Blueberry Orange Bread

I feel like starting something new…

Blueberry Orange Bread #1

If you follow me you know that I have spent a good portion of this blog creating recipes that come from my late grandmother Peggy. I have attributed those recipes to the time my grandparents ran Hollymead Inn down in Charlottesville, VA. I realized that up to this point I have just randomly featured those recipes whenever I felt like going through her cards and something jumped out at me. I don’t think I am truly doing her recipes justice or giving them the right amount of attention.

Flour Coated Blueberries

With that being said, I would like to start a new weekly method of blogging here on Haute Pepper Bites. I would like to start by dedicating Monday’s to her recipes. We will call it Hollymead Mondays. I wish I could have come up with some clever alliteration but in this case we will be true to what it is.

Bread Batter

These are her recipes and these are the dishes that might have been spotted while dining at the inn. I find myself still learning about the time they spent running Hollymead. I never tire of hearing stories from my dad or finding treasures that they held on to over the years. Recently I found myself sorting through boxes of photo albums and pictures, looking for anything and everything that captured our family history with food. When I came across the Hollymead “archives” I was again in awe of what they accomplished and what they spent many happy years doing.

Look at these two! How cute are they?

Look at these two! How cute are they?

My grandparents were amazing! I am so fortunate to have a great history on both sides of my family. Feeling like a very lucky girl! I have also spent some time digging more and more into my mom’s side of the family. You have already seen some of her Southern roots make their way to this blog here. I started this blog because I knew that food was a huge element of my life and it didn’t take long for me to learn that this was not by accident. I have parents who grew up surrounded by traditions and hospitality.

Bread Batter Ready for Baking

Both grandparents ran establishments where they focused on making others feel at home by cooking them comfort dishes and food that was simple but satisfying. The wonderful thing is that they found a way to do it without too much fuss and they were known for their specialities. On my mom’s side it is the famous beef ribs that my grandfather still makes for his admirers in San Francisco. My grandmother was famous for her Beef Wellington which I am still working up the courage to create. When I think about it, this is what I love to do. I love to cook and make it simple. I want it to be comforting and easy. I want to watch you eat and tell me how much you love it before I even take a bite. I cook because I love it, the way they love it, the way they show their love to others.

Blueberry Orange Bread #2

So, each Monday I will feature a dish from the Hollymead collection. They could be vintage and silly or they could become your next favorite dish. I will do this to carry on the memory of my grandmother in a way that I feel I have failed to do so far. It turns out that this one is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Blueberry Orange bread is something I don’t think I have come across but it is certainly something that you could enjoy alongside your morning coffee. It is a wonderful vehicle for showcasing the bountiful blueberries and tweaking things ever so slightly by mixing in orange juice. A wonderful summer bread and I am sure it was a huge hit at the inn.

Blueberry Orange Bread #3

Blueberry Orange Bread*

Yields 1 Loaf

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Cups Sugar
3 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Butter (melted)
1 Tbsp. Grated Orange Peel
2/3 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Blueberries (rinsed)
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3 bread pan using a non-stick spray or butter.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in to a large mixing bowl. Combine sugar and stir to combine. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of flour over the rinsed blueberries, this will help to make sure they don’t sink to the bottom when baking.

In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, orange peel and orange juice. Slowly add melted butter, whisk as you add in the butter.

Place your mixer on low-speed and begin to add the liquid mixture to the flour. Slowly combine until all of the liquid has been added and the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overwork the batter or you risk the bread coming out very dense.

Fold in the blueberries (and nuts) in to the batter, careful not to overwork the batter. Fill your greased bread pan with the batter and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Remove bread from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. You can enjoy the bread now or store overnight in the fridge before slicing and enjoying in the morning. If you do store it in the fridge you can warm up the slices before eating.

*The original recipe calls this Blueberry Orange Nut bread, I don’t happen to be a huge fan of nuts in my baked goods but feel free to add them to your version.

The Best BLT

I think I hit the wall…

The Best BLT #1

I have come to understand that there is a point every summer where I hit this wall. It usually has to do with the fact that I have not taken a vacation and everyone around me is coming and going. I don’t know how it happens. For some reason we end up deciding not take a vacation in order to take vacation at other points in the year. The problem with our logic is that we end up taking these trips when it is cold outside and we don’t even attempt to go someplace warmer. We are the worst at taking vacations. All of those commercials about people who don’t use their vacation time are directed at us. If we do use our vacation time we end up using it for family which is not bad but the hubby and I have not taken a whole week of vacation on our own since our honeymoon…that was 4 years ago. What is our malfunction?!?! We need to figure that out for sure because I am not sure I can go every summer like this. I NEED A VACATION!!!!!!!!


I am getting pretty fidgety (can you tell?). I think I will need to take a mini-vacay or something to make up for the fact that the weather has been decent for most of the summer and yet I have not been able to take full advantage of it. I haven’t even been in a pool this summer. It is already almost August…time is flying and I don’t know what to do. Before I know it, it is going to be Fall and I there will be no more pool time (well outside pool time).

Marinade for Tomatoes

I have to take some time for myself in the coming weeks. This means sitting by a pool and reading a book. There should be some pampering in my future, I think a pedicure or even a massage.

BLT #2

This BLT sandwich is a great way to get started on that self-care. I will never turn down a BLT and I was especially pleased with this one, hence the name. I have to say that when you take that extra step of marinating the tomatoes and adding a little pizzazz to your mayo you are really showing how much you appreciate the art of building a BLT. I made these for a picnic and they were a huge hit. I could probably eat one everyday but I know that this is not a practical way to live…or healthy.

BLT #3

The Best BLT

Yields 4 Sandwiches

8 Slices of Bread
8 Lettuce Leaves
1-2 Large tomatoes
8 Slices Thick Cut Bacon*
2 Tbsp. Mayo
1 Tbsp. Grated Horseradish
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic Minced
1/2 Tsp. Dry Dill
1/4 Tsp. Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper

Slice tomato in to 4 1/2 slices, if you need to use a second tomato go ahead. Place the tomatoes in a shallow dish. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, dill, Italian seasoning. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your preference. Pour marinade over tomatoes and cover. Place tomatoes in the fridge until ready for use.

In a small bowl combine mayo, horseradish and lemon juice. Stir to combine and place in the fridge until ready for use.

Cook bacon slices on stove top or bake in the oven. Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove any excess grease. Remove tomatoes and mayo from the fridge. Assemble sandwich by spreading the mayo on both slices of bread. Follow with a leaf of lettuce and a marinated tomato slice. Finish with two slices of bacon. Enjoy!

*I love using a thick smokey bacon but you can use whatever bacon you prefer. Turkey bacon works too!

Split Pea Soup

Remember how winter was really wintry?

Split Pea #1

Summer has been really watery in Pittsburgh. I know that rain is not unusual for this part of the country but still… I wish I could send some of the rain to my in-laws in California, I bet they would really enjoy it. In some ways the rain has helped keep the temps low. I am not sure we have had a 90 degree day yet. I should be careful what I say since the world has a way of making me sorry for saying things like that. I think back to that time I asked for snow and then the snow came and never left. Yea, I should probably avoid talking about the weather in general.

Ham and Peas

Because we have had such a wet and even cool summer I decided to ask my mom to help me come up with a recipe that would be perfect for this kind of weather. It is probably of no surprise that I turned to my mom for a comfort food dish. Hey, moms know best. Turns out mom had a ham bone sitting in the freezer. This isn’t all that surprising since she is a pretty smart woman and knows how to make the most out of our holiday dinners and such. So she figured we should make split pea soup. Split pea soup is the kind of soup that eats like a full meal especially when you add in the ham bits. I don’t really think you can make this without ham. I mean you can, but it wont be nearly as delicious and comforting.

Split Pea with Bread

Cooking with mom has become a great way for us to catch up on things and you know that there is even something about sitting down with a bowl of soup. I think it just invites you to have conversations. If you find yourself sitting around the house this summer and it is raining then I think you might be in need of soup. I would recommend this soup since it is delicious and comforting. You’ll love it!

Split Pea #2

Split Pea Soup 

Yields 4-5 Servings

1 Package of dry split peas rinsed and set aside.
1 Onion chopped
4 Carrots sliced or chopped
2 Cloves of crushed garlic chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 Ham Bone/Ham Hock or Smoked Turkey
Salt to taste
6-8 Cups vegetable broth or water
½ Tsp. of pepper
½ Tsp. of nutmeg
Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt for Garnish

In a large stock pot add 1 Tbsp. canola oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until onions start to soften. Place ham bone/ham hock or smoked turkey to the pot. Cover with water or vegetable stock. Make sure the liquid covers the ham bone (or whatever you choose to use). Bring the stock to a boil. Once the stock comes to a boil add the rinsed split peas. Reduce the heat to simmer and allow the stock to simmer. Add the bay leaf, salt, pepper, nutmeg and continue to simmer until the peas are cooked. To test their doneness try to mash the pea with the back of a wooden spoon, if it mashes easily then the pea is cooked.

Remove the ham bone from the pot and allow to cool. Once cooled remove the meat from the bone and return to the pot with the soup. Make sure that you removed all of the bone and any large pieces of fat from the pot. Remove the bay leaf as well. If you want a smooth appearance you can now blend the soup using a blender or an immersion blender (REMEMBER to take out bay leaf and any large pieces of cartilage or bone). Serve soup with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.




Blueberry Mojito – 4th of July Special

Happy Birthday America!!!

Blueberry Mojito

You are looking pretty good for being 239 years old. I’ll have to get the secret to how you stay looking so good for an old lady. I was feeling pretty patriotic lately and especially feeling the blueberries (see blueberry shortcakes). I was so excited about blueberries. I was instantly inspired to make a blueberry simple syrup and immediately knew that some sort of blue (er purple) cocktail was in my future. I probably should have thought harder about making a more American sounding cocktail but you know what…a cocktail is a cocktail!

Blueberry and Mint

The 4th of July has always had an impact on me. I think it might have something to do with the whole poetry of Thomas Jefferson being behind The Declaration of Independence and then passing away on the 4th of July 50 years later. Isn’t that so interesting?! As a Wahoo that might jut be a sign of my bias.


There is the that whole narrative of how we became a country and an even stronger reminder that we are so young compared to all of those other countries out there. 239 years… that is nothing! When you travel the world you can usually stumble upon a landmark or work of art that has been on this planet for thousands of years. We haven’t even hit 500!

Blueberry Mojito #1

We might be young but it is clear that we are feisty and strong. I like that about us. I want to toast to that! I want to toast to the next 239 years and even though I wont be here to see them happen (that would be wild!!), I have no doubt that they are going to be pretty amazing. Especially, since the last 238 were quite something themselves.

Here is to you America! Happy Birthday you beautiful girl!

Blueberry Mojito #2

Blueberry Mojito
Yields 1 Mojito (clearly you will make more so feel free to double/triple/quadruple as needed)

1 oz. Blueberry Simple Syrup (recipe blue)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Blueberries + a few for garnishing
1 1/2 Oz. Light Rum
4-5 Mint Leaves + stem for garnish
1 Tsp. Sugar
Club Soda

Add mint leaves, blueberries and sugar to a glass. Using a muddler gently muddle (smash) everything together. The mint leaves should break up a bit but you do not need want to over muddle or mash them. Add 1 oz of simple syrup followed by the rum. Add ice and club soda. Stir to combine all ingredients. Garnish with a few blueberries and mint. Enjoy!

*Muddlers range in price and style. No need to break the bank so get one that makes sense for your budget. If you don’t have one you can use a fork but be careful not to do too much damage to the mint leaves when mashing them up.

Blueberry Simple Syrup
Yields 1 Cup

1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Fresh or frozen blueberries

Add water and sugar to a small saucepan. Heat until the water comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves completely (about 3 minutes). Remove water/sugar mixture from heat. Place blueberries in a heat proof bowl. If using frozen berries make sure to let them thaw slightly before using. Gently mash blueberries with a fork. Pour syrup over blueberries and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow blueberries to steep in syrup for 20 minutes. Strain syrup to remove the blueberry flesh. Store in a container in the fridge until ready for use.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

It’s summer so you know that means hot dogs!

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

I might have shared with you that I was born in Chicago. I actually lived in Chicago until I was about 2 years old, that is when my parents moved us to Pittsburgh. When I was a kid we would make trips back to Chicago from time to time. My dad’s family is from there and we would go back to see them or see some of my parents friends. Even though I only lived there as an infant I always had this strong connection to Chicago. The city certainly imprinted on me for the very beginning.

Hot Dog Toppings

It might be because I have strong family roots or maybe it is because the city has a way of winning everyone over the minute they arrive. When the hubby and I were talking about places to get married we didn’t take long to come up with Chicago. Everyone always asks why and I can’t understand why you need a reason to get married in Chicago. I think the real question is why not get married in Chicago?


When we made our trips to Chi Town we followed certain rituals. My dad always played Lake Shore Drive by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah when we pulled on to Lake Shore Drive. We would go to Giordano’s for stuffed pizza, the only pizza that really matters. And as this post would suggest, stop and get a real Chicago hot dog.

My Favorite Songs about Chicago (just a sample):

Chicago – Sufjan Stevens 

Homecoming – Kanye West & Chris Martin  

Lake Shore Drive – Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah

Lincoln Park Pirates – Steve Goodman

The real Chicago style hotdog has to be made a certain way. The dog has to be made with a beef hot dog with natural casing, the kind of hot dog that snaps when you bite into it. The dog has to be placed in a poppy-seed bun topped with a mountain of condiments – NO KETCHUP. Trying to eat it usually results in trying to keep all of the condiments on the hotdog as you take each bite. It really is a messy sight.

I am sure there are a few of you who are going to come at me with your New York Style hot dog or some other town with a famous dog. Let me just say that I love all hot dogs and I’ll top it with kraut and mustard, onions, chili, and any other thing that has come on a dog. I don’t hot dog discriminate but my absolute favorite is the Chicago style and it is the one I crave the most.

Whenever I eat a Chicago dog I think of my dad. He is a big hot dog guy and an even bigger Chicago hot dog guy. I can always count on him to join me in a dog. As the 4th of July approaches I hope you think of grilling some dogs and topping them with all of the best condiments. It may not be as great as the one you can get in Chicago but it will be pretty delicious.

Chicago Dogs

Chicago Style Hot Dog

Hot Dog (All Beef)
Buns – poppy-seed are hard to come by outside of Chicago but if you find them get them!
One Tomato
Kosher Pickle Spears
Sport Peppers or Pepprocinos
Celery Salt

Cut tomato in half and then in to slices or quarters, size depends on how much tomato you like. If using a whole pickle cut in to 4 spears. Grill or steam hot dogs. Place in bun and top with all of the condiments. Finish with a light sprinkle of celery salt. Enjoy!

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Homemade Hackney Burger