Today I’m off to the Southern Festival of Books for a presentation and signing, and I made these thumbprint cookies to take with me for about the fifth time this month.  So I thought I’d share them with y’all!  Lately, I have been really into all kinds of shortbread cookies.  They are so simple, but they feel special and sophisticated at the same time.

One important tip when making shortbread is don’t skimp on the butter!  The butter is the main ingredient in shortbread, so try using Kerrygold or a brand that is a little higher quality than the store brand.  There aren’t many ingredients in shortbread dough, so you’ve gotta make them count!

Instead of the usual sweet shortbread, this savory cookie is unique and absolutely perfect for this time of year.  A version of this cookie is also in my cookbook, and I just keep going back to it.  I’ve made these for book signings and even for my son’s first birthday.  The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, which is great for party planning.


Maverick’s party spread featuring the Cheddar Thumbprint Cookies!


Also, to make these extra special try a local pepper jelly, from a company such as The Nashville Jam Co or Marcy Jams, which you can find at local stores, farmer’s markets, or Whole Foods.

I hope you enjoy these, and be sure to let me know what you think!


Date posted: October 9, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Holidays

Is this not the most beautiful cake?!  And just wait until you taste it, I’m thinking this is the perfect Mother’s Day dessert.  I’ll get to the recipe soon, but first a little about the star of the show, strawberries!

If you haven’t noticed from social media yet, it’s Strawberry picking time!  A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a “Strawberry School” at Wagner Berry Farms conducted by my friend and mentor, Tammy Algood with Pick Tennessee Products (check out to find local strawberry farms in your area).  Tammy is the southern cooking queen, and she has played a huge role in this crazy cooking journey I’m on.  She actually introduced me to her book agent, who is now my agent and the talented man who came up with the concept for The Outdoor Table.  Needless to say, I’m a big fan of hers, and I’m so incredibly thankful for her generosity and wisdom.


The fabulous Tammy Algood and I

Now back to the berries.  Strawberry season here in Tennessee starts in May and runs through late June, it’s pretty short and sweet.  So, I wanted to share 5 takeaways I had from the class, that will hopefully allow you to get the most out of these delicious local berries!


All you need for serving beautiful strawberries is a pretty platter and a bowl of powdered sugar!



It’s amazing the difference in the store bought berries compared to freshly picked.  Did you know that it is logistically impossible to buy a ripe strawberry from a grocery store? (Find out why in my 5 tips below)  Not only will you get the best berries locally, it’s also a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors with your family.  Oh and once you get them picked, go home bake up my Strawberry Upside Down Cake!


5 Tips for Strawberry Picking and Storage

  1. Strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested.  Once you pick the berry, it won’t continue to ripen like some other fruits, so be sure to pick the ripest berries you can find!
  2. The ripest strawberries to pick should be red from the tip to the cap (where the stem is).  Leave those green tipped berries on the vine!
  3. Store your berries in a single layer, on a jelly roll pan, in your refrigerator for the longest shelf life.
  4. DO NOT pre wash the berries and then store them, wash them right before eating/serving.  This will prolong shelf life and keep them from molding prematurely.
  5. The shelf life of a strawberry is about a week from the time it is picked.  This is why strawberries in a super market, usually from California are rarely at their peak.  The ripest berries from huge farms actually go into juice anyway, not into the cartons for consumers.

strawberry upside down cake

Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I thought that this Strawberry Upside Down Cake would be appropriate this week.  I mean what mom doesn’t love cake and strawberries?!  Oh and it simply must be served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Okay, my mouth is watering.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mommas out there.  Now that I am a mom myself, I can appreciate this day more than ever.  Enjoy!


Date posted: May 6, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Dessert Holidays Mommyhood

deviled eggs

Y’all,  I seriously love spring.  Having a baby through the winter, has made me appreciate the outdoors more than ever.   Getting this baby boy out in the warmer weather and sunshine just makes my heart so happy.  As soon as I saw the Robin Eggs at the grocery, I bought a bag of course, and I just got all excited about the promise of spring.

So here we are, Easter is almost here, and it looks a lot different for me this year.  Easter, well really all holidays, get kind of complicated with a little one.  It’s tough on baby (and parents) to balance getting ready for church, feedings, naps, long drives, lots of people, and different places all in one day.  However, I really don’t want to stress out over the business of the day and schedules being thrown off.  I have realized in this mothering journey so far, that sometimes I just have to let it go for a day or two.  Or else worrying about Maverick’s day being “off” will rob me of enjoying and celebrating such a sacred day.  So, I’m going to pray about it the next few days, which might seem a little silly, but I’m going to pray that Maverick will get the rest he needs, and that I’ll have a special peace over me this Easter.  I want to do my best to soak it in and truly celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and freedom He gave us through the cross.   So, I’m praying and believing for a wonderful Easter in the midst of all that the day will surely bring.

Sidenote: If you have young families in your extended family, cut them some slack on Easter.  They might be late, their kids might be fussy, but us newbies to parenting are just doing the best we can.  We’ve never had a baby on Easter before, it’s tougher than it looks!

Now, onto some Easter recipes, I am sharing 2 ways to put a spin on an Easter menu staple: the deviled egg.  I’m quite fond of a boiled egg on it’s own (see more egg recipes here) but add some mayo and seasonings to those yolks and you have one delicious little treat!  Last year I made these Hummus Deviled Eggs, so this year I am giving you two new ideas that are an easy and fun way to spice up this classic.  Zach said the pesto ones are the best deviled eggs he has ever had, but my dad preferred the Cream Cheesy ones.  Let me know which ones you like best!

Enjoy and have a Happy Easter!

deviled eggs 2

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

Categories: Appetizer Holidays Sides

easter recipe collage

Easter is a week away, and I’m thinking spring is here to stay, thank the good Lord!   Speaking of, do you know what you are making for Easter dinner?!  If you haven’t gotten there yet, I’m sharing some of my favorite recipes to help get you started.  In addition to these, I have a couple of new recipes for your menu coming this week, so stay tuned for those as well.

Also be sure to tune in THIS FRIDAY to Talk of the Town on Channel 5 at 11am for one of my exclusive cookbook recipes that is one of my go-to main dishes for grilling season!

Below you’ll find the links and pictures to some of my fave Spring/Easter dishes…Happy Menu Planning!

Farm Fresh Corn Pudding

corn pudding


Fruity Feta Salad

fruity feta

Corny Bacon and Tomato Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

Cheesy Asparagus Risotto

asparagus risotta

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potato Casserole

mashed potato cass

Strawberry Almond Crisp

Strawberry Crisp

Luscious Lemon Icebox Pie

Lemon Icebox Pie

Date posted: March 30, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Dessert Holidays Sides

Marry Berry Martini

Christmas is less than a week away, I can’t believe it!  Last year I really went all out for Christmas…baking, decorating, the whole deal.  This year is a little different, I haven’t had so much time for all of that decorating and baking with this little boy hanging around, but I’m not complaining. ;)  I have a feeling Christmas will never be the same, in the best way!

I did make some time to try out this recipe for Peanut Brittle for the first time last week, and it was actually pretty dang good.  I am a sucker for sweet and salty, so I sprinkled it with a little sea salt before it hardened….could not quit opening that tin!  Monday I am taking Maverick to my parents so my mom and I can do a little baking, and I would love to try some new recipes this year.  What are your favorite Christmas cookies/candies/treats?!

For now, I am sharing this cocktail recipe I came up with for the December issue of At Home Memphis magazine, and I defnintely plan to make it again on Christmas Eve.  Last year I made this Sparking Apple Cider Sangria on Christmas Eve, so I am thinking this new Christmas cocktail recipe every year is becoming a trend, and I like it!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

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Date posted: December 19, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Beverages Holidays