Interesting Find – Swarmbustin’ Honey – Honey Bee Chicken and Honey Pecan Bars

I attend many food events and festivals and I am always looking for that special person or product that I think shakes up the food world.  When I came across the crew at Swarmbustin’ Honey (their website is a great read, lots of great information and knowledge building on bees), I knew this was a group that I wanted to get to know.  The first thing that drew me to their booth at the DC Metro Cooking Show was their vast assortment of honeys and the unusual flavors and varieties.  I use honey in my kitchen all the time as a sweetener and when I saw their Hot Garlic and Hot Pepper Honey, I knew I found a unique spot.  Not only do they feature products for cooking, they have everything any bee keeper would ever need.  I left their booth with an array of their products. Back in my kitchen I was thinking about the honey, especially the Hot Pepper Honey and Hot Garlic Honey, I drizzled their Hot Pepper Honey on my chicken cutlet; now I have a new recipe I named Honey Bee Chicken and oh my, what a taste treat that is.  Probably one of the best chicken recipes I have made.  A real taste treat and so easy to prepare.  And don’t pass by my Honey Pecan Bars, every time I make these I am asked for the recipe.  

Here I am with Walt Broughton and his boys


Check out one of Walt Broughton’s videos below



Honey Pecan Bars


  • 3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Cool completely,   Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with heavy-duty foil, grease lightly.  In a food processor, pulse together the flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Pat mixture evenly on bottom of the pan.  Bake crust at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or until completely cool.  Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter and whipping cream to a boil in a 3 qt saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in toasted pecans and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or until completely cool - cut into squares.   

    You can also prepare this recipe in an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.  When using the tart pan, pat the crust evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the lightly greased tart pan.


Honey Bee Chicken


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts , pounded 1/4 inch thick
  • 3/4 flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 3/4 - 1 cup Panko crumbs
  • canola oil
  • Italian parsley, minced
  • honey, to drizzle over chicken


  1. Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second shallow bowl. Place panko, in a third shallow bowl.

    Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko, pressing to adhere. 

    Heat 6 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cutlets, adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan between batches, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve - drizzled with Swarmbustin Honey, sprinkle with minced parsley.

Spinach Artichoke Casserole

 I miss my weekly trips to the Farmers Market.  However, when the weather turn cold, I turn to my recipe box for some of my favorite recipes.  I have made this numerous times and it never disappoints.  Perfect with baked chicken, fish or pork.  Also delicious along side a grilled steak; it is very similar to a spinach side dish you might see on the menu at one of your favorite steakhouses.  This is also the perfect make-ahead dish, prepare earlier in the day, refrigerate and bake just prior to serving.  


Spinach Artichoke Casserole


  • 2 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 additional tablespoons
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 16 oz. can water-packed quartered artichoke hearts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook spinach; drain and squeeze dry.  Saute onion in butter until transparent.  Combine sour cream, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and cooked spinach in a mixing bowl.  Mix in onion.  Pour into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.  Drain artichoke hearts, arrange over the spinach mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

      If you are preparing this ahead, you will need to increase the baking time if you are baking directly from the refrigerator.  I always take the casserole out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature approx. 30 minutes prior to baking.

Quick Italian Flat Bread

This recipe I found in my stash that I received year’s ago from a co-worker who’s grandmother was born in Tuscany, Italy.  This is perfect to serve on these cold winter nights with soups or stews.  Also, delicious served with sauteed greens such as swiss chard, spinach, or broccoli-rabe, place greens on one side and fold over the warm bread and enjoy.




Quick Italian Flat Bread/Crescia Marchiglana Style


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Blend flour, shortening, baking powder and salt to a crumbly mixture.  Add beaten egg and enough milk to blind to a pie dough consistency. ( If you have a food processor, pulse the first 4 ingredients together, add the egg and milk, pulse until the dough forms a ball). Let rest for 10 minutes.  Cut dough into 4 pieces.   Roll out each piece to the size of a dinner plate.  Prick all over with a fork.  Roll out all the dough, placing plastic wrap between circles of dough.  In a large skillet, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook each bread until light brown, turn until brown on all sides.  Layer cooked breads between paper towels, add additional olive oil to the pan, if needed.  Serve warm.

2017 – Oh, What a Great Year!

To think I almost decided to stop blogging last January!  Yes, after starting my blog as a tribute to my mom and her wonderful recipes three years ago; last January after two years of writing this blog, I thought maybe it was time to wrap it up and move on to other ventures.  I am sure glad that was a fleeting thought and that I did not stop writing this blog.  In March, to my surprise and delight, Southern Living Magazine named A Passion for Entertaining as one of the top Southern food blogs of the year! 

A Passion for Entertaining Named

One of Southern Living’s Favorite Southern Food Blogs of 2017


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That honor changed my food blogging life for sure, besides writing and publishing recipes, I have also been able to share with you some exciting Interesting Finds and Interesting Events. 

Here are just a few highlights from the year-

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Demo and Dine with chef Jon Krinn at Clarity in Vienna, VA

The Urbanna Oyster Festival and Virginia’s River Realm 

Wonderful sushi at Sushi Hachi in Washington, DC

Making treats for my grand-pup, Packer

Radiator roof top bar at Kimpton Hotel in DC


Eating pizza at Stoney Acres Farm in Athens, Wisconsin

Cinnamon waffles at The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, VA


And not to forget my recipe posts, here are the results –  the top three viewed recipes for 2017



#1 -Grilled Butterflied Shrimp

#2 – Maple Popcorn


#3 –Fried Green Tomatoes Caprese Style


Now, I am looking forward to 2018 – I hope you continue to follow my adventures both in and out of my kitchen.

One of my stops this spring will be

The Bourbon Classic in Louisville, Kentucky, March 2 & 3, 2018.


I am always looking for Interesting Finds and Interesting Events to feature – if you know of one, please send me an e-mail

I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you have a wonder New Year – Carol Lou



A Passion for Entertaining:

Embracing the best in entertaining with great food, interesting finds and style 

Butterscotch Pudding

This is one of my favorite desserts growing up.  Not only did my mom bake all of our bread from scratch,  she also never used a pudding mix.  Her homemade pudding was fantastic, it might take a bit longer than the boxed pudding mixes, but it sure is worth it.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream; it is heavenly!



Butterscotch Pudding

Servings 4


  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Mix brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan.  Slowly add milk, stir until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir at least 1/2 of the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking as you incorporate the hot mixture into the egg yolks.  Blend egg mixture into the saucepan.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter and vanilla.  Pour into dessert dishes.  Cool slightly, refrigerate.


Interesting Event – For the Bourbon Lover on your Gift List

I am always searching for Interesting Events in the South and I have found a great one for all bourbon lovers!  Are you searching for the perfect gift for your bourbon lover?  If so, time to surprise someone special with tickets to this year’s Bourbon Classic in Louisville, Kentucky.

What is The Bourbon Classic?

The Bourbon Classic is a week long event exploring the “best of the best” in the authentic world of Bourbon, from the craftsmanship of distilling to the pure enjoyment of the spirit in its many forms.

Who Will Attend?

The Bourbon Classic has been carefully designed to appeal to two primary audiences. The first is the Bourbon Connoisseur. This is the expert who finds value in the legacy, quality and prestige that is embodied in this spirit. The second is the Bourbon Enthusiast, through the bartender competition, who is newly discovering bourbon as a hip liquor of choice.

Bourbon Classic 2017 attracted over 1,300 Bourbon connoisseurs from across the country.

When and Where Will the Event Take Place?

Bourbon Classic 2018 will take place Feburary 28 – March 3, 2018. New for 2018, The Foundry at Glassworks will host the Cocktail and Culinary Challenge on March 2 and The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts will host the March 3 events. Events earlier in the week will be at various locations (details coming soon). 





Interesting Find – Farmers First Coffee Company

I cannot tell you how many requests I receive regarding my Interesting Finds and Interesting Events on my blog.  As many of you know, I am an ad free blog and all of my finds are those that I think personally deserve consideration and not driven by advertising dollars.  I recently received an e-mail from Farmers  First co-founder, Matt Hohler, regarding  Farmers First Coffee (formerly Levanta coffee).  After I read about their mission, I definitely decided to feature them as an Interesting Find.   Matt sent me a 12 oz. package of  ground medium roast coffee (they roast their coffee beans in North Carolina) that comes with a photo of the coffee grower with a brief bio on the back.  I have been drinking Farmers First Coffee and their coffee is delicious – a perfect gift for any coffee lover on your list from a company committed to their coffee growers. 

Here is the premise behind their company –

We’re dedicated to doing things differently. We’re committed to putting farmers first when sourcing our coffee. We pay a 50% bonus on top of the market price farmers receive, which is as much as four times higher than “fair” trade.

By waking up each morning with a cup of Farmers First Coffee, you’re giving hard-working coffee farmers from Honduras and Peru the opportunity to lift themselves up economically.

Our findings, along with a combined total of 10+ years living and working in Latin America, led us to one simple conclusion. What do coffee farmers need most to create a more prosperous future for them and their families? A better income for their hard work.


Breakfast Duo – Holiday Hash Brown Egg Casserole and Apple Breakfast Sausages

These two recipes are a terrific combination for brunch.  I started the egg casserole with a layer of hash brown potatoes, topped with Pepper Jack and Swiss cheese, ham and eggs.  I prebaked the hash browns, topped them with cheese, ham and eggs and baked until it was a golden puff.  While the casserole was baking, I browned breakfast sausages, added sliced apples, a touch of brown sugar, salt and pepper.  I think I have a perfect breakfast duo for any brunch.



Holiday Hash Brown Egg Casserole

Servings 3


  • 1 1/2 cups frozen loose-pack hash brown potatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced fully cooked ham
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup half and half


  1. Thaw potatoes, press between two sheets of paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Grease a small casserole dish.  Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the casserole dish.   Bake potatoes uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.   Remove casserole from oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees . .Layer Pepper Jack cheese, ham,  and Swiss cheese over the potatoes.  Mix together the eggs and half and half.  Pour over potato cheese mixture in casserole.  Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until center appears set.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

    This recipe can easily be doubled.




Apple Breakfast Sausage

Servings 6


  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage links
  • 4 medium cooking apples, cut into wedges
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large 12-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, approximately 10 minutes or until no longer pink.  Drain and discard pan juices.  Cut sausage links in half.  Return links to the skillet.  Add apple wedges.  Then sprinkle with the brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 - 15 minutes or until apples are just tender.  Stir once or twice while cooking.  

Mom’s Date Nut Bars

Mom’s Date Nut Bars are just the perfect holiday treat.  Perfect for a cookie tray or cookie exchange.  Easy to make, quick to bake and always delicious!  My kind of recipe during this busy season.  Enjoy.


Mom's Date Nut Bars


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8oz package dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 heaping cup self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until well blended.  Add the dates, pecans, flour, oil and vanilla extract.  Mix by hand until blended.  Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly golden.  When cool. sift powdered sugar over the top.  Cut into bars.

Tiger Tears

If you are a fan of Thai food I am sure you have tasted a version of this recipe.  Basically it is sliced marinated steak served with a spicy chili dipping sauce.  One of our favorite local Thai restaurants serves this appetizer and every time we visit we order Tiger Tears.  I wanted to recreate Tiger Tears at home and experimented until I got the flavor combination that I thought was just right.  I sliced the sirloin prior to marinating and then quickly broiled the steak.  Delicious served with a side of romaine and carrots.



Tiger Tears


  • Marinade
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablepoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Dipping Sauce
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried red chili flakes
  • 3/4 poound sirloin steak, thinly sliced
  • lettuce leaves
  • carrot shavings


  1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients, pour over steak slices, refrigerate. 2 - 4 hours.  Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients, set aside.

    When ready to serve, heat broiler, lay steak slices on a foil lined baking sheet.  Broil 1 minute per side.   Remove and serve with dipping sauce, lettuce and carrots.