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North Carolina, United States

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1. All my posts are written for myself first (with my followers in mind of course). If I make money from a post due to third party advertising such as Google or Foodbuzz, then so much the better.
2. If I write about a product, cookbook or restaurant, chances are that I received the product, cookbook or meal for FREE.
3. If I write a review about a product, cookbook or restaurant that was not FREE, I will disclose that in my post. I will always write about local establishments and businesses (non-chain) gratis- I support local businesses and hope you will too.
4. FREE product does not guarantee a positive review.
5. If you are interested in sending me a book or product to review, or want me to review a restaurant, please know that I make every effort to post reviews within 4 weeks of receiving a book, within 2 weeks of receiving a product, and within 1 week of dining at a restaurant.
6. I write for several websites and print publications in addition to my blog and my writing interests are strictly food or cooking-related, so please make sure that your book or product is food-related in some way.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School-Night Meal Idea: 10-Minute Corn Chowder

If you're looking for quick-and-easy school-night meal ideas, have I got a recipe for you! This amazing chowder is not only delicious, it's so easy to make, you can have it on the table in just 10 minutes. All you need to make this a well-balanced meal (see is a veggie side-salad and a 1/2 ham sandwich (choose reduced or low-sodium ham, and whole-grain bread).

My favorite thing about this chowder? It costs less than $1.00 per serving!

10-Minute Corn Chowder
(Serves 4 @ about .71 cents per serving)

1 teaspoonvegetable or Canola oil
1⁄2 small onion (chopped)
1 teaspoongarlic (minced)
4 tablespoonsflour (all purpose)
3 cupsnonfat milk
2 teaspoonsprepared yellow mustard
1⁄4 teaspoon thyme (dried)
black pepper (to taste)
2 cupscorn kernels (frozen)
4 tablespoonsshredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add the oil and saute the onion and garlic until golden, about 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the flour, milk, mustard and seasonings in a small bowl and mix well.

3. Add the milk mixture to the skillet followed by the corn; mix well until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir frequently to keep the mixture from burning.

4. Divide into four bowls and top each with 1 Tablespoon of shredded cheese.

Note: If you want to "up" the deliciousness factor even more, try sprinkling some real bacon crumbles over the cheese just before serving. Heaven!

Serving size: 1-1/4 cup

Friday, February 3, 2012

Johnsonville Italian Inspirations House Party

Do you like Italian sausage? How about food-themed parties with friends? Apply to host a Johnsonville Italian inspirations party today @ I just did! We cook a lot of Italian food around our house, and my go-to meat of choice is always Johnsonville Italian's economical, tastes great, and adapts to so many recipes. Stay tuned to see if I'm chosen...if I am, there will be awesome recipes and pictures posted right here on March 25th. Thanks Johnsonville!
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two Quick and Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes

Here are a couple of quick and easy recipes from my Christmas cookie recipe collection- one for the grown-ups at your house and one that your kids can help with. These recipes are simple but delicious, and are especially nice because they both only require 7 ingredients, and both take just a few minutes to put together.

Chocolate-Bourbon Balls
Grown-up Christmas Cookies-These chocolate gems pack a yummy punch thanks to the bourbon

1 (9 oz.) package chocolate wafer cookies, finely crushed (about 2
1/3 cups)
2 cups finely chopped almonds
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup bourbon (I recommend Kentucky bourbon)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Powdered sugar

1.      In a large bowl, combine crushed cookies, almonds and 2 cups powdered sugar.
2.     Stir in bourbon and corn syrup.
3.     Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar.
4.     Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 5 days to blend flavors.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
Your kids will love helping make these easy treats

1 (6 oz.) package semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup peanuts

1.      Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper.
2.     In 3-quart saucepan, heat chocolate chips, corn syrup, peanut butter, milk and vanilla  
       over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is s
       smooth; remove from heat.
3.     Stir in oats and peanuts until well coated.
4.     Drop mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.
5.     Refrigerate uncovered about 1 hour or until firm. Store covered in refrigerator.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When is a writer really a writer?

I read this post the other day by Crescent Dragonwagon (yes...that's her name, trust me...just Google it) and just had to share it with all of you who may be struggling at "being" a writer. Let me state for the record, I do not know Crescent, have never had the pleasure of actually meeting her, although I wish that were not the case. However, I do admire her a great deal, own some of her cookbooks and have exchanged comments with her on Twitter and Facebook on occasion (does that count?)

Why is she important to me? Well, in spite of the fact that we have never met, I consider her a mentor of sorts. A few years ago, when I began writing seriously, I was struggling...doubting myself and wondering if I would ever really "be" a writer. I reached out to Crescent on Twitter...and she responded. The thing about this that's so incredible is that Crescent Dragonwagon is a well-known, very successful author (over 50 books) who took the time to actually answer me. Amazing! She gave me words of encouragement...and then she told me "always remember..every day that you write, you're a writer!" I held on to those words, kept writing, and am now under contract for my first cookbook (coming 3rd quarter 2012). I will always be grateful to Crescent for her generosity and for being so approachable and genuine....she helped me more than she can ever know.

So here's a link to her recent post...I hope you get as much out of it as I did. And remember, whether it's a blog, a book, web content, or something else...every day that you write, you're a writer.
Friday, July 8, 2011

Bourbon Flank Steak

If you're looking for a great grilled steak recipe to try this weekend, these Bourbon Steaks won't disappoint. I recommend using a nice Kentucky bourbon like Jim Beam white label (black label is for sippin' ya'll...don't waste it on cooking!).

What are you waiting for? Fire up that grill!!!

Bourbon Flank Steak
Serves 6
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (2-pound) flank steak  

  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zipper-style plastic bag, mixing well. Add the steak; seal bag securely, removing as much air as possible, and place in a large bowl. Marinate for 8 hours or overnight in refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade.
  3. Grill, uncovered, over medium-hot coals (350* to 400*F / 175*to 205*C) 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until desired doneness, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.
  4. To serve, slice steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carolina Gourmet on UNC TV!

Some of you may already know that I have a gourmet food business called The Carolina Gourmet in downtown Mebane, NC. Recently Destination Downtown Mebane held a Spring Shopper's stroll event and we were on-hand to do a tasting (as we try to do for all special events downtown). To help generate publicity for Mebane and share with more people how great our little town is, the DDM committee was able to get UNC TV (our public tv station) to come and do a feature story. They did a great job showcasing all the wonderful businesses in Mebane, including Melville Trading Company, where our Carolina Gourmet booth is located. Here's a video link to the story...the bit about The Carolina Gourmet is about halfway through the video.

Watch the

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Adventures in "Extreme" Couponing

This post was originally done for my other blog, Two Dollar Dinners, but I thought the info. is so good it needed to be shared here as well. So...if you follow both my blogs, please forgive the duplication!

Maybe some of ya'll heard about this...recently there was a show on TLC about "extreme" couponers. According to an article I read the day after the show aired, these people take couponing to a whole other level. For example, the woman who dumpster dives for coupons, or the man who's turned his garage into a mini-warehouse to store all the stuff he buys with coupons (including approx. 150 years worth of stick deodorant). I didn't personally see this show, but my impression from the article I read was that the show painted these people as borderline hoarders who buy anything as long as they have a coupon for it. I use coupons when I can, so I have to admit the concept of "extreme" couponing intrigued me in a train-wreck sort of way, so I did some digging for articles about it on the Internet. To my surprise, there was quite a lot of info. There are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to couponing, extreme and otherwise, with all kinds of systems and theories that seem (to me) very elaborate, complicated and time-consuming. Worse than that, many of them seem to be more about what you save than what you buy. I was more mystified than ever.

Most of what I found was overwhelming and a bit frustrating, because it didn't seem to apply to me and my lifestyle. My time is valuable (so is yours!) and I'm just too busy for some of the stuff I read about! A lot of these women are stay-at-home moms so I'm not sure how they have time for elaborate systems either! Obviously they must be more organized and better time managers than me. Then, just when I was getting ready to give up on finding anything useful, I came across a website that made me stop in my cyber tracks. It's called Southern Savers and it's written by a lady named Jenny who really knows her stuff. She explains in an easy-to-understand way how to effectively use coupons, and she doesn't advocate complicated systems or elaborate methods. On top of that, she has links to most of the major coupon sites like RedPlum and, as well as current weekly sales circulars for most major grocery chains. The best part of all, though, was that Jenny isn't trying to sell me anything...she's simply trying to share what she knows with the rest of us. Amazing! At was what I was looking for...a site full of common sense and practical advice! I looked at the weekly sales circulars for the stores close to my house, checked off items I was interested in and printed my shopping lists with the convenient tool built right into the list. So easy! Jenny even tells you which items have manufacturers coupons, so I was able to grab those from my coupon file and match them with my shopping lists. It only took me a few minutes and I was ready to shop.

I approached this trip to the store very differently than normal. Instead of just making a list and then shopping like usual, I focused on items we use regularly that were on sale and for which I had coupons. For the first time ever, I would build my weekly menu around what I bought instead of creating a menu and then making a list of what I needed. This fits in perfectly with the $2 Dinners savings pyramid idea of having core budget-friendly recipes that make use of what items you have on-hand. Getting those items at a discount just maximizes the savings! My extreme couponing shopping trip took me to three grocery stores and one drugstore, all within 3 miles of my house (I wouldn't have gone to so many stores if they weren't so close). A few things I bought were necessities that weren't on sale, and for which I didn't have coupons, but most of what I bought was stuff we use on a regular basis, that was on sale, and for which I had a manufacturer's coupon, a store coupon, or both. Some of what I bought is planned for meals this week (I'll be posting recipes), and some things, like the canned tomatoes (5 cans for $1!) were purchased to stock up because I use them often. Here are the stats on my extreme couponing shopping trip:

  • Time spent = 2 1/2 hours
  • Grocery bags unloaded = 28
  • Total money spent = $97.83
  • Retail value of purchase = approx. $150.00
  • Money saved = approx. $52.17
Here are pictures of the loot from my trip, so you can see for yourself what I was able to buy for less than $100.


I think once I get used to this new way of shopping, I can cut down the time it takes considerably. I have to admit it was fun...almost like a game to see how much I could save, and I was extremely pleased with the results. I learned that you don't have to go to extremes to save on your grocery bill, and you don't have to buy 150 years' worth of deodorant! So far this week we've had chicken and dumplings and pot roast, all made with items I purchased on sale.Thanks to Jenny at for her great site, practical advice and awesome tools! If you're interested in learning more about couponing, I encourage you to check out!

Food for Thought:

"In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom."

- Barbara Costikyan


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