The Barbie-Inspired "Kenough" Salad Is Just Enough

Raleigh, NC, USA
It was the summer of Barbie. My college friend, Ken, and I walked into a mid-day movie at the Alamo in Raleigh in August. We were the perfect "Barbie and Ken" duo and, undoubtedly, the oldest fifty-something twosome at this 11:30 showing. Our spouses worked their day jobs so we could live like a dream and go to a daytime movie.  I left my oldest child in online school at home, and these two college "besties" lived the "Barbie Dream" for two hours with a glass of Cava each in our hands. It was as if we transported ourselves back to 1989 at UNC-Chapel Hill in Granville Towers. 

Barbie the Movie Poster

We were the first to arrive out of the 20 Barbie fans scheduled for this showing.  Having lived in Europe for twenty-five-plus years, this was his first "dine-in" experience, and he agreed it was the only way to watch a movie. I can't go to a regular theatre that doesn't offer Cava now.  Boy, these teens today don't know how good they have it.  As parents love to say, "Back in my Day," I  used to have to sit in a non-reclining seat with some tall person in front of me after I waited in line for candy, popcorn, and a soda. 

One hour and 54 minutes later, plus $81 in food and alcohol, our Barbie experience was over. We were not cheap dates, to say the least, but to quote Barbie, our day was dreamy. 

“It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever.”



A few days after our Barbie experience, Ken sent me a photo of a salad he created for lunch. We are passionate about good food, high-end hotels, and afternoon tea. I was like, "OMG. That looks good. What's the recipe? I will make this salad, write it up on the blog, and it will be forever known as the "Kenough" salad.  

A delicious, healthy salad with tomatoes, hummus, egg, cucumber and kale.

And just like that, we created the "Kenough" salad in honor of our weekday Barbie The Movie excursion. I made a delicious second version of the original salad due to not having some of the original ingredients. My version was delish.  

Healthy salad with red pepper hummus, butter lettuce, avocado, tomatoes and egg

And then Ken made a third version and changed the egg for peppers.  I'll put my own changes next to his original ingredients. The "Kenough" salad is filling and is the perfect lunch salad. It's just enough to keep you full for the rest of the day. 

The "Kenough Salad" by Kenneth 


Kale for Base (I used Butter Lettuce)

Cherry Tomatoes

Small Avocado

Hard-Boiled Egg


Feta Cheese (I forgot to use cheese)

A tablespoon or two of Garlic hummus (I used red pepper hummus)

Sprinkle of  Nutritional Yeast (I left this out)

Sprinkle Garlic powder (Optional- Kenough likes garlic) and Black Pepper. Knowing what Barbie likes, I added some Pink Himalayan Salt because it's pink, and I love salt on my salad. 

Sprinkle of Aleppo Chili Flakes. (Mix cayenne pepper with paprika to get this Turkish spice's same mild heat taste. Use four times more paprika than cayenne pepper.) 

Dressing: Ken used a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, whereas I gave my "Kenough" salad some kick by adding lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and paprika to the olive oil. 

Want To Make Better Burgers? Try This Simple Recipe

Raleigh, NC, USA
Originally posted in May 2011
Updated: September 6, 2023

I still have this "Cooking with Friends" cookbook from 1995. Many pages are torn out, and I am still making these burgers. In fact, Will and I have a routine. I season the meat and am a little more liberal with Worcestershire sauce. I no longer measure. I pour. However, one to two tablespoons is the best amount. I hope you enjoy this simple burger recipe as much as my family does today.  In 2022, my family vacationed in California, and of course, a highlight for me was sitting on that famous couch. I could have spent hours in the gift store. Since 1995, there have been other published cookbooks, and if you have a "Friends" fanatic on the gift-giving list,

friends set in L.A.

Cooking with Friends cookbook from the TV series

I'm going to be cooking with friends this holiday weekend. My friends are Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, and Joey. You may know them, too. They came into my home every week for years, and now I see them in syndication when I flip through channels occasionally. I adored them. We were all the same age, and even though I didn't live in NYC above a coffee shop, I somehow managed to relate to their wacky lives weekly.   I will confess that when I drive through downtown Raleigh now and see all these new condominiums with shops and restaurants below them, I get a little nostalgic about my past TV life with my "friends" and say to Will, "I think it would be so neat to have a bar or coffee shop below your residence."  Don't you?

Friends Cast from TV Series

In 1995, my Mom, who had probably never watched an episode of Friends, found a cookbook called "Cooking with Friends" and gave it to me for Christmas. The cookbook is 20 years old and a little worn from use. The photos in the book are from the show's early days, with a few pictures during the period when Rachel unveiled her iconic haircut.

I use a lot of recipes out of this book. They have cute and catchy names for food, such as mashed potatoes for the broken-hearted or Chandler's "Could This Be Any More Fattening? Cheesecake. You all remember how Chandler talked, right? Brings back some memories! What about "How You Doin'?"  I admit I go around the house and use a little "Joey" to speak to my children when they wake up.

According to the cookbook, Joey might not be much of a cook, but he does know how to make a burger. That is true, my friends! I've used "his" burger recipe now for years. It's the most delicious and straightforward burger recipe, and I'm sharing it with you, my friends, because it will be perfect for any weekend cookout.

Delicious cheeseburger inspired by the TV show Friends

Joey's Best Grilled Burgers from The TV Show "Friends"

2 pounds of ground beef
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
(I have added some Italian seasoning to the recipe because, after all, Joey is Italian).
6 buns, split

Gently mix the meat with the ingredients, and form into six patties (about an inch thick)
Grill for about 8 minutes for medium-rare, turning them once. For medium, grill for about 10 minutes.

Hamburgers at home with my delicious "Joey Burgers" that I adapted from the Cooking with Friends Cookbook in 1995. #Hamburgers #Grilling #Beefrecipes


5 Easy "End of Summer Recipes" to Transition Into Football Season

Updated August 2023

Before summer is over, I will give you a list of five of my favorite recipes that are perfect for those summer days that are still left in North Carolina when it's still a little hot and humid. We're transitioning into football season, but it's still hot. I have already featured these recipes on the blog at some point in my twelve years of owning this website.  

A friend messaged me this week and said she made my spaghetti pie recipe, and it was the dish I took to her fourteen years ago when her son was born. Reading that one message took me down my kitchen rabbit hole of finding all the recipes in my archives. 

As my kids have aged, meals are a constant struggle in my home due to our schedules. There are days that I count the days until no one depends on me to make nightly dinners. I will regret even making those remarks when those days are gone, but my afternoons were not busy when I started this blog in 2011. The kids played, watched TV, and I prepped dinner. My busy times were from 7 am to 4 pm, whereas the hours between 3 pm and 9 pm are when I'm at my absolute busiest at this stage of life. 

But throughout my 11 years of writing, my goal has always been the same: I like to prepare easy meals with few ingredients. The following collection of recipes is easy and can be used in various ways. 

Easy End of Summer Meals for Weeknight Dinners to Fancy Football Tailgates

This Shrimp scampi recipe can either be made with rice or pasta. And this is more of a Greek shrimp and pasta dish than an Italian dish. It should not even be called scampi, but instead, "Greek-Style Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta," whatever you want to call it, it's yummy. You can also use any pasta for this shrimp and feta pasta recipe. 

This Greek-inspired shrimp with tomatoes and feta recipe is easy when you use frozen shrimp. 

This fresh tomato pie recipe has many versions depending on what Southern church cookbook you are reading at the time. Regardless, it's a classic Southern style of tomato pie. It's best when NC tomatoes are in season: August and early September. I've never used canned tomatoes; if you do, it's more of a process to get them ready to use, like fresh tomatoes. You would need to use whole canned tomatoes, drain them, cut them into slices, place them on a paper towel, and salt them with kosher salt. They would need to sit like this for an hour before using them. The brand of Muir Glen Tomatoes has a simple tomato pie recipe using diced tomatoes and fontina cheese. Typically, canned tomatoes are tasty, which may be an easy alternative. More than likely, this will be juicier. 

Southern Tomato Pie using Fresh Garden Tomatoes is a must-try from August to Mid-September. 

This recipe calls for that small white corn called shoepeg because it's sweeter than most corn, but I've also used this corn salad recipe with sweet yellow corn because sometimes it is easier to find than shoepeg, depending on the grocery. Does it taste better with shoepeg? Probably, but yellow corn works as well. I've had this sweet corn recipe in my collection for years. It's easy to take to a tailgate but drain the salad before serving. The flavors also pair well with scoopable chips because in some ways, it is similar to cowboy caviar, which is used a lot as an appetizer at Southern parties. 

This canned sweet corn salad recipe is great for reunions and tailgates. 

Grover's Feta and Shrimp Pasta Salad

This simple feta pasta salad with shrimp is easy to make. It's best served cold or at room temperature. You can easily switch out the pasta of your choice and omit ingredients; however, the cottage cheese makes this Greek-style salad delicious, so make sure to include that ingredient. 

Easy feta and shrimp pasta salad
Greek Salad with Shrimp and Feta 

Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad

This easy mayo-free side salad quickly assembles and carries well to football tailgate parties. This dish can be served throughout the year and not just as a summer salad. It would even be great as a side to soups or gyros. 

Pasta Salad without Mayo
Italian pasta salad with no mayo 

NC Vacation Home In Lake Norman Named as a Top U.S Weekly Vacation Rental by VRBO

Lake Norman, North Carolina, USA

More and more families are choosing vacation home rentals to have the comforts of home when they are traveling. You can bring the dog, your kid's best friend, or even grandma and grandpa. Or you can leave the kids with your spouse and enjoy a vacation with your best friends. I would love to be the fly on the wall when you tell your spouse those plans. Regardless of how you vacation, you have choices, and if you have no budget, then the world is your playground from Mexico to North Carolina. If my wallet was thicker, I would love to stay in this Lake Norman, NC vacation home. The rate is around $5k a night for this time of year. 

Lake Front Home with Beautiful Waterfront Views

VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) released its top ten U.S. vacation homes for the year and added Mexico as a vacationer bonus. They chose these homes based on reviews, amenities, and premier management. VRBO is owned by Expedia Corp, and you may be surprised that the global travel corp owns most of the travel sites you visit online," from Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, Trivago, and many more booking sites.   

"There are more than two million private vacation rentals on Vrbo, so there are many amazing choices. This year's Vacation Homes of the Year range from an urban oasis and a cozy ranch home under $400 a night to a beachfront estate that can sleep the whole family and more," said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. "Every single Vacation Home of the Year has a beautiful view, and combined boast seven private pools and fire pits, eight hot tubs, and even five putting greens."

But let's swoon over the North Carolina rental on beautiful Lake Norman, NC, named "Chasestone."  I know N.C. is gorgeous and has much to offer the traveler, but everyone must experience it themselves. 

The Chasestone rental would be a great base to explore the Charlotte, NC, area and parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a day trip. 

This 5,000-square-foot home with four bedrooms and a seven-bath home is situated on a private peninsula with over 600 feet of lakefront views, less than an hour's drive from the heart of Charlotte. The Nantucket-inspired home has a theater room, a gourmet open-concept kitchen, and a living area with direct access to the deck for al fresco dining.

Outdoor pool with lakefront view at Lake Norman Vacation Rental

Scroll through all VRBO 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year and discuss your favorite properties on the list with me on social media. 

If $5,000 a night is out of your league like mine, don't think properties are just for the rich and famous. Lake Norman area has all price points for every budget. Learn more about the area by visiting the Lake Norman tourism office

Visit NC's official tourism site to see where else you can explore North Carolina. 

Score Super Bowl Points with this BBQ Chicken Sliders and Peach Salsa Recipe

Whether you are a Philadephia Eagles fan or a Kansas City Chiefs fan, this recipe is a winner. I like easy recipes. I want an ingredient list so short that I can remember what goes in it without a grocery list. You will love this BBQ chicken slider recipe with peach salsa because it's easy and delicious. I made this in a crockpot, but an instant pot would also work. 

Easy BBQ chicken sandwich recipes

Fresh peaches were abundant when I first made this dish, but you can substitute frozen peaches or even canned ones when peachers are not in season.  

fresh  north carolina peaches, perfect for a BBQ pulled chicken slider salsa

Here in North Carolina, that farm-fresh peach window is about six weeks in late summer. Luckily, for super bowl season, we have canned or frozen peaches that can easily be used to make this peach salsa to pair with BBQ Chicken Sliders. If you use canned peaches, definitely rinse them in syrup. 

peach salsa recipe

This easy and quick recipe for pulled chicken and peach salsa recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight or hosting a party for a crowd like the Super Bowl or a college tailgate. My kids eat BBQ chicken and hamburger buns, so even if they don't eat peach salsa, they have something to eat.

Peach Salsa with chips makes a great dish for a tailgate or  SuperBowl Party

The peach salsa is also great to serve with chips if you want to skip the BBQ-pulled chicken sliders altogether and just serve chips. I like blue chips with them. Or you can skip the peach salsa and do BBQ-pulled chicken sliders for dinner, a tailgate, or a party for a crowd. Leftover BBQ pulled chicken is significant for another night in the week if you are serving a small group. The sliders also taste great without the salsa but combined, it's a culinary touchdown.

Pulled BBQ Chicke slides topped with Peach Salsa: The Perfect Tailgate Meal

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders in Crockpot

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (or combo)
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup plus 1/4 Brown Sugar-Based BBQ sauce ( I used a sauce from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

**If you do not have a brown sugar-based sauce, add 2 Tbsp brown sugar to the crockpot.

Add onion, BBQ, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and brown sugar (if needed) to the crockpot. Make sure salt and sugar are dissolved. Add chicken, and mix to coat thoroughly. Cook for 3 to 4 hours at a high temperature until you can tear the chicken apart with a fork. When the chicken is tender enough to take apart with a fork, transfer the chicken to a bowl, and add some cooking juices. Continue to pull the chicken apart, and mix 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Stir until the chicken is coated. Add salt or additional seasoning to taste. If you like heat, add a hint of red pepper. Serve on buns or small rolls. Add the following Peach salsa for a Superbowl touchdown.

If you are cooking in this easy pulled bbq chicken in the Instant Pot, you can search many recipes, but most say to pressure cook for 15 minutes, then do a natural release for ten minutes, and then open the valve. I've yet to do this in an Instant Pot, but I will put it on my menu soon.

Peach Salsa

2 peaches, chopped ( I used fresh when in season, but canned peaches work, too)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt.

Combine chopped peaches, Roma tomato, lime juice, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and 1/4 tsp of salt in a bowl. Mix well. Add additional salt or lime juice as needed or to your taste.

Serve pulled chicken on hamburger buns with peach salsa.

Easy Recipe for a  Weeknight. Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Peach Salsa. Can be cooked in Slow Cooker or an Instant Pot

Other sides or main dishes that are easy for Tailgating have been featured by me
     Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad
     Southern Baked Beans with a Twist
     Potatoes for a Crowd
     Deviled  Eggs from Bill Smith 
     Southern cornbread
     Cackalacky Game Day Dip
     Marinated Asparagus
     Shoe-Peg Corn Salad
     Hines Mac and Cheese 
     Caribbean Bean Salad 
     Creamy Pasta Salad 

Updated: January January 2023

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