a Cook at Heart

practical tips and recipes for busy cooks

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Around middle Tennessee, just about every town has at least 1 “meat and three”. What’s a meat and three? It’s a restaurant that serves a selection of meats and vegetables and you choose what you want from what’s cooked that day. For example, Thursday they might have a choice of 7 different meat dishes like fried chicken, meatloaf, catfish, etc. For vegetables they might have collard greens, fried corn, whites beans, and 5 or 6 more things. Generally you get charged by how much you order. Meat + 1 side is 7.99, Meat + 2 sides is 8.99, Meat + 3 sides is 10.99. Most people order Meat

8 Make Ahead Summer Side Dishes

Hey ya’ll. I know summer isn’t officially here yet but I’m already in summer cooking mode. There will be all types of potlucks and cookouts this summer so I’ve started gathering recipes for my summer shin digs. Here are 8 recipes on my to-do list so don’t be surprised if you see variations of these on the blog this summer. The thing they all have in common is that they can be made ahead and transported to any event without worrying about reheating. Also they’re not the standard potato salad and baked beans which is a plus in my book. Do you have any staple

How to Make Cornbread Dressing

There are only a handful of dishes that define holiday dinners in the south and cornbread dressing is one of them. There are a million different variations but when you get down to the core, the basic recipe is pretty much the same. Sauteed aromatics, crumbled cornbread, spices, and a moistening agent. Once you get the basic idea down, there are endless possibilities. This recipe is a pretty basic one. The only extra I added was the sausage because the sage in the sausage adds another layer of flavor. I actually used hot breakfast sausage to add a little extra kick. Also it occurred to me that

Southwest Squash Casserole

This is the third CSA pick up from our summer CSA with Delvin Farms and I think we’re getting the hang of it. Since we signed up for a half share, we pick up our box every other Saturday from one our local farmers markets.  Because we get whatever was harvested during that week you never know for sure what’s going to be in your box until you get it. The first couple of boxes were a little overwhelming and a few things went bad before we used them up. This week I’m a little more prepared. I’ve got my recipes for this week already planned out – using the more

Asian Broccoli Slaw with Ginger Soy Dressing

Sometime a light veggie dish like this is just what the doctor ordered – especially when you’re trying to eat lighter to compensate for some less than stellar food choices (don’t ask). Broccoli slaw mix is new to me. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli so I’ve never bought it but it was on sale at my favorite store so I decided to experiment.  Although it’s shredded broccoli stalks, it really doesn’t taste like broccoli at all. There’s a crunchy fresh taste that I can’t really compare to anything. It doesn’t have a strong flavor by itself so you could add any dressing to it.   If you want to make this a little more hearty, you could add shrimp or chicken. The

Sweet and Sour Refrigerator Pickled Beets

People keep telling me that beets are an acquired taste. Apparently I acquired a taste for them early in life since I’ve always liked them – even the pickled ones in the jar. I don’t however like the mess beet juice makes. Be smarted than I was the day I fixed these. Do not wear a white shirt and use food safe gloves if you have them. This is a quick marinade to give your beets a nice tang without the trouble of pickling. I like to peel, slice, and marinate them while still warm because I think it helps them slurp up the flavors.

Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes with Herbed Couscous

You may have noticed that my little corner of the internet has been heavy on meatless dishes lately. Veggies rule in our house – at least until Good Friday. I have to admit I’m getting into finding new ways to fix vegetables, grains, and beans without any meat to add flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ribeye steak or a piece of fried chicken but eating lighter feels pretty good. Asparagus is one of our “go-to” vegetables. It’s great for nights when I’m short on time and it doesn’t take much to make it taste good. The real star of this meal