionately, wished I had some leftover strawberry yogurt in my freezer.

Too bad the hubs and I had already eaten it. Quickly after it was shot. Hopes=dashed.

But, I will say, this dire feeling gave way to an extra motivation to share this recipe with you. In the dire straits of early September in the South, when the vice grip of humid heat refuses to let go and make way for cooler breezes- everybody, I do mean evvrryybodddy, needs to eat something frozen. And refreshing. It does wonders for your mood; and ensuing hair styles.

So this Labor Day, bust out your food processor, whip up some fro-yo, and celebrate the end of summer, strawberries, and the sweet relief of an easy dessert. Cheers!

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Easy Five Minute Frozen Yogurt (recipe by Just a Taste. Her site and recipes are so pretty and inspiring!)

This recipe is super simple and requires very little prep aside from squeezing fresh lemon juice. A tip for easy lemon squeezing- just roll you lemon around on your countertop before you slice it in half. The liquid comes out easier that way!

What You Will Need

  • 4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons honey (I like orange blossom honey for this)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used soy yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

What You Will Do

1. Add the frozen strawberries, honey, yogurt, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor.

2. Process until the mixture becomes creamy, which should take about 5 minutes.

3. Serve the frozen yogurt immediately or, if you can wait this long, you can transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the freezer for about a month.

 

 

The Alabama Tomato Festival and Grilled Tomato Salsa

Tomato Platter

Tomatoes always remind me of summer.

Even the way they feel-warm, with a thin, cherry red skin ready to burst-  brings me back to a fruit stand near Opp, Alabama; my Uncle Honey’s garden behind his house in Jackson; my mom’s tangled green fruits on a vine by our driveway, baking in the scorching summer sun.

Basket of Tomatoes

But somehow, some way- tomatoes survive. The temperatures rise- and the crop rises with it. Things get wet- they get juicy. Stomachs are hungry- and we toast bread, smear it in mayonnaise, and cut them thick, grind out some salt and pepper, and call it lunch. Tomatoes are a hallmark of summer, survival, even; and a reward for untangling their vines, setting them straight, and diligently watering until they bloom.

Tomatoes on Display

Saturday was a banner day for the thriving tomato. My friend Deborah Stone of Stone Hollow Farmstead in Harpersville hosted The Alabama Tomato Festival, a day to celebrate all that was, and is, tomatoes in the South. A fantastic list of the best of local food vendors (Revelator,  Birmingham Bread Works, The Pantry, Good People Brewing Company, Chef U, Day Spring Dairy and a plethora of amazing farmers) arrived, served, sweated, and braved a stray afternoon thunderstorm to share their love of nature’s fruit in all of its creative implications. One of my favorites- the tomato lemonade– was an aperitif for a slew of soups, ratatouille, and sheep’s cheese (see the image of Day Spring Dairy’s black pepper fresca atop some of the South’s finest).

Day Spring Dairy and Tomatoes

Plethora of Tomatoes

Evergreen Tomatoes

Day Spring Dairy cheeses

Lemony Tomatoes
Over 30 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, including the Green Zebra, one of my favorites and a Thomas Wagner Seeds original- spread like a symphony of color and flavor at the festival, beckoning visitors to sample a bite. Each’s own notes were a backdrop to the live music and speakers who shared similar passions, namely Chris Bennett, a forager, writer, chef- who has combed the open fields of Alabama for edibles he gifts to Birmingham’s best and brightest chefs.

Southeast Foraging book

I think the point with all of this, though- is just what The Tomato Festival preaches- that life in the South is good, y’all. Even when it is 115 degrees outside, and the storm winds are blowing, and we run to the barn for cover. There’s something special here, a knowing, a kindness, a comraderie. That just like the tomato, we will all make it through July and thrive- ripely ready for what comes next.

Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grilled Tomato Salsa 

This salsa is fantastic, and works best with fresh, ripe tomatoes. Heirloom varieties work really well here, so if you don’t have access to a local farmer, ask your grocery store what they offer. You might be surprised by what you find!

What You Will Need:

  • Three large tomatoes, cut into thick slices (I got about three to four slices per tomato)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • pinch or two of salt
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into cubes (generous 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • Juice of one half lime

What You Will Do:

1. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch or two of salt over the tomato slices. Sir to coat and let sit in large bowl for about ten minutes.

2. Heat grill pan to medium heat, and drizzle the pan lightly with olive oil. Grill tomato slices for about two minutes per side, or until grill marks appear and tomatoes are softened.

3. Transfer tomatoes to a food processor, and pulse until chunky (about 10 pulses).

4. Pour the tomato mixure back into your large bowl. Put avocado, cilantro, red onion, salt, chili powder, and cumin in a food processor and pulse until combined and no large leaves remain.

5. Add avocado mixture to tomato mixture. Squeeze half of lime over salsa and stir until all ingredients are combined. Ole!