GUEST POST: Mini Nachos by Brennen McElhaney!

Today I’m featuring a guest post written by an artist I have featured in the past. He sent me this tasty sounding recipe – and what a perfect idea – to have those of you with good ideas – recipes, art, thoughts, etc. submit something to be featured.

If interested, contact me via my blog (or click on the CONTACT ME page at the top of my website) – send me what you would like to say, include an original image if you like…

For those of you who give this recipe a whirl – be sure to comment on this blog!

Be sure to check out Brennen’s fabulous paintings:

Website  |  Facebook

Here is the post by Brennen – catch you back here tomorrow!


Mini Nachos by Brennen McElhaney
Nothing beats a big plate of nachos (and margaritas) shared with friends. But sometimes a smaller “fiesta” is more appropriate. Here is a scaled-back version of the traditional Mexican appetizer.
  • Nacho chips (10)
  • Refried beans (heated)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Minced fresh onion
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh guacamole
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedge

Spoon a small portion of heated refried beans onto each chip and line the chips up in a row. Add toppings (in this order): Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped lettuce, minced onions, tomatoes. Top with sour cream, guacamole and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and lime wedge. (Best served with margaritas or your favorite Mexican beer!)


The Conference On The Front Porch at Plein Air 2017

Recently I heard about a very “Art, Food, Home” type event. It’s called “The Conference on the Front Porch” and it’s being held at The Mill at Plein Air – in Taylor, MS – so if you are anywhere near Mississippi and want to be part of something really cool, you may want to check this out. This event is October 18-19, 2017.

Here’s a quick summation from Campbell McCool:

Our conference focuses on the significance of what the front porch represents. What forces drove it out of popularity after WWII. What brought it roaring back. How communities changed as a result.

This year John T. Edge is keynote speaker – head of Southern Foodways Symposium. Bill Dunlap is speaking on the front porch and art. Scott Baretta on how the blues came to be as a result of the front porch. Cooter Ramsay, (from Beaufort), on the resurgence of front porch communities.

As you’ll see from their website, this event celebrates the front porch – music & food, but even more than that – there are going to be some great speakers including:
John T Edge (writer and more), Scott Barretta (blue’s historian), William Dunlap (artist and sculptor), John Maxwell (theater), Cooter Ramsey (architect with Allison Ramsey Architects), Jay Watson (Professor of Faulkner Studies), Curtis Wilkie (journalist, college professor and historian), Tricia Walker (singer/songwriter), Garlan Gudger, JR (owner of Southern Accents – the South’s largest collection of architectural antiques), Michael Dolan (journalist, television writer/producer and author) and Ralph Eubanks (author). Read more about each of these speakers on their website!

This conference is open to architects, developers, planners, social historians and everyone who loves a porch. I usually try to feature house plans with at least one porch. Porches are vital living spaces – a place to congregate with friends or neighbors, a place to have your morning coffee and read the paper, or a place to spend the day. I grew up with a house with a porch overlooking the river in Michigan. In the summer it seems watching the river, the boats, the activity is much more fun than being inside watching the television.

Registration for this unique event include six meals, an evening porch concert and a porch play. This is so creative and sounds like such a good time!

Click HERE to register – this is the second year of this conference and it’s a hit! Registration is limited to the first 180 people who sign up.

Wondering where to stay – oh, so beautiful!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Image via, used with permission…


Brown Rice with Tomato, Feta, Spinach


Sometimes you need to whip up a quick side dish. Fred was grilling chicken, so I tossed together this little side dish.

I started with a pack of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice (freezer section)- zap it in the microwave 3 minutes. Then put into a bowl on top of a few handfuls of grape tomatoes sliced, and some chopped spinach. Let the heat from the rice wilt the spinach a bit as well as the tomatoes. Then add feta and pepper, drizzle some olive oil (can also add a little red wine vinegar) and give it a stir… This takes virtually no time, yet is quite heavenly!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

How To Make Cocktail Sauce (Pair With Boiled Shrimp)!

During the hot summer months we have boiled shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, corn on the grill, cucumbers and Greek yogurt with dill quite often. It’s a quick mostly do ahead meal that is as pretty as it is delicious.

It’s so quick and easy to make your own cocktail sauce and you can tailor it to your tastebuds (i.e. I like a lot of horseradish).



Ketchup, Lemon and Prepared Horseradish

In a small bowl add ketchup, (the amount of cocktail sauce you think you’ll need – for just the two of us I would guess about 1/3- 1/2 cup for 1 pound of shrimp – more if you use a lot of it. Squeeze in a wedge of lemon (again, more if you like it lemony, less if you do not), this will brighten the flavor, and finally add a teaspoon or two of prepared horseradish (to your taste). Give it a good stir and it’s ready!

I know, right? WHY did you ever buy it in a jar when it literally only takes 2 minutes to whip up and tastes far fresher! Enjoy!


We boil the shrimp 3-4 minutes (don’t boil too long!), then into an ice bath, drain when cool and into the fridge until ready to eat!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Recipe Favorites For Hot Weather!

Hot weather. Hmmm. Sometimes it’s just hard to turn the oven on or stand over the stove when it’s sweltering outside. Pair any of these with a refreshing cold drink, lately cucumber water has been a hit – lime water is also nice – great thirst quenchers!

Here are a few of our favorites – from the archives…

Submarine Salad

Cold and refreshing – the little bit of thyme gives it the “submarine” taste without the carbs. Tasty and fresh! Click HERE for recipe…

Summer Med Pasta Salad with Arugula and Feta

Pasta salads are a big hit in the summer months. They can be made ahead and are great for lunch or dinner. To cut back on the pasta I add half arugula or spinach to my bowl and then mix it together. This keeps the greens fresh and allows each person to choose how much they would like. Click HERE for recipe…

Roasted Shrimp and Tomato Orzo with Feta

I have GOT to update this photo, why did I use such a tiny bowl? Anyway, trust me, this is an excellent recipe full of flavor. The feta makes it come alive. I like the grape tomatoes and shrimp best when they’re roasted, but you can always just cut up the tomatoes and give the shrimp a quick boil and then into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes before draining and adding to salad. Good with a slice or two of crusty bread. Click HERE for recipe…

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomato, Basil and Spinach

Another cold pasta salad, much like a caprese salad (oh! don’t you just love!) but with the addition of pasta (seeing this photo, I’m going to use bowtie next time). I put half a bowl of spinach, top with this salad and oh boy, fabulous!! Click HERE for recipe…

Roasted Corn Salad

Those are a few of our favorites, along with anything grilled (chicken, corn and veggies mostly) – yesterday I made a fabulous roasted corn salad that we will have for a few meals. (Click HERE for recipe) – I cannot wait! Although you do use the oven for a short time with this recipe, it makes enough to have a few meals (for two), so it’s the ticket! I try to make it earlier when it’s not quite so hot outside.

Catch you back here tomorrow!


Quick & Easy Red Sauce for Pasta!

I had a handful of Campari tomatoes leftover and didn’t want them to go bad. A red sauce sounded good. Something simple and fresh. I didn’t have enough Campari tomatoes to make enough for two servings, so I added a large can of tomatoes. I also added minced onion, because I like it and a wee bit of minced garlic towards the end. The last few minutes I threw in some fresh basil. What resulted was heavenly. I always thought you had to simmer sauce for a long time for it to be wonderful. NOT TRUE. I simmered this 25-30 minutes, until the tomatoes broke up and looked “saucy”. Topped with some parmesan atop penne pasta it was AH-MAZING!

I will make this with all fresh tomatoes soon, while they’re so good. Sometimes I will toss the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute then into an ice bath so that they peel easily, but usually I leave the skin on.

Click HERE to print the recipe!

Quick & Simple Red Sauce


Olive oil

Slice of onion, minced

1-2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 – 28 oz. can tomatoes (I use petite diced or whole, peeled – then break up)

(OPTIONAL): Handful of fresh tomatoes (or more) – I used Campari

Small pinch of sugar (⅛ teaspoon)

S & P

Fresh basil, chopped


Heat olive oil in medium – large saucepan on medium high heat.

Saute minced onion, after a minute or so, add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the can of tomatoes and fresh tomatoes (and their juice!).

Sprinkle in the pinch of sugar, S&P.

Simmer for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until tomatoes are broken up.

You can add the chopped basil right before the sauce is done cooking, or you can add it and remove it if you just want a little taste. Another option is to use dried basil, but if you can use fresh, that’s the best!

Cook your desired pasta and drain, top with the red sauce and top with a sprinkle (or two!) of parmesan.

Freezes well.

This makes enough for 2 servings + a little left over for a lunch the next day (or freeze for a lunch later on).


Catch you back here tomorrow!

Caprese Chicken Recipe – too good!!

I remember the first time I had Caprese salad… it was at an Carmine’s Italian restaurant in NYC. I couldn’t believe how fabulous. I wanted to eat there every single meal.

This chicken dish has the fabulous freshness from the tomatoes and basil and the added deliciousness of the mozzarella. I used fresh mozzarella, a favorite of mine. This is good served with pasta or rice, or a good salad. I’m thinking that’s what we had with it, a salad.

The recipe is from, click HERE to print the recipe (or save to Pinterest, etc.)

Caprese Chicken – Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

S & P (I used Himalayan Sea Salt)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

4 slices of mozzarella (or shredded, whatever you’ve got)


In large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil.

Then season the chicken with S&P and cook until golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes per side – transfer to a plate.

Add balsamic vinegar to skillet to deglaze, then add garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and season with salt. Let simmer until soft, 5-7 minutes.

Stir in fresh basil.

Return chicken to skillet and nestle in the tomatoes. Top with mozzarella and cover with a lid until the cheese melts.

Spoon tomatoes over chicken and serve.

Catch you back here tomorrow!