Author Archives for Renea Myers

Healthy Super Food Salad

I have recently been researching the so-called “super foods” for some of my kids’ culinary classes.  You know… those foods that pack a big nutritional punch, keep you healthy, fight disease and basically make you feel like a super hero.  (Or at least that’s how I pitch it to the kids.)  I created a salad and a dressing that uses a whole bunch of these super foods.  And it turned out pretty super delicious.  You can increase the proportions of those ingredients that you particularly like.  Have a SUPER time with this one.

Slow Cooker Meatloaf– Best Meatloaf Ever!

I love, love Cooks Illustrated.  It’s my go-to place when I’m looking for a tested and trustworthy recipe.  I also really like Ina Garten, Epicurious. Alton Brown and Tyler Florence.  But I digress… I’ve been doing a lot of slow cooker recipes for my family recently since I’m so busy these days teaching cooking lessons.  Funny huh?  The cooking teacher doesn’t have time to make dinner.  I came across a slow cooker meatloaf recipe in Cooks Illustrated and made a few modifications to come up with this To Die For recipe. It’s moist without being soupy and really flavorful.  Drag out that slow cooker and give it a whirl.


Sensible Tips for Prepping Wholesome Family Dinners that won’t make you crazy

Now that school has started, time is a precious commodity for families.  We all like the idea of creating fresh, delicious family dinners but the reality is…. (drum roll)… it takes time to prepare these meals!  Even when your job is to cook (like me), feeding the family can be a challenge!  Here’s the good news… by developing a few good habits you CAN cook yummy meals for your family this year. Here are some “best practices” to get you on the right track.

  1. Force yourself to plan your menu for 7 days.  If planning Monday-Sunday doesn’t work for  you then do it Wednesday-Tuesday or whenever you consistently have an hour to look at your family calendar, decide what you’re going to cook, gather the recipes and make the shopping list for all of it.  And if you’re really organized, grab the coupons that match your list.  You won’t believe the weight off your shoulders when you realize your whole week of “what’s for dinner” is solved!  It doesn’t have to be complicated as long as it’s planned!  If you don’t have a whole hour, do part of it in carpool and the rest while waiting for your child to finish gymnastics or soccer practice. Get it?
  2. Share meal ideas with your friends and family.  Keep them organized into categories that work for you on Pinterest, a recipe box, a notebook, whatever…   Be able to quickly find ideas for categories such as slow cooker, make ahead, super fast, on-the-go, make and take, and no-cook meals.  It’s great to be able to make a recipe that you know will work either because you have made it before or it comes from a trusted source.  Consider posting the menu in the kitchen for the family to look forward to… and to hold yourself accountable.
  3. Prep ahead!  Do all the chopping and cutting for several recipes at once and store in the fridge.  More than half the time of cooking is in the prep work!  If you need carrots for soup, stir fry and kids’ lunches then cut them all up at the same time.  (some veggies like carrots hold up better if stored in water).  Slice meat for steak sandwiches, marinate chicken, cook rice, bake potatoes, brine turkey breast, whatever you can do ahead.. DO IT.  You will love yourself later and you only have to clean up that big counter of chopping mess once or twice a week.   It doesn’t hurt to get the kids involved in the prep work! If you don’t like the idea of batch-prepping then find a time in your day (not dinner time) when you can prep ingredients for the next meal so all you have to do during dinner chaos hour is just cook it!
  4. Plan to thaw. I hear this all the time.  I have stuff to cook but I forgot to thaw it out.  When you are making your menu plan, add notes about what needs to be pulled out of freezer on which days to be thawed in time for preparing.  Frozen meat floating in the sink while you anxiously watch the clock is no fun.
  5. Make good use of leftovers.  Figure out ways to re-purpose leftovers into another meal and make that part of your plan.  Or, freeze leftovers and thaw them out for a second round next week.
  6. Plan a night off of cooking.  I encourage you to pick one guilt-free night each week where you plan to NOT cook.  Maybe you order pizza, let the kids make soup and sandwiches, eat leftovers, go out to McDonald’s, eat cereal, clean out the fridge and pantry and eat what you find….. one night without a square meal is fine!  Announce DOYO– dinner on your own with your head held high!

Try to have fun with this and not just look at it as more work for you (even though it is!).  Why not try a new recipe at least once a week, have the family cook together one night, choose a different country each week and make a featured recipe.  I have been known to take a cookbook and have my child randomly open it to a page and voila- that’s what we made!  Good luck and if you fall off the food truck, pick up your spatula and start again next week.

Low Country Shrimp and Grits– easier than you think

I love to travel and Charleston is one of my favorite destinations.  I recently taught a Low Country Grits recipe in a Jr. Chef Road Trip Recipes camp and it was a huge hit! There are many versions of shrimp and grits, but I prefer the Charleston style with yellow cheese grits as opposed to the brown-gravy style. This is not a daunting recipe at all! Cooking the grits is the most time-consuming part.  If you live near Greensboro, NC, I  encourage you to get your shrimp from the Shrimp Connection. He usually has a truck near the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market.  Check it out!


Chicken & Vegetable Soup

I love shortcuts as much as the next mom.  This soup takes advantage of a really good product from the grocery store- Perdue Shortcuts.  I used the Fajita flavored one in this soup, but you could make it with any kind of cooked chicken.


Mushroom Soup with Herbs and Sherry

Here’s a warm and savory soup for a cold day.  I like this recipe because no matter what kind of mushrooms I use, the result is a woodsy, deep flavor.  I have also added some heavy cream to this recipe at the end to make it a Mushroom Cream Soup.  It could also be reduced down to a delicious sauce (just back off on the salt). The soup-making technique outlined here is very similar to other soup recipes. Once you master this technique, you can substitute the ingredients you like or happen to have on hand.  So what are you waiting for?  Go make some soup!




Orange-Ginger Poppyseed Mini Muffins

I LOVE to make mini muffins.  They are perfect little bites of deliciousness that appeal to kids and adults.  I have my favorite recipes but am always looking for a new one to add to the mix.  I found a Southern Living recipe recently that I tweaked a little and now am really happy with it.  I think you will be too! The key to muffins is to not over-mix or over-bake. Those little holes you sometimes see in muffins are from over-mixing. Appropriately called “tunnels.” No tunneling now, ya hear! You can make these by hand, electric mixer not required!  [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:14]

Cheater’s Gourmet Pimento Cheese Dip

Ok, I admit it!  Sometimes I find a recipe I want to try and then when I get ready to make it I’m just not in the mood to do all the steps or I just don’t have time.  Yes, it happens to me too!  That’s what happened when I found a delicious-looking pimento cheese dip that called for shredding cheese and making a cheese sauce before adding the other ingredients.  Well I cheated and used two jars of Tostitos cheese dip.  I adjusted the rest of the recipe and absolutely loved the results! This is the fastest gourmet dip ever!  Now you can’t cheat on the pimento cheese.  Don’t buy the cheap stuff.  I especially like My Three Sons pimento cheese. It’s amazing. This is a great dip to serve at football parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving or anytime you just want to indulge in cheese.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]

Goat Cheese, Pistachio & Pancetta Poppers

It’s not too early to start thinking about your Thanksgiving menu.  Don’t forget the appetizers!  A dynamite appetizer is a tasty way to entertain your guests as they arrive and talk and hug.  It also buys you a little time if the turkey isn’t quite cooperating.  I like to serve cheese appetizers at Thanksgiving because the meal doesn’t usually include a lot of cheese and everyone loves it!  Here is a make-ahead appetizer that will earn you lots of gratitude points.





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