Friday, June 30, 2017

A Recipe for the 4th~Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

Since we've been on a roll with summertime dinners, I figured I might as well round out the week with another "perfect for summer" recipe.  This one would be perfect for the 4th!

Sweet and Spicy Coca-Cola Chicken

***this recipe was originally for wings, but we chose to use chicken breasts.


2 double chicken breasts (or however many you need, you'll have plenty of sauce!)


1 1/2 cups Coca-Cola (if using the bottles, it'll take a little more than one)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup tomato paste (1 small can will do it)
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup red pepper hot sauce (like cayenne or tabasco pepper sauce, we used Texas Pete's)
1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika (regular will work if that's all you have on hand)
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Trim excess fat from your chicken breasts.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place chicken on the baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Baste the chicken with the sauce, and back an additional 7 minutes.

***NOTE:  these could easily be done on the grill as well.

We served alongside Bush's new Sriracha baked beans.  The perfect combo!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs~It's What's for Dinner

Now that #2 has started to work full-time after a bit of time off after graduation, we have gone back to our weekly meal planning.  It's always nice to know what's for dinner and that the ingredients needed are already on hand. And the leftovers make great home-cooked meals for her to take for lunch the next day.

Our chili pepper plant has produced quite a bit of peppers due to all the rain we have had.  Hubby was craving short ribs, so I searched for a recipe that would combine the two.  I stumbled upon this one on Pinterest.  Add in the oranges and it was perfect for summer.

Chili Orange Glazed Short Ribs

While cooking, the colors and smell are amazing!


3.5 lbs short ribs
olive oil
kosher salt
1 C orange juice, no pulp
1 C beef broth (I used stock because I had it on hand in the 1 C boxes)
1 C water
1 large orange, cut into about 8 wedges
5 cloves (original recipe, I put 5 cloves in each orange wedge as that seemed more like it)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 red chilis (adjust up or down depending on how hot you like it, we used 3)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 C basil, cut into ribbons (from the garden as well)
1 large knob ginger, sliced

Garnish (this is optional in my opinion, I would garnish if serving to company for presentation)
2-3 scallions, cut into rings
1-2 red chilis, sliced into sticks
1 large orange, cut into about 8 slices
1/4 C basil, cut into ribbons


1. Sear the short ribs.  Drizzle a little olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot (we love our Staub Dutch oven for this) and set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the ribs with a little salt, and toss them in the pot when the oil is hot.  When they are nice and brown on one side, flip them over. Get all the sides, even the ends.  (I did this in two batches)

2. While the ribs are searing, cut up your orange and stick the cloves into the rind like little nails.

3. Simmer the short ribs:  When all your ribs are seared, toss them all back in the pot.  Add the orange juice, beef broth, water, orange studded with cloves, onion, chilis, garlic, basil, and ginger. Give the pot a stir as much as you can. Bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat.  Knock the heat down so that the liquid just holds a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 3-3.5 hours, stirring occasionally.

4. They're done when the meat comes away from the bone easily with a fork.

5.  Strain the broth:  Remove the ribs from the pot with tongs and tuck away on a plate for a minute.  Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids.   Skim the fat off the broth and discard.

6. Reduce the broth:  Toss the broth back in your pot, and boil, uncovered, over high heat until it's reduced by about half.  Taste as you go, toss in a little salt, etc., to suit your taste.

7.  Arrange your short ribs on a serving platter.  Add the reduced broth.  Sprinkle with scallions, basil, cut hot peppers.  Nestle the orange slices around the platter.  Serve and enjoy!

***Notes:  I found it easier to prep all my ingredients prior to searing the ribs.  Once the ribs were seared it was easy to just throw the rest in.  And as I mentioned, step #7 is optional. I just plated the ribs and put the broth in a gravy boat.

and done.  

We served alongside rice.

Y'all these are melt in your mouth good!!!  The orange and hint of clove would make this a great fall dish as well.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Dishes~Zesty Spaghetti Salad

Good morning!  The rain is finally behind us, and we have had a couple of gorgeous sunny days with a bit of a breeze. The perfect way to start summer.

Today I thought I'd share another easy summer recipe with you.

Zesty Spaghetti Salad


12 oz spaghetti noodles (we used gluten free)
12 oz bottle Zesty Italian dressing (we used Kraft)
1 tomato, chopped (fresh from the garden)
2 green onions, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives
1 tsp. sugar
2 TBS Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning
1 TBS dried onion flakes
1 C freshly shredded Parmesan cheese (we subbed a bit of vegan Mozzarella and vegan grated Parm)
1/2 C chopped pepperoni (we used Boar's Head)


1. In a large pot of water (heavily salted) brought to a boil, cook the spaghetti noodles as directed.
2. Add the cooked spaghetti to a large serving bowl.  Pour the dressing over the noodles a little at a time (it does soak it up, but you may find you don't need it all) and toss to coat.
3. Add in the remaining ingredients; tomato, black olives, green onion, sugar, seasoning blend, onion flakes, cheese and pepperoni.  Toss again.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (it will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days, great for leftovers for lunch the next day)


Monday, June 26, 2017

BLT Pasta Salad~the perfect summertime salad

Hello everyone!  I pray each of you had a wonderful weekend.  The sun is FINALLY out here, and this girl could not be happier.

Today I thought I would share a quick and easy summer time salad with you.  This can be served as the main course or as a side dish.

BLT Pasta Salad


2 1/2 cups uncooked bow tie pasta (we used Jovial Brown Rice)
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 medium tomato, diced (love using fresh from our garden)
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled (we used pre-cooked to save time)
1/2 cup ranch dressing (recipe to follow)
1 TBS barbecue sauce
1/4 tsp pepper


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.  Then rinse pasta under cold water.
2. In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, tomato, back and pasta.
3. Drizzle the ranch dressing and barbecue sauce over the top.  Gently toss to coat evenly. Season with pepper.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Homemade Ranch Dressing (gluten free, vegan, dairy free)

1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp dried thyme

Mix the spices with 1 cup vegan mayonaise, 1 cup dairy free milk and 1 tsp vinegar (this takes the place of buttermilk).  I combined all in a mason jar and gave it a good shake.

The dressing was a bit thin, but worked fine on the salad.  Next time I will probably cut the milk/vinegar in half to thicken it up.

I'll have another cold pasta recipe to share with you later in the week.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Rain and Summertime Blooms~

Y'all we have had some serious rain here in Atlanta lately. While I do not care for the strong thunderstorms we've experienced most recently, the rain has everything so lush and green this year.

I thought I'd share a few backyard pictures with you today.

Our hydrangeas are huge this year, and the colors so vibrant.

Love the deep crimson and yellow combo of the daylillies.

Our pots started out with just tiny plants and are now full and overflowing.  Potato vine is one of my favorites as it really does well here.

The petunias are gonna need a clip soon as they are getting a little "leggy".

Our Koi just keep getting bigger.  And yes, that would be fishing line across the pond.  We are in close proximity to the Chattahoochee River and the Heron love our Koi!

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, our herb garden has really benefited from all the rain we've had.  Our sage plants are enormous.

This was our herb garden back in March.

And now.

And, knock out roses are always a win here in the hot south.

Our cherry tomato plant is huge this year as well.  We have already enjoyed handfuls of them.

And, this is my new favorite spot to enjoy it all.  This is the swing #1 built for us for Christmas.

I hope you can get out and enjoy a bit of nature this weekend.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops~It's What's for Dinner

Today I thought I'd share another recent summer recipe we tried.  We have a fabulous herb garden in our backyard, and with all the rain we have had the herbs are a plenty.  So, we decided to harvest some of our basil for this one.

Lemon Basil Grilled Pork Chops


4 thick-cut, boneless pork loin chops
2 TBS olive oil
1 C fresh basil leaves, minced
3 TBS minced garlic
3 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp pepper


1. Add olive oil, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a bowl and mix well.
2. Spread both sides of the pork chops with the mixture and let the chops set for about 20 minutes.
3. Grill chops over direct heat for about 5-6 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees.
4. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

We served alongside fresh cut green beans and rice.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Some Summertime Favorites~

It has been a long time since I have shared a "favorite things" post.  So today I thought I'd share a few summertime favorites we have been enjoying.

The first #1 turned us on to.  Y'all this stuff is addicting, but not for the faint of heart.  If you love heat, you are gonna love this.

Be forewarned, it''s addicting so have a buddy handy to share keep you from eating the entire bag in one sitting, that may or may not have happened to one of us. We found it at Kroger.

And because you are gonna need something to wash that stuff down you might want to give this a try this summer.  As you know, Rose wine is quite popular this time of year.  My sweet blog friend and hometown girl Paige of The Pink Clutch shared this fabulous list of Rose on her blog and has posted some on Instagram as well.  If you aren't already following her, you need to hop on over right now.  She is just the most genuine person, with a fabulous sense of style!

You could wash it down with a Margarita too!

Y'all my #2 and I love Caramel.  The problem is both of us cannot have dairy (me-Cow's milk, she-all animal milk).  We discovered these this past fall and they are so yummy.  They now come in a Sea Salt version as well.   We have found them at Kroger and Sprouts.

What do you do when the summer storms blow through and knock your power out for 12 hours?  Why you challenge your #2 to a friendly game of War.

I won, just sayin'

Y'all we have had SOOOOOO much rain this spring/early summer.  But, with that comes gorgeous color and huge blooms.  I love bringing some of our hydrangeas indoors.  The colors this year are so vibrant.

Check back tomorrow for another yummy summertime recipe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mahogany Grilled Chicken Wings~Summertime Dinner

Today I thought I'd share a recent yummy summertime meal we prepared.  The recipe is from the Williams Sonoma Essentials of Grilling Cookbook. Rather than using chicken parts, we opted for wings.

Mahogany Chicken Wings

Ingredients for Mahogany Glaze:

1/4 m Molasses
1/4 C cider vinegar
1 TBS vegetable oi
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce (GF)
1 TBS whole-grain Dijon mustard (GF)
1 TBS fresh orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
Freshly ground pepper

Approx. 2 pounds chicken wings (or 2 1/2 lbs mixed chicken parts)

2 handfuls wood chips such as hickory or mesquite, soaked if using charcoal (we used gas)

Directions for glaze:

In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, vinegar, oil, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, orange juice and zest, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often.  Simmer 2 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring often.  Use the glaze immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat.  If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan half full of water on the center of the fire bed.  Oil the grill rack.  Brush the chicken wings with some of the glaze.

Sprinkle half of the wood chips on the coals, if using.  Grill the chicken skin side down, over the drip pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken, brush with more glaze, and grill for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining wood chips on the coals.  Continue to grill, turning and brushing the chicken 2 more times, until the juices run clean when a thigh or breast is pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes longer.

Add the wood chips to the grill in a smoker box or perforated foil packet.  Grill the chicken skin side down, away from the heat elements for 10 minutes.  Turn the chicken, brush with more glaze, and grill for 10 minutes.  Continue to grill, turning and brushing the chicken 2 more times, until the juices run clear when a thigh or breast is pierced with a knife tip, about 20 minutes longer.

***NOTE:  cooking times will be shorter if using wings as they cook faster than parts.

Y'all these are the bomb!  Sweet, sticky and full of flavor.  Serve alongside grilled veggies or fries for an easy summertime meal.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Life Lately~What's Been Keeping Us Busy

Hello??? Anyone still out there?  I can't believe it's been two months since my last post!  How is it June already?

We've been busy doing this thing called Life.

Today, I thought I'd catch you up on what has been occupying my time outside of blog land.

As most of you know, we lost my sweet MIL in mid-March.  You can read the tribute to her here.
She was very blessed to have lived in her own home for more than 60 years!  But, with that comes a lot of stuff.  While we cleaned a lot out while up there in March, we still have a bit more to take care of.  And of course, we brought many things home with us.  You might also recall that our youngest moved back home in December.  So, three households under one roof.  We have finally dug our way out. Haha.

May brought some happier times for our family.

Our youngest daughter graduated from the University of TN with her Masters in Speech Language Pathology.  And, today she starts her new job at a local hospital.  We could not be more proud of her.

We then celebrated Mother's Day.  While bittersweet this year, the girls made sure that I was remembered and made the day a little easier for their dad to get through.  Church and then a delicious meal cooked by #2 was in order.

May 21st found us celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary.  I have been blessed to be married to my best friend, and the most wonderful father to our girls.

The girls and I so enjoyed celebrating him yesterday on Father's Day.  #1 had dad help her with a wood project she is working on (the girl knows her way around power tools thanks to him), I made him fresh homemade salsa with ingredients from the garden (his request), the girls and I prepped dinner-cilantro lime shrimp and grilled veggies that he prepared on the grill with his new grill pan #1 gave him, and #2 made him a blueberry crisp using our homegrown blueberries. Scrumptious.  We so enjoy having our girls close by.

And, if you follow me on Instagram you know that our precious Henley has gotten quite big.  6 months and 46 pounds!

He is such a joy to have around.

Tomorrow I will be sharing a yummy grilled chicken wing recipe, so be sure to check back.