Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

How have I waited this many years before visiting this beautiful gem in the middle of a big city?  We went this weekend and they were having a huge plant sale!  The whole place was super crowded, but after circling the lot twice, we lucked up in a parking spot.  Parking is free and entry is free!  What a gift to the people of Birmingham and its visitors!  

Though there appeared to be a ton of folks here, we never felt crowded.  The park is so spread out with something to see in every single corner.  We loved the conservatory with its water feature and tropical plants, the beautiful fountains, the winding paths to get to each area and the thoughtfully placed swings and benches along the way to rest your tootsies.  Far and away my favorite garden was the Japanese Garden.  

The Japanese Garden has a Tori Gate at the entrance to welcome you and it sets the tone perfectly for the wonders you are about to see.  Beautiful photo ops await with the koi pond, the meandering bridge, the turtles sunning themselves on the rocks and the tea garden.  Do not miss this.

We didn’t see everything we wanted, so I know I’ll be back when I’m in town again.  So peaceful and lovely.


Dinner Tonight: Chicken Parmesan with Fettucine Alfredo

Easy weeknight dinners are incredibly necessary to have in your arsenal. Add this one to your lineup!


  • 14 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 12 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt and garlic powder. In another bowl, beat the egg. Place the Parmesan cheese in a third bowl. Coat chicken in flour mixture, then dip in egg and roll in cheese.
  • In a skillet, brown chicken in oil on both sides. Transfer to a shallow 1-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray; drizzle with lemon juice. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until juices run clear.

Better-Than-Olive Garden® Alfredo Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (12 ounce) package angel hair pasta
  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cream, garlic, and white pepper; bring to just under a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir Parmesan cheese into cream mixture and simmer until sauce is thickened and smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mozzarella cheese to sauce; cook and stir until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook angel hair in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer pasta to serving plates. Spoon sauce over pasta.

Source: All Recipes


Creamy Olive Spread

A perfect addition to your charcuterie board with bagel chips and carrot sticks for dipping.

Creamy Olive Spread

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (4.25-ounce) can chopped black olives
  • ½ cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • Crackers or pita chips
  1. Stir together first 6 ingredients and, if desired, salt. Serve with crackers.

Source: Southern Living


Baked Potato Soup

Perfect for these cold winter nights!

Baked Potato Soup

Source: A River’s Course, a Junior League Recipe p. 72

  • 4 Baking potatoes ; baked
  • 2/3 cup Butter
  • 2/3 cup Flour
  • 6 cups Milk
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar ; divided
  • 12 slices Bacon ; cooked, crumbled and divided
  • 4-6 Green onions ; sliced
  • Salt and pepper ; to taste

1. Remove pulp from potato skins and set them aside.

2. Melt butter over medium heat; add flour and stir, over low heat, for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and simmer until thickened. Add potato pulp (it will appear lumpy).

3. Add sour cream, 1 cup cheese, half the bacon, and half the onion. Stir until cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Soup will be thick. To thin, add more milk. Garnish with remaining cheese, onion, and bacon.


Chicken Banh Mi

Have you ever had one? My first one was when I turned 50. I’m hooked! These sammies are chocked full of fresh veggies in a slightly acidic sauce that compliments the chicken perfectly. This works best when the chicken is marinated for full flavor. Use your favorite, I made mine up with readily available ingredients in my fridge and pantry: lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, chili pepper sauce and garlic.

I grilled my chicken and toasted my rolls. These aren’t the typical rolls that I usually see for Banh Mi, but that’s what I had, and they were delish!

Chicken Banh Mi

  • Marinated, and grilled chicken breasts, sliced thin
  • Portgese Bread (or your favorite)
  • ½ Kirby cucumber, cut into thin strips
  • ¼ carrot, cut into thin strips
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the cucumber, carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, olive oil, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Marinate for 20 minutes and make your sammie!


Pepperoni Lasagna

Pepperoni Lasagna

I found this recipe on Food Network by Guy Fieri. So so so good!

  • Salt
  • 1 pound lasagna sheets
  • 8 ounces sliced pepperoni (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups Tomato Sauce ; recipe follows
  • 1 pound ricotta
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella
  • 2 pounds bulk Italian sausage ; cooked
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Tomato Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 5 medium cloves garlic ; minced
  • Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Boil 6 quarts of water, add a pinch of salt and cook the pasta to almost done about 7 minutes. Remove from the water and shock in an ice bath. 

In a medium saucepan, add the pepperoni and saute over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. 

In a 10- by 14- by 3-inch baking pan or dish, pour 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce in the bottom and around the sides. Layer lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan, overlapping by 1/2 inch. Add one-third of the ricotta and one-quarter of the mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni and Parmesan. Spoon 1 cup of tomato sauce over the top. Repeat this two more times. 

On the top sheet, finish with the remaining cup of tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni, and dust with Parmesan. Bake until the cheese bubbles around the edges and the top is melted and light golden brown, about 45 minutes. If baking the dish from the freezer, add 15 to 20 minutes to the cooking time, or until it’s bubbly. Cover loosely with foil if it’s browning too quickly. Remove from the oven; let sit for 15 minutes. Cut and serve immediately with more sauce, if desired. 

Tomato Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium to low heat until transparent, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until almost brown, about 10 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes over low to medium heat. Add the basil and oregano and continue to cook for another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Barbecue Glazed Meatballs

3 ingredients and you’re done. And everyone is always happy when you show up with these!


  • 1 bag (14 ounce) package Meatballs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 – 1.5 cups grape jelly


  1. Combine jelly and barbecue sauce in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat until jelly melts.
  3. Add Meatballs and heat over medium-low heat 15 minutes, or until meatballs are hot and glazed, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve in slow cooker set on low, if desired.

Source: Armour


The most important meal of the day

Breakfast!  Is it ok to eat the most important meal of the day at night?  I sure hope so, because I’m not an early bird, and when I wake up the last thing on my mind is making a big deal in the kitchen.  But we love breakfast food!  So, Breakfast for Supper is my solution.

On the menu:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Buttermilk Biscuits
  • Peppered Sausage Gravy
  • OJ



1 lb ground pork breakfast sausage
1/3 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium high heat until browned and crumbly,
about 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour onto sausage, and stir until well combined. Gradually
whisk in milk, cream, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce
heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve over split



Stir Fry Sauce

Stir Fry Sauce

  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. Spicy BBQ Sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

Combine ingredients pepper through sesame oil and set aside. Combine cornstarch and water and set aside. Combine oil, garlic, and ginger in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until oil begins to simmer. Whisk in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.