Monday, August 2, 2010

If you make it through this post, you are in for a treat!

Last weekend, one of my best friends, Lea Ann, came to visit for a trek across Alabama to visit some college friends. The first thing one should do when taking this journey would be to pack a camera. This one did not, and wanted to stomp her foot once she realized this. Despite this set back, the trip was great. We drove down to Irondale to meet our first sweet college friend, Ashley, and her beautiful red-headed daughter. We ate at the Irondale Cafe, which if you are a huge fan of fried green tomatoes like I am, then you would Fannie Flagg actually grew up here. She based her book off watching her Aunt Bess at the Irondale Cafe.

and then of course, the movie:

One of my favorites. So of course, I tried the famous fried green tomatoes. They were battered like I have never seen, and it was pretty good. I think I like my fried in bacon grease a little better. I did enjoy the Irondale Cafe and was so excited over my vegetable plate and buttermilk pie. The company was fabulous, and it was so wonderful to catch up with our sweet college friend and her daughter. It brought back great memories of eating kettle corn, talking, watching movies, and laughing. We even got to see two trains come through, and see her daughter get so excited! As we left Irondale, we also got to see the house that Fannie Flagg grew up in. I have always adored Fannie Flagg and her books. I am such a nerd that I have a special place on my bookcase just for her and the other wonderful Alabama authors like Rick Bragg, Daniel Wallace, and Winston Groom. Ok, Mississippi people, the other half of that special place has my Mississippi stuff. Mississippi and Alabama used to be sister states so why not share a shelf on my bookcase.

Anyways, we also drove to Talladega to visit with Deanna and Mary Martha. They were at a camp called Camp Happy Days. But the drive there was not so happy. It started to rain, and someone wrecked and hit a light pole on the road to the camp. We waited 30 minutes or more for the power company to come and fix the problem. In the mean time, some lovely teenage camp counselors were behind us.

1. I am so glad that I am not a teenager and I would never want to go back to that.
2. One in particular was driving a red Mustang.
3. That one in particular backed into my car as they were turning around.
4. They never got out to see if there was any damage.
5. Being Mississippi home grown, I jumped out of my car, in the rain, just to watch them drive off in their happy-go-lucky red mustang. Hello.

Thank goodness there was no real damage to my 10 year car, however the lack of manners really rubbed me the wrong way. So after arriving at Camp Happy Days, I was not so happy. The company, however made it better especially when we shared appetizers at the hot Mexican Restaurant in downtown Talladega. I don't mean hot as spicy, but hot as hot. The air is out. Thank goodness I live in the south and can handle this due to the long heat wave we are having. We had to move under the only ceiling fan working, and enjoyed our afternoon talking and visiting.

After good conversations and playing with Mary Martha's children, we trekked it back to North Alabama. The rest of the weekend was filled with good food, fun times with needles and thread, a trip to Anthropologie, and staying up late as well as a wonderful chocolate chess pie that Lea Ann made Ken (he asked if she made it because she was taking his wife away the weekend. Got to love that man!), and a blueberry pie that was divine. I hope to do it again soon! The next time, however, I will bring my camera so you can see for yourself.

Here is the treat - two recipes that I used this weekend that you can really only eat when your friends come to town. Husbands do not enjoy this.

Mediterranean Pizza


2 (6.5 ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts

1 (1 pound) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (or just a plain pizza crust like Mama Mia's)

2 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1/4 pound thinly sliced deli ham (I use cubed ham or 2 chicken breast)

1 cup chopped ripe olives (I use kalamata! Yummy!)

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese or more according to taste


1.Drain artichokes, reserving marinade. Chop artichokes; set aside. On a floured surface, roll bread dough into a 15-in. circle. Transfer to a greased 14-in. pizza pan; build up edges slightly. Brush up edges slightly. Brush the dough lightly with reserved marinade.

2.Combine the basil, oregano and thyme; sprinkle over marinade. Sprinkle with 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, ham, artichokes, olives, and feta cheese. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until crust and cheese are lightly browned.

This is one of my favorites that I often have only put the olives on one side! No one else likes them! So, Yummy!!!

Stuffed Zucchini


4 medium zucchini

1 pound Italian sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

1 cup feta cheese or according to taste

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup

1 cup water
1 cup Cheese - any way you like it.
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Grease or spray a 13x9 inch baking dish.

2.Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Chop and reserve about 3/4 of the seeds for the stuffing. In a medium bowl, mix together the sausage, chopped onion, bread crumbs, egg and the reserved zucchini seeds. Add feta cheese. Place the meat mixture equally into all of the zucchini halves; mixture should be piled up over the top. Place the filled zucchini halves into the prepared baking dish.

3.In a bowl, stir together the crushed tomatoes, tomato soup, and water. Spoon the tomato mixture over the filled zucchini, liberally. Add cheese on top. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 45 minutes. You may want to place foil or a cookie sheet underneath the baking dish because it tends to bubble over and splash.
This is one of those recipes that once you cook it the first time you can maneuver it however you like. I like using a jar of homemade chunky tomatoes instead of the crushed tomatoes and tomato soup.

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