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Southern Biscuits With Sausage Gravy

Southern Biscuits With Sausage Gravy

I guess my website will just have to fit into that category of healthy-ish…well in this case…NOT healthy-in any way, shape, or form. But it’s southern, as am I, and a pretty popular breakfast dish here in Georgia. I actually did not grow up eating […]

Georgia Coffee Roasters: Perc Coffee of Savannah

Georgia Coffee Roasters: Perc Coffee of Savannah

If you’ve ever ventured into a coffee shop here in Savannah you may have happened upon an amazing cup of coffee that just so happened to be roasted in a local company called Perc. What I didn’t realize was that Perc (besides selling wholesale to […]

Easy Ham And Potato Casserole: Comfort Food At Its Finest

Easy Ham And Potato Casserole: Comfort Food At Its Finest

I made this dish not too long ago on a whim and kinda threw it together one afternoon for a weeknight meal. It was awesome and I (and my family) gave myself a pat on the back. The next day I realized I didn’t write anything down about the dish and kicked myself for not thinking ahead. This week I thought about that casserole again when my mom had a plate of spiral ham leftover from dinner. This time I wrote everything down and I’m sure you’re gonna love it. It’s a favorite combo of ham, broccoli, potatoes, and cheese. It’s topped with a few ritz crackers for crunch and a little more cheese.

This recipe is easy to put together because of time saving things like leaving the potatoes unpeeled and using packaged shredded cheese. If you’re really in a crunch for time you can sub in frozen broccoli (after a quick thaw under cold water) rather than using fresh and just mix it in the casserole right before baking it.

Easy Ham And Potato Casserole

*4 medium Russet Potatoes, (skins on) diced into 1/2″ cubes

*1/2 pound broccoli florets, cut in half (or bite size pieces)

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*1 cup ham, diced

*1/2 stick butter

*3 Tablespoons flour

*1 teaspoon salt

*1/2 teaspoon black pepper

*1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

*2 cups milk

*2 cups shredded cheese/ divided ( I use a mix of cheeses, your call)

Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set to side. Preheat oven to 350°. Cover (over 2″ above) diced potatoes in a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan with cool water and about 1/4 cup salt. Bring water to boil.

In a separate sauce pot melt butter and gently stir in flour and seasonings. Cook about a minute and a half until bubbling and fragrant. Slowly add (while continuously stirring) the milk. Turn heat on medium high and continue to stir until bubbling. Turn off heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese. Stir until smooth.

Creamy Cheese Sauce Complete

Once potatoes are almost fork tender, drop in fresh broccoli and cook two minutes. Strain.

Heading for the oven

Stir together potatoes and broccoli, ham, and cheese sauce and pour into prepared dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and Ritz crackers.

Bake for 25 minutes and turn oven up to 400°. Bake another 5 minutes until casserole is bubbly and golden brown. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

What are your go to weeknight meals? Please share them below!

Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep: Meal Plan And Recipes

Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep: Meal Plan And Recipes

This week has been a doozy. Besides work and social “thangs,” I’ve also been researching how I wanted to do this whole “better eating thing.” If you’ve read any of my stuff before you know that I am a bit of sweetaholic. My dentist can […]

List of Fiber Foods: How much do we need?

List of Fiber Foods: How much do we need?

It’s funny how sometimes you know you’re on the right track with something because everything around you somehow matches up or brings forth new info or knowledge pertaining to the exact thing you’re already working on. It’s like the universe is saying a big “Yaaaaasssss” […]

The Mediterranean Diet For Beginners: Eat Delicious Food And Feel Better!

The Mediterranean Diet For Beginners: Eat Delicious Food And Feel Better!

I know it’s the New Year and that’s not the reason for this post…well, for the most part. I’ve been wanting to change my diet for quite some time now. The keywords here are change my diet “lifestyle.” As in, the way I eat, from here on out. That’s the number one problem for most people when they say they are going on a diet. It immediately imprints the negative connotation of going without. Restricting oneself. That is the opposite of what I want.

This post actually started out as an outline of how to eat Paleo on a budget. I thought it was a pretty necessary topic especially since I was considering the Paleo way of eating. I’ve heard of this “diet” (like most of you) for quite some time now and have been curious about it for quite some time as well. I’m curious about a lot of diets actually, because I feel that I should FEEL better. I’m in my thirties, thin, physically active and I’m surrounded by my loved ones. I’m blessed, truly. But I also know that I should and that I CAN feel better than I feel.

Most days, (as energetic as I may come off to people) I feel like I’m walking around in a fog. I wake up groggy, spend the better part of my morning groggy, with the exception of those days when I throw back a couple of

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My early morning mmmmmmmm.

sugar packed coffees (or perhaps even a energy drink). I own books and cookbooks about going wheat free, gluten free, becoming a vegetarian, you name it! But I’ve yet to fully take that plunge. I know it’s fear. Fear of the unknown.

What do YOU have to fear?

I ask myself this too. I guess the fear of going without. I know how much I cherish that little cup of joe in the morning. I also know I won’t have to (at least I don’t think) cut that from my morning routine. I will however have to remove that heaping teaspoon (maybe tablespoon-please don’t judge :0) of granulated sugar that I dump into my cup. Coffee with no sugar??? Bleck!! Supposedly I’ll “taste more of the subtle nuances the coffee will offer without the sugar.” Blah blah blah.

I’ve noticed that my mood over the last few years has gotten more and more roller coastery and I’m really not a fan of those kinds of coasters (neither are my family members). So, here I am staring at my computer screen again, researching diets. I actually purchased two books on Amazon, “Practical Paleo,” and “Deep Nutrition.” The Practical Paleo diet is an updated version and besides the stellar reviews that I read I especially like that the author includes meal plans as well as pantry stocking guides for the novice paleo person….me.

Researching My Options

While I waited for my book to make it’s way to my doorstep I decided to look up the basics for a Paleo based diet. Basically it is consuming all lean meats, heavy on the veggies and some fruit, and no refined sugar or wheat products as well as a no on dairy products. I’m actually fine on the no’s of this diet..for the most part. I can do almond milk in my cereal with no problem. Besides, the main thing I want to cut from my diet is SUGAR. That’s my weakness. I think that’s most people’s weakness. Sugar. Besides that spoon of sugar I throw in my coffee in the morning, pretty much everything I, well we, as a Western society, eat contains sugar. Stuff you wouldn’t even think needs or would have sugar ….has it. Why? Because corporations figured out a long time ago that when people eat sugar, their brain craves more of it. So companies have found ways to incorporate more of it into their foods so that we WANT more of it in OUR foods.

I looked up the US News top choices for diets for 2019. Paleo was actually listed as #33 on their list of 41 diets. Guess what made number one? The Mediterranean diet. Hmmmmmmmm.

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Back to Amazon. Amazon is my go-to search engine when researching books. I’m especially fond of the available reviews posted for any item I’m considering purchasing. The search was on for Mediterranean diet cookbooks and alas I found “The complete Mediterranean Cookbook,” by the authors of America’s Test Kitchen. If you don’t know anything about ATK you should know that they test recipes until they are perfect. Not only that, but they give the scientific reason for cooking foods a particular way and why certain food choices are better than others for particular dishes. They’re kind of the Alton Brown of food kitchens and I love that. I see the book. I read the nearly perfect reviews. Into Cart. Into box. On it’s way. To me.

What Exactly Is The Mediterranean Diet?

So, let’s talk about the Mediterranean diet. Again, with that diet word. Let’s just call it the Mediterranean way of eating instead. This way of eating includes a lot of fresh seafood, lots of wholesome vegetables, limited amounts of red meats (total opposite of Paleo), whole grains, beans, nuts, and thank you Lord, allows wine! I have found my callin’!! Not only that but you can also eat dairy and cheese in moderation. Olive oil is a staple

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ingredient which I am on board for as well. I’m really excited about this way of eating because I think long term it’s a lot more sustainable way of eating. And as picky as my family is, it’s a lot more approachable than any of the other diets I’ve looked at. It’s also more of the foods that I’m familiar with and will hopefully inspire me to bust out my pasta maker and maybe make some fresh linguini.


Conclusion

Now that I’ve got 15 (3 actually) books on their way from Amazon what does that mean? Well it means I’m gonna read all of them and report back to you! I’ve decided that I’m going to start with the Mediterranean diet

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because as I said before I find it a lot more feasible for not only myself but for my family. I want them to eat better. I want my parents to enjoy their retirement and to truly feel good. Italian cuisine is one of my top favorite cuisines to make (and eat) so I’l be bringing a lot more of those kinds of recipes to you as well. I can’t wait for the books to arrive and to get in the kitchen with some new recipes under my belt. I will report back soon!

I’ll also make sure to include some “diet” friendly alternatives that you’ll be able to find in your local market when you’re in a bind.

With the New Year and making resolutions, was starting a new diet plan one of yours? Or did you just decide to maybe cut out one thing that you maybe overindulged in during 2018? Leave a comment below:)

Best Bone Broth Recipe

Best Bone Broth Recipe

So, here we are. Winter. At least they say it’s winter. Even though it’s a balmy and wet 62 whole degrees outside here in Georgia. I’ve noticed a lot of things lately (besides the strange weather) and it includes a lot of sniffling noses, coughing, […]

Easy Cookies: Christmas Cookies From Fellow Food Bloggers

Easy Cookies: Christmas Cookies From Fellow Food Bloggers

I’ve been doing a lot more pinning as of late trying to fit in with all the “cool kids” and thought I’d research some Christmas cookies, “Easy Cookies”. It started like any other day looking up recipes, except that day I was doing my research […]

Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

Quick Comfort Meals: Simple Dishes That Mean So Much More

I’ll never forget when my dad was in the hospital years ago. It was a sad, stressful, and painful time. The hands on the clock that hung on the wall just seemed to be stuck in one spot, yet the days were passing so quickly somehow. It was like watching one of those movies where the days flew off a paper calendar, each day removed like it were only a second in time.We spent most of our days up at the hospital standing with my dad when we could be, or sitting out in the waiting room. So many families from far away were also in the same predicament but didn’t have the luxury of having a home to go to close by each night to shower and get some much needed rest. My dad spent 3 whole months in that hospital and two of those were in the ICU alone.

I’ve locked a lot of that whole experience away in my “choose not to remember” files, just as my father has. One of those evenings stand out to me in particular. I had spent the day, as usual, up at the hospital and we just made it home. We were all so exhausted dinner hadn’t even crossed our minds. As soon as we sat down, the doorbell rang. It was our neighbor Susan who’d brought by a chicken casserole. She quietly handed the warm dish over to me, whispered a few words of encouragement, and disappeared into the darkness.

That meal was the only thing I can really remember eating and actually tasting through that whole ordeal. It was such a simple gesture, but yet it meant so much to my family.

When people are in mourning or are taking care of someone else, they often forget to take care of themselves. Meals are easily forgotten because the person is focused on their loved one(s). I just found out yesterday that a coworker of mine lost his partner. He didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t want to hear the “I’m sorry’s.” He didn’t want the pity, or the looks. He just told me yesterday, and she had passed over a WEEK ago with no one really even knowing. She is what brought him to this town. She was all he had, not only here, but even back “home.”

When he shared his loss with me I racked my brain trying to think of what I could do to perhaps give him a moment of comfort, perhaps a second to catch his breath. And then I thought of that casserole that Susan brought over.

These recipes are just simple little dishes that provide warmth and heartiness to the soul…especially one that is grieving. They can all be frozen in a pinch, especially if you’re making them for just one person. For my coworker I did a chicken poppy seed casserole (which is made with rotisserie chicken), a quick spaghetti, and some super quick banana muffins. These meals should provide a bit of sustenance for someone for a few days. The Poppy Seed chicken was adapted from the website “All Recipes.” It is a good and simple recipe made even quicker with Rotisserie chicken. This casserole recipe makes two 8″ Square Cake pans as well as the spaghetti. I used disposable foil pans so that my friend could just throw it away when he was done. The spaghetti is super simple using one of my favorite pasta sauces that I always buy in bulk when it goes on sale. It uses only good wholesome ingredients like roma tomatoes, olive oil, and basil. There’s no preservatives or added junk. I just let the sauce simmer on the stove with an added 1/2 cup of water for about 20 minutes with 1 pound ground beef.

chicken poppy seed lilchefchic

Poppy Seed Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 2 sleeves Everything Ritz Crackers, crushed (you can sub in Regular if you like)

  • 2 teaspoons Poppy seeds

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

  • 2  8oz. Container Sour Cream

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 (10.75 oz) Cans Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix crackers, butter and poppy seeds and set to side. Mix sour cream, and cream of chicken soup with milk. Divide half the mixture between the two pans. Spread with shredded chicken and top with remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle each with 1/2 cup cheese and top with Cracker mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes until golden brown.

spaghetti delgrosso lilchefchic

Super Simple and Hearty Spaghetti:

I often make a homemade sauce for spaghetti but I always have a jar (or two) of really good quality sauce hand for quick meals and that’s just what I did with this recipe.

  • 1/2 Pound Spaghetti Noodles

  • 1 Jar Del Grosso “Late Night Puttanesca), 26 oz.

  • 1 Pound Hamburger meat

  • 1/2 cup water

  • Squeeze of fresh Lemon

  • Fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil pasta following box instructions. Add hamburger to large skillet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook hamburger until no longer pink. Add sauce and water, using the water to get all of the sauce out of the jar. Let simmer 20 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Add fresh squeeze of lemon juice. Toss pasta in sauce and scatter with Parm.

I wrapped one of each dish in aluminum foil and put it in a brown paper bag. I baked off 12 muffins and packaged up 6 for Jim as well. They were good muffins but not a recipe I’d try again so I’m not even going to post the recipe here. Here they were shining in the sunlight though.

banana muffins lilchefchic
I called up to my job to make sure Jim was there and asked him to meet me out back at the delivery door. I handed him the bag and said, “I brought you some food.” He just stared blankly at me. I said,”No card though Jim, they were all covered in birds and butterflies and pretty sappy so…”
His eyes watered up and he just said back, “Thank you for thinking of me Jennifer.” I caught myself tearing up and quickly explained the meals before telling him bye.

You never really know what people are going through in their life. We are all so quick to judge others based on our assumptions of how they are or even WHO they are. I have to remind myself of this constantly. It felt good such  small gesture for someone that was/is dealing with so much..the loss of a loved one.

What foods do YOU find comfort in? Is it something that reminds you of someone from your past? Maybe a cake your grandma used to make? Cookies? Leave me comment below. I’d love to hear YOUR story.

Cheese Board Ideas: Decadent Cheese, Fruit, and Scratch Crackers

Cheese Board Ideas: Decadent Cheese, Fruit, and Scratch Crackers

Cheese boards are a great start to a meal (sometimes even a meal on their own) and a great conversation piece at a gathering. It’s kind of the pregame for food and allows people to socialize while tasting some new cheeses and possibly try some […]


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Cheese boards are a great start to a meal (sometimes even a meal on their own) and a great conversation piece at a gathering. It’s kind of the pregame for food and allows people to socialize while tasting some new cheeses and possibly try some new wines. I actually put this one together the other day when I caught myself staring at a pack of dried figs and thinking, “Now, what could I do with those?” I was actually checking out some dried Greek figs on a string that were packaged neatly. After thinking about how I would prepare them and what I’d serve them with, I actually decided to go with some dried Mission figs. I knew I wanted to stuff and bake them and I knew the Greek figs were known to be very “seed forward” if that makes sense. The mission fig is what most people are used to snacking on out of hand and the dried version is actually pretty reminiscent of Fig Newtons. So Mission figs it was..and is.

Number 1. I love cheese. One of my local grocers here actually has a humongous cheese case and fills some of the baskets with leftover cuts of cheese that are below 5 bucks. That’s kinda perfect for this board because you can really go a little variety crazy on your cheese selections. A few basics to keep in mind with creating any cheese board is:

Try and keep your different offerings of cheese between 3 and 5 varieties. I chose 3 selections because it’s a smaller platter for 2-3 people and I wanted to keep it simple.

*Offer a variety of cheeses such as hard and soft as well as one’s that are made with different types of milk, like goat, sheep, or cow’s milk.

*Add a fresh fruit component as a palette cleanser between foods as well as mix it up with some dried fruit.

*Stick to cheeses that are not layered with flavor like a simple Parm or Brie and stay away from the flavored ones such as an herb or garlic cheese.

*Offer something salty or acidic such as olives or cornichons. 

*If you want to have a bit more variety you can add some cured meat(s) which pairs wonderfully with the cheese.

*Offer either a bread or cracker selection, keeping it simple with the flavors as to not overpower the cheese flavor.

*Add a handful of nuts for crunch as well as for pairing with the cheese and fresh fruit.

*Estimate about a pound of cheese for every 5 guests. I bought about 3/4 lb. cheese for this board.

*Try cheeses from a particular region of the world…maybe even your own home town!

 

Go ahead and pre-cut the cheese into serving sizes before service and refrigerate until about an hour before you serve the cheese to allow it to get to room temp again. This will actually help the true flavors of the cheese shine through and reveal little nuances that would’ve gone undetected with the colder cheese.

These are the cheeses I chose:figs n cheese lilchefchic

 

Naked Goat: 6 month aged goat cheese from Spain. It has an oiliness but is at the same time buttery. It is a firm cheese with grassy notes. This is great served with a crispy white wine.

 

Fromage D Affinois: A double cream cheese reminiscent of brie that is completely addictive. It’s from cow’s milk and has an edible white rind. It is earthy and buttery and goes great with walnuts or grapes (hint, hint). This was my soft cheese of choice and it’s important to let this one rest at room temp so that it softens nicely and is perfectly spreadable on whatever bread or cracker vessel you choose. This cheese pairs well with a sparkling wine like champagne, a cider, or wheat beer.

 

Blue Valdeon: This was my fig stuffing cheese and I chose to use the rest of the wedge on my board. It’s pretty pungent but deliciously so. It is deeply veined but is balanced in saltiness and spice. This is actually a mixture of cow and goat’s milk. This would pair well with a Porter or Stout beer or even a Reisling wine.

It’s funny that most of these cheeses have a recommendation of white wines. I just picked up my favorite Pinot Noir and it didn’t let me down, per usual…especially with the blue cheese.

This platter has a handful of grapes as well as some sliced fresh cantaloupe. I scattered walnuts around the platter. My “piece de resistance” was the stuffed figs. They were so delicate and delicious but had a pungent bite from the bleu. The recipe is here below:

Stuffed Figs

: 3-4
: 10 min
: 5 min
: 15 min
: Easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 10-12 Black Mission Figs, Dried
  • 1/8 lb. Blue Cheese
  • Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon
  • Balsamic Vinegar (A good one), 1 Tablespoon
Directions
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350°. Remove hard stem end from fig. Split figs in half lengthwise. Make a little indentation with your finger and place a pinkie nails worth of cheese in the center. Top with other half of fig, pressing together slightly to seal, and set to side. In a small bowl toss figs with a glug of oil. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and drizzle with fine Balsamic Vinegar. Bake for 5 minutes and set to side to cool.

Assemble platter:

Slice your cheeses into thin 2 to 3 bite pieces. Arrange cheese in varying directions. Add dried fruit and nuts. Set crackers or bread on platter and top with fresh fruits. I made my crackers from scratch using a super simple recipe you’ll find here. 

 

herbie crackers lilchefchic

 

 

If you love cheese the way I do you’re really gonna love putting these boards together for friends….or maybe just you and someone special. It’s really a great excuse to try some new flavors in cheeses and in wines and what a new and exciting world to have open up before you-the world of CHEESE! What kind of accompaniments do you like to have with your favorite cheese(s)? Maybe you prefer something with a little more salinity. Olives from Spain or maybe Prosciutto from Italy. Tell me!


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