Louisville Hot Brown

Sometimes in life you aren’t willing to accept knock-offs.

Lilly Pulitzer prints
Charmin toilet paper

But sometimes the “knock-off” is just as good as the original.

Like a Louisville Hot Brown.  (if you’re from Louisville, and you are a die-hard fan of hot browns, I mean no harm.  simply stop reading this now.)

The original hot brown was first created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1926 and was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

A hot brown is an oven-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, that is covered in a Mornay sauce and broiled until the bread is crisped and the sauce is browned.

My version is very much the same.  Except for the Mornay sauce.

Typically a Mornay sauce is made with lots and lots of cheese.  But not this one.

This sauce is actually made with cauliflower that is steamed and then pureed with milk, butter and cheese.

The cauliflower has the consistency of a rich, decadent sauce but without all the calories.


Especially on a week night.

hot brown2

No flavor was sacrificed for this lightened-up version.  I used pre-sliced turkey from the deli (an added short-cut from the recipe) and real bacon.

Yes, real bacon.  I don’t believe in turkey bacon.

Piled high, and topped with tomatoes and herbs for freshness, this sandwich won’t make you feel guilty.

hot brown

I can handle this knock-off.




Onion Rings with Homemade Roasted Tomato Ketchup

It’s Tuesday and we’re still talking about Saturday night’s dinner.

That, my friends, is a sign of an excellent dinner.

It all started with an overabundance of tomatoes.  Not wanting to waste tomatoes, we started brainstorming ways to use them.

Tomato sauce.  Salsa.  Ketchup.

While brainstorming ways to use tomatoes, we were also thinking of what we wanted for dinner that night.  The weather wasn’t all that great and we were craving some comforting eats.


What goes well with ketchup?

Hamburgers.  Fries.  Onion rings.

Yes.  Onion rings.  And yes, they are gluten-free.

We found a recipe for Roasted Tomato Ketchup in one of Big Guy’s cook books, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey.  

The ketchup starts by roasting your tomatoes, low and slow, at 250 degrees for about 2 hours.  The tomatoes were tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme.

The house smelled amazing.

Once cooled, the tomatoes are blended with an array of spices as well as a little brown sugar and white wine vinegar.  The ketchup was a little thick but was easily thinned out a bit with water.  We kept the ketchup on the thick side – not wanting to lose the rich flavor.

It seriously was the best ketchup I’ve ever tasted.

To go with the ketchup – because we obviously planned this meal around condiments – onion rings.

We have never deep fried anything in our house, and I have to admit I felt like a seasoned cook as we breaded and fried the onion rings.

As soon as the brown, crispy onion rings were removed from the hot oil, we sprinkled them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

So good!

I was really impressed with the onion rings and the flavor of the ketchup.

And if that wasn’t decadent enough, they were served next to a Bacon Burger with a Basil-Yogurt Sauce.  

I know.

We were out of control.

And so was the flavor of the food.


Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin {plus a tomato salad with avocado and onion}

This dinner couldn’t be any easier.  Especially if you have an herb garden.  And a husband to do the grilling.

Knowing that I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer and lots of herbs growing right outside my back door, when I saw Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin I knew it would be a mistake not to make this easy dinner.

Simply marinate the pork in a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil along with your herbs.


If you don’t have those herbs, use what you have.  Oregano would be great with this dish.

Let the flavors really deepen by allowing it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling.

Once it’s ready to hit the grill, remove from the marinade (discard the remaining marinade) and season liberally with salt.

Grill until it’s cooked to your liking.

herb pork


Once the pork was removed from the grill, I prepared the salad.  Make sure to let your pork rest – that let’s all the juices redistribute so that you don’t lose them when you slice the tenderloin.

I was inspired by this salad but I deviated from the recipe a little.

In a bowl, I tossed together halved tomatoes from the garden, thinly sliced red onion and avocado chunks.

To season, I used salt and pepper plus a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and basil leaves.

tom and avo

The end result was nothing less than perfection.  Like, if summer could taste like something – this is it.

my plate

Seriously, please don’t let summer be winding down.

I don’t want to say farewell to the produce.

Or eating outside.

Salad in a Jar {quinoa-arugula layered salad}

If you typically pack your lunch for work – you’re going to love this recipe.

salad in a jar


I actually made the salad for dinner on Tuesday night but the remaining two jars were perfect to pack for lunch the rest of the week.

This would also be a great salad to pack on a picnic because you simply shake and eat out of the jar.

To start, prep your quinoa.  Simply heat up a little olive oil and then toast your quinoa before adding chicken broth.  You can use water but chicken broth (or any broth) adds so much flavor to the quinoa.

Once cooked, allow the quinoa to cool.  If you assemble the jars while the quinoa is hot, the heat from the quinoa will wilt your veggies.

While the quinoa cools, make your dressing.  The dressing is a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, garlic and salt.  Whisk together and then add about a tablespoon to the bottom of each jar.

Then simply layer in the ingredients:

Spicy arugula
Nutty quinoa
Cool cucumber
Bright red onion
Garden fresh tomatoes


Portable, healthy and full of flavor.

Totally lunchbox worthy.


Cherry-Port Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I keep a pretty well stocked kitchen.

If there’s a spice you need, I probably have it.

A random flour, I got that, too.

Condiments fill our refrigerator door.

But when I made a chipotle chicken dish last week, I needed cherry preserves.  Not typically something I keep on hand.  (Strawberry jam is my jam.)

Not wanting to let the cherry preserves go to waste, I was excited to see Cherry-Port Glazed Pork Tenderloin in a recent issue of Cooking Light.  

The recipe calls for a 3-pound tenderloin which will serve about 10-12 people.  However, the pork tenderloins that you buy at our local HT come in 3-pound packs but it’s actually two separate pieces of meat.  Seeing that it was just Big Guy and me for dinner last night, I froze one for another day.

I kept all the other measurements the same, though.  (I did end up with quite a lot of leftover sauce.)

The pork is seared on the stove-top after being seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  After searing, bake at 435 degrees for 10 minutes.  The pork is then sauced and returned to the oven for 8 more minutes of cooking.  (Cooking times are increased if you use a 3-pound piece of meat.)

Once cooked, remove from the oven, sauce again and let stand for 5-10 minutes.


I served the pork over a mound of grits (aka polenta) and topped the plated pork with fresh thyme.

To note – use a good port, the flavors only intensify when you reduce any type of wine.

The pork was cooked to perfection.  Tender and juicy and full of flavor from the sauce that was drizzled on top.

And because I just thought of it – goat cheese grits would have taken this dish over the top.  Just sayin’.

So if you need a spice, or cherry preserves, come see me.  I’m like the bulk section at Whole Foods.


Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tomato Salad

I can’t take full credit for this dinner.  In actuality, I can only take credit for choosing the recipe and making sure that we had all the ingredients at home.  I had full intentions of helping Big Guy prepare this dinner but I found myself at a meeting that lasted a little longer than I expected.

Thankfully Big Guy knows his way around the kitchen.

The recipe is simple.  Besides the usual suspects:  salt, pepper and olive oil, you’ll only need a handful of ingredients.

Chicken (we used chicken thighs)


Baby or grape tomatoes (or whatever is growing in your garden)

Cheese (the recipe called for feta but we had goat so that’s what we used)

Basil (totally optional but if you have it I recommend it)

The chicken marinates in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice (Big Guy wanted me to let you know that he used more lemon juice than the recipe called for) while you prepare the tomato salad.

The tomatoes are tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Before grilling the chicken, sprinkle on some salt and pepper.

The chicken is plated and then topped with the tomato salad, crumbled goat cheese and basil confetti.

The lemon-flavor was subtle but so refreshing.  I actually think I preferred the tangy, creamy goat cheese over salty feta.  But either would be delicious.

Homegrown tomatoes really make this dinner special.  Bursting with flavor and really only needing salt and pepper to heighten the flavor.

Summertime.  It’s my favorite.

And so is Big Guy.

Chipotle Chicken with Coriander Rice

A little heat and a lot of flavor is what this dinner is full of.

chipotle chicken

Chicken breasts can sometimes get a bad rap for being dry and boring.  But not these.  They’re first seared on the stovetop and then finish cooking in the oven.  And there’s no way you can call the sauce on top of the chicken boring.

Chipotle chiles, cherry preserves and garlic make the chicken bursting with flavor with each and every bite.  And some bites had a little more kick than others.

(By the way, you’ll only use about 1/2 of a chipotle chile, so put each additional chile in a separate plastic bag and freeze for the next time you need one.)

The rice recipe instructions were a little confusing to me, but here’s what I did and it turned out amazing (I think the rice was Big Guy’s favorite part of dinner).

First cook the rice according to package direction (don’t add any fat or salt).

While the rice was cooking, I sauteed the onion and the coriander and then set aside in a bowl.

Once the rice was finished absorbing all the water, I added the onion mixture to the pot of rice (without stirring) and put the lid back on.

When the chicken and sauce were done cooking and we were ready to eat, I added the parsley and lemon juice to the rice and fluffed.

Rice perfection.

Not only was the sauce full of flavor but the lemon juice and parsley tamed the heat while the coriander really added a depth of flavor that I loved.

Just so you know, coriander is the seed of cilantro.  Though in some countries, coriander can be the term used for cilantro leaves.

One of the best parts about having a sauce served with chicken is it helps keep leftovers from drying out.

And now that I have some leftover cherry preserves, this recipe is on my radar:  Cherry-Port Glazed Pork Loin Roast.

I think it would be a great Sunday supper!