Friday, December 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

All this recipe needs is hot mashed potatoes and a green veggie or salad to be a complete meal. While the combination of Parmesan cheese and herbs may sound odd, it makes a wonderful gravy (and as an added bonus, your house smells scrumptious while it cooks!).

Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

1 (2-3 pound) boneless pork roast
 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 1/2 cup honey
 3 tablespoons soy sauce
 2 tablespoons dried basil
 2 tablespoons minced garlic
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons cornstarch
 1/4 cup cold water

Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker. Combine cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, oil and salt in a small bowl; pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160°.  Remove meat to a serving platter; keep warm.

Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Gradually stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Slice roast; serve with gravy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mini Garlic Monkey Bread/Rolls

I hope your Christmas was as wonderful and fun-filled as ours. We had lots of good, easy food ( Honey Baked Ham!!) and lots of good family time. It was a fast weekend at our daughter's house in suburban Atlanta with all the family and now we are back home in a very quiet  house in the mtns!

It's back to recipe testing and everyday meals for me. This is one of the recipes I tested for the GA Ag dept folks for Dec. I'm not usually a fan of canned biscuits, but I have to tell you this is amazingly good!  It's sooo easy (my style), tasty and pretty. What more could you ask for?? Oh, cheap... not so much..but, try it anyway! These are good with a meal or they could be an appetizer. Are you thinking New Year's Eve??? Good idea!

Mini Garlic Monkey Breads/Rolls
1 (10 count) can buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup melted butter
1 clove minced garlic (more, if you dare!)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces ( pizza cutter works great for this) and place in a large bowl. Combine remaining ingredients (save some cheese to sprinkle on top) and pour over biscuits. Toss to coat evenly. Place 4 biscuit pieces in each of 10 muffin cups. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 14 minutes. Serve HOT! YUUUMMMMM!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas greetings

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cranberry Christmas Cake

Christmas begs for a SPECIAL cake... one that is big, beautiful, elegant, something worthy of a special celebration! This cake is IT for 2011! I have to confess that I actually love fruitcake, and this is close but without the sugary glazed fruit. The frosting makes more than you'll probably need. However, I was happy to have "leftovers" to frost a few cupcakes.  (This is not the acutal photo - I've not cut the cake yet! But I wanted to share the idea with you today!) Of course, you know I lightly toasted my pecans. You could use walnuts, if you prefer. ENJOY!

Cranberry Christmas Cake
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
2 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest
2 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan OR 2 (9-inch) cake pans.  IF using cake pans, grease, flour, and line with wax paper.

 Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir in pecans, cranberries, dates and orange rind.

Combine eggs, oil and buttermilk, mixing well; stir egg mixture into flour mixture, mixing until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack over a large shallow pan.

Combine ½ cup sugar, ½ cup orange juice and 2 tablespoons brandy. Stir until sugar dissolves. Spoon over warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack.

Wrap cake tightly in plastic wrap then in heavy-duty foil. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours or up to 8 weeks.

If making layers, frost with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
3 ¾ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt white chocolate over warm water. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cream butter and cream cheese in large bowl of electric mixer. Add powdered sugar gradually and cream until light and fluffy. Add cream and mix again until fluffy. Stir in cooled  white chocolate. Mix until well combined.

Spread between layers and over sides and top of cake. Garnish with chopped pecans or chopped dried cranberries.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Marinated Baked Pork Chops, Broccoli with Dijon Sauce and Carrot Souffle

What's for dinner? Give this menu a try. It's easy enough for week night and can be fancy enough for company. The tastes and colors all compliment one another. After all, we eat with our eyes, too!
If you're in a hurry, substitute baked sweet potatoes for the carrot souffle. Just toss the sweet potatoes in the oven while the chops are baking. Add a pan of broccoli to roast at the same time and you've got everything cooking on its own!

Marinated Baked Pork Chops

1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
6 pork chops, trimmed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees .

 In a small bowl, thoroughly blend soy sauce, vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and ketchup.

Place pork chops in a medium baking dish, and spread with 1/2 the sauce.

Bake pork chops 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Turn, and spread with remaining sauce. Continue baking 30 minutes, or until internal temperature of the chops has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Broccoli with Dijon Mustard Sauce

1 large bunch broccoli
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onions
½ teaspoon dried tarragon
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Cook broccoli as desired (steam, stir fry, oven roast).
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat; add onions, tarragon and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add vinegar, water,mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Drizzle over broccoli; toss gently to coat.

Carrot Soufflé

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place carrots in a medium saucepan, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes or until carrots are fork tender. Drain. Process carrots in food processor until smooth. Stir together carrot puree and remaining ingredients. Spoon into  a lightly greased 1 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sherried Baked Fruit

Brunch is a big part of Christmas morning for many of us. This Sherried Fruit recipe works well for "make ahead, bake while you're opening presents and eat leftovers cold later". It's also good poured over pound cake, pudding or ice cream. When my daughter and son-in-law were married 4 years ago in early December, I served this the morning after to our out of town guests. I tripled the recipe and (of course) made it several days ahead. You can substitute your favorite fruits, just keep the total amount the same so that you won't have it floating in sauce.

Sherried Baked Fruit
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sweet sherry
1 (29-oz.) can pear halves in juice, drained
1 (29-oz.) can peach halves in syrup, drained and reserve juice
1 (20-0z.) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (14-oz.) can spiced apple rings, drained
1 (17-oz.) can apricot halves, drained

Combine melted butter and flour in small saucepan over medium heat, blending until smooth.  Stir in sugar. Slowly add lemon juice, orange juice, spices, peach juice and sherry, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in grated lemon and orange rind. Pour over drained fruit in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm, room temperature or cold. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beef and Bok Choy Stir-fry

Just about this time each year, I get overwhelmed by "holiday" food and crave something simple and light. I ran across this recipe and thought it sounded just right! If you don't make it now, save it for the new year. Lean beef in a light sauce with crispy veggie served with rice - yum! This will make a nice break before the next wave of heavy "holiday" food. If you can't find baby bok choy, use a large head and chop it coarsely.

Beef and Bok Choy Stir-fry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
4 heads baby bok choy, quartered
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar plus a pinch of sugar)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups hot cooked rice

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the steak with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.Cook the steak, turning often, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe out the skillet. Add the bok choy and ¼ cup water and simmer, covered, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and sugar. Add to the bok choy in the skillet and bring to a boil. Add the steak and any accumulated juices and cook, tossing, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over rice.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

These are a tradition at our house. Kelley and I have made them every Christmas that I can remember her being old enough to stand at the kitchen counter with me. I hope that she will pass this tradition along to her daughter, Emmie (Who is not quite old enough this year, but soon!) This dough is VERY forgiving. You can roll it, re-roll and re-roll and it's still wonderful!

Be sure to make the dough ahead and let it chill overnight. If you roll the dough thin (1/4-in.) the cookies will be crisp (good for dunking in hot tea or cider) and if you roll the dough thick (1/3-1/2-inch) the cookies will be soft. It's up to you!!

Gingerbread Men
1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup molasses (spray the measuring cup with Pam and it will come out easier)
1 egg
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves (since cloves are strong, I used less when the kids were little)

Cream shortening and sugar in large mixer bowl. Add molasses and mix well. Beat in egg. Sift dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture. Stir or mix slowly just until all ingredients are combined. Chill overnight (or minimum of 4 hrs). Roll out on a floured board. Cut into shapes and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely and decorate.

Note: I add raisin buttons before baking and sometimes "red hot" candy for heart or buttons. All of these need to be baked on. The rest of the decorating is done with Royal Icing when the cookies are completely cool. This is the FUN part!!

Royal Icing (or Decorator Frosting)
My Home Ec training tells me that I must warn you this icing is made with raw egg whites. If you are concerned about that, you can purchase meringue powder (powdered egg whites) at craft stores and some grocery stores. I've made this for 30 years and never gotten sick from it, however, I do NOT lick my fingers or eat it by the spoonful!! The cookies have a small amt on them.

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted ( 3 1/2 cups)
Combine egg whites and cream of tarter in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form (5-7 minutes). Yield: 2 cups frosting.

Note: This icing can also be used as the "glue" for building and assembling gingerbread houses.
Keep a wet dish towel draped over the bowl while you're working with icing in a decorating bag. When it dries out, it is as hard as glass!!! If it starts getting dry on you, add water by the teaspoon until it is soft again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chocolate Crinkles

Just one more chocolate cookie!  Chocolate Crinkles are fun to make and taste good, too. They look really pretty on a cookie platter or as a gift. 

Chocolate Crinkles

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla  extract
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In large bowl, mix oil, chocolate, granulated sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet with shortening or cooking spray.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls into powdered sugar; roll to coat and shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in center. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies

This is a re-run from Christmas 2010, but well worth repeating for those of you who missed it last year! These cookies are decadent and beautiful! If you love dark chocolate and peppermint, these are the cookies for you! Make them for a special treat for someone you love. You'll have a friend for life.

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies
2 packages (Ghiradelli) 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (Ghiradelli) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant Expresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (16 round peppermint candies or leftover candy canes)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking pans with parchment paper.

Place 2 cups chocolate chips in medium size metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth and melted. Cool. Place 2/3 cup melted chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside to drizzle on top of baked and cooled cookies.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant expressso and salt in a large bowl; whisk to combine. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer, creaming until light and fluffy. Add extracts and beat until well combined. Add eggs; beat to blend. Stir in remaining melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients, mix until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Measure 1 level tablespoon dough; roll into a ball. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until tops are cracked all over.

Remove from oven and cool on pan for 5 minutes. Place parchment paper and cookies on wire rack to cool completely.

Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup melted chocolate. Drizzle over cooled cookies using a fork. Immediately sprinkle with chopped peppermint. Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Helen's Tips: I only had 1 bag of chocolate chips, so I measured out 1/2 cup to add to the batter at the end, melted what was left in the bag, and stirred it into the batter. When the cookies were cooled, I melted another 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and drizzled that over the cookies. They were still perfect!!

If you don't have instant expresso, leave it out! You could add 2 tablespoons STRONG brewed coffee in its place. Coffee intensifies the taste of this needs intensity!!

The better the cocoa, the better the cookies will be. I splurged for some REAL Dutch process cocoa from the Williams Sonoma Outlet. It was worth it! However, Ghiradelli will be almost as good. Same with the chocolate chips.. use the best you can get!

Shape these into small balls. Believe me, these are RICH cookies. And you'll make more servings.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cranberry Bliss Bars

This bar cookie makes a thoughtful gift, delicious snack or sinful breakfast cookie. They are pretty and taste amazing! Pack a few into a cute container add coffee/tea/hot chocolate and a gift tag! Or make a batch and enjoy them yourself!!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup white chocolate, shavings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 10x15 jelly roll pan with parchment paper, trimming away any excess.  
Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients in small amounts, blending well. Fold in cranberries, chocolate, and chopped ginger.  Spread batter over parchment paper in pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until bars are slightly firm to the touch. Cool  completely.

 Combine softened cream cheese with powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest, fold in dried cranberries.
Spread frosting over cookies and sprinkle with chocolate shavings (scrape a bar on the side with a large knife to get these- doesn't matter if it crumbles instead of curling). Cut bars into fourths along the length, and into 3 parts along the width, then cut each square into a triangle. Store bars in the refrigerator.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas is coming! That means it MUST be time for baking Christmas cookies! Even the simplest recipes can be dressed up for the holiday. Here's a very easy brownie recipe with a beautiful topping.
I don't understand why people make box brownies when these are soooo easy and taste sooo much better! However, if you must, bake a box mix and then add the white chocolate and peppermint topping. You KNOW I will double this recipe and bake it in a 9x13-inch pan.

Happy Baking! More cookie recipes coming... stay tuned!

White Chocolate Peppermint Brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and semisweet chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.
Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate and oil in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with the candies and let set.

Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garlic White Lasagna

This is a great make ahead main dish especially when you have a crowd. Serve with a green salad and hot Italian bread and your meal is complete! Or make in 2 smaller pans and keep one in the freezer, bake when needed.
Garlic White Lasagna
 1 ½ pounds Italian sausage, browned and crumbled, 1 tablespoon drippings reserved
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 (12-oz.) jar roasted red peppers, chopped
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, cook and squeeze dry
1 (15-oz.) carton ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 (17-oz.) jars Alfredo sauce
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
12 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Sauté onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon sausage drippings; stir in sausage, peppers and wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Set aside.
Combine cooked spinach, ricotta, salt, pepper and egg in medium bowl, stirring well.
Grease a deep 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer ingredients in this order:
1 cup Alfredo sauce
4 uncooked lasagna noodles
½ of the spinach mixture
½ of the sausage mixture
½ of the mozzarella cheese
Repeat layer
Place 4 uncooked  lasagna noodles on top
Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese, then remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil, refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Allow casserole to come to room temperature, about 1 hour, before baking. Bake, covered with foil, 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 15minutes before cutting into squares to serve. Yield: 12 servings.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Frosted Banana Bars

The second "deal of the day" at the grocery store was a giant bag of bananas for $1.50. Unable to resist, I came home looking for new banana recipes. This one sounded yummy and looked easy.
I whipped it up last nite while cooking supper. It went together in a snap but after getting it in the oven, I discovered that I had none of the frosting ingredients except for about 1 cup powdered sugar! (Lesson learned, check pantry for all ingredients before getting started!) So, I made a glaze of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and poured it over the pan before cutting into bars. It was great! Just the right amount of sweetness and I saved a lot of calories since I didn't use the cream cheese frosting. Either way, this one will go into my favorites. It's a nice snack cake or light dessert (or breakfast for Cousin Carol!). Of course, you could top it with ice cream and/or the cream cheese frosting! ;)

If you don't have a 10x15-inch pan, use a 9x13 and bake a little longer. The bars will just be thicker.
If you don't add the cream cheese frosting, you don't have to refrigerate it.


Click here to find out more!
Rec Image
Frosted Banana Bars
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
For the Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 3/4 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in bananas.
Spread into a greased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually beat in enough confectioners' sugar to achieve desired consistency. Frost bars. Store in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Is it time to re-cycle the Thanksgiving leftovers at your house?  This recipe can easily be made with leftover turkey and whatever veggies you might have available. I think I'd like to add some frozen veggies, cooked... That is, if only I had leftover turkey! I took a 20lb turkey to Thanksgiving dinner and came home to an empty refrigerator. I sure hope my kids eat well this week! But, I got a "deal" at the grocery this afternoon. They marked down organic chicken breasts from over $7 per lb to $1 per lb. Chicken breasts it will be at my house! Every once in a while I get lucky!

Chicken Noodle Casserole
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded monterey jack cheese, divided
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
12 ounces medium egg noodles, cooked and drained
Chicken Noodle Casserole Recipe at
In a large bowl, combine soup, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Add the chicken, onion, peppers, 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese; mix well. Add noodles and toss to coat.
Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake 10 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender and cheese is melted.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you and your family and friends have a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving!
I count each of you among my blessings for 2011.

The pies are baked, the cornbread for dressing is made, the sweet potatoes baked, mashed and seasoned, the cranberry relish is done, the turkey is thawing and I'm ready to pack it all up and  take it down to my daughter's house for a big ole' Southern Thanksgiving Dinner with my children and all 4 of the grands! What a GRAND time we'll have!  Mama would be proud.  Love and hugs to all!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

I saw this prepared by Claire Robinson, Food Network "Five Ingredient Fix" and thought it sounded wonderful! I'm sharing it with you because I like Claire (she's a Southern girl, living in NY but with strong Southern roots!) and I'm going to make it for our Thanksgiving dinner (in addition to the traditional pumpkin pie).

The crust is crushed gingersnaps! I love gingersnaps on a cold winter night with a cup of hot tea.... of my favorites.  Hmmm... maybe I'll make this next week so I don't have to share with everyone!!

Ginger Pumpkin Tart

 2 1/2 cups crushed thin Swedish ginger cookies, (about 55 to 60 cookies)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
Pinch salt

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan on a baking sheet.

 Make the crust by combining the ginger cookie crumbs and melted butter in a large bowl, until well blended. Add the crumbs to the tart pan and evenly press over the bottom and up the sides with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake until set and a bit darker in color, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, condensed milk, egg yolks and salt until well blended. Pour the filling into the cooled crust, return to the oven, and bake until set and beginning to brown on the top, about 30 minutes. Remove tart from the oven, cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator, at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.

To serve, carefully remove outer tart shell ring and slice. Eat and enjoy!

NOTE: Any crushed gingersnap cookie will do; just be sure to use 2 1/2 cups crumbs for the crust.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cooking the Turkey

I left out one VERY important part of Thanksgiving dinner - the Turkey!!!
Here's how I cook my turkey. It's one of those methods handed down from my Mom. We did not care about a brown bird for presentation (which usually is dry and tough), so we opted for roasting then carving in the kitchen. Our platter of turkey came to the table sliced and white! But, it is always tender and moist. If you want pretty, check out Ina Garten's recipes. She makes beautiful look easy.

Rule of thumb for size to buy: 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds per person IF you  want leftovers.
 If not, go with 3/4 to 1 lb per person.

Thaw the bird in the refrig. I got a 20 lb one today and it's in the refrig thawing slowly. Better to sit in the refrig thawed for a couple of days, than a frantic thaw under running cold water on Thanksgiving morning!

We use a LARGE covered roaster with rack for lifting it out.

Remove giblets, neck etc. Wash the thawed bird inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.

Place the bird on the rack in the roaster, brush with melted butter, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Fill cavity with onions and celery - just cut into big hunks. Put the neck and giblets around the turkey (take them out after about 45 minutes and set aside for giblet gravy)

Pour 2 quarts of water or chicken broth around the bird. Cover and bake at 350 for however long it says on the package! I usually get a turkey with a pop up timer, that helps too.

When the time is up and timer pops up, twist the leg. If it moves easily, it's done. If not, cover and cook for another 30 min or so.

Dip the liquid out with a measuring cup to make the gravy. Replace the cover and let the turkey sit/set while you bake the casseroles, dressing, etc. Make the gravy, slice the turkey and you're done!
How easy is that?? Just kidding!!!
And, you can always call these folks. They are the REAL experts! (I knew the home economist who started the Turkey Talk-Line!)
Turkey Talk-Line®
Call: 1-800-288-8372
Weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
CST (Central Standard Time)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Beef Enchilada Bake Recipe

While you're doing all the preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner, you need quick and easy for weeknight meals. This casserole goes together in a snap! And the flavors are a world away from the upcoming BIG meal. Give it a try; I think you'll like it. If you don't like spicy, substitute diced tomatoes for Ro*Tel or substitute salsa. Rotisserie chicken works in place of the ground beef.

Beef Enchilada Bake

 1 lb.  lean ground beef
1 can (10-3/4 oz.)  reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
1-1/4 cups (8 oz.)  cubed VELVEETA (1/2-inch cubes), divided
6   corn tortillas (6 inch), cut in half
1 can (10 oz.)  RO*TEL® Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
 Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in soup and 1 cup VELVEETA.

 Spoon 1/3 of the meat mixture into 8-inch square baking dish; cover with 6 tortilla halves and 1/4 cup RO*TEL®. Repeat layers. Top with remaining meat mixture, RO*TEL® and VELVEETA; cover. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

I thought about searching out some new recipes for you this Thanksgiving but quickly realized that this meal IS Thanksgiving in my world. Mama made these same dishes every year that I can remember. As an adult child I have made these same recipes every year except for two. Both times we ate with someone else's family. I missed the comfort of sameness, having leftovers and as my son says, "laying in the floor and rubbing our bellies"! Ok, HE does that, not me! 

Whatever you cook, I wish for you love, health and happiness around your table. I am very thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read this blog. 
Happy Thanksgiving!
November 21, 2013

It occured to me that giving you these recipes next week would not do you much good, so here are our family's favorites for a traditional Southern Thanksgiving Dinner. They have been on our Thanksgiving table for more years than I can remember. Mama (Miss Martha) made the best pecan pie I've ever eaten and it's sooo easy! The Praline Sweet Potatoes are almost like dessert and always a hit with the kids. And finally, our "recipe" for Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing. It was hard to put it down on paper, but I decided it was time to pass it along to the next generation. Mama and I would taste the dressing and add whatever we thought it needed. I like dry dressing so that you can put lots of gravy on it. This one fits the bill. If you like moist dressing, add more liquid and reduce the cooking time by 5 or 10 minutes.

I have to confess that I make Pumpkin Pie straight off the Libby's Pumpkin can label AND I put it ( as well as the Pecan Pie) in a frozen piecrust. My opinion of piecrust is that it's job is just to hold the filling! ;)

And, of course, we'll have green beans, mac 'n cheese, rolls (Sister Schubert's) and giblet gravy. And maybe I'll make Indiana egg noodles for my dear husband...Oh boy! I'm hungry just thinking about it!

Helen's Notes: Getting this all done depends on organization and pre- prep. Here's what I'll do ahead:
Chop all the pecans at once (in food processor)
Measure ingredients for each recipe and put in containers
Bake the cornbread for dressing and freeze when cool
Bake sweet potatoes in oven while cornbread is cooking, mash and refrigerate until needed. Take sweet potatoes out of refrig early in day to warm up to room temperature before making casserole
Make Praline Sweet Potato Casserole topping and refrigerate until needed
Bake pies on Wed. Refrigerate Pumpkin Pie, not Pecan
Combine bread and dry ingredients for dressing. Then mix it all together on Turkey Day.

Miss Martha’s Pecan Pie
2/3 stick butter, melted
¾ cup sugar
1 cup white Karo
3 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans ( I coarsely chop mine and lightly toast them)
1 (9-inch) deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine ingredients in mixing bowl (or 4 cup-measure). Pour into pie crust. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until almost set in middle (that means it doesn’t wiggle when you gently shake the pan!). Cool on wire rack.

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (I bake mine, peel and mash)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Mash potatoes well and mix with remaining ingredients. Pour into greased 2-quart baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (lightly toasted)

Combine butter, sugar and flour; mix with a fork until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Crumble over sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until bubbly.

Old Fashioned Cornbread Dressing

2 cups cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups buttermilk
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir until well mixed. Pour into greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool completely. Crumble cornbread into a large mixing bowl.

12 slices white bread, crusts removed and crumbled
2 to 2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken broth (turkey broth makes it richer tasting)
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (Mama would have never used this, but I like it!)
½ teaspoon rubbed sage
¼ teaspoon black pepper

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add remaining ingredients to crumbled cornbread, stirring well. Spoon dressing into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish ( or 4-quart casserole). Bake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cranberry Fruit Conserve Recipe

Are you ready to get started on Thanksgiving Dinner??? This will be my first recipe to prep  (and one of my favorites, although not many other family members share my enthusiasm!) I have to be honest and say I usually just make the recipe on the bag of fresh cranberries using fruit, water and sugar. This year, I think I'll add the apple from this recipe and maybe the raisins... see what you think.. I trust Ina Garten to give us the BEST! Add and subtract as you desire, just keep the basic proportions the same. I like to have leftovers to spread on turkey sandwiches! Yuuummm!

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

 From : Barefoot Contessa Parties!


1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 orange, zest grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cook the cranberries, sugar, and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the skins pop open. Add the apple, zests, and juices and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and add the raisins and nuts. Let cool, and serve chilled

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick and Easy Fresh Apple Cake

Ok, I have to confess. I snuck into the kitchen the other day. I was craving something sweet and knew Bill was as well. I'm feeling so much better and thought just a quick recipe would soothe both of us. This is one that Cousin Carol passed on to me. She makes the most scrumptious coffee cakes and "breakfast cookies". This one is good for brunch, lunch, dessert or snack. It truly is QUICK and easy!  The longer it sits, the denser (is that a word?) and more juicy it gets. I'm giving you my version; Carol's makes a 9-in pan. You KNOW I'm not about to heat up the oven for a pan that small, besides, in my house that would last about a nano second! So, half the recipe if you wish and bake in a 9-inch pan (but you'll be sorry!). If only I had some vanilla ice cream to put on top while it was hot... sigh.... Now I'll go back to "resting" on the sofa. ;)

Quick and Easy Fresh Apple Cake
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups diced apples (don't peel)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

Helen's Note: Since I just had my gall bladder out, I omitted the nuts. If I was adding them, I would lightly toast them before adding. Raisins are optional, too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spiral Apple Dumplings

I've completely forgotten where I found this recipe, but today all I can think of is something warm and gooey and filled with cinnamon. This recipe jumped right out at me! Doesn't it sound wonderful???? I had gall bladder surgery last Thursday and am slowly recovering. I think I'm hungry but am filled up after a few bites and I really don't feel up to tackling the kitchen. So, I'm sitting at home reading about yummy things to eat and hoping you'll be inspired to try them! Give this a try and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for me!

Spiral Apple Dumplings
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
¼ cup margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2  cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups shredded, peeled cooking apples (3 to 4 medium), such as Golden Delicious, Rome, Granny Smith, Jonathan, or Newton Pippin

Combine 2 cups sugar, water, margarine, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large saucepan . Bring to boiling and boil for 5 minutes; set aside (about 2 cups sauce).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pea-size. Make a well in the center; add milk all at once. Stir just until moistened. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface 10 to 12 strokes or until nearly smooth. Roll out to 12x10-inch rectangle.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside. Sprinkle apples evenly over dough. Sprinkle with sugar mixture. Roll dough into spiral, starting from a long side. Pinch seam to seal. Cut into twelve 1-inch-thick pieces. Place in 9x13-inch baking pan. Pour sauce over dumplings.  Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden.Yield:12 servings.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese Recipe

In a hurry? Need a quick meal in a matter of minutes? Swing by the grocery store on your way home and pick up ingredients for this quick one-dish meal. If you don't have time to remove the chicken from the bones, just make the mac and cheese with the broccoli and serve the  chicken on the side. Either way, you've got dinner in a matter of minutes.

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese

 8 oz. dried rigatoni
1 whole roasted/rotisserie chicken
1 ( 5.2-oz). pkg. semisoft cheese with garlic and fine herbs (or cream cheese with herbs)
¾  to 1 cup milk
¼  cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and snipped
¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, optional

 In large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli florets during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. While pasta is cooking, remove meat from roasted chicken. Coarsely chop chicken. Drain pasta and broccoli; set aside.

 In same saucepan combine cheese, the 3/4 cup milk, tomatoes, and  freshly ground black pepper. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta mixture and chicken. Heat through. If necessary, thin with additional milk. Sprinkle fresh parsley. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

I'm going to start this post with what will probably be blasphemy to some of you. I do not like Paula Deen. EEEK... did I really say that out loud??? Sorry to those of you who love her. However, I do like this recipe of hers and have made it for covered dish dinners and large holiday gatherings! It is easy to make, looks beautiful and tastes yummy! So, personalities aside, I highly recommend the recipe, especially if you're having a crowd or if you're charged with bringing dessert for a crowd!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional

  Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely.
 Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.
 Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.
 Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, and then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crock Pot Apple Butter Recipe

Some of you have heard this story before, but I think that it is one that bears repeating every fall.
My Hoosier husband thought there was nothing that could ever top Brown County, IN apple butter - UNTIL he tasted this recipe! Now (with the aid of a gadget) he even helps make it! Today he peeled 1/2 bushel of apples while I prepared them for the following recipe. Of course, to hear HIM tell it, he MAKES the apple butter! Just like when we throws the meat on the grill, he COOKS dinner! As long as it gets him into the kitchen to help me, I'll let him keep on thinking that HE made the apple butter, but we all know better! ;)

From our 1/2 bushel of Pink Lady, Rome and Golden Delcious apples from a North Georgia grower, we have 2 crock pots of apple butter and my large le Cruset Dutch oven of applesauce all cooking. To make a crock pot of apple butter, you only need about 8 pounds of apples. Any variety will do, but the fresher the apples, the better the apple butter and a variety of types will give it intense flavor. Same holds true for applesauce.

Trust me, once you've had homemade applesauce, you won't ever want the comercially produced stuff again!

Crock Pot Apple Butter
8 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Place apples and vinegar in a 4-quart crock pot. Cook, covered on HIGH for 6 hours. Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to LOW and cook, covered ro 4 hours. Cool and store in refrigerator.

To seal and store for up to 6 months, pour hot apple butter into hot, sterilized canning jars. Cover with lids, adjust rim, process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes for 1/2 pints and 10 minutes for pints. Remove from water and set jars on wire rack to cool. Store in a cool, dark place.
Yield: 14 (1/2 pint) jars or 7 pints.

This recipe can be halved. Follow the same directions, just half the ingredients.


4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced or chopped
1 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar, optional

Place apples and apple juice in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add lemon juice and sugar and simmer, stirring often, until apples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher. When apples are soft, remove from heat and mash to desired consistency.

You can add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the sugar, if desired. If your apples are sweet, you may not even want to add sugar. Taste them when they start to get soft and see if you really need sugar. I use my stick blender to mash them. Just make sure your apples are soft and the deep enough in the pot (I had them splash all over the kitchen once!).

You can also make the applesauce in the crock pot. Place the apples (no juice) in the pot, cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Stir mixture and continue to cook until desired consistency. Add sugar, if needed after the first 4 hours.

Refrigerate applesauce or put in jars and process as described in the Apple Butter recipe.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

Don't let this winter squash intimidate you! Cut it (carefully), scoop out the seeds, cut into cubes and make this delicious recipe! The taste is similiar to sweet potatoes. (Actually, you could substitute them in this recipe!)

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash
1 large butternut squash, cubed (7 to 8 cups)
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat  oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash with the maple syrup and oil. Arrange the prepared squash in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast it, stirring once, for 35 to 40 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Serve the maple roasted butternut squash hot or at room temperature.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Soft Ginger Cookies

Fall in my kitchen is all about cinnamon, spices, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecans .... baking with yummy smells floating throughout the house. This has to be one of my all time favorite cookie recipes!
A church friend, Eleanor Holford, shared this with me several years ago and never does a fall and winter pass without several batches being baked in our house. I love these with a cup of hot tea. They're great for dunking. If you prefer hard/crisp ginger cookies (more like ginger snaps) don't make these. These are soft and warm and perfect fall "comfort food"!

Soft Ginger Cookies
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup margarine or butter, softened
2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
¼ cup molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

Cream margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses; stir well.

Add flour and spice mixture. Stir until well blended. Roll dough into 1 ½-inch balls. Roll balls in sugar and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown and puffy. Do not overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Yield: about 30 cookies.

Helen’s notes: I usually double the recipe. These keep well in an airtight container for weeks. They also freeze well. You can even freeze the dough before baking. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup Recipe

Last of the soup recipes( for now)! This one is amazingly easy! Just throw a couple of potatoes in to bake, come back later and stir up the soup in about 15 minutes. I doubled the recipes just because we LOVE soup and it's one of those foods that is better the next day and the next and the next....... If you want to make this ahead, make it on the stove and transfer to your slow cooker to keep warm until ready to enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2 large or 3 medium potatoes, baked
½ cup butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups chicken broth
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
Sliced green onions, optional
Shredded Cheddar cheese, optional
Crumbled cooked bacon, optional
Sour Cream, optional

Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, cook for 2 to 3 minutes until tender. Stir in flour. Slowly add chicken broth and milk, stirring to combine. Scoop pulp from potatoes and add to broth mixture. Cook over medium heat just until mixture comes to a boil. Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired. Yield: 4 cups.

Helen's note: If you prefer a chunky consistency, scoop pulp from one potato, add pulp to soup and reserve peel. Chop peel and remaining potato. Add to soup after it comes to a boil.