Profile

sbelle

Born and raised in the deep south, I've lived (and studied) all over the world. Currently live in Virginia with my hubby and twelve year old son. I love to cook for my family, friends, and our snarky little dachshunds (the pickiest eaters of them all!)

  • Location: Williamsburg, VA
  • Favorite foods: Seafood, any kind as long as it's REALLY fresh,
    homemade pasta,
    mushrooms,
    cheese (any kind but processed American - yechhhkkkkk),
    chocolate,
    Thai food,
    Gus' Fried Chicken!!!!!
  • Last bite on earth: Oh, that is easy... seafood ravioli from a long since closed restaurant named Mario's. It was sublime.

Video: Hambone's Pizza Toppings Taste Test

Oh my... Hambone is too adorable! Ignore the trolls!

The Food Lab, Drinks Edition: Is Mexican Coke Better?

Awesome article/ comparison! I have to agree with the others- passover coke is wonderful. :-)

ways to improve brewed decaf iced tea


We use decaf Luzianne family size tea bags... four bags for a 3 quart pitcher. Pour really hot (almost boiling) water over the bags and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and add 3/4 cup sugar (or splenda... which is what we use) while still hot. Allow to cool at room temp. to avoid cloudy tea. Serve over ice with a lemon wedge and fresh sprig of mint. Yummy!

Proper Sweet Tea in New York

I grew up in Mississippi and now live in Virginia. The only way to make proper southern sweet tea is to start with tea bags that are blended for iced tea. (Luzianne or Community tea bags)

We use four family sized tea bags for a 3 quart pitcher. Start by preheating your container (we use a stoneware pitcher) with hot water from the tap... pour this water out and place tea bags in pitcher along with the tiniest pinch of salt (teeny tiny). Bring 8 cups of water to the boil and pour over tea bags. Allow to steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags (do not squeeze bags as this will lead to cloudy tea). Stir in one cup of pure cane sugar while tea is still hot. Add cool water to finish filling pitcher. Allow to cool at room temp.

Serve over ice with a sprig of fresh mint.

Mary Mahoney's report card

Yeaaa! The St. Patrick is my favorite dish there. So glad you enjoyed it! Is the giant oak tree still there?

Mary Mahoney's

Any of the seafood dishes- the St. Patrick was always my favorite... don't know if it is still on the menu or not. Shrimp, lumb crabmeat and a bit of spinach. Heaven!!

Mary Mahoney's

The one in Biloxi? FABULOUS!! You will love it. Drat. Now I am homesick. :-)

KNOXVILLE TN...I'M COMIN, TO YOUR CITY!

Look to west Knoxville for better restaurants, groceries and shops. Fresh Market is okay but Earth Fare is way better (IMHO). I have relatives who live in the area and they love the Sunspot restaurant.

Snapshots from New Orleans: Willie Mae's Fried Chicken Is Still Awesome

Willie Mae's ranks third on our list of favorite fried chicken places: #1 Gus' in Memphis, #2 Price's in Charlotte, NC and then Willie Mae's. :-)

Good eats in Charlotte, NC

Prices chicken for amazing fried chicken (a Charlotte institution), The McNinch House to be spoiled rotten, Upstream for wonderful seafood, Mert's Heart and Soul for Southern food, Fig Tree (try the bison short ribs- to die for), Beef and Bottle for steak... it depends on which part of the city you will be staying in and how far you are willing to drive.

Southern Themed Wedding Shower Ideas

It depends on if you want deep south food (Mississippi, Alabama, interior Georgia) or lowcountry food (costal Georgia and South Carolina).

For low country I would suggest benne wafers, homemade pimento cheese, shrimp served on grit cake canapes, hoppin john, she crab soup, a lady Baltimore cake, etc...

For deep south food I would go with black eyed pea cakes, roasted pecans, cheese straws, tomato pie (savory, not sweet), ambrosia, tiny biscuits served with homemade fig preserves or thinly sliced country ham, homemade pimento cheese, Lane cake and/ or red velvet cake.

Regional Chain Restaurants

Also, Dreamland barbecue in Alabama... pure Heaven!

@Pavlov, I agree with you on the Krystal burgers. Sometimes it just hits the spot (especially the double cheese Krystals).

Regional Chain Restaurants

Pollard's Chicken here in Virginia... multiple locations all serving above average fried chicken and homemade sides/ desserts. Can't hold a candle to Gus's (in TN) but, hey, it's a chain. Way better than the typical Popeyes/ Bojangles/ KFC. :-)

So what's the deal with MSG?

Oddly enough, I never have a problem with Chinese food and MSG. However, the two times I have been dragged by my pre-teen son to Uno Pizza and have had their soup I've experienced the worst migraines of my life. MSG or not it was horrid and I will not be returning... no matter how much the kiddo begs. lol

Starting another Chemo Thread

No advice (sorry). I just want to express my support. Hang in there. :-)

What's yer favorite cocktail???????

Pimm's Cup- I adore them!

For Carla (Top Chef) Fans...

Hootie hoo! I love Carla. :-)

Destination-Worthy Milkshake: Braum's Black Walnut

My husband and I lived in Lawton, OK while he was stationed at Ft. Sill... the ONLY good thing about the town was Braum's. The 107 degree summers, tornadoes, and being in the middle of nowhere (closest Target was down in TX) was trying. Braum's ice cream, shakes and awesome dairy products (available in store in a little shopping area) made our stay there bearable.

Sandra Lee in the March issue of Vogue. Kill me now!

@AJ12754, you are right... 'The September Issue' was wonderful!

Sandra Lee in the March issue of Vogue. Kill me now!

Hi Adam! I know Anna Wintour is the editor and Mr. Steingarten is listed as the Features/ Food Critic. But, but, but... his column is missing this month. Ok, going to go make something from scratch now to appease myself.

Where should I eat in Richmond?

Here are a few that are vegan friendly and REALLY good. Also, if you are into Edgar Allan Poe be sure to swing by the Poe house/ museum- it is awesome. Have fun!

Ellwood's Cafe

Aziza's on Main

The Belvidere at Broad

What do I do with grits?

If you click on the link below and scroll down a bit there is a wonderful article by Robert St. John concerning grits. Growing up in Mississippi we would NEVER sweeten grits- that was always seen as a yankee affectation. :-)

http://www.labellecuisine.com/features/Grits%20Deserve%20a%20Better%20Name!.htm

Old Town Alexandria-Eats?

We are in Alexandria about once a month and our favorites are:

Eve and le Refuge for fine dining

Vaso's Kitchen (a bit out of the way but the BEST Greek food ever)

Hard Times Cafe for cheap eats (good chili)

Eamonn's for good fish and chips

Bittersweet for a quick breakfast

Have fun!!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: La Quercia

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Two Peter Luger Steaks

Sandra Lee in the March issue of Vogue. Kill me now!

I received the March issue of Vogue in today's mail... soooo disappointed. Aunt Sandy is mentioned on the cover and has a multi page article/ photo spread in which she gushes about 'tablescapes' and waxes poetic about her time at Le Cordon Bleu in Canada (where she took a course once). "Instead of making truffles from scratch, I realized I could use premade chocolate icing, adding extra confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract." Yep, a quote directly from her in Vogue about how to cook. How did this make it past Jeffrey Steingarten??? How!! Thoughts, anyone?

Tex Mex queso dip without Velveeta

Hi everyone! I'm trying to perfect a homemade version of the queso dip they serve at most Tex-Mex restaurants. Yes, I know the quick version: open a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and stir into melted velveeta. Yuck.

I would like to make it without using Velveeta or other hyper processed cheese. Is this even possible? Any and all recipes/ suggestions would be ever so appreciated. :-)

Silpat/ parchment paper Buche de Noel question

Hi everyone! I am making a Buche de Noel to take to the hubby's office party. Unfortunately, I just realized there isn't enough parchment paper to line the jelly roll pan. It is raining cats and dogs here and I REALLY don't want to go out. But I will if necessary. Shudder and shiver. lol

Is it possible to use a silpat liner rather than the parchment paper? I know they are interchangeable when it comes to cookies but what about a cake? I'm worried that it will adversely affect the texture. Any opinions? Thanks so much. :-)

Christmas dinner dilemma... suggestions?? Need help!

We were to have enjoyed a simple yet elegant Christmas Eve dinner (have to do the dinner on Christmas Eve because we are flying out of the country on Christmas evening): Frenched prime rib roast from Niman Ranch (already ordered but not yet shipped), fingerling potatoes, haricot verts, a lovely salad with brie and black truffles, crusty French bread, and apple tarte tatin.

It was to have been our tiny family (hubby, child and me) along with a few close friends. But now there are a few family members who have decided to join us (flying in from out of state to do so). Wonderful, right? Well, it would be. However. One elderly couple insists that there be a 'proper' Christmas dinner. Complete with ham, turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, etc...

We don't care for ham and just had turkey at Thanksgiving. Is there any way to merge the two menus that doesn't look disjointed and weird? Also, I don't want a lot of leftovers as we are flying out the very next day.
Any suggestions would be really appreciated!

How to make frozen yogurt?

Hi everyone! Hubby and I want to make homemade frozen yogurt but every time I've tried to make it (we have a cuisinart ice cream machine) it turns out icy and gross. I want something like you used to get at TCBY... a nice chocolate or vanilla. Any suggestions/ recipes? Thanks bunches!

Green Tea Ice Cream Recipe?

Hi everyone! Does anyone have a good recipe for green tea ice cream? I want to make it this weekend but cannot find a good recipe. Thanks ever so much!!

What to feed hubby who is in the DOGHOUSE?

Hi all... well, our annual office Christmas party was last night. Hubby had WAY too much to drink and was the 'life' of the party. This is not a good thing (to quote Martha). Totally embarrassed me in front of my boss and coworkers. After wrestling him into a cab and listening to him hug the white throne all night long I want to serve him something "special" for breakfast. Yes, I am being quite evil and devious. Any suggestions on what would turn the tummy most yet be absolutely delicious for a morning after breakfast? I thought of bacon and eggs but that is kind of boring. Payback is heck.... muwhahahahahaha....

They are changing my favorite flour... help!

I just got home from vacation and, while nicely rested and relaxed, I am still miffed over the latest news from Knoxville, TN. They are no longer going to be milling White Lily flour in the south! http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/dining/18flour.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&ref=dining

Any suggestions (aside from freezing a ton of it?)

Favorite summer food- now and from childhood?

Yeah, it's 2 am and I have insomnia. Soooo, what better way to kill the time until the tylenol pm kicks in than to mull over summertime? What food is your favorite summertime fare? I have a weakness for tomato sandwiches and freshly picked/ cooked lady peas. No, not together. Although... lol

From childhood my summer must have was sno-kones - there used to be a truck that came through our neighborhood selling the BEST sno-kones. I always got rainbow flavor. Sigh.

Should be fun talking about what we love from summer now v/s when we were kids. ;-P

Cross cultural cooking- favorite things from other cultures

Hi y'all... I was reading the ten things you'll never find in my kitchen list and it occurred to me just how different my darling hubby and I are on the food front. I grew up in the southern United States. Blonde haired blue eyed WASP with a southern accent. The only child of a researcher dad and an artist mom. My hubby grew up in Hawaii- he is half Hawaiian, half Filipino. Huge Catholic family- which I totally envy... how much fun he had growing up with all those cousins!

Anyway, he has introduced me to loads of food items that I didn't even know existed. Some I love (Portuguese bean soup with sweet bread for dipping) and some I loathe (adobo). What are your cross cultural food experiences?

Does anyone have a good (homemade) strawberry cake recipe?

Hi all! The dear hubby and I are taking the day off from work tomorrow to go strawberry picking. I am making jam but also want to make a homemade strawberry layer cake. Like the kind my mom made when I was a kid - but without using a cake mix and jello (in her defense- she did use real strawberries in the cake). Does anyone have a good recipe for that kind of layer cake? Oh, and what kind of frosting should I use? Thanks in advance!!

What is your best low-calorie recipe?

I live at the beach and swimsuit season is right around the corner. Ack!! Ack!! Oh, and ACK!! Unless I want to frighten small children and embarrass myself I need to diet. However, I want to do it in a foodie way- with good low calorie homemade dishes. Help!??!!?? What is the best 'light' recipe you have? Links and/ or recipes would be soooo appreciated!

What are you making for the super bowl?

We usually get good (aka not from a chain) pizza delivered. Then I make nachos with all the fixings- everything from shredded chicken that I grill the night before, to black beans and fresh cilantro. We also have plenty of adult beverages and a veggie tray. However, I am bored with this. Does anyone have any fun suggestions for Super Bowl Sunday? Oh yeah, inspired by Mario Batali's blog I'm making cheesecake and Boston Cream pie for the sweet stuff. Thanks bunches!!

Sauced: Ranch

It would be remiss of me to leave Ranch out of Sauced any longer. Ranch has always been a little heavy-handed for me. Unless I had a reason to drown the flavor of whatever I was eating, I rarely dipped into it. This homemade version, on the other hand, strikes a mellower tone with creamy, rich buttermilk and fresh parsley, chives, and dill. More