Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Turkey, Stuffing and Preparing for Thanksgiving

It’s Turkey time! That time of year to pull the roasting pan out, hit your local grocery store and farmers market in preparation for cooking a great meal and gathering with family and friends. 
If your looking for assistance in preparing your meal here are several of my favorite recipes and posts for Thanksgiving.  
Calling all road warriors who will be preparing a feast at your destination and not in your own familiar kitchen, click on this link Traveling Thanksgiving Dinner
I know most of us have a favorite stuffing recipe for our Turkey dinner, here is one I discovered while watching Giada on the today show several years ago. Still a family favorite!

Ciabatta stuffing with chestnuts and pancetta.
And if you are just cooking for a small crowd or a crowd of one here is a blog favorite:  
If you need some pointers on how to make home made gravy check out Lisa’s video @ Homemade Gravy from Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food Who wants to use dried or pre-made gravy to pour over your home cooked Turkey, not me.  

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving? 
Cheers! Kary 

Just cook something!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitts, Deliciously Organic New Book

In 2011 I discovered Carrie Vitt’s website “Deliciously Organic ” and her first book  Deliciously Organic.  I admired her determination to improve her then current state of health by researching what she was eating and how she might be able to become healthier.  I have been a fan ever since.  
Tomorrow is a big day for Carrie, her new cookbook, “The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organicwill be released and today is the last day to take advantage of the cookbook bonus offer! Click now to purchase!

 I received my copy last week and what I really like is that the recipes are clearly written, the photo’s are a beautiful blend of family, friends and need I mention the food…looks delicious!  

I felt like I was invited to join Carrie in the kitchen to chop veggies, prepare one of her recipes, then pull up a chair at her table and share a great meal. Warmth radiates from the pages and her journey to improve her health is encouraging and heartfelt. 

When I first started blogging my focus was on encouraging my family, friends and anyone who would listen to “just cook something” and avoid pre-packaged frozen meals and drive-thru. My focus is still about teaching children and parents to prepare home cooked meals, however I am also working on converting my recipes to real food and organic products.

After reading Carries story and The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic I can think of a number of friends and family who have health issues and could benefit from Carrie’s experience and her book.   

I recently purchased eggplant and zucchini from the local farmers market, as a result the first recipe that I selected to cook was Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna, my husband loved this meal! I had enough for two dinners and one lunch, and as most of us know anything with red sauce is usually even better the next day!  This is a very kid’s friendly recipe; I might add sautéed onion next time since it is just Doug and I. 

As I always say “make it your own” and just cook something!

Currently Pork Carnitas are in my crock pot, from The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic, of course.

For the all the recipe’s click on the link and purchase your copy The Grain-Free Family Table, Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic, the perfect gift for yourself or someone you care about!

Thank you Carrie for sharing your experience, knowledge and passion for cooking healthy meals.

 Cheers! Kary


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter's on the way and Polar Fleece

Flash back Thursday- With cold weather on its way to the Carolina’s I am digging into the back of my closet for my Polar Fleece 
November 2011 I wrote a post about my fleece jacket and how I loved that it kept me warm.

If you live in a climate where fleece clothing is only seen in catalogs, take a trip back to 2011 and visit my post to learn a little bit about this great fabric that keeps me and millions warm during the cold months. Brrrr, baby it’s cold outside…
Snow February 2009

Cheers! Kary



Friday, November 7, 2014

Hot Cocoa,Warms the Body and the Soul...

When the weather begins to cool there is nothing I love more than a cup of hot chocolate, nothing fancy no marshmallows or whip cream just a good cup of cocoa.  
My post for Hot Chocolate with Hershey Kisses is one of my most viewed posts and a cold weather favorite which I originally posted on March 2011 when we were looking towards spring.

However, organic it isn’t, so I starting searching for a healthier alternative which lead me to one of my favorite websites Deliciously Organic. 
Give it a try, I am sure you will love this simple and organic recipe for Hot Cocoa Deliciously Organic. Let me know if you try it. Yummy...
Oh and go ahead and add the marshmallows.

Just cook something! Cheers! Kary

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shrimp Pasta Salad; Kary's Mardi Gras Style and "The Invention of Wings"

September 2014 Selection The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Ann Monk 
Thank you stopping by and spending a few moments with our book club.  
The book club ladies and myself are really big fans of Sue Ann Monk and one of our all time favorite books was The Secret Life of Bees, published in 2002. So when Rosemary suggested The Invention of Wings we all agreed that we would love to add this to the list for 2014, and selected September as the month to discuss the book.

The book is set in the city of Charleston, SC in 1803, one of my favorite cites. And just the thought of the variety food that is offered in this city brings to mind so many of my favorite recipes. 
I was trying to decide what to serve at book club and inspired by The Invention of Wings I decided to borrow from several of my recipes; Shrimp Pasta Salad, Mardi Gras Salad and Lulus’ Awesome Shrimp Appetizer for my book club meal.  Ok now I am hungry and it is early morning, sometimes writing about food leads me to want to munch all day… 

Kary's Shrimp Pasta Salad, Mardi Gras Style. Hmm little heavy on the Parm

Back to the book, Sue Ann Monk’s writing transports you to the coastal city of Charleston, SC; you can almost feel the salty sea air on your skin and smell the mouth watering aromas that drift out of the doors of the downtown eateries and permeate the air.  

The story is set 58 years before the US Civil War and I was not aware that the book was partially inspired by historical events until I read about the author, Sue Ann Monk and how she was inspired by the Grimke sister’s. 

Click on the links for an overview of the book and travel back in time with “Handful” and the Grimke sisters Sarah and Angelina. These brave women fought for equal rights in a time when women were seen and not heard. I encourage you to read the book and take a virtual trip back in time to Old Charleston, SC.  

Have you read the book? What are some of your favorite Charleston style recipes?  
Just cook something!
Cheers! Kary

And now for my Shrimp and pasta Entrée served with Trader Joe’s Cornbread 


        1 head iceberg lettuce chopped

        1 bunch (or 10-ounce bag) fresh spinach leaves, stemmed, rinsed and chopped

         I like to use baby spinach but any fresh spinach works as well

        8 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

        ½ red onion thinly sliced

        1 11 oz can Mandarin orange sections, drained or you can use the juice for the dressing

        1 pound Cooked shrimp, peeled and devein (you can purchase cooked & cleaned shrimp) You can use this recipe to marinate: Lulus’ Awesome Shrimp Appetizer or toss with the dressing and chill overnight which is what I did this time

        1 package Mushroom tortellini

        ¼ cup Shredded Fresh Parmesan Cheese 


        ½ cup cider vinegar

        1 teaspoon onion powder

        1 Tablespoon honey or 1 Tablespoon Agave or ¼ cup sugar or the juice from the mandarin oranges,

        1 tsp dry mustard

        2/3  cup vegetable or olive oil

        Dressing Options- I currently used about ¼ cup of “All Natural Garlic Vinaigrette from Aldi’s        

        Cooking Directions

        Whisk together the cider vinegar, onion powder, sugar, mustard and vegetable oil

          This can be made several days ahead of time and refrigerated

        In a large skillet, over medium heat cook the bacon, allow the bacon to cool then crumble

         You can cook the bacon several days ahead and refrigerate

        Rinse the lettuce and spinach, drain in a colander, pat dry with paper towels and chop

         I like to cut off the stems from the spinach

        Slice the red onion

        Drain the mandarin oranges

        Cook and clean the shrimp.

         Options: You can use this recipe to marinate: Lulus’ Awesome Shrimp Appetizer or toss with the dressing and chill overnight, or just add to the salad and toss in  

        Cook the tortellini per the package directions and drain

        In a large bowl toss together lettuce, spinach, bacon, onion, mandarin oranges, shrimp  and tortellini

        Whisk dressing; add about half to the salad, toss, and taste. If you need more dressing add.

         Some times less is more for dressing and Cheese

        Grate ¼ cup of Parmesan Cheese over the salad and Serve!  

Crunchy French bread or Cornbread are a great compliment to this dish.  

A delicious and satisfying meal for any occasion!
 Cheers! Kary

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Gone Girl", Book Club & Cabbage Chicken Salad

Our book club read Gone Girl for our November 2012 selection. I wrote this post last year and never got around to posting so in celebration of the Gone Girl Movie, opening this Friday October 3, 2014 I thought I would go ahead and post this.   

November 2012 book club was hosted by Rose, as always the house was festively dressed for the Thanksgiving holiday, radiating warmth. Rose usually hosts our November book club and since it usually falls after Thanksgiving Rose treats us with a Mexican feast, a nice change from all the turkey we have just consumed! 

Last year Thanksgiving fell during the last week of November so our book club was the week prior to the Turkey feasting. We were expecting Mexican and our Rose surprised us with a deliciously light and flavorful Asian Chicken Salad that delighted the taste buds!  

Kary's Broccoli Slaw with Chicken

This month was my selection, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn which we all thought was entertaining, which is not always the case. Some of our best conversations have been about books that not all of us cared for, the resulting discussions are exceptionally interesting and passionate. Several of our group read the books many months ago, so thanks to Rose and Katie for reminding of us of all the diabolical twists and turns involving Amy and Nick.  

We all agreed that this book was deliciously wicked and much of the discussion was about the author and what her background was. Some of the group believes that in order to write such a diabolical story, one would have to have experienced the situation at some level. However after reading Gillian’s short bio on her website it sounds like she has an amazing imagination, rather like Amazing Amy in her book.  

Every month we all look forward to gathering together, sharing a meal, lively conversation and most importantly the relationships that have deepened over the years. And this month the burning question for all of us was “How far you would go for revenge, and does your mind even think this way? 
Have you read the book? Are you going to see the movie? 

My book club buds; Anne, Elaine, Katie, Katy, Lynn, Rose and Rosemary, I love you ladies! See you next week at my house for book club.
Next week look for my next book club post "The Inventions of Wings" Sue Monk Kidd

 Cheers! Kary

Here’s my recipe for Broccoli Chicken Salad, similar to Asian Chicken Salad. I need to get Rose’s recipe for myself and to post.


• 1 packages of pre-shredded broccoli slaw (broccoli, carrots and red cabbage) or pre-shredded coleslaw or 1 small head of cabbage sliced

• 3 green onions diced

• 1 ½ to 2 cups of cooked chicken.

– 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces or purchase roasted chicken and dice into bite size pieces. Use left over chicken for salad, sandwiches or toss with pasta

• 1/4 cup of raw shelled sunflower seeds or sliced almonds, toasted

• 1 3 oz package of Top Ramen noodles, chicken flavor

– You can use other flavors, I just like the chicken

• Dressing:

– 1/4 cup of olive oil

– 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

– 1 teaspoon sugar or Steva

– 1 seasoning packet from the Top Ramen Noodles

Cooking Instructions:

• Rinse off the green onions, cut off the root and dice

• Rinse off the slaw in a colander and dry with a paper towel

• Cut the chicken into bite size pieces

• In a large bowl add slaw, diced green onions and chicken

• In a sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil or non-stick cooking spray and toast the sunflower seeds on medium heat. Watch closely or the sunflower seeds will burn!

• In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sweetener and the Top Ramen seasoning packet

• Add the dressing to the large bowl and toss all ingredients

• Crumble the Top Ramen noodles (do not cook) and toss in the salad prior to serving for a crunchy salad

– You can refrigerate leftovers, the salad tastes great the next day even with the noodle soften from sitting over night in the salad

The salad is ready to serve at room temperature or chill.

 Do you have a favorite Cabbage/Asian Chicken Salad?
Cheers! Kary

Friday, September 26, 2014

Our Dolphin Tale 1 and 2 Adventure, Meeting Winter and Hope

 Dolphin Tail 2 opened last weekend and I couldn’t wait to revisit the wonderful world of
Winter and her friends at the Clearwater Aquarium,  where their mission is to Rescue, Rehab and Release.
I can’t believe it was over two years ago that my sissy Debbie, niece Molly and I loaded up the Mini Cooper and motored down to Clearwater, FL to meet Winter and friends.


Molly and I had been making plans for months, monitoring Winter on the Winter Cam, plotting and planning our great adventure.


Finally the day was here, early Monday morning in May 2012 we departed from my home in Charlotte NC, about a 400 mile journey, our first stop on our motoring adventure was St Augustine, FL where we spent several days at the beach home of our great friends Lynn and Paul.

We arrived just in time for an early dinner at the Beachcomber, which is one of our favorite local places to enjoy fresh seafood. Providing a casual atmosphere, nestled behind the beach dunes where you can relax on the deck, feel the ocean breeze on your face and the Atlantic Ocean is your backdrop.
Kary and Molly 2012
“St. Augustine is the oldest continually occupied city in the United States and if you would to read about this delightful city I recommend that you visit Simply St. Augustine, a blog written by a local. Today I would like to focus on Winter and will write more about St. Augustine in another blog post.

 Next stop, a 250 mile drive from St. Augustine to Clearwater Florida, through a torrential rain storm,  fortunately  we arrived safely at the  Marriott Residences Inn, a two bedroom suite awaited us, which the girls loved and the location was convenient to all the attractions in Clearwater.

The next morning we were up early, really excited and ready to meet Winter!
Molly and the Boathouse 2012
The Clearwater Aquarium looks exactly as it does in the movies Dolphin Tale 1 and 2.  down to the houseboat docked right next to the Aquarium, Molly waiting for Rufus to drop in for a visit. This is truly an aquarium completely focused on Rescue, Rehabilitate and Release.

We finally arrived at Winters home (several U-Turns were involved) where Sissy Debbie and I surprised Molly girl with the Sea Life Safari where we encountered dolphins in the wild, seabirds and had a hands-on-experience on the gorgeous intra-coastal waters.  

One more surprise for Molly was the Encounter Behind The Scenes where we were able to see the tanks where the “patients” are rehabilitated, the hospital and our guide was really knowledgeable and explained how the program works.

Next stop was the Daily Presentations, and the Brighthouse Theater. Also available is the Boat and Kayak Tours and be sure to check out all Activities prior to your trip and reserve your tickets, we did and we were able to plan our day. Snacks, ice cream and beverages are available on-site or pack a cooler with Broccoli Slaw Salad with Chicken, fresh fruit and water, Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches always a good choice and easy!
Winter playing 2012

Winter 2012
The absolute highlight of the day was meeting Winter, Molly had written a note for Winter and after the Animal Encounter Molly spoke with one of the trainers and showed her the note that she wrote to Winter. (We did not get the name of the trainer but I think I spotted her in the Dolphin Tale 2).

Molly showing her note to Winter
The trainer whispered to Molly for us follow her downstairs to the underwater viewing room, as Molly held her note up to the glass the trainer called Winter and Winter swam up to the glass, I swear she looked right at Molly and the note.

It was such a magical moment and there was a couple with their two children watching the entire encounter and the Father turned to us with tears in his eyes and said “this was the most amazing part of the day, Thank you for this”.

It was an incredible adventure for Molly, Debbie and I, also very educational. So make plans soon to  enjoy a day of Adventure that will warm your heart and touch your soul!

Have you met Winter or Hope yet? Have you seen Dolphin Tale 1 and 2?
Please share your stories, it only takes a minute to sign up as a follower or leave your email address for updates.

 Cheers!  Kary