Cinnamon Coffee Cake and Giveaway

I have a great cookbook giveaway today! Now, you CAN have your Southern biscuits and stay fit, with the brand new health-focused cookbook in the Southern Living collection. The Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in they Land of Biscuits of Bacon just released by my good friend. Carolyn O’Neil and Oxmoor House books. In this book, Carolyn offers healthy menus and recipes for healthier variations of Southern dishes you will want to make and love.

Enjoy this Cinnamon Coffee Cake recipe, which is AMAZING! The heavenly aroma of cinnamon and the nutty crunch of pecans may have you thinking this cake is a splurge, but the fat-free buttermilk and egg substitute keep the calories and fat low, so you can indulge and still feel virtuous. See the calories, fat and nutritional information below.

Now for the giveaway: To win a copy of this book,  tell me your favorite southern dish. I will select a random winner on Sunday, December 22nd at 8 a.m CST. Good Luck!

Food Blog South Conference This Weekend and Teens

If you haven’t heard, this weekend is FoodBlog South, a great southern food blogging conference in my hometown, Birmingham, Alabama. Last year was the first ever FoodBlog South, and it was one of the best conferences of the year. This year has an incredible line-up of speakers and attendees, so check it out. And guess what?  I am so excited that this conference also has a teen blogging conference too.  “Teen FoodBlog South” is for students in grades 7th-12th. It’s a free half-day blogging conference teaching them tips and tricks of the trade. I’ll be there teaching “Recipe Development for food blogging,” so don’t miss out if you live near or around Birmingham.

Lightened-Up Southern Potato Salad Recipe

My three kids loved potato salad, and their great grandmother, Dee Dee, used to make the best any of us has ever had. I didn’t have her recipe before she passed, but I know this recipe for Lightened-Up Potato Salad is pretty close. We used to dine with her often on Sundays, and she was such a wonderful cook and baker. I think she would approve this recipe, but she might not be 100% thrilled I lightened it up – she loved the “Real Thing”. This recipe is great for sunday lunches, showers, tailgating and fall parties so I thought today was a great time to share it with you.

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

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 Fest Easy Appetizer or Salad: Tomatoes with Basil Drizzle

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I love serving fresh tomatoes this time of year instead of a salad. Since Summer Fest 2010 features tomatoes for its last week, I thought this was a perfect healthy and easy side dish or salad while tomatoes are at their peak. Add some thinly sliced mozzarella if you wish, or leave as is. This basil drizzle is also wonderful served over grilled chicken, steak, shrimp or pork. See Margaret and Away to Garden for more information on Summer Fest.

Kentucky Derby Favorite: Cheese Straw Buttons

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When I think of Kentucky Derby, my mind goes straight to Cheese Straws. I love this recipe for Cheese Straw Buttons that is a classic from Southern Living. I prepare mine a little differently by not using a cookie press and using Wisconsin Cheddar cheese. These are really easy and feed a crowd so they’re the perfect snack and appetizer for a party anytime of the year.

Individual Pineapple-Upside Down Cakes

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Since the buzz is that April 20th is “National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day,” I thought I would celebrate. The recipe for the cake part comes from Cooking Light, but I’m giving it a little twist (which is what I do best). I saw this cool, individual pan  (see below) to make individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes. It gives this retro dessert new life. This pan is awesome and so fun and simple to use. Retro or not, this is a yummy dessert that everyone loves.

Check this out