Archive of ‘EATS’ category

Roux-La-La … Gumbo!

It’s still cold here in Nashville. So we’re still eating soups and stews … and probably will be until May! You might start to think this is a soup and stew blog. Promise it’s more!

Seafood Gumbo

Right behind French Onion Soup is Seafood Gumbo on my list of favorite warm-up, (almost)-one-pot dinners. Seafood Gumbo has the added benefit of being a little bit spicy which helps with the warming quality. Will’s is delicious. It’s seriously as good as any gumbo I’ve had in any restaurant anywhere.

He’s got a couple of tricks up his sleeve. One trick (and this is the one that adds a second pot into the mix) is pan-frying the okra before dropping it into your gumbo. This trick significantly reduces the slimy factor that many people don’t care for but it’s totally optional. I, for one, like okra slime!

The other trick is in the roux. Lots of folks shy away from making a roux because they’ve unknowingly burnt the roux in the past and the resulting flavor is, in a word, HORRIBLE. Luckily, avoiding horrible with a roux is easy. Just make sure you don’t have the heat up too high (medium is good) and that you stir it non-stop.

We love this recipe so much that Will makes up a big batch of it and withholds the shrimp. Then we’ll bag up individual serving sizes and toss them in the freezer. When we’re in a gumbo mood, he just pulls out a couple of frozen servings, some frozen shrimp and sometimes he makes up a pot of rice. Dinner’s on the table in no time.

Below is Will’s secret recipe. Roux-la-la!

Will's Spectacular Seafood Gumbo
Shrimp and sausage gumbo with slime-free okra. Great served over rice or nix the rice for a low-carb option.
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  1. 4 Tbsp canola oil
  2. 4 Tbsp flour
  3. 3 cups okra, diced
  4. olive oil
  5. 2 medium white onions, diced
  6. 1 green bell pepper, diced
  7. 1 jalapeño, minced
  8. 8 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 16 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  10. 2 whole tomatoes, peeled and seeded or 1 can of diced tomatoes
  11. 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  12. 1 tsp garlic salt
  13. 1 tsp onion powder
  14. 1 tsp black pepper
  15. 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika ok)
  16. 6 cups chicken stock
  17. 1 lb. peeled, deveined and thawed shrimp
  18. Salt
  19. Long-grain rice (optional)
  1. Cut your okra into 1/2 inch pieces. Dust the okra in salted flour.
  2. Put a Tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and heat over medium heat. Drop one okra in the heat. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
  3. Brown the okra in the non-stick pan in single-layer batches. Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil. Add another Tbsp of olive oil for the next batch.
  4. Next, combine the canola oil and the flour in a 12-quart cast iron dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until blonde, stirring constantly.
  5. Add onions, bell pepper and jalapeno. Add a tsp of salt. Sweat over medium heat until onions turn translucent, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the cayenne pepper, garlic salt, onion powder, black pepper, and paprika and stir.
  7. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. Add the andouille sausage, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Your roux mixture should be light brown at this point.
  9. Add the tomatoes, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  10. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add chicken stock, salt and other seasonings to taste. Bring this to a boil.
  11. Add the fried okra to the dutch oven.
  12. Add the shrimp. Put the lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are done. It's ok to peek early!
  13. Serve straight or over long-grain rice.
  1. If your gumbo is too thin, mix 1 Tbsp of flour, 2 Tbsp of water and a pinch of salt in a separate dish and then stir into to the boiling soup.
  2. If your gumbo is too thick, add chicken stock and salt.
  3. The seasoning mixture in this recipe can also be replaced with Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning. As always, taste your gumbo to insure balanced seasoning!
Bless Her Hearth

Let Them Eat Banana Cake … for Breakfast

Attention people of the Interwebs. Last night, I made a bunt cake. And for the very first time EVER in the history of my ownership of this bunt cake pan, it did not stick! We’re talking 5 years, folks. Hallelujah! Isn’t she beautiful?

Banana Breakfast Cake

This recipe was given to me at one of my bridal showers by a member of my church. I love the entire set of recipes I got that day. There’s something so comforting and wonderful about being given a time-tested and family favorite recipe, handwritten on a cute card. In fact, hand-written recipes should be given as gifts more often. While I love looking for something new to make on Pinterest as much as the next person, there’s a texture and history to a recipe shared in a more traditional way that shouldn’t be lost.

There are lots of lovely things about this cake but one thing I really love is that when you notice you have a few over-ripe bananas, you probably have everything else you need to make it. It’s a nice alternative to regular old banana bread in that way. This is exactly what happened when I decided to make it last night and bring it to my Sunday School class this morning. 

The one thing I didn’t have in the fridge was buttermilk. But thanks to my trusty friend Google, I found out that letting lemon juice and whole, lowfat or nonfat milk sit for a few minutes produces the same results as buttermilk. This cake was proof positive that it works! I also found another darling blog to follow in the process (although it seems like I’m the last person on the planet to hear about

Now go forth and eat cake!

Banana Breakfast Cake
Serves 16
A lovely, banana-y cake that is equally good sliced and toasted for breakfast.
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 1 3/4 cups sugar
  2. 2/3 cup butter, softened
  3. 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 3 cups flour
  7. 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  8. 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 3/4 tsp salt
  11. 1 cup dried cranberries (or cherries, optional)
  12. 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Grease/flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, bananas, eggs and vanilla until very lift and fluffy.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake at 325. Check the cake at 60 minutes. It's ready when a toothpick inserted in the center coms out clean.
  7. Cool 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
  1. This cake freezes exceptionally well!
Bless Her Hearth

Cold Night? Warm French Onion Soup. BOOM.

When the weather turns cold, bring this girl a soup, stew, chowder, bisque or gumbo pronto. Will knows this and is a master at all of the above. Tonight was French Onion Soup. Lordy it’s good.

French Onion Soup

French Onion is one of my very favorite soups. It’s warm, satisfying and simple. With just a few ingredients and a little elbow grease, you can have a delicious homemade French Onion soup all yourself. The below recipe was created by Will after tasting a delicious French Onion soup on our trip to Paris 2 years ago. We went back to the restaurant twice so he could memorize the flavors and I’ve got to say, I think he nailed it.

Le Castiglione Restaurant, Paris


Will’s cooking has little to do with measuring and lots to do with seasoning to taste so don’t be afraid to follow his lead and do the same. Bon appétit!

Will's French Onion Soup
A delicious, traditional French Onion soup requiring just a few quality ingredients.
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  1. 2 lbs. sweet onions
  2. 1 red onion
  3. 6 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 6 stems fresh thyme
  5. 1 cup quality red wine
  6. 6 cups of beef stock
  7. toasted crusty bread
  8. gruyere cheese, cubed
  1. Cube up some gruyere cheese and bread in roughly 1/2 inch square pieces. Put 6 cubes of gruyere and 6 cubes of toasted bread in the bottom of each oven-safe bowl.
  2. Cut onions in thin strips (a mandolin helps but isn't necessary).
  3. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a few pinches of salt in the bottom of a dutch oven. Saute all of the onions for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the thyme and the garlic and continue to saute for another 15 minutes until onions start to turn brown. Do not let them fully caramelize.
  5. Add the wine and the beef stock. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Ladle the soup mixture over the gruyere and toast in the oven-safe bowls.
  7. Cut toast pieces to fit each bowl, cover with more gruyere.
  8. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until melted and bubbly.
Bless Her Hearth

Ringing in the New Year with Patient 0

Meet patient 0, our little contagion.


This poor little gal got the stomach bug on the 26th. We thought she was over it. Alas, she was not. And unbeknownst to us, she took out our entire childcare team (my folks + our nanny and her husband) with brief but impactful visits on the 29th. We were therefore left without a babysitter for New Year’s Eve and unable to invite others over lest they should come down with what might as well be the plague. Just awful!

So what did we do? The Mister spent some time in the kitchen with this guy.


I whipped up a few party crowns to add to the festive mood.

Crafting Crowns

We took some family photos with the tripod/timer and scored some of the best shots of the three of us from the ENTIRE year. Will thinks they are dorky and refuses to be represented online with these photos so you only get 2/3 of the Perrys here on the blog. However, copies are headed to family as belated Christmas gifts and they will be thrilled. Score.

Clara and Julia

After we put the little gal to bed, Will and I had a romantic dinner and then headed to the couch for a screening of The Family. The movie might have been the low-light of the night (well, except maybe for Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy acting like teenagers in Times Square – so lame).

Otherwise … our New Year’s celebration was PERFECTION.

New Year's Dinner


Happy 2014!

Clara’s First Birthday!

My little nugget Clara turned 1 just before Christmas and we threw a brunch par-tay!

Originally, I was going for a small cake-eating party with just family and a few friends. Then I started pinning. Aaaaaaaand, next thing I knew we had over 20 adults and a dozen children coming over for brunch the Saturday before Christmas and also the day we were flying out to Jacksonville for the week. We were polishing silver on Friday night. I’m cray-cray.

Here’s the Pinterest board that inspired the leap from just cake to full-on-party-down. Follow me on Pinterest while you are perusing!

Follow Julia Perry’s board Clara 1st Birthday on Pinterest.

I didn’t get a ton of great food photos but here’s a snapshot of the menu with links to the recipes:

For the record, the Whole Foods cake was delicious, cute and the sheet cake pictured above plus a 4″ smash cake for Clara was under $40. Plus, they are open late so I could go put in my order after work and bedtime while daddy was on baby duty. Check, check, check.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Jalapeno Cheese Grits: Get’cha Some

Grits are a critical part of any good Southern breakfast. This particular recipe was made by my best friend’s mother for my baby shower and the recipe generated more interest than much else at the party. This is shocking since it’s made with instant grits which I have been known to compare to sawdust. But these instant grits are all dressed up with cream cheese and jalapenos and they are just delicious. You must give this recipe a whirl!

Jalapeno Cheese Grits
Serves 8
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  1. 4 1/2 cups water
  2. 1 tsp salt
  3. 1.5 cups quick grits
  4. 2 8 oz. blocks cream cheese
  5. 3 beaten eggs
  6. 1 stick no salt butter
  7. 2 4 oz. cans drained jalapeño peppers
  8. 2 Tbsp chopped pimento (optional)
  9. 3 gloves garlic, minced
  1. Combine water and salt and bring to a boil.
  2. Gradually stir in grits.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Add cheese and butter.
  5. Stir in jalapeños, pimento & garlic.
  6. Temper eggs with small amount of grits.
  7. Stir remaining grits into egg mixture.
  8. Pour in greased 12x7x2 dish and bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes.
  1. Pimentos are a great addition with the jalapeños, especially for holiday color. But they don't add much flavor so feel free to leave them out.
Bless Her Hearth

Make that Eggs Benedict Souffle Ahead of Time

When I’m feeding a breakfast crowd, I always reach for this recipe that was shared with me by Will’s cousin Rick Prill. Rick runs a gorgeous ranch in CO where we had the pleasure of vacationing a couple of years ago. This place sleeps a small army and Rick knows how to feed an army too. The GENIUS of this recipe is that it is best if you make it up the night before and pop it in the oven while you are waiting on your coffee to brew. Easy peasy!

Eggs Benedict Souffle
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  1. Pam
  2. 6 english muffins, halved
  3. 16-20 eggs
  4. cup of milk
  5. Tbsp flour
  6. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  7. canadian bacon
  8. 4 cups sharp white cheddar cheese
  9. 3 cups sour cream
  10. 3 cups mayonnaise
  11. 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  12. 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  13. 3 tsp lemon juice
For the souffle
  1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with Pam.
  2. Split english muffin halves and place with holes up on bottom of baking dish. Pack them tight & tear pieces to fill in holes.
  3. Beat eggs & mix with milk, flour & baking powder.
  4. Pour egg mixture to barely cover english muffins and reserve remaining mixture.
  5. Layer canadian bacon so it completely covers english muffins.
  6. Grate at least 4 cups of white cheddar cheese and sprinkle over the bacon.
  7. Add remaining egg mixture to almost cover the cheese. Souffle will rise so be sure to leave 3/4 inch to the top of the dish. If you are short on eggs, mix up a few more with a little milk (egg sizes can vary).
  8. Bake 1 hour @ 350 and test for runny-ness in the center.
For the sauce
  1. Place sour cream, mayo, yellow mustard, dijon mustard, & lemon juice in a saucepan. Wisk over heat until bubbly.
  2. Can be augmented with bourbon, brandy, dried basil or cracked black pepper.
  1. Souffle is best if left to soak overnight before baking.
Bless Her Hearth