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!