Tag: Arkansas

Jamie Smith: Arkansas Granola

When I first decided to make granola to feature this month’s honey theme, I knew I wanted to do something unique but not so weird that no one would possibly want to make this recipe!

Arkansas Granola Jamie Smith

I realized that the perfect recipe would be something that honors my adopted home state, Arkansas. After all, this is being featured on Arkansas Women Bloggers! I started to research what flavors are known for being from Arkansas and had to discard quite a few ideas at first. After all, who wants queso granola? Not me!

I knew I wanted to celebrate the state’s history of being a major producer of various apples, especially the Arkansas Black. Those apples aren’t available right now, so I chose Red Delicious.

I also think of chocolate gravy when I think of Arkansas food so I initially tried to incorporate chocolate from Kyya, the state’s first bean-to-bar chocolate makers (full disclosure: friends of mine!). I decided that apple and chocolate would be delicious, but more of a dessert granola.

So, I called on my ARWB sisters for help. They gave lots of great ideas for incorporating Arkansas into my granola including one idea I took as a joke at first: bacon. Yes, bacon granola! I researched it out of curiosity and discovered that bacon granola is actually pretty popular, especially for the paleo crowd.

Another suggestion was pecans, which I would have incorporated anyways because I love pecans and I know it’s the state nut.

Arkansas Granola vis Sunshine & Thorns Jamie Smith

So, Arkansas Granola was born. It is quite simple and uses entirely natural ingredients with no added sugars or sodium. It uses fresh apples, Petit Jean Bacon, pecans, oats, cinnamon and nutmeg. The binding agent is good old-fashioned honey, which gives just a hint of natural sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the flavors.

Ready to try this recipe? You can check it out on my blog Sunflowers & Thorns. Let me know what you think!

Jamie SmithJamie Smith tells people she grew up in Kansas and became a grownup in Northwest Arkansas. A writer by profession, Jamie also loves to write as a hobby over at her personal blog, Sunflowers & Thorns. One of her most popular types of blogs are her recipes. Jamie and her husband, John, enjoy working on recipes together to make their own unique twist on familiar recipes.

Jamie and John live in Elkins with their two dogs and two cats.


America’s Heartland {National Rice Month}

rice harvest nat rice month

ARWB is proud to support our Arkansas rice producers and farm families in September during National Rice Month. 

Rice production is concentrated in six states: Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. The Mississippi delta, which includes areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri, is the largest rice-producing region, with Arkansas accounting for over 50% of the total U.S. rice acreage. US Rice Federation

So, just how important is rice production to our economy, environment and diet?  “Reporter Sarah Gardner says if you’re eating more rice in your meals these days, you’re not alone. Thanks to consumers with more adventurous tastes and changes in America’s ethnic makeup, rice consumption has grown dramatically. Rice farmers in Louisiana bring in a double harvest in their rice fields: rice and bright red crawfish. Meet an Arkansas farmer raising special rice for Japanese diners. And a California rice grower gets some help from school children in saving wild duck eggs.” See what America’s Heartland has to say

Rice co-products:

  • Rice Flour—Broken kernels of rice (white or whole grain) are separated from whole kernels during milling and are ground into rice flour, also called rice meal.
  • Rice Bran—Rice bran removed during milling contains dietary fiber and antioxidant-rich phytochemicals that have been found to help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and type II diabetes.
  • Rice Bran Oil—Oil extracted from rice bran has unique nutritional and culinary properties. It has a nut-like flavor, good shelf stability and is favored by some chefs for applications such as frying.
  • Rice Syrup—Mild flavored sweet syrup from rice (with range of concentrations and sweetness levels) can be substituted for sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses or maple syrup.  U.S.Rice

Cooking Rice

There are many different methods for cooking rice. When deciding which method to use, consider:

  • Type and form of rice being used.
  • Recipe and desired finished product
  • Cooking equipment available
  • Time available
  • Skill level of person cooking rice

Proportion of rice and cooking liquid

Most methods of cooking rice require a measured amount of liquid to ensure a properly cooked product. The general ‘rule of thumb’ is 2 to 1 (2 parts liquid to 1 part rice by volume). However, it is important to note that different rice types may require slightly less or slightly more liquid. Check the package instructions to verify the proper ratio of liquid to rice and cooking time for the specific rice you are using.

Rice Cooking Methods –  Simmering or Steaming

Simmering/steaming can be done in a pot on the stove, in a  pan in the oven or in a rice cooker.

  • PILAF METHOD The pilaf method begins by sautéing rice in butter or oil, often with herbs or aromatic vegetables (onions, celery, garlic, etc.), and then adding a measured amount of flavorful liquid (usually stock) for simmering.
  • BOILING METHOD The boiling method, sometimes referred to as the “pasta method,” produces tender grains of rice that are completely separate and not sticky. The method is sometimes used for rice that will be used in soups and salads.
  • RISOTTO METHOD The risotto method cooks rice at an active simmer while stirring in hot flavorful liquid (usually a combination of stock and wine) in small increments until the rice is tender. US Rice

For some delicious recipes for rice from our ARWB members, check out Riceland.com.


Capi Peck’s Summer Panzanella Salad {Foodie Friday}

Featuring Chef Capi Peck, sharing the bounty of Arkansas with #ArkansasGrown produce.

Capi Picture 1

This is one of my favorite things to make and eat in the heat of the summer when our Arkansas tomatoes are coming on strong.


Capi Peck's Summer Panzanella Salad
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For the bread
  1. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 6 cups 1-inch bread cubes, cut from French baguettes
  3. 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the vinaigrette
  1. 1 teaspoon minced garlic cloves
  2. 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  3. 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  4. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  5. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remaining ingredients for the salad
  1. 2 large Arkansas heirloom tomatoes, cut 1-inch cubes
  2. 1 large cucumber, seeded, large dice
  3. 1 each red and yellow bell pepper, cut 1-inch pieces
  4. 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
  5. 25 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn
  6. 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large pan or stockpot over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and salt. Stir well to coat the bread. Cook, stirring often, until slightly browned, adding a little more oil if necessary. Set aside.
  2. For the vinaigrette, whisk garlic cloves, mustard, vinegar and olive oil together. Taste and add salt as needed. Set aside.
  3. Prep the remaining ingredients and place in a large mixing bowl. Add toasted bread cubes and vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so that the flavors can marry.
  4. Optional ingredients: crumbled feta or blue cheese, Kalamata olives, diced avocado
Arkansas Women Bloggers http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/



About Capi

Capi Peck is a Little Rock native who calls herself a “self-taught good cook”.  Her love of great food and cooking grew from her childhood experiences at her family’s establishment, the Sam Peck Hotel.  Capi’s grandparents ran the well-known downtown spot that brought a cosmopolitan flair and grand cuisine to Little Rock in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  As a tribute to her culinary roots, Capi serves a few of Sam Peck’s creations at Trio’s, the restaurant she has co-owned with her partner, Brent Peterson for nearly 30 years.

Capi is committed to featuring locally grown produce whenever possible. She supports more than eight Arkansas farming families by offering their produce on her ever-changing menu.


Strawberries from Caddo Crest Orchard in Guy

Strawberries from Caddo Crest Orchard in Guy

Capi serves as Chair of Little Rock’s Advertising and Promotion Commission and is immediate past president of the Arkansas Restaurant Association.

She is very committed to the No Kid Hungry Program, part of Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, where she serves as a volunteer chef in the Cooking Matters classes.

Capi is proudest of her extended family at both Trio’s.  More than 10 of her staff have worked with her for over 18 years and 4 have been part of the Trio’s family for 23 or more years.

About Trio’s (Courtesy of Trio’s Restaurant)

“Trio’s Restaurant, which began in 1986 as a gourmet shop with “good food to go” along with cookbooks, coffee, gadgets, and a well-stocked deli, has evolved into one of the finest dining and catering establishments in the state. Capi Peck and Brent Peterson have nurtured Trio’s from its inception. It is their “baby,” and it has grown into an award-winning restaurant known for innovation and consistency.

Trio’s patio


So many of Trio’s loyal customers began their culinary adventures more than 20 years ago as toddlers at the Trio’s table. And, for many displaced Arkansans, a visit home wouldn’t be complete without a meal at Trio’s with family and friends. Most important are the employees who were here almost from the beginning including Partner Stephanie Caruthers, who started at Trio’s as a baker in 1987, and directs the Catering Department. Apollos Merriweather, who many of you know from his catering work for Trio’s, has been part of the Trio’s team since 1988. Our catering would not be what it is today without Apollos! Eric Wilson began as a dishwasher in 1986! He runs the day kitchen line and is famous for his grilled chicken enchiladas. And, a few of the familiar faces of our floor staff have been with Trio’s for 10+ years: Richard LeSourd, Michelle Lee, and Wayne Pyland. Chef Shanna Merriweather, our Executive Chef, began as an apprentice while in culinary school. She’s a calm leader in the kitchen, and her culinary creativity shines throughout our menu.

The “Trio’s Family” extends far and wide, and Capi and Brent have successfully fostered the fundamental ideal of “hearth and home” in the staff at Trio’s. We all believe that ideal is the key to our success. And, of course, there’s the food!”

Note: Tri0’s was recently named the best Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Arkansas by Travel and Leisure Magazine.


Capi Peck Twitter

Trio’s Twitter








Heather Disarro: Wicked Mix Chocolate Cake {Foodie Friday}

Celebrate the tastes of Arkansas: Wicked Mix 


When I was growing up we would spend every Christmas or Thanksgiving with my grandparents who lived in the Hill Country of Texas, a solid 6 hours from our home in the Panhandle. When you grow up in Texas, especially outside of the major cities, you just get used to having to travel longer distances to get places and so 6 hours was pretty average for us. But when you’re a kid that is still a long time to be stuck in a car, especially when your Hanson CD has repeated itself for the third time and you’re only a third of the way there.

Luckily my mom would always pack the leftovers from our Christmas plates, and so we were able to pass the time devouring cookies, fudge, smoked pecans, and all manor of treats that insured a massive sugar high. One of my favorites, though, was the Chex mix she would make – extra butter, extra Worchestershire sauce, extra garlic. It was so good.


These days it’s not safe for me to make massive batches of cereal mixes because it will, without question, be eaten in a matter of hours. But that’s where Wicked Mix comes in. It has great crunch and flavor I love that it’s a local company – in fact, the offices are just a few doors down from where my husband works. I love that it’s spicy and sweet, super crunchy, and packed with a variety of ingredients. And I also love that the founder was simply making something he loved and then saw that it was so good he needed to share!


While the star of the show in this cake is certainly the Wicked Mix itself – I used the Spicy Original, although chocolate-laced would be great too – I tried to replicate a little bit of the spice blend to give the entire cake a little sweet-and-spicy flavor. The mix of sweet, soft cake and spicy, crunchy Wicked Mix is sure to be a hit!

A few cook’s notes:

    • If you’re making this ahead of time wait to sprinkle the cake with the Wicked Mix until right before serving to keep the crunchy texture fully intact. It will stay crunchy even after a few hours, but no one likes soggy pretzels or cereal!
    • I made my cake in 6-inch cake pans, even though the recipe called for 8-inch, because I wanted the layers to be taller. Feel free to do either.
    • If you’re planning on serving this immediately, sprinkling the Wicked Mix on top of the middle layer of frosting is a great idea.


Heather Disarro: Wicked Mix Chocolate Cake {Foodie Friday}


  • ngredients:
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 16-ounce box devil’s food cake mix
  • 3 cups preferred chocolate frosting (store bought or homemade)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 7-ounce)bag Wicked Mix Spicy Original, lightly crushed


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Spray two 6- or 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, water and vegetable oil until well-mixed.
  4. Add the cake mix, Worchestershire sauce and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne pepper and whisk for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake according to package directions until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake layers cool completely before frosting.
  7. In a bowl combine the frosting, remaining cayenne pepper and ground cinnamon.
  8. Stir until completely combined. Set aside until ready to frost.
  9. To build the cake, cut the domed part off of the layers so that they will lay flat.
  10. Place one layer in the middle of a cake plate.
  11. Top with about 1/2 cup of the frosting and spread to the edges of the layer.
  12. If desired, sprinkle 1/4 cup of Wicked Mix on top.
  13. Top with the second layer, then spread the top with another cup of frosting.
  14. Spread to the edges, then down the sides of the cake, gently spreading the frosting over the cake.
  15. Use more frosting if needed to cover the cake
  16. Sprinkle evenly with Wicked Mix and serve.




Heather Disarro_1_Lowres2Heather Disarro is a food-centric lifestyle blogger who is passionate about embracing the beauty that surrounds us in our everyday lives. She is a Texan living the expat life in central Arkansas with her husband, two sons, and two massive dogs. Heather writes her blog, Heather’s Dish, from an office filled with dust, dog fur, toys and plenty of love, grace and music. She revels in the opportunity to bring the love of cooking to the world as a way to love others well! You can also find Heather on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.

Diane Roark: Tacos4Life {A review}

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are those of Diane Roark.

Celebrating Food Adventures

Tacos4Life - Every Meal You Buy A Meal Is Donated to Hungry Child
Every Meal You Buy Means A Meal Donated to a Hungry Child 

How is Tacos 4 Life so different from every other restaurant?

When you eat at Tacos 4 Life, you have an opportunity to help end childhood hungry around the world.

By choosing to eat Taco 4 Life’s delicious tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more, Tacos 4 Life helps feed a child who needs a meal. Tacos 4 Life calls this “Eat Good Do Good”.   You not only get amazing food, but you also get a good feeling when you eat a reasonably priced meal and know you are helping to feed hungry children.  My son Casey had an opportunity to help pack the meals.  His high school volunteered to help pack meals a couple of times.  My other son Caleb and I joined them.  I can tell you from experience that if you eat at Tacos 4 Life, they use a portion of the money to ship meals to hungry children with the help of the non-profit organization Feed My Children.  Feed My Children sends meals to countries with high rates of poverty and hunger.

In my opinion, not only is Tacos 4 Life Mission the best, but their food is just as terrific.

I Love Taco 4 Life’s Tex-Mex Food.  I could eat there several times a week and never get tired of it.  Their food is that delicious. Everything we have ordered at Tacos 4 Life has been extremely tasty.  

Here are some of my favorite things from their menu:

Beef Burito

  • Serious Steak Burrito: Marinated and grilled skirt steak, cilantro lime rice, refried beans, Pico de gallo, jack cheese, and chipotle aioli.  The Chipotle Aioli is amazing!  I would love to figure out how to make this amazing sauce.

Chipotle Chicken Burrito Tender marinated and grilled chicken, cilantro lime rice, refried black beans, chipotle aioli, jack cheese, and pico de gallo. This is one of the best burritos I have ever had. The Chipotle Aioli is extremely amazing!

  • Chipotle Chicken Burrito: Tender marinated and grilled chicken, cilantro lime rice, refried black beans, chipotle aioli, jack cheese, and pico de gallo.  This is one of the best burritos I have ever had.  The Chipotle Aioli is extremely amazing!  I would love to have this recipe.Tacos4Life Coconut taco
  • Ono Shrimp Tacos: An amazing shrimp taco with crispy shrimp tossed in pineapple cream ono sauce; served with pineapple, green onions, and toasted coconut in a grilled flour tortilla.
  • Where is Tacos 4 Life located? Tacos4Life’s newest location is in Fayetteville on College Avenue.  Visit the original location in Conway the original location is on Dave Ward Drive or their second location on Oak Street. Their food is amazing and their mission is incredible.  The owners are changing the world by feeding the hungry, and they are doing a wonderful job.  Follow Tacos 4 Life on their Facebook page.  You can volunteer to help pack meals to send to hungry kids all over the world.

If you are looking for a patio to have a picnic, Tacos 4 Life has extremely nice covered patios.  The Conway location on Dave Ward even has a fireplace for colder days.  

Diane 200

Recipes For Our Daily Bread and Our American Travels are personal blogs written and edited by me, Diane Roark.  I am passionate about family, food, travel, and my new love of photography.  Recipes for our Daily Bread is where I blog about easy recipes to help you put dinner on the table quickly.  I enjoy sharing Southern Recipes for special occasions too.  Our American Travels is where I write about Family Fun Travels in America.   You will find restaurant reviews plus information on Disney World, Branson, Alaska, Maine, and many Southern states.  Be sure to join the other 20,000 Pinterest followers who follow Diane_Roark on Pinterest , FaceBook, InstagramTwitter


Honoring Heritage {Wordless Wednesday}

By Kayla Shown-Dean author of Muted

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Pioneer Village in Searcy, Arkansas

Kayla Headshot

Kayla I. Shown-Dean has published her first novel, Muted. She is also a blogger and regular contributor to shortfictionbreak.com.

Kayla is also a member of White County Creative Writers, and she attends the annual Writer’s Retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum.

In addition to writing, Kayla has a full-time job at a local university, and she teaches English part-time as an adjunct. She lives with her husband and son, who is a preschooler. When she has free time, Kayla enjoys reading, writing, blogging, painting, drawing, and singing.


Creek Walking {Blogger of the Month}

By Miss June 2014, Laurie Marshall of Junque Rethunque and See Laurie Write

I’ll admit it: I have a fascination with creeks. It seems there have always been creeks around, no matter where I lived. When I was a child, we visited my grandparents in Goshen, Arkansas every summer and my grandmother would take me and my brothers for walks in the seasonal creek behind her house. We would hunt for turtles and learn about lichen and fungi and choose rocks to take back to her painting studio to decorate.


In a way, a creek helped define my role as a female.

When I was nine years old, I lived on a suburban street in Little Rock. That summer, a little gaggle of neighborhood kids gathered daily as soon as breakfast was eaten, and we would spend the day in someone’s carport, then someone else’s basement, then someone’s backyard… but I was soon to learn there was also a creek.

imageLaurie at 9 years old. Judging by the coat, we were outside in ALL seasons back in the dark ages.

The yards behind the houses at the end of the street backed up to a large privacy fence, and on the other side of the fence were the Ash boys. There were three boys in the Ash family, and I honestly don’t remember their names anymore. They lived in an older house behind the fence, and they introduced the neighborhood kids to the joys of tromping through the woods.

Of course, I felt like an expert Woods-woman, what with all the experience I had at my grandparents’, so when we came upon a creek during our adventure I simply jumped from rock to rock to get across. But one of the boys was sweet on my friend, Paige, and when she was nervous about jumping across the creek, he held out her hand and helped her across.

A little girl-sized lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that I had committed a terrible error. I tried to double-back with the naive hope that he’d hold his hand out to me too, but it didn’t work… And thus began my life as the Funny Friend, rather than the Lead Ingénue.
We moved out of that neighborhood when I was 10 and my parents divorced. At the time West Little Rock was still a little bit wild and there were large areas of land that were still undeveloped between Rodney Parham and Cantrell Blvd. Our next two homes – an apartment complex and another suburban house – both had creeks behind them. For me and my Barbie dolls (and Marie, and Cher), they were roaring rivers with sandy banks that provided the perfect spot to park the Country Camper.


When my girls were small we lived outside of Fayetteville on two acres that were gifted to me by my grandparents. Following in my grandmother’s footsteps, I introduced the girls to the creek in all seasons as we searching for turtles and speculated on which of the gnarled tree roots and limestone rock formations would be the best spot for a fairy house.

For the last seven years we have lived in Springdale, and my son has been somewhat deprived of the experience of creek walking. There are creeks within driving distance, and we have visited a couple, but it has been difficult to make the time to seek them out when I just want to spend an hour tossing rocks in the water.

The young Boychild does a little creek walking at Devil’s Den State Park.

Thankfully, the city of Springdale and the Illinois Watershed Partnership have spearheaded a massive clean-up and improvement of Lake Springdale, which is just a mile or so from my house. The Razorback Greenway will be running right alongside the creek that surrounds the lake, and there are already walking trails completed with a staircase that allows access to the creek bed when we feel like doing a little rock tossing and wild-flower admiring. I’m hoping to make a habit of it. How are you getting outside this summer? Any creek walking in your plans?


Arkansas Seasons {Grow Where You Are Planted}

Written by Kyran Pittman of Planting Dandelions, Arkansas Women Bloggers Miss August 2013

Outdoor temperatures have finally climbed into the triple digits, and our house has descended into the zombie zone – I’ve stopped counting the hours my kids have been staring at screens or nagging them about exercise and fresh air. We have become nocturnal creatures, hardly moving by day, venturing to the pool only at night.

I’m okay with it. What’s an Arkansas summer without moaning about the heat? Until this past week, it’s been extraordinarily temperate since the kids got out of school. I’m kind of exhausted from seizing each glorious day.

In my seventeen years of living in Arkansas, I’ve learned that summer in the South is something to be endured—much like the deep Canadian winters of my youth. You hunker indoors and wait it out. But even our typically extreme summer has its charms, perhaps precisely because it is an endurance test. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. And sweatier. We come through it together.

Until I spent a summer in Arkansas, I never knew what a peach, or a watermelon, or a fig should be. I never heard the riot of cicadas at night. I didn’t appreciate the pleasure of being forced to slow down. I spent a month in eastern Canada last summer, and the ambient drive to do things and go places was a shock to my transplanted soul. I had forgotten that northern summers march to the beat of go, go, go.

But the very best thing about our summers is how much they make me appreciate the other three seasons of the year in Arkansas. In another couple of months, we will be well into fall. What used to be a melancholy—if beautiful—season in the north, is here a welcome return to outdoor living. Our fall foliage doesn’t have the vivid scarlet streak of New England’s autumn palette, but our burnished golds and fiery oranges are nearly as breathtaking. Without the shadow of hard winter close behind them, our colors seem content to glow warmly, rather than rage splendidly against a dying light.

When the last leaf has fallen, we have what passes for winter. Having grown up with northern winters, I can’t say I miss them much. I love the nip in the air that’s just frosty enough for a costume change. Out come the tights and sweaters, though it’s never safe to put all the warm weather clothes away. I argue all winter long with boys about going to school in shorts and no jacket, but they haven’t had frostbite yet. The rare time it does snow, I get to become a child again. Snow loses its charm when you have to shovel it and drive through it month after month as an adult, but here, everything stops. No one expects daily life to go on when snow is on the ground. We suspend everything and rush out to make our short-lived snowmen.

Then all of sudden, just before the low light of winter begins to feel old, the world is bursting with spring. Really, Arkansas spring could stand to tone it down a little. It’s way over the top, just short of talking animals and spontaneous musical numbers. Also, the pollen. I never thought I could be mad at vegetation, but come ON, oak trees. Get a room.

And tornado warnings, I could do without.

Sinuses and sirens aside, springtime in Arkansas is glorious. From the dogwoods of March to the magnolias of May, it’s a vision. Drinks on the porch, blossoms on the trees, mint in my glass, and something sizzling on the grill. Spring is one long garden party.

Until the heat turns up, and it becomes disco inferno again. Burn, baby, burn.

What’s your favorite season in Arkansas?