Archive for Melissa Bryson

Corn, Tomato and Zucchini Salad

When you are cooking a lot of heavy food for a meal, it is nice to have something light that also tastes really good. For the 4th of July, I was cooking a lot of BBQ. I had both BBQ ribs and pulled pork and both of those are pretty fatty and really heavy. Add baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese and everyone is going to feel so full they won’t enjoy the rest of the evening. So, lighten’ it up!

Here is a great and simple salad using fresh from the garden ingredients.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 30min

Ingredients for 8-10 people:

5 ears of corn

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 large zucchini, diced

Juice of 3 limes

3 T Olive oil

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2 jalapenos, finely diced

salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne to your taste

Preparing Corn, Tomato and Zucchini Salad:

Cut the corn off the cob and place in a small pot with about 1/2 cup of water. Place on high and stir a couple of times until the corn turns a bright yellow, maybe 4-5 minutes. Remove, drain and let cool.

While that is cooling, cut your tomatoes, zucchini and jalapenos. You can then juice your limes, add the olive oil and spices. Add in the corn and stir together. Give it a taste and add spices to meet your liking but remember that cayenne usually gets hotter after it has a chance to blend.

Serve cold with all your favorite summertime meals. Delicious!

cold picnic salad


I varied this from a Food Network recipe I saw that called for cucumber. I did not have any cucumber so I added the zucchini instead. I think it tasted better but nothing wrong with cucumber!

Eggy Bear’s Sweet Tea Brined Chicken Wings on the Big Green Egg

big green egg chicken wings

Denise has a friend, Eggy Bear, who is essentially one of the masters of the Big Green Egg cult.  He recently hooked Melissa up with her own BGE and she is quickly learning the ropes on this incredible smoking device and is hoping to be indoctrinated into the BGE following soon.

big green egg chicken wings

One of the many fantastic things that Eggy Bear cooks on the BGE is sweet tea brined chicken wings. These things are amazing. The perfect combination of sweet, salty and savory. They are tender and juicy and finger licking good sticky.

Melissa cooked them for lunch on the 4th of July as we waited for the long slow smoke of the BBQ pork butt. Everything was just like Eggy Bear’s recipe except since she doesn’t own 5 BGE’s like Eggy Bear (actually, not sure how many he has, but a lot more than 1), Melissa had to cook them using indirect heat. They still turned out fantastic!

Check out the recipe on Eggy Bear website here. While you are there, check out more about the Big Green Egg. Maybe it is time for you to join the cult too!!

These wings truly are addicting. Our neighborhood must have eaten about 200 of them when we had our Eggfest last month!! ~Denise


Grilled Eggplant Pasta

roasted eggplant pasta

Ok, so I know Denise will never try this with her family but I’m just saying that my 5 year old, who had no idea what she was eating, loved it! It’s simple and tasty and beautiful. It could be a main dish or a side dish, your choice.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 20 min


1 lb spaghetti rigati (I like the grooves)

2 medium sized eggplants

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Fresh thyme

1 t garlic powder (if I wasn’t cooking on the grill, I’d just roast some garlic cloves with the eggplant in the oven)

Zest of 1 lemon


Feta Cheese

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:


Preparing grilled eggplant pasta:

Get your grill ready for direct heat. If you don’t want to use the grill, you can roast it in the oven too.

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Grill flesh side down for about 15-20 minutes.

 grilled eggplant

While it is cooking, cook your pasta. If you need to know the best way to make the best pasta, check out this article.

When the eggplant is done, use a spoon to scrape out the cooked flesh from the skin. Place in a bowl. Add the thyme, lemon zest and parsley. Stir together and mash up the eggplant as you go.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to the bowl with the eggplant but leave a little bit of pasta water too (maybe 1/4 cup). Stir together. Add salt, pepper and olive oil as needed. At the last minute add the feta and serve.

roasted eggplant pasta

 Cut me some slack. Eggplant is probably the one vegetable I am not a huge fan of. If I won’t eat it, my family surely won’t. It’s a texture thing…like seafood! ~Denise

Tomato Bacon Bites – Mini BLT Explosions

mini BLT appetizer

For Baconfest The Sequel, Denise asked me to do some items on the ‘lighter’ side just in case everything was uber bacon heavy. I opted for a traditional spinach salad with hot bacon vinaigrette and these little tomato bacon bites. I don’t know what they should be called but I usually describe them as mini-BLT explosions in your mouth, even if there is no ‘L’.

These things are always a hit but I will admit…they are a complete pain in the A#* to make. The key is to make them for a small crowd. I’ve done them twice. Once for 70 people and this time for about 30 people. This is great if you do for less than 10. Count on at least 4 tomatoes per person so do the math and you’ll quickly understand why they are a pain but oh so good!!

Level of Difficulty:Difficult (just because of time)
Time Required:Prep Time – depends on how many; Cook Time – 15 minutes

Ingredients for 10 people:

1/2 pound of bacon

40 grape or small cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 T horseradish

2 T chopped chives plus more for garnishing 

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Patience….that’s it. See if you can find a can on Amazon. Good luck.

Preparing Tomato Bacon Bites:

Cook the bacon and try not to eat any of it. I always cook a pound of bacon when I’m cooking it because I have no will power over fried pork belly….another one of my ‘issues’.

bacon and tomato

Now for the fun part. Make a teeny tiny cut to remove the top and the bottom of the grape tomato. You will use the top cut to remove the insides for stuffing and the bottom so that it stands up.

mini BLT

Then, using a small knife or some kitchen gadget of your choice, cut the insides of the tomato out. You are not trying to hollow out the entire thing, just enough room to stuff it with a bit of the bacon filling. I usually squeeze a bit to help get the seeds and tomato water out.

tomato bacon bites

Turn the tomatoes upside down on a towel as you complete them to let them drain. You don’t want all the tomato water in your bite.

mini BLT

After all the tomatoes are hollowed out and are drying, you can mix the filling together. Take your cooked bacon and chop it relatively fine (it has to fit in that little hole). Place in a bowl and add the mayo and Greek yogurt and horseradish and chives. Stir and give it a taste. Add more horseradish or salt and pepper if needed. You can even add a shake or two of hot sauce.

Now, use a small spoon and try to stuff the mixture in the tomatoes. Set on a platter and add some chives for garnish.

bacon tomato bites


Roasted Tomatillo and Lobster Salad

When Denise and I made our video on How to Kill a Lobster Humanely, I had the pleasure of eating the lobsters since Denise won’t touch them, let alone eat them. I still laugh out loud every time I think of her jumping out of her skin about Thelma and Louise.

After eating some of the freshly steam lobster, I saved the rest for my husband to enjoy with me. We ended up with a daytime meal, so I made this tasty and light salad to enjoy the perfectly decadent lobster. Oh so good!

I blended these perfect lobsters with some Roasted Tomatillo Salsa I had just made and had leftover too. Yum!

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required: Prep and Cook Time – 40min


3 tomatillos

1 onions

1/2 bunch of cilantro

1/2 large poblano pepper

3 cloves of garlic

2 medium lobsters

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup Greek yogurt


2 avocados

Salt and Pepper

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Steam basket

Preparing Roasted Tomatillo and Lobster Salad:

Make the tomatillo and poblano salsa according to the recipe in the link above. For this amount of lobster, I would cut the recipe in half which is what is indicated in the quantities above.

Steam the lobster and remove from the shell as described in the video. Simple and easy. Just takes a few minutes…if Denise is not in your kitchen freaking out!

Mix the tomatillo salsa, yogurt and juice of one lime. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Add in the lobster and stir gently to combine.

Plate with fresh spinach tossed with salt and pepper and the juice of the other lime.

Cut an avocado and add to the side. Top with the lobster and tomatillo salsa mixture.


lobster salad with tomatillo


Lucky’s Burger and Brew – Restaurant Review

Lucky's Burger and Brew Brookhaven

Near my home, there is a large development called Town Brookhaven. It has a myriad of retail stores and restaurants but has missed just a great burger joint.

Well, wait no more, Lucky’s Burger and Brew has opened and it is just perfect!

We’ve eaten there twice already and the service and food have been spectacular. Best part is that Lucky’s is a restaurant that proclaims its burgers in its name and they do NOT disappoint. They make burgers the old-fashioned way, by hand, with an 80/20 blend, served with fresh ingredients on super soft bread – challah in Lucky’s case.

The burgers are cleverly named and appointed based on dog breeds and can be served with beef, turkey, black bean or chicken breast. So far, my family has tried the Chihuaha (green chiles, pepper jack, chipotle mayo and guac which I had on a black bean burger – awesome!), Memphis Blood Hound (red onion, cheddar, candied bacon and bbq sauce), Georgia Dawg Pounder (fried pimento cheese ball and red pepper mayo – that’s right, I said fried pimento cheese ball that just oozes all over your burger), and the Build Your Own for my 11 year old who is a bit more picky.

The French fries and sweet potato fries are both perfect. It’s rare you order sweet potato fries that are not soggy and have great flavor. These are amazing and are even served with a blue cheese sauce for dipping…phenomenal!

We also tried the queso with homemade potato chips as well as the FRIED PICKLES! Both were awesome. My youngest devoured the mac ‘n’ cheese too!

What was even more amazing was the time the owners, Diane and Ernie, as well as the GM, Pete, spent so much time making sure we enjoyed the meal. They even convinced us to try the warm, homemade brownie with vanilla ice cream. Oh my!! Gone in just a couple of minutes.

When we walked up there for the second meal in less than a week with our dog and got caught in an Atlanta summer thunderstorm, they even gave us a ride home and a treat for Sophie. Now, THAT is how an old-school burger joint is supposed to be run.

When you go to Lucky’s Burger and Brew, because you know you’ll want to, be sure to ask for extra napkins. You’ll need them as the juice from the hand-formed burgers drips down your arms. Tastes like an amazing backyard burger with the pleasure of someone else serving it to you while you relax with a nice cold brew!

Lucky's Burger and Brew Brookhaven

When are we having our next “planning meeting”? I think I know where we should meet! ~Denise

Baked Zucchini Fries

baked zucchini fries

Denise made zucchini crisps some time back, but it is summertime now and zucchini is at its peak for the coming months. My zucchini plants are starting to produce some fruit and I can’t wait to make the baked zucchini fries. Ok, so they are not French fries but they are a nice substitute with some great flavor. Better yet, zucchini fries are a fantastic appetizer and a great side dish too. Even kids love them!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 10-15 min


2 zucchini

1 cup panko

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese



cayenne or chili powder depending on how spicy you like it

1 egg

1/4 cup water

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Parchment paper

How to make baked zucchini fries:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare an egg wash with a beaten egg, water and some salt and pepper and chili powder.

Mix the panko and parmesan cheese. Add a bit of chili powder and/or cayenne to taste.

Cut the zucchini into thirds, then cut each third into 6 strips.

Salt and pepper the zucchini. Sprinkle with chili powder or cayenne.

Dredge the zucchini through the egg wash and then into the panko-parmesan mixture.baked zucchini fries

Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat for remaining zucchini fries. Cook until crisp.baked zucchini fries

Serve with anything from sriracha aioli for a little more zing.