She’s a beautiful lady, inside and out, and we’re so glad she shares her recipes with us in our little cooking community. Let’s meet Shelisa, known to us here at Tasty Kitchen as big2beautiful!
Shelisa comes from a huge family. Her grandmother had 9 children, and she is the 6th of 27 grandchildren. “Of course I was her favorite,” she adds. From the tender age of 6, Shelisa spent her time in her grandmother’s kitchen, snapping peas, picking greens, hulling nuts, learning to roll and cut buttermilk biscuits. With a family full of great cooks (although some, she admits, were more suited for supplying paper goods for family gatherings), it’s easy to see where Shelisa gets her natural instincts in the kitchen.
Shelisa grew up eating and cooking traditional Soul food, and up until her mid-20s, just about the only international dish in her repertoire was spaghetti and meat sauce from a jar. “But give me oxtails, peas and okra, mustard greens, dressing (not stuffing), and I could cook it in my sleep.”
(I’m not even sure I can cook that wide awake.)
Old school or new, soul food rocks. Just take a look at her recipe box.
Clockwise from top left: Sweet and Savory Ribs, Sweet Potato Delight, Green Bean Salad, Southern Fried Chicken, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Creamed Spinach.
Shelisa lives in the Tampa bay area with her husband Curtis and three children. Their kids will eat anything, thanks in part to their frequent grocery store “treasure hunt” trips. Even at a very young age, Shelisa would take them exploring around the produce section where they would grab the most unusual fruits and vegetables. “We would go home and learn all about them, where they came from, how long they took to grow, and most importantly, how they taste and how to cook with them.”
Shelisa, too, expanded her food world. Her move away from Tallahassee led to her love affair with authentic Italian food, which she explored with the same passion. Now she says that Italian food is actually her favorite, although we need to keep that a secret from her family. Especially her mom.
It looks like somewhere along the way, she got quite adept at so many other international cuisines as well.
Clockwise from top left: Taiwanese Pork and Noodles (Lo Ba), Japanese Cucumber Salad, Teriyaki Glazed Wings, Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, and Sausage and Peppers.
Shelisa is also a seafood junkie. She loves crab and shrimp. Her go-to dish is Garlic Shrimp Pasta, which has all her favorite ingredients: butter, shrimp, and pasta. Freshly fried fish with hot sauce and mustard on sliced bread is one of her Friday favorites, and from the looks of the grouper sandwich below, it could easily be one of my favorites too.
Clockwise from top left: Grouper Sandwich, Shrimp and Grits, Smoked Salmon Pizza, and Paella.
Shelisa sums it up nicely when she says, “Food is the center of family joy, and even sometimes pain in my family. We celebrate everything from births to farewells with meat and vegetables.”
I know many of us share that sentiment.
Now let’s sit down with Shelisa and get to know this beautiful woman even better. (I always enjoy this part!)
Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: The most enjoyable aspect of cooking to me is eating! I love all kinds of food and I am very open to trying anything once. I love taking the ingredients from a recipe handed down by grandmother then finding a recipe from a culture using the same ingredients but with different spices to create something new for my family to enjoy.
My kitchen is the hub of my home like most families. I have learned more about my teenage kids over a big bowl of spaghetti than I would if we sat down to discuss their day in a more formal setting. I’ve always told my husband, I show my emotions in my food. I show love with a pot of collard greens, I may express excitement with Key Lime pie. And if I am pissed, I show him the big drawer next to the refrigerator where we keep the take out pizza menus.
Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities? Who inspires you?
A: My grandmother by far is the person that inspired me the most. She had 9 kid and got by on 44 dollars a week and loved and nurtured her family. There was never, ever a time that I can remember growing up and not having food to eat (good food at that). She made meals out of nothing. She feed an army of hungry people with little or nothing.
Q: Quick: if you had to eat something rig now and had only 3 minutes to get it ready, what would it be?
A: An oven-broiled Peanut Butter and Apple Jelly sandwich. OMG, it’s the best. A thick layer of peanut butter, of course. Slather the peanut butter on one slice of the bread and just a thin layer of jelly on the other slice then place it under a broiler or toaster oven for a couple of minutes. The peanut butter gets all hot and toasty and the jelly melts right into the bread, and when you place them together, I swear I hear a song every time.
Q: What gives you the most trouble in the kitchen?
A: Rice! I know it might sound strange but for some reason I couldn’t cook a good pot of rice. Either it would be too sticky and gummy or the outside would be cooked and the inside crunchy. Or the rice would burn on the bottom but still have water bubbling on the top. Now I own a rice cooker. Problem solved.
Q: What is your favorite kitchen tool?
A: My garlic peeler and my ceramic chef knife are by far the best things ever created. I use them every single day. My garlic peeler has become the center of some dinners at my home. My friends might walk into the kitchen and ask if there’s anything I need help with and I will hand them some garlic and the peeler, and it keeps them busy. And the result of their efforts is I have garlic already peeled and ready to go for the next day. As for the knife, I took a knife skills class at a local cooking school and the chef suggested I try the ceramic knife. I fell hard for the knife; it was love at first use! I love it so much because it’s lightweight and doesn’t require sharpening but once every few years.
Q: Give us one of your favorite kitchen tips that you wish you’d always known.
A: Marinating adds so much flavor to your meat! Even if you only have time to let you meat marinate for 15 minutes, I would say never skip this step. Also, if you ever over salt your vegetables, use sugar to balance out the saltiness. It almost like a magic wand.
Thank you, Shelisa!
Shelisa’s blog, Big2Beautiful, is studded with more of her incredible recipes and mouthwatering photos. There are also lovely snippets of her family life, including her adorable children (yes, I just called teenagers adorable). There’s such a wide variety of deliciousness in there, so be prepared to get hungry!
Comments are closed for this recipe.
ShyAsrai on 11.20.2010
instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, my family often makes grilled peanut butter & jelly.
just make a PB&J sammy and then cook it exactly how you would a grilled cheese in a skillet. yum yum
a beautiful array of dishes!
slickquilter on 11.19.2010
Loved the roasted Brussels sprouts; the lemon zest and Parmesan cheese combo is inspired–got the handy-man away from the football game and eating something he said he’d NEVER try. Going to try the Taiwanese pork noodles this weekend. Thanks for such soul full recipes–this wild West woman loves them.
theparsleythief on 11.18.2010
Your blog is a great find!! Your food looks amazing!
sweepea on 11.17.2010
so glad Shelisa was covered here, her recipe box is enviable, and her humor and love is evident from her member page and blog.
i thank her for her generosity in sharing the great recipes and perspective, and you, Erika, for doing this great interview!
hailskitchen on 11.16.2010
Gorgeous photos! I can’t wait to try the Taiwanese Pork Noodles — wow yum!!!
Ginny on 11.16.2010
Fabulous family and food! Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Janan on 11.16.2010
Wow and yummy!
bluebird49 on 11.15.2010
Shelisa–what a pretty name–and I would LOVE to be in your kitchen when the food is put on the table! I’ll bet it’s not only wonderful, but I’ll bet your guests feel loved by you AND your food! If only I didn’t have to have garlic-scent on my hands–but if you have som fresh lemon–I’m sure I could get it off pretty quick! I’ve ever peeled garlic–I just smash the garlic clove with the flat side of a knife and it comes right off. (Think I learned it from Ree, of course!) It’s nice to meet you! I’d love to have met your grandmother.
big2beautiful on 11.15.2010
I am on Amazon right now looking for “Like Water for Chocolate” thanks for the recommendation Tracey!
big2beautiful on 11.15.2010
Kristen and Tia, thanks! These ladies have been my foodie friends for a long time. I love you both.
big2beautiful on 11.15.2010
LOL, thanks Ree! My Shrimp Po’Boy is on it’s way. Or what my mama’s Shrimp Burgers! They are the best. Thank you so much for everything.!
Thearica Burroughs on 11.15.2010
OK! Now I am REALLY hungry!
rivergirl10 on 11.15.2010
Shelisa, I went to your site a while back from an article in the Tampa Tribune. Your food looks fabulous. I, too, moved from Tally to Tampa.
nancypants on 11.15.2010
Mmmm…. Soul Food! I love soul food…. but my hips… well, not so much!!
Ree | The Pioneer Woman on 11.15.2010
Shelisa, you are wonderful. To say you’re an asset to TK and the foodblogging community in general is an understatement! Your dang seafood dishes are killing me. Can you please send me some shrimp?
KitchenTravels on 11.15.2010
I had the pleasure of meeting Shelisa in San Francisco at BlogHerFood recently, and she is just a doll. So great to see her highlighted here on T.K.! xo, Dawn
Tia on 11.15.2010
Shelisa is a great cook. I have had the pleasure of sampling her goodies; these pictures are just as appetizing as her food. And she is a genuinely cool person to boot. Can’t beat it! Congrats on your feature Shelisa!
elizabeth on 11.15.2010
Great recipes and great interview!!! As a Cajun who can’t cook rice, it makes me feel better to know I’m not alone
Thanks for sharing!
PamFromNY on 11.15.2010
Nurturing family….that is where it’s at…thank you for the inspiration!
big2beautiful on 11.15.2010
I send some much love to the Tasty Kitchen Family. I am so happy to be apart of a community that is this wonderful. It allows all of us to be international cooks from the our on kitchens. I have met and made so many new and good friends on the food highway, thanks again for all the love and support!
fsukristen on 11.15.2010
Or “fried” chicken for that matter. lol
fsukristen on 11.15.2010
SHELISAAAAAA! *hugs* I just made your garlic shrimp pasta the other night. It’s a huge hit every time! And your friend chicken is AMAZING!
Heather (Heather's Dish) on 11.15.2010
i loved meeting you! your recipes sound divine and you are SO beautiful
queenbeetracy on 11.15.2010
I loved “meeting” you Shelisa! I, too, was blessed with a Granny who could make the most amazing foods out of what seemed like nothing (and with no fancy gadgets either!). When you talked about putting your feelings into your cooking, it reminded me of one of my very fave books (and movies) “Like Water for Chocolate”. I highly recommend it!
Thanks for sharing so many awesome recipes. I can’t wait to try some.
soufflebombay on 11.15.2010
I missed this feature…glad it is back !
Love your passion for food Shelisa! I also learn so very much about my children, their friends as well as my nieces and nephews while cooking!
Your shrimp and grouper look fantastic (two of my very favorite foods)!
Amy from She Wears Many Hats on 11.15.2010
If only you lived next door Shelisa.
Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on 11.15.2010
Your recipes look incredible!
ashelina on 11.15.2010
Your PB and J sandwich sounds delish! I’ll have to try that.
Very Culinary on 11.15.2010
Loved reading this. And I want to make everything in Shelisa’s recipe box. *wiping away drool from corner of mouth*
Regan on 11.15.2010
Welcome! I look forward to viewing and trying some of your recipes.
Lauralee on 11.15.2010
I’d be happy to tuck into Shelisa’s food any day of the week. Great write-up!
Shannon DuSablon on 11.15.2010
I love it! Thanks Shelisa for sharing! The food looks amazing!! I love the fact that you and your kids do the grocery scavenger hunt. That is fantastic and I can’t wait until my little one is old enough to do it with me! It not only helps them learn about interesting foods but it also makes store trips fun!
Twinks on 11.15.2010
Beautiful recipes! My family life centered around food as well and your story brings back some fond memories. Thanks for sharing your talents!
MOV on 11.15.2010
Fantastic! Can’t wait to learn more!