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What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with homemade ice cream?!  I come from a long line of ice cream lovers, and homemade ice cream during summertime celebrations has always been a staple in our family.  My grandparents use one of those old fashioned ice cream makers that makes a whole bunch of the good stuff, but to keep it simple, I use my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker at home.  It’s super easy to use, and the possibilities are endless when you start thinking up new flavors.

In my cookbook (The Outdoor Table), I have two delicious ice cream recipes that are made the old fashioned way, with an egg yolk custard base and all.  However, I know many of us are looking for something a little quicker than that, so this ice cream recipe just uses good old heavy whipping cream to make it lusciously creamy.  Is it low fat? …Um no!  BUT, remember this is a special treat, and wouldn’t you rather have a small bowl of the real thing than a bigger bowl of a not so creamy,  low fat alternative (probably ends up being about the same in calories when you get a larger portion anyway).

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Plus, this ice cream is made with real ingredients, completely from scratch, which makes me feel better about any dessert I’m eating.  The kicker in this one is the buttermilk, it gives the ice cream a slight tang that cuts some of the richness.  It’s the perfect complement to the quick strawberry jam that gets swirled in at the end of churning.  If you haven’t made homemade ice cream yet, give it a try, you simply can’t beat it!

TIP:  The possibilities are endless when it comes to baking with buttermilk!  Use the leftover buttermilk from this recipe for biscuits, pancakes, cornbread, cakes, or maybe even my Strawberry Upside Down Cake!

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Date posted: July 1, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Dessert

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Wow.  What a month June has been!  First things first, I can’t thank all of my friends and family enough for your support at my book signing/release party at Parnassus Books.  The support was overwhelming and The Outdoor Table was their NUMBER 1 best seller for the month, which was published in The Tennessean!  Seriously, so cool!

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On top of all of that excitement, we closed on the house Zach built this week (I was the agent), so needless to say, this has been quite the month.  We are overjoyed, exhausted, and humbled with all of the blessings that the past few months have brought.  Life is not perfect, but we sure our blessed to be living out our passions, even if it does make things complicated and uncertain at times.

Now for a summer sipper, this recipe is sure to cool down during this super hot and humid summer we are already having, at least here in Tennessee.  I love a good homemade lemonade, but I don’t love all of the sugar that comes with it.  This version isn’t sugar free (it is lemonade after all), but you get some natural sweetness from the blueberries and mint, so no need to overload on pure sugar.  Not only is this drink mouthwateringly refreshing, it’s also a gorgeous shade of purple.  Add a few fresh blueberries and mint to garnish, and I’m thinking this is the perfect festive addition to your 4th of July spread!

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Date posted: June 25, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Beverages

Today is the BIG day!!!

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Today is the long awaited (at least at my house) release day for The Outdoor Table!  This book has been almost two years in the making, and I am humbled and so very excited that today has come.  Get one for yourself, and perhaps one for dad for Father’s Day too, it’s filled with lots of great grilling recipes!  So, I’ve talked about the book so much on here, and I really hope you’ll buy it, because it truly is a wonderful book.  But today I want to share a little bit of the story behind the book…

I’m telling you, if you would have told me 5 years ago that I would author a cookbook, like a real cookbook sold in stores nationwide – I would’ve thought you were totally crazy.  This whole cooking journey I have been on has been the craziest ride of my life.  There have been some amazing highs, but there have also been some pretty low lows. I’ve spent many days doubting myself and my ability, wondering if I was being completely unrealistic, feeling like I should just get a “real job,” and asking God if all of this will ever to amount to anything?

Contrary to what people might think, I haven’t had this whole cooking journey planned out, it’s been a roller coaster.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that God has led me through each door to get to this point.  Everytime I considered just giving up, the Lord gave me a little reassurance to keep going.  Even if it was a small thing, He would open a door right when I needed it, and I would walk through it.

I have had lots of ideas that didn’t work out, I’ve gotten my hopes up about the possibility of things that didn’t happen, and I’ve tried to force things that just weren’t working.  And I will do all of that again I’m sure, but sometimes pieces of the dream actually do happen, and this cookbook is one of those pieces.  People always ask me, “so what is your end goal with all of this?”  And I have had a hard time answering that question.  There are many things I would love to do, but the bottom line is, I’m not driving this boat.  I had no idea a cookbook would’ve been part of the plan, but that just goes to show, it’s really not my plan at all.  The Lord led me here and, to be honest, I don’t know where I’ll end up next, and I’m [finally] okay with that.  His plans have always been better than mine anyway.

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I suppose I say all of this to encourage anyone out there who has a dream.  If you feel like God is calling you to something, even if you don’t know what the end result looks like, just follow in the direction of that dream.  I do believe God places dreams and ideas in our hearts, and if He has a plan for you and you say yes to Him, that’s an unstoppable force.  Ultimately, I want this book to be used for His glory.  Even if it is a cookbook, the story behind it, is one of redemption and new life.  He took food, the thing that could’ve destroyed me through years of disordered eating, and He gave me total freedom.  What the enemy meant for evil, the Lord has used for good in my life.

That’s the real story here, and I am grateful and humbled beyond words.  He is good, and He deserves my praise every hour of every day.

 

Date posted: June 2, 2015 | Author: | 2 Comments »

Categories: cookbook Inspiration Personal Thoughts

peach cobbler

Ahhh…summertime.  I know it hasn’t technically started yet, but after Memorial Day it’s pretty much summer in Tennessee.  This is without a doubt my favorite time of year, I love all seasons, but you just can’t beat bare feet on the patio, the aroma of grilled goodness in the air, and carefree days spent by the pool.  I’m also quite fond of the food that goes along with warmer weather.  Heck, I wrote a whole cookbook about it!  I like taking a fresh ingredient of the season and using it in all kinds of fun, new ways.  However, as much as I love to come up with unique recipe ideas, sometimes you just can’t beat a classic.  Hence, this week’s recipe, a delightful Peach Cobbler.  All you need is a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with it, and you’re all set.  I actually listed the ice cream as an ingredient in this recipe, because let’s face it you just can’t have cobbler without it.  If you forgot to grab it at the store(like I did),  have the husband run back to the grocery to snag some (like I did).  It’s really that important, I mean it’s not like you get to enjoy fresh Peach Cobbler every day.

I was lucky enough to make my cobbler out of a bag of peaches my parents’ brought me from The Peach Truck.  They weren’t quite ripe enough the day they were bought, so I left them in that brown paper bag for a couple of days.  As soon as they ripened to perfection, I knew what I had to do.  Sweet, buttery, cakey, cobbler is what happened, and I’m so glad it did.  Even in the midst of contracts being signed, a poor baby who caught my cold, and just all around business, I had to make time for cobbler.

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Sometimes, in this crazy season we’re in, I’ve learned that I have to go out of my way to enjoy the sweetness of life.  Whether it’s laying on the floor laughing with Maverick when there are countless tasks to be done, or saying no to laundry and other household chores to make cobbler.  I didn’t want to let peach season go by without making peach cobbler, and you shouldn’t either!  It may sound simple or even silly, but these are the little treats that make life sweet.  Don’t miss them!

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Date posted: May 27, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Dessert

zucchini pasta shells

I hate to admit this, especially since we are less than 2 weeks from my cookbook coming out, but I just haven’t been cooking very much lately, at least not cooking to come up with new recipes.  We have been going through probably the busiest, most stressful time of our lives for the past month or so.  Hard work and chasing your dreams can be really hard, especially when you throw a baby into the mix.   Sometimes I forget that it’s supposed to be hard, and it’s going to take a lot of work.  If my life ever looks like it’s all sunshine and roses from the outside, just know that on the inside it’s chaotic, risky, and pretty tense at times.  Thankfully, we are finally getting to the fun part of all that we have had going on, and I really can’t complain about a thing.  There are seasons for everything, and I am learning to embrace the present not just look to what’s next.  Easier said than done, especially when the outcome is uncertain, but I’m trying!

You’re probably not surprised to hear that when I’m feeling stressed, I like to pray…and cook.  I love to turn on some calming music and just zone out in the kitchen when life feels chaotic.  At least I have some control in that space, as opposed to so many other aspects of my life.  Cooking allows me to get my creative juices flowing and focus on something fun and beautiful.  That’s actually how this pasta recipe came about.

I have been buying zucchini every week lately, because it is so plentiful and inexpensive right now.  Usually, I roast it and serve it as a simple side.  However, this time I roasted it with some frozen corn, which gets almost candied in the oven, and I added it to pasta shells.  Then I tossed it all in a light, creamy sauce.  The awesome part about this recipe is that it’s total comfort food, but without all of the calories and fat from a heavy, cream sauce drenched pasta dish.  I also love that this dish is filled with zucchini, making for an easy way to get the kiddos (and adults) to eat those veggies!

If you want to add some fresh Parmesan cheese to this dish, I certainly won’t be mad at ya.  But I will say, it’s pretty tasty as is!

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Date posted: May 20, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Main Dish