#fangirlFriday- Kelly Osbourne

Stories...by KO

Stories…by Kelly Osbourne debuts on September 25 on HSN

Happy #fangirlFriday y’all!! Today we are throwing some Sweet Tea Cooking love at Kelly Osbourne! Earlier this month Kelly Osbourne announced her clothing line called Stories…by Kelly Osbourne. Kelly has been a fashion icon for years so the fact that she is designing clothes is no real shocker. What is absolutely mind blowingly, groundbreaking about Stories is that every item of clothing that is released will be available in size 0-24!! Can we just let that sit in for a few seconds…0-24! Every person deserves to have clothes that make them feel good and when you feel good, you know you’re working that outfit! I couldn’t be more excited for the release which will be debut on September 25 on the Home Shopping Network of all places. Looks like I’m about to make my first purchase off of HSN!

Thank you Kelly Osbourne for remembering that women of all shapes and sizes are absolutely beautiful and worthy of clothing that enhances their beauty.

kelly in kitchen

Here’s a shot of Kelly in the kitchen just to keep with the Sweet Tea Cooking theme!


Birthday Cakes Gone Wild

Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday from Sweet Tea Cooking. Today is my husband’s birthday so to celebrate Sweet Tea style I would like to present some birthday cakes gone terribly wrong…and a few that are really, really right. Next year is his 30th birthday so we’ll have to see which type of cake he receives for the big day!!

I have been pretty obsessed with the fine folks over at Cake Wrecks for some time now. I’m so obsessed that if and when it comes time for TJ and me to have a baby shower I already have the cake picked out (take note Moms!) and it has to be an exact replica of this cake no matter the actual sex of the baby that we’re having.

Whenever I’m having a crumby (see what I did there…) day all I need to do is visit Cake Wrecks and within a few minutes I’m sure to be laughing. It is equal parts good intentions gone bad, incompetent grocery store bakers, and extremely tacky tastes being showcased that really makes this website a homerun. I would check them out when you get a chance.

Have you ever ordered a grocery store cake and felt the need to go over the order slip with someone before just placing it in the mystery order box only to have the employee look at you like you’re bonkers? Well these cakes are exactly why you feel the need to do that!


Some people take those order slips very literally!

Some people take those order slips very literally!

Perhaps you’ve had enough of the grocery store mess ups and you decide to bake the cake yourself this year but after planning the party, making the food, cleaning the house, you’re just over it. This is what ends up happening and you’re right back at the grocery store next year.

homemade cake

You can almost taste the resentment but we’ve all been there

There are some people that either have the actual talent and time or the smarts to outsource the task to a reputable baker and present their loved one with an awesome cake that fits the birthday person’s personality. This is a rare and glorious thing.

atari cake ghostbusters Personal Birthday Cakes

I'm just slightly obsessed with Tom Selleck so this cake would be perfect for me!

I’m just slightly obsessed with Tom Selleck so this cake would be perfect for me!

I am lucky enough to share a weekend with two amazing bros and that always equates to a super rad time. We just so happen to have been the recipient of hilarious and delicious cake.

This is a rare example of a grocery store cake getting it right. Even if they would have somehow messed it up it would have only made it better!

This is a rare example of a grocery store cake getting it right. Even if they would have somehow messed it up it would have only made it better!

Happy Birthday TJ from Sweet Tea Cooking!!

Basic Training for Sweet Tea Cooking

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every cook should be able to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch without a recipe, right?

Good Morning and Happy Tuesday from Sweet Tea Cooking! In an effort to enhance my basic cooking skills and best prepare our kitchen for Sweet Tea Cooking sessions I have decided to participate in two self “challenges”.We’re going to really get started on these challenges on September 1st. They should take about 2 months to complete and I will be reporting on our progress on Tuesdays. Keep checking back for updates!

The first is called “The Kitchen Cure” from The Kitchn. I love love love The Kitchn! They not only feature great recipes but review kitchen products and home kitchen remodels. I cannot get enough of the kitchen remodels! They are all so lovely! With TJ and me living in an apartment we have very little that we can do to change the aesthetic of our kitchen. While it isn’t really our style it is very nice and everything is brand new so we really can’t complain. What we are starting to complain about is space! We haven’t utilized the top shelf of almost any cabinet (#shortpeopleproblems) so we have room for additional storage if absolutely necessary but would like to avoid it. Thankfully the kitchen is not so terribly overrun but it could certainly use a good purging and cleaning. As if The Kitchn was reading my mind they began the Kitchen Cure. They email daily challenges for you to complete and at the end of the challenge your kitchen should be extremely organized and you should know where everything is. Has The Kitchn been reading my dream journal?!

The second is a long article with many moving parts that was posted last week on Food52. It was also a perfectly timed article (I suspect that The Kitchn and Food52 were in cahoots on getting their paws on my dream journal). Yesterday I mentioned that I have a handful of dishes that I can make pretty well but I just do not feel confident in even the most basic elements of cooking.  My goal with working my way through, “The Essential Techniques That Every Home Cook Should Know” is that I master some basic skills and techniques that I will be able to build on with more ambitious dishes in the future.

As we strive to eliminate overly processed foods from our diets that means “do it your dang self”! This article among other things goes over how to make rice, make a homemade tomato sauce, how to buy and sear a perfect steak, and most importantly make from scratch, perfect chocolate chip cookies! I have been dying for a knockout chocolate chip cookie for the past few Christmas seasons. I’ve hosted 9 Christmas Cookie parties but cannot bake a chocolate chip cookie from scratch. I am a total fraud!  I have the rice part pretty down thanks to our Aroma Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker/Food Steamer. (Shameless, unpaid plug alert…if you do not own one of these I would HIGHLY recommend it. It takes up very little space but does so many things!) The other items have been my kryptonite for many years. I can perk up a jar of tomato sauce and turn it into a thing of beauty but to be able to make that bad boy all on my own would be a crowning achievement! Currently there are two steaks sitting in my freezer that I purchased last month from the CSA but am too scared to cook them. I don’t want to mess them up but they’re just sitting there, mocking me. A training session like this is long overdue and a very welcome challenge!

Hopefully with the combined powers of The Kitchen Cure and Essential Techniques I will get our kitchen and myself in the best condition that it could be in to move forward with Sweet Tea Cooking.

What is your kitchen kryptonite? Do you have any kitchen challenges that you’d like to overcome?

Back To School Meal Planning

We all have a Awkward Family Photo from the first day of school!

We all have a Awkward Family Photo from the first day of school!

Good Morning and Happy Monday from Sweet Tea Cooking! For those in the Baltimore area it is also the first day of school. I used to love the first day of school! New outfit, all new supplies, and the anticipation of if the BFF was going to be in my class!! As everyone posts all of their kids first day of school photos I am so envious! I want a cool new backpack and lunchbox!  

One aspect that seems to affect everyone whether you have kids or not with the new school year is more traffic and more structure to your day which for our house boils down to menu planning. During the summer there are more opportunities to go out to lunch, get some fresh air, and if you’re really lucky try out a food truck that’s nearby! During the summer our dinners seems to mostly consist of a protein (fish cooks really quickly), rice/quinoa, and a veggie. Thanks to all of the great fresh summer produce, it always tastes delish but I could also be easily swayed to grab Panera or Chipotle. With the cooler temperatures it seems like we get better about packing our breakfasts and lunches and eating dinner in almost every day.  Once football season really gets going this will be almost second nature. It is so easy to watch the game and cook/meal prep for the rest of the week. I feel like if meal prep doesn’t get done on Sunday, there is just no way it is getting done during the week.

A typical fall Sunday in our house would include chopping a ton of veggies and some chicken breasts in the crockpot for a salad for lunches, a chili, soup, or spaghetti going on the stove top (sometimes all three-we’re fans of overcooking and throwing it in the freezer), cleaning, cutting and portioning out an fruit for the week, and once the chicken is out of the crock then a huge batch of steel cut oatmeal will go in for breakfast for the week. This week I even cooked a large batch of quinoa to help speed up dinners. I hope it holds up!

On a really great week we’ll have the crockpot, multiple burners, and the oven working. For our wedding we received a larger crock so we very well may have two crockpots going! Ideally I’d like to have all breakfasts cooked for the week, lunches prepped and portioned as much as possible (minus TJ’s sandwiches that he makes in the morning), and so many dinners prepped that there is always one in the fridge ready to be heated up and as we clean up from dinner we pull the next night’s dinner out of the freezer. Minimizing our time in the kitchen as much as possible during the week will go a long way from keeping us out of Chipotle.

It seems like our biggest problem with this type of cooking is VARIETY! I have a soy allergy so we try to eat as natural and wholesome as possible when we cook.That includes minimally processed foods, organic foods, whole grains, keeping the sodium/sugar content low, etc. Finding dishes that can be cooked in advanced, frozen, heat up nicely, and meet our dietary goals can be a challenge. We find that we’re cycling through the same handful of recipes week to week.

I’m turning to our Sweet Tea family, what do you guys do to meal prep for the week? What are some of your tips and tricks to get out of the door as fast as possible in the morning and getting dinner on the table with minimal effort? Are there any tried and true recipes that you guys stick with? We’d love to hear them! I’ve listed our “go to” dishes below. If you’d like the recipe to any of them be sure to add that to your comment. I’m happy to share!

Crockpot Cinnamon (peach or apple) Oatmeal
Yogurt Parfaits
Fiesta Chicken
Mexi Mac
Chili (Kidney and White Chicken)
Tortilla Soup
Beef Stew
Pulled Pork Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Stuffed Chicken Breasts

#fangirlFriday- Joy the Baker


Joy the Baker from her Kitchen Tour with The Kitchen in August 2013.

Good Morning and Happy #fangirlFriday from Sweet Tea Cooking!! The internet is full of inspiring folks and I want to share some of the people that I am truly a fan of with you every Friday!! I am pleased to kick off #fangirlFriday by introducing you to Joy the Baker!!

Joy the Baker started as a blog in January 2008 “out of my downright obsession with brownies and cake. On Joy the Baker you’ll find sweet and savory seasonal recipes, a few cocktail recipes, and a sprinkling of the books I read, and the lipstick that I happen to be into. Food and life… and more food”. Basically, she’s speaking to my soul. Joy has added author of two cookbooks, the host of a web series “Bonkers Awesome” (great name, right?!), and the co-host of “Joy the Baker podcast” with Tracy of Shutterbean (stay tuned for more on Tracy) to her already impressive repertoire. Joy the Baker Cookbook: A Celebration of Butter and Sugar was released in February 2012 and Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats will be released on October 14, 2014.

Joy is a self/family taught baker and has cultivated quite an empire! Who wouldn’t be inspired by someone who tapped into a passion that they had and has made it their living? I first found out about Joy the Baker while reading a kitchen tour of Joy’s Venice Beach kitchen (she now resides in New Orleans) on The Kitchn. The article highlighted that her kitchen was pretty small and the fridge and oven were mini. What really struck me was that this woman cooked daily in this kitchen (that looked gorgeous) and wrote two cookbooks in such a small space. Instead of being limited by its size she rocked that kitchen. I downloaded a few of her podcasts and looked up a few other articles she had written for Refinery 29 and The Kitchn…I was instantly hooked! She has such a straight shooter way of speaking. It is not fluffy but definitely not condescending as some cooking/lifestyle magazines can be. Her website is downright lovely, I could pour over it for hours…and I have. It has a minimalist feel with beautifully muted colors that allow the photos of the food really stand out. The recipes that she creates are drool worthy without being overly complicated. In the kitchen tour with The Kitchn, Joy describes her recipes as, “Big. Baked. Unapologetic.”. Isn’t that exactly what you want in a dessert?

Thank you @JoyTheBaker for doing what you do, sharing your passion with the world, and being Sweet Tea Cooking’s first #fangirlFriday feature!!

How Will Sweet Tea Cooking Work?

So you may be wondering how Sweet Tea Cooking will work. I’ve always envied good cooks and I enjoy cooking but I am by no means going to tell anyone else how to cook! I need all of the help that I can get. Let me share with you two of my earliest memories of cooking (and some favorite stories for my Mom) and you’ll see what I mean.

The first involves one of my first times actually cooking. I was in about 3rd grade and we had to write an explanatory essay detailing the steps of how to do something. I decided that I wanted to write about fixing dinner on a Saturday night for my family. I was going to make soup (canned-still my specialty), salad, and grilled cheese. I fixed the salad and cut everything way too big, something that I’m still guilty of to this day. Heated up the soup, can’t mess that up thanks to Campbell’s. Then I moved on to fix the sandwiches and by this time I was hungry so I cranked up the burner to get these sandwiches cooked really quickly. Well it REALLY worked because these sandwiches were well done almost instantly and the smoke alarm went off. That’s when my Dad gets up off of the couch and says “It sounds like dinner is done”. This was the start of bad habit that I’m still guilty of. TJ’s always telling me that I have the burner too hot and the smoke alarm in my parent’s house was basically the dinner bell for many years. I am proud to say that I have not set off a smoke alarm in many years!!

burnt grilled cheese

Not my grilled cheese but you get the idea

The second story goes back even further than that. I was probably about 5 years old and my brother about 3. Both of my parent’s were very sick with the flu or some similar illness. My brother and I were playing, behaving as perfect angels as usual and Matt tells me that he’s hungry. Well I knew better than to try and fix anything myself but I knew mom and dad were sick so they should rest. I did what I figured was the best option for everyone involved. I called my grandma to tell her that we were hungry and mom and dad were sick so she should come over to cook for us. So even at the ripe old age of 5 I knew that if you want a good meal, you better pick up a phone and order it!

For years I have wanted to get the recipes to some of the dishes that my grandma and family would make for holiday dinners. Those are the dishes that have the best memories associated with them for me and some of the best eatin’! Unfortunately, I did not start this project soon enough and by the time I had my first inclination that I better learn how to make paster (more on that later) my Grandma was already showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The priority shifted from trying to cook with her and learning all of these recipes to learning how to cope with what my family was now dealing with. Now that she is no longer with us I am determined to not let these recipes go with her. I think she’d be happy to know that some of her traditions and memory will live on.

I will be cooking side by side with my family to recreate some of these recipes and with their permission sharing them with you right here on this blog. I have also reached out to extended family and friends that may be willing to share any of their family recipes with me. If you have any recipes or stories that you’d like to share please let me know! I would love to document as many of these recipes as possible. For those top secret family recipes that are being shared with me but not on the blog I’ll still be posting the family story and why this recipe means so much to the guest cook. We’re going to get some good stories out into the world!

I’d like to thank everyone in advance for their support and either allowing me into your kitchen and allowing me to share your story on Sweet Tea Cooking! Please remember to be sure to follow Sweet Tea Cooking on Facebook (Sweet Tea Cooking), Twitter (@SweetTeaCooking), Instagram (Sweet_Tea_Cooking), Pinterest (Sweet Tea Cooking) and right here on the blog!

Welcome to Sweet Tea Cooking!!

Grandma and me at her bday party

Grandma and me at her birthday party about 7 years ago.

Welcome to Sweet Tea Cooking! At Sweet Tea we’re going to discover family recipes, a little family history, and crack into some cool memories that are associated with the dishes that we’ll be cooking.

Some of my favorite memories from childhood involved the whole family going over to my grandparent’s house on holidays and we’d run into the kitchen to give Grandma a hug and a kiss while she was finishing up the cooking. She would make the tea last and that smell of black tea brewing on the stovetop stood out from all of the other great food. I would love when it was served it was still kind of hot but poured over a glass full of ice. I don’t remember a meal where sweet tea wasn’t served hence the name of this blog being Sweet Tea Cooking.

Today would have been my Grandma’s birthday so in honor of her I thought this would be the perfect day to launch Sweet Tea Cooking. The look of the blog and profiles will be changing over the course of the next few weeks but I will be adding content fairly regularly. Be sure to follow Sweet Tea Cooking on Facebook (Sweet Tea Cooking), Twitter (@SweetTeaCooking), Instagram (Sweet_Tea_Cooking), Pinterest (Sweet Tea Cooking) and right here on the blog!