Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year: Resolved and Inspired

If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you've probably read the post about my inspiration to start A Well-Seasoned Life. If you haven't, you may want to read My Inspiration or Motivating Discouragement. It was a combination of things that came together to motivate me into following my dream to write about food and life. With the New Year beginning at midnight tonight, I've been planning and plotting for the last couple of days, setting goals for this blog and for the realization of my dream.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Seasonings Greetings

I do love a good pun. In honor of some small victories here on my blog, I'm going to celebrate by sharing one of my basic kitchen shortcuts with you. If you've read some of my original recipes, you will see that I almost always use the same combination of seasonings. Here, in my kitchen, we call it Kim's Mix and have saved some effort by combining all of my favorite seasonings into one bottle. I wouldn't know where to begin cooking if I opened my cupboard and couldn't find:
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Course Ground Black Pepper

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shrimp and Pasta with Creole Cream Sauce

There is nothing more satisfying and comforting to me than a plate of pasta. After a week-long binge of holiday finger foods, I needed pasta!!! And, not just a plate of spaghetti from a jar. No, I wanted something different, something new, something rich and creamy with a big kick of flavor. If there's some shrimp in it, then even better. So, I found it! The recipe that would take me back into the kitchen and make those little smokies a distant memory for me. This is from Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, copyright 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chocolate Pinwheels

Christmas is over and I'll have to admit that I miss having a multitude of cookies to choose from for dessert. So, I was in the mood for something sweet but fast. I didn't feel like getting out the mixer or measuring anything. But, I kept thinking about this sweet "snack" that I saw in my newest cookbook, Gooseberry Patch's Homestyle in a Hurry, copyright 2010. I thought it would be perfect to satisfy my sweet craving. If you like the chocolate turnover at Arby's, you'll love this chocolate pinwheel. You can have these whipped up and in your mouth in about 15 minutes flat.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy Dance

All of my hard work in the kitchen throughout the week finally paid off as my cookie platter was assembled for Christmas Eve. My family enjoyed all of the cookies and the platter came home relatively empty. Never fear, I have enough cookies left here to fill it back up to take to my Mema's house later today. All of the cookies were delicious and the recipes are here in Santa's Bakery.

Our Christmas morning started before 6:00 a.m.. There was a lot of excitement and squealing and, at one point, a happy dance broke out when the kids opened a new Wii game. More fun and food to come today and, if I'm lucky, I'll get the greatest gift of all - a nap!!

Merry Christmas to All!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Out-of-this-World Corn Dip

Contrary to popular belief, I did not invent corn dip. But, I did read this recipe, recognized its potential, and introduced it to my friends and family, therefore, creating a phenomenon. So, as a Christmas gift to you, I'm giving you this recipe to share with your family and friends. Be prepared to share the recipe because you will get a lot of requests for it. It's simple to prepare and "different" enough to draw a crowd. This recipe came from Gooseberry Patch's Coming Home with Gooseberry Patch, copyright 2007.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ranch and Cheddar Cheese Ball

Even though cheese balls are sold throughout the year, I only buy one for my husband during the Christmas holidays. He knows that Christmas is getting close when he finds the cheese ball and a box of crackers waiting for him in the kitchen. This year, I made my rounds in the deli section of the grocery store and found that the price of the cheese ball was $3.99 instead of 2/$5.00 like I remembered. I thought that was way too much to pay for something that I could make myself with ingredients I already had on hand. So, I came home and whipped up this recipe. Eric will be munching on this tonight while watching "Christmas Vacation". I don't know about the cat, but Eric sure will enjoy it...

Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Yes, cookies are an excellent choice for a sweet treat at Christmas but sometimes you need to set aside your childish desires and move on to a more mature dessert, a dessert that deserves to be eaten with plate and fork. This tall, handsome cake should be savored while sitting on a couch in front of a roaring fire, the twinkling Christmas lights illuminating your smiling face as you bite, taste, and ponder. I suggest giving your children some of the cookies and sending them to bed. They would not be able to appreciate the depth of chocolate flavor that runs throughout this luscious specimen. The recipe is from Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, copyright 2010.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Double-Drizzle Pecan Cookies

This cookie will wrap up my cookie series for the holidays...maybe. I do have a new cookie press and a spritz recipe that are calling my name. But, for now, I've made three different cookies within the last 24 hours and will be packaging up some of them and shipping them out tomorrow. I know they'll be appreciated. The cookies that remain will be saved for Christmas Eve. Santa will not be disappointed when he comes down our chimney. He will have three different cookies waiting for him. I hope that doesn't make him late for your house. You may want to whip up a batch of these just to be safe. This recipe is from Taste of Home's Best Loved Cookies and Bars 2009.

Mom's Buttermilk Cookies

There is nothing more wonderful than the beautiful simplicity of a drop cookie. And, it doesn't take much to turn them into something special - just some luscious frosting and a few sprinkles. These buttermilk cookies are soft and tender and provided me with a blank canvas that I used to create a winter wonderful with just a sprinkle of white sugar crystals. The recipe is from Taste of Home's Best Loved Cookies and Candies, copyright 2010.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Memories: Apples and Oranges

The Christmas season always makes me think about my Papa. He passed away in 1998 and left a big hole in my family's holiday celebration. There was nothing like getting a phone call from Papa requesting what he would like to have for Christmas. Then, on Christmas Eve, he was more excited than any of us grandchildren. His Christmas cards were ripped open and any money that was inside would immediately be placed in his wallet. He would tear through his gifts critiquing each one and trying on clothes and slippers as he opened them. That way, he could send them right back home with you if they didn't fit or weren't exactly what he had in mind. Not that he wasn't grateful for what he got, he just didn't want to keep it if it wasn't just right. Unlike his wife, my Mema, who would just pack it away unopened to save for "hard times". Papa had seen hard times in his life and he wasn't planning on waiting for them to come around again.

Although he made a living as an auto mechanic, he was known as Preacher Toole around town because he was also a Church of God pastor whose sermons held warnings of "hell-fire and brimstone".  But, all his grandchildren ever got from him was love. Every year, on the last church service before Christmas, he would would end the sermon by bringing out cases of apples and oranges and would distribute them among the small congregation. Papa grew up during the Great Depression and I know how much it would have meant to him to receive anything for Christmas and I'm sure that fruit would have been a special treat for the poor, little boy still living inside of him. The fruit was really a symbol of his gratitude that God had blessed him and he devoted his life to showing his appreciation. 

Even though Papa passed away twelve years ago, the memories he provided are alive and well in my heart. And, I like to think of him in Heaven now watching down over us this holiday season, deeply satisfied and wanting for nothing.

 Merry Christmas!!

Brownie Crackles

Even though the kids and I are home for Christmas break, I'm still working hard in my kitchen baking cookies. I have a care package to ship out this week. And, what package would be complete without a tin full of cookies and treat? These cookies are my first foray into the world of the crackle cookie. Do you remember when I said that I keep brownie mixes on hand because I never know when I'll need one? Well, when I read this recipe and saw that it was made from a brownie mix, I knew that I had to try it. I think these cookies are even better than brownies. They're soft and chewy and oh so rich. This recipe is from Taste of Home's Best Loved Cookies and Bars, copyright 2009.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Andes Mint Cookies

I've been busy all week preparing cookies and candies for my children to give as teachers' gifts and for me to share with my co-workers. It's always a challenge for me to sit down and figure out which treats I will prepare. Sometimes, I get helpful hints or "special requests" from friends and that makes things a little easier for me. These cookies would be one of those special requests. I've made these several times in the past and they're always a hit. Now, if only I can give them to her before she reads about them on the blog. Don't worry, Angie S., I'm on my way with tin in hand!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Seven-Minute Chocolate Cookies

It's a cookie! No, it's fudge! No, it's a COOKIE!!! Listen, there's really no need to argue. It's a fudgy cookie. And, I will admit that it's not the most beautiful cookie in the world. But, like life, it isn't always about looks. There's a lot to be said for taste and character. And, this cookie is full of both. Besides, I think everyone who receives this in her Christmas basket will appreciate its inner beauty. This recipe is from Southern Living's 1001 Ways to Cook Southern, copyright 2010.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gooseberry Patch Review: "Homestyle in a Hurry"

One of the delights of life is eating with friends.
-Laurie Colwin

Homestyle in a Hurry is the latest cookbook from Gooseberry Patch and it came into my life at the perfect time. I've already started working on my New Year's resolutions for 2011. One of my main resolutions for the new year is to save money by cooking more and eating out less. Homestyle in a Hurry is filled with recipes that contain inexpensive ingredients, most of them are probably already in the pantry. And, the dishes come together in 30 minutes or less.

Chocolatey Chewy Brownies

Years ago, I used to wonder why anyone would make brownies from scratch when the box mixes were so good. During my days as a stay-at-home mom several years ago, I started making scratch brownies and discovered the joy of homemade brownies. I've probably tried every brownie recipe in my cookbook arsenal. Scratch brownies are so easy to make. Most of the ingredients are staples in my pantry so I could quickly whip up a batch when necessary which was about once a week. Now, don't get me wrong, I still have boxed mixes in my cupboard. They do come in handy. But, if you're looking for a good scratch fudgy brownie recipe, then try this one from Gooseberry Patch's Homestyle in a Hurry, copyright 2010.

Sourdough Chicken Casserole

"You had me at hello!" First of all, I'm always a sucker for a recipe that has white wine in it. I just love the flavor and richness it adds to food. So when I saw this recipe in Gooseberry Patch's Homestyle in a Hurry, copyright 2010, I knew I had to put it in the top of my "to do" list. I was right - this dish has unbelievable flavor and should move to the top of your list, too. Although it may seem like a long list of ingredients, the dish comes together fairly quickly if you prep and chop everything before you start cooking. I always suggest that you read through a recipe carefully before you get started and figure out a gameplan to make the cooking process go more smoothly.

Barb's Bacon Green Beans

Have you ever gone about your life thinking that everything was fine, that you had everything you needed to make you happy? And then, wham!!, you discover something that makes your life complete and you wonder how you ever lived without it. That happened to me today and I'm overwhelmed with emotion that I've gone through my whole life without Barb's Bacon Green Beans. But, now that I have have been enlightened, it is my mission to save my readers from their false sense of well-being. This recipe is from Gooseberry Patch's Homestyle in a Hurry, copyright 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Salted Chocolate-Covered Caramels

I'm trying really hard to be cool and hip - to be on the cutting edge of food trends. So, when I saw the term "salted caramel" all over the magazines and internet, I needed to see what the buzz was about. I've always loved the combination of salty and sweet so this sounded right up my alley. I decided it was high time I invested in some course sea salt and moved into the 21st century of desserts. This post is a combination of recipe and review. I needed to ease myself into this thing so started with a simple recipe that I found on the Kraft web site.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Polarizing Express

Two years ago, my sons decided that they were old enough to ride the mall’s Christmas train without me. I was relieved when they chose to ride in the caboose thinking they would be safer in there than riding in the open seats. As the train began moving, all seemed well. But, as the end of the caboose came into sight, there stood my 4-year-old on the caboose’s platform hanging on to the rail surveying the view. The only thing standing between him and the track was a thin rope “gate”. I yelled and pointed to get the driver’s attention. The driver, a young, hip African American guy with long flowing braids, seemed a little out of place in this winter wonderland, and, I’m sure, had better things to do than deal with naughty kids. He stopped the train, walked to the back, and gave a verbal warning. But before he could return to the “engine”, my son had jumped off the back of the train and was walking around in the “snow”. Again, I motioned to the driver who returned to the back of the train, chased my son back into the caboose, and “locked” the rope gate again. The train ride ended quickly after only one turn around the track. My kids were delivered safely to the depot and I gathered them quickly trying to avoid eye contact with the other waiting parents. Hurridly, we left the mall that day with heads hung low having lost our golden tickets and without a single, silver bell in sight.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Red Velvet Brownies

When I think of Christmas desserts, I always think of Red Velvet Cake. My aunt Barbara is famous for baking a beautiful Red Velvet Cake every Christmas. It is so rich that it's impossible to eat a whole piece. Unlike a lot of recipes for Red Velvet Cake, her recipe does not contain cocoa powder so her layers are a brilliant, bright red. If I get enough requests, I will bake Barbara's Red Velvet Cake for the blog. Until then, you'll have to settle for these Red Velvet Brownies - thick and dense and rich with cream cheese frosting. This recipe is from Southern Living's December 2010 issue. Click here to see the original recipe.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rolo Pretzel Candy

I'm sure that this little "recipe" is nothing new to some of you. But, if you haven't tried it before, then stop what you're doing and run out and buy a bag of Rolo candy. These are so simple and delicious. They're the perfect treat for your Christmas cookie and candy tray this year. I've been making these for years and they're always a hit!! Throw a few of these into your next outgoing cookie tin. Your friends and family will thank you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby Boys

Today, we had a birthday party for my little boys. My younger son will be six on Dec. 5th and my older son will be eight on Dec. 6th. The last two days have been a flurry of delivering cupcakes to school, buying gifts and food, and getting the house in order long enough for the grandparents and cousin to stop by to celebrate for a few minutes. I took the easy way out and ordered pizzas, the kids' favorite food. I supplemented with chicken dip and Polish sausage appetizers.

Polish Sausage Appetizer

Now, if you've been following me for a while then you know how I love a kielbasa! What's not to love? It's perfect for a quick meal and even better as an appetizer. I always try to keep one or two in the freezer. I just feel better knowing they're in there, just in case. So, when I received my monthly newsletter from Gooseberry Patch this week and saw a recipe for an appetizer that used kielbasa, I knew I had to try it. The recipe can also be found in Gooseberry Patch's Comfort and Joy, copyright 2004.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Visions of Sugar Plums

I had my recurring dream last night. Not the one where I'm searching for a clean, functioning public restroom...but the one where I enter a fragrant, bustling bakery and press my face up against the display case and stare at all of the beautiful pastries, fully aware that all of the people around me are hip and beautiful and I most certainly do not belong there. Still, I soldier on determined to make a purchase. Last night, I settled on two cinnamon rolls and a piece of Boston Cream Pie. I knew it was a dream because I don't even like Boston Cream Pie. The dream ended as I walked out of the bakery with my purchase but without tasting one morsel. Fortunately, I woke up to the reality of a plate of these cookies from Taste of Home's Best Loved Cookies and Bars, copyright 2008.