Organic Spinach Ribbons Topped With Smoked Mozzarella

Organic Spinach Ribbons Topped With Smoked Mozzarella

Monday, March 12, 2012


OkraLogic . A Girl Cook: SPRING-LIKE WEATHER = MY MOM's ROCKIN' BURGERS!: Good Morning! The sun is shining!  The birds are singing!  Green buds are popping on the trees!  The first day of Spring (03.20.12) is ar...


Good Morning!

The sun is shining!  The birds are singing!  Green buds are popping on the trees!  The first day of Spring (03.20.12) is around our corners!  The temps over the next ten days in the Ozarks are crazy!

SO, what does Spring-like weather mean to YOU?!?

Spring means so many things to me.  Spring means tulips.  Spring means Easter.  Spring means rain.  Spring means gardening.  Spring means fabulous sandals.  Spring means bermuda shorts.  Spring means fresh veggie pasta salads.  Spring means grillin' and chillin'!  Spring means A LOT of things!

Growing up, I have to say Spring mostly meant Easter was coming.  It meant I was dressed in a ridiculously frilly dress (with matching bonnet or hat) with white lace trimmed ankle socks and shiny patent shoes.  It meant I endlessly searched for hidden eggs on the lawn.  It meant we would put the top down on my Mom's red, shiny VW Bug.  It meant sundresses.  It meant hundreds of tulips (my fave flower in the world!) popping up on both sides of my Pappy's driveway.  It meant the ice cream truck would come down 412 Grace Street once a week.  And, finally it meant .......grilling!

Present date, at the inn, we grill on The Big Green Egg.  Back then, it was a simple charcoal grill.  My Mom (to this day, I'm amazed she didn't burn Pappy's house down) loved to grill.  She grilled fruit.  She grilled vegetables. She grilled meat.  She grilled bread for appetizers when she hosted bridge parties.  She grilled e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

It was quite a production and quite a sight.  It began with the cleaning out of the bottom of the grill from the previous grilling extravaganza.  This meant she would scoop out the ashes and sprinkle them throughout Pappy's flower beds.  This usually involved her (a) dropping half of the ashes on the lawn on her way to the flower beds, (b) tripping up or down the brick steps from the patio to the upper lawn or (c) being chased by a beyond determined bee.  As I said, it was quite a production and quite a sight.  Mostly, I think Pappy encouraged her to grill as it kicked the chaos in the kitchen down a few notches.

I have to say, she was an excellent grill master!  As with anything she did, when she was determined, the end result was fabulousness.  Some of my best memories as a child are those spent on Pappy's back patio on "grill nights."  It was just all out good times.  It was the three of us being together.  It was being in the outdoors and taking it all in.  It was the smell of the charcoal and the grill.  It was sitting on the patio watching fireflies.  And, of course, it was the excitement of knowing something wonderfully delicious would soon be served!

My all-time fave thing my mom grilled was .....hamburgers!  I know what you're thinking...."Wow, Lisa ....that's so ....uncommon.  LOL  Trust me, my Mom's hamburgers WERE uncommon!  They were unique and delicious.  As I got older, she even let me in on her "secret recipe" and I helped her make them!  Below is the recipe.   I hope you find them as delicious as I did and still do!  Enjoy!

"Always Push The Parsley"
Lisa . A Girl Cook

RoCkIn' GoOd HaMbUrGeRs

It all starts with the bun!  My Mom used big, delicious onion buns!  These were spread with a VERY thin layer of mayo (both sides) and toasted on the grill during the last 5 minutes of grilling.  Don't forget this step!!!

For Four:

2lbs. ground beef
1 bunch scallions (diced)
1 large clove garlic (diced)
1 large tomato (diced)
12 fresh mushrooms (diced)
1 cup dill pickles (diced)
1 cup blue cheese
1 Tbsp. pepper
Hearts of Romaine Lettuce

Fire up your grill!

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together  - except the ground beef and lettuce.

Make 8 (not too thick)  hamburger patties.

Take two patties, at a time, and spread a layer of the mixed ingredients on one hamburger patty.  Place the other hamburger patty on top of the hamburger patty with the layer of ingredients and press the sides together, making seams.  You're making a stuffed hamburger!

For medium-well hamburgers, grill approximately 5 minutes on each side.  Depends on how hot your grill is, how far the coals are from the heat, etc.

Dont' forget - the last 5 minutes of grilling, toss your buns on the grill!

Place your lettuce on the bun and then your delicious hamburger patty on top of the lettuce.

We never added catsup, mayo or mustard as these are just a party of flavor in your mouth without the condiments!   :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

OkraLogic . A Girl Cook: SUNDAYS!

OkraLogic . A Girl Cook: SUNDAYS!: Good Morning Everyone! Hope your Sunday is off to a good start!  It's a slow, rainy morning in the Ozarks which is FINE by me because I'm...


Good Morning Everyone!

Hope your Sunday is off to a good start!  It's a slow, rainy morning in the Ozarks which is FINE by me because I'm one of those chicks that LOVES the rain!  As a child I would be SO stoked when it rained!  I would put on my raincoat with matching hat and galoshes and go outside and jump in puddles until my legs couldn't jump anymore!  My Mom realized early on that it was futile to fight me on this!  This morning I'm enjoying some delicious java, checking email and listening to the rain.  It's a good Sunday morning!

I've always loved this song and, in my opinion, it's the perfect way to start off "your" Sunday!  Sing it Lionel Richie!  :)

Sundays were always eventful growing up.  Sometimes, Sunday was my favorite day of the week.  Sometimes....not so much.

If we were in Iowa, Sunday meant breakfast at SAMBO's!  I would order pancakes with extra "weiner sausages" which is what I called sausage links.  I would proudly wear my SAMBOS's t-shirt and I remember always being kinda sad when we left.   We'd get home and I'd either endlessly ride my Big Wheel up and down the driveway (until my Dad came outside to tell me it was hurting his head) or retreat to the basement where I had a playroom the size of a small village.  Mostly, I liked to organize my toys by genre.  What can I say?  Not the usual kid.  On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate Iowa Sundays a "5."

If were were in Suriname, South America it meant my parents slept in late and then drug me to the club where I had to endure riding around on the back of a golf cart totally embarrassed by their matching golf outfits.  My Dad's outfit was this neon blue and white shirt with white stripes and matching pants that, frankly, were too much for even the wild and wardrobe challenged Al Czervik in "Caddyshack."  My Mom sported the same shirt as my Dad's (designed for a woman) but it was red and white and she pranced around in a skort that emphasized her white chicken legs that she chose to accent with white socks with red pom-poms on the ankles.  Oh, I almost forgot - - - they had matching white golf hats - his had a neon plue pom-pom on the top and hers had a red pomp-pom on top.  Did I mention the pom-poms on these hats were the size of coconuts?  As I said, it was totally embarrassing.  Sundays in Suriname were definitely not my fave.    On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate Suriname Sundays a big 'ole fat "0."

If we were in Brasil, South America it meant we would go to the downtown art fair where I always got something small and fabulous and then we walked down the block to CAFE AMERICANA and ate sinfully delicious cheeseburgers.  After that, it was back to the house and off to the club where I got to swim! Swimming was one of my faves.  I was actually a really good swimmer.  Good enough that I was on the swim team when I attended camp in the summers at CAMP SEQUOYA in Virginia.  Unfortunately, I had to sport a totally unflattering black Speedo and white swim cap but, hey, I kicked #@* in the butterfly!   :)    OR, we'd ride the cable cars to visit the Jesus statue.  That was always cool since, as I child, I was fearless of heights and it was funny to me that my Mom became a shade of pistachio.  Unfortunately, I'm no longer fearless of heights.  Basically, I'm a "heights wimp."
On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate Brasil Sundays a fabulous "10."

If were were in Mobile, Alabama it meant I'd spend the day in the backyard in the pool.  If it was raining then I'd play my records (Duran Duran, Huey Lewis & The News and Journey were my faves) over and over and over until my Dad came knocking on my door and said, "the neighborhood called and asked that you turn your record player off."  Yeah, he was always a warm and fuzzy kinda guy.  On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate Alabama Sundays a "4."

Well, you get the picture of some of my SUNDAYS!   This morning, I was checking email and had an "Okralogic . A Girl Cook" fan request the recipe for the chocolate cake that's shown on my Blog (there's a picture of it at the bottom of my Blog).  Of course I sent her the recipe and decided to make one on this rainy Sunday in the Ozarks.

So what's your Sunday going to involve?  Brunch pancakes?  Golf?  Swimming?  Baking? Napping? Cooking? Movie Watching?  ....all of the above?!?

For me, a decadent chocolate cake will be part of my Sunday.  So far, on a scale of 1-10 I'm going to rate this Sunday a "6."  Why not make a decadent chocolate cake a part of your Sunday too?!?

Below is the recipe!  Enjoy!

"Always Push The Parsley!"
 A Girl Cook

cAkE iNgReDiEnTs 
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
1 pound butter 
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier 
11 eggs yolks 
1 3/4 cups sugar 
11 egg whites, beaten until stiff 
2 cups dark chocolate chips (set aside) 
gAnAcHe InGrEdIeNtS 
8 ounces dark chocolate chips 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
gAnAcHe DiReCtIoNs 
Cook the chocolate chips and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over 
simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. 

cAkE dIrEcTiOnS
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12-inchspringform pan. In 
a double boiler, over medium heat, melt the chocolate and butter together. Stir 
in theGrand Marnier. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. In an 
electric mixer, on medium speed,beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and ribbon 
like, about 6 to 8 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, add the sugar in a steady 
stream. With the machine running slowly add the chocolate mixture and blend 
until all of the chocolate is incorporated. Fold in the stiff each whites. Pour 
the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on the rack, in the center of 
the oven. Bake the cake for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the center of the 
cake comes out clean with a toothpick. Remove the cake from the oven and place 
on a wire rack. Cool the cake for 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and 
cool completely. Invert the cake onto a serving plate.   Spread the chocolate 
ganache evenly over the cake.  Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips over the cake 
and ....ENJOY! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Happy Saturday everyone!

It's been a minute since my last post.  It truly is my goal to blog every day.  As my followers know, Chris and I own a very busy B&B in the Ozark Mountains and it, more times that not, takes me away from OkraLogic . A Girl Cook.   But in 2012, I'm truly going to try and touch base every day! :)

It's Saturday.  It's a beautiful Saturday.  The sun is shining on this beautiful Saturday.  I'm sitting here looking out the window amazed at how blue the sky is.  It's seriously like an oil painting.    On a day this beautiful it got me thinking about picnics I used to go on as a child.  Well, let me re-phrase that.  It got me thinking about FABULOUS picnics I would go on as a child.  Everyone loves picnics, right?  We offer picnic baskets at the inn that are a HUGE hit with guests - they just can't get enough of them!

What do YOU think of when you hear - "let's go on a picnic!" - ?  I think MOST people think ~ sandwiches, cold pasta salad, paper napkins, brownies, fruit, cheese .......

Well, not my Mom.  They were a true original one-of-a-kind production.  She would start planning the picnic on a Monday.  She'd get her "lists" going on the kitchen table. You couldn't even see the top of the kitchen table.  Frankly, she looked a little nuts with a pencil over each ear wildly pouring over endless magazines and cookbooks with her glasses perched on her perfect nose.  It was a flurry of pure determination.  I learned early NOT to disturb her if she was "making a list."  We lived with my Grandfather and Pappy would say, "Leesie, dont' go in the kitchen.  Your mother is making a "list."  Yeah, I'm serious!  LOL  There were "lists" for appetizers.  There were "lists" for desserts.  There were "lists" for cheese.  You see, each "list" had (at least) 4-5 options.  That was on Monday.  On Tuesday there were 2-3 options.  On Wednesday, the "list" had been finalized with the category winners proudly displayed on a pice of paper where the cursive writing seemed to boast a little more flourish than on her previous "lists."  I assume this was due to the "list euphoria" she was experiencing.

In case you think this was the end of "the list", silly you!!  See, on Wednesday the "grocery list" would be created.  On Wednesday the "alphabetized grocery list" would be created.  On Thursday after work she'd go to the grocery store to fetch all the supplies and walk through the front door with a smile on her face like she had just won the lottery.   On Friday evening she'd stay up cooking 'till the wee hours prepping and dancing around the kitchen like a kid in a candy store for our super special and super fabulous Saturday afternoon picnic.

To this day, I am obsessed with making "lists."  Clearly, a genetic shortcoming.  And, yes, I alphabetize my grocery lists too.  HaHa!

The picnics were incredible.  The picnics were fun.  The picnics were one of a kind.  The picnics were a true one of a kind production.   One time we had a picnic on the front lawn under this enormous tree I loved to sit under and play Barbies.  One time we had a picnic at a lake where I fed the ducks ....who, chased me trying to bite my bottom ....but that's a whole other blog.  (haha)  Some picnics we'd build Play Doh animals.  Some picnics we'd have bubble blowing contests which I never won.  Some picnics we'd paint our faces like fairies.  Some picnics we'd catch worms and have worm races.  Some picnics we'd make necklaces by braiding flowers.  Like I said, these picnics were a true one of a kind experience.

My fave picnic of all time was one winter day.  I was 5.  We had a picnic in the living room in front of a fabulous roaring fire and toasted marshmallows....before we even opened the picnic basket.   I remember it was snowing.  I loved, and still love, the snow.  I wore my favorite green coat with the faux fur around the hood to the picnic.  The fact my Mom forgot to open the flue and the living room filled with smoke.....well, that just led to the whole one-of-a-kind picnic experience.  Pappy didn't seem to find it as funny as I did.  I remember I went upstairs and fetched my Fireman hat out of my toy chest and came back down and watched the chaos of my Mom running around the house opening all the windows and doors and fanning the air with a broom. I remember Pappy was running behind my mom closing all the windows and doors because, well, it was below freezing outside and snowing.  I remember I offered to get the hose from the backyard but my generous offer was quickly shot down.  Mostly, I remember that winter picnic in front of a fabulous roaring fire.

Are you wondering what we had at that fabulous winter picnic in the living room when I wore both my favorite green coat with the faux fur hood AND my shiny red fireman hat?  It was awesome!  It was incredible!  It was incredibly awesome.  And it all is below.  I attached a few recipes as I don't have all of my mom's recipes.  I still have her recipe box and all her cookbooks.  I still have a few of her handwritten recipe cards tucked away.  I still love picnics.  And, yes, that winter picnic is still my all time fave picnic!!

Go!  Get Outdoors!  Stay Indoors!  GET YOUR PICNIC ON!
"Always Push The Parsley!"
 ~ Lisa . A Girl Cook


BEFORE THE PICNIC (I like mine when they have black on the edges!)
Toasted Marshmallows

APPETIZER (so much fun as a kid!  I have made these as an adult and they're always a hit!)
Black olive cream cheese penguins with carrot feet & red pimento scarves

CHEESE  (we both loved blue cheese!)
Blue cheese mini cheese balls

Papaya  (my fave fruit of all time!)

Bread (my fave bread in the entire world!)

Entree (I love peanut sauce!)
Beef skewers with peanut sauce

Dessert  (I am in love with coconut!)
Coconut cupcakes

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


HAPPY 2012!!
I hope everyone ended 2011 on a rockin' good note!  It's been a LONG time since I've posted and no sense in going through all the blah-blah-blah as to why.

Most importantly, here I am!  It's a New Year!  New Food Ahead!  New Stories Ahead!  New Food Stories Ahead!

So I woke up this morning and was unusually hungry.  I really don't know why because we had fallen asleep to the Food Network and when I woke up two chefs were trying to come up with a recipe / figure out how to cook a cow tongue the size of a small Winnebago reminiscent of Cousin Eddie's RV in "Christmas Vacation."   ME:  :30 Fuzzy Stare At The TV ...."Really?"

Regardless, I was hungry.  As I think most of us do, I walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and stood there for a good :45 taking in all the options and letting all the cold air out.  ((I can't tell you HOW many times as a child I heard ...."Lisa-Margaret, close that door - you're letting all the cold air out."))  Clearly, that really resonated and "stuck" with me.   I shut the door, stared at the pantry shelves, opened the refrigerator again, stood there for a good :45 again taking in the options (like something had magically appeared since I last closed the door) and let all the cold air out again.

Nothing.  I got nothing.  I had nothing.  I was still hungry ....and a tad annoyed.

I started my coffee and stood in the kitchen staring out the huge kitchen windows into the sky .....and I saw our town's toddler-sized turkey buzzards circling in the sky.  A lightbulb went off - a kitchen lightbulb if you will.  Actually, an egg lightbulb.  I felt like MacGyver!  No, not really.  I mean, come ON.  We all know "MacGyver" would have created a human cannon machine to project himself into the sky where he would have then grabbed a toddler-sized turkey buzzard with his bare hands and used a pair of "Spiderman" web-like  cuff links he invented ((which could clearly double as cuff links to a swanky dinner soiree)) to swing in the sky - historic home to historic home - until he landed back at the B&B and cooked the toddler-sized turkey buzzard over a pile of sticks he ignited with, I'm sure, a swiss army knife and roll of duct tape.

The town's toddler-sized turkey buzzards circling in the sky made me thing of ....EGGS!   It's not like they were circling the sky and dropping eggs.  It was more like  - what came first?  The bird or the egg?  It all came together in my head within minutes (I must admit, it was a little overwhelming with no java in my system) and I lunged for the skillet.  No, not really.  I just put the skillet on the stove.  Childhood memories came to me of my Mom cooking "birds on bread" for me if I had been what she called "a good behavior" the previous day.  Needless to say, this breakfast wasn't prepared often for me.  No, not often at all.  Actually, hardly ever.

"Birds on Bread" was what I called two pieces of bread with circles cut out of them and an egg cooked in the middle.   My Mom was hosting a bridge party one weekend and, as I always did, I sat in the kitchen watching this beautiful, energetic "Betty Crocker had NOTHIN' on her" woman flutter around and create amazing dishes for her parties - - -  and this day she was making "birds on bread" but fancy-style with swiss cheese and chives and spinach and a Bechamel sauce.  My mom told me this was a "Birds Nest Casserole" to which I replied ...."No, it's not.  It's birds on bread."  Always the defiant one, I think my Mom had basically decided early on which battles to attempt to win and which to just admit defeat.  She smiled - with her perfectly coiffed hair and pink lipstick and an apron we would all die to have because it was just so pink and perfect - and said, "Yes, Lisa-Margaret those certainly are birds on bread. You're so smart to think outside the box and call it that."  To which I replied, "I know."  What can I say?  I wasn't a good child.

I grabbed a skillet and 2 slices of Light Wonder Wheat bread.  I cut two circles out.  I cracked two eggs. I sprinkled sea salt & fresh ground pepper over this amazing creation in the skillet and waited.  Three minutes later, all was well in the world.  I slid those beauties out of the skillet and on to a plate, grabbed a fork and had a serious sit down with "birds on bread", smiling as I remembered that afternoon my Mom was fluttering around the kitchen with her perfectly coiffed hair, pink lipstick, and an apron we would all die to have  now because it was just so pink and perfect.

It's been a great morning.  You see, I had breakfast with my Mom

Xo .  A Girl Cook
"Always Push The Parsley!"