Strawberry Spinach Salad


 This  Strawberry Spinach Salad is one of my favorites!

Its no secret, I’ve hit the treadmill this new year! And making changes in our diet have been easier than I thought.  With delicious choices like this, I cannot go wrong!  The dressing for this salad is semi-homemade ( a departure for me) but perfect and not too sweet! Top this salad with a handful of blue cheese or feta crumbles and a few chopped nuts and you’ve got a meal fit for a queen!


5.0 from 1 reviews

Strawberry Spinach Salad
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Not too sweet. A Perfectly refined flavor for dinner or lunching.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • 2 tsp Smuckers Seedless Sugar Free Strawberry Jam
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
  • ½ small red onion, sliced
  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, caps removed and sliced
  • 4 cups chopped baby spinach
  • Blue Cheese or Feta Cheese Crumbles for topping
  • Chopped Pecans, Almonds or Walnuts for topping
  1. In a medium bowl measure 2 teaspoons strawberry jam
  2. whisk in vinegar until smooth
  3. then wisk in extra-virgin olive oil.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Toss the spinach with strawberries and onions
  6. Pour on dressing
  7. Toss again thoroughly to coat the salad
  8. Top with crumbled feta or bleu cheese and nuts



Italian Cream Cake

Becky left me an email earlier this month, wanting  my recipe for Italian Cream Cake. Well, as it happens, that’s my favorite birthday cake, and guess what ? My birthday was this week, so I made one. And can I just say. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  This is layer on layer of  to die for flavor !

Much more Southern in heritage than Italian, this cake’s close cousin is the Hummingbird Cake that I dearly love as well. It’s popularly served at weddings, baptisms, birthdays and holidays. And is so moist, it almost melts in your mouth!

The  recipe itself appeared in Southern Living Magazine somewhere in about 2002. Its one of those I bothered to write onto a recipe card, instead of destroying the magazine (which ultimately took a swim in the gulf thanks to hurricane Ivan). I’m going to have to rewrite that card for my box now, its getting a little tattered.  The addition of brown sugar gives the cake its caramel color and flavor.  Don’t let the ‘steps’ in this one throw you off, it is pretty simple to assemble, you just have to get your ‘ducks in a row’. 

Go ahead, grab a print of this one, and you’ll be the hit of your next holiday party!

5.0 from 3 reviews

Italian Cream Cake
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A Favorite Southern Cake For Birthday’s or Christmas. Adapted From Southern Living Holidays 2002 (or thereabouts)
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 12
  • 3 cups shaved coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • Simply Quick Caramel Frosting
  • Simply Quick Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place shaved coconut in a single layer in on a cookie sheet
  3. Place pecans on a second cookie sheet.
  4. Bake coconut and pecans at the same time 5 to 7 minutes or until coconut is toasted and pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring each halfway through cooking.
  5. Using a heavy stand mixer beat butter and shortening at medium speed until fluffy
  6. gradually add granulated and brown sugars, beating well.
  7. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  8. Add vanilla, beating until blended.
  9. Combine flour and baking soda
  10. add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  11. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition.
  12. Stir in pecans and 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut.
  13. Using another bowl,beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter.
  14. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  15. Bake at 350° for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  16. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
  17. Prepare Quick Caramel Frosting. Immediately spread frosting between layers and on top of cake. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over sides of cake; press 3 cups toasted shaved coconut onto sides of cake.

 By the way, for those of you who have asked,  you can subscribe to  Southern Living (1-year auto-renewal) or get  SOUTHERN LIVING Magazine instantly on your Android device.  

Southern Living Magazine is as much a part of the South as sweet tea, ask any southern woman. Odds are fairly high she’ll have at least the last 6 months of the magazine on her shelf. I love the magazine personally, and I think you will to. They have not sponsored this post or provided me any payment to mention them.

Orange Candied Pecans

Here in the South, we’re blessed with wonderful goodness like fresh veggies, fruits  (oh the peaches in summertime!) and nuts! Lots of Nuts. We have acres and acres allotted to pecan groves when the property isn’t relegated to peaches, so its only natural (to me at least) that the favorite ingredient in Southern desserts comes down to  pecans!



We always seemed to have plenty of nuts of all kinds available during the fall and winter. Daddy was forever coming home from the farmers market with big white bags holding all sorts of nuts that weren’t grown locally. I developed, at an early age a love of things like hazelnuts, black walnuts, hickory nuts and more.  Granny would always have  fresh pecans in abundance for all of her baking and cookie making. And she always cracked a few just for us kids to taste.  Occassionally, she’d crack a pound or so and clean them well then  toast them ever so lightly in a little melted butter. What a treat, warm from the oven!

My Aunt Betty, famous for all of her desserts and goodies during the holidays, would make wonderful glazed pecans crusted with egg whites and sugar. So this recipe for Orange Candied Pecans came into being as a bit of a departure from our family traditions but one that is loved dearly by all to this day.  As with all Southern recipes  the list of ingredients is simple and straight forward. You’ll notice most Southern recipes have short lists of ingredients, and the shorter the list the higher the quality of ingredients must be used. Pecans are the star here, but use the finest organic ingredients you can find. This recipe is splendidly simple, and just perfect for holiday parties and snacks!


5.0 from 2 reviews

Orange Candied Pecans
Prep time
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Total time
Vintage Southern Flavor Perfect for Parties or Snacking!
Recipe type: Sweets/Desserts
Cuisine: Southern
  • 2½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 scant cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 lb. Diamond Pecan Halves, shelled
  • Rind of 1 orange, grated
  1. Place Pecan halves into large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix lightly with orange rind.
  3. Cook sugar, milk and vinegar at medium heat until syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. (watch and stir carefully 15-20 minutes is my experience)
  4. Remove from heat and pour over pecans and rind.
  5. Beat the mixture until it begins to sugar(crystallize) and quickly pour on waxed paper lined cookie sheet spreading out carefully (mixture is HOT).
  6. Separate nuts with two forks when candy has cooled.

Candy making is affected by the weather. It is impossible to make good hard candies in a moist, hot atmosphere. They become sticky, then sugary. So make these on a cool, dry day.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, bring to room temp before serving.


100 years of holiday traditions you just don’t mess with.

Classic family recipes call for a classic ingredient. Diamond of California nuts.

The only nut good enough for your mom’s mom’s recipes is the only one that should be in yours.

Diamond of California. Premium quality nuts since 1912. 

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Diamond of California via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Diamond of California

Simple Homemade Granola Recipe

Welcome ‘Yall to day three of our party! Read on to enter and don’t forget to enter the first two days giveaways here and here.


I love oatmeal. Yep, I said it. Not everyone does, admittedly. For all of my childhood I  equated oatmeal to wallpaper paste. Thick, and gooey and not very tasty unless it was laden with brown sugar and cinnamon or a pat of butter and regular old table sugar. Not too appetizing at the least. But that is what it was. Fast forward to my own kitchen and grocery buying habits.

I discovered McCanns Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal. And I loved it!  No more mush, it actually had flavor, minus the traditional condiments! I was elated. One drawback, however, it wasn’t a fast breakfast for a growing, working family. We mostly ate it on the weekends when there was time to prepare.  Fast forward again to experimenting with cooking in a crockpot. Got it done and we could have oatmeal mid week if we thought far enough ahead.

One more fast forward to today and  we have Rolled Irish Oats… same flavor, same tooth..much easier to work with! I’m happy as a kid in a candy store!

And now I can make my granola with the best, non GMO oats. I’m a happy camper. I want you to be happy too! So here’s the recipe for today. Load up your own print of it then read on for today’s giveaway!

Homemade Granola
Prep time
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A Simple Healthy Snack or Hearty Breakfast
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole roasted almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup shredded fresh coconut
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Tupelo honey
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine honey, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
  4. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.
Substitute slivered almonds, cashews or any nut you like for the nuts in this recipe. Dark Raisins or Yellow Raisins work equally well. Add in or takeaway ingredients according to your family’s tastes.



Today, while I’m celebrating my  Southern Roots, I want to introduce you all to a friend,  another small business owner, cohort, and the definition of “Southernness” Ben South. We met almost 14 years ago, after he’d developed his line of Southernness products, which I believe sprang from the research he did on defining Southernness. Ben South, was the first person to fully define the distinctiveness of the American South with his trademarked “Seven Signs of Southernness” which he drafted after leading a $2.3 million study of “The South in the 21st Century.” I fell in love with Ben back then (and his 7 signs) and I’ve shopped his items for gifts ever since.

Today, one lucky commenter will win this  kitchen apron from Ben South’s Southernness Collection:

One of but many products in Ben’s store that adequately express the sassiness of THIS southern bell!  ‘Yall should click over to his online shoppe and check out his new candle fragrance “Hissy Fit” and get the story behind all his delightful  “Southernness”! You can find him irreverently posting on Facebook (not for the faint of heart or those lacking a   funny bone) and look for his products in your local specialty stores .

So here are the Rules. Yes we have to have rules, ‘yall! [donotprint]

1. Leave A Comment On This Post telling me about your ‘inner Southern Belle’ and why she would love to have this darling apron.

2. See #1

Of course I’d love it if ‘yall would pin this post and folllow me there. And I’d love it even more if you’d tweet and facebook this post and follow me there too! But those aren’t mandatory. And don’t forget to enter the first two days giveaways here and here. Oh and there are some great recipes on those pages too!

This contest will end on April 17, 2012 at midnight and I’ll draw a random comment number and announce the winner on April 18th. Good luck ‘yall!  CONTEST CLOSED

 disclaimer: I have a non-material relationship with the company (Southernness). Lawdy knows he’d have a hissy fit if he heard elsewise.  ‘Yall just go visit his store

An Apple A Day…

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square hole. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Steve Jobs


Fall brings on football, tailgating, pumpkins, scarecrows and apples!   A delicous way to get that apple a day!

Fresh Apple Cake  [print_link]

Summary: Sinfully delicious? Nahhhh but good to the core!  Use what ever varieties of apples you have on hand. Go ahead mix em up, the flavors are yummy!

From the kitchen of : Geraldine Olive, Bhm, AL


  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a large tube or bundt pan.
  3. Sift together salt, baking soda and flour.
  4. In mixer bowl, blend oil and sugar well.
  5. Slowly add dry sifted ingredients into oil and sugar mixture. (Batter will be stiff at this point)
  6. Whisk eggs together lightly and add to batter.
  7. Reduce speed on mixer and add nuts and vanilla to batter.
  8. Pour batter slowly into prepared pan, shifting carefully so that batter is even .
  9. Bake for 1 1/2 hours @250 degrees.
  10. Cool.
  11. Invert on to cake plate.
  12. Add topping

Quick notes

You can substitute walnuts for pecans and serve as a coffee cake  with no topping as well.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

Copyright © Simple Plate 2004-2011.







Praline Topping


  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Bring brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat
  2. Whisk constantly as it boils for 1 minute
  3. Remove from heat
  4. Stir in Vanilla
  5. Gradually add in powdered sugar beating with hand mixer until smooth.
  6. Mix gently for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened and cooled.
  7. Spoon over cooled cake
  8. Sprinkle with chopped pecans

Quick notes

You’ll need your hand mixer for this one. And be sure to remove the frosting from the heat before adding in vanilla.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

Copyright © Simple Plate 2004-2011.


This recipe was given to me by a dear friend who’s mother deserves ALL the credit for this yumminess!  Ms Geraldine was a true southern lady! A wonderful wife and mother. We loved her dearly and she is missed, but not forgotten!


Hummingbird Cake {CrockPot Version}

Who doesn’t love cake?  Its my birthday this weekend and of course, I’m making my own cake, but you guessed it, in my crock pot!

When southerners think cake, our minds turn to red velvet (another of my personal faves) , coconut and of course  Hummingbird Cake!  Hummingbird cake is an all time southern fave and was introduced to Southern Living readers in 1978 by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her version was three layers tall and between each layer was a yummy cream cheese frosting mixture.  Recently Southern Living again posted about  Hummingbird cake when they posted their Top 10 Five-Star Layer Cakes and have even ginned up a lighter version of the cake, still with three layers mind ya and still with a creamy frosting.  Southern Living itself says the recipe for the original is THE most requested recipe in the history of the magazine. For those of us in the south, that’s sayin something!

Rebecca at Ezra Poundcake says ‘Eating a slice of Hummingbird Cake is like falling in love‘ and I’m with her on that!  She’s adapted the original recipe too, and her rendition is gorgeous! Just take a look!  Her whole blog just makes me drool!  I digress..

Here’s my version of Hummingbird Cake, adapted for my crock pot. If you’re looking for a holiday dessert that’s like  a fork full of happiness, give this one a try!

Hummingbird Cake {Crock Pot Version}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 12
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped firm ripe banana
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together into mixing bowl several times.
  2. Add eggs and salad oil to the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon (do not use a mixer for this one) until ingredients are moistened.
  4. Stir in vanilla, pineapple and 1 cup pecans.
  5. Stir in the bananas.
  6. Spoon the batter into a well-greased 3½ quart cylindrical Crock-Pot.
  7. Bake for 4-4½ hours.
  8. Cool for at least 30-45 minutes, then turn onto a flat cake plate.
  9. Cool completely before frosting.
  1. Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Gently top with pecans and toasted coconut.

Here are some helpful hints for baking cakes and breads in crock pots.

I’ve gathered these from trial and error and from friends and family. I’m sure some of you have your own tips!

  2. Loosely place a clean kitchen towel on top of your crock and cover with the lid. (several layers of paper toweling also work, but be sure to use plain white ones)
  3. Discerning when a cake in the crock pot is done can be tricky! You can check for by looking at the sides of the cake, which should be browning and separating from the sides of the pot. The top should be firm-looking. (STILL MOIST HOWEVER)
  4. You can also insert a knife or long skewer but it will always be a bit moist. If the top still looks gooey and the sides are still LIGHT, walk away and set your timer for another 30 minutes or so.
  5. Allow your cake to cool for a full 30-45 minutes before you attempt to remove from the crock.  Its going to stay warm for quite a bit, if the crock removes from the heating area, remove it carefully and set on a cold stove top.
  6. A flat icing spatula or good ole kitchen knife run around the sides of the crock will help you loosen it from the sides.
  7. Center a cake plate on top of the pot and flip it over so that the cake falls onto the plate. You may need to give it a little jiggle and a shake and when it has come out, slowly lift up the Crock-Pot.
  8. It’s important to make sure the sides don’t overcook, so done-ness will be a version of the middle being fairly dry and the side being well done but not over-cooked. Even if your cake is a little messy in the middle, don’t stress it. Crock pots are by nature moist environments and  your cake will be a little more moist than you’ve probably cooked before.


Am I Nuts?

Could be! You tell me!

Anybody who knows me well, knows that I do some pretty weird stuff when I get antsy. (That’s southern for nervous)  And this weekend I’m really antsy about that storm in TX. One of those weird things I do is eat. A lot. Anything not nailed down. I’m trying to get that under control. So instead of eating all these gorgeous pecans right now, I’m going to give you a few fall recipes I hope you’ll enjoy. Pecans are extra delicious snacking when toasted in the oven. They freeze well for later use and well I think they’re just yummy what ever you do with em !

So here you have it, the best of my Fall snacks and sweets!



Toasted Salted Pecans

1 pound of halves
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt to taste

Melt oil and butter together on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven.  Mix in the pecans and salt.  Bake for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.  These are wonderful!! (store in zip loc type bags or tightly covered)


Pecan Pralines (The Creamiest Ones Evah!)

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons water
1 cup pecan halves


In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, heavy cream, butter, and water. Place over a medium-high heat and stir constantly until the pralines reach the softball stage, 238 to 240 degrees F. Add the pecans to the candy, and pull the pan off of the stove. Continue to stir the candy vigorously with a wooden spoon until the candy cools, and the pecans remain suspended in the candy, about 2 minutes. Spoon the pralines out onto a parchment or aluminum foil lined sheet pan and cool completely before serving.


Pecan Pie (My Formerly Secret Recipe)


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 un-baked deep-dish (9-inch) pie shell
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all topping ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg until combined. Pour into pie shell. Top with chopped pecans. Pour topping over pecans. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Pecan Tassies (Mini Pecan Pies Too Good For The Kids) Printable Recipe and Details are in the recipe section for this one!

So now you know just how nutty I am! (Pun intended)