This week I'm chatting with Nicole!
Hey there Sweet Southern fans! I'm Nicole, the Kentucky girl (married to a Texas boy) behind the blog, Three 31. I've been called the modern day Dr. Ruth for my appreciation of all things 50 Shadesand Christian Gray. When I'm not cooking, baking, or watching re-runs of The Real Housewives, I'm at church coordinating events and leading mission teams. In fact, I've recently returned from a second mission trip to Haiti. I'm an only child and chronic people-pleaser, which means I have issues. Lucky for me: my issues are cured with Mason jars filled with sweet tea. C'mon over to Three 31 and say hello, glad to meet you!
Danielle: I start every chat with the same three questions. Where are you? What are you wearing? And what are you drinking?
Nicole: FUN! I am at home in our living room, sitting in my super-comfy leather chair. I am wearing a pair of shorts (originally sweatpants), a t-shirt, and pullover. It's chilly outside! And, of course, I'm drinking sweet tea out of my Kentucky Derby Tervis cup!!!!!
D: Fun times! I'm cozy in my PJs right now. It is getting chilly! Since we're talking about cooking, what is your favorite meal to cook during the cold weather?
N: I don't necessarily change what I cook depending on the seasons and weather, but I prefer chili and beans/cornbread when the temps are cooler. In fact, before I left on a mission trip to Haiti two weeks ago, I made Husband a big pot of chili. Last Thursday, the weather got chilly quickly, and I made a big pot of pinto beans. Add cornbread in the iron skillet and you've got a delicious meal!
D: I love cooking with cast iron. I don't have as much as I'd like. I love cooking soup in the winter, especially homemade chicken noodle or loaded baked potato soup! Do you find yourself doing more baking during the winter months?
N: My dream cookware is Le Creuset and I have a set picked out for anniversary #10 (that'll be March 31, 2017). Thinking about it, I don't prepare soups. Am I weird?! I tend to bake year-round. I have a mini-cupcake baker that I won from Love From The Oven (cutey-patootie blog!!!) and adore. I also like cookies and Husband's favorite is peanut butter pie. Instead of candy, I bake several dozen (SEVERAL!!!) mini-cupcakes and hand out at my church's trunk-or-treat. I'll be busy baking this Wednesday.
D: That's a lot of cupcakes!! I bet they love you! When it comes to baking I love cobblers, cookies, and pound cakes.
N: One thing I should mention - sorry I forgot - is I have a severe food allergy to cow's milk. In all of my cooking, I use soy milk and soy-based margarine. For baking, I use butter-flavored Crisco.
D: Oh wow, that must take a lot of accomodationg!
N: It definitely is but I also like the challenge of adapting a recipe to suit my needs. It was difficult at first, I was diagnosed at 21, and I've enjoyed every delicious dairy-good known to man!!!!!!!
D: I bet that was hard! I think I'd go into a depression if someone told me I couldn't eat cheese anymore, I think all of my favorite meals involve cheese!
N: I couldn't agree more. Thankfully, sheep's milk cheese (Manchego) is readily available at my grocery. I used it for everything: on top of salads, homemade pizza, and I even sprinkled some on my spaghetti tonight. When I'm having "a moment" I'll slice it and eat with crackers. At $8.00 a wedge, I have learned to use it sparingly but it's the only cheese that I can have AND relatively normal. *grins* Plus, it also melts like real cheese. That soy-based CRAP doesn't melt, not joking!!!!
D: I've heard that from a few people!
N: There is also a company -- Turtle Mountain -- that makes ice cream with coconut milk. While I don't like coconut, the cookie dough ice cream is TO DIE FOR delicious. Every time I go to Whole Foods, I buy at least six pint-size cartons and they're gone in days. Totally admitted that, didn't I?!?!
D: Oh wow, I'll have to try that sometime! It sounds absolutely delicious! What is your favorite thing to cook? or bake, either one.
N: I'm a comfort food type of person. I mean, take one look at me and you can see that 1) I've never missed a meal and 2) I eat comfort food. Hand-breaded chicken strips and grilled pork tenderloin are among mine and Husband's favorites. Green bean casserole and skillet corn (beans and corn from my parent's garden in KY) are other favorites. I also make mashed potatoes that would make you smack your Mama. *grin* Husband would like to add: "She doesn't cook anything bad." Awww, isn't he sweet. As he sits in his chair with a belly-full of spaghetti!
D: Aww, that is sweet! That all sounds delicious! Do you incorporate baking into your holiday celebrations?
N: We tend to celebrate Thanksgiving at Husband's parent's house in East Texas and Christmas with my family in Kentucky. We're doing the same this year. With my allergy, I always take my own food to Thanksgiving just because I hate to be a "burden" on someone else who's preparing a big feast for a group of people. I usually take cookies and cupcakes along though. I think I'll do something similar at Christmas, even though I'll be in my mother's kitchen.
D: We always make sausage balls and 'kiss' cookies *grin* And of course, chex mix. We go through tons of it!
N: Mmm, sausage balls. Holy Moses I haven't had those in forever. I'm going to substitute the cheddar/jack cheese and use Manchego. It's totally your fault now! *laughs* I like buckeye balls (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate) too.
D: I've had those before, they are delicious! All this talk of food has me hungry and I haven't eaten anything!
N: If you were here, you'd have spaghetti. I always tell people who come to my house, "If you leave here hungry, it's your own fault!" go get something to eat
D: I've enjoyed chatting with you!
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