Southern Chocolate Brownie Pie for Alice and “The Help”

When I read Kathryn Stockett’s book, “The Help”, last year, I couldn’t put it down. I loved it. I must admit. It sort of hit close to home since I was raised in Alabama predominantly by my maid, Alice. Alice rode the bus to our house five days a week, and she took care of me from the day I was born until I was a teenager. I was the baby of the family with three other siblings. My parents traveled often, and since I was the youngest, I usually spent the majority of my time with her. Looking back, it’s really amazing that Alice didn’t own a car or have a driver’s license, and yet, I happily stayed at home with her all of the time. Unlike the book, we didn’t have separate bathroom quarters. Instead, my parents treated her as a part of our family. She was so loving, and she had the sweetest heart. She made the best fried chicken, fried okra and of course, desserts. Last night, I took my daughter, Leigh, to see The Help, and I highly recommend it.  In honor of this movie and in memory of Alice, I thought I would share a recipe for this Southern Chocolate Brownie Pie. It’s so easy, crustless and it’s one of my favorites. Cheers to “The Help” and great women like Alice and those in this fabulous story.

3 Ingredient Simple Peach Sorbet

My kids are infatuated with sorbet and ice cream, especially in the summertime. Since we had some awesome Chilton County peaches from Durbin Farms, I put them to great use in this 3 ingredient recipe for Simple Peach Sorbet from the Southern Living Classic Dessert Cookbook. It’s too easy and tastes fabulous. You can even make this year round using 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen sliced peaches.

Cooking Demo & Book Signing at Charlie Thigpen’s Gallery

On Saturday, I had the incredible opportunity to partner with Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery at our local farmers Pepper Place Market in Birmingham for a cooking demo and book singing featuring my new book,“400 Best Sandwich recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments”. It was such a great experience getting to speak alongside Charlie who is one of the most talented gardeners I have ever known. Charlie, and I worked together at Southern Living years ago, where he worked as a Garden Editor for over 29 years. His knowledge about gardening, fresh herbs and growing vegetables is unsurmountable. He spoke to the large crowd about purchasing and planting fresh herbs, and I showcased ways to use them in recipes from my new cookbook.

This is Charlie and I together before my demo as he was talking about his many types of herbs and basil he carries at his shop and garden as well as how to plant herbs in your garden and tips on keeping them vibrant.

This Tomato-Fresh Herb Crostini appetizer recipe was a hit. I made 250, and they were all gone before I turned around.

I must thank my daughter and her friend for selling more of my cookbooks and T-Shirts than I did. 🙂

And now: Here’s an interior tour of some of the cool things in Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery located at 2805 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233.

I admit it. I want everything in here!

This vase is so cool. There were so many that it’s hard to choose.

These are awesome. Great food props, gifts and decorating touches for the home.

I love these too.

Thanks so much to Cindy and Charlie Thigpen for a great event! It was such a beautiful day in Birmingham after a rough week of tornadoes here. As I am writing this, we still don’t have power. My heart goes out to everyone suffering from such a tragedy. I appreciate everyone for their support to the people of Alabama and for all of the sweet notes, emails and twitter and facebook messages checking on my family and me. Much love, Alison

Fall Breakfast or Snack: Apple Muffins

We are obsessed with apples at my house this time of year (Honey Crisps are one of my favorite varieties). I have been searching for an Apple Muffin recipe for the past week or so, and since I have been so busy with my upcoming cookbook and television appearances, I decided to adapt this one from King Arthur Flour. I love that this recipe includes nonfat buttermilk, and perhaps that’s why they are so moist. These make a great breakfast, dessert or after-school snack, and OMG did my kids love them!

My Favorite Cookies: Alison’s Cowgirl Cookies

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Who isn’t looking for an awesome cookie recipe? The only problem I had with these was trying to give them a name. They are filled with my favorites: peanut butter, chocolate chips, crispy rice cereal (Rice Krispies), and they are fabulous. We were loving them when they came out of the oven, and my daughter took some to school, and she said kids were almost fighting over them. Try them, and you will see exactly what I mean.

Summer Easy Dinner: Glazed Pork with Peach Salsa

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Try Pork with Peach Salsa for a quick summer weeknight meal. This recipe is so easy using peach preserves and honey as a glaze over the pork. I use boneless pork loin chops because they cook so quickly, perfect for busy people. Feel free to grill the pork outdoors, inside in a grill pan or even nonstick skillet. This Peach Salsa is wonderful and filled with fresh peaches, cilantro, purple onion and lime juice. If you don’t eat pork, feel free to subsitute boneless chicken breasts, or I prefer chicken cutlets because they are thinner and cook even quicker.

Kid’s Creations at Valentine Cooking Class: Valentine Cupcakes

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Wow, what a busy weekend! I don’t think I realized how busy until just now when I sat and thought about it. Between baking dozens and dozens of Valentine cookies (i think 25 dozen?), working on a recipe contest that I’m judging, taking 8 of my daughter’s friends to dinner for her birthday and a Valentine cooking class, need I say more? I also ran a part in the Mercedes Marathon, tested 2 grilling recipes for a grilling project and oh, I forgot more and more laundry from the kids playing out in the snow. One of the highlights of the Kid’s Valentine Cooking class (and my daughter’s party), was when they decorated cupcakes with all types of Valentine Candy. This one was the hit (by my daughter, Leigh). Sorry, I can’t share the recipe for the cupcake. It’s a hidden treasure.

Dijon Salmon Burgers with Greek Yogurt

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I posted a Salmon Croquette recipe a while back that has been very popular and one of my top posts. I made these healthy Salmon Burgers for a television segment that will air next week on Friday, February 5th on NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama”. They’re so easy and full of great healthy flavor filled with Greek yogurt, panko breadcrumbs, chives and Dijon mustard. Serve on a bed of spinach, mixed lettuces or a bun.

Kids and Adults Favorite: Healthy Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

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We love smoothies at my house, and my daughter, Leigh, makes them all of the time. These Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothies have been a hit in a lot of kid’s cooking classes I have taught recently. This photo was styled by Lillian, the 7-year-old who I taught a private cooking class with after she prepared the recipe. It’s so simple and refreshing, perfect for breakfast, healthy afternoon snack or dessert. It’s also wonderful after the holidays are over when you want something light, filling and healthy.

If you’re interested in private cooking classes, let me know.

Iron Chef in Training: My Cooking Class with Lillian

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Yesterday, I had so much fun with Lillian! I was asked to do a private one-on-one cooking class for Lillian, an incredibly talented second grader for one of her birthday presents. She has a passion for cooking, and wow was she fabulous! I tailored the class specifically for her, and we made an array of healthy snacks, desserts and she even decorated these awesome cupcakes for Halloween. We set up the food for a photo-shoot, just like I do on the set with national food magazines, such as Southern Living. We prop-styled, food styled and critiqued the photos. If you’re interested in this type of class for your child, parent-child, groups of four, college age, newlyweds or yourself, contact me for more information.IMG_2602