Monday, November 29, 2010

Chicken Fingers with Dipping Sauce

I've decided that we've been eating out way too much lately. So, I told the kids that we would be eating at home this week. Of course, there was major moaning and groaning and utter disappointment. How would we get by without Mexican Monday? What would we eat? Would we starve? I had to come up with a couple of meals that the kids would eat. My younger son and I love these chicken fingers. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Decking the Halls

Thanksgiving is over and it was a wonderful day spent laughing and overeating with family at my Mema's house. I'm happy to report that we did not repeat the mistake of forgetting the cranberry sauce this year. Several cans were brought in and I was in charge of overseeing that it made its way to the table. Like Noah's ark, the food came in by twos. We had two turkeys - one baked, one smoked. Two of my aunts brought dressing. I, of course, had to try both of them. We also ended up with two bowls of gravy, but we combined those to save room. As we were all packing up to leave, we realized there was a forgotten banana pudding in the refrigerator. So, even though we were all stuffed, we pulled out some bowls and choked it down just because it was there...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pecan Pie Cookies

When you think about Thanksgiving dinner, I'm sure that a cookie tray doesn't enter your mind. Cookies are for Christmas, right? Wrong! You may have never thought about cookies for Thanksgiving, but you will after reading this post. Now, you know how I love my pecan pie. But, pecan pies fail in comparison to the joy that I get out of eating these Pecan Pie Cookies. Yes, I am well aware of pecan tassies, pecan tartlets, and pecan pie bars. I've eaten and enjoyed these many times in the past. However, I will take these cookies over those renditions any day. The recipe is from Southern Living, November 2000. I'm celebrating the 10th anniversary of these luscious cookies entering my life. You will thank me for introducing them to yours!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Speedy Chinese Noodles

If I had to pick one food to eat on a daily basis, it would be noodles. In fact, when I was a stay-at-home mom with two little toothless boys, it was our daily meal. And, we never got tired of eating noo-noos. The kids still love what they call "seasoned noodles" - cooked noodles tossed with olive oil and garlic salt. But, I've evolved a little from the seasoned noodles days and like to shake things up a bit. I still like to keep things simple though and this recipe fits the bill. It's from Gooseberry Patch's Homemade Christmas, copyright 2010. And, it's my new favorite.

Crab Dip Supreme

A few weeks ago, I added a new cookbook to my collection, Cooking in the South by Johnnie Gabriel, copyright 2008. While Ms. Gabriel is famous for her desserts, I was drawn to this recipe. I'll be the first to admit that crab meat can be rather expensive and I only buy it a couple of times a year. But, I broke down and bought some yesterday because I wanted something different and couldn't get this recipe out of my mind. To justify the price, I declared last night a special occasion - it was the beginning of my week-long vacation. I haven't had a week off since last Christmas and decided to celebrate nine days away from the grind.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coconut Bread

With the Thanksgiving holidays quickly approaching, this is the perfect bread to have on hand over the next few days. It makes a simple breakfast when served with a cup of steaming coffee (or icy cold Coke, whatever your poison), then turn around and eat it as a snack while you're watching your favorite sitcom family put their differences aside for one day and gather around a perfectly roasted prop turkey and deliver cliched speeches of gratitude. I'm actually looking forward to it myself.

Whenever I post a recipe, I try to give credit where credit is due. I've had this recipe in my files for years. I've narrowed it down that it came from the internet. The recipe simply says, Coconut Bread, Brenda. So, thank you, virtual Brenda, I hope I did your bread justice.

Velvet Pumpkin Bread

After baking an imperfect pumkin pie that left me reeling with disappointment, I decided to go back to basics with pumpkin bread. I found this recipe in Gooseberry Patch's Comfort and Joy, copyright 2004. As I write, my almost 8-year-old is now eating a piece of this in the living room. He hates pumpkin and almost anything else I bake that isn't brownies. I told a tiny white lie when he asked what it was. I told him it was cake and he's shoving it in his little mouth and saying it's good. This will keep him satisfied for about ten minutes. He will then return to the kitchen with his insatiable appetite and plunder the pantry and refrigerator. But, this pumpkin bread has bought me a little relief for now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lessons Learned

I worked hard all week reading recipes and brainstorming ideas to bring to life here on my blog. Last night, after a long day at work combined with an exhausting trip to the grocery store with my sons, I set to work creating the pie you see above: Pumpkin Bee Sting Pie. I also had a Banana Crunch Dessert on my agenda that I had planned to prepare this beautiful Saturday morning. But, I come to you now, dear readers, empty-handed and with my head hanging low.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cranberry Salad

Thanksgiving is already upon us. Those of you hosting the big dinner are probably already creating your menus and compiling your shopping lists. And, I'm sure that many of you are adding cranberry sauce to your list. You will go to the grocery store and purchase the mandated can of cranberry sauce and, if you can even remember having it on the big day, will pop open the can and release the jellied fruit with its ringed beauty from its tin prison. It will land with a thud on your cut-glass dish and you will slice it to make it "fancy". At  most, two people will eat it. The majority will turn up their noses and declare their hatred; others will simply  ignore it and the sad ruby sauce will meet its end in the trash later that night.

I cannot stand for this! I am in the minority of cranberry sauce lovers. I take pity on the sauce every year and eat more than my share just to show my appreciation for this Thanksgiving classic. This recipe for cranberry salad came from a former co-worker years ago. I didn't have the recipe written down so I had to try to go by memory. Whether I nailed that recipe or not, this recipe is delicious. It can be used as a side dish, but is sweet enough to be a dessert. I may not convert the haters out there, but I'm trying. I hope you'll kindly make this recipe without prejudice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my Mema's 86th birthday. I'm so blessed to have had this woman in my life for all of these years. 

Pecan Pie #3 - The Classic

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "How many pecan pies can one person make? She baked two different kinds last weekend. When will it end?" It ends today! While my other two pecan pies are both delicious, I felt that my readers needed a classic pecan pie. No coconut, no chocolate, no caramel - just pure, classic pecan (where's the vanilla ice cream?) pie. This recipe was given to me by my friend, Deborah Smith. She read my other pie posts and insisted that I needed to add this pie to my collection. It is a simple and quick recipe that I think you will enjoy. I can now mark "pecan pie" off my bucket list. It is done!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

While brainstorming ideas for an appetizer to take to my Mema's 86th birthday party, I knew I wanted to do a type of chicken dish since I had gotten a great deal on a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. My cousin would be making her famous Chicken Dip so I needed to go in another direction. When I made the decision to make a Buffalo Chicken Dip, I found many variations out there on the internet. I decided to tailor it to fit my tastes because I don't like canned chicken or bleu cheese dressing. The dip turned out well and I think it got better when it was at room temperature. It's possible that it could even be good cold, but considering there was only about a tablespoon left at the end of the party, I couldn't test my theory.

Black-Eyed Pea Spread

There was a call-to-arms on Thursday afternoon when my mom called to inform me that we were having a party for my Mema's 86th birthday this Saturday. We were doing a simple meal - chili and finger foods. I knew I needed to leap into action and come up with a new appetizer to introduce to everyone. My relatives would be more than willing to serve as guinea pigs for this experiment. I raked through my cookbooks and the internet. I finally settled on this recipe from Johnnie Gabriel's Second Helpings, copyright 2010. It did not disappoint.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cookbook Bliss

I came home Monday afternoon from a long day at work and found, not one, but two new cookbooks propped up against my front door awaiting for my arrival. I opened the packages quickly but prolonged the excitement by waiting until bedtime to crack open the crisp new covers. Laying in bed, comfortable in my pajamas, surrounded by books is my idea of pure bliss.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pecan Pie Recipe #2

If you don't like your desserts extra rich and dense and luscious, then don't waste a moment on this recipe. This pecan pie is a chocolate lover's dream. Don't be thrown off by the addition of toasted coconut. The coconut is only there to add to the chewy texture. This pie is all about the chocolate and pecans. It's like eating a chewy, gooey piece of turtle candy. This recipe is from Southern Living's Big Book of Christmas, copyright 2009. It's definitely a WOW dessert so don't waste it on people who aren't close to your heart. Keeping it all for yourself is a viable option, too.

Pecan Pie Recipe #1

I have seen some real disasters when it comes to homemade pecan pies. I once saw my father-in-law cut into a pecan pie and, as he removed a slice, the space filled up with the rest of the flowing, runny pie filling. Yuck! While I've never personally experienced a disaster of that magnitude, I did make one of those "magic" pecan pie/cheesecake combos which looked beautiful but had absolutely no taste whatsoever. But, I've decided that as a southern cook, I needed to perfect my pecan pie-making skills. So, I painstakingly researched pie recipes this weekend and came up with two that I wanted to share here. Both are from the authority of southern cooking: Southern Living.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ranch and Bacon Pasta Salad

I know that people have their guilty pleasures. I'm sure that, at this moment, some of you have stashed away some chocolate in a secret location in your home. Some of you are heating M&M's in the microwave because you like them warm and creamy. (I know who you are!) And, some of you are taking a pan filled with nachos covered in refried beans and jalapenos out of the oven and will eat them alone in your bedroom while laying in bed, surfing the web, and texting your kids in the next room.

I'm not judging because I, too, have my guilty pleasure and this is it - Ranch and Bacon Pasta Salad. Whenever I cook it for dinner, I "sample" bowl after bowl of it while my husband is outside sweating over the grill. By the time dinner is ready to be served, I'm usually gorged out and can't even look at it anymore. "No, don't mind me. I don't want any." I'm a little hesitant to share this recipe since I know what problems it can lead to, but I'm going to trust that all of you have more willpower than I do. Besides, it's simple to make...maybe too simple.

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You...

A Tale of Two Pies

It was the best of pies. It was the worst of...hey, wait a minute. This is the best of pies because I baked two different kinds of pecan pie today ~ one caramel, one chocolate. Couldn't leave anything to chance on Thanksgiving day. More details to follow, but here's a sneak peek.

It is the best of pies!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Enchilada Casserole

About twenty years ago, my Mema somehow acquired this Enchilada Casserole recipe. She cooked it and we liked it. I mean, we really liked it and she really liked to cook it. For a few years there, she was never without the ingredients and could whip this up quickly and almost magically if you walked in unexpectantly after church or a long day at work. Mema is 86-years-old now and doesn't cook as much as she used to. My cousins and I have grown up and have our own families now. But, many of us, including my brother, have cooked this casserole. And, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we always think of Mema when we cook it. I hope you'll try it and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Squash Casserole

Here's my third installment in the Casserole Chronicles. The weather has cooled off here in Georgia and I'm really cranking up the oven and cranking out the casseroles. This recipe is so simple, savory, and hearty. And, the leftovers have provided my husband with lunches all week long. I think everyone has a squash casserole in her recipe box. This is mine and I hope you'll try it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Smothered Pork Chops

Sometimes when I'm in the kitchen, I'm just preparing a meal. But, there are times when I'm really cooking. And, when I'm standing over a skillet, my face bathed in steam, working on a batch of homemade gravy...well, that's cooking!

If my husband had his way, I would cook this every week. Fortunately, I do things my way when it comes to the kitchen. Besides, if I made it every week, it wouldn't be special. And, I like to keep him begging for more.

Apple-Pecan Log

There are just some recipes that draw my attention over and over again. I may not stop what I'm doing to rush to the kitchen, but I will pause, thoughtfully stroke my chin, and think, "Hmmm...very interesting." I can't tell you the number of times I've been drawn to this recipe from Gooseberry Patch's Autumn with Family and Friends, copyright 2009. Of course, there's the obvious reason - apples and cinnamon - but, there's also the "log" factor. I usually make cheese balls, so a cheese log is a foreign land to me. So, come with me while I explore this new territory.