Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Secret Soda Chicken

All three of my siblings share my extreme love for Coca-Cola (hereby known plainly as Coke).  We grew up drinking it all of the time from a very early age.  Surprisingly we weren't cavity ridden children with weight problems, but Coke was always a staple in our house.  I can even remember when the "New" Coke recipe came out and as a family we boycotted and switched to RC Cola until they reverted back to the original formula.  I think I was fairly young when this happened, so it must have been a big deal in our home in order for me to remember it.

Now that we are all a little older and wiser; and most importantly understand more about nutrition, none of us drink our fizzy favorite on a regular basis.  However, we all still LOVE it and revel in its rare availability at parties or events.  When I saw this recipe I thought of my soda loving siblings and knew I wanted to give it a try.  I also know from this old family recipe, that Coke makes a good ingredient in basting meat.   You don't have to love Coke or even like it to enjoy this recipe though.  It is undetectable as far as flavor goes; I would consider it a secret ingredient in the sauce unless you don't want it to be a secret at all!


Coca-Cola Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light September 2011



  • 1 tablespoon canola oil 
  • 1/2 of a small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup cola (such as Coca-Cola) 
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray



1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cola and next 4 ingredients (through chili powder); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sauce reduces to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally.

Set 6 tablespoons sauce aside.

3. Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients (through cumin), stirring well.

 Rub spice mixture evenly over both sides of chicken.

Arrange chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray;

baste with 3 tablespoons remaining sauce. Grill 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; baste with 3 tablespoons sauce. Grill 5 minutes or until done.

Serve with reserved 6 tablespoons sauce.

Click Here for my Printable Adapted Recipe

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Better Brunch

I love frittatas.  I normally server them for dinner since I am not usually hosting brunches on a regular basis.  But I think this is the perfect brunch dish served with something else sweet like a breakfast muffin or a fruit salad. I love brunch.  I went to brunch on Mother's Day and it was so much fun.  They didn't serve a frittata.  It was yummy anyway.  Maybe I just like to drink champagne in the early afternoon.  Either way, brunch is my idea of a good time. 

Mushroom Frittata
Adapted from Cooking Light January 2013



  • 2 ounces finely grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 3 ingredients; add 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 6 minutes or until mushrooms brown and most of liquid evaporates.

Stir in onions; sauté 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.

Add egg mixture and basil to pan,

 stirring gently to evenly distribute vegetable mixture;

cook 5 minutes or until eggs are partially set. Place pan in oven. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and top is lightly browned. Remove pan from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Run a spatula around edge and under frittata to loosen from pan; cut fritatta into slices while still in pan.

3. Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, arugula, and lemon juice. Top the fritatta with arugula mixture and serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Porch Fest

When Forrest and I built our home, our street was still pretty empty.  We live in a neighborhood that was devastated during Hurricane Katrina and all of the houses took in massive amounts of flood water.  Most of the houses in the area were razed and a few people gutted them and renovated.  We built on a block that had about 3 houses that were newly constructed and 3 houses that were renovated and repopulated by their original owners.  I think we were roughly the 7th house on the block and the rest were empty lots.

Not My Porch

3 years later the landscape looks completely different.  All of the empty lots now house shiny new structures and there is one empty lot left on the street where new construction is starting as I type this.  In the past few years our block has gained many new neighbors and a flurry of activity.

Also Not My Porch

 I know I have mentioned it here before, but it is important to reiterate in this story that Forrest is super outgoing and friendly.  He is the first to introduce himself to all the new neighbors, switch cell phone numbers for emergency purposes, and offer to lend a tool to a handy neighbor in need.  He loves outside and spends a lot of time outdoors working on our house or sprucing our lawn/garden.  It is safe to say that he knows all the new neighbors on a first name basis. On the other hand..... I don't really like the heat, I hate bugs, and garden work isn't my idea of a good time so I am not outside as often and haven't had the chance to get friendly with the fresh blood on our block.  So I started to play around with the idea of a block party or a progressive dinner party as a chance for everyone to get to meet and mingle.

Definitely Not My Porch

Obviously I love the idea of a progressive dinner party and would welcome the opportunity to cook a meal for a big group of people and use all of my serving dishes and such, but I know not everyone shares my love of cooking and entertaining.  I figured a progressive dinner party might be better for a smaller group and participation could potentially be low since it is a bit more involved and would require a larger investment.  It was the weekend of Jazz Fest in New Orleans when I started coming up with this idea, so I had festivals on my mind.  I have heard of Porch Parties before and people in the South love to mingle on their porches so putting those two ideas together I decided we would organize a Porch Fest on our block.  I asked my talented friend Melanie to design us an invite, and she totally ran with the idea and came up with this super cute invitation.  Thanks, Mel!

Then I searched the net for some cocktail ideas and settled on this fittingly named "Front Porch Lemonade" from Honest Cooking as our signature cocktail.

I plan to serve it in a beverage dispenser on a cute display like the one below.  I saw this on Pinterest ages ago and don't know the original source, so please let me know if you do so I can credit appropriately.

All I need now is some ideas for an hor d'oeuvres that doesn't need to stay hot since it will sit on the porch for a few hours in the New Orleans heat and also something that is single serve in order to make it easy for people to take "one" and go.  So what is a good outside food that could be my signature item to serve on my porch?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Viable Veggies

I don't really have a strong love for vegetables.  I eat them, I serve them to my family with most of their meals and I have definitely had some on occasion that I would put in the delicious category.  However, I never crave a veggie or get super excited about eating them.  But the sad truth is that I am not a little kid and I know better than to not eat them.  They are super good for you and most importantly in my book, very low in calories.  I still have to make a concerted effort to include them in meals though so anytime a recipe includes them covered in cheese I am all over it!

Cheesy Penne with Broccoli
Adapted from Cooking Light March 2013



  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 5 cups broccoli florets (about 1 medium head)
  • 1 1/3 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2.5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)



1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add broccoli to pan; drain. Place pasta and broccoli in a large bowl.

2. Combine milk and flour in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened; remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons Parmesan and remaining ingredients,

stirring with a whisk until smooth.

 Add cheese mixture to pasta mixture; toss.

 Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe