Julia's Simply Southern: March 2016 >

Monday, March 28, 2016

Basic Relish Tray

A relish tray is a traditionally a small sectioned dish or platter that contains items such as pickles, olives, raw vegetables or cheese cubes. They are served as appetizers before dinner and alongside the dinner.

I haven't had a relish tray in years but decided to do one at a recent holiday dinner and it was a hit. I was quite pleased and I think I'll do one regularly.

It's so simple! I used large pimento stuffed party olives, pitted kalamata olives, a sweet gherkin pickles.

Try one at your next get together and don't be surprised when everyone loves it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dinner Party Tip #1

I am going to begin a series of tips for dinner parties so here we go with the first post of this series. Be sure to check back for new posts in the series.

You can pick up a set of 12 mini shakers like the ones pictured for less than $10.00

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day Trip - Charleston, South Carolina

Quite a picturesque view when arriving to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina. Located in the area known as the "Plantation District" of Charleston on the Ashley River where many well known plantations are located in the area.

The house we see today is the third house to be built on the property. The first two were lost to fire, one by a lightening strike and the second by hand of the Union army.

Magnolia Plantation has been in the same original family for more than three centuries. Some sections of the gardens are over 325 years old. Quite a bit of beautiful history on these lands.

As you walk the grounds you'll hear the strange cry of peacocks who freely roam the grounds. 

We started our visit with a tour of the house. What a delight that the tour guide worked for the owners while they last lived in the main house in the 1970's as a teenager. He was full of interesting history and it made for a wonderful tour. He was invited to give a tour eight years ago and has been doing so ever since. 

After a tour of the house we were off on the boat tour. The boat tour was of an area inside the levies built by slaves for growing rice. It took 200 slaves five years to build the levy. The wildlife on this tour was fascinating, including the American Alligator who was basking in the sun by the pluff mud to greet us as we walked toward the boat.

Looks friendly, don't ya think? Supposedly they lie around during the day to help regulate their temperature and digest food from their hunting the night before and won't bother you. Of course I don't want to ever get close enough to find out if that is true. I'll just take the word of those who say so.

Lastly after the boat tour we were off to walk the grounds and gardens. If you've never been you will not be disappointed. 

After we left Magnolia Plantation we were off to downtown Charleston for dinner at Hank's Seafood Restaurant , a locals favorite and certainly one ours. We eat there every trip. We share everything so it's win win and enjoyed a lump crab cocktail, shrimp cocktail, lobster, steak au poivre with pimento cheese grits, and fried green tomatoes. The peppercorn sauce is soooo delicious! Everything was! Here's a look at their menu: Hank's Dinner Menu . Be sure to make reservations if you want to dine there. They are packed every night. There is open seating at the bar and a community table.

For more history of Magnolia Plantation Click Here

Additional Photos and Information on Magnolia Plantation Click Here

For more information on Charleston SC Click Here

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Un~Stuffed Peppers Casserole

If you're a fan of stuffed peppers like I am, you'll love this un-stuffed version as a casserole. It's so good. There will be plenty to feed everyone too or bonus - you can have leftovers!

I recently read an article my friend Mary at Cooking with Mary and Friends posted on Facebook about bell peppers. I knew that all the colors of the bell peppers were just different stages in ripening but didn't know the nutritional value changes with each color. It was very interesting. They are all good for you but you get increased vitamin levels with each stage in the ripening process.

I used one of each color in this casserole but feel free to mix and match as you choose, or use all the same color if that's what you have on hand. 

  • 4 Bell Peppers, medium to large in size - diced
  • 1 10.5 oz Can Cream of Onion Soup
  • 6 c Cooked Rice
  • 1 14.5 oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 8 oz Cheddar Cheese, freshly grated
  • 3/4 c Chicken Stock
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Olive Oil

Tip: When cutting bell peppers, remove ends. Cut in half and remove seeds and ribs from inside. Cut the pepper with the shiny side down to prevent the knife from slipping during slicing. 

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. When the skillet is heated add your diced peppers. Saute for about 5 minutes until they start to become tender. I season a little along the way when cooking too so give a pinch of salt and pepper to the peppers in the skillet. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

While the peppers saute, in a large mixing bowl add cream of onion soup, diced tomatoes and juice, chicken stock, salt, pepper, eggs and mix to combine. Add cooked rice and about 1/3 of the grated cheese to the mix and combine.

When the peppers are done add them to the mixing bowl and combine everything well.

Lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and add your casserole mixture.

Bake in your preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, add the remainder of the shredded cheese to the top and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Allow casserole to stand 15 minutes before serving. It will be really hot and bubbly. 

Time Saving Tip: Cook your rice , dice the peppers, and grate the cheese the day before so when you're ready to cook this dish you just put it all together and only need to saute the peppers.

See it at Meal Plan Monday

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Broccoli Pasta Salad

Super Easy, Super Delicious! I love "cool" side dishes when the temperatures start to rise. This one is perfect as a side dish to your meal or great to take to a potluck dinner or barbecue.


  • 1 lb Pasta, such as Rotini or Bowtie
  • 2 c Fresh Broccoli Florets 
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1/4 c Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c Sour Cream
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Creole Mustard
  • 1 tsp White Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1.5 - 3 tsp Pickled Diced Jalapenos, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1 tsp Dried Dill
  • 1/4 tsp Sugar, granulated

Bring enough water to a boil to cook pasta. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook for 10 minutes. The last 5 minutes of cooking throw your broccoli florets in with the pasta to cook.

While the pasta and broccoli cook, in a large mixing bowl add all wet ingredients, onion, jalapenos and seasonings. Mix well.

Once pasta and broccoli are done, drain well and rinse with cool water until it's cooled. Make sure it drains well. 

Add to the dressing mixture in the mixing bowl and stir to combine. 

You can serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator. If you chill it in the fridge, take it out 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

See it at: Meal Plan Monday

Smoked Barbecue Chicken Legs - On the Grill

If you're like me, chicken legs might not be your first choice of chicken pieces. These smoked barbecue chicken legs are so good you're gonna love them. Then you're gonna go tell everybody how good they are and not be able to wait til you can shove one of these in their mouth to taste. Yea, it's that good.

I used to sort of be afraid of grilling. That all changed years ago when we got a gas grill that had a thermostat on it. Well I'll be, this grill is nothing more than an outdoor oven. That's the thinking that changed it all for me.

I love the flavor that smoking meats give. This recipe is worth the bit of extra effort. The effort is not really in the work but cooking time.

So here's how you do it and make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand......well unless you plan on licking your fingers clean.


  • 6-12 Chicken Legs
  • Your favorite Dry BBQ Rub
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Your favorite wet BBQ sauce, or sauces
  • Smoke Wood Chips
You'll also need a foil pan, such as a foil baking bread pan and aluminum foil.

An hour or so before you plan to start cooking, add some of the smoke wood chips to a bowl and cover with water and soak for an hour.

When you are ready to grill, drain the water from the wood chips and add them to the foil pan. Cover with foil, and use a tooth pick or skewer to poke holes in the foil.

Take your chicken legs out of the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a bowl or plate and cover all sides with the dry rub. Allow chicken to sit with dry rub for 20 minutes or so to come to room temperature.

While the chicken is hanging out with the dry rub, go ahead and start the grill. Turn all burners on high and place your foil smoking pan over to one side. By the time you're ready to put the chicken on you should see smoke coming out of the grill.

Turn the burner off on the side you'll be cooking the chicken on, or the side and center burners if you have a larger grill. Turn the heat down to medium on the side where your wood chip smoker pan is sitting so it keeps the smoke going during the cooking process. 

Add the chicken to the grill, make sure it's no where near the grill flames. The flames can cause the dry rub to burn since most rubs likely have some brown sugar or ground peppers that don't do well over direct flames.

The thermostat should read around 300 degrees during cooking. You're gonna smoke/grill the chicken legs for 1 and a half hour. Turn the chicken every half hour.

The last 15 minutes of cooking, add your wet sauce.

Remove the most delicious chicken legs ever from the grill and allow them to rest for 15 minutes before serving. The low and slow smoking cook method really tenderizes the chicken legs. They are moist and delicious too. 

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