Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ode to Paula Deen

Ode To Paula Deen

Paula Deen, Southern Queen.
Gimme somma that butter cuisine!
Perfectly coiffed and infectious laugh,
You're the southern granny I wish I had.
Your mac n' Cheese ain't nothin' to mess with and
Don't even get me started on yo cheddar biscuits!
Your gooey cakes and whoopie pies,
Love stickin' to my butt and thighs.
It's all good though, it's all chill--
I'll just work an extra 30 on the treadmill.
I have all your cookbooks and recipes and
All I have to say is...


So OBVIOUSLY, my poetry skills are amazing! Haha--yeah right--this poem technically isn't even an "ode"--more like a really poor rap!

Poetry skills aside, one thing that is not lacking is my real-life admiration for this Food Network personality. Nowadays, Paula is so iconic, I think long after she's gone she'll STILL be a mythical representation of cooking--like Aunt Jemima or Betty Crocker.

Paula Deen is my "southern icon," so to speak. She just epitomizes southern cooking. I've watched her show since I was 15. I would come home from school, walk/jog on the treadmill, watch Paula's Home Cooking, and plot out what I would make for dinner for our family (that was my job since my sister played after-school sports, and I was too uncoordinated for all that).

Both of my parents are northerners, so growing up in South Carolina I didn't have much of a "southern" upbringing. We drank UN-SWEETENED tea at the B-hizzle! So I was naturally infatuated with Paula--I could finally learn how to cook like a real southern fattie! She was like the southern grandmother I never had (until I met Wes anyway, and then I got TWO real southern grandmas!)

I have all the cookbooks, have been to her Savannah-based Lady & Sons restaurant and made her recipes MANY times over. One thing I have NEVER done is "lighten" her recipes. I thought that would be akin to slapping her in her nice n' tightly lifted face (which looks fab by the way!). Sure they're full of fat and calories, but everything in moderation...

Me in a two-hour line waiting to eat in the Lady & Sons restaurant. I was 18.

Yesterday, I was perusing the newly-revamped Paula Deen website and saw the "Bobby Lightens It Up" section. SAY WHA?!?! Bobby is Paula's son, and apparently, he's slapped his own mother in the (metaphorical) face.

Bobby Deen--kinda cute--but can he lighten up his mama's recipes???

I was more than a little skeptical.

I decided to tackle the lightened up version of the iconic Lady's Mac N' Cheese. At almost 300 calories less per serving, I didn't have anything to lose except maybe some "arm jiggle" and cholesterol. To top it off, this recipe has NO BUTTER IN IT--NONE!

The recipe...

4 cups cooked multi-grain elbow macaroni, drained
2 cups reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup low fat (1%) milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.
After the macaroni has been boiled and drained, add cheese while macaroni is still hot. Combine the milk, eggs, sour cream, mustard, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add to macaroni mixture. Pour into casserole dish. Combine bread crumbs and oil in a small bowl until blended. Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the macaroni and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Bake, until the filling is hot and the topping is golden, 35 – 40 minutes.

Per Serving: 194 Cal; 13 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 25 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; 1 g Sugar; 170 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 365 mg Sodium; 9 mg Cholesterol

The result...

Please excuse the crappy pics--my apartment kitchen is florescent-lit (not the best for flattering pics). I didn't have bread crumbs, so I crushed some leftover garlic croutons instead, which was a good call because it added a little bit of flavor.

Overall, the light mac was 0kay. Something was off about the taste, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Also, unlike the original version, this was pretty crumbly (not enough custard to hold it together, maybe?). I kept thinking--needs more cheese or SOMETHING (butter?).

Wes raved about it though. He loved it. So I guess my final verdict is that you either like it or you don't. It's not terrible, but it's not like the cheese-laden original. It wasn't a total disaster, so I might try some of the other lightened-up recipes too. I'm still a skeptic :)

In other food news, I felt inspired yesterday...

Breakfast: "Low-carb Huevo Rancheros"--scrambled egg whites, Morningstar "bacon," leftover vegetarian refried beans, and salsa.

Lunch: "Patty Melt" with a Morningstar veggie burger, tomato, cheddar, ketchup and mustard.

A better picture of those Millionaire's Shortbread Bars. I let them chill in the fridge overnight--solid as a rock and as delicious as a Snickers!

This morning, I taught TurboKick at 5:30am and this afternoon I'm teaching PiYo. I'm still sore and stiff from teaching TWO weights classes yesterday, but a nice yoga/pilates sesh and I'll be good as gold.

Tomorrow is FUN FRIDAY on this blog, so come back for some funny videos, awesome workout jams, and other fun tidbits :) Have a great day, friends!

Q.O.D. (question of the day): Who is your "food icon" (chef, Food Network personality, cookbook author, blogger, etc.)? Why? Have you ever made any of Paula's recipes? If so, what?


  1. Hmmm, I wonder if using Greek yogurt in lieu of the sour cream would help with the creamy texture? And perhaps soy milk because it's thicker than 1%. I love Giada. She just seems so down to earth to me and I have tried many of her recipes (even turned them vegetarian). Oh, I have made 2 of Paula's recipes - one was her White Chocolate Cherry Chunk Cookie (this is a huge hit, I use cranberries though) and I actually veganized her Lemon Linguine. Gasp!

  2. @ Heather--Hehe! It's totally okay to lighten and veganize her recipes :) I just joke because it seems like such a crime to cut all that butter out :) Thanks for the awesome suggestions for the mac. I'll have to try those out next time. I love me some Giada too! Her recipes are so fresh!

  3. I really like your blog. I found you through SITS. I don't know if I could make a "light" version of mac 'n cheese, but I'd be willing to try. My food icon? Probably Anthony Bourdain. He doesn't cook anymore but I just love his show.

  4. I just started watching Paula Deen. I work out really early in the AM and Foodnetwork was showing Paula's Party for a while. It was so funny and wonderfully rich with all the glorious dishes she made. What a funny lady.

    I would love to visit her restuarant but wait 2 hours? ahhhh....I guess i'll buy a book.
    Interesting her son is into making her recipes a bit healthier. I will def. check that out.

  5. This is my first visit to your blog. Love it. (Found you on SITS) I love to cook, and I've made Paula Deen's Broccoli Rice Casserole, and "Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding". I started out loving Nigella Lawson, but now Lulu Powers and Pioneer Woman are my favorites.

  6. You want to know a funny story. When I was in one of my earlier college years I came across Paula on the TV while my friend was watching the show. I stopped and said..."HEY! I know her!" My friend said "Well, yeah. She's Paula Deen". I was all confused. I said "I didn't know she was famous...I just thought she was my aunt's friend!"

    So I met Paula without even recognizing the icon I was meeting. I know better now though. I haven't seen her since then though. My aunt had help from her on some committee or something she ran in Savannah that isn't going anymore.

  7. Interesting about Paula and her son. They can't do healthy, it just doesn't work.

  8. @chele--Thanks for coming by, SITSta! Anthony Bourdain is a good one too! He's hilarious!

    @Joanne--another SITSta! sweet! yeah, two hours was a bit much, but the food was fantastic! I recommend getting her first cookbook--it has all the recipes that she serves in the restaurant regularly. She's definitely something else that's for sure! :)

    @SimplySandi--Pioneer Woman is awesome. I just discovered her blog not too long ago. GREAT recipes! It's pretty awesome that her life is about to be made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, too! Paula's banana pudding is to die for!

    @Tina--OMG--that's a hilarious story! Crazy that you met her before she was famous! Just goes to show ya how crazy life can be and that you never know whose going to be famous someday! And THAT's why I try to be nice to strangers :)

    @Stacey--I'm still skeptical of the "healthy" thang myself :)

  9. I don't think I have a food icon really. I love being creative on my own with my recipes. I am always trying new things and trying to make low calorie versions of some of my favorite foods while making sure it taste good as the original. BTW, wanted to say that breakfast looks mighty tasty!