Monday, March 23, 2015

review + recipe: lighten up y'all

i know a thing or two about southern cooking. growing up in alabama with ties to mississippi, i've seen my fair share of biscuits, sweet tea and fried okra. and i'll be damned if it's not all delicious - but man, it isn't exactly the best for you. living in the south, you're kind of conditioned to not bat an eyelash at things like "fried oreos" or "buttermilk sausage gravy".

virginia willis's lighten up, y'all is a cookbook full of lightened up renditions of classic, tried & true southern staples - baked okra, oven-fried chicken, sweet potato gratin, summer squash lasagna, light pimento cheese & so much more. the recipes span from appetizers to main courses, seafood, bread/biscuits and dessert, an ample variety for any southern cook. i thoroughly enjoyed the photography and presentation of the book, which, as the title suggests, is light, airy and delightfully reader friendly.

i set to the pages to find a recipe that caught my eye. so, so many did (basil peach chicken breasts, YUM!) but i settled on whipping up a salad that uses some of my absolute favorite flavors. i added my own spin on it, but you can find virginia's original recipe.

i had some help from the wonderfully talented rachel of stupid good rachel for the food styling in these photos. she's the best y'all. aren't these greens stunning?


greens with bacon, pecan-crusted goat cheese

makes two servings. adapted from lighten up, y'all by virginia willis.

you will need:

  • 4 center cut bacon slices
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, preferably granny smith, gala or honeycrisp, diced or thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
  • 1 6 ounce log goat cheese
  • 4-5 cups washed, tender greens (kale, spinach, your choice)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper


to assemble your salads...

1. in a skillet over medium heat, fry your bacon until cooked. remove bacon from pan and pat dry. once your bacon is cool, crumble it or break it into smaller pieces. if you wish, saute your greens with bacon grease - this is optional.
2. thinly slice 1/2 red onion, and saute slices in remaining bacon renderings for 30 seconds. remove from pan.
3. thinly slice or dice your apples, set aside.
4. form goat cheese into small balls, then roll in chopped pecans. if necessary, put in fridge to firm.
5. to make your dressing, combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic and salt and pepper to taste in a container, whisk together.
6. top greens with sauteed onion, bacon crumbles, apples, goat cheese balls and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

disclosure: i received this book from blogging for books for this review. all opinions are my own.


  1. That is possibly the prettiest salad I've ever seen, and it sounds delicious too!

  2. We should have photo shoot days with Rachel alllllll the time! Awesome post and delicious salad! :)


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