How to Plan the Safe and Perfect Picnic

corn recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

As a kid, my Southern summers were spent fishing at our family pond and swimming in the ocean, pool, or lake and catching fireflies with my sister after dark. And, more than anything, summer meant dining outside. On the weekends, a mixture of friends and family would get together with coolers and wooden picnic baskets, laden with food. This year picnics are certain to be different, so check out my tips on how to plan a safe and perfect outing. (more…)

Continue Reading How to Plan the Safe and Perfect Picnic

What’s in Season: Savory Eggplant Dip

Asian Eggplant Dip on www.virginiawillis.com

Eggplant flourishes in the scorching heat of a Deep South summer. My grandparents grew row upon row of the stately bushes, heavily laden with the shiny black-purple orbs. The plants are absolutely majestic in the vegetable garden with their luscious, draped, fanlike leaves and vibrant colors. My grandmother seemed to only ever fry eggplant. She peeled, then dusted thick ivory eggplant steaks, peppered with an abundance of seeds in seasoned finely ground cornmeal. They were then pan-fried in a bath of sizzling hot oil in a cast iron skillet until golden brown and crisp. (more…)

Continue Reading What’s in Season: Savory Eggplant Dip
What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes
Creamed Corn with Bacon

What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes

corn recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

It’s high corn season! And, this summer vegetable is so versatile we’re having it nearly every meal. From sides and appetizers to entrées and desserts, it can be a part of a sweet or savory dish. To  take advantage of summer’s sweet corn while at its peak, I’ve rounded up all of my favorite recipes in one place. Check out these top ten delicious recipes. (more…)

Continue Reading What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes

Best Tomato Recipes

It’s Hotter than Georgia Asphalt

Tomato recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

It’s super hot and the peak of summer. We may be wilting, but tomatoes are thriving! A garden-ripe, fresh tomato is the absolute ultimate in summer produce. Out of season tomatoes are flavorless rock-hard orbs shipped from some other hemisphere. Out of season tomatoes are pure disappointment. In season, tomatoes are bursting with flavor, juicy and luscious. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, almost wine-like flavor of a vine ripe tomato. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible. (more…)

Continue Reading Best Tomato Recipes

What’s in Season: Asparagus

How to Cook Asparagus, How to Store, How to Trim, and How to Know When It is Done. 


How to cook asparagus on www.virginiawillis.com

Spring is starting to kick into high gear! One of the first freshly harvested vegetables to enjoy is asparagus. Pencil thin or thick and hearty is a matter of personal preference. Regardless of size, when buying it in the grocery store look for spears that are firm and bright green, with intact tips.  Cook it as soon as possible as it deteriorates fairly rapidly.  Store it in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel wrapped around the stems.  It will last 3 to 4 days.

The ends of fresh asparagus can be tough and woody. I prefer to slice off the last inch or so of the stem instead of snapping it off where the spear breaks naturally. Not only is it more visually appealing when all the spears are exactly the same size, but they will also cook at the same rate of speed. Large spears are more mature, less tender, and also need to be peeled. (more…)

Continue Reading What’s in Season: Asparagus

Big Game: Shrimp Nachos with Creole Queso

 

Shrimp Nachos with Creole Queso on www.virginiawillis.com

Nachos started as a Mexican snack, have become an American staple — and are absolutely mandatory for The Big Game Day menu. Chips and salsa are one thing, but nachos are on a whole other level. The best part is that nachos are quick and easy – a few vegetables and a bit of protein tossed in a hot skillet, scattered on top of crispy corn tortilla chips, topped with a bit of cheese, and you’re good to go. Who doesn’t like nachos!!? They’re positively craveable.  (more…)

Continue Reading Big Game: Shrimp Nachos with Creole Queso

Holiday Entertaining Tips: Smoky Cheese Straws

Holiday Entertaining Tips on www.virginiawillis.com

Holiday Entertaining should be relaxed, comfortable, and enjoyable for both the hosts and the guests – and that comes with organization and planning ahead, from the guest list to the music to the menu — and everything in between. Not planning ahead and thinking things through makes for a stressed-out host and that’s no fun. Of course, one of the most important elements with holiday entertaining is the menu. It can be really challenging to make everything from scratch and it’s often too expensive to buy everything or have it catered. I find it best to create a well-balanced menu that’s easy on the pocketbook and respectful of prep time. One of my all-time favorite holiday recipes are Cheese Straws. They are super easy to make, made of affordable ingredients, and everyone loves them! (more…)

Continue Reading Holiday Entertaining Tips: Smoky Cheese Straws