Pimento Cheese Queso Olé

When I think of food to serve while entertaining, the first dish that comes to mind is a dip. There are so many variations of dips out there! One of our favorites is cheese dip, pimento cheese dip to be exact. This Pimento Cheese Queso Olé is the second recipe of our tailgating series and is guaranteed to please. Check out the recipe and more fabulous tailgating tips on the Draper James Love, Reese blog.

You'll Need

  • 15 ounces of pimento cheese
  • 1/4 lb of Chorizo Mexican sausage, crumbled and cooked
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lb of tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Mix all the above ingredients together an put into a 9 inch cast iron skillet. 
  3. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly. 
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.
Pimento Cheese Queso Olé is always a crowd pleaser at our tailgate spot!
— Carrie

Ham Pleasures

The Ham Pleasure Biscuit Sandwich is the first recipe of our October Tailgating Series. When you live in the South, football is a part of life! We teamed up with Draper James for an ultimate tailgating guide, and I wanted to share the recipes with you here as well.

You'll Need

  • 3 dozen thawed buttermilk biscuits
  • 2 sticks of softened salted butter
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp of poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 lb Swiss cheese, medium sliced
  • 1 lb smoked ham, medium sliced

To Prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Cream together the butter, mustard, poppy seeds, onions, honey and Worcestershire sauce. 
  • Slice the biscuits down the middle and spread the butter mixture on both the center and liberally on the tops. 
  • Place cheese and ham in the center and place the tops back on. Hint: I use two slices for every six biscuits. 
  • Wrap the biscuits completely in foil and place on a sheet pan. 
  • Heat in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

Head over to the Love, Reese Draper James blog for more Southern tips. It was so much fun collaborating with Draper James for all things tailgating. And how adorable are their tailgating dishes! 

Tropical Storm

In light of the storm, we’re serving up a comforting cocktail to transport us to tropical days!
— Carrie
Mix all of the ingredients. Fill your glass with ice and pour 2/3 then top with soda water. Stir and garnish with an orange. This recipe will make a big batch-about 20 servings!
— Carrie

Tropical Storm

  • One bottle dark rum
  • One bottle light rum
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup mango juice
  • 1/2 passion fruit
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cups lime juice
  • 1/4 cup grenadine
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup

Pork Wellington

Pork Wellington is a sophisticated week night meal. This dish is packed with flavor and is a little fancy for the kids. The preparation is super simple, in fact, I prepped while my girls did their homework. Enjoy!
— Carrie

You'll Need

  • 3 lb pork loin
  • 1 Puff Pastry Sheet, rolled out and floured
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, whisked, for wash
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375° 
  2. Generously salt and pepper the pork loin and set aside
  3. Sauté onions, garlic, and mushrooms, then set aside to cool
  4. With olive oil and a smoking hot pan, sear pork loin on all sides 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside to cool, and then add Dijon mustard to all sides of seared loin.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out one sheet of thawed puff pastry.
  6. Once the mushroom mixture and pork loin has cooled place the mushrooms in the middle of the puff pastry sheet. Then place the seared pork loin on top in the middle as well. 
  7. Begin wrapping up your pig in the blanket by folding the bottom portion and the sides. 
  8. Lastly, fold over the final piece of puff pastry and seal it all over with the egg wash. 
  9. Place on a lined sheet pan to bake in the preheated oven.  You may sprinkle fresh  thyme if you wish on top. 
  10. Bake until an internal temp of 145 degrees is reached and the puff pastry is golden brown. 
  11. Slice and serve!
Pork Wellington, the adult version of everyone’s favorite pig in a blanket!
— Carrie

Salmon Rice Bowls-Perfect for the Soccer Fields

This time of year we are always on the go. These salmon rice bowls are a great supper for those evenings on the sports fields. 

Pack the salmon Rice bowls in to go containers and you have a nice healthy meal wherever you may be! 

For the Salmon You'll Need

  • 1 pound salmon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Zest of a lime
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  1. Combine the above ingredients and marinate salmon for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Roast salmon fillets on a parchment lined sheet pan or an oven safe pan for 15 to 20 minutes.

Seared Bok Choy and Snow Peas

  • 2 cups snow peas
  • 3 bunches of baby bok choy, washed with ends cut off and separated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
I steam the rice with a knob of peeled fresh ginger and a peeled clove of garlic.
Top the rice with the salmon fillets, bok choy, and snow peas. Garnish the bowls with peanuts, cilantro, and mint

Cup, a Cup, a Savory Cobbler

We are savoring the last tastes of summer with farmers market tomatoes in a quick savory all in one cobbler.

You'll Need

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 1 heaping cup of cooked butter beans, or any beans or peas you like
  • 1 heaping cup of tomatoes, I used heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1 heaping cup of cooked and chopped chicken, I like boneless chicken thighs 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

For the batter

  • 1 cup of self rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Everyone makes sweet cobblers, but this savory cobbler is a new twist for an all in one supper that is quick, hearty, and scrumptious!
— Carrie
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Whisk the above three ingredients together and set aside
  3. On a stovetop melt the butter in a cast iron skillet.
  4. Once melted pull off the stovetop and add the batter.
  5. Next add the butter beans, tomatoes, chicken, and chives evenly around the skillet
  6. Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

Spring Rolls with Guest Little Chef Ellie Hudgins

Over the long weekend, Sarah had her best friend Ellie over. They have been friends since they were two and say they're going to college together. Ellie wanted to teach us how to make her signature dish, Shrimp Spring Rolls. We can learn a lot from our kids and they love to teach us! 

Set up an assembly station with all of the ingredients and roll away. Once you have the ingredients that you want in the paper, roll and tuck and fold in the sides keeping it tight all the way to the end of the rolls. There is no measuring for this recipe. Wing it and have fun building these little bundles with your kiddos!

You'll Need

  • Spring roll paper
  • Warm water to dip the spring roll wrappers
  • Thinly sliced cucumber
  • Washed and stemmed cilantro and mint
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Cooked ground pork (optional)
  • Vermicelli rice noodles, cooked and drained

Pineapple-Peanut Butter-Hoisin Sauce

  • 10 ounces of Hoisin sauce
  • 12 ounces of freshly cut pineapple with the juices
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of Sriracha 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Blend all of the above ingredients until smooth.

Adding pork was a Morey spin on the spring rolls. I sautéed the pork in minced ginger and garlic with a splash of soy then let it drain.

— Carrie
The key is to roll and tuck tightly!
— Carrie

Summer Succotash

This is a simple summer recipe that requires in-season vegetables and a skillet. I stopped by my favorite roadside veggie vendor, Ruke's, and bought what was just picked, fresh and local. Feel free to be creative with your vegetable choices! Succotash makes for the perfect summer side dish. 

I love to serve this with fresh seared fish from the dock!
— Carrie

I chose equal parts

  • Okra
  • Corn
  • Butterbeans, speckled here
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  1. Bring the butterbeans to a boil in salted water. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes until just soft, not mushy. 
  2. Cut the raw corn off the cob and set aside. Wash and cut the okra in 1/4 pieces discard the ends. Chop the onion.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the okra and onions until slightly brown- don't over stir.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the butterbeans. Then add salt and pepper. 
  5. Add the corn and toss the butterbeans, okra, onions, and corn together. Add the white wine and toss again. 
  6. Serve immediately   
One of my favorite things about summer is the fresh and colorful produce!
— Carrie

Peach Upside Down Cake

The girls and I bake every Sunday and each week they get to choose the dessert we make. This cake is inspired by Mama's pineapple upside down cake. Since we have an abundance of local peaches, we put a twist on the original dish. 

Peach upside down cake keeps well and can even be served in the morning as coffee cake. It's just as good served at room temperature-perfect for picnicking!

You'll Need:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 peaches
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar
  3. Slice the peaches 1/2 think. Making a circular patter, place the slices flat side down to cover the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, heat the remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the white sugar with a handheld mixer until a pale lemon colored. In a third bowl, combine the milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  5. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Stir in the milk mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour the batter over the peaches and level with a spatula.
  6. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top is golden brown and does not jiggle.
  7. While hot, flip the cake onto a plate for presentation.

First Meal in the New House!

We have officially settled into our new house! I absolutely love living in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant. My girls have numerous friends in the neighborhood and we are biking and walking distance to school and Shem Creek. For our first supper, we rode our bikes to pick up local shrimp at the dock and then over to Mount Pleasant Seafood for some freshly caught snapper.

The snapper is simply prepared. First, I pat the filets dry with paper towels and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then, I seared for 2-3 minutes on each side with a tablespoon of oil on a very hot smoking cast iron skillet. Finally, I top the dish with chimichurri sauce and microgreens! Chimichurri sauce is great on a variety of meats, so try it with your next meal. Enjoy!

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 2 cups loosely packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-lead parsley
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 green onions, coarsely chopped (both the white and green parts)
  • 1/2 jalapeno chili, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place the cilantro, parsley, garlic, green onions, and jalapeno in a food processor and pulse a few times. 
  2. Add the lime juice and vinegar and pulse to combine. 
  3. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil and process until sauce-like.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lowcountry Tomato Pie

You'll Need

  • 2 recipes Mama's Butter Piecrust (find recipe here or page 147 of my cookbook)
  • 6 large tomatoes (2 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 green onions, minced (white and green parts)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

My California in-laws don't often indulge in Southern food. They say that it's too heavy, and I can understand that (to some degree!). In fact, trying to lighten up some of my Southern favorites has led to some of my best recipes. Little by little, with slight modifications to the traditional ingredients and methods, I am winning them over.

This recipe is a great example of everything in moderation. It uses lighter Italian cheeses, olive oil, and half the mayonnaise of the typical recipe. Do be sure to drain the tomatoes with a sprinkling of salt for at least 30 minutes so the pie is firm rather than liquidy.

Don’t forget to peel your tomatoes! I use a serrated peeler, like the Messermeister Peeler. It so easy to use and you’ll never need another peeler again.
— Carrie
  1. Roll out and fit half the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim the edges. Pre-bake at 400°F according to the instructions. Remove to a cooling rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  2. While the crust bakes, peel and core the tomatoes. Slice or chop the tomatoes and sprinkle with the salt. Drain in a colander for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Combine the mayonnaise, olive oil, Parmesan, and Romano.
  4. When the bottom piecrust has cooled, spread one-third of the mayonnaise mixture evenly in the bottom of the crust. Scatter one-third of the tomatoes in a layer and sprinkle with pepper, one-third of the green onions, and then one-third of the basil. 
  5. Repeat the layers 2 more times, starting with the mayonnaise mixture and finishing with the basil, or until all the ingredients are used.
  6. Roll out the other crust and place on top. Crimp the bottom and top crusts together. Use the tip of the knife to make a few slits for steam to escape.
  7. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden. let cool slightly before cutting.

Mama's Butter Piecrust

Mama's Butter Piecrust is perfect for a sweet or a savory dish!

You'll Need

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 5 to 7 tablespoons ice water
  1. Mix the flour and the salt. Add the butter and work into the flour with your fingertips just like making biscuits until the mixture has the consistency of grated Parmesan cheese. Mix the cold water by the tablespoon with your fingers until the dough holds together in a rough ball.
  2. Flour a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper. Dump out the dough onto the paper. Flour the top of the dough and cover with another sheet of paper. Place the whole dough "sandwich" on a baking sheet. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge and leave out for 30 minutes, keeping the dough sandwiched in the paper.
  4. With the dough still between the sheets of paper, roll it out to a circle 12 inches in diameter, 1/4 inch think.
  5. Peel off the top paper and flip the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. 
  6. Peel off the other piece of paper. Trim off any extra dough that's hanging over the edge of the pie dish. Press the tines of a fork on the top edge of the crust to crimp it. Fill and bake as the recipe directs.
  7. To prebake a crust before filling: Prick the crust in several places with a fork. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  9. Line the crust with waxed paper and fill with rice or dry deans to add weight. (Save them in a mason jar to reuse the next time. Do not cook them after using for piecrust.) Bake 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the waxed paper and weights and bake about 5 to 7 minutes more, until golden brown.
  11. Let cool on a rack.
I use this recipe for about every version of pie I make!
— Carrie

Red, White, and Blue Shrimp and Grits

It's Fourth of July weekend and I have the perfect dish for your holiday brunch! Last Christmas, our great friends at Geechie Boy gave me a delicious gift of his heirloom Jimmy Red corn grits. We quickly planned our Christmas morning breakfast around it. Since that day, my girls have been talking about how they were the most delicious grits ever. 

Last week when I asked my oldest, Caroline, what she wanted me to cook for her birthday supper, she responded with zero hesitation, "I want shrimp and Jimmy Red corn grits!" I told her that was a tall order because they are so hard to find, but I would make a call and see what I could do.

Within two days we not only had a delivery of Jimmy Red corn grits, but Greg also brought us some white and blue corn grits!  My girls loved making all three and serving the red, white, and blue grits piled with Magwood shrimp for Caroline's 12th Birthday celebration. Thanks to Greg and all our friends at Geechie Boy for making such delicious Southern fare!

See how I prepare creamy grits here.

One of the perks of my job is getting to know such wonderful and friendly people!
— Carrie

Shrimping with Dad

When I was a little girl, shrimping was a part of most weekends during the shrimp season. Dad's boat, the Rainbow Runner, had sparkly rainbow stripes along the sides. I loved to go out with him, cast net and all! One day we put the boat in the water at Shem Creek Boat landing.  It is the busiest in town. The boat was on a trailer behind my grandfather's old green wood-paneled station wagon, and Dad was backing it down the ramp into the water when the brakes gave out. The boat and station wagon rolled right into Shem Creek and sank, putting a real wrench in the plans of the other boaters who were lined up for their turn to use the ramp. The station wagon and boat were towed out and put back into working condition. Weeks after we thought the station wagon had finally dried out,  we saw more water draining from the old car.

Though the Rainbow Runner, nor the station wagon, are with us any longer, the tradition of shrimping is still the same. Open my dad's refrigerator any time of day, any time of year, and there will be a porcelain bowl full of boiled shrimp, or as my father pronounces it, "bull shrimp," in his Lowcountry accent. He also likes to put the cold "bull shrimp" in a resealable plastic bag, put the bag in the cooler, and take it out in the boat. We peel the shrimp as we eat, tossing the shells overboard into the water. 

When I asked him how he fixes his shrimp, assuming there would be some kind of secret method or some seasoning involved, this is what he told me: "You don't put anything on those. Soon as you put them in the pot and soon as they turn pink, you take them out. They taste perfectly good without any of that." To translate, here's Dad's "no-recipe" method for "bull shrimp":

  • Head the shrimp if they aren't already headed.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp.
  • Boil just until pink, about 2 minutes.
  • Drain in a colander. Chill in the fridge.
  • Serve cold, peeling the shrimp as you eat them.
One reason why Dad’s shrimp don’t need any seasoning is that they are super fresh and right out of the cast net. So try to get the freshest shrimp available. Otherwise, get out the Old Bay!
— Carrie

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Parents, children, and teachers are all ecstatic because it is officially summer in the South. While that means days at the park, beach, and pool are here, so is the heat! Being born and raised in South Carolina, I am used to the hot, humid climate. However, my girls and husband are ready to flee to the ranch once it hits mid June. To cope with the heat, I turn to this refreshing recipe. Watermelon agua fresca can be used to fill popsicle molds or ice cube trays for the kids. As for us adults, it acts as a base for a watermelon margarita or mojito. Cue the pool parties!

Double the batch and add a little rum, vodka, or tequila for an adult beverage!
— Carrie
  1. Puree the watermelon in a blender. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and mint leaves. Taste for sweetness and add sugar or simple syrup if needed. Strain (if you'd like) or pour into a tall pitcher. Add the ice water and refrigerate. Stir again before serving.
  2. Fill tall glasses with ice, pour in the agua fresca, and garnish with a fresh mint sprig and watermelon cubes.
  • 6 cups cubed and seeded watermelon (about half of a standard watermelon), plus you'll want some for garnishing
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Sugar or simple syrup, if needed
  • 3 cups ice water
  • Ice cubes
  • Fresh mint sprigs for garnish
If you want to accent the flavor of the watermelon, dip the rims of the glasses in water, then in a saucer of Kosher salt.
— Carrie

Mama's Sour Cream Banana Pudding

My grandmother Rebecca, who we called Mama, made her banana pudding almost every week for a sweet treat. Her five boys and all of her grandchildren absolutely loved when she made it. Simple, Southern, and some of the best comfort food!

  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
  • 3 to 4 bananas
  • 1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafer cookies
Try to purchase name brand ingredients for this recipe rather than generic brands. The better quality pudding and cookies make a difference.
— Carrie
  1. Combine the pudding and milk and whisk by hand for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside 1/2 cup of the whipped topping and whisk in the rest. Mix well.
  2. Cut the bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture in a 2-quart casserole dish. Cover the surface with a layer of wafers, flat side up. Top each wafer with another, rounded side up. Place a banana slice on top of each wafer pair. Fill in the spaces between the cookies with sliced bananas.
  4. Repeat with another layer of the pudding, wafer pairs, and banana slices.
  5. Repeat with the remaining pudding, wafer pairs, and banana slices. Top with the reserved whipped topping.
  6. Cover and refrigerate over-night.

Cinco de Mayo Roasted Poblano Corn Salad

I'm always looking for an excuse to have a margarita and Cinco De Mayo is right around the corner! Along with a quenching margarita, comes inspiration for a great meal. This year for the Mexican liberation celebration, I decided to make citrus marinated skirt steak tacos.

I then realized I needed a fitting side. I started thinking of summer salads and Mexican food when it hit me! I wanted to make a corn salad using Poblanos, fresh corn, red peppers, and cotija cheese! So here you have it! Celebrate and enjoy!

This salad is even better the next day!
— Carrie
  • 5 whole roasted poblano, chopped
  • 5 cups of fresh cooked corn off the cob
  • 2 red peppers, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 1/2 cup roasted Pepitas
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  1. Boil corn and cut off the cob
  2. Roast Poblanos on your stove top, peel and chop
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, toss with olive oil, and enjoy!
Cotija cheese can be hard to find. A great alternative is Feta!
— Carrie

Peruvian Green Sauce

My love affair with the roasted chicken is not a new one as many of you may know! At least once a week I need my fix. I'm forever searching for the perfect accompaniment to create an experience that is better than the last. 

Truth be told, I'm a dipper. Not only do I dip once, but I tend to double and even triple dip! The need to have an accoutrement is never lost on me. This is super easy to whip up, and is packed with plenty of flavor and punch. It is my new go to obsession for roasted chicken, crudités, and just about anything else I can get my hands on!

Blend the first four ingredients in a food processor. Once finely chopped, add the remaining ingredients until the creamy green sauce comes together.
— Carrie

You'll Need:

  • 2 jalapeños, 1 seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tuna Tartare

Spring is here and so are the boat loads of seafood! Heading down to the docks of Shem Creek to grab fresh fish is one of my family's favorite ways to get in the spirit of the season. The docks of Shem Creek have been a mainstay for supper growing up and now as I feed my family. Whether I'm riding my bike to Magwood dock for shrimp, or swinging by Abundant Seafood to see what the catch of the day is, fresh and local seafood is a great inspiration for our family meal. This tuna tartare is a fresh and simple dish that my entire family gobbles up. Tuna tartare makes a beautiful appetizer and looks elegant on endive leaves as hors d'oeuvres for your next party. 

  1. Dice the tuna into small 1/4-inch dice. Place in a chilled bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
  2. Mix together the lime juice, zest, wasabi powder, chili paste, soy sauce, vegetable and sesame oils, and rice vinegar. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. I like a spicy mixture.
  3. Toast the sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until they smell fragrant and look golden in color. Set aside to cool.
  4. Add the avocado, green onions, and cilantro to the tuna. Pour on the dressing and fold gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.
  5. Before serving, top with the sesame seeds. Serve with wonton skins, rice crackers, endive leaves, or cucumber rounds.
  • 1 pound sashimi-grade tune, well chilled
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Asian chili paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
This recipe will make 2 1/2 cups and is too cute served on endive leaves.
— Carrie

Ham Salad

Easter is almost here and I can't help but think of all of the wonderful memories in the kitchen I have with my family. Grandmama's ham salad has created such a special food memory for me as a child that I feel the urge to re-create it, even when I don't have leftover ham. My grandmother never wrote this recipe down. This is the version I remember. I often call my mother to ask her exactly what Grandmama did or how much of something she puts in the recipe. Her response usually is, "You're going to have to come over and watch me." So many gifted cooks just do what they do without even knowing what they are doing!

This "salad" is less like a meal, but rather a spread or a Southern pâté. It is delicious on crackers and especially on a biscuit. When I do get the craving, and I don't have or need a whole ham, I ask the butcher to cut some ham in thicker slabs rather than slices for sandwiches. This recipe makes 4 cups, enough for 8 sandwiches.

Adjust the amount of mayonnaise and salt depending on the saltiness of the ham and the desired consistency of the salad.
— Carrie
  • 1 pound ham, trimmed and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 dill "sandwich-sliced" pickles, chopped
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pickle juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put the ham, onion, and celery in a food processor. Pulse 20 to 25 times to mince.
  2. Remove to a bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. Chill. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper before serving.
  3. Serve on sandwiches, crackers, or cheese biscuits, or mix into the yolk mixture of deviled eggs.
Ham salad is a great thing to do with leftover ham from Easter. This is a great childhood memory for me. I love it any way, even on top of a bed of lettuce, but my most favorite is little tea sandwiches!
— Carrie