Single Girls Can Cook

I’ve been a single girl in a crowd full of couples for quite a while. We are a tight group that likes to get together and share meals. I was always asked to bring some beverages or some chips and dip. That all changed when I brought my deviled eggs to a cookout. All my friends have since apologized for assuming I couldn’t cook. They have mumbled around about how they thought my inability to cook might have been why I have no husband. Now, they are busy trying to figure out the real reason I have no husband. (Don’t tell them, but I really just don’t want one. It is too much fun watching them try to figure me out.) Now, when we all get together I am always asked to bring some kind of dish, but my deviled eggs seem to be the crowd favorite and I make them quite often. Come to think of it, maybe always bringing chips, dip and sodas wasn’t so bad after all.

DeviledEggs … 

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Homemade Marshmallow S’mores Presley

  s'mores presley

My cousin Dale recently catered an event where his clients were HUGE Elvis Presley fans, and ever the BOSS, Dale chose to make the dessert for that party a throwback to Elvis. And OMG I might have died a little when I saw this delicousness on facebook! Of course after I asked him for his assembly directions and permission to use his image, I set to work to copy cat and make these. I was NOT disappointed!  I used some of the homemade marshmallows I had made a couple weeks back and well, all I can tell you is you have GOT to try these!… 

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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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Total time
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.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Recipe

Fall is here! And with fall comes all the rich earthy comfort smells of pumpkin, cinnamon, apples and pears. Today I’ve taken a fresh look at a southern favorite desert, bread pudding. I’ve added a few of my favorite flavors like cinnamon and wham, a Pumpkin Bread Pudding Recipe! Who could ask for more? Grab a print and let me know what you think!

Southern Pumpkin Bread Pudding
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Part cake, part pudding. Fully flavorfull.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 5 cups freshly cooked or canned pumpkin purée
  • 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tablespoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • ¾ cup plus ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 10 cups (2-inch) cubes slightly dry french, Italian, whole wheat or challah bread
  1. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin with eggs and egg yolks, half-and-half, brown sugar, ¼ cup of thegranulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons water and remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and heat over high heat.( As sugar melts, swirl the pan often to ensure even melting. )Do not stir with a spoon because it will slow the melting process and cause uneven browning.
  3. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until sugar has a deep caramel color; remove from the heat.
  4. Carefully whisk ¼ cup of the heavy cream into the caramel until well combined, then whisk in remaining ¾ cup heavy cream.
  5. Pour caramel mixture into a 2½-quart oblong casserole dish or individual ramekins.
  6. Top with half of the bread cubes, then pour half of the pumpkin mixture over the top.
  7. Top with remaining bread, then remaining pumpkin mixture, making sure to soak all of the bread.
  8. Set aside to let sit for 30 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in a water bath, or until set.
serve in a wedge or square with simple fresh whipped cream or, vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.


Chick-Fil-A Copy Cow Recipe

We LOVE. I mean  REALLY LOVE  Chick-Fil-A® around here. Somehow the craving hits hardest on Sundays though! And as we all know, Mr. Cathy has made it company policy from the very beginning that  the stores would be closed on Sunday, so that his staff can enjoy worship at their personal houses of worship and with their families. Wonderful policy if you ask me, but I digress.

I’ve always been one to taste all the subtleties of my food and when I’ve found a meal in a restaurant particularly appetizing, I’ve set out to figure out the components so that I could reproduce the same meal at home. Sometimes with less than success and sometimes.. like this one, EUREKA! I’ve become a copy-cow!

Mind you, I have NO connection with the Chick-Fil-A® company, nor do I know their secret recipe (but I think I’ve gotten darned close) Give these ‘nuggets’ a try! The recipe can be used for  strips or boneless chicken breasts as well, with equally good results.   I usually fry them up and toss them into a fresh garden salad and serve up with our favorite ranch or honey mustard dressing. Makes a great week-end meal or a quick and simple week day dinner.

Home Made Fli-A Nuggets
Prep time
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Total time
Our version of the Original Chick-Fil A
Serves: 4
  • Buttermilk (enough to cover and soak chicken pieces)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized nuggets
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs made from dry, toasted bread
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s® season salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if needed to throroughly cover chicken)
  • 2 eggs, whisked thoroughly
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a large bowl, add chicken pieces and buttermilk.
  2. Allow chicken to soak in the buttermilk as long as you can (at least one hour, but preferably overnight).
  3. Place dried bread into a food processor and process until fine.
  4. Pulse in the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, seasoning salt, pepper and paprika.
  5. In a large dutch oven (or deep fryer if you have one), heat 2 inches of vegetable [or peanut] oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat.
  6. Transfer flour mixture to a bowl.
  7. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.
  8. Piece by piece, remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in bread crumb/flour mixture, then egg wash, then back into bread crumb/flour mixture.
  9. Once all pieces have been coated, you can start putting them into the hot oil.( Be careful not to overload your fryer basket or place too many pieces into your oil, the chicken won’t cook evenly and will take longer to cook)
  10. Cook for about 1½ minutes, then turn chicken pieces over, if necessary, and cook for another 1½- 2 minutes.(look for a golden brown crust, don’t over cook)
  11. Transfer chicken pieces to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  12. OR place on metal rack with paper toweling below for a crisper nugget.
  13. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Toss with a fresh salad or serve with fries or as a sandwich. Works equally well with boneless chicken breast or strips.

Southern Fig Preserves

Spring is here. And that means all sorts of good things from the garden, and the market. Fresh veggies. Artichokes (some of my favorite things) Fresh Fruits straight from the tree. Figs!  I love figs, fresh, dried (I used them in cookies and cakes) and fig preserves. This Southern Fig Preserves recipe has been in my recipe box for forever, and though I can’t remember where it came from  exactly, I remember the first taste of these like it was yesterday.  I’m sure you’ll love these as much as I do!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Southern Fig Preserves
Prep time
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Simple and Delicious
Recipe type: Main
  • 8 cups small, firm but ripe figs
  • 2 cups unrefined sugar
  • 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 additional lemon
  • 1 cup of water
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot, layer the figs with the lemon slices, sugar, sliced ginger, and lemon juice.
  2. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. The next day, add the cup of water and cover the pot with a lid .
  4. Bring the fig mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the figs down to low and slow cook covered for 1 hour. (watch carefully)
  5. After the figs have cooked covered for 1 hour, vent the lid and cook for another ½ hour with the lid vented. ( or until the figs are translucent and the syrup has thickened.)
  6. Transfer the fig mixture(with the lemon and ginger) to sterilized jars and refrigerate
  7. or process for 5 minutes in a water-bath canner to store on the shelf.
This makes 4 to 6 pint jars. Leave the lemon and ginger in the mixture when you load up your jars. They will add flavor as time goes and have a wonderful ‘candied’ flavor.

Serve  with warm biscuits and butter.

GranMa’s Skillet Biscuits

Welcome! Its Day 4 of our Birthday Celebration here at Simple Plate. Read on to enter and don’t forget to enter the first three days giveaways here, here and here.

TGIF!!!  I’m looking forward to the weekend! How about you? Weekends in THIS southern home bring all sorts of great breakfast treats. Sundays bring on the biscuits, gravy, bacon and eggs, and occasionally a side of hashbrowns.  And no, as much as I’d like to say someone else gets the joy of whipping this up, a la Waffle House, it is I who brings on the bacon! I bring home a little too!

We’ve changed our eating habits significantly (shhhhhh don’t tell anyone  here).  Uncured bacon, organic eggs  and veggies have replaced the hormel and standard fare we were used to. But the flavors? They’re even more yummy! What has not been replaced are the staples of a southern breakfast.  Biscuits. I have such warm memories of my GranMa making homemade bread and biscuits. And I’ve taken her skillet biscuits recipe and updated it for today’s cook.

I challenge you to make these super easy, homemade biscuits  and to tell me they’re not the BEST you’ve ever tasted.  I promise you’ll not ever reach for the doughboy variety again!  Go Ahead, grab a print and let me know how MUCH you love these!


GranMa’s Sunday Biscuits
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Total time
Deep South Goodness
Serves: 6
  • 2 cups organic white wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoons organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 tablespoons butter (cold)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs or cornmeal. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.)
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir with wooden spoon just until the dough comes together. The dough will be Very sticky.
  4. Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times.
  5. Press with your floured hands into a 1-inch thick round.
  6. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough.
  7. Place scrupulously clean iron skillet into oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Once preheated, melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet
  8. Place biscuits into hot buttered skillet so that they just touch. (use a potholder or mitt to remove skillet from oven its gonna be HOT)
  9. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting if necessary.
  10. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown (they’ll be kinda high) (watch closely so that the bottoms don’t burn!)
  11. Allow biscuits to cool slightly in the skillet then remove with a flat spatula to serving plate or basket.
I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Unbleached Flour and Domino Organic Sugar both are available at Fresh Markets, Whole Foods and online. If you need a Gluten Free Biscuit, look at Bobs Red Mill Recipes.



Guess What I’m giving away today? I love my iron skillets, I’ve begged for a variety of them at Christmas, Mother’s Day and my birthday. I’ve lucked on to a number of them at estate sales, garage sales and flea markets (most in pretty poor condition, I’ll post more about those soon and teach you to clean cast iron) . I want YOU to experience the ONE tool that EVERY southern cook must have in her arsenal. A cast iron skillet! So today I’m giving  away this

The perfect size for scrambled eggs, cornbread or for getting a great sear on a chicken breast or 2. This 6″ preseasoned beauty will be a welcome addition to your cookware. No need for weeks of seasoning, (its already done for you). And this small wonder is from the folks at Lodge Cast Iron Cookware in Tennessee.

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

1. Leave A Comment On This Post telling me about your Weekend Breakfast Traditions.

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 three days giveaways here, 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!

disclaimer: I have no material relationship with the folks at Bob’s Redmill or at Lodge Cookware (even though I’d love to)  I simply use these products and I want you to fall in love with them as I have.


12 Step Program for Mile High Meringue


In the south, we’re serious about a few things. Crispy Fried Chicken, luscious potato salad, fluffy biscuits on Sunday morning and Pie. Pie of all kinds ranks high on the southern cooks dessert list, but especially Meringue pies. Lemon, Chocolate, Coconut and Key Lime just scratch the surface of what a good southern cook can top with her perfect ‘mile high’ meringue. Don’t mention topping any of those pies with cool whip or whipped topping, you’ll be shooed from the kitchen faster than a black cat!

Southern cooks of all experience will tell you in a snap that their pride and joy is being able to make the perfect meringue for their pies. Its an art, but one that with a little practice, you can accomplish. (Not to be confused with Carrie, the merengue dancing dog)

She’s actually very talented ! (cute eh?) Ok, I had to  show you that!

I’ve been through the trials, the tribulations and failures of weepy meringues, flat meringues and just plain sticky gooey meringue that just doesn’t taste good.  So here are  my tips for the perfect meringue. (I don’t use cream of tartar or cornstarch to get these fluffy clouds of goodness, just time, love and a good mixer)

Be sure your utensils and your hands are scrupulously clean and perfectly dried.

  1. Start with eggs that are a few days old.  Any good southern cook will tell you that ‘perfectly fresh’ eggs don’t whip up as voluminously as eggs that are 3 days or so old.
  2. If you’re making a meringue pie, do it on a dry, non humid day.  Humidity =moisture in the air, if you’re whipping in air, that humidity will affect your meringue
  3. Separate your eggs while they’re cold. Its just easier to separate white from yolk when they’re cold and the tiniest bit of yolk will ruin a good meringue.
  4. Don’t use your hands to separate the egg yolk from the whites. I know its the most convenient way for most of us, but fat and oil can wreck a good meringue too!  Use a separator or just use the shells, transferring the yolk back and forth between the two  and letting the whites fall into  one bowl and the yolks into another.
  5. Use glass, copper or metal bowls and keep your hands out of the bowls and away from any surface that would touch the egg whites. Again, its the oil thing. Plastic bowls often retain oils from foods and the slightest oil from your hands will not help your meringue.
  6. After you’ve separated your egg whites from yolks, let them sit for about 30 minutes until they’ve reached room temperature. (about 70°).Its all about the foam, the bubbles the volume. Basically when you’re making meringue you’re whipping air into the egg whites, more air=more volume. A cold egg takes longer to whip than one at room temp  and a beaten egg white can foam to 6 to 8 times its original volume if the egg whites have been at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating. (so say the folks at the egg board)
  7. Don’t start beating your egg whites and take a break to chat on the phone or answer the door.  Once you’ve placed your egg whites in a tall bowl and attached your whisk attachment to your mixer, don’t stop until they reach the soft peak stage. Set your mixer to medium high and go for it.
  8. Add the sugar after the whites have reached the soft peak stage (they’re fluffy and when you lift the beater the peaks fold over the beater edge) . Superfine sugar works the best when making meringues. Don’t worry if you don’t have this in the pantry though, you can make your own using your food processor or blender by pulsing your sugar a few times to break the crystals up into smaller ones.
  9. Add your sugar in gradually. I use a tablespoon to do this, adding in about 1/4 cup of sugar per egg white. Sugar stiffens the foam of the egg whites and you can check to see if the sugar is completely dissolved by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers. DON’T put your fingers into the meringue, use a clean spoon to dip some out. If it feels gritty, continue beating some more.
  10. Your pie meringue is done when you lift the beater out and the whites stand at attention! Again, don’t take a break during the process, start it and work it through and you’ll have the perfect  mile high meringue for your pies!
  11. Make your meringue first. Then make the pie filling.  The warmth from the pie filling begins the cooking process and makes the meringue less likely to shrink away from the sides of your pie crust.
  12. Baking longer and slower (325°) for about 25 minutes will help your meringue cook through better and give you those gloriously browned peaks.
  • Don’t put a meringue pie in the refrigerator. Store at room temp under a glass or metal bowl. If you store in the fridge, you’ll have leaky, weepy meringue.
  • Use a sharp knife dipped in water to cut meringue pies cleanly, wipe and dip in cool water between slices.

Meringue pies are lots of work, don’t misunderstand me, but they’re oh so yummy and you’ll revel in the joy from the folks around the table!

Don’t forget Tidy Mom’s Love the Pie Party on November 15th!  She’s lined up some awesome sponsors and some great prizes. You can find wonderful recipes and tips and all in time for the Holidays! So save the date!

What are your best tips for great pies?  Got a favorite meringue recipe?  Share em with us!

Creamy Caramel Fudge

There’s not an ounce of chocolate in this fudge so if you’re looking for chocolate move along. If you’re a caramel lover, you’ve come to the right place! Kids love this fudge and so do the grown ups! Its super rich but oh so wickedly delicious.

I started experimenting with this recipe when I was a ‘poor’ graduate student and buying extras like chocolate cocoa powder were just not in the plan.

I’ve heard this called Russian Fudge (guess Chocolate was an issue for them too) but the recipe calls for corn syrup, which I cannot stand. And I think this is probably similar to what some call RedHead Fudge (sorry Vicki)(though I’m not sure). What I do know, is that this is incredibly rich and delicious. Caramel lovers will gobble it up! My recipe here is a little extended from my original version, which included melting the brown sugar with the white sugar milk mixture. The candy came out a little grainy, which I think was the sugar never being melted enough. So, I did the simple syrup and it worked! I use real butter, real vanilla and half and half. I’ve not tested this with margarine or skim milk so I couldn’t tell you the results. But you’re making candy, not diet food, so go ahead and make the full on recipe!

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Southern Pralines

Typical southern sweets like these Southern Pecan Pralines grace almost every southern household during the holdiays.  They’re not terribly difficult to make and you can change the flavor a bit by adding a little almond extract in place of some of the vanilla. But they’re yummy, creamy and rich!

I make these every year. (let the sisters in-law make the divinity and fudge!)

note:  Don’t create any unnecessary humidity in your kitchen while you’re making these!

Don’t turn on the dishwasher or cook pasta or boil water for anything.. Remember the rules for making fudge..same go here!

Also, invest the $4.50 in a candy thermometer you can get it at Walmart, you’ll be making these again!

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