a Cook at Heart

practical tips and recipes for busy cooks

Homemade BBQ Sauce

It’s funny how when you’re a kid, you tend to not pay attention to things. I never paid attention to the fact that my mom always made her own BBQ sauce. We grilled pretty regularly during the summer and my parents had a division of labor for grilling days. Daddy was the grill master and mom did all the prep including making the sauce and seasoning the meat. I remember a big aluminum pot of tangy sauce simmering on the stove while daddy grilled the ribs. Now that she’s gone, I’m sad that I never got the recipe from her. This is my first attempt at making BBQ sauce in

Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole with Bacon

This is by far the easiest breakfast casserole recipe I’ve ever made. It combines almost all of the things I like about breakfast into one dish. If I could figure how to add pancakes in here, it would be absolutely perfect. Switch the bacon for any meat you like, just make sure it’s cooked before you add it. This casserole reheats well so it makes a great breakfast or lunch the next day  A few things to note: 1. I like Obrien potatoes in this because it already has onions and peppers in it. Feel free to use regular hashbrowns if you like but make

My 5 Favorite Foodie Podcasts

One of the things that originally attracted me to Nashville was how beautiful the metro area is. It reminds me a lot of West Virginia with lots of green rolling hills and farmland. You can drive 20 minutes from most points in the city and be in the country – really in the country. It’s taken me years to learn the back roads that snake around through some of the outlying areas and I’ve found a lovely back road route to work.  My commute is about 30 to 45 minutes most days which sometimes is the high point of my day. While I drive, I usually listen to books and

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

Banana Oatmeal Muffins + Vacation Pics

One of the few good things about having a hubby with a travel job is that occasionally, you get to tag along on a really great trip. A few weeks ago, I met him in Las Vegas and we drove down to the Grand Canyon for a few days. Even with tons of tourists, the canyon is one of the most tranquil places I’ve ever visited. It’s breathtaking (and I don’t use that term lightly). There’s something about the vastness of it that leaves you speechless. The last time we went to the canyon it was June and HOT. Blazing hot. If you ever get

How to Poach a Fried Egg

One of my goals for 2014 is start adding videos to the blog. I really love videos but I have to admit there’s a steep learning curve. I’ve been playing around for a few months and this is my first published attempt. It’s been fun practicing and I hope to do more of these in the future. I ran across this method of fixing fried eggs completely by accident one day. One of the problems I’ve always had with fried eggs is flipping them without breaking the yolk. It can be a little tricky and my success rate is about 50/50. I’ve tried to do them

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