Sicilian Fig Cookies (Cucidati)

These Cucidati are traditional Sicilian celebration cookies. Holidays, Weddings, Births, Baptisms, and yes even after a funeral. These cookies appear as if by magic and disappear in the same way! A lot like a Fig Newton but this ain’t your mama’s store bought cookie. And even if you’re a fig newton hater, you’ll love these!

During the holidays my grandmother and her sisters and cousins would gather at a particular house and prepare cookies for their families. That chosen kitchen smelled like heaven and at the end of the baking there were enough cookies for it seemed like the world. Each lady left with enough cookies for her family and friends and even a gift or two. (If you had been the mailman on my granny’s route, you lived for the day the cookies were delivered to the mailbox!)

In those days, prior to food processors, the men got into the act grinding the fig mixture and cracking and chopping pecans, then they were asked to help mix the fig mixture at bit as it was quite a stiff mixture and arm strength was mandatory. Now with food processors its a bit easier but its fun to make this a family project!

cucidata … 

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie

The Holiday season is upon us, which in the south means two things. Cooking and Baking. This Vegan Pumpkin Pie is an all american favorite sure to please even the pickiest eaters at your holiday table. Top with a spoonful of fresh whipped heavy cream and voila! The perfect dessert at Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Many thanks to Dr. Daisy Sutherland for providing this family favorite!


Vegan Pumkin Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An All American Favorite
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: All American
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup unbleached flour
  • 7 Tbs. whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sugar or granulated sugar cane syrup
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 3 Tbs. canola oil
  • 3 Tbs. almond milk plus ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 Tbs. water
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin or puréed home-cooked fresh pumpkin (see note)
  • 1 cup low-fat almond milk or rice milk
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar cane syrup
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ Tbs. dark molasses or to taste
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
To make Crust:
  1. In medium bowl, combine both flours, salt, sugar and baking powder. In small bowl, mix oil and almond milk mixture.
  2. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and mix with a fork until it holds together in a ball. If it is too dry, add some water, a little at a time, until dough is moist enough to roll. (If time allows, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.)
  3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin forming an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough. Flute or crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F.
To make Filling:
  1. In large bowl, mix all remaining ingredients until smooth and blended. Pour into prepared crust and smooth top. Bake 10 minutes.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake until filling is set, about 50 minutes. Set on wire rack to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Top with your choice of dessert topping if desired.

The pie filling in this recipe needs to set overnight in the refrigerator, so make it the day before you serve it.

If you are going to use fresh pumpkin for the pie, do not use the jack-o’-lantern type; the flesh of these large pumpkins is too watery and stringy. Instead, look for small pumpkins, sometimes called pie pumpkins or other varieties of winter squash. To bake, cut pumpkins in half and remove seeds. Set, cut side down, in a lightly oiled baking pan. Bake at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes. Scoop out the cooked flesh and purée.


This Is How Ya Do The Watermelon Crawl

Quick, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say Summer in The South? Yep, hot, sweltering hot days. And most of my childhood, those sweltering hot days were usually accompanied by, you guessed it WATERMELON. Here are my favorite 3 great summer coolers for the adults and a couple of family favorites. Enjoy!


Kudzu Queen’s Dream (fit for Royalty)
Sexy and Fresh take on an old favorite drink
Recipe type: Adult Beverages
Cuisine: Southern
  • 2 oz. Reposado* tequila
  • 2 scoops fresh watermelon
  • 1 mint sprig 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  1. Muddle mint and watermelon.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Shake and strain into a rocks glass.
  4. Garnish with mint sprig.

*Tequila Reposado

A Reposado Tequila is the first stage of “rested and aged”. The Tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 months and 11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue and the taste becomes a good balance between the Agave and wood flavors. Many different types of wood barrels are used for aging, with the most common being American or French oak. Some Tequilas are aged in used bourbon / whiskey, cognac, or wine barrels, and will inherit unique flavors from the previous spirit.


 Watermelon Martini

  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice or ½ ounce sour mix
  • 1 ounce melon liqueur
  • 1ounce citrus-flavored vodka (use the good stuff)
  • 1 ½ ounce freshly pureed watermelon
  • Crushed ice
    Sprig of mint, for garnish
    Small slice of watermelon with rind, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine lemon juice, melon liqueur, vodka and watermelon puree over crushed ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with mint sprig and watermelon slice and serve.


Watermelon Margarita (Frozen)

  • 5 cups watermelon, cubed, seeds and rind removed (about 1 3- to 4-pound melon)
  • 1 cup silver Tequila
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
    Watermelon slices (optional), for garnish


Place cut watermelon in airtight container and put into freezer overnight.

Put the frozen watermelon and remaining ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into margarita glasses and garnish with a wedge of watermelon if you like.



Watermelon Pickles

  • 2 quarts water
  • Rind from 1 large watermelon
  • 1/2 cup(1 dL) salt
  • 2 1/2 cups(6 dL) cider vinegar
  • 2 cups(400 g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1 small stick cinnamon, in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice

Remove the pink pulp from the watermelon and cut the rind into manageable pieces. Cover with boiling water and boil for 5 minutes; drain and cool. Cut off the green outer skin of the watermelon rind and remove any remaining bits of pink pulp. Cut the rind into 1-inch strips or squares or any shape you prefer. You should have 8 cups of cut-up rind. Mix the salt with 1 1/2 quarts cold water and pour over the rind. Let stand at room temperature for about 6 hours. Drain, soak in several changes of fresh, cold water, and drain again. Cover with fresh, cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer just until tender when pierced with a fork; drain. Mix the vinegar, 1 cup water, and the sugar in a pot, then add the cloves, cinnamon, and allspice tied in a cheesecloth bag. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Add the watermelon rind and simmer until it is clear, adding more water only if necessary. Remove the spice bag. Pack in hot, sterilized jars and cover with the boiling liquid, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and seal. If you wish, process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

Ginger Watermelon Pickle: Add 1-2 tablespoons chopped preserved ginger to the vinegar mixture

Watermelon Salad

  • 1 (5-pound) watermelon
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
  • 6 whole mint sprigs

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. Peel and slice the onion into rings.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.
In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed. Garnish with mint sprigs.
To serve, divide salad among individual plates and garnish with mint leaves