My 5 Favorite Treats of Fall (bring on the apple & pumpkin)

I can’t seem to get my hands on enough pumpkin and apple treats this fall.  Apple fritters, impossibly moist pumpkin bread, and all those spicy fall brews. Not to mention Trader Joe’s pumpkin explosion. Pumpkin flavored toaster pastries?? (I haven’t given in to those yet, but I don’t know how much longer I can restrain myself.) You’d think I’d be on autumn overload, but I’m not. Not even close. In fact, a few more fall favorites have won over my taste buds. Like this Pumpkin Pie French Toast Bake that I found on Pinterest and made for a family mountain vacation. Delish!


This french toast has just the right amount of sweetness. I highly recommend making your own pumpkin butter like the recipe suggests.

My taste buds are such pushovers when it comes to fall’s triple threat of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  However, the newcomers have stiff competition from my tried-and-true fall favs. They’ll have to really put up a fight to get into the top five. So, before I make myself any hungrier I’ll get to the list.

1. Apple Fritters  from Coston’s Apple House Country Store in Hendersonville, N.C.

Fresh apple fritters as big as your face. Need I say more? Word of warning: these treats are big enough to share, but don’t plan on wanting to.

2. Impossibly Moist Pumpkin Bread baked by my Mom-in-Law

I once at a whole loaf by myself. I wish I was kidding. The cinnamon sugar crust is key. Starbucks ain’t got nothing on this loaf. 

3. Fried Apple Hand Pies from Coston’s

Yes, back to Coston’s. This little country store is a goldmine of apple goodness. Buttery, flaky crust wrapped around a sweet mixture of brown sugar and fresh honey-crisp apples makes it impossible to just have one. Did I mention they’re served warm?

**Note: Buy more than you think you can eat. Sharing is not an option.

4. Punk’n Harvest Pumpkin Ale by Uinta Brewing Co.

The first time I had this was in glass with brown sugar on the rim and a shot of bailey’s thrown in. The little pub that makes it appropriately calls it the Pumpkin Bomb. Unlike other brews that claim to be pumpkin flavored–this one actually is. Plus, fall’s trinity of flavors brings out the flavor.

5. Pumpkin Spice Pancake Mix from Trader Joe’s

No need to spend Saturday morning making pancakes from scratch with this perfectly spiced mix. Pour on the maple syrup for a yummy blend of spicy and sweet. 

No, it’s not a mistake. The beloved PSL didn’t make my list. There were just too many other delicious fall concoctions that I love more, but if you have a good pumpkin coffee rec I’ll take it! Feel free to leave your favorite fall treat in a comment below. Who knows, maybe it’ll make my list in the years to come!

Writing between mouthfuls, 

The Southern Bee

A Labor of Love

For my husband’s birthday I decided to make a surprise cake in honor of his 23rd year (yes, we married young). Since baking is not my strong suit, I went with a recipe that calls for boxed cake mix with a few added ingredients and a recipe for homemade icing–that at least I thought I could make from scratch. The cake of choice: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cup Cake. It’s kinda of like a Reese’s Cup turned inside out. Sounds a little adventurous, but the directions seemed relatively easy to follow and I was using boxed mix after all. Plus, the recipe said it only took about an hour and a half to make. No biggie.

Hah. About a half of box of powdered sugar on the counter later, I realized there was no way this cake was going to be finished on time. I was still only halfway through making the icing and the cake layers were still cooling. Let me say this. I don’t know what makes the center of the cake stick to the cake pan. I tried everything to get the cake out of the pan without messing it up, but my layers ended up being a little patchy on top.( If you have any advice about this please, please tell me!) About the time the recipe said I should be wrapping up, I was just at the point of icing the cake. Icing is a whole lot harder to do when entire chunks of cake are missing. So, I layered the homemade peanut butter icing on thick. Thick enough to where you wouldn’t be able to tell my baking skills were lacking. I’ll admit there were moments went I just wanted to put my fist in the middle of it.

After 2 hours and a few close calls, the cake was completely iced! All that was left to do was to top it with chopped Reese’s cups. I’ll let you in on  a little secret. Refrigerate the Reese’s cups before chopping them. It’ll keep them from becoming a melty mess.  After, sprinkling some on top, the cake was complete! But I still wasn’t in the clear yet! I had to drop the cake off at a friend’s house (we were surprising my husband there later), get back home, get ready, and go pick up the birthday boy from work. Thanks to the cake taking forever, I only had an hour and a half to do it all!

Fortunately, I got  it all done. Hubs was totally surprised by the cake. He and our friends loved it. Everyone says the first time you make a recipe is the hardest and after that it’s easier and goes a lot faster. I don’t know if I believe them or if I’ll ever work up the nerve to make this cake again.


Please excuse the tiny bits of cake mixed in with the icing.

From the top.

From the top.

Cooking is full of adventures. Even when you stick to the recipe, things don’t go like they’re supposed to. However, when you’re cooking for the ones you love laboring away in the kitchen is a little sweeter.

Here’s to Happy Birthdays,

The Southern Bee

Simple Grilling for a Busy Life

Life has suddenly become incredibly busy! A new house in the works, a new job, and a busy social calendar has overfilled my plate like Thanksgiving dinner.  As much as a I hate to admit it, the blog ended up on the back burner. But I’ve still been cooking! Now, more than ever, I have come to appreciate dinners that are simple and easy to prepare. One of the best ways to make a quick meal: grill! Yesterday was so beautiful my husband asked if we could shift around the meal plan and grill out instead. I’m so glad we did! Let me tell you, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while and it was so simple (plus, he did all the cooking). So, if my memory serves me correctly this is how we grilled it:

Simple Grilled Steaks for 2


  • 2 New York Strip Steaks
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo (To fuel the hubby)

Directions for a charcoal grill:

Place coals in the center of the grill. Let the coals heat to medium high heat (bottom coals should be bright orange). While grill is heating, rub steaks on both sides with olive oil. Then, generously sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper and rub it into the steak. Carefully, pat both sides of the steaks dry with a paper towel (this allows you to get a nice sear). Place the steaks on the grate directly over the coals. Cover the grill. Cook steaks for 4-6 minutes on each side. Place cooked steaks on a plate and cover with tin foil. Let steaks rest for about 5-10 minutes.

*Note: If you want a more well done steak move the meat to the side of the grill and cook over indirect heat for a few minutes.  Do not leave over direct heat because this will burn your meat. 

Cajun Corn on the Cob for 2


  • 2  ears of sweet white corn (we both could have eaten another one)
  • butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Old Bay seasoning


While the steaks are cooking, (this works best if one person is manning the grill and the other is prepping) remove the husks from the corn and wash. Then, rub the corn with butter, sprinkle with salt, and the Old Bay seasoning. Cook the corn on the grill for 6-10 minutes over direct heat, rotating while cooking.

My husband said this corn was so good it was almost better than the steak! Let me tell you that is a HUGE deal coming from him. Again, this meal was so simple yet so tasty! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Savoring Simplicity,

The Southern Bee





Going Bananas

I hate to see food go to waste. It may be one of my biggest pet peeves. Yet, I do it all the time and it drives me bananas! So, this year I am trying to keep food out of the can by finding new uses for it when it may be a bit uhhh…extra ripe. One of the foods I waste the most are bananas (now you realize I made a terribly corny joke earlier). They seem to develop bruises and dark freckles on the way home from the store! Here are a few ways to turn overdue bananas into tasty treats:

Think these bananas are destined for the trash? Not in TSB's kitchen!

Think these bananas are destined for the trash? Not in TSB’s kitchen!

Tip #1: Use them in smoothies! This is the easiest way to use  overripe bananas. Slice them into bite-size pieces, place them in a freezer baggie, and pop them into the freezer. Make sure to leave a little bit of room between the slices so they don’t freeze into one giant mass. When I want to make a smoothie I just take as many slices as I need and put them into the blender. The frozen bananas help add a creamy texture. My favorite smoothie to make: Peanut Butter, Banana, & Chocolate. Yum!

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Slicing bananas makes them easier to pop into smoothies!

Tip #2Make banana bread! This is how I am planning to use my overripe bananas this week. I already have all the ingredients on hand which is an added bonus. The overripe bananas keep the bread moist and sweet!

Tip #3: Bake a sweet snack! I make Banana Chocolate Chip muffins every Valentine’s Day for my husband. They became a tradition our first Valentine’s as an “official couple” because we had only been dating a few months and I couldn’t think of what to get him. These muffins are good for breakfast, as a snack, or even dessert!

Tip #4 : Freeze’um whole! Can’t decide what to do with them? Just put the overripe bananas in the freezer in a zipper-lock freezer bag (peel on) until you know what to do with them. Take the bananas out and let them thaw when you are ready to use them.

 Now, I am not saying you should eat past-it’s-prime meat or other foods that could make you sick. As always, you are the judge of what you eat and what you don’t. I just hope this makes you think twice about throwing away food!

Wasting Less & Eating More,

The Southern Bee



Savvy Sites

Meal planning day is tomorrow and that means I will be scouring my favorite savvy websites for the best deals at the grocery store. These websites are so important to my meal planning because without them I would have to work much harder and longer to save. So, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites. These are the top 3 websites I use to find what’s on sale, coupon match-ups, and tons of other deals. If you are just getting in to couponing or are thinking about creating weekly meal plans, these sites can really help you out. They help me every week!

(The sites are in alphabetical order. I’m trying to keep things fair y’all.)

This is your go-to website for deals at Publix. I used this website in college and I was able to buy what I needed on a teeny budget.

  1. The site includes all the sales and coupons that are available at Publix. This includes:
  • Weekly Ads: This is where most of your savings will come from. Look through all the sale items and write down those you need or use most.
  • Advantage Flyer: These are Publix store coupons that can be used with coupons that come in the Sunday paper. Stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons on sale items to score great deals!
  • Greenwise ad: These are usually coupons for organic/specialty products or produce.
  • You should be able to find all three ads in a stand right when you walk in the door. If they aren’t there just ask customer service!

2.  You can create your own shopping list.

  • Look under the My Shopping List Tab. What makes it really awesome is you can add up how much it will cost pre and post coupons! This will help you stay on budget and know how much you are spending before walking in to the store.

3. The website also has a tab for printable coupons.

  • You can get tons more coupons online and just print them out! Usually online coupons offer a bigger variety and they are free! Just be sure your printer has ink!

This site is like Wal-mart — it’s a one-stop shop for coupons, deals, and money-saving recipes!

1. Check out the Stock Up tab.

  • This is an extensive list of how much you should pay for items at the grocery store. I really like this list because it’s all on one page and includes many staple items. Note: These are the best prices you can expect to pay, but if you find a good deal and it’s a few cents more I would go ahead and get it.

2. It has a Coupon Database!

  • Say you need an item that is not on sale. Go to the Coupon Database tab. You can type in an item ( I searched yogurt) and it will find all the coupons that correlate with that item.

3. No time to think of meals to cook? 

  • Click on Meal Deals under the Recipes tab. She puts up a weekly menu that is affordable. If the ingredients are on sale that week she will usually include coupon match-ups for them! How great is that?

4. She saves to give

  • One noteworthy aspect of this website is Passionate Giving. The woman who runs this site uses a small portion of her budget each week to help others. Her money goes a longer way with coupons!

This is the site I use to save at the grocery store and at the drugstore. Her sale and coupon match-ups help me save 60% off my grocery bill!

1. Great for beginners

  • She has an online tutorial for couponing at grocery stores and at drugstores! It’s important to know the stores’ coupon policies before you go in.

2. Sales and coupon match-ups for tons of stores!

  •  This website has coupon matchups for almost every grocery store (including Target) and drugstores. She also includes deals for retail stores, online shopping, and many more things on the home page. (She puts little acorns next to items that are really really good deals.)

3. Sales Search feature

  • The sales search feature allows you to look for an item you need (ex: toilet tissue) and the site will find where that item is on sale and if there are any coupons to go with it. This really helps when you need just that one thing!

4. How much should I pay?

  • When I started couponing one of the hardest things to figure out was how much I should spend on a specific item. Routinely, this website will highlight an item (we will use the toilet paper example again) and tell you how much you should be paying per roll. This is extremely helpful and keeps you from spending more money than you have to. This tool really helps to save on staple items.


I hope these websites help you out with saving as much as they help me. I don’t know what I would do if they didn’t take the time to find all the great deals!

Searching for Savings,

The Southern Bee

A Valentine’s Day Feast in Charlotte

My husband and I had a much needed date night this Valentine’s Day after weeks of recovery from surgery. We had planned to go to a restaurant in Dilworth, but when we called to make reservations they told us they would only be offering a set menu with a fixed price. So, we decided to try a restaurant that we had never been to before. A few of our friends told us about Zio, a casual Italian restaurant off of Queens road, so we thought we would try it out. They don’t except reservations so we arrived early just in case. The only negative thing I have to say about this restaurant is the parking. We witnessed two minor fender benders just in the parking lot!

Once we got inside, we only had to wait 10-15 minutes to be seated. Not bad for Valentine’s Day and not having reservations! Our waiter was prompt and was very knowledgeable about the wine list. The wine was moderately priced with a variety of whites and reds. I went with a buttery Chardonnay while my husband chose a dry, earthy red. And that’s all I know about wine.

Once we had our drinks we looked over the menu. I had done a little research to find out what other people ordered and loved. The Beef Spiedies (pronounced speedies) came highly recommended, so we ordered them for an appetizer. But before they arrived, our waiter brought us a basket of warm, home-made bread with olive oil for dipping. Oh my! I could have filled up on bread alone. I’m sure it was very unromantic of me to scarf down the complimentary bread, but this girl loves carbs! Especially, if they are home-made. Okay, enough about the bread. The Beef Spiedies lived up to the hype. They are bite-size pieces of steak, cooked to medium, and put on skewers. The steak marinade was excellent, although a bit vinegary.

For the main course, we both chose the grilled pizzas. I ordered the grilled pear and Gorgonzola pizza with arugula and smoked bacon. My husband chose the grilled pizza with sweet Italian sausage and roasted red pepper. Both pizzas had thin crispy crusts that held up to the plentiful toppings. I would have never thought to put pear on a pizza, but it was delicious! The soft, sweet pear perfectly paired with the smoky bacon and peppery greens. The Italian sausage and red peppers were also  delicious, albeit  more traditional toppings. We each had half a pizza leftover!

After debating if our stomachs could hold it, we ordered the Tiramisu. It came in a glass sundae dish and was perfect for splitting! The custard mixture on top was very sweet, but still creamy and rich. The strong espresso and chocolate took the edge off the sweetness, making for a delicious end to an outstanding, affordable Italian feast!

Total, with tip, we paid just under 60 dollars and had almost a whole pizza leftover! We will definitely be visiting Zio again!


The Southern Bee


2-in-1 Dinner: Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken

I love this recipe. I think it was one of the first meals I cooked as a newly wed (which I still am). The recipe is simple and takes less than 5 minutes before it’s crock pot ready! The best part about this dish is that it makes two meals, but you only have to cook once! Serve the BBQ chicken the first night with brown rice and your favorite vegetable. The next night, make BBQ Chicken & Cheddar Quesadillas or BBQ Chicken sandwiches.

Prep time: 5 minutes or less           Cook time: 6 hours


  • 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup barbecue ( I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing ( I use Kraft or Ken’s Lite Italian)
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth ( You can substitute water)


  1. Put chicken in the slow cooker. In a two-cup measuring cup, measure and combine barbecue sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. 
  2. Remove chicken and shred it with two forks on a cutting board. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch and broth (or water) together. Pour mixture into crock pot and stir with barbecue sauce until thickened.
  3. Return chicken back to crock pot and stir. Cook for another 45 minutes or until mixture thickens.
  4. Serve over brown rice or with a baked potato. Enjoy!

Keeping it simple,

The Southern Bee

Note: I found this recipe in a cooking magazine, but I can’t remember which one!


Pinterest Favorite: Loaded Baked Potato Soup

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I remember as a kid I always ordered the baked potato soup when went out to eat at O’Charley’s. Forget the steaks, chicken tenders,  and burgers. All I wanted was a large bowl of soup and a yeast roll. My tastes have expanded since then, but I still like a good bowl of baked potato soup. One reason O’Charley’s soup was my favorite is they didn’t skimp on the potato (I don’t know how it is now). This recipe I found on Pinterest doesn’t either. Each bite is filled with creamy potato, bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onion. I went ahead and cut the recipe in half, so if you are cooking for two it will make enough for dinner and lunch the next day!


  • 4-5 russet or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 6-7 slices of bacon (about half a 12 oz package)
  • 1 stick of butter ( I usually use a little less to make myself feel better)
  • 1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of half and half ( I use fat free)
  • 5 chicken bullion cubes
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper


1. Fill a large pot about half way up with water and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. While you wait for the water to boil, wash potatoes and then use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to take the skins off. Then, cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut the halves again lengthwise (you should have four wedges). Cut into bite size pieces. Carefully, put the potatoes into the boiling pot of water. Boil potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are soft, but not mushy.

3. Now, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and put your pieces of bacon on it. Pop it into the oven for 20 minutes or until bacon is crispy, but not burnt.

4. Grate cheese and slice onion while potatoes and bacon are cooking. This is also when I measure out  my other ingredients.

5. When potatoes are done ( I always eat one to make sure it’s not hard or crunchy) use a slotted spoon to take them out of the pot. Put them into a bowl or on a plate and set aside. Take the bacon out of the oven. Use tongs to put it on a paper-towel lined plate to cool.

6. In the same pot you cooked the potatoes, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour to the butter. Quickly whisk the flour and butter together to form a thick paste, called a roux. Once the paste forms, slowly pour in the milk and the half and half, whisking continuously. Add the bullion cubes. Continue to stir until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. This takes 5-10 minutes. If soup seems a little thick, use milk to thin it out.

7. Reduce the heat and add the potatoes back into the pot. Cook just until they are warm again. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve the soup with bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

These directions may seem a little long, but this recipe really does not take that much time. Once you make it a few times, it comes together even faster! I serve the soup with crunchy bread for dipping. 

Licking the bowl clean,

The Southern Bee

*Note: The original recipe was created by, but it was tweaked with love by TSB.

Cinnamon & Sugar Biscuit Puffs

Please excuse the grease. I'd rather the grease on the paper towel than in my mouth.

Please excuse the grease. I’d rather it be on the paper towel than in my mouth.


Oh, these simple little puffs bring me back to my childhood. My momma used to make them on special occasion mornings or sometimes just as a treat for my sister and me. The anticipation of eating one was almost equal to waiting for Christmas morning. My momma didn’t allow much sugar into our home ( I know why now), so these delightful bites were almost as good as Birthday cake. You have to pretend your a kid again when you eat them, otherwise you will worry too much about the fact that they are fried and rolled in sugar.

Cinnamon & Sugar Biscuit Puffs


  • 1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Canola oil

*Note: You have to get the temperature of the oil just right. If it’s too hot, the outside will burn before the inside is cooked through. If it’s too cold,  the dough will become laden with oil and they won’t be crispy. When the oil is heated, I recommend dropping one piece of dough in as a test. 


1. Take biscuit dough rounds out of the can. Cut each round into four equal size pieces – kind of like a pizza. Roll the pieces into little balls. Line a plate or bowl with two paper towels. This will be for the cooked puffs.

2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. I’m never sure how much I will use, just make sure to use more sugar than cinnamon.

3. In a small sauce pan, pour oil until it’s about an inch deep. Heat oil on medium to medium-high heat (that’s level 5-6 on my stove).

4. When the oil begins to lightly smoke it’s ready for the dough. Carefully, put 5-6 pieces of dough in the hot oil. The oil should bubble up around the dough and the dough should begin to puff and turn light brown. In 20-30 seconds, use a fork or spoon to flip the pieces over. Cook for another 20-30 seconds or until both sides are golden brown (see picture above.) Using a big slotted spoon, carefully place the cooked puffs on the paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

5. Repeat until all the dough is cooked.

6. Serve warm with extra cinnamon and sugar for dipping. Enjoy this simple, sweet treat! I bet you can’t eat just one……

Here’s to being a kid in the kitchen,

The Southern Bee



Healthy Sides: Cilantro Lime Rice

We eat rice a lot in our home. It’s inexpensive and is very versatile, but it can get boring. This recipe livens up plain white rice by adding lime juice and cilantro. It pairs well with a Mexican inspired dish like White Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas or Basic Fish Tacos.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Serves: 4  Time: 15-20 minutes


  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil


1. Cook rice according to package directions. Adding in one teaspoon of oil and the salt with the rice.

2. While the rice is cooking, mix the lime juice (use 3/4 of lime), cilantro and remaining 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a small bowl.

3. When the rice is done transfer it into a serving bowl. Pour the lime-cilantro mixture over it. Stir to combine the rice and mixture. Enjoy this flavorful dish!

Note: This recipe was created by, but was made with love by TSB. 

Jazzin’ Up Weekday Meals,

The Southern Bee