Pumpkin Madness

So, I’m having a little trouble getting into the autumnal spirit.

Maybe it’s because we had 2 glorious days of what could be called fall weather down here only to have to turn the AC back on today.

Or maybe it’s because there is Pumpkin Madness going on everywhere!

Is it just me or has this pumpkin spice thing gone to a whole other level this year?

Trader Joes is ground zero for Pumpkin Madness. I’m not immune…I’ve had their pumpkin ice cream -tastes just like frozen pumpkin pie. Ridiculously good.

Anyway, I was feeling all grinchy about pumpkin recipes this year, then my friend Solvay posted THIS on Facebook.

If that doesn’t get you in a festive mood, I don’t know what will.

In the meantime, here are some links to Pumpkin Goodness from years past.


Pumpkin Bread – It’s my mom’s recipe and SO good. Super moist.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Donuts – The reason that I own donut pans.

Pumpkin Bars – When I made up this recipe, I maxed out the pumpkin filling. Plus, there’s cream cheese frosting and you can’t go wrong there!

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles – Soft, chewy cookies. Best when they are hot out of the oven and almost burn your fingers. Don’t ask me how I know that.

Pumpkin Pie – Because, why should Thanksgiving get to have all the fun?

Pumpkin Colored Kitty! – You didn’t seriously think you’d get through this post without a cat picture did you?

I’m pretty sure Pumpkin Madness will strike me sooner or later. I have a couple of ideas…black bean pumpkin soup, maybe some pumpkin spice granola…

What are you pumpkin favorites? (Other than Henry!)

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Gin Burgers

Burgers with Shallots & Gin…otherwise known in our family as Gin Burgers!

This is one of those recipes where I’m sure you will think I’ve gone totally off the deep end.

Gin in a burger?

YES! Gin in a burger. Really!

This is my dad’s recipe. He makes a mean martini – stirred, not shaken so it’s not surprise to me that he would have a recipe for burgers that incorporate gin.

They also incorporate shallots and capers – lots of flavor.

You might have to trust me on this one. But trust, you should.

Here’s what you need:

Gin Burger Ingredients

Ground Beef or Ground Turkey, Gin, Shallots, Capers, Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Burgers with Shallots & Gin Shopping List

You will also need the good things that accompany burgers:  Good Buns, Good Sharp Cheese, Good Mustard, Lettuce, and Tomato.

Gin Burger Accessories

Or whatever you like to have with your burgers. I avoided ketchup because I want the flavors of the gin, shallots, and capers to shine through.

Plus, as you can see, I have tots that require ketchup. I require tots.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Sausage Kale & Apple Hash

Breakfast. Dinner. Or Breakfast FOR Dinner.

Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash has all those bases covered in a big way.

Anything that includes the word hash usually gets my vote.

When you start combining good things like smoked sausage, potatoes, apples, and hearty greens it’s hard to go wrong.

This hash is bold and flavorful enough to stand up on its own. Add a fried egg if you want to take it completely over the top!

Here’s what you need:

Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash Ingredients

Potatoes, Onion, Apple, Celery, Kale, Parsley, Smoked Sausage, Olive Oil, Cider Vinegar (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Also, if you are so inclined, 2 eggs to fry.

Click here for a Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash Shopping List Sausage, Kale & Apple Hash

It’s hash which means lots of chopping into small pieces.

I have 1 medium onion, 2 ribs of celery, and about 1/4 cup of fresh parsley…all finely chopped or diced.


Click HERE, there’s more!

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Every Bean Crockpot Soup

We’ve reached that critical time of the year….Crazed Schedule Season!

Yes, you might call it fall or autumn where you live but since it’s still quite warm here, we’re going with CSS – Crazed Schedule Season.

Everyone I know is insanely busy. That goes double for my friends who have kids. Some of us (especially musicians) are practically living out of our cars as we drive to and fro.

Well friends, when things get this busy, it’s time to get your kitchen working FOR you!

And this is the perfect recipe to do it – Every Bean Crockpot Soup to the rescue!

Here’s what you need:  (obviously a crockpot or other slow cooker)

Every Bean Crockpot Soup Ingredients

Mixed Dried Beans, Onion, Celery, Carrots, Meaty Ham Bone, Pepper, and Bayleaf (not pictured).

Click here for an Every Bean Crockpot Soup Shopping List

When I said EVERY bean, I meant it. Look at these beauties!

These were hiding in my grocery store with the regular old dried beans and I never gave them much thought until someone gave some to me sort of as a gag gift – one of those things where you try to disguise the gift card by wrapping it up with a  bag of beans. Well, you can guess that I was equally excited about the beans because I’m weird that way.

Anyway, the glory of the mixed beans is that the little beans pretty much cook into the broth of the soup acting as a thickener while the bigger beans stay whole and tender.

Every Bean Imaginable!

Always rinse your dried beans to remove any dust and debris and give them a good once over to be sure there are no non-bean things in there.

I didn’t even bother to pre-soak these beans. Just dump them in as is.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Quick Shrimp & Grits


I’m pretty sure I’ve had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I might even have had them twice in one day.

Whenever we are in a true southern food town like Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah, I seek out Shrimp & Grits. I also seek out She Crab Soup but I haven’t learned to make that at home yet.

A couple of years ago I posted a more elaborate Shrimp & Grits recipe but I can honestly tell you that this more scaled down, basic version has become my new favorite.

This has become one of my Go To weeknight meals when I need food on the table fast.

Here’s what you need:

Quick Shrimp & Grits Ingredients

Shrimp, Grits, Bacon, Onion, Green Onion, Cheddar Cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, Cayenne Pepper, White Wine (optional), Heavy Cream (optional), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Quick Shrimp & Grits Shopping List

(Ha! You can see that I took this photo back when we were installing our new floors…PROOF that this is a great recipe to make when you need dinner quickly because you are tired and/or crazed.)

If you have a proper Southern Mama who will be offended at my Quick Grits, look away. I NEVER EVER use instant grits but I think the quick variety is just fine. They cook in a few minutes and still have a good flavor and creamy consistency.

Not a grit eater? What are you waiting for?

Grits are part of the kernel of corn and similar to very coarsely ground cornmeal. They are also similar to Italian Polenta but to me, grits are white and polenta is yellow.

If you’re still not convinced, be assured that there is going to be cheese involved.

Choose a pan that has high sides as grits tend to splatter and pop (ouch!) as they cook.

Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Slowly and steadily pour 1 cup of grits in a thin stream into the pot, whisking or stirring as you pour.


Don’t just dump them all in at once or you will have a gloppy mess.

The pot of grits will start to thicken up almost immediately.

Season with salt & pepper.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Taco Salad

Taco Salad
Hello, Taco Salad.

I often crave Mexican food. It can be authentic Mexican food, TexMex, or even a complete rip off that doesn’t resemble anything anyone in Mexico would ever eat.

If it has beans, cheese, and salsa, I’m pretty sure I will be happy to eat it.

Taco Salad is a great way to satisfy my beany cheesy cravings without doing too much damage since you can load these babies up with veggies galore.

Another bonus is that when your life is crazed and you might be tempted to stop for less healthy options, taco salads at home are quick, simple and easy to make.

I have a few varieties of Taco Salads that I like to make but here it is at its most basic.

Feel free to use ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken. If tofu/tempeh is your thing, you’re on your own.

Here’s what you need:

Taco Salad Ingredients
Ground Meat, Tortilla Chips, Black Beans, Onion, Iceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado, Cheese, Salsa, Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, Olive Oil (not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Taco Salad Shopping List

Finely chop 1 medium onion, about 1 cup.


Click HERE, there’s more!

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Zucchini & Corn Saute

We have a 2 for 1 recipe today at Idiot’s Kitchen.

Recipe #1 – Zucchini & Corn Sauté makes a light, healthy, and flavorful side dish.

Recipe #2 – Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Sauté puts that side dish to work in a big way!

Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Saute

This recipe was a happy accident created during another dinner last week.

I’d made the zucchini & corn side dish and another fish recipe that had what turned out to be an unfortunate sautéed bell pepper topping.

I ended up scraping those bell peppers to the side and scooting the fish on over to the zucchini.

It’s a win-win dinner. Make just the veggies or add some protein and call it a meal.

Quick and easy, this entire dinner cooks in about 15 minutes.

Here’s what you need:

Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Ingredients

Fish, Zucchini, Corn, Lime, Garlic, Fresh Parsley (not pictured), Pecorino Romano, Olive Oil, Dried Basil, Dried Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Old Bay Seasoning (optional, not pictured), Salt & Pepper.

Click here for a Baked Cod with Zucchini & Corn Sauté Shopping List

Preheat the oven too 400 degrees.

I plan on 6-8 ounces of fish per person. Here I’m using some lovely wild caught cod but any nice flaky white fish like halibut, corvina, or snapper would do.

If you live in Florida, this recipe would be great with grouper. You could also grill or broil your fish.

Grease or spray a baking dish big enough to accommodate your fish. I prefer to bake mine whole rather than in individual portions so that it doesn’t dry out.

I’ve seasoned the fish with salt & pepper and added just a little sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning. Old Bay was made for seafood. It can taste overwhelmingly of shrimp boil if you use too much, but a light dusting is a great way to easily season fish.


Bake the fish at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes, depending of thickness, until it is cooked through and lightly flakes when poked with a fork.

This whole dish comes together in the 10 minutes it takes to cook the fish so if you are having anything else to eat, be sure it is also ready to go.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Antipasto Pasta Salad

Antipasto Pasta…try saying that three times fast!

I’m a big fan of the antipasto platter – sliced cured meats, cheese, olives, artichoke hearts, etc. served before an Italian meal so I thought, why not put all those things into a huge bowl of pasta salad.

I like to load mine up with lots of extra veggies – feel free to customize this to include your favorites.

Since football and tailgating season is in full swing, Antipasto Pasta Salad is a great change of pace from the regular fare of hamburgers, brats, and chips.  Because this has an oil & vinegar dressing rather than mayo, it will pack, travel, and keep well throughout the big game.

Here’s what you need:

Antipasto Pasta Salad Ingredients

Pasta, Salami, Pepperoni, Fontina Cheese, Provolone Cheese, Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Olives, Artichoke Hearts (optional), Garbanzo Beans, Fresh Basil, Olive Oil, Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Oregano, and Pepper.

Click here for an Antipasto Pasta Salad Shopping List

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and drop in your pasta. I have 12 oz. of rotini or spiral shaped pasta but any fun shape like farfalle (bow ties), shells, penne, or even big macaroni will work.

Gluten Free people, have you tried the new Barilla GF Pasta? It’s awesome! (No, they are not paying me to say that. As my grandmother would say, “They don’t know me from Adam.”)

Obviously if you’re not gluten free, use your favorite brand of pasta.

While the pasta cooks (7-8 minutes or per package instructions), make the dressing.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup vinegar (I’m using red wine vinegar & a little balsamic vinegar), 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon oregano, and 1-2 cloves of crushed or pressed garlic.


Whisk the dressing together until it is well combined.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Chicken Piccata

chicken piccata

We planted a lemon tree last spring and are just now harvesting our first lemons!

Every time I walk by this tree in the back yard, I hear the old “Lemon Tree” song in my head.

Remember that one?

“Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat…”

Lemon Tree - very pretty

Well, with apologies to whoever wrote that song, these lemons are DELICIOUS to eat!

Since we only have a few lemons, I wanted to make something special with them. Chicken Piccata seemed to be just the thing!

Thin slices of chicken are lightly breaded a bathed in luscious lemony, buttery goodness.

Even though Chicken Piccata seems like a fancy restaurant entrée, it’s surprisingly quick and easy to make at home.

Here’s what you need:

Chicken Piccata Ingredients

Chicken Breasts, Lemons, Butter, Olive Oil, Capers, Flour, Chicken Broth, Parsley, Salt & Pepper

Click here for a Chicken Piccata Shopping List

You can buy prepared chicken cutlets at the store but they are pretty expensive for what are basically flattened chicken pieces.

Instead, I would buy either boneless skinless chicken breasts OR for even less money, regular old bone in, skin on chicken breasts and make your own cutlets.

I started with 2 chicken breast halves that I took off the bone myself so they are now boneless and skinless.

Then you take a sharp knife and run it horizontally and evenly through your chicken to make 2 thinner cutlets.


I find that it’s easiest to place your hand flat and right on top of the chicken to hold it in place.

I’ve honestly never even come close to cutting myself doing this. Be careful, but it’s really not a big deal.

Click HERE, there’s more!

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Tropical Green Smoothie

If you had told me even a year ago that I would now love green smoothies, I would have thought you were crazy.

But it’s true. I do!

While juicing and “cleansing” seems to be all the rage these days, we have 4+ years of recipes here to confirm that there is pretty much no way I would ever spend money on little bottles of juice in place of regular meals.

However, I will happily drink all kinds of good fruits and veggies crammed into my own blender.

It’s sort of like hitting the reset button on my stomach. I have one of these for breakfast (sometimes with yogurt too) and I’m feeling pretty darn good.

It’s not just about feeling good, healthy, or even virtuous. Drinking these smoothies is not work or some sort of chore…they’re GOOD!

I currently have 2 green varieties in my smoothie making repertoire, the Kalicious Smoothie which is banana & apple based and this Tropical Green Smoothie that features pineapple & ginger.

Here’s what you need:

Tropical Green Smoothie Ingredients

Kale, Spinach, Ginger, Banana, Lemon, Pineapple, and Pineapple Juice.

Add Ice to that list if you want your smoothie to be cold.

Click here for a Tropical Green Smoothie Shopping List

If I have it in my potted herb garden, fresh mint is a GREAT addition.

Smoothies are a great way to use up those gnarly looking bananas that you have lying around the kitchen. Break up a banana into the bottom of your blender.


Add ¾-1 cup of pineapple juice. I usually have these little 6 oz. cans (¾ cup) of pineapple juice in the pantry for making Tropical Pork Tacos.

(Psst…if you haven’t tried the pork tacos, you’re missing one of the best recipes on this site.)

Click HERE, there’s more!

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