Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a recipe that I've been meaning to post since Thanksgiving. It's one of those simple things that everyone has a take on but is always included at Holiday meals. Unless you are me, and your baby just happens to get on a Sweet Potato Casserole kick and demand it of you every other week until your husband wants to throw it at you every time it shows up on the dinner table.

I can honestly say we have eaten Thanksgiving dinner several times since then, including yesterday (which is after Christmas). Sweet Potatoes are a super food though, so I have regulated the guilt to the back of my mind, though I could probably attribute a few of these 20 lbs I've gained in the 27 weeks of pregnancy to sweet potato casserole.

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup drained crushed pineapple (or more if you like it)
1 cup light packed brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
4 tbs butter (optional really but I'm from the south, we like butter with everything)
Large or Small Marshmellows (your choice and I vary it depending on what I happen to have on hand).

Boil sweet potatoes in salted water until tender. Process through a Potato Ricer or mash until smooth. Place all ingredients in a casserole dish, mix well and top with Marshmellows. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until Top is browned but not burnt.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Best Recipe Round-up

I think it has become tradition among food bloggers to re-visit their favorite recipes through the year at the close of the year. It's a place to start fresh just like every human does. You get to see how much you have grown, what you have accomplished and get ideas for what is to come in the New Year.

My qualifications for choosing recipes this year are simple: what did I love that I made over and over again. What recipe became a staple in my house. With those in mind, I reviewed all the recipes I posted over the year and there were some that stood out clearly.

2010 Garden Gourmet's Best Recipe Round-up

Southern Fried Chicken
The easy fool-proof way to get great Fried chicken like Grandma used to make!

Orange Chocolate Chip Scones An amazing flavor combination in the perfect sweet breakfast concoction on the planet.

Vegetable Pot Pie
Excellent for late summer and early fall or to clean out the cellar in spring. Hardy root vegetables make this a filling meal. It's a comfort food classic waiting to happen!

Spinach Lasagna This is probably my most requested dish at family dinner's now since I served it up during Easter. A great way to use up prolific spinach from the garden and get plenty of iron in the diet!

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing Easy cupcakes that require little effort and ingredients are usually on hand for quick fixes for last minute birthday get togethers, impromptu girl's night etc.

Ina's Coleslaw A hearty twist to a simple coleslaw this version can be eaten alone or piled high on your favorite summer burger or dog. Much more colorful then the tired classic.

If you haven't done so already, definately add these great recipes to your collection. I promise you won't be dissappointed! I hope your year was as full of good food, family and joy as mine has turned out to be. May our New Year be just as adventurous and full of great flavor and family.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Snow 2010

Here in North Carolina, it is a very rare occurrence to get a White Christmas. We sing along to Bing Crosby every year with little hope that it will come true. 2010 set a record though, not only did we get snow on Christmas but we got the most accumulation on record for Christmas Snow surpassing the previous record set in 1947.

Here's a glimpse of Our Snowy Christmas Home for 2010! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

I whipped up one last cookie concoction for Christmas at the last minute that turned out to be my favorite cookie treat. If it's possible I think this is even easier then cookies. I put a twist on it as I am all about anything and everything lemon at the moment (how's that for a pregnancy craving?).

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars
1 cup Butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract
5 cups self-rising flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, with mixer on. Add vanilla and lemon and mix well. Add flour in a little at a time (at least in thirds). Spread on a greased baking sheet (I used a 13 x 9 casserole dish and they were a little thick).

Bake at 375 for 15-25 minutes depending on thickness. Make sure they are light golden brown and a knife comes out clean from the center. Cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted, butter, softened
2 tsp lemon extract
pinch of salt
5 cups of powdered sugar
3 tbs milk

Cream butter and lemon extract. Add salt. Slowly add powdered sugar. Do not add more until what you have added is completely incorporated. Add milk 1 tbs at a time for creaminess. (I added a little before I was finished incorporating all the sugar).

Frost Cookies, sprinkle with festive sanding sugar and cut into bars!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Cookie Roundup 2010

This past week I have been baking away. This holiday I focused purely on cookies which tailored my baking and reduced stress. It's not too late to whip up one of these fast and easy recipes tonight for Santa's visit or in the morning to give as gifts or take along to family events. Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas from my Cookie Filled Home to yours!

Neiman Marcus Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Ginger Cookies

S'mores Cookies

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Bark is better than my Bite.

I love Peppermint Bark but I’m in the cookie mode this year for treats. So I decided to take a basic cookie recipe and add the elements of Peppermint Bark to it. I’m pretty pleased at how they turned out though I think I may play with this recipe a little bit more to get it PERFECT. Note: be careful removing from tray. Despite the butter and shortening and lightly greasing tray, they wanted to stick on the bottom a little bit.

Peppermint Bark Cookies
½ cup shortening
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp Peppermint Extract
2 eggs
2 cups of self-rising flour (if using AP add 1 tsp Baking Soda, 1 ½ tsp Salt)
1 cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup White Chocolate chips
1 cup crushed peppermint candy canes (8-10)

Cream together shortening, butter, brown sugar, and peppermint extract. Add eggs one at a time. Add in flour until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate and peppermint candy.

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Long name, simple cookie. Seriously. After making cookies for hours a day after working all day and running errands, I’m just not inventive enough to come up with a different name though. ::shrugs:: Like the Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies, this is your basic simple Oatmeal cookie recipe with simple variations. I love the texture and color the dried cranberry’s give this cookie. Very festive and makes you feel just a little less sinful eating these. It’s a serving of fruit right?

1 ½ cups Self Rising Flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 ½ cups dried cranberries

Combine flour and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually add in flour mixture. Once smooth add in oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop drop dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven cooling cookies on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Everyone needs a little Scotch at Christmas time for sanity...

Butterscotch that is! These were a delightful little cookie that is about the easy thing to put together on the planet. With a KA Mixer and a blindfold you can still make these cookies and have them perfectly delicious. Very light in flavor, nice texture and simply sweet.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

1 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 package butterscotch chips

In a bowl, combine flour and cinnamon and set aside. Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Add Oats and butterscotch chips blending until just mixed together.

Using a cookie scoop drop rounds onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let cool on pan 2-3 minutes and then transfer to wire racks.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love me Ginger, Love me True

I have never understood the fixation with Gingerbread or any of the gingery assortment of treats at the holidays though the smell is divine. However, I LOVE Ginger snaps. Since becoming pregnant, ginger cookies have become a favorite of mine. It helps with nausea, calms the stomach and has been my savior for a snack (except to my hips-my hips and ginger cookies do not jive). My little boy is probably going to be born with a fixation for all things Ginger and if he has red hair, it won’t surprise me a bit. LOL

I have been a little timid of making anything with Ginger though, but had to give these big soft cookies a try. The dough is beautiful, seriously. This creamy thick dough with the most amazing color. I could seriously paint my walls Ginger Cookie Dough. (Martha Stewart Paint needs to jump on that color). The smell is divine and they were so simple and came out perfect. Possibly one of my new favorite cookie recipes!

Soft Ginger Cookies
Slightly Adapted from

2 ¼ cups Self Rising Flour (If using AP add 1 tsp baking soda and ¼ tsp salt)
2 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¾ cup butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbs water
¼ cup molasses (spray your measuring cup with Cooking Spray before filling with molasses and they will come right out)
2 tbs white sugar (or holiday colored sanding sugar)

In a medium bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and add water and molasses until creamy. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until blended and thick. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough and drop into remaining sugar (2 tbs or sanding sugar). Roll into balls coated in the sugar and place 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly then finish cooling on wire rack.

May I have S'more Cookies Please?

I have recently come to appreciate the true value of a S’more. These perfect little tasty treats that are so simple in nature and a luscious bit of heaven on a Fall night sitting around a large fire. I have discovered a few new recipes to bring the taste of S’mores indoors in other sweet treats: cookies, blondies, brownies, icecream etc. Since I’m a Holiday Cookie Machine this year, I decided to give these little numbers a try. Note: DO NOT use a Williams Sonoma Stainless Steel Sheet to bake these on. DISASTER. A simple cookie sheet with sides works best. I would also recommend refridgerating the dough before baking and lightly greasing the cookie sheet. The good news is: even the cookie scraps peeled up from the WS sheet were tasty if less than pretty.

S’mores Cookies
1 ½ cups Self-Rising flour (if you use All purpose add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda)
1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips (I used regular which was too much so definitely go for the mini)
1 ½ cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped (freeze then use a large chef’s nice for clean cuts)

In a medium bowl combine flour, graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon and set aside. Cream butter and both sugars with vanilla until creamy. Add eggs on at a time while mixing. Slowly add in the flour mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in the chcocolate chips. (Refridgerate dough for an hour at this point).

Use a cookie scoop to drop onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes on 375. Add a few pieces of Hershey bar and 3-4 mini marshmallows onto each cookie (slightly pushing them into soft cookies. Return to oven to finish baking another 3-5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Menu Week

This weekend was a flurry of motion and snow flakes. We were trying to get our Christmas shopping done as were a million other people in the midst of swirling snow which thankfully did not stick or cause any driving issues. This IS North Carolina though and if anything white falls from the sky people panic. The swarm the stores for bread and milk and lose all ability to drive. Add to that that during the holiday season the Southern charm and relaxed manners all but disappear, it was an interesting weekend to be out and about to say the least.

Even after a long day of shopping and present wrapping I managed to whip up a divine dinner of the most amazing steaks I’ve ever put in my mouth but that had to be the cut of the beef and nothing to do with me as I seasoned them with garlic, salt and pepper with a dash of Worcester and threw them in the grill pan. Nothing fancy but served up with baked potatoes and a large garden salad, I ate myself sick. (and the scales today prove it!)

So no baking for me but I did get the ingredients to do some this week. Here’s the baking plan and Menu for the week:

Baked Spaghetti
Chicken Biscuits
Steak Hoagies
Hamburger Meatloaf with Sweet Potato Casserole and Greenbean Casserole
Chicken Enchiladas and Beef Quesadillas (for Christmas Eve) with a cherry Cheesecake (the no bake kind-don’t ask-its HIS family tradition, not mine!)

Holiday Baking:
Neiman Marcus Cookies
S’mores Cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Maple Brown Sugar cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry Gluten Free Cheesecake with a Gingersnap crust
Chocolate Peppermint Layer Cake
Orange Cinnamon Cookies
Orange cinnamon Coffee Cake or Lemon Pound Cake (or both)

Pretty ambitious baking schedule. I don’t think it will all get done needless to say.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Open House 2010

The other day when I participated in the Holiday Home Tour, I was invited by Coastal Charm to participate in her Holiday Open House. Rather than bore you with the same old thing, I decided to focus on my kitchen/dining details including the treats I spent today baking. Even though I stayed home from work due to ice, I spent the day cleaning and baking and enjoying the holiday spirit. So welcome back to my home, and please take a cookie, my hips don't need them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cracker Barell's Hash Brown Casserole

This has always been one of my favorite dishes. Fortunately it is also one of the easiest in the world, no mess, no fuss, quick to prepare and great for Holidays, Breakfast, dinner, potlucks, etc. This dish is so versatile that it should be in EVERY person’s arsenal of emergency dishes.

2 lbs Frozen Hashbrowns
½ cup melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
½ cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 11 x 14 pan with cooking spray. Mix ingredients and bake 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly on top.

Beef and Pasta Stew

This makes the most tender delicious steak stew EVER and is perfect for these unseasonably cold nights we’ve been having here in NC the past few weeks.

Beef and Pasta Stew

4 cups Beef Broth
1 cup water
2 cups chopped onion
3-4 pounds of quartered small red potatoes
2 large carrots coined
2 ½ lbs boneless round steak cut into ½ inch pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
3 tbs chopped garlic
1 cup fresh spinach
1 box frozen broccoli florets
1 cup uncooked ziti
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup grated parm

In large stock pot, combine first 8 ingredients. Cook on medium high for 1 ½ hours. Add remaining ingredients except Parmesan and continue to cook on medium high for 30 minutes. Top with cheese.

Pepper Broccoli Fettucine

1 (8 Ounce) carton of sour cream
1 tbs milk
1 tbs pepper
1 tbs butter
¼ cup finely diced/minced onion
2 tbs minced garlic
8 ounce box of linguine (cooked)
2tbs grated Parm.
1 box frozen chopped broccoli-thawed and boiled till heated through (optional)

Combine Sour Cream, milk and pepper in a bowl. Stir well.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Saute 3 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and add the sour cream mixture. Mix and toss with pasta and broccoli. Sprinkle with Parmesan and Serve Hot.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Holiday Home Tour 2010

My time is a bit scrunched this year but at least my decorations are up and my house is Tour Friendly even if I'm posting at the last minute! I hope you enjoy a few glimpses of my Holiday Home!(and for those that follow both blogs, this is a duplicate post-sorry) Don't forget to jog over and look at all the amazing houses and decorations courtesy of TheNester!

Dining and Kitchen (My favorite rooms):

Entry Way:

Living Room Touches:

As you can tell by my header, I love everything Fairies (not cheesy little Tinkerbell Fairies but elegant ones. DH has been buying me fairies ornaments every year so I have a collection going on the tree:

I love Everything Santa at Christmas. I BELIEVE, do you?

I do not have pictures of our simple outdoor decorations. If it's not raining, snowy or crazy bitter wind, then it's dark. Thus no pics. The one decent afternoon we had, we did manage to get some pictures snapped for our Christmas cards, thanks to BETH! So here is one of the shots from that (not the one we used since DH had a bad expression which is over half the pics) but not the one we are using for our card. This one shows the most decorations and our beautiful dogs so I will end with a Merry Christmas from our Home to yours!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Menu Monday-Two Weeks till Christmas

Can you believe that there is only one weekend left till christmas? OMG, I haven't even STARTED the homemade goods, baking etc. Where has the time gone? I was ambitious last night and made several drafts of posts for recipes over the past few weeks WITH pictures (finally right?) but I didn't get the recipe parts done so you will have to wait. Progress has been made though right?

I'm very dissappointed that it doesn't look like I'll be able to try a bunch of new holiday recipes either. I just don't have the time but I will atleast do a mash up of past favorites that I'm making this year.

This week is COOLLLDDDD here in NC (high 30, low 17 with windchills of 12 and below) YIPES!

So for Sunday, I made a big crock pot full of vegetable soup.

I pulled out some of the hamburger and onion cooked in tomato stock to make Beef Enchiladas later in the week.

I also roasted some Chicken Breasts for a Broccoli and Rice Casserole.

I have a Turkey Breast in the Freezer and another pack of Chicken Breasts in the fridge in case the leftover's don't hold out the whole week! LOL I'm hoping by getting a headstart on my meals I can spend a little time on Holiday Goodies and Blogging!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Monday

I promise I actually have things to post (like Cracker Barrel's Hasbrown Casserole, Cracked Pepper Fettucine, Steak and Pasta Stew etc.) I'm gearing up to do some Holiday Baking as well but things have been crazy hectic with holiday shopping, cleaning, decorating and doing some "re-decorating."

My darling husband spend most of the weekend painting our master bedroom while I ran errands during our first snow storm! It was an awesome weekend for christmas movies and gift wrapping over hot coffee. Our bedroom looks fabulous!

What it didn't leave a lot of time for was blogging and being even remotely close to the computer much. MY bad.

The good news is I have vacation coming up and will be able to catch up and do a major blogging blitz!

And then there's always the three months in spring that it will be just me, a bundle of joy and a computer. I plan on treating myself with lots of cooking/baking while at home during that time!

Up this week for the menu:
Holiday Dinner for two: Roasted turkey breast, homemade stuffing, sweet potato casserole, stewed apples and collard greens

Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole

cheeseburger Meatloaf with Scalloped Potatoes

Chicken Quesidillas


And some Holiday Baking but not sure what yet. I'm really wanting to try my hand at Pumpkin Cinnamon rolls with Caramel icing but they may have to wait till a weekend.

Happy Holiday season ya'll!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Menu

The Thanksgiving food orgy is over. I actually didn’t do too bad. I never got too full, I kept my portions small, but I did major damage to leftover Mac and Cheese and Apple Pie. So needless to say, no matter what, I did damage to my waistline to the tune of 2-3 pounds. (The daily Starbucks didn’t help that any I’m sure) ::sigh::

Over the weekend my mother-in-law purchases some older cook books from a used book store that had some interesting recipes in them. They are on the lighter side or as they claim “Light Comfort Foods.”

So this week, before the Christmas baking begins, I’m going to try and do some cheap light dinners to not only make up for the waist line expansion but the reduction in the wallet from Black Friday shopping.

Creamy Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole

Beef & Pasta Stew

Soft Tacos

Black Pepper Fettuccine with Grilled Chicken Salad

Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Monday-Thanksgiving Week Edition

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here! We have been so busy that I didn’t get to do a lot of Holiday experimenting but I am hoping to do some baking/ new recipes for Christmas. This week’s menu is on the sparse side since we have company coming and everything is all about the Thursday meal!

This weekend I journeyed (the whole 45 minute trip….ooooooo…LOL) to my parent's house to do a little Farm shopping for the holidays. Loaded up on fresh from the garden sweet potatoes, Gala Apples right from the tree, collard greens, mixed greens, turnips and eggs (right from the chicken’s butt!). Those will be put to great use as fried greens, stewed turnips, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs and the apples are incorporated into a big basket of fruit and candy for everyone to snack on.

This week’s menu (of non thanksgiving meals) includes:

Grilled Steaks, rice and collard greens
Fried Chicken tenders, mixed greens, perogies
Baked Spaghetti

I will do a separate post on the Thanksgiving Menu and my holiday tips and preparations.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Easiest Pot Roast Ever

Seriously. Need a fast meal? Forgot to put the Pot Roast in the crockpot before work? I have a five minute dinner cure for you.

2-3 Pound Beef Roast
2 Stalks Celery
2-3 large carrots
1 medium yellow onion
3 pounds of Red Potatoes
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup Beef Broth
Garlic Powder
1 ½ tbs Worcestire Sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Tinfoil line a Roasting pan (for easy clean up). Place Roast in pan and pierce several times with a fork. Liberally sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over the top. Pour Worcestire Sauce on top and press in with fork tines. Peel carrots and any eyes off the potatoes. Cut carrots into 1 inch pieces, quarter potatoes. Cut Celery into 1 inch pieces. Slice Onion. Layer carrots, potatoes, celery and onions into pan around and over roast. Pour Cream of chicken Soup over and then dilute it with Beef Broth.

Cover and cook for an hour and a half. What comes out is tender Beef, delicate potatoes and rich gravy with very little prep work! So after a long hard day, you can spend five minutes in the kitchen and then put your feet up while your oven does the work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe sounded so fresh and fall, light and flavorful that I had to give it a try after digging it out of the Health Magazine (December 2009). I did change it to suit my tastes and what I had on hand and it was lovely. It was a great recipe for two (with a few potato wedges left over for my lunch) and perfect after a night of exercising.

2 large sweet potatoes
2 skinless bone-in chicken breasts
½ of a thinly sliced Red Onion
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and slice Potatoes into wedges. In a large baking sheet with deep sides toss potato wedges, onion slices, approx a tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes bake, heat approx 1 tbs of oil in skillet. Pour lemon juice on chicken breasts. Sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder over breasts and sauté until cooked through on medium high heat. About 10 minutes per side.

Serve: Place 1 cup of spinach leaves on a plate. Top with potato wedges and onions and one piece of chicken. I served with a runny buttermilk ranch. (See Ranch recipe and modify by using 1 tbs dry mix, 2/3 cup mayo, 1 cup buttermilk, whisk briskly for a “drizz-able” dressing).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Monday-Preholidays

Vegetable Soup

Baked Turkey Spaghetti

Roasted Honey Garlic chicken with Scalloped Potatoes and Peas

Chicken Pot Pie

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Plus One night out (probably subway or Panera) since we will be out and about.

I have tentative plans to bake or try a few new recipes in preparation for Thanksgiving company but with the schedule over the next several days (Dr.’s appointments etc.) I’m not sure if I will have time so we are keeping the menu rather simple and easy.

Next week we will probably do the pre-thanksgiving Fast which means MINIMAL cooking, lots of salads and veggies to counteract the heavy foods (and tons of it) the next weekend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

I am not going to re post this recipe as I followed it pretty exactly from Country Living. However it does need improvement. I doubled the orange food coloring and still did not get a true orange color after the chocolate cream cheese was added back in. My chocolate glaze was also too runny. I checked with Ashley who also made this recipe (and turned me on to it) and she had the same issues but we both agreed the cake part was extremely moist and delicious.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ranch Bacon Cheddar Burgers

I ran across this recipe awhile back from one of many Blogs (though I forgot to write down which one). Now that I have my homemade Ranch seasonings I decided to give it a try. This was a super quick meal and perfect after a weekend of heavy fall eating. I even lost a pound! LOL

1lb Ground Turkey
1 tbs dry Ranch Seasoning
1 egg white
¼ cup finely diced onion
8 slices turkey bacon
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4 wheat buns
Lettuce, tomato, mayo for garnish

Cook up my turkey bacon in a dash of olive oil until crisp in a grill pan while assembling burgers. Stir together turkey, seasoning, egg white and onion and divide into four portions for patties. Remove crisp bacon from the pan and place four Turkey burger patties in pan. Grill until cooked thoroughly and crisp on the outside.

Assemble Burgers layered with cheese, 2 strips of bacon, mayo, tomato and lettuce. A very light, quick and flavorful dinner for a hectic weekday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Menu Monday-It's the Holidays!

This weekend we had a successful Halloween Party full of Chicken Stew, Chili, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Pie, Homemade Ranch dip with a veggie tray, a punch fountain and all the trimmings. I will be posting the Cake recipe and pictures of the party soon.

Needless to say, with all the leftovers yesterday, I’m burned out on the heavy fall dishes for a few days. So this weeks menu includes some lighter fare and several new recipes! (aren’t you excited?)

Broccoli Chicken Alfredo

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Turkey Burgers

Cheese Bacon Tart

Honey Garlic Chicken

Beef Stew and Biscuits

I will be munching on flavorful foods while putting away the Halloween décor and preparing the Thanksgiving menu and festivities! Can you believe the Holiday season is here?!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cook, Laugh, Love, Live

I grew up in the house that I live in now. Not exactly the floor plan I would choose but I do love the sentimental value of the house and have made it my own. I thought it would be weird and always feel like my mother’s house but it doesn’t. At all. When I visit her in her adorable farm house in the mountains, that’s her house.

When I was young though, my sister and I spent many days alone when she was a teenager and I was middle school age in my mom’s kitchen (which is now mine). The product of working parents, we had great imagination. We turned our kitchen and dining room into a restaurant called Old Timer’s every day for lunch. We served up meals to each other with flair from the humblest grilled cheese and soup to a can of chef boy r Dee garnished with parmesan from a can.

It was a production from beginning to end, greeting each other at the front door and seating them at the choicest table, playing chef, plating the food, playing waitress, busboy and dishwasher (which often included acting a dishwashing soap commercial but that was more of a ploy for her to pretend to film while I got stuck doing all the dishes…I was very much a drama queen even then.)

We used to talk about actually opening Old Timer’s when we grew up. I can only think that the famed Cracker Barrel was our inspiration for Restaurant Design. I’ve held onto that dream though. The dream has changed over the years and morphed from being a bakery/café, to sometimes a bed and breakfast, and sometimes even a full out restaurant.

Tonight, my sister is coming over to help me in the kitchen. We are whipping up giant pots of chili and chicken stew, veggie and cheese platters, and a cake for my Halloween Party tomorrow. It’s going to be like Old Timer’s is open again twenty years later.

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that you look back on with fond memories but I have noticed that the majority of the family’s greatest memories center around the kitchen. The kitchen is truly the heart of the home and I’m looking forward to making memories for my own children: giggles and smiles over cupcake frosting, smells of cookies baking on Christmas Eve, mini aprons enveloping wiggly bodies with chocolate smears on the nose, beaters to be licked, family dinners, etc.

Despite all the work I have to do, I’m looking forward to taking this sweet trip down memory lane tonight. Laughing, arguing, getting in each other’s way, making a mess and above all spending quality time with my sister is a great way to spend a Holiday whether its Halloween or Christmas. Sisters, who for many years were each other’s arch nemesis and saving grace. We are siblings, friends, families who cook, laugh, love and live.

I think they need to adjust those popular phrases for the wall art: COOK, Laugh, Love, Live. I like it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

For a Mary Kay Facial Party I threw Friday night, which was very relaxing and a fun giggling time with the girls, one of the new items I tested was Pumpkin Dip. I’m a huge pumpkin fan: pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice lattes but there are certain mixtures with pumpkin and cream cheese I don’t do well. It’s the combination of flavor and texture. Among them: pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheesing icing and now, pumpkin dip. Everyone else in the known world loves it though. I’m the weird one. I served this recipe with Gingersnaps and it was tasty, I was just able to stop after two cookies, so maybe my slight aversion is a good thing.

Pumpkin dip

1 can Pumpkin Puree
1 package cream cheese (8 ounces, room temp, lightly beaten or whipped)
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves
Dash vanilla

Mix everything, cover and chill. (We actually served it fresh which I liked better than chilled but most recipes call for you to chill pumpkin dip).

Menu Monday-Halloween

Beef and Cheese Burritos

Salad with Perogies

Scalloped Potatoes, Roast Chicken, Turnip Greens

Beef and hash brown Casserole

Chicken Something

Chili and chicken Stew for Halloween Party plus veggie tray, pumpkin pie and possibly a cake.

I actually can’t remember what is on the menu this week. I got a new cook book all about freezer meals and I’m trying some recipes out from it. They are simple and hardy and if they are tasty will come in handy for neighbors, new moms, etc. not to mention ME!

I’ll post the recipes as I try them. I’m testing two of them this week along with some simple tried and true recipes as I prepare for our annual Halloween shindig.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Birthday Bash-Happy 60th Daddy!

One of the things that has kept me busy of late was throwing my Dad’s 60th Surprise Birthday party on September 25th. We had an amazing time with good food, beautiful weather and an amazing group of family and friends.

I’ve always loved to hostess a party and am usually OCD about making EVERYTHING, doing EVERYTHING and basically a control freak. (I admit it freely.) This time though, I eased back, let other’s do things, paid to have things done and only stressed about cleaning the house and getting the flower beds pretty. LOL

My brother-in-law borrowed a giant barbeque cooker from his uncle who caters and was up at 5am in my backyard putting the pigs on. (I think he did 4 shoulders). He made Barbeque (and me some chicken as I’m allergic to pork), beans, slaw, and potatoes. MrsBeth made a fabulous Chocolate Orange Cake with Butter cream icing decorated in fondant. I provided hors d’ouvres: Veggie tray with my homemade Ranch dip, Cheese platter, and fruit platter. My sister’s Mother-in-law (did you follow that?) made her awesome homemade ice creams: Cherry almond and vanilla.

This was truly a joint effort and my Dad had an awesome time. It’s taught me a lesson as well. I can let go. Just because I don’t make everything, doesn’t mean it won’t be fabulous or that people will think I’ve slacked. Delegation is not a bad thing. I’m totally following this same route with my Halloween Party and for once, I’m not stressed at all. Living up to my own ideas of Perfection are much harder than living up to other people’s expectations. I’m harder on myself than anyone else. So I’m lightening up and it is fabulous! Enjoy a few food pics from the party!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Monday

Our menu plan got blown out of the water this weekend because we were running around taking care of everything so we ate out- a lot. (Pizza Hut veggie pizza, Wendy's, and Panera Bread)

So our menu has some of the same items from last week that I didn't get to fix.

Fried Chicken Salad with French Onion soup

Chicken Pot pie

BBQ Chicken


Friday I am hosting a Mary Kay party. Menu: Chicken Salad Finger Sandwiches, Pumpkin Dip with Ginger Snaps, Homemade Ranch Dip with veggies, Cheese and Turkey Bacon Tart, Pumpkin Cupcakes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simple Corn Chowder

Many people use bacon and bacon grease as a flavoring for corn chowder, but as I am currently not stomaching meat well (including my turkey bacon) I decided to go with a more vegetarian option.

Corn chowder is a simple hearty soup that is great for a cool fall day. I served it up with a fresh crisp iceberg salad with my Ranch Style Dressing. An excellent easy meal for a week day with plenty of leftovers.

Simple Corn Chowder
4 TBS Butter
7-8 Red potatoes (washed, peeled and cubed)
1 medium yellow onion (finely diced)
2 cups water
2 cans Creamed corn (if using homemade its 3 cups)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups heavy whipping cream (or half and half)

In a large stock pot over medium heat, sauté your onion and potatoes in the butter for 4-5 minutes. Stir in water and corn. Add your salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for approx 25-30 minutes stirring 3-4 times during cooking time.

Warm the cream (I popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes) and add to the chowder about 3-4 minutes before serving.

Ranch Style Dressing/ Dip mix

So why do I call it Ranch Style? Because its not true ranch. If you been reading this blog long, you know I tend to steer clear of spices, peppers and pork due to past allergy experiences (beginning of the year).

One of the things I’ve been missing most this year is Ranch dressing. I LOVE ranch. Cucumbers and carrots and wedges of lettuce dipped in creamy ranch. Ranch on spaghetti, chicken tenders in ranch. If you can dip it, I like it in ranch.

So I finally broke down, researched what is in Ranch and created my Ranch Style safe version. What I love about this is it is a dry mix that can be stored for months in a dry place or the freezer and you can whip up a dip or dressing in the blink of an eye. It has gone over big time at my parties and I’ve already given the recipe out to half a dozen people they loved it so much. So I am going to share it with you! (Don’t you feel special?)

Krista’s Ranch Style Dressing/Dip Mix
8 tsp minced onion
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp garlic powder

Dump all ingredients into a small Tupperware container. Place the lid on and shake well. Store in a dry dark place or the freezer until ready to use. Shake Well before each use.

For DIP:
1 Cup Mayo
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 ¼ TBS Ranch Mix

For Dressing:
1 cup Mayo
1 cup Buttermilk
1 ¼ TBS Ranch Mix

For either one, add all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till blended and smooth. Chill.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Gourmet Life

I have tried to maintain this blog as I would a business. Strictly to the point of food with snippits of commentary about my life to “spice” it up. My readers come for the food, not for me but my personality and life flavor my food. If you have been a follower for long, you can detect a pattern but may not know what is triggering the recipes. I’ve been very honest about my recent trial with food allergies and the less flavorful and more natural recipes reflect that as I tried to reset my body and figure out what the allergy triggers were.

(Now here is where I come clean.) What you may not have known, is that last fall when I was posting so much and really focused on my blog, what was going on. I love this blog but I don’t try new recipes ALL the time or cook hearty comfort foods EVERY DAY. I’m a busy person (as evidenced by the lack of posts every summer when my garden, pool and yard are in full swing on top of a full time job). I don’t have time to cook, photograph and experiment EVERY night. Last fall however, was full of colorful posts, new recipes, and rich comfort foods. Last fall, after 2 ½ years of Infertility and drugs, we lost our first child via a very emotionally traumatic and physically painful miscarriage. I threw myself into this blog with a passion to escape myself.

I’m not sorry I did so. It was therapy for me. Cooking is therapy. Depending on what kind of emotional state I am in depends on what I make. If I’m focusing on being a better me, the recipes go healthy, natural. If I need comforting they go hearty and rich. If I’m crunching a budget, they reflect that too. If I’m happy, I bake. I’m a southern gal and our kitchens are the heart of the home. We spend our lives there out of responsibility but also out of love.

I used to think that I had to be a perfect hostess and wife. I was raised with the values of home coming first and a happy family revolved around great food. Holidays revolved around family coming together over great food. I had to maintain a spotless house, cook everything, bake like a professional, decorate to the 9’s. I have pushed myself over the years to achieve perfection in my home. For what? A family I don’t have. It becomes not so important when you are only cooking for the two of you. Especially when you’re married to one of the most Non-foodie people you will ever meet. A can of cold Chef Boy R Dee is fine with my husband, but I want my family to have more than that.

I have reprioritized. I will always be a cook. It is who I am. I love it, but I’ve realized that I don’t have to be perfect or do it all. I can throw a party and delegate dishes (or the whole darn thing, hello catering), I can release myself of the responsibility of doing it all. And if by chance, a partier finds that one illusive dust bunny that escaped me, so be it. Dust happens.

I’m trying to find my balance. I love to blog. I have a million ideas in my head for posts, projects, etc for this blog. I love to share my recipes as much as I love making them. I just need to find my voice and relate more to my blog with my life than being a food reporter. This isn’t a business, this is my love of food and all things to do with it, not just recipes.

So my dear readers, my original intention of this blog was food. It worked for me for years as that is where I was in my life. I new wife, a new home owner, a new everything in my own kitchen for the first time armed with only the skills I learned at the elbows of my mother and grandmother (and they were great skills-I was well armed). I have a passion for cooking and gardening and I showcased that here, but I also have a passion for family, those suffering from infertility, and other aspects of my life. I’ve kept them separate (on separate blogs and never the two shall meet) but I’m not sure that I should anymore.

I don’t know what’s going to happen from here to be honest. I don’t know if I will maintain the two or if I will combine them here or there or somewhere completely new. I’m not sure how open I’m ready to be to readers who came for the food or how receptive my readers of my most intimate yearnings will be of food recipes. I don’t want to keep up a farce of maintaining a food blog when my focus isn’t necessarily here but I also see myself returning to food again and again so its not really a farce. Holidays are coming up, I’m going to be in the kitchen a lot. In the future, I will want to share my experiments with homemade baby food when the time comes (because it will.) I still want to try out a food related project to share with you. I just have to figure out the timeline, the how, and do it. I’m not saying good bye. I’m just saying, “hello” from the real gardener, the real gourmet, the person behind the words that puts the love into the food.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Monday

I'm definately feeling the Fall season despite the fact that our weather seems to not have gotten the memo. What is with the high 80's? jeesh. In celebration of getting our pool closed this weekend, reducing the time we have to spend on outdoor work, I'm planning a menu that requires a bit of fuss this week.

Fried Chicken Tender Salad and French Onion Soup

Chicken Pot Pie

Filet Mignon with Salad and corn Chowder

Soft Taco's

Barbeque chicken with Scalloped Potatoes and Limas.

Most of this is already on my blog so not many recipes to update but I am on the hunt for a good homemade BBQ recipe so I may have atleast that to share! Don't worry though, my big baking and cooking season is upon us!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Menu Monday-Kickin' off October

If we thought LAST week’s budget was tight, this week we will be pinching the pennies. Bring on PayDay! Fortunately, we don’t need but a few ingredients to complete our menu list this week, so I should just be able to squeeze out those pool chemicals, dog food, gas and groceries.

Don’t you just hate when you have so many things hit you in one pay period? Of course, I’m one of those that refuse to touch savings for anything other than a major emergency even though that’s what its there for. I just do not consider one tight pay period an emergency. I will live off rice and canned beans if I have to to avoid transferring money over even temporarily. It’s a habit you just don’t want to get into my opinion.

Breakfast for Dinner: Biscuits, eggs, turkey bacon, and diced potatoes.

Fried Chicken Tenders and scalloped Potatoes with Greenbeans

Chicken and Veggie Rice Skillet


Hamburgers with Oven Fries

Fortunately, I do have the ingredients on hand to make an apple pie and/or chocolate chip cookies so this week won’t be a total lesson in tight economics. LOL

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pretzel Chicken with Mustard Cheese Sauce

I came across this recipe while reading blogs, and forgive me but for the life of me I can’t remember who’s it is. I hate when I print things out and it doesn’t have a name on it. It sounded very tasty so I decided to give it a try. I served it up with Broccoli and Rice on the side. I have to admit this chicken is some of the best chicken ever. It was so moist and tender with a lovely crunchy coating. The cheese sauce enhanced the pretzel coating only slightly though and was way too blah in flavor to do anything for the broccoli or rice. In my opinion the cheese sauce was too mild. It had a hint of cheese and a hint of mustard but neither flavor stood out and it was a little too “gooey”. It stuck together in like a cheese SHEET. Now granted I didn’t use sharp cheddar or spicy brown mustard so those two items may make the flavor stronger but I’m thinking it needs a bit more of a softer cheese to act as a complimentary background for the flavors. I’ll work on that because I am definitely making this again. I do not consider it a fail, as it was good with the chicken, just needs a little punching up.

Pretzel Chicken with Mustard Cheese Sauce

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups pretzel sticks
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
¼ inch oil in pan for frying
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 cups milk
1 cup mild cheddar cheese (shredded)
2 tbs mustard

Heat the oil over medium to medium high heat. Pound the chickens flat between two sheets of Saran wrap (keeps area clean and no splatters). Grind the pretzels in a mini chopper or food processor until mostly powdered (I left a few small pieces for extra crunch). Place the pretzels on a plate or coating dish with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs in a shallow bowl or large plate.

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg and then in the pretzel mixture to coat. Cook on each side in hot oil about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and is crispy deep golden brown on the outside. Drain on a paper towel.

When chicken is halfway through cooking, melt butter in a sauce pan. Add flour and whisk. Cook for approx one minute. Whisk in milk and brink to a low boil. Take off the heat and add: salt, pepper, mustard and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

Serve hot over poured over chicken.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicken Noodle Casserole

I was looking for something I could throw together quickly and inexpensively. We are on a budget crunch for the next few weeks as a lot of things have been going on above and beyond our normal bills (birthday party, Steve’s birthday present, T’s birthday present, shutting down the pool –chemicals and maybe a new cover- etc.) So one of the area’s to cut back is the grocery bill. If any of you have an Aldi’s grocery store, you know how cheaply you can shop but you also know there are certain items to stay away from. I am a brand snob when it comes to certain things so I’m a two grocery store person now a days. Considering our completely bare pantry/fridge, I did pretty good to cut our normal $150ish food bill down to 80 this week (includes non food items such as laundry detergent as well as my husbands soft drink addiction). This recipe is one of my new inventions to suit a budget crunch. Needs a bit of tweaking but it is well on its way.

Chicken/Turkey Noodle Casserole
1 pack Chicken tenders (or leftover pieces of turkey etc.)
1 tbs oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 pack egg noodles al dente
2 cans cream of chicken soup
½ cup milk
1 cup frozen green peas
1 can coined carrots
1 can mixed veggies
1 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 cup French’s Fried Onion topper
1 cup Bread crumbs (or stuffing mix)

Heat oil on stove and cook chicken WITH diced onions until chicken is cooked through. I sprinkled my salt/pepper/garlic powder on the chicken before cooking to flavor the chicken.

While chicken is cooking (and noodles are cooking), in a 13 x 9 casserole dish, pour strained cans of veggies and frozen peas. Add cans of chicken soup and mix. Pour hot noodles over this mixture and add milk and cheese. Mix well. Layer over the top: chicken and onion mixture, French’s onion toppers and bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until bubbly and browned. Serve hot.

Menu errr Wednesday

I know I'm late for posting this week so without fluff and stuff here you go! For a rainy, cooler fall week:

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Potato Soup with Filet Mignon

Pretzel Chicken with broccoli florets smothered in mustard cheese sauce

Creamy Pea Pasta

Hamburgers and fries

chicken something or other that I haven't decided yet.

Apple Pie

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Key Lime Cupcakes

National Cupcake Week was last week and I did manage to bake a batch of cupcakes that went over in a big way here at work. This recipe is courtesy of Mrs.Beth and is a refreshing light cupcake with a citrus flavor and to-die-for icing. It’s also great because its one of the few that is not completely from scratch so it can be made in a hurry with minimal effort for last minute school functions and potlucks! Everyone (even the best cooks/bakers) need a recipe like this hanging around!

Key Lime Cupcakes

For the cake:

1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
(B uses the zest of two limes, I left that out)
One small container of Key Lime Juice (gives you about ¾ cup) (then add enough water to this to make 1 cup of liquid) ( B uses-juice of 6 limes plus the water)

Mix and bake as directed.
Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:

1 8oz package of cream cheese-softened
1 stick butter -softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
splash of milk if needed (you will need it)

I mix my cream cheese and butter really well first, then slowly add the
sugar. Add a splash of milk if needed to bring icing to proper consistency. Add graham cracker crumbs last and mix well.

I think you know how to combine the icing and cupcakes. If you need directions, we have bigger problems than my blog can address. ;)

Michael Simonesque Lasagna

I was watching Paula Deen this past weekend (DVR’d show) and her guest was Michael Simon (my favorite Iron Chef). They were making his Mom’s lasagna. It intrigued me because he made a thick meat sauce that wasn’t really a sauce so the lasagna was thickly layered without a lot of juice. While I can’t use all the same meats and spices he does (those pesky food allergy fears you know), I did mimic his method to create my own version. It came out quite well in my opinion. (There is very little similarity between the two recipes other than taking inspiration to make a super meaty drier lasagna).

I liked this recipe for many reasons. By cutting down the sauciness it came out cleaner and held its form better than my traditional lasagna. It was fast and easy to make and very hearty. This would be an easy recipe to adapt by adding some sliced veggies to it or taking to a potluck since its not as messy.

Meat Lasagna
1 Large box of noodles (boiled in salted water till al dente)
2 lbs ground sirloin
1 ½ medium large yellow onion-diced
2 tbs finely diced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp celery salt
Parsley and Italian Seasoning (amounts are up to you)
1 ball Fresh Mozzerella Cheese
1 bag shredded Mozzerella
½ cup shredded or grated Parmesan
12 oz cottage cheese
16 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1 can tomato Paste
2 cans Diced tomatoes

In a cast iron Dutch oven, brown hamburger meat along with garlic and onion. I had to add a tidbit of water to mine as the hamburger doesn’t have enough fat to provide a cooking base. Add Tomatoes, seasonings, and tomato paste. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In a bowl, combine cottage cheese, parmesan, and ricotta. Stir until blended and smooth.

To assemble: Spread some of the meat mixture on the bottom of pan and layer lasagna noodles over the top so no meat shows. Spread about half of the ricotta mixture over and layer on another set of noodles. Spread some meat sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Repeat with ricotta mixture. Top off with meat sauce. Tear the mozzarella ball into pieces and layer over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Updates and Menues (late)

I’ve definitely been cooking again. Plus the other night, I actually finally managed to download pics from my camera to my computer. 230 of them dating back to the spring! Blogging is back in business, if only I can find the time to catch up so its not overwhelming on where to start again!

This weekend I have a big “event” coming up that I will post about later (as in after it happens) so for the past few weeks my energy has been directed there. Don’t you love it when there is a vague reference that leaves you confused and irritated?

Recipes that I have ready to post soon:
Canning Tomatoes
Pear Preserves
A new attempt at Beef Strogonauf
Ranch Dressing / Dip (from scratch)
Egg Salad

Plus Last week was National Cupcake Week. I managed to bust out some of Mrs.Beth’s Key lime Cupcakes during that week and I will post soon.

Menu for this week:

Baked Potato Soup and Filet Mignon with Iceberg Wedges
Lasagna (inspired by Iron Chef Michael Simon’s Mom’s recipe)
Turkey Melts
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders with Deconstructed Salad and homemade Ranch dressing/dip

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Monday-It feels like Fall!

I don't know about you but I do most of my cooking in the cooler months. Fall is my favorite time of year and I can tell its almost here because my cooking bug is back for rich hearty stews/soups etc.

I spent this weekend making pear preserves and pear syrup (with the wonderful aid of my mother) so I'm pretty all set on that. Now I just need to do some apple butter and I'll be golden for the winter.

this weeks menu is ambitious considering my slackness in the past few weeks at anything remotely time consuming or passable as dinner. LOL

Fried Chicken with Green Bean casserole
Beef Stroganauff
Vegetable soup
White chicken Chili
Chicken and Mozzerella Skillet
Baked Potato soup

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Monday

I was a complete slackass this week. Let's just get that out of the way. I officially have carrots, butternut squash and spaghetti squash rotting in boxes in my kitchen floor because I was too tired to get to any of this week. I didn't swim, I didn't even pick my own garden. This weekend was insane: birthday parties, bridal showers, girl's luncheon and the list goes on. This coming week? yea, its pretty busy too, to the point, I'm eating out of the freezer just to avoid taking the time to go to the store.

This week:
Beef tips and gravy over biscuits with a side of broccoli and cheese (don't fool yourself, its straight up SCHWANN's all the way. I'm only making the biscuits).

Chicken Enchiladas (again Schwann's)

Baked Spaghetti (okay, this one is me)

Chicken salad sammies.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I know. I'm MIA. I'm really not. I spent most of last week canning 21 quarts of tomatoes and stringing a gallon of green beans. We decided against putting in a fall garden due to personal reasons, so I'm just finishing up with whats planted and what my parents have given me. I'm starting to get it under control and hoping to be able to make some apple butter and pear preserves soon.

As far as cooking goes, I'm still in a rut. I'm fixing quick and tried and true favorites so there really is nothing to post. Fall is coming though. My favorite time of year for the food blog as I start to bake again and prepare for holiday dishes etc.

Up this week:

Baked chicken and Greenbean casserole
Biscuits, hashbrowns and eggs
Sweet potatoes with cinnamon and sugar

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Monday

Okay. It's hard for me to believe that it's been a month since I've posted anything but the weekly menues. That is bad. Really bad. You are permitted to beat me with a sugar cane (or candy cane ;) for being such a bad blogger. The garden is failing on me. My producing plants are getting old and the rest of the garden has really taken a hit from the heat. This coming weekend will be my last attempt at doing anything on it this year. I'm going to pull up the scorched old cucumber plants and zuchini and squash. I'm going to plant fall crops: spinach, cabbage, greens, radishes. After that, I'm going to rely on the farmer's market to provide me with goods. I probably won't even can a whole lot since I'm going to be buying the food anyway, I might as well just buy it when I need it. ::sigh::

I'm ready for fall. I'm ready to not have so much to do outdoors so I can keep a clean house and cook again.

This week:
Soft tacos


Cheesy chicken cups

Turkey Melts

Nothing very exciting. I need to get on the ball!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Monday

There has been a lot going on at the home of this gardener this week. A lot of personal things I'm not ready to share yet. So cooking has been blase at best. Not exactly whats been on my mind and admittedly I had to throw quite a few veggies out as I just didn't get to them.

This weekend I did weed the garden and tie up the tomatoes and pull out dead plants. I lost a lot of my eggplants for some reason and I have no clue why. I've never seen the plant just rot with a half grown eggplant on it...but that's what half my plants did.

Dinner over the weekend, consisted of mostly Chicken noodle soup. I'm going to try and do a little better this week as I really can't handle that much sodium (the canned kind...gasp).

Last night i made Country Fried Steak, gravy, mashed potatoes and peas and carrots. (Not exactly better for me).

Tonight is Spinach Lasagna (heavy on the cheese but I am using wheat pasta)

Hamburgers on the grill

Baked chicken (probably some kind of casserole)

Either fried cabbage or brussell sprouts with perogies.

chicken enchiladas (for him) and leftovers for me.

Peach Sonker

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Monday

I’m pretty sure I’m going into this week with no idea what to have for dinner. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants and my poor grocery budget is suffering for it despite the little bit I’m getting from the garden right now.

This has been a very weird and hectic past week despite my best efforts of maintaining control and routine. I will definitely have to scrounge as I won’t be letting myself go to the grocery store till the weekend. So based on what I can think of that is lurking around my fridge and pantry, my menu will probably look something like this:

Turkey Meatloaf, brown rice and green bean casserole

Chicken noodles soup

Turkey Bacon, eggs and toast

Grilled burgers with coleslaw

Fried cabbage, Perogies and brats (for him)

Okay, okay, so my menu really isn’t that bad. I suppose its lucky that I have quite a bit lurking around huh? I’ll throw in some fried okra somewhere and maybe even some squash fritters or zucchini bread.

I also need to make a peach and blueberry pie but I don’t have any flour or a store bought crust so that may be a problem.

I have an entire bushel of peaches to deal with and 3 pints of blueberries. I’m going to freeze at least 2. I still haven’t canned beets or made pickles. They are claiming we will have a few evenings of rain this week. I’m hoping I will get something done finally.

I did get the corn taken care of and I have a lovely bucket full of butternut squash and winter squash (which keeps for quite sometime so I don’t have to hurry on that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Monday

This week, I’m making more of an effort to jump back on my healthy eating/dieting bandwagon. I finally picked up the exercising and but let the foods slide so that didn’t do me much good! This week I’m determined to do both! So here is to a healthy menu! (mostly)

Grilled Chicken and Steak Skewers (zucchini, small potatoes and pearl onions)

Baked Turkey Breast with Green bean casserole

Spinach lasagna (with WHEAT noodles)

Creamed Corn over biscuits with a slice of tomato with Broccoli Slaw salad

Garden Update:
Field Peas and Pumpkins are coming in. New batch of green beans are running. Baby eggplants are everywhere. My new squash and zucchini plants are blooming. I have small okra everywhere. Cucumbers are still coming in abundance. I got my first beautiful yellow tomato out of the little garden! I’m so excited. The heirlooms are blooming.

The big garden? Yea, lets just forget that little adventure. We have to pull all the fence posts and strings up and its getting completely mowed down. It was a huge disaster, disappointment and waste of time and money. It gets too much sun and with our heat wave this year and our schedules we could not keep it watered and lost many of our plants to heat blistering, dryness and being choked out by the crazy morning glory vines and crab grass that runs rampant out there. It’s mostly good ole Carolina Red clay so with the heat it just becomes like a solid brick. That field is not good for a garden and will be returning to a horse pasture. In fact, late this fall, we are most likely going to be bringing in two of my parents horses to spend a few months with us so they can eat out the underbrush that has grown up in the pasture and give my parents a chance to reseed their pasture. I’m actually REALLY excited by this. I’m not keen on Sonny coming to stay because he has a cribbing problem and will chew my beautiful barn up and Harley, well Harley has a personal space issue and an attitude problem but I love him anyway. He has so much personality and is always a joy to watch his antics. (My sister and I actually bought him as a birthday gift for my dad 8-9 years ago) I just can not wait to see horses in my yard again that it does not even bother me that I’m going to have to repair and put back up a lot of my fencing I just took down!

This week I will be canning beets (yep, I got stuck doing that again!), green beans and possibly pickles. This coming weekend I am actually hoping to get to the farmer’s market for some fruit so I can make some jams and jellies as well as pickle some peaches!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

One of my Dad's neighbors has HUGE blueberry bushes the size of houses with the most amazing blueberries. She doesn't charge to pick them and people who know her drive from states away to come pick her berries. My father brought me a gallon of blueberries this past weekend. I was in heaven.

Since it was a co-workers birthday yesterday, I decided to try out a new recipe that has been formatting itself in my head for awhile. A cross between my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and the Blueberry Muffins I love so much.

I think they need a little tweaking to notch that flavor up a level but they are yummy just the same!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly coat a 12-cup standard muffin tin with oil and set aside. Mix 8 ounces (one block) cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.


1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
Splash of vanilla
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 to the top.

Place two teaspoonfuls of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

I use a cookie scoop to fill muffin cups. So I used two scoops of blueberry batter and one scoop of cream cheese mixture.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday? AGAIN? Really?

This week is going to be a really crazy week at the Gourmet House. I have classes over the next two nights at the church and a ton of canning to do! I picked enough beans to over fill a banker box plus that many carrots, two gallons of tomatoes and a gallon of cucumbers! Plus my dad brought me at least a gallon if not more of blueberries and my neighbor brought me figs! So I have preserves to make and freezing to do!

I have definitely got my work cut out for me. In addition, I need to tie up my heirloom tomatoes and Roma’s (the late crop) and string my field pea poles plus weed. Given the craziness of the week, it looks like the cooking will suffer.

Tentative Menu:
Rotisserie chicken and salad (from the Grocery Deli!)


Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins (for breakfasts)

Grit casserole

Squash fritters

Zuchini Bread (to have on hand for quests this weekend)

Lots of Sandwiches!

Fig Preserves


Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July Menu Monday

I spent all weekend practically in my garden. Pumpkins and field peas are planted. More marigolds and petunias are planted. Black plastic is down in spots I'm reserving for august plantings. Tomatoes are tied up and picked. I got 2 gallons of small yellow tomatoes that I'm going to use for salads and can for sauce. Parts of the large garden have been mowed down. There are still a few rows that I've got to mow down but the lawnmower died and has to be repaired. We lost some plants in the recent heat wave but we are back to irrigating so hopefully we will get produce again soon. We are getting cucumbers and tomatoes currently and are new crop of beans are starting to run. I have not cooked much lately though I have a few recipes to throw up here when I get a few minutes including my chocolate chip zucchini bread. SO YUM! This week:

Blueberry Muffins
Blackberry dumplings

Biscuits, egg, bacon and tomato

Chicken and spinach alfredo

Garden Pizza

Chicken Tender Salad with Honey mustard

Turkey melts

Our July 4th holiday was very quiet this year. We grilled with another couple and went to a movie. On the fourth we actually worked in the garden, took a quick dip in the pool, rented movies and spent a quiet evening at home with banana splits. I'm a very social person so it was a bit odd to me but we have had so much to do and had issues with the pool that it was really nice to just relax after accomplishing so much this weekend which included (taking down part of our pasture fence, staking tomatoes, planting garden, putting down plastic, weeding, getting the pool clear AGAIN and dealing with a pump/leak issue, mowing down part of the big garden to better manage weed issues, cleaning the house.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Doesn't that just Beet all?

I'm a Southern farm girl...who doesn't like beets. I think I may possibly be the only person in my family that doesn't like them. Unlike my grown-up love for broccoli, my beet palate never developed in an enjoyable manner.

Since my husband enjoys them on occasion and my parents had plenty in their garden (which they are fun to harvest) I decided to be a loving wife and try my hand at canning/pickling beets.

1) Rubber Gloves are your friend if you do not want stained fingers
2) No matter how neat you try to be your kitchen will still look like you slaughtered something large.

It's definitely interesting to note the change during cooking. It goes from black lumps boiling in a pot that smells (as my friend Beth put it) like cooking dirt to an aromatic pot of jars that are truly a beautiful deep fuchsia color. I love the end result and while messy, it really is easy. I may (or may not) do some more. Why? Because I can and they are free...and if Armageddon happens I can choke down beets to survive. LOL

To Can beets:
Boil with parts of the tops (stems) on to reduce "bleeding". When soft, remove tops and roots. quarter or half depending on size. Place in clean hot jars. On stove boil 1 cup water, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of sugar. If you have whole cloves, place about five in each pint jar. If you have crushed cloves use about a tablespoon in the boiling mixture. Once it comes to a boil, pour the hot liquid over the jars. (you may have to make more if you have a lot of jars. Mine did about 4 jars but I didn't pack the beets tight. Place lids and rings on. In a large pot or canner, place the jars completely submerged (to a 1/2 inche over the lids)and bring to a boil. Turn off and let cool slightly. Remove the jars and let cool and dry.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Menu Monday

Another week has passed in a flash. I feel like I missed two days because I slept it away thanks to a beesting and benedryl. I hate beestings and their affects on me! I was very fortunate it wasn’t a yellow jacket or something I’m more allergic too. I’m pretty sure it was a wasp and let me tell you, it hurt like the dickens! My arm is no longer swollen and other than a discolored bruise, you can no longer tell. (FIVE DAYS LATER…jeesh).

We made a lot of progress on the yard and pool this weekend the big garden leaves much to be desired. The morning glory vines that are reminiscent of the killer vines in The Ruins, have taken over out there. I tried picking beans Saturday morning and less than ¼ of the way down the vines were so thick they were tripping me and keeping me from finding my beans. Steve was supposed to take the weed eater through there but he was sidetracked by stringing up tomatoes. One of my new goals is to get a lightweight weed eater that I can handle so I don’t have to depend on him and his schedule. (because you all know I’m super impatient so it KILLS me waiting on someone).

My little garden is doing very well this year though. It’s driving me insane that part of my boxes are not planted but I’m reserving space for fall crops! I did get green beans canned last week and this week I’m going to work on canning some beets and tomatoes!

So what’s for dinner? A Very uncoordinated plan of things that probably do not go together but that’s okay:

Green beans and new potatoes and corn (probably served up with Turkey Melts)
Turkey Melts
Veggie Pizza
Baked Spaghetti
Biscuits, eggs, grits

I have a long weekend coming up, and I have lofty goals of yardwork/gardening but I have this dream in the back of my mind that I can and make preserves etc. I guess we shall see which one wins out!

Happy Summer ya’ll!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Coconut Cream Trifle

For my mom’s birthday (which falls at Father’s Day every year), I had planned on making coconut cream cupcakes. Due to a wedding I forgot we had to go to, I decided it would be a little simpler to make a trifle instead so I didn’t have to wait on cooling to ice etc. This turned out really well. It is SO rich. Mom claims it’s the best thing she’s ever eaten, but she may be a little biased and I’m not sure anyone loves coconut as much as she does.

This took a little longer than I expected just because of the cooling times for the cream. Assembling it is a breeze and would be awesome with some slivered almonds, chocolate chips or fruit like pineapple to give the layers more color and depth!

1 white cake mix baked per instructions
1 15oz can of Cream of Coconut
½ cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 bag shredded coconut


Bake Cake per instructions and set aside to cool. (I used a bunt pan).

In a 350 degree oven (I did this while the cake was cooking), spread the shredded coconut on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Be careful. It burns easily. Set aside to cool.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat bring coconut cream, sugar and cornstarch to a slow boil. Stir constantly. Reduce heat to medium low and stir until mixture is slightly thick. Pour into a glass bowl and let cool. Stir occasionally to release heat to cool it faster.

In a stand mixer, beat cream until whipped. Once stiff peaks have formed halve the mixture. Place one half with half of the cooled coconut cream mixture, folding together and refrigerate until assembly. Whip the other half for a minute more adding the coconut extract and powdered sugar till blended. You can store this in the refrigerator as well until needed.

To assemble: Stir the condensed milk into the coconut cream mixture (the half that doesn’t have the whipped cream in it). Set out all your layers: Cake (cubed), coconut Cream, Whipped coconut cream, whipped cream, toasted coconut. Start your layers in your trifle bowl with cake. Pour 1/3 of the coconut cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Add 1/3 of the whipped coconut cream, sprinkle with coconut and then 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat 2 more times, topping with the remaining toasted coconut. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving for best taste.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Monday

Another week has passed. Where does the time go? One minute I’m sweating over weeds in a garden and picking beans, the next I’m back at work on a Monday wondering what I’m going to prepare this week. I have no time to cook in the evenings with all this gardening going on!

I did get a chance to bake this weekend for father’s day. I made my father a squash pie and my mom (it was her birthday) a Coconut Cream Trifle. I will get those recipes posted soon!

I’m going to attempt to make these items this week as I need to cook out of the freezer to make room for all the veggies I need to put up as well as cook some of these veggies!!

Buttermilk chicken Tenders
Garlic Roasted Chicken
Chicken salad (made from roasted chicken leftovers)
Fried Cabbage
Squash Pie (I have filling left over so I just need to make or buy a crust)
Squash Fritters
Japanese Stir Fry (Homemade)
Grilled cheeseburgers with homemade coleslaw
Zuchini Bread (for breakfasts)
Veggie Gratin
Green Beans with Potatoes (have some getting soft) and corn (from a can)
Glazed Sautéed beets and carrots

What’s In the garden this week?
Beets and carrots (from Mom’s garden)
Green beans
Salad tomatoes
Cucumbers(will have them by the end of the week)

Fruit in Season: Peaches, blueberries and Blackberries

Also, It's the first day of SUMMER!! Happy Longest Day of the Year!