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.