Firebirds Wood Fired Grill Spiced Pecan Green Beans. You’re Welcome.


Growing up, Mom often bought fresh green beans instead of the canned variety. She’d have one of us kids break off the ends and snap them in half as needed, which was a chore I never, ever minded. To this day, I’m not of fan of canned green beans and prefer them fresh. I like to sauté them with onions and lots of pepper or prepare them steamed and lightly tossed with cucumber ranch dressing, Good Seasons Italian dressing or just some salt, fresh ground pepper and cider vinegar.

Several years ago I discovered the signature spicy pecan green beans at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, which are served as a creative side to its yummy meatloaf and other entrees. Love, love, love, love these! The pecans add a spicy yet sweet crunch to the crisp green beans for a wonderful flavor combination.


I finally decided to make these at home when both pecans and green beans were on sale at the same time — yaaay! I followed an online recipe from Firebirds’ Sous Chef, Joseph Howard, and only changed the spiced pecans a tad, where I substituted regular chile powder for the ancho chile powder, which turned out fine.

This recipe is easy and takes little time once the pecans have been spiced. While these spiced pecan green beans don’t replace Firebirds’ real deal, they come so close and are totally worth the effort.

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Girl Scout Cookies Paired with Beer? A Tasting Event You Must Attend


Brixx Wood Fired Pizza at Parkside Town Commons and Bradford Shops in Cary, N.C., will be offering a unique Beer & Girl Scout Cookie Tasting Wednesday, Feb. 22. The Beer & Girl Scout Cookie tasting menu will be available from 5 p.m. to close for just $5.50. Guests will receive three drink samples specifically selected from a variety of craft beers accompanied by three popular Girl Scout cookie samples, as noted below.

Bradford Shops pairings:

  • Samoas with Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale
  • Peanut Butter Patties with Wicked Weed Hop Cocoa
  • Savannah Smiles with Deep River Twisted River Wit

Parkside Town Commons pairings:

  • Thin Mints with Gizmo Peppermint Stiletto Stout
  • Lemonades with Knee Deep Breaking Bud IPA
  • Peanut Butter Patties with Draft Line Pilsner


  • Thin Mints with Fortnight Coffee Amber
  • Lemonades with Appalachian Mountain Nitro Raspberry Porter
  • Peanut Butter Patties with Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot Barleywine

So come out and enjoy your favorite Beer & Girl Scout Cookie pairing at one of the Cary Brixx locations.


I’m planning to try one (or both) of the pairings at Parkside Town Commons since Lemonades are my favorite Girl Scout cookie — hopefully I’ll see you there!

***Disclaimer: I will be receiving my Beer & Girl Scout Cookie pairing in exchange for this blog post.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

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Kel’s Crispy Shrimp Egg Rolls



For some reason I’ve been craving Chinese food lately and have been experimenting with (and perfecting) various recipes, such as my delicious shrimp stir fry and easy pork pot stickers. The next Chinese dish on my list to make was egg rolls, but I just couldn’t decide on the filling. Then recently, I found deveined shrimp on sale and knew it would be the focus of these yummy egg rolls. The older I get, the more I hate to devein shrimp. Really, really hate. Plus, I always love a good bargain, so shrimp was a no-brainer. I then went to the Grand Asia Market in Cary to pick up the bulk of the other ingredients – the prices are excellent and it’s such a fun and delightful place to shop.


I was quite pleased with my filling for these egg rolls. To make things easy, I used prepackaged Chinese mustard and duck sauce as dipping sauces (cheap, cheap, cheap at aforementioned Grand Asia Market). I know I still need more practice when it comes to rolling egg rolls, but my technique did improve slightly by the time I had finished this batch. The trick is not to overfill the wrappers and to roll them as tight as possible. There are several good videos on YouTube that show you how it’s done.


These egg rolls freeze really well, so make a bunch to enjoy later. I’ve included freezing and reheating instructions at the end of the post.

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Ronda’s Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes:  Some For Now, Some For Later


The first time I had these heavenly potatoes was at my dear friend (and excellent cook) Ronda’s home, back in the late 1980s. Ronda and I both worked Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Pub (may it rest in peace). One of us would bartend while the other cooked and waited tables, and then we would change roles the following weekend. After work, we would suck down a beer or six (it was the 80s, after all, so please don’t judge) and often head across the street to her and Dickie’s townhome, where we made dinner and then settled in for a long night of poker with a cast of other Pub regulars (may many of them RIP as well, heavy sigh).

Anyway, we often grilled steaks and Ronda would make these awesome stuffed potatoes that I immediately became hooked on and have been a part of my culinary life ever since. I’ve tweaked her recipe a bit over the years, mainly because I never wrote it down, but these are by far one of my favorite comfort foods, EVER! Potatoes, cheese, bacon — need I say more?


I usually make several of these at a time to freeze and enjoy later. You would never guess they have been frozen previously, and will thank yourself for making these in advance, wishing you had made more! For those of you who love to save time in the long run, I’ve included freezing and reheating directions at the end of this post.

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Kel’s Easy and Cheesy Broccoli and Wild Rice Casserole



I made this delicious broccoli, cheddar and wild rice casserole for a recent family holiday dinner. It was a big hit — even the kids who were there loved it, as did my husband, who generally is not a big casserole fan. Not only does this make a great side dish for beef, pork or poultry, it can also stand alone as a meatless entrée – just add a tossed salad and some crusty bread for easy and cheesy comfort food at it’s finest. This casserole will be a staple at family dinners for years to come!

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Kel’s Easy Pork Potstickers


I love potstickers – they are one of my favorite Chinese appetizers. When I came across this recipe for Fast Pot-Stickers on the New York Times Cooking website, I decided to give it a try. I’m not sure if “Fast” is the correct title for this recipe – it does take some time to seal and pleat each individual dumpling. But that’s easy enough to do and well worth the effort. I made a few minor changes to the recipe and created my own dipping sauce,which, by the way, is quite addictive!

Many Chinese families make pot stickers to celebrate their New Year and feel that these little morsels bring fortune and good luck, due to their resemblance to shoe-shaped gold or silver ingots. Just another reason to enjoy!

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Kel’s Rich and Creamy Braised Beef Stroganoff


As I child, I always loved having dinner at my grandparents’ home, especially when they made beef stroganoff. The creamy sauce and tender beef that topped the egg noodles was so yummy and I especially loved the hint of sherry — it made me feel I was eating grown-up food. I wish I had their recipe for this, but since I don’t,  I’ve been forging ahead with ideas from my cookbooks and the Internet.

While I had early success with the delicious sauce, it took a few tries to replicate melt-in-your-mouth beef. When Brad suggested to braise the meat, I decided to give it a try, and he was right — perfectly tender beef that made this dish completely delicious. While the braising process takes longer to complete, it is so simple to do and definitely worth the time spent!

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