Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

We can thank Duncan Hines for this delicious recipe.  I found it last year and have made it several times since.  The center "surprise" is my favorite part.  Well, I take that back.  The homemade cream cheese icing is my favorite.  The frosting is the only alteration we made to these sweet treats.  I just could not imagine putting canned frosting on something this good.  So, I pulled out our tried and true recipe for cream cheese icing and voila!  Perfection...

Creamy Red Velvet Cupcakes
Duncan Hines
  • 1 pkg Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut (sometimes I omit)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 muffin tins or line with paper baking cups.

Prepare batter according to package directions.

Spoon batter into lined muffin cups. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and egg; mix until smooth (I use a whisk to break lumps). Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture onto batter of each cupcake. (Literally, drop cream cheese mix on top--it seems weird but I promise it will sink down into cupcake while baking.)

Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes following package directions. Spread cupcakes with frosting (recipe below).

Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time) and beat until you reach desired consistency. Last night when I made this recipe, it took 3 1/2 cups of sugar to reach spreading consistency. Spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate (Chocolate) Cake

B and I had my coworkers and their husbands over for dinner at our home about three weekends ago.  I really enjoyed planning and preparing the meal.  And I actually cooked a couple of recipes from Mamas' posts on this blog like Cranberry-Dijon Pork, which I had not tried and it was to die for!  For this particular dinner, I was especially looking forward to making dessert.  We all love chocolate at the office so I knew dessert must consist of just that.  I automatically retrieved Aunt "Skeeter's" cookbook from the shelf in search of the perfect chocolate dessert recipe.  I was not surprised when I quickly found a match--"Chocolate Chocolate Cake".  Oh my! After a phone call to Aunt Skeeter for reassurance and a short trip to Publix, I was ready to make this chocoholic's dream.  And, as if two chocolate components weren't enough, I topped this decadent cake off with a third chocolate--white chocolate morsels.  It was heavenly, every bit of it.  Since then I have made this cake again and for the third chocolate topping I used mini semi-sweet morsels.

For the holidays, I plan on substituting the semi-sweet morsels for the dark chocolate and mint ones.  And maybe if I'm feeling frisky, I'll shave some Andes mints over the icing. We'll see...

Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Marcelle Shelnutt, Niceville, FL
  • 1 pkg. Devil's food cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1 small pkg instant chocolate pudding
  • 6 oz. of package semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 of bag)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 - 8 oz container sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips.  Mix on LOW with electric mixer until blended then beat on HIGH for 5 minutes.  Stir in chocolate chips and pour into greased tube pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan (my oven cooks fast so it takes approximately 50 minutes).  Aunt "Skeeter" says please do not overcook this cake! Allow to cool completely on wire rack.  Make frosting--recipe following.

  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 of bag)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Melt chips in microwave, cooking in 30 second intervals then stirring until melted, and cool.  Stir in sour cream and vanilla.  Add sugar and stir until combined.  Pour over cooled cake. 
*To make triple chocolate cake, sprinkle your favorite morsels over frosting.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Sorry to all of you who read our blog more for the stories. I am pretty much storyless tonight. It just dawned on me that I told Mama I would post a recipe today and as I was winding down, getting ready for bed, I all of sudden remembered my promise.

Well, I suppose I can give a brief story about this recipe...

This soup was first made by my mother-in-law shortly after Brandon and I got married. We went to Thomaston to visit one cold, rainy, and, if my memory serves me correctly, snowy/icy weekend. My sister-in-law was sick as a dog and no one wanted to get out of the house, which made for a very lazy weekend. I can remember my MIL saying that she was going to make chicken noodle soup since Hallie was ill and the weather was cold and dreary. Admittedly, my first thought was "Chicken noodle soup--can you really beat Campbells'?!" Although I would never have said that out loud I now can admit that that's the opinion I formed before I even tried it.

After the soup was cooked and it came time to eat, I looked into the pot and had a second, very different thought. "Hmm, this doesn't look much like the canned chicken noodle soup I'm used to eating." Well, folks, my MIL proved wrong! In fact, it wasn't anything like Campbell's chicken noodle soup. It was ten times heartier and richer and mmm, mmm good!

Last night, another cold December night, I made and served this same soup to our Bible study group. It was just as delicious as the first time I ate it. Please try this recipe and I promise you won't be disappointed. And don't omit the lemon zest because you think it's adds a wonderful flavor and compliments the chicken and vegetables very nicely.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Kathy Berryhill

1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 large onion
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (~3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
3 (14 1/2 oz) cans chicken broth
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 (8 oz) pkg spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces (I used Garden Delight fettuccine as that's what I had on hand)
7 celery ribs, diced
6 medium carrots, diced
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat (I used a large pot.); add onion, and saute` until tender. Stir in chicken and next 9 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in milk; return to simmer. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.
Yield:  12 cups



Friday, December 9, 2011

Sausage Biscuit Treats

My friend, Jennifer, and her family are truly some of the sweetest people I know.  Her entire family is sweet as honey; they are caring, kind, and loving.  Brandon and I were so blessed to have Jennifer and Barrett as our first friends when we moved to Augusta (thanks, Laurie!).  And we love their two-year old so very much.  Last November, the week of Thanksgiving, I stayed the night at Jennifer and Barrett's house while our house was being used by our neighbors during a tragic time in their lives.  Jennifer and Barrett were gracious enough to allow me to stay with them while their family was in town for the holiday.  "Mimi", Jennifer's mom, offered me breakfast--"sausage biscuits" she called them-- as I was leaving for work the next morning.  Sure, I'd take a sausage biscuit.  A Bojangles, McDonalds, or Burger King kind of biscuit was what I expected to find...boy was I wrong!  As I was driving to work, I opened the paper towel that the biscuit was wrapped in.  What I found was no ordinary sausage biscuit.  This biscuit was done up right with cheese and egg and other goodness.  Oh, it was so, so yummy!

Mimi and Jennifer graciously shared the recipe with me and I have made these many times since.  Supposedly, the original recipe was taken from an Upson Regional Medical Center cookbook; however, the author is unknown.  We will just let Mimi and Jennifer take the credit for this one...Enjoy!

Sausage Biscuit Treats
Miriam Elsey, Jennifer Hayes

1 can Grand Flaky biscuits, 8 count (Jennifer says be sure to use name brand)
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb sausage, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Separate biscuits in half by layers. Place each half in a muffin tin which has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Press and form into cups.
Add eggs and cheese to sausage and mix well.  Spoon mixture into open cups of muffin tin.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Yields:  16 muffins



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fudge Pecan Pie

I am a recipe clipper. Nary a label, box, bag, or advertisement escapes me. I have found some keeper recipes that way and Fudge Pecan Pie is one of them. I came across it years ago, probably during the holidays when you find recipes attached to coupon pages in the newspaper. The pie is easy and quick to assemble and I usually have all of the ingredients on hand, especially this time of year. WARNING! This is a very rich pie so small servings are more than enough to satisfy even the most devout chocoholic. Serve slices with a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee. Oh my, I feel a craving comin' on!

Fudge Pecan Pie
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons cocoa
3/4 cup hot water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small can evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 frozen deep dish pie crust shell
whipped topping, if desired
Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 350F. In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa and stir until dissolved. Add hot water and stir again. With wire whip blend in sugar, flour, salt, extract, and evaporated milk. Stir until batter is smooth. Mix in pecans and pour into pie shell. Bake on preheated cookie sheet for 50 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. Serve cooled pie with whiiped topping if desired.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paula Deen's Copper Pennies and a Southern Living Cheesecake

I have no idea how this dish got named "Copper Pennies".  The only reason I can think of is the carrots resemble pennies. I have no idea about that but I am certain of its deliciousness. And it ranks high on our family's list of top salad items.  I made these "pennies" on Mother's Day this year and they were a hit, especially with Brandon's family. So, a few months back, Brandon's Momaw asked that I make them for Thanksgiving lunch.  I was glad to have a reason to make them again.  They seem to go along with any meal and taste even better after they have sat in the refrigerator for a few days. I prepared the "pennies" on Saturday before Thanksgiving. I simply covered them tightly with plastic wrap and didn't open them back up until the following Thursday afternoon. Okay, that's a lie. I dipped out a small amount to go with my lunch on Tuesday (and if I remember correctly, I may have had a little more on Wednesday, too...oops!).  Anyway, Paula Deen says that they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six weeks. So there you go, it's a make-ahead type of dish, which adds another reason to try them.

Copper Pennies
Paula Deen

1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 (10 3/4 oz) can tomato soup
2 pounds carrots, peeled, cooked, and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced into rings
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the soup. Mix the carrots, onion, and bell pepper together in a large glass dish; pour the sauce over the vegetables, stir gently to combine, and refrigerate overnight. This salad will keep for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

In the words of Paula Deen, "Best dishes, y'all!"

Also, I wanted to share the dessert recipe I made for Thanksgiving. WOW! It was a Pumpkin-Pecan Cheesecake with praline topping that was featured on the cover of November's Southern Living issue. I was very proud of myself after it was completed so I took a picture and posted on Facebook. I received many compliments on it's apparence and several friends mentioned that they wondered if it would taste as good as it looked...

Well, I am here to tell ya that not only did it taste as good as it looked but it was five times better! The praline topping was by far the best part. Check out the recipe Here.



Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Dish a Day: Sweet Potato Casserole in Honor of Granny

Today is my Granny's 83rd birthday. She won't remember that it's her birthday, in fact, she won't know that it's Thanksgiving, either. Granny has Alzheimer's disease that has eaten away her cognition and as if that is not enough, she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. It's sad but thinking of all the wonderful memories I've made with her during my 27 years on earth lifts my spirits and makes me smile. This year and always I am thankful God blessed me with the most caring, pleasant, and virtuous grandmother. Granny is the epitome of selflessness, always putting others ahead of herself. I could write a book about all of the wonderful things Granny has taught me, the memories we made, the delicious food she prepared, and how she was a best friend to my special needs brother. One of my favorite memories is her repeating "Ludowici" a hundred and one times just to make my brother laugh out loud each time. I could go on and on about how special and wonderful she is but there isn't enough time in the day or space to write. To know Granny is to love her.

Granddaddy, me, Brandon, and Granny at our engagement party in 2008. A beautiful picture of Granny.
Granny was a wonderful cook and was always busy entertaining. She and my granddaddy have many friends who get together and socialize more than most couples my age. Since Granny is now unable to cook, plan a menu, set a table, etc. my sweet granddaddy has taken over. Even though Granny has long left work in the kitchen, Mama and I are still preparing lots of her best recipes. As we were preparing for the last post for "A Dish a Day", we could not think of a more appropriate way to honor Granny than by sharing her famous Sweet Potato Casserole. And do you want to know how I know my Granny loves me? I'll tell you anyway! Knowing how I don't particularly care for pecans, she would exclude the nuts from the brown sugar topping on 1/4 of the casserole. That section was just for me and I ate every bit of it. I felt loved.

Thank you, Granny, for being a Proverbs 31 woman. Happy Birthday and know that I love you now and always.


A Dish a Day: Sallie's Sweet Potato Casserole

Today is not just Thanksgiving Day. It is also the 83rd birthday of Sallie Pearl Bradham Gunn, my mother-in-law.

Over 36 years ago, when my in-laws were still "future" ones, I was served this sweet potato casserole during a visit to their home. Of course, I had eaten sweet potatoes in some shape or fashion many times before. But Sallie's dish surpassed them all. Breaking through the crunchy brown sugar and pecan crust to the sweet creamy filling beneath, I couldn't decide if it was a side dish or dessert. One thing I was sure of. I was in love and where I was meant to be!

The recipe was the first of many Sallie passed along to me. It ranks as the number one Gunn family favorite. As far as we are concerned, there is no need to make any other sweet potato casserole.
As good as this dish is, this post today is meant to honor Sallie. She has been and is, in every sense of the word, the "perfect" mother-in-law. Never interfering, never judgmental, she gave her opinion only when asked. If I ever disappointed her, she never let on. Rather, she taught me by quiet example how to be a wife, mother, and, now, a mother-in-law.

Sallie and I have shared so much more than recipes. We have worked together in the family business, taken trips, cooked, shopped, laughed, cried, cleaned, and raised children. There was NEVER, EVER a time I called upon her that she was not there for me.

Not one but two dreaded and cursed diseases are stealing Sallie from us. One, she has a fighting chance against and, from the doctor's report, she is making good progress. The other, only divine intervention can save her from. But what the thieves cannot take away is her sweet spirit, her smile, and her enduring love for her family. Were she able to express it, I am sure Sallie would say that her faith and trust is in the One who holds her tomorrow and her hand. She is neither anxious nor afraid. We, her family, cannot help but be thankful for that.

Today, wherever you are and whatever table you pull your chair up to, savor the sweetness of time shared with loved ones, the bounty of your blessings, and give thanks for all things.
Happy birthday, Sallie! I love you.

Sallie's Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes (please do not use canned sweet potatoes)
1 small can eveporated milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix all together and pour into casserole dish (the size I use is 8x12. You can use a 9x13 and decrease cooking time some) Sprinkle topping evenly over all. Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size of dish used, until center is set.
Topping:  1 cup light brown sugar
                 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
                 1/2 stick butter, softened
                 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix first three ingredients together with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in nuts and sprinkle evenly over sweet potato mixture.
Happy cooking!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Dish a Day: Macaroni and Cheese

I have no doubt whatsoever that macaroni and cheese is a dish that will appear on many tables Thanksgiving Day. I grew up eating mac and cheese prepared on top of the stove. Not the boxed kind...that was never allowed in the house. My mother-in-law's macaroni and cheese is baked and, since that is the way hubby likes it, it is the one I prepare today. Imagine my pleasure, when as a young bride and cook, hubby declared my macaroni and cheese as good as his mother's!

I, also, have no doubt that everyone has their own favorite mac and cheese dish. But try a different way sometime and you just might be surprised!

Macaroni and Cheese
1 & 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
at least 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I add a little can't have too much cheese!)
1/4 cup butter, sliced into pats
3 eggs
2 cups evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika for top (optional)
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, grate cheese. Beat eggs with fork and mix with milk. Drain macaroni. Spray 8x8x2 casserole dish with cooking spray. Place 1/2 of macaroni in dish and sprinkle half of cheese over it. repeat layers once more. Pour egg and milk mixture and sprinkle with paprika if desired. Dot Top with pats of butter. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
Happy Cooking!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Dish a Day: Cranberry-Dijon Pork Roast

Here I am with yet another slow-cooker recipe. A girl can't have too many this time of year when time is at a premium and the oven is in constant use. My sister passed this recipe along to me and I have made it a couple of times. It is a definite keeper. Easy and delicious, it can be ready for dinner after a day of work or shopping. It's a good dish to leave cooking while you are at church. You will return home to a wonderful aroma!

I like to buy a whole, boneless pork loin when it is on sale and cut part of it into chops, leaving the rest whole for a roast. I used a larger roast than was called for the first time I made the recipe. I thought I should, therefore, double the sauce ingredients. That was not necessary. One recipe makes plenty of sauce so you can actually use as large a roast as you need to serve your family or guests.

Cranberry-Dijon Pork Roast
1 boneless pork loin roast (2 to 3 lbs)
2 tablespoons butter
1 envelope golden onion soup mix
1 can (14oz) whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
In a large skillet, brown roast in butter on all sides. Transfer to a 5qt slow cooker; sprinkle with soup mix. Add cranberry sauce to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Pour over roast.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until meat is tender. Remove roast to serving platter; keep warm. Strain cooking juices and stir in mustard. Slice roast ; serve with sauce. Yield 6 servings

Happy cooking!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Dish A Day: Something Green

I remember when I was first learning how to cook. I was in college and would call Mama to tell her what I was preparing in hopes that I would get her stamp of approval with a "mmm, that's sounds good". At first, my meals usually consisted of a meat and four or five starches (macaroni and cheese, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, rice, bread). I don't think I understood what a well-rounded meal looked like. Mama would be quick to add, "You need something green." Ever since then, I am constantly assessing my menus to make sure that I include a green of some sort.

Here is a recipe from Momwaw, Brandon's grandmother, for broccoli casserole. This casserole is quick, easy, and delicious.

Momaw's Broccoli Casserole
Ann King, Anderson, South Carolina

2 (10 oz) packages frozen, chopped broccoli
1 onion, chopped
1/2 stick butter/margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used a little more. My motto is "The cheesier the better!")
1/2 sleeve Ritz crackers (I added more, about 3/4 sleeve per B's request.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook broccoli according to package directions. Drain well and set aside. Melt butter in skillet and saute chopped onion until tender and opaque in color.

In a large bowl, stir together broccoli, sauteed onion, soup, and cheese. Transfer to a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Crumble crackers in your hands and sprinkle evenly over broccoli mix. I like to mist crackers with spray butter.

Place casserole into preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Happy Cooking,


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Dish a Day: Slow-Cooker Cornbread Dressing

I am sorry. I forgot that I was supposed to post about cornbread dressing when I did the cranberry salad earlier. My brain is tired due to a 5 A.M. date with the slow cooker this morning. So if you think the title of this post is a mistake because of a lack of REM sleep, you are wrong. I'm here to testify that dressing can be successfully cooked in a crockpot (or "crackpot" as my son calls it) and taste very good.

There was a very good reason why I was up so early to cook dressing 5 days before Thanksgiving
For several years, the members of the church I attend have cooked a traditional Thanksgiving meal for people who are alone, sick, or otherwise afflicted. We assemble the meals in take-out plates and deliver them to the communities near the church.

Cakes are sliced and put into sandwich bags.

Sweet potato patties ready for the oven.

Just a portion of our bounty.


The dressing really does cook well in the slow cooker and everyone is surprised by that. And the best part is that your oven is freed up to cook other parts of the meal. I found the recipe in Southern Living magazine several years ago. Their test kitchens gave it one of their highest ratings. Whenever I see that, I pay attention!  I will print the recipe as it originally appeared. Then I will tell you about the changes I made to suit my taste.

Slow-Cooker Cornbread Dressing
4 & 1/2 cups cornbread crumbs
1 (16oz) package herb stuffing stuffing mix
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 (14oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cut up
Stir together first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour cornbread mixture into a lightly greased 5 & 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker. Dot with butter. Cook, covered , on LOW 4 hours or until cooked through and set. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
****You can use 2 (7.5oz) packages of Martha White Yellow Cornbread Mix prepared according to package directions and baked in  a 13x9 pan. You may get more crumbs than is called for but I added them all in.

Nan's  notes: I did not use the herb favor stuffing mix, rather, I used Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix which has some seasoning in it. I also like a moister dressing so I used a little more than 3 cans of chicken broth or about 6 cups. I like more celery so I put in a whole cup. The dressing was not quite set after 4 hours so plan on at least an extra hour of cooking time. However,  it probably took longer because I had more liquid in it. Use your good judgment in determining doneness.

Happy cooking!
A Dish a Day: Eloise Parker's Cranberry Salad

It may be a ladies luncheon, a Sunday-after-church dinner, or a special celebration/holiday meal. Whatever the occasion, no self-respecting Southern hostess calls her family and friends to the table without a congealed salad on the menu. Few things are more quintessentially Southern than a "Jello salad." They can be any of a thousand different flavors and colors and be molded into any shape.
I love congealed salads. I EXPECT to have a congealed salad and feel oddly unsatisfied if one is not offered.

In honor of the upcoming holiday, today's salad offering is, tah dah! cranberry, of course. You may all ready be planning to have something cranberry. Who cares? I, the person who could eat an entire can of cranberry sauce by myself, does not care. Other flavors are going on here, so relax and enjoy them.

This recipe is Eloise Parker's, better known to us as "Miss Weezie." She and her husband, Papa Jim, were best friends of my in-laws.  Our families had many good times together around the table sharing great food. She gave me many recipes I have used over and again. I remember an occassion when she served this particular salad along with a very good chicken casserole. It was a dinner party given 36 years ago in honor of myself and hubby shortly before we married. I don't remember who was there but I remember what we ate!

Eloise Parker's Cranberry Salad
6 oz (or 2 , 3oz boxes) any red Jello (strawberry, cherry, or raspberry)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 can whole cranberry sauce
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pecans
 Dissolve Jello in 2 cups boiling water. Place one tablespoon water in a small bowl and sprinkle unflavored gelatin over it to soften the gelatin then add it to the Jello. Add water to reserved pineapple juice to make 1 & 1/2 cups. Mix into Jello mixture and pour into desired dish or mold.

Topping: Mix together: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 & 1/2 tablespoonfuls honey, and poppy seeds to taste. Spoon over salad servings.

Nan's notes: I didn't know what I would do with half a can of cranberry sauce except eat it so I used the whole can in the salad with no effect on the finished product. For this entry I used strawberry Jello because that is what I all ready had.

Happy cooking!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Dish a Day: Dessert
     Apple Crisp and Angels Unawares

My family and I attend a church with a small membership. I'm talking very small. What we lack in numbers we make up for in compassion and concern for others. A few families gather every Wednesday evening to share a meal, have Bible study, and a time of prayer for people who are sick, afflicted, or have emotional and spiritual needs. It is a great time of fellowship around the table.

The church building is located on a major and busy US highway between two small towns. Sort of out there in the middle of nowhere. Because of this location, we have been visited many times by people who have fallen on hard times and are somewhat stranded, needing gas, food, or a place to stay for the night. We consider these visits opportunities to minister and be a testimony of God's love and care. Only once in  my memory have we been sure we were being taken advantage of.

We were visited again this past Wednesday night by a man and his wife in need of help. They were invited in to share the meal and remain for Bible study. Gentle questioning revealed they were looking for work and had slept in their truck the past three nights. After the meeting was over, gas was put in their truck, money was given for a couple of meals, and they were put up in the local motel for the night. Information was provided as to who in the area might be hiring workers. We left the couple with handshakes and well wishes. They appeared genuinely grateful.

As we left the couple, a verse of Scripture came into my mind. As if my husband could read my thoughts, he spoke the verse in part. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2 KJV).

Everyone knows what Thanksgiving Day is about. All of us know how truly and richly blessed we are even when we don't have all that we want or sometimes need. Meeting that couple was like a swift kick in the pants. It reminded me to "praise God from whom all blessings flow" and to say "thank you." Especially, because I don't have to sleep in the truck.

Now you are asking what all this has to do with apple crisp. We take turns planning our Wednesday night meals at church. Because I like to make desserts, it often falls to me to bring one. Apple crisp was the dessert choice this past Wednesday night when the "angels unawares" visited. Very delicious made even more so with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Since apples are in peak season right now, the crisp will be an easy addition to your Thanksgiving Day dessert table.

Apple Crisp
10 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used 6 Granny Smith Apples)
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Place sliced apples in a 9x13 in pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and ground cinnamon together and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all. Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Dish a Day: Dessert

It's now one week until Thanksgiving. It's one of our favorite holidays, and that's not just because of the delicious, to-be-expected dishes that will be served. It has more to do with the holiday's purpose. It is a day set aside from fast-paced life to reflect on the many blessings from our loving God. This quote sums up the definition of "thanksgiving": 

"So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart."
-Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

We are going to count down the days to Thanksgiving with some of our favorite dishes that are must-haves on this special holiday. Count your blessings and enjoy the company of family, friends, and good food. Let's start with last course and what we consider the best part of the meal, dessert.

Pumpkin Crisp

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (18.25 oz) pkg butter-flavored yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted
Whipped cream/ice cream (optional)
Ground nutmeg (optional)

Stir together first 5 ingredients. Pour into lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture; sprinkle evenly with pecans. Drizzle butter evenly over pecans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired (We prefer it served hot and topped with ice cream). Sprinkle with nutmeg or ground cinnamon, if desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Pumpkin Chiffon
Source:  Jennifer Hayes via Ann Hayes

1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 (3.4 oz) pkgs instant vanilla pudding
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
dash of ground cinnamon
1 (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed and divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans

To make crust, combine sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and melted butter and press into 13 x 9 x 2-inch dish.

Combine cream cheese, eggs, and sugar and beat until fluffy. Spread over crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Combine pudding mix and milk. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add pumpkin and cinnamon. Mix well. Stir in 1 cup of Cool Whip and spread over cream cheese layer.

Top with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happy Cooking and Many Blessings,


Nannie's Namesake

I am Nancy Carolyn the third.  I was named for my great grandmother, called Carrie, and my grandmother, called Nannie. Folks call me Nan. I didn't have the privilege of knowing Carrie but I knew and loved Nannie well.

I don't try to remember death dates. I prefer to think of long gone loved ones on their birth dates. If Nannie was alive today she would be celebrating a birthday so my thoughts are of her and the many memories I have to keep her presence living in my heart.

My parents divorced when I and my brothers were very young. It was necessary to move in the house with Nannie and Gramps. Like many others of that day, the house was divided by a long hall. One half of the house was an apartment which was where we lived. While Mama worked for Gramps in his small grocery store, Nannie looked after us.

We lived close enough to Atlanta to receive television stations from there. Cartoons, like The Flinstones and The Jetsons, were prime time programs on Friday nights. My brothers and I would get up early on Saturday mornings to watch Tarzan. Other shows followed like Sky King, My Friend Flicka, Fury, Lassie, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Is this jogging anyone's memory?

When these shows were over it was lunchtime and we headed for Nannie's table. Sometimes we had hamburgers or hot dogs. But there was something she sometimes served I bet you've never had...fried Spam on toast with cheese sauce poured over it. I know you are asking yourself what kind of cook would put something like that on the table in front of children. Hey! don't knock it until you've tried it. Three hungry children thought it was pretty darn good!

One of Nannie's lunchtime dishes I still prepare today. We called them "scrambled hamburgers" back then. It wasn't until I found the recipe in a cookbook that I realized the concoction wasn't original to Nannie. The book, "Best Recipes from the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Jars,"called the dish "Souperburgers." It was developed in 1959 in Campbell's test kitchens.

I can just imagine that Nannie found the recipe on the back of a can of Campbell's chicken gumbo soup and thought that would be a quick and easy lunch to offer us. Just why chicken gumbo soup is used, I can only guess. Maybe because the okra in the soup helps to thicken the meat mixture. And before you turn your nose up at the thought of okra, it completely cooks down and pretty much disappears after doing its duty. So, unless you tell it, no one will know its there

I serve the meat mixture on warm buns with a slice of cheese. Add extra catsup and mustard if you like even though you add it to the meat mixture. French fries are always preferred at my house but occasionally I can get away with serving potato chips. Oh, and a pickle spear on the side rounds out the plate perfectly.

Nannie's legacy to me would fill many pages. She was a remarkable woman and, apart from my mother, the most influential person in my life. She was faithful, selfless, and devoted to her family, church, and her Lord. Nannie left big shoes I will never be able to fill.

Happy birtday, Nannie! I love you,

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can Campbell's Chicken Gumbo Soup
2 tablespoons catsup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Hamburger buns
Sliced cheese (optional)

Brown beef and cook onion in skillet until meat is done and onions are tender. Drain of any fat.
Add soup and seasonings. Heat, stirring often until mixture has thickened. Serve on warm buns.
Makes about 3 cups.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Of Projects and Passions

Gosh, I have been so busy lately! I have been involved with a couple of painting projects for friends. One project is complete, the other one, almost. It happens to be a mural on the outside wall of a garage and I am racing to stay ahead of the cold weather.

I did take a day off Friday from painting and went to "Christmas Made in the South" in  Augusta, GA with Marie. This is a large craft, gift, Christmas-themed type festival. We had a good time looking around and purchased a few Christmas gifts. But can you guess what we were always immediately drawn to? That's right...the food items! All of them had samples, of course, which we partaked of. One of the best things we tasted was Red Velvet fudge. The gentleman in the booth said it was his own creation and it tasted just like Red Velvet cake! Marie could not pass that up. I purchased hot drink mixes and pie and dip mixes from a huge variety of flavors and choices. After test tasting, we were almost too full to eat lunch. But we did anyway!

After lunch, we shopped a little before meeting John and Pat Curry for a tour of their business, Buona Caffe. Marie had purchased the tour on livingsocial and neither one of us had any idea what it would be about but it sounded like fun.

Buona Caffe is a husband and wife team who are artisan coffee roasters. Their operation is small by most standards but has seen considerable growth since they started in 2009. John showed us huge bags of coffee beans he had purchased from around the world...Sumatra, Brazil, Haiti, and Indonesia. He turned on the commercial roaster to heat to 400F then poured in about 8 lbs of beans. It takes 11 to 14 minutes to roast them. Then, they are misted with water and allowed to cool before they are ground. John showed us a couple of different ways to brew the coffee, one of which used a french press. (I told Marie to get one for me for Christmas!)
John says that your coffee will only be as good as the water you use to make it so always use filtered water. He and Pat are so passionate about it they donate 50 cents from every 12oz bag of coffee they sell to a program that helps provide safe drinking water to children around the world. Indeed, we enjoyed a couple of truly delicious cups of coffee with two very interesting people.
Marie and I came away a greater appreciation for the process of roasting coffee and bags of Buona Caffe's own unique blend.

You can find out more about Buona Caffe at You can purchase coffee from their website and they do gift baskets. Also, check out the restaurants that serve their coffees. Some of them have their own special blend meaning it will be unique to their establishment. Oh, and they do blends for fund raisers. The Augusta Symphony sells a blend done especially for them to raise money.
I think I have caught you up so time to get down to business with the recipe I have today. One is from a cook book done by Wadley Baptist Church which has some fine cooks among its membership. The recipe for Ranch Pasta and Potato Salad was submitted by Willoise Brett, a great cook and a dear friend. Love you, "Miss Willi!"

Ranch Pasta and Potato Salad
  From "Taste and See that the Lord Is Good" Wadley Baptist Church.....Willoise Brett

6 small new red potatoes
6 oz rainbow spiral rotini pasta
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onion
8 slices bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Ranch salad dressing
 Cut unpeeled potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. In 4-qt saucepan bring 10 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high. Add potatoes and cook 3 minutes. Add rotini pasta and return to a boil. Cook potatoes and pasta an additional 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. In large bowl combine cooked potatoes, pasta, bell pepper, and onions. Fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. Break into 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle over salad when ready to serve. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and Ranch dressing, blending well.  Add to salad, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or until serving time.

*Nan's notes...I really like to make up the packaged dry Ranch dressing and use it in this recipe. It seems to have less of a preservative taste than the bottled dressing.

Happy cooking!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Basket Giveaway

On Friday, we informed you of a Christmas basket giveaway. Here's what you'll get if you win...

Includes ceramic bowl, apron, napkins, spoon, grater, and dish cloth

Reminder:  Drawing will be held on Saturday, November 12 at 9 pm ET.
To enter :  (a) Follow us! You can become an official follower either through your own blog or via email. OR (b) Comment on any blog post on our site or on our Facebook posts. Veteran followers--all you need to do is comment at either location and you'll be entered. (Update--we realized on Friday that the  "Comments" section was limited to certain account users. That issue should now be resolved and everyone should have access to comment without a password!)

We look forward to hearing from you!

Nan and Marie

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Us

We track our stats and know that there are people out there reading our posts but wouldn't you love to "Follow" us? We have 9 followers to date but are certain there are more of you reading our recipes. If we increase our numbers of official followers, we will post more frequently (not that we really have the time with full-time jobs and all but we love you that much and would sacrifice). Also, we are getting ready to add our favorites to the "Holiday" page. We'd love to hear from you and have you become an Our Friend Oven groupie. If you don't have a blog of your own, no worries! You can follow us via email. Look for the link on the right side of our home page.

So here's our proposition:  New "Followers" and veteran "Followers" will be added to a drawing for a Holiday gift set. All you will need to do is leave a comment anywhere on our blog site or send us an email at or leave a comment on either of our Facebook links. The drawing will be held on Saturday evening, November 12.

We want to hear from you! Tell all of your friends! You have eight days...GO!

An Apple a Day...

You know what they say..."An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Well, I should be covered for at least a year with all of the apples I have consumed since August. I seriously believe that I have eaten an apple in one fashion or another every day since the first trip to the orchards. That said, I have several random snipits of info I'd like to provide in this post; each one has something to do with apples but only one actually relates to the recipe you'll find at the end.

First of all, I want to comment on the picture of the apples above. They look very similar to the variety I purchased yesterday at Publix. As advertised, Honeycrisp apples were on sale for $2.99 per pound. Have you ever seen a Honeycrisp? Eaten one? They are beautiful apples! Weird I know but I found myself staring at bin where they were stored in awe of their beauty. I gave in and purchased two. All I have to say is I hope they taste as delicious as their apparence because when I got home and looked over my receipt, those two darn apples were $4.25! I am a horrible judged at guessing weight, I suppose. Hence, the reason there are scales throughout the produce section; I never take the time to use them.

Secondly, I must recap a trip we and some friends took to the North GA mountains in mid-September. One word to sum up the trip is FUN. We had a blast. And our Sunday afternoon ended with a trip to Mercier's Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia. We had the opportunity to hitch a hay ride to the orchards and pick our own apples. What a treat! It was then I made the decision about my top 3 favorite apples. In case you care, here they are:  Ambrosia, Mutzu, and Cameo. (Hopefully, Honeycrisp will be added to the list if my purchase yesterday does not let me down.) Here are a few pictures from our trip.

The Gang minus me (My handsome hubby is in the green Polo:)

Star showing off her apple-picking skills

I look like I am pulling the entire limb instead of an apple!

Lindsey and Judson--husband & wife teamwork at its finest

Lastly, I need to tell about the recipe for this post. This is a special one, not that it is laborious or tedious, but it ranks #1 on B's list of favorite desserts (last time I asked). If I ever want or need to suck up to the hubs, I whip up his uno numero desserto--"Apple Dumplings". This recipe began with my mom and it quickly became a family favorite. You'll find that there is nothing to it. The most difficult part is probably peeling the apples. But please, don't tell B that! I need him to believe that his beloved Apple Dumplings are treats that only the BEST can make and while they are such a hassle, he is totally worth it.

Apple Dumplings
Serves 8 (Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a large crowd.)

1 Granny Smith apple
1 pkg crescent roll dough
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Mountain Dew
1/4 cup water
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degress.

Peel apple and cut into 8 wedges. Seperate crescent rolls and sprinkle each with cinnamon sugar (I sprinkle liberally). Place one apple slice at the long end of the roll. Roll dough around apple as you would if you were making crescents without the apple slice. Place each roll (we will now call them "dumplings") into an 8" x 8" baking dish. Sprinkle tops of dumplings with more cinnamon sugar. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar, Mountain Dew, and water. Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Pour mixutre over dumplings.

Place dish in oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes (my oven cooks fast so mine are done in 20 minutes--it takes approx. 30 minutes when I double the recipe--they are done when the dumplings have browned). Let dumplings set for about 5 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

*For Caramel Nut Apple Dumplings, simply drizzle caramel syrup or topping over ice cream and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

How's that for a fall treat? Makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Baked Potato Soup and Garlic Cheese Biscuits

        It hasn't always been so, but fall is my favorite time of year. It seems to me that the seasons of the year we enjoy somewhat follow the "seasons" of our lives. By that I mean, when we are babies and children, we are in the "spring" of our lives. As teenagers and young adults, in the "summer" of our youth. Middle age is alot like "autumn." And as seniors, it could be said when are in the "winter" season of our lives. I'm no philosopher...just thinking out loud.
        Now that I am in the "autumn or fall" of my years I find that I really enjoy the foods that taste so good when the weather turns cooler and meals become warmer and more substantial. I start thinking about stews, chili, spaghetti sauce, and casseroles. But, hands down, my favorite is soup!
        Many of you have a favorite soup recipe and probably have a potato one as well. This baked potato soup recipe is one I prepare often for lunch or Sunday night supper. It is a favorite to take to soup and sandwich suppers we have at church. Garlic cheddar biscuits are a wonderful accompaniment. If you need a little more to make it a meal, add a fresh garden salad.
         Soup and biscuits. It doesn't get any better than that!

Baked Potato Soup
   Double or triple ingredients to fit serving need

2 large or 3 meduim baking potatoes, baked or microwaved
Cooked and crumbled bacon (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Sliced green onions (optiional)
    Melt butter in large suacepan over medium heat. Add onion, cook and stir occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in broth and evaporated milk. Scoop pulp from one potato and mash. Add pulp to broth mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture comes just to a boil. Peel and dice remaining potatoes and add to soup. Heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each serving with bacon, cheese, and green onions if desired.
Yields 4 servings
* Nan's notes: I like a thinner soup so I add more broth and/or milk until the soup is the consistency I want. This soup gets better the longer it sits and may need thinning when reheated.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits
  Like the ones at Red Lobster!

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/8 to 1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup milk
1 & 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
 Mix all ingredients together. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheet and bake at 400F about 14 minutes until golden brown. Immediately brush with melted butter.

Happy cooking!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

If you know me well you know that I am a peanut butteraholic. If at home, you will find me camped out at the pantry door with spoon in hand going to town in the peanut butter jar (for all of you who eat my cooking, don't worry--I have my OWN jar!). I will occasionally put a dab on a banana, squirt chocolate syrup over my peanut buttered spoon, or do the same with grape jelly. I just cannot get enough peanut butter!

About a year ago, I sent B to the grocery store and as usual he came home with at least 3 extra items that weren't on the list. One of the "extras" was a jar of Nutella. I had seen it at the store and knew people who ate it but didn't take a interest due to my peanut butter freakishness. Well, for dessert this particular night, B asks if he could have one of "my" bananas. (I eat a banana every morning and when without it, it gets ugly. In fact, I am out this morning and WW III is about to go down in Montclair!) After I agreed, he proceeded to open the new jar of Nutella and put spoonfuls of it over each bite of banana just as I do with peanut butter. I am standing back thinking, "Oh no he didn't". Then after 2 or 3 bites, he says "Babe, this is amazing; you've gotta try it." So I did and now, admittedly, I am a Nutellaholic. End of story...

Here's a recipe that I have made twice. It's a combination of two of my most favorite things--Nutella and pound cake. Fortunately, I took the pictures on the first batch because the second round under-cooked and was less attractive, yet still delicious nonetheless. Try this scrumptious dessert and I promise you won't have regrets. Enjoy!

"I'm smiling 'cause I'm so good!"

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake
From Easy Desserts, Vol. 45

4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan and dust with flour (The first cake I made turned out best in a porcelain dish vs. metal.).

Combine the eggs and vanilla in a glass measuring cup and lightly beat. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down sides.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. After the last addition, mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Spread 1/2 of the Nutella over the batter and smooth with a clean spatula. Scrape another 1/3 of batter over the Nutella and smooth. Scrape the remaining Nutella over the batter and smooth. Spread the remaining batter over the Nutella and smooth. Run a butter knife blade through the batter to create marbling. Do not overmix.

Bake the cake until it's golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the cake cook in the pan for 15 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack, and then turn it right side up on rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Enjoy (and be prepared to become a Nutella freak like me!),

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Grown ChildMen and Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

I have no picture of this dish, which kind of makes me sad but pretty much sums up my weekend. It was a busy one. B and I had company--my brother and uncle. They live with my parents full-time and are unable to drive and prepare meals for themselves; they need reminders of what to wear and to change into clean clothes. My uncle talks too much and follows B around the house, even to the bathroom. My brother barely speaks but makes up for the lack of verbal communication by "sniffing" his nose a thousand times a day. As my uncle commented on Saturday, after I suppose he had heard enough of the sniffing himself, "J, you're gonna blow your brains out!" It was funny; we all laughed. They are sweet men, though, and I wouldn't trade them for anyone or anything. They are a blessing in many ways and we love them. But the extra attention they require can be a little exhausting. So, being the sweet child and child-in-law that we are, B and I agreed to "look after" them this weekend so my parents could catch a break and escape to North GA for the weekend. Now that my brother and uncle have gone back home, all I can say is "bless my parents' hearts." I now know (to an extent) what they deal with Sunday through Saturday, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. God has a special place for them in heaven; I am certain he does.

Back to the recipe...again, there's not a picture and I apologize. But you have to try this. It's super easy and was just what I needed on Friday--a few ingredients that were thrown into the crock pot and cooked all day without my attention. All I added were the sides. I am not sure where the recipe came from. I want to think that my Aunt "Skeeter" gave it to mom and I several years ago. I think you'll find that this will be one of those "go-to" recipes when you're either in a hurry or having company. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken
Serves 6-8
1/2 stick butter
1- .7 oz package Italian salad mix (dry)
2 cans golden mushroom soup
1 - 8 oz. container/tub cream cheese with chives and onions
1 cup dry white wine (sometimes I substitute with 1/2 c. white wine & 1/2 c. chicken broth)
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Place raw chicken breasts in crock pot (it's okay if they overlap). Next, in a saucepan, melt butter. Add dressing mix. Stir in soup and cream cheese and wine. Stir constantly until cream cheese is melted.  Pour mixture over chicken breasts. Cover and cook on Low setting for 4-6 hours. Serve on angel hair or fettuccine pasta.

Enjoy friends,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cheese and Ham Quiche

Don't you just love a good ham? I mean, you stick it in the oven and let it bake for a while. Then you have the basis for a dozen different dishes. The only problem with that is you and your family will likely get very tired of ham before it is all used up.

Because I have a job, I depend on leftovers for meals. Thankfully, my family doesn't mind but they will only take so much of seeing the same thing set in front of them. That's when you have to get inventive and a little sneaky, if you will, so they won't feel like they are eating the same ham over and over again.

Cheese and ham quiche is just one of the ways I use leftover ham and it is one of my favorites. It can be served for breakfast, lunch, or supper by varying the sides served with it.  Add grits or hash browns when serving for breakfast. Steamed broccoli, asparagus, or green peas and fresh fruit or fruit salad steps it up to lunch or supper standards.

Start by shredding the cheeses and cubing the ham. I hear debates over shredding cheese yourself as opposed to buying it pre-shredded.  Hey, do what is convenient for you. In this recipe, it matters not.
You can even buy ham all ready cubed in  the grocery store if you don't have leftovers to use in this recipe.

I use a frozen, deep dish pie shell for this recipe because it is convenient and I usually have them on hand. Feel free to make your own pastry if you are into that. If using the frozen shell, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes so it will soften enough to prick the sides and bottom with a fork. The shell is prebaked for a few minutes and pricking helps prevent the crust from bubbling up.

Cubed ham, the cheeses, and minced oinion are sprinkled on the bottom of the crust. Pour egg and milk mixture over this. Ready for the oven !

Let the quiche cool for about 10 minutes so you will get a nice, pretty slice. Enjoy!

Cheese and Ham Quiche
  Adapted from Pillsbury "Simply from Scratch" Vol. 2

9-inch unbaked, deep dish frozen pie shell
1/2 cup cooked, cubed ham
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or 1 tablespoon instant minced onion
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 & 3/4 cups evaporated milk (a 12oz can of evaporated milk yields 1 & 1/2 cups..just add a little milk or half & half to make up the difference)

Heat oven to 425F. Prick sides and bottom of pie shell with a fork and bake for about 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325F. Sprinkle ham, cheeses, and minced onion into partially baked shell. In medium bowl, beat eggs until well blended. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour over cheeses. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 to 10 minutes; cut into wedges to serve. Yield: 6 servings

*Nan's notes: Sometimes frozen pie shells need a little reshaping. Let the shell soften a few minutes at room temperature until it can be handled without breaking the crust. Recrimp the crust if necessary. Reshape the edges of the foil pan if they have been bent during shipping. The crust will be full after adding all the ingredients so taking these steps will prevent the mixture from over running the crust.
Just in case, place the quiche on a foil lined baking sheet before baking.

Happy cooking!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Creamy Mocha Frozen Dessert

This is one of my favorites. It came from my Aunt "Skeeter" in Niceville, Florida. I love it because it's flexible in that you can lighten it up, make pies from it instead of one large dish, add your favorite toppings, etc. And because it's frozen, it will keep for a long time. I am going to begin with the original recipe. Then, I will include the changes I made.

Creamy Mocha Frozen Dessert
Marcelle Shelnutt, Niceville, Florida

2 tsp instant coffee
1 Tbsp hot water
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
3/4 cup pecans, divided
1/4 cup margarine, melted
2 - 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 - 8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

1) Dissolve coffee in hot water, set aside. 2) Combine cookie crumbs, 1/2 cup pecans, and margarine. 3) Pat into 13x9x2 pan. 4) Beat cream cheese until smooth, blend in coffee, milk, and chocolate syrup. 5) Fold in Cool Whip and spread over crust. 6) Freeze.

*Alternative:  This version makes two pies (and does not include pecans). Use 2 precooked chocolate graham or Oreo pie crusts. Begin with Step 1 but omit Steps 2 and 3. Continue with Steps 4 and 5. Divide mixture among two pie crusts. Freeze. I like to take a Hershey's milk or dark chocolate bar and grate over the top using a lemon zester. I think spinkles of crushed Oreos would be delish as well. Also, it you're missing the pecans on this version, simply add after you've poured the cream cheese mixture into your pie shells. Get creative and have fun with this recipe!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

It's Friday and we are "working for the weekend" around here! What are your plans? If there are males in your household, I'm betting it will be to watch some football. This buffalo chicken dip is a great dish to feed your hungry guys.. Serve it with some Frito or Tostito brands scoops and watch your fans "huddle up" and give you a rousing cheer for being the best!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 lbs chicken, cooked and shredded ( I use chicken breasts)
12 oz. hot sauce (this is way too much for my taste. Start adding small amounts until you get the amount of heat you and your family like)
2 (8oz) cream cheese
16 oz bottle Ranch salad dressing
8 oz bag of shredded sharp cheese

Melt together cream cheese and ranch dressing in saucepan on stove. Remove from heat and stir in hot sauce to taste and shredded chicken. Transfer to 9 x13 casserole and evenly sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
*Nan's notes: this makes a large amount, therefore, the recipe can be easily halved for a smaller number of "eaters."

Happy cooking!