Southern Kitchen Diaries

...as pleasant as a fresh peach on a summer's day
Patriotic Pancakes

Happy 4th y’all! There is no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than flipping pancakes and sipping on coffee. 

I used this lazy morning as an opportunity to try out a different pancake recipe and am quite pleased with the outcome. Fluffy in texture but hearty in flavor, these pancakes are the perfect canvas for a variety of add-ins. 

The rest of today will be spent lounging in the sun, grilling burgers, and watching fireworks in downtown Greenville. Happy birthday, America!

Patriotic Pancakes 
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day”

1 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 c buttermilk
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1/2 c diced strawberries and blueberries
1 banana, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients. Combine buttermilk and eggs in a 4-cup measuring cup. Stir in melted butter. 

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix batter using as few strokes as possible so as not to overwork batter. 

Ladle batter 1/4 c at a time on a buttered non-stick surface. When pancakes are nearly ready to flip, gently press in a combination of berries and bananas. Flip pancake and cook for 30 seconds more. 

Serve with additional fruit and maple syrup. 

Makes 12 large pancakes

Patriotic Pancakes

Happy 4th y’all! There is no better way to celebrate America’s birthday than flipping pancakes and sipping on coffee.

I used this lazy morning as an opportunity to try out a different pancake recipe and am quite pleased with the outcome. Fluffy in texture but hearty in flavor, these pancakes are the perfect canvas for a variety of add-ins.

The rest of today will be spent lounging in the sun, grilling burgers, and watching fireworks in downtown Greenville. Happy birthday, America!

Patriotic Pancakes
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s “Super Natural Every Day”

1 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c rye flour
1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 c buttermilk
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1/2 c diced strawberries and blueberries
1 banana, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients. Combine buttermilk and eggs in a 4-cup measuring cup. Stir in melted butter.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix batter using as few strokes as possible so as not to overwork batter.

Ladle batter 1/4 c at a time on a buttered non-stick surface. When pancakes are nearly ready to flip, gently press in a combination of berries and bananas. Flip pancake and cook for 30 seconds more.

Serve with additional fruit and maple syrup.

Makes 12 large pancakes

Summer Salad

After a busy morning at the park and an impromptu play date with our neighbor in the front yard, I was ravenous. While my boy watched some Curious George and the baby slept, I put together a well-balanced lunch. Let me assure you, that rarely happens. 

I was quite pleased with what I came up with. Mixed greens, leftover red quinoa, sliced strawberries, avocado, and Greek feta. Dressed in a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar, it was the perfect midday fuel. Happy Friday!

Summer Salad

After a busy morning at the park and an impromptu play date with our neighbor in the front yard, I was ravenous. While my boy watched some Curious George and the baby slept, I put together a well-balanced lunch. Let me assure you, that rarely happens.

I was quite pleased with what I came up with. Mixed greens, leftover red quinoa, sliced strawberries, avocado, and Greek feta. Dressed in a bit of olive oil and red wine vinegar, it was the perfect midday fuel. Happy Friday!

Overnight Oatmeal for Breakfast

Meet my latest breakfast obsession: Overnight Oatmeal. It tastes a lot better than the name might suggest. In fact, I read about the concept of overnight oats long before I ever decided to try it.

A bowl of oatmeal has never been my breakfast of choice. Often I find it gummy, or clumpy, or any other unattractive sounding adjective. However, Overnight Oatmeal invokes an entirely different round of adjectives. Delightful. Tasty. And straight up, delicious. 

The act of soaking the oats makes them perfectly plump and appealing. Using a combination of almond milk and yogurt ensures a balance of sweetness. A slight drizzle of honey takes the bowl up a notch, and a handful of nuts and fresh fruit lends a pleasing texture. 

A bowl of Overnight Oatmeal is perfectly adaptable any time of year. Though i think it will be best when I get my hands on some fresh peaches and add some toasted pecans to the scene. Perfectly scrumptious! 

Overnight Oatmeal

1 c oats 
1 1/3 c almond milk
1 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Pinch of cinnamon & salt

Toppings of choice: sliced strawberries, blueberries, almonds, honey

Combine oats, almond milk, yogurt, cinnamon, and salt in a 20 oz jar. Snap the lid on and shake gently until ingredients are combined. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, scoop 1/3 c serving into bowl. Stir in honey to taste and top with desired fruit or nuts.

Overnight Oatmeal for Breakfast

Meet my latest breakfast obsession: Overnight Oatmeal. It tastes a lot better than the name might suggest. In fact, I read about the concept of overnight oats long before I ever decided to try it.

A bowl of oatmeal has never been my breakfast of choice. Often I find it gummy, or clumpy, or any other unattractive sounding adjective. However, Overnight Oatmeal invokes an entirely different round of adjectives. Delightful. Tasty. And straight up, delicious.

The act of soaking the oats makes them perfectly plump and appealing. Using a combination of almond milk and yogurt ensures a balance of sweetness. A slight drizzle of honey takes the bowl up a notch, and a handful of nuts and fresh fruit lends a pleasing texture.

A bowl of Overnight Oatmeal is perfectly adaptable any time of year. Though i think it will be best when I get my hands on some fresh peaches and add some toasted pecans to the scene. Perfectly scrumptious!

Overnight Oatmeal

1 c oats
1 1/3 c almond milk
1 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Pinch of cinnamon & salt

Toppings of choice: sliced strawberries, blueberries, almonds, honey

Combine oats, almond milk, yogurt, cinnamon, and salt in a 20 oz jar. Snap the lid on and shake gently until ingredients are combined. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, scoop 1/3 c serving into bowl. Stir in honey to taste and top with desired fruit or nuts.

Summer Confetti Salad

This salad was inspired by my mom. When the produce is abundant and the days are hot, my mom likes to throw together a good chopped salad. A medley of ingredients that she finds laying around, most renditions include fresh corn and are dressed with lots of olive oil and lime juice.

Summertime visits to my parents’ home in the low country mean lazy days followed by dinner on their back porch. We gather around the teak table and watch the sun set through the trees. We eat a version of my mom’s salad and chicken or steak that my dad grills.

The cicadas grow loud as our conversation winds down. By dessert we are silent, languishing in the thick air and the sound our spoon makes as we scrape up the last bit of homemade ice cream.

Summer Confetti Salad

2 c cooked grains
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 corn cobs, cooked and shucked
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lime
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine grains, vegetables, and beans in a serving bowl and mix well. Dress with lime juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set in refrigerator to marinate. Serve chilled.

Summer Confetti Salad

This salad was inspired by my mom. When the produce is abundant and the days are hot, my mom likes to throw together a good chopped salad. A medley of ingredients that she finds laying around, most renditions include fresh corn and are dressed with lots of olive oil and lime juice.

Summertime visits to my parents’ home in the low country mean lazy days followed by dinner on their back porch. We gather around the teak table and watch the sun set through the trees. We eat a version of my mom’s salad and chicken or steak that my dad grills.

The cicadas grow loud as our conversation winds down. By dessert we are silent, languishing in the thick air and the sound our spoon makes as we scrape up the last bit of homemade ice cream.

Summer Confetti Salad

2 c cooked grains
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 corn cobs, cooked and shucked
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lime
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine grains, vegetables, and beans in a serving bowl and mix well. Dress with lime juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Set in refrigerator to marinate. Serve chilled.

It’s summertime y’all.

It’s summertime y’all.

Summer Meals

After a long, cold winter South Carolina is in the throes of spring. On Monday evening we took the two kids to our first baseball game of the season, and on Tuesday I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad.

Though simple in preparation, this favorite pasta salad is the same one my mom made, and still makes, every year. It requires very little cooking beyond boiling pasta, making it an ideal choice for those hot days when the thought of standing over a hot stove is so unappealing. 

The combination of salty olives and salami paired with cubed cheese and chopped bell pepper is strangely addicting. My mom always dressed her version with bottled Italian dressing, though I prefer good olive oil and red wine vinegar. Fresh basil is a welcome addition. Pasta salad is best after it sits in the refrigerator and marinates for a bit. Serve with additional dressing alongside. 

Summer Pasta Salad

1/2 lb. fusilli pasta, cooked al dente
1 c cubed Jack cheese
1 c cubed salami
1/2 c diced, pitted olives
1 bell pepper, diced 
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix first five ingredients in large bowl. Dress lightly with oil and vinegar, season to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours for flavors to mingle. Serve chilled or at room temperature alongside more oil and vinegar.

Summer Meals

After a long, cold winter South Carolina is in the throes of spring. On Monday evening we took the two kids to our first baseball game of the season, and on Tuesday I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad.

Though simple in preparation, this favorite pasta salad is the same one my mom made, and still makes, every year. It requires very little cooking beyond boiling pasta, making it an ideal choice for those hot days when the thought of standing over a hot stove is so unappealing.

The combination of salty olives and salami paired with cubed cheese and chopped bell pepper is strangely addicting. My mom always dressed her version with bottled Italian dressing, though I prefer good olive oil and red wine vinegar. Fresh basil is a welcome addition. Pasta salad is best after it sits in the refrigerator and marinates for a bit. Serve with additional dressing alongside.

Summer Pasta Salad

1/2 lb. fusilli pasta, cooked al dente
1 c cubed Jack cheese
1 c cubed salami
1/2 c diced, pitted olives
1 bell pepper, diced
Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix first five ingredients in large bowl. Dress lightly with oil and vinegar, season to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours for flavors to mingle. Serve chilled or at room temperature alongside more oil and vinegar.

Mangoes and Rain

On a whim, I purchased two mangoes from the grocery store. Overly ripe and smelling of the tropics, they almost made me forget it was pouring down rain and unseasonably cold out.

Instead of slicing them up for a colorful fruit salad, I felt inclined to bake with them. Rain always makes me want to hole up in my kitchen and bake something sweet. 

Since puréed mango is almost identical in texture and sweetness to mashed up banana, I figured it would be an easy switch. Looks like I found my new favorite bread. Subtly sweet,  Mango Quick Bread is the perfect antidote to gloomy spring weather. 

Mango Quick Bread 

3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c puréed mango (about 2 mangoes) 

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl cream oil and brown sugar together before adding eggs, milk, and vanilla. Once the ingredients are mixed together well, stir in dry ingredients. The mixture will be quite dry. Add in puréed mango and stir until incorporated throughout. 

Divide batter between two 8-1/2” by 4-1/2” loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Mangoes and Rain

On a whim, I purchased two mangoes from the grocery store. Overly ripe and smelling of the tropics, they almost made me forget it was pouring down rain and unseasonably cold out.

Instead of slicing them up for a colorful fruit salad, I felt inclined to bake with them. Rain always makes me want to hole up in my kitchen and bake something sweet.

Since puréed mango is almost identical in texture and sweetness to mashed up banana, I figured it would be an easy switch. Looks like I found my new favorite bread. Subtly sweet, Mango Quick Bread is the perfect antidote to gloomy spring weather.

Mango Quick Bread

3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c puréed mango (about 2 mangoes)

Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl cream oil and brown sugar together before adding eggs, milk, and vanilla. Once the ingredients are mixed together well, stir in dry ingredients. The mixture will be quite dry. Add in puréed mango and stir until incorporated throughout.

Divide batter between two 8-1/2” by 4-1/2” loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Opening Day A’s Monster Cookies 

A new season, a clean slate. I may live across the country from the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics but I’m still celebrating opening day. Big, soft monster cookies that boast green and gold M&Ms make me excited for the 2014 season. As they say, it’s baseball -anything can happen. 

A’s Monster Cookies
Adapted from “Sweet Treats & More” blog via Pinterest

1 c butter, melted and cooled
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c green, yellow, & white M&Ms

Cream butter and sugar until blended and smooth. Add in eggs and vanilla. 

In separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet. Stir in oats and M&Ms until incorporated. 

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes to firm up. Using an ice cream scoop, place dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave plenty of room between each cookie, as they spread out. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 18 4-inch cookies.

Opening Day A’s Monster Cookies

A new season, a clean slate. I may live across the country from the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics but I’m still celebrating opening day. Big, soft monster cookies that boast green and gold M&Ms make me excited for the 2014 season. As they say, it’s baseball -anything can happen.

A’s Monster Cookies
Adapted from “Sweet Treats & More” blog via Pinterest

1 c butter, melted and cooled
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c green, yellow, & white M&Ms

Cream butter and sugar until blended and smooth. Add in eggs and vanilla.

In separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet. Stir in oats and M&Ms until incorporated.

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes to firm up. Using an ice cream scoop, place dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave plenty of room between each cookie, as they spread out.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 18 4-inch cookies.

A Weeknight Meal

I forgot how much a newborn can stir up the daily routine. Before baby girl was born there was a rhythm to my evening. My two year-old would wake up from his nap and have a cup of milk while playing on his own. I’d retreat to the kitchen, play some music, and start prepping dinner. A two year-old occupied with his “choo choo” trains can leave ample time for dinner prep. A newborn does not.

Most nights I need dinner to be quick and not time sensitive. Meaning if I have to drop everything and nurse for 20 minutes or change a succession of dirty diapers, the meal won’t be ruined. 

A pan of roasted vegetables is quite forgiving. All it requires is some chopping action, a quick toss with olive oil, and the oven to work it’s magic. Fold into some cooked grains with a light dressing and you have yourself a meal.

I made this particular combination the other night and was pleased with the outcome. The mushrooms add a hearty flavor while the red onion lends a sweetness that pairs well with the dash of balsamic. Chopped spinach lends a freshness to the dish, without getting soggy. 

This salad is easily customizable using any variety of vegetables. I used cooked pearl barley since I had an open bag on hand but wheat berries, farro, or even pearled couscous would be good. 

A healthy, quick dinner with plenty of leftovers. This meal may become my weeknight routine. 

Cooked Grain Salad with Roasted Vegetables

1 red onion, cut into wedges
6-8 baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 c cooked corn
Handful of fresh chopped spinach
3 c cooked pearl barley or grain of choice
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375. Combine onion and mushrooms on parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and add tomatoes. Give the vegetables a quick mix before returning to oven for another 10 minutes or until onion is tender and tomatoes are soft.

In a large bowl combine roasted veggies, cooked grains, corn, and spinach. Drizzle with 1 tbsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serves 4

A Weeknight Meal

I forgot how much a newborn can stir up the daily routine. Before baby girl was born there was a rhythm to my evening. My two year-old would wake up from his nap and have a cup of milk while playing on his own. I’d retreat to the kitchen, play some music, and start prepping dinner. A two year-old occupied with his “choo choo” trains can leave ample time for dinner prep. A newborn does not.

Most nights I need dinner to be quick and not time sensitive. Meaning if I have to drop everything and nurse for 20 minutes or change a succession of dirty diapers, the meal won’t be ruined.

A pan of roasted vegetables is quite forgiving. All it requires is some chopping action, a quick toss with olive oil, and the oven to work it’s magic. Fold into some cooked grains with a light dressing and you have yourself a meal.

I made this particular combination the other night and was pleased with the outcome. The mushrooms add a hearty flavor while the red onion lends a sweetness that pairs well with the dash of balsamic. Chopped spinach lends a freshness to the dish, without getting soggy.

This salad is easily customizable using any variety of vegetables. I used cooked pearl barley since I had an open bag on hand but wheat berries, farro, or even pearled couscous would be good.

A healthy, quick dinner with plenty of leftovers. This meal may become my weeknight routine.

Cooked Grain Salad with Roasted Vegetables

1 red onion, cut into wedges
6-8 baby portobello mushrooms, quartered
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 c cooked corn
Handful of fresh chopped spinach
3 c cooked pearl barley or grain of choice
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375. Combine onion and mushrooms on parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and add tomatoes. Give the vegetables a quick mix before returning to oven for another 10 minutes or until onion is tender and tomatoes are soft.

In a large bowl combine roasted veggies, cooked grains, corn, and spinach. Drizzle with 1 tbsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins

This morning was one of those perfectly rainy Saturdays. Despite waking up a little too early, we lounged around in our pajamas for longer than I care to admit. Following a busy week and a late night dinner party, it was exactly what we needed. 

Around noon I felt the urge to bake something. Taking cue from some brown bananas I had lying around, I whipped up a batch of Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins. I’ve been on a bit of a banana kick as of late. Rarely consuming them fresh, I wait until they’re nice and browned then throw them in muffins and breads. 

I’ve gone through several recipes determined to happen upon “the best” banana muffin or banana loaf bread. This version filled with coconut and chopped pecans satisfied my craving. Hearty whole wheat flour paired with a combination of melted butter and coconut oil, these muffins are healthier without sacrificing flavor. Paired with a cup of tea, it filled my belly and warmed me up on this drizzly March day. 

Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins

2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c melted coconut oil
1 c mashed banana (about 2 large)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 c pecans, chopped

In a large bowl, whisk first 7 ingredients together. In a separate bowl combine melted butter, oil, bananas, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in chopped pecans. 

Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan. Distribute batter evenly among 12 cups. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins

Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins

This morning was one of those perfectly rainy Saturdays. Despite waking up a little too early, we lounged around in our pajamas for longer than I care to admit. Following a busy week and a late night dinner party, it was exactly what we needed.

Around noon I felt the urge to bake something. Taking cue from some brown bananas I had lying around, I whipped up a batch of Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins. I’ve been on a bit of a banana kick as of late. Rarely consuming them fresh, I wait until they’re nice and browned then throw them in muffins and breads.

I’ve gone through several recipes determined to happen upon “the best” banana muffin or banana loaf bread. This version filled with coconut and chopped pecans satisfied my craving. Hearty whole wheat flour paired with a combination of melted butter and coconut oil, these muffins are healthier without sacrificing flavor. Paired with a cup of tea, it filled my belly and warmed me up on this drizzly March day.

Banana Coconut Pecan Muffins

2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 c unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c melted coconut oil
1 c mashed banana (about 2 large)
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4-1/2 c pecans, chopped

In a large bowl, whisk first 7 ingredients together. In a separate bowl combine melted butter, oil, bananas, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients just until combined. Fold in chopped pecans.

Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan. Distribute batter evenly among 12 cups. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins