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At the end of June we celebrated my son George’s baptism with a few close friends and family. I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. The church that my husband and I were married in, and Caroline was also baptized in, is a summer chapel so we have to wait until it opens in June. It’s a bit of a homecoming when it is opened and the Reverend arrives from Texas. He retires at the end of this season and I was looking forward to introducing him to our “little” big guy.

Since I wanted to really enjoy this day and celebrate our family and George I kept the food and decor to a minimum. I wanted things that were easy to prepare and could be prepared in advance. I also wanted items that were easy to set up and that everyone would enjoy. With two kids, I’m learning all about keeping things simpler!


For the menu, I opted for items that I knew people loved and I set everything up buffet style so people could help themselves. Leaving myself able to socialize. For the cake, I chose to adapt our favorite Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake and turn it into a Lemon Blueberry Cake. {I’ll be making it again soon and will post the recipe. It was well received!) Just like with Caroline, George had his first taste of frosting on his baptism day. He didn’t seem too interested, but I have a feeling that will change come birthday time!

For the decor, I headed out to the garden and picked some peonies and hydrangea. I tied in those colors with the table cloth and overlay. Sometimes the best things comes together with what you have on hand already!


Coldcut platter with meats and cheeses with accompanying condiments and breads

Cowboy Caviar

Bruschetta & Classic Tomato Topping

Crudites with Ranch Dressing

Chips with Onion Dip

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Buttercream Frosting



Whether you grew up in the south or have visited, you’ll know one thing is of utmost importance, Sweet Tea! Way before water bottles were the norm in cars, people drove around with a glass of sweet tea. That’s right, a glass! Some restaurants even provide a glass of sweet tea while you glance over the menu, who needs water?! We moved to South Carolina when I was ten and this was one thing I could get behind. Mass amounts of sugar in my delicious, cold beverage? Yes, please!

When I was glancing in my magazine a couple of weeks ago I noticed this recipe and it piqued my interest. Then, my husband saw it and told me we should make this. He likes anything that involves grilling a large piece of meat. Well, this recipe definitely involved both of us since it was a bit of an all day affair. Worth it, but an all day affair! I think the next time we make this we’ll be a bit more prepared and it will go much faster though, and there will definitely be a next time. The meat was delicious and the blackberry sweet tea sauce was delicious! My daughter gobbled that up as fast she could. It’s so good, if you have leftovers I suggest using it to top ice cream or pancakes the next day! This would make a wonderful meal for when you have guests over and you want to grill, but don’t feel like doing the same old steaks or burgers. It provides a bit of elegance to your al fresco dinning!

When I made this, I couldn’t fine a pork loin roast that was big enough so I opted for a picnic roast because we wanted it right then and I didn’t feel like driving all over town. Really, any large cut of pork will work fine but if you want nice slices for guests then go with the pork loin roast. If you want chunks of goodness, then get a picnic roast like we did! Since the roast can be made with or without the sauce, I have added the sauce recipe below, separate from the roast recipe.

2014-07-06 18.04.48

Sweet Tea Glazed Pork with a Blackberry Sweet Tea Sauce


For the brine

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Minced zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 cups ice cubes
  • 1 center-cut pork loin roast (3lbs), trimmed

For the glaze

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 bags black tea
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Minced zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the brine, heat water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, garlic, thyme, and lemon zest in a saucepan over medium-high heat until salt and sugar dissolve.

Combine the hot brine mixture with ice cubes in a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag; chill to below 45F. Submerge pork in brine, squeeze out air, and secure bag; refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.

For the glaze, heat water and sugar in a saucepan over high heat to a boil. Off heat, add tea bags, thyme, and lemon zest and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain tea mixture and reduce over high heat until it coats the back of a spoon and measures 1 cup, 30 to 35 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup for Blackberry Sweet Tea Sauce.

Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium-high and leaving the other side unlit to maintain a temperature of 325-400F. Brush grill grate with oil.

Remove pork from brine and pat dry; rub with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill pork over direct heat, covered, 3 to 4 minutes on both sides; baste with glaze and transfer to indirect side. Grill pork, covered, turning and basting every 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 140F, about 45 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board; tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice pork and serve with Blackberry Sweet Tea Sauce, recipe below.

 Blackberry Sweet Tea Sauce


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups blackberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reserved tea reduction from above glaze
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornstartch
  • salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sweat until softened, 3 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup blackberries, chicken broth, and reserved tea reduction. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until blackberries soften, 2 minutes.

Whisk together cider vinegar and cornstarch; whisk into sauce until it thickens, while pressing down on berries to help break them down. Add 1 cup blackberries and season with salt and pepper.

Source: Cuisine at Home July/August 2014


If you’re looking for something quick to whip up for dinner, but want something a little nicer than your standard fare this scallop dish is worth a shot. I love scallops, or any seafood for that matter, because the cooking time is quick and you can throw a nice meal together in no time. What sets this meal apart is the snap peas and pancetta. It lends a nice earthy, savory taste to the scallops and really anchors the meal. I personally cook the snap peas a little longer so they soften up more to my liking. You could also do a quick steam to them before sauteeing.  If you’re looking for something a little more substantial to fill your bellies, I’d pair this with rice, or perhaps a cauliflower or celery root mash to keep things on the healthier side.

Seared Scallops with Snap Peas and Pancetta


  • 3 tsp canola oil, divided
  • 12 oz sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 oz diced pancetta
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 lbs large sea scallops
  • 4 lemon wedges

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat.Add peas, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; saute 2 minutes. Place snap peas in a bowl and set aside. Heat pan over medium high. Add pancetta; cook 1 minute. Add shallots; cook 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Add pancetta mixture to peas.

Return pan to medium0high heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes. Turn and cook 1 minute or until desired degree of doneness. Place cooked scallops on a plate. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 teaspoon oil and remaining scallops. Serve scallops with snap pea mixture and the lemon wedges.

Serves 4 (about 5 scallops and 3/4 cup pea mixture)

Nutritional Information

Per serving; 237 Calories, 7.9g Fat, 25g Protein, 15g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber, 48mg Cholesterol, 3mg Iron, 568 mg sodium, 52mg Calcium.

Source: Cooking Light July 2014


I’ve basically lived my entire life on the coast and have grown up eating seafood. For me, summer and seafood go hand in hand. Seafood is so easy and quick to cook, you have more time to enjoy the beautiful weather rather than manning the grill. These shrimp mix things up a bit, rather than going with a simple grill or something spicy, they are loaded up with oregano. They offer plenty of flavor without the fuss of long marination times. Serve these over orzo or rice pilaf and you’ve got yourself an easy meal!

Grilled Oregano Shrimp


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 24 peeled and deveined large shrimp (about 1 lb.)

Prepare grilled for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas)

Stir together oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Cut onion lengthwise into 3/4-inch wedges and separate layers. Toss shrimp and onion with oil mixture, then thread 6 shrimp onto each skewer, alternating with single layers of onion.

Grill shrimp, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total.

Serves 4

Source: Gourmet July 2008