You have heard about how I grew up on a dirt road in North Georgia surrounded by family. My grandfather originally owned the land, and as each of his children married, he gave them a piece of property to build on. It turned out pretty good for my brother, my cousins and me because we had instant friends and playmates. Our favorite thing to do was to play outside. We would ride bikes and play in the woods around our houses from dusk until after dark if our mamas would let us. It didn’t matter how mad we got at each other we had no choice but to make amends. It was like having extra brothers and sisters. We were kin, and we were stuck with each other. Only looking back, being stuck with each other was a blessing. They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is exactly what we had on our little dirt road. A “village” of relatives keeping all of us kids in line.
Being outside is still one of my favorite places to be. These days I’m usually working, though. It’s been quite a while since I’ve romped through the woods without a care in the world. Still, my family enjoys a nice bonfire, cookout, or low country boil, especially during the spring and fall. This low country boil recipe is Greg’s perfected recipe. We like to use fresh Georgia shrimp or Florida Gulf Coast shrimp when available. Also, fresh Silver Queen corn is the best and Conecuh sausage is our choice. Conecuh sausage is available in several varieties in most of our local grocery stores, but if you have a problem finding it in your area, it is available online.
Low Country Boil
- 5 lb. shell-on shrimp (16 - 20 count)
- 5 lb. sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths (we like Conecuh brand sausage)
- 6 ears corn, shucked and cut into thirds
- 5 lb. small red potatoes
- 1 to 2 pkg. shrimp boil seasoning, depending on taste
- 2 lemons, sliced
- In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil with seasoning, and lemons.
- When the water is boiling add the potatoes and sausage and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the corn and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
- Drain and serve with cocktail sauce, butter, and sour cream.
When I was a young cook, potatoes were a specialty of mine. After all, I could prepare them various ways to end up with something different each time. Times sure do change because I rarely cook potatoes these days. Mostly, because Greg likes to eat a low-carb diet. Sometimes I just get a craving that I can’t stop, though. These potatoes were a result of one of those cravings.
The crispy smashed potatoes are delicious on their own, but when you add the salt and vinegar it takes these babies over the top! They are perfect as a side with hamburgers and hot dogs or delicious with a meat and sides.
Watch the potatoes closely during the last 20 minutes of baking. It may not take quite that long. Also, if you have a few potatoes that are too big, it’s fine to cut the larger potatoes in half, or even quarter them. I have had to do this before. However, if you do this be sure to toss the boiled potatoes very gently with the butter, because they will fall apart easily.
Crispy Salt and Vinegar Smashed Potatoes
- 2 lb. baby potatoes (Red, White, or Yukon Gold)
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus additional for sprinkling
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. white vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- Add potatoes and 1 tbsp. kosher salt to a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Add butter and gently toss to coat. Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in a singer layer. Using a heavy mug or glad, gently press down on each potato until it pops and smash down to about ½-inch thickness.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from oven and turn each with a spatula. Drizzle with olive oil and continue baking for 20 minutes more.
- Once baked, sprinkle with vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot.
Some recipes become second nature. You don’t need to look at a recipe for the ingredients, and you don’t even need to follow the directions. Sausage cheese balls, homemade biscuits, and salmon patties fall into that category for me. This is one of those recipes. It is so simple, yet delicious enough to make over and over again. These little appetizers are great for any occasion from bonfires to Christmas parties. It has all of the wonderful flavors of a yummy potato skin but rather than baking a potato, scooping out the pulp and then baking it again you just buy tater tots! Yes, thawed tater tots make this wonderful treat super easy. Little ones love to help press the thawed tater tots into the greased muffin pan and teens enjoy making them for friends. This is just the beginning; you will still be making these babies years from now!
Tater Tot Potato Skins
- 32-oz. tater tots, thawed
- 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
- ½ c. sour cream
- ½ c. fresh chives, chopped
- ½ c. bacon, crisp and chopped
- Using something like a wooden handle push a thawed tater tot into a greased muffin pan.
- Sprinkle cheddar cheese over each tater tot.
- Bake at 350°F to 400°F until cheese is melted and bubbly and tater tots are a little browned.
- Top each tater tot with sour cream, bacon bits, and chives and serve warm.
Does the weather have you longing for county fairs, bonfires, and soup? I can hardly wait to unpack my things that have been tucked away for the summer like boots and sweaters. I have the same excitement about the dishes I will prepare during the cooler weather. Just a few days of cooler weather and I was in the kitchen not only making a big pot of chili, but I also made this fabulous Italian Beef Stew!
I have always loved the change of seasons, but I think living in “gnat country” has me favoring fall a little more these days. We had a busy weekend cleaning up around the farm. It was nice to have dinner in the crock pot and ready when we came in after a hard day’s work. The addition of tomatoes and Italian herbs was a delicious change from my traditional beef stew. I use chuck in my stews because it cooks up so tender and flavorful. I would also recommend a good aged Parmesan cheese for serving. Do not buy pre-shredded or that awful stuff in the green container! This is delicious served with garlic bread!
Italian Beef Stew
- 2 c. carrots, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 3 stalks celery, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 lg. yellow onion, diced
- 3 tsp. minced garlic
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2½ lb. chuck roast, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
- All-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 c. low-sodium beef broth
- 1 c. dry red wine
- 2 (14.5-oz.) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. dried marjoram
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ lb. potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the carrots, celery, and onion and sauce until lightly golden. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Add to your crock pot.
- Add a little more oil to the skillet.
- Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper and coat with flour. Sear in the skillet in batches, adding to the crock pot after each batch has browned.
- Add beef broth, wine, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, and potatoes to the crock pot. Stir, cover and cook on high for several hours.
- Just before serving stir in the basil and parsley. Top each bowl of stew with Parmesan cheese and serve with garlic bread.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day despite the fact that I am not a huge fan of eggs. A typical breakfast for me is a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt with fruit and granola. However, if I could have biscuits and gravy, French toast, or cheese grits every morning, I would be in breakfast heaven! Another favorite of mine is breakfast for dinner! It was always a treat to have breakfast for dinner when I was growing up and it hasn’t changed.
This delicious breakfast stuffed baked potato is amazing! To save time, cook a couple of extra potatoes for dinner, then store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve this up for breakfast. I made Kelsey Nixon’s Stuffed Potato Skin Skillet Hash with Fried Eggs with a few minor changes. Her recipe suggests a homemade maple sausage, but I substituted country sausage. She served her potatoes with a chive sour cream, but I wanted gravy. Use the vegetables that you prefer in your hash. I chose a few family favorites, red bell peppers, Vidalia onions, and mushrooms.
Breakfast Stuffed Baked Potatoes
- 2 russet potatoes
- olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. pork country sausage
- 8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 lg. eggs
- 1 c. grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 (2.75-oz.) pkg. Southeastern Mills Peppered Gravy Mix
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Scrub potatoes clean, bake in oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Set potatoes aside to cool. Once cooled, cut the potatoes in half and gently scrape out 1 to 2 tablespoons of flesh, creating a bowl. Place the potato skins on a baking sheet. Drizzle the potatoes liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes, and set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the sausage. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Once the sausage has started to brown, add in the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove hash with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Remove pan from heat to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, prepare the gravy as directed on package.
- Add the butter to a large nonstick skillet and place over medium-low heat until the butter melts and begins to foam. Gently crack the eggs into the skillet, being sure to crack them as close to the surface of the pan as possible. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper. For sunny-side up eggs with runny yolks, cook the eggs for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Drain the hash pan and wipe with out with a paper-towel. Add hash back to the pan and stir in the cheese.
- To assemble, take a heaping spoonful of gravy and spoon it over the bottom of a potato skin. Divide the sausage mixture evenly among the potatoes. Top each with an egg and another spoonful of gravy.