a Cook at Heart

practical tips and recipes for busy cooks

Tomato and Olive Crostini

Now that Nashville has seen it’s last frost, I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to try to plant a garden this year. By garden I mean a nice neat container garden. I have a small patch of grass in my front yard and a back deck that would hold a nice collection of large pots. A few months ago, we had a huge tree chopped down in our back yard so now our deck gets a ton of direct sunlight. We could  grow a few pots of tomatoes, squash, and – maybe even a pot of hot peppers. I’m still thinking about it but I’m leaning toward a

Italian Nachos

Last weekend I had a great “away trip” with my church choir. We took a bus to Cleveland to support one of our young ministers who was going up there to preach at his home church. He’s incredibly talented and we all love him to death so it was worth the 9 or 10 hours we spent on the bus. We stayed at a beautiful hotel in downtown Cleveland – sorry no pictures (at least no good ones) that had a mall and casino attached to it. We had a ball. It was nice to get away, especially when I didn’t have to worry about handling any of

Spicy Tomato Jam

Learning to can has been on my to-do list for years so last year I took a class at Viking’s Cooking school. It was at the end of the Tennessee growing season so there wasn’t much good left to can. I’ve been holding onto all of my canning recipes from class for the growing season to start. I have to admit that I’m still a little nervous about making sure everything is sterilized properly but I’m getting excited about trying some new things. We joined a CSA that will give us fresh fruits and vegetables from May to October so we’re going to have produce coming out of

Mini Spinach Artichoke Pizzas

Red meat and I have always been really good friends. In my teens a nice juicy t-bone was my mom’s go to meal for me when she fixed something I absolutely wouldn’t eat. As I’ve got older, I’ve realized that red meat is better eaten as an every once in a while treat, not a regular main dish. As the section of my plate reserved for meat has gotten smaller and smaller I’ve been looking for more meatless meals – good meatless meals. These pizzsa fall into that category. This recipe caught my attention while I was in the produce section of Publix. It was

Homemade Buttermilk Bleu Cheese Dressing with Chives

A couple of years ago, my husband and I spent a few days vacationing in Denver. A few blocks from our hotel was a restaurant that was a part vintage diner, part upscale casual that had amazing food. I think we ate there 3 times. I ran in there one day for a quick lunch and ordered a grilled cheese and a wedge salad. I was really looking forward to the grilled cheese and only ordered the salad because I hadn’t eaten any green veggies in several days and I felt guilty. When the wedge salad arrived, it was this huge wedge of iceberg lettuce

Hot Mexican Spinach Dip

This dip is incredibly simple and gets raves every time I make it. It’s a big bowl of creamy cheesy goodness with a little heat to make it interesting. It’s easy to scale if you’re feeding a large crowd and it definitely needs to be served hot. This is a perfect nibble for game time. Ingredients 2 cups fresh medium or hot salsa  1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained 2 cups shredded Mexican Blend Cheese  1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup milk 1 (2.25 ounce) can chopped black olives, drained salt and pepper to taste Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 2. In

Loaded Baked Potato Dip

Hi. My name is Janet and I’m a snackaholic. I admit it. Chips, dip, and Sprite Zero has been a meal for me on many occasions. There something about fall and winter that make me feel especially snacky so a good creamy homemade dip is my version of comfort food. This is a super easy dip that is best made an hour or two ahead so the flavors can mingle. It’s great with chips, veggies, or on baked potatoes.  The powdered ranch mix is a little salty so use your best judgement on the amount. It will become more salty after it sits so start with