Sunday, December 29, 2013

Apple Cider Waffles

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. We were able to be with all of the Grands as well as our adult children so that made it wonderful for me! I grew up an only child of an only child and always dreamed of a big family gathered around for holidays - the whole Norman Rockwell picture! Granted, we are somewhat dysfunctional (Whose family isn't??) but we love being together for holidays. I especially appreciate my daughter who, although 7+ months pregnant, let us all converge on their house! I promised to prepare the meals and I kept that promise. However, I KNOW she was happy to see us leave to come home! 

Since we got back to the mountain and have had time to decompress from 4 days in Atlanta, take down the tree and sit with feet up and lap full of new MAC, I have been cruising the Internet. I came across this recipe that sounded good. So, since it was cold and rainy and we were very lazy this morning, I made Apple Cider Waffles for Sunday brunch. I made a few changes in the original recipe from the blog where I found it - of course- and we loved them! 

If you don't have apple cider, use apple juice or even milk in its place. The spices are what lend most of the flavor. For Christmas, my sweet daughter gave me batter/dough scoops in 2 sizes. The larger one (also handy for muffin batter) filled each side of my waffle maker perfectly. The recipe made 4 waffles and we ate every morsel! I'd say this one is a keeper!

Apple Cider Waffles
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda (if you use milk in place of cider, omit the soda)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup apple cider

Preheat waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk all dry ingredients together and add egg, melted butter and apple cider. Whisk until well combined.
Pour into waffle iron and bake according to waffle iron instructions. Serve warm with warm maple syrup and butter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows - again!

I'm re-running this post because I've had soooo many conversations about making marshmallows lately! Today, I stopped in a Williams Sonoma outlet on the way home from ATL and met 2 very nice ladies with whom I had the conversation, along with the guy checking me out. It never ceases to amaze me at the folks who have never thought of making marshmallows. And after they do, they are always converted!

Since first making plain vanilla flavored marshmallows,  I've branched out and added 1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring then swirled in red food coloring after pouring them into a pan. Beautiful!

Then I made Almond flavored marshmallows by adding 1 teaspoon almond flavoring and a few drops red food coloring to make them pink.
IF you have kids, or are a kid at heart, you've got to try these.  These are so easy to make and soooo good! You'll never want a Kraft marshmallow again. I even dipped some in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint.... like eating a clouds!

IF you have kids, or are a kid at heart, you've got to try these.  These are so easy to make and soooo good! You'll never want a Kraft marshmallow again. I even dipped some in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint.... like eating a cloud!

Homemade Marshmallows

These can be layered between sheets of parchment and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray - PAM
1 cup cold water, divided
3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored Knox gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Line a 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil. Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy bottom medium -size saucepan. Stir over medium low heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes. ( see tip below)

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer. (Gather the kids around. This is the amazing part - watching this bowl of wet goo, turn into white creamy fluff!)

Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours. (Don't stress over the mess, it cleans up easily with hot water and is well worth it!)

Sift generous dusting of powdered sugar onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more powdered sugar over marshmallow slab. Coat pizza wheel or large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with water or nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining powdered sugar to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

Tips: If you don't have a candy thermometer, after boiling for 6 minutes, drop a very small amount of the hot mixture into a cup of cold water. If you can pick it up between your fingers and it forms a soft ball, it is done!

You'll get better results using a stand mixer. The mixture is very sticky and stiff. If you're using a heavy duty mixer (Kitchenaid) don't over mix. Its ready when it looks like marshmallow cream.

For really thick marshmallows, pour into a foil lined 9-inch square pan.

The hardest part is waiting 4 hrs to cut and eat the marshmallows!! The pan can sit overnight, too.

Add flavorings of your choice. I made one batch with 1 teaspoon almond extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract along with pink food color.

Use cookie cutters to make cute shapes. Stick them on a craft stick and dip in melted chocolate... the options are endless!!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Refrigerator Crescent Rolls

I was delighted to find this recipe for refrigerator rolls. We all love homemade rolls, especially my husband, but they can be so labor intensive when you are preparing a big meal. This recipe is sooooo easy and tasted really good! I made the dough early in the day, chilled the dough then shaped and baked off one pan immediately to see how they tasted. Yummy! I rolled out another pan, refrigerated them until mid afternoon, removed them 2 hrs before dinner and set them in a warm place to rise. They were wonderful! The remainder of the dough was rolled, shaped and frozen for Christmas dinner. I LOVE a make head recipe!


Yield: 3 dozen rolls

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 pkgs yeast
2 cups water
1/3 cup butter flavor shortening*
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs

Measure 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a large mixer bowl. Add yeast; blend.
Combine water, shortening, sugar, and salt in a pan or microwave safe bowl. Heat until warm (120°-130°F), stirring constantly.
Add liquids to flour-yeast mixture. Add eggs. Beat 1 minute at low speed. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl. Beat 3 more minutes at high speed.
Switch to the dough hook, on low speed gradually add the remaining flour, add more or less as necessary flour to form a soft dough. Scrape down dough from sides of bowl.
Cover bowl first with wax paper, then with aluminum foil. Refrigerate no more than 3 days for best results. Punch down dough every 30 minutes for the first few hours until it is chilled, then once a day.
When ready to make rolls, divide the dough in to thirds. Refrigerator remaining dough until ready to shape.
To shape crescent rolls: Roll 1/3 of the dough into a 10-inch circle. Cut into 12 pie-shaped pieces. Brush with melted butter. Roll each piece of dough from the wide side toward the point, stretching the dough slightly as it is rolled. Place on baking sheet a little apart; curve ends.
Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.
Bake dinner rolls on baking sheet 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size, in preheated 400°F oven.
Remove from pan and set on rack; brush with butter.

These are great for make ahead. Shape the rolls, place on a cookie sheet, freeze than place in freezer bag. When ready to use them, remove from freezer 5 hrs ahead of serving time. Place on baking sheets. Cover with cloth and set in warm place to rise.

*Can substitute half or all butter

**Use active dry yeast for this recipe. Instant yeast is not recommended for refrigerated dough.

To punch dough down, wet your hand and literally punch into the center of the bowl of dough!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baked French Toast

Every Christmas morning for many, many years we've had Breakfast Casserole ( the standard bread, eggs, cheese and  sausage). It's convenient since you put it together the night before, refrigerate it and bake it on Christmas morning while presents are being unwrapped. Good plan. Good recipe. However, if you're ready for a change, this Baked French Toast might be just what you're looking for. While it's baking add a pan of bacon to the oven and you've got breakfast or brunch with little effort! 


1 loaf Crusty Sourdough Or French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.
Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.
When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over and bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hot Fudge Sauce

This post is for my friend, Jackie. She is the "craftiest" gal that I know. If you can imagine it, she can sew it! Once in a while she falls "off the wagon" ( sugar wagon, that is) and indulges in something decadent. This week she posted that she had peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce. Oh, Jackie! That sounds good, especially since peppermint ice cream is my favorite winter ice cream flavor. One year Mayfield had a shortage of peppermint ice cream and I sent Scotty ( Mayfield ) an email that this was a disaster and totally unacceptable since no one else's peppermint ice cream measures up to theirs! I'm sure they had a good laugh over this crazy old lady in the mountains. I have noticed that there has been plenty in the grocery store freezer ever since.... You're quite welcome!

Jackie, you NEED this recipe for the next time you fall off the wagon and peppermint ice cream happens to be nearby. It's so good that one Christmas, despite a kitchen stuffed with homemade cookies, pies and cakes, my children asked me to go into the kitchen and "whip up" a batch of this
HOT FUDGE SAUCE to go over their peppermint ice cream! And I did! ( My family is soooooo spoiled!)

You can make this up ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. Take out just what you need, warm it in the microwave and indulge! It's so good, you could also just eat it with a spoon. Of course I don't know anyone who has actually done that.......

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1(5oz) can evaporated milk
3/4 cup  chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar, milk and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate chips melt and the mixture boils. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Call me when it's done and I'll bring the Mayfield  Peppermint ice cream!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Wow! Have you felt as behind and rushed this Christmas season as I have? With a week less between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are moving along quickly! I was so tired after our Thanksgiving marathon that I spent the entire day on Cyber Monday shopping on the iPad. So, this week the mail lady and the UPS guy will make multiple trips up our driveway. Today I greeted the UPS truck with warm Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. Yesterday afternoon I made 2 batches of cookie dough. I shaped one into logs, wrapped and froze it. Then I dropped the second dough onto baking pans, froze the blobs unbaked, then dropped them into Ziploc bags. Both are ready to bake without thawing. It never hurts to plan ahead when you're facing a race to the finish!

Tomorrow I plan to bring out the fresh cranberries and bake them up into a yummy breakfast cake. I have to admit that this is a new recipe, but it looks really good and is simple but with complex flavors. Fresh cranberries go so well with orange. This recipe uses some of both plus a sour cream cake base. I think it will freeze nicely when cooled. Just remember to use FREEZER bags, NOT storage bags and get out as much air as possible before freezing.

Here's the recipe. Let's give it a try.

Cranberry upside down cake with caramel cranberry topping and orange zest speckled sour cream cake.

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup or 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Scant pinch ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
1/4 cup milk

Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan with 2-inch sides. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat; melt the butter and stir the sugar. Do not stir after the butter has melted. Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Beat butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the orange zest.
Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the milk.

Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Turn the cake out onto a platter or cake plate that will go in the freezer. Cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a large Ziploc freezer bag. Or serve immediately!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

This has been an unusual year. I've learned the value of living for today, taking care of those things we've put off for too long and staying in touch. I've learned to take care of what is truly important and let the rest go. Family and extended family are THE most important to me. I am very blessed to have friends who are like family and family who are also friends. I treasure every one.

So this year we are doing Thanksgiving a little differently. At first it didn't make sense nor seem doable, but with lots of love, days of pre-planning, many lists and a good head start, it's coming together.

I'm cooking ( or helping cook)  2 Thanksgiving dinners this year. The first is at my daughter's house in Atlanta with her family, her in-laws, a long time friend and us. It's a small group (8) but a hungry one! Then late on Friday night , my son and his family of 5 are heading for the mountains to have a late Thanksgiving with us here on Saturday. My daughter-in-law works every Thanksgiving as a trade off for being off on Christmas morning so, this dinner is for her. She's eaten leftovers for years! This year, she gets a fresh, hot meal! I have 2 turkeys, one thawed, one going from freezer to refrigerator tomorrow. As I prepped cornbread for dressing, sweet potatoes for casserole, etc... I made doubles. Everything is packaged, labeled and ready to either go to ATL or waiting for dinner no. 2 when we get home. I actually sat down this afternoon and rested.  Even a batch of cookies are baked and in the freezer for the Hanging of the Green service at our Methodist church on Sunday afternoon. Sometimes I get on a roll and just keep going until it's all finished! It's all about organization and lots of lists!

I look forward to being with all 4 3/4 of the Grands. They are growing up fast and stay so busy that our times together are too far apart. It will be good to hug them and see the smiles on those sweet faces. I look forward to my girls helping in the kitchen. I have such great memories of cooking with my grandma. No doubt it will be a blast and when they are all gone the house will be too quiet and I will be pooped! But it is all absolutely worth it!

May your turkey be tender, your gravy free of lumps and your pumpkin pie covered in whipped cream! And may ALL the calories be washed away by a big glass of tea ( or water or cup of coffee)!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your family! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Butternut Squash Apple Soup

We grew butternut squash last summer in a community garden. I have a hallway downstairs lined with squash! We love it cut into chunks, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with Rosemary Garlic Salt and oven roasted BUT there are so many other great ways to prepare this versatile vegetable. Here is my new favorite. This soup makes a tasty first course for Thanksgiving dinner or a filling main course for lunch.

Butternut Squash - Apple Soup
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Pink Lady apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or heavy cream
2 tablespoons Calvados apple brandy, if desired
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon butter (or EVOO) and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.
Add broth, water, and salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed; stir in Calvados. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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

This post is from November 2011
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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

More Chicken....

I read all kinds of food blogs. Some have really good sounding recipes and I bookmark them to try some day. Others make no sense at all to me. And still others have recipes that I can't wait to try! This week my blogging friend, Donya Mullins, A,  posted one of those "can't wait to try" recipes. I made it for supper tonight and my husband punctuated EVERY bite with "This is REALLY good"! I made a few changes and noted those below. Print this one out. It's a keeper! Thanks, Donya! ( Oh yes, we had this over rice with a Waldorf Salad -from Mercier's pink lady apples! )

Cider Braised Chicken
4 chicken leg quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 - 6 carrots - roughly chopped
1 onion - chopped
5 cloves garlic - sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350°
In a large enameled cast-iron pot, heat olive oil.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to pot, skin side down.
Cook over moderately high heat, in batches, turning once, until golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of fat in pot.
Add carrots, garlic and onion - cook over low heat until tender - 5 minutes.
Add flour and stir for 1 minute.
Add  cider vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pot. Bring sauce to a boil and cook until thickened, 3 minutes.
Add broth, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Nestle the chicken in sauce, skin side up. Transfer pot to oven and braise chicken for about 50 minutes, until cooked through.
Remove pot from oven and preheat to broil.
Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, skin side up. Broil on middle rack of the oven until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.
Simmer sauce over moderate heat until reduced to about 1/2 - 10 to 15minutes.
Stir in butter and season with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken to the casserole, skin side up, and serve.

Helen's notes: Instead of leg quarters, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs, 3/4 cup cider vinegar plus 1/4 cup apple cider and reduced the chicken broth to 2 cups. I browned the chicken, removed from skillet, browned onion and carrots, added the flour, scraped the pan bottom then added the vinegar and garlic. When that mixture thickened, I added reduced amt of broth, chicken and veggies. It cooked without a lid in the convection oven for 35 minutes. My chicken was nicely brown, so I did not do the broiling step as in the original recipe. I also did not reduce the sauce and add butter. We thought it was VERY good!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chicken with Bacon in Wine Sauce

This fall has been extremely busy! I've had company, been company and run up and down the road to Atlanta and back. I've assisted my artist friend with classes, helped teach a class and tried to take one. My DH and I have tried to plan a trip to no avail. This year has simply been too busy!

On busy days ( as well as on not busy ones ) I'm on the lookout for quick and easy recipes with big flavor. This recipe is sort of quick, very easy and once you get it put together, cooks itself while you do other things. I served it with rice ( cooked in the microwave-1cup rice, 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1tablespoon butter in a covered dish cooked on HIGH for 5 min, then on 50%power for 15 min) and petite green peas from Publix. That last part is very important as they are the ONLY frozen green peas that I've found that are truly small and petite and not too "green" tasting.  I bought 10 bags on my last trip to Atlanta. The check out lady laughed her head off at my purchase.. Whatever... I'm stocked up for the winter.

The recipe originally called for bone in chicken breasts. I used boneless skinless chicken tenders, but think chicken thighs would also be delicious. If you need to borrow petite green peas, I'll loan you a bag!

 Chicken with Bacon in Wine Sauce

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 boneless chicken tenders
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup Chardonnay or other white wine
1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2 or cream
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional
2 tablespoons cold water, optional

Combine butter and oil in large Dutch oven. Heat over medium; add chicken and cook until chicken is browned but not cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside. Add bacon; cook until the fat is cooked out. Add onion cooking until onion is transparent. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Remove bacon, onion and garlic from pan. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Return chicken, onion and garlic to pan. Pour wine over mixture, cover tightly and simmer for 15 minutes ( longer if using bone in chicken). Add 1/2 and 1/2, cook uncovered until liquid reduces. Garnish with parsley. If you like thicker sauce, dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Stir into sauce, return to simmer and stir until thickened.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Winter Squash with Spiced Couscous

Winter Squash with Spiced Couscous

Other small winter squash, such as butternut squash, will work well in this dish, as the orange flesh is sweet and will be complemented by the spiced couscous. Simply cube the squash, roast in chunks and stir into the cooked couscous. The roasting time will decrease by about 10 minutes.

2 acorn squash, each 1 1/4 lb., halved and seeds removed (see note above)
2 tsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
3/4 cup instant couscous ( or pearl couscous )
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbs. sliced almonds, toasted
2 Tbs. dried currants or raisins or dried cranberries
2 green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1/2 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped

Roast the squash
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Brush the squash halves with the oil and season with salt and pepper. On a baking sheet, place the halves, cut side down. Roast until a thin knife easily pierces the squash, about 20 minutes.

Make the spiced couscous
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cinnamon, ginger, the 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Cover and set aside, according to the package directions. Stir the almonds, currants, green onions and apple into the couscous. Spoon the filling into the roasted squash, mounding it generously, and serve. Serves 4.

Helen's notes: I used butternut squash, peeled, cut into cubes, drizzled with olive oil and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Then I stirred the ingredients together, spooned into a baking dish and baked for about 15 minutes. It was even better the next day, doused with additional broth and heated through.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin

The first cold front of the season is upon us. When I went to the grocery store today the wind was blowing and the leaves were swirling around through the woods. This is the season for comfort food, warm blankets and cozy sweaters. I've got just the comfort food for you. Thanks to my dear, dear friend Julie B. for sharing the following recipe for slow cooker pork tenderloins. Make the entire recipe and plan for yummy leftovers. Serve it with mashed potatoes or rice smothered in the luscious pan gravy. Thicken it, if you prefer. We loved it just as it came from the slow cooker. Tomorrow I'm making a HUGE pot of Vegetable Beef Soup (see post from January 2012) and snuggling under a fluffy blanket!

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
salt and pepper
1 small clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard or country-style
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, crumbled
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Wash and trim the pork and pat dry; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place pork in the slow cooker. Combine garlic, mustard, honey, brown sugar, vinegar, and thyme; pour over the pork. Turn pork to coat thoroughly. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours, or on HIGH for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours.
Remove pork to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm. Pour the juices into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until reduced by about one-third. Combine the cornstarch and cold water; whisk into the reduced juices and cook for 1 minute longer. Serve pork slices with the thickened juices.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Company Pot Roast

Once again, Ina Garten to the rescue! The past month has been more than hectic! I've had house guests, assisted with a painting class at John Campbell Folkschool, had more house guests, went to Alabama for a funeral, and generally have been going in circles! In the midst of all this, I called upon Ina Garten for a company recipe that would cook while I was busy with something else. This Company Pot Roast was absolutely perfect and delicious! 

The only changes I made were these: I added an 8-oz. pkg of sliced mushrooms to the veggies. I did not use leeks, but added extra onion. I cooked it in the oven in my large le creuset pot and the liquid cooked down to perfection requiring no thickening.

I served it with smashed potatoes and green beans. Leftovers were just as good as the day it was first made. Thank you, Ina! You saved my day once again!

Company Pot Roast

1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Read more at:,1946,FOOD_9936_337729_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html?oc=linkback

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple time is here!

Fall with its bright gold, red, yellow and orange colors set against the BLUE of a North Carolina mountain sky is my favorite time of year! I can't decide whether I'd rather cook or paint. This week, it's cook!

My partner in all things crazy and fun and I went to Blue Ridge, GA (about 45 minutes from home) to Mercier's Orchards and came away with bags of  beautiful, fresh apples! There is absolutely no comparison between grocery store apples and these fresh from the trees. As a matter of fact, I refuse to buy apples in the grocery store anymore. I'm sooooo spoiled to the delicious taste, crisp texture and freshness of these apples. And I am so blessed to live in driving distance to make several trips each fall when different favorite varieties ripen. This was the first trip of the season and our choices this week were Jonathon and Jonagolds. I came home that night and (with a little nudge from DH) baked Apple Crisp. We just happened to have ice cream in the freezer and when the Apple Crisp came out of the oven, we waited for it to cool just long enough not to melt the ice cream! Yes, that was a nano second! The aroma of cinnamon and apples was heavenly! The Apple Crisp perfect! Yes, Fall is HERE!

Here is the recipe for you. When you are choosing apples to cook with, look for those with round bottoms. They are cooking apples. The ones with pointed bottoms are eating apples. I like a crisp apple that will not cook to pieces. The Jonathons were just right.

Apple Crisp
5 or 6 apples, enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13-in pan 2 inches deep, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal (NOT instant)
3/4 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine apples, 1 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon flour and cinnamon in 9x13-inch baking pan. Pour water over mixture. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a fork until mixture becomes crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until topping is lightly browned and crunchy. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.

Self rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder +1/2 teaspoon salt

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

  • I've not posted in a while because I've been running over the mountain and down the road to Atlanta every Thursday for the past 5 weeks.... to the orthopedics doctor for knee injections! 
  • This is a valiant effort to keep me out of the OR for knee replacement for as long as possible. I know that I will face it one day, but not now.  I really appreciate my doctor and her staff  and thank them in cookies ( and homemade marshmallows in winter). 
  • Mama taught me that " you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar"  and I firmly believe it! In this case, it's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. The recipe is "stolen" fair and square from the King Arthur Flour website. They are the BEST source for baking recipes. I've had several disasters with cookie recipes from blogger sites found on Pinterest. I'm back to following sites that I know I can trust! 
  • The original recipe calls for mini peanut butter cups. Since I didn't plan far enough ahead to order from King Arthur, I used Reese's mini peanut butter cups ( already unwrapped) from the candy aisle. If you like/love chocolate and peanut butter, these will be a favorite! I expect the staff will be thrilled!  And I will be happy to celebrate the last injection! 


1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2) In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
3) In another bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
4) Beat in the vanilla, egg, and water, then stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.
5) Stir in the mini peanut butter cups.
6) Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here. Flatten each cookie to about 1/2" thick.
7) Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they're set and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Club Luncheon

Last week was Book Club at my house complete with lunch. The ladies were very appreciative of the meal prepared for them, so I thought you would enjoy the recipes. The rolls are always a bit hit and embarrassingly easy!You know that I hate to even attempt pie crust, but this recipe was a breeze and tastes good, too! Give these recipes a try, maybe not all on the same day as I did (I'm always a glutton for punishment!) but at your leisure.

 Here's the menu:
Southern Honey Chicken Salad ( Good deli chicken salad works, too! )
Fresh Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
Tomato Pie (make it with frozen piecrust or use the recipe following)
Surprise Muffins
Cream Cheese Poundcake with Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream and fresh peach slices

And HERE are the recipes! Enjoy! 
Southern Honey Chicken Salad
4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1  1/2 cups Duke's Light mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chicken, celery, cherries and pecans in a large bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice and mustard in a small bowl. Combine the mixtures. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill. 

* I learned from Ina Garten to bake chicken breasts with skin and bone. Sprinkle  liberally with garlic salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 in an uncovered pan for 20 minutes. Cool and remove met from bone. Discard bones and skin! 

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
1 pound fresh green beans, snapped
2 medium Vidalia onions
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Place green beans and 2 Tablespoons water in microwave proof bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off water and cover beans with ice. Set aside.
Cut onions into thin slices, then in half. Cook onion in nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium and add butter, brown sugar and vinegar. Add green beans and cook for 5 minutes. 

* I cooked the beans and onions and refrigerated them separately a few days ahead. The day of the luncheon I heated them together but served them at room temperature. They  are also good served cold. 

Ina Garten's Perfect Piecrust
1 1/2 sticks very cold butter ( I put mine in the freezer overnight)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup very cold Crisco ( also from the freezer!)
1/2 cup ice water

Cut the butter in 1/2-inch dice and return it to the freezer while you prepare the flour mixture.  Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of ( Cuisinart, Darlene! ) food processor fitted with metal blade and pulse a few times to combine dry ingredients. Add butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.
Dump out onto a floured board and roll into a ball. ( Flatten the ball to form a thick disc.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. ( I made this a day ahead, removed it from refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out.)

Cut dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a shape at least 1-inch larger than the pie pan, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough so that it doesn't stick to the board. ( You should see bits of butter in the dough.) Fold the dough in half, ease it into the pie pan without stretching at all, and unfold to fit the pan. ( This is the critical part! If you stretch it, it will shrink!) With a sharp knife, cut the dough 1-inch larger around than the pan. Fold the edge under and crimp the edge .  Yield:2 pie crusts

* At this point, I put the pie crust in the freezer for about 15 minutes. I pricked it all over with a fork and baked it at 375 for 12-15 minutes . 

Tomato Pie
1 baked (10-inch) deep-dish piecrust ( I used tart pans)
3 ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced ( I used red and yellow tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste ( I used Basil Salt)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup Duke's Light mayonnaise
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese

Fill the cooled, baked piecrust with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Combine mayonnaise and cheese. Spread over tomatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. 

Surprise Rolls ( Surprise! How easy they are! )
2 cups Bisquick
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sour cream
Combine ingredients. Do not overmix! Spoon into greased miniature muffin pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 -12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. 

Here's where you'll find the dessert recipes:
Cream Cheese Poundcake January 9, 2013
Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream August 18, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Peach Ice Cream

Our ice cream maker has been sadly silent this summer. Today I put it to work and it hummed happily churning out a delicious peach ice cream. The South Carolina peaches are from the local market stand and are sweet tart. They are a beautiful color inside and out but not extremely sweet.
The ice cream recipe isn't too sweet either so together they made a lovely crisp, almost sherbert like, ice cream. I've used this same recipe for strawberry ice cream, too. The great thing is it's no cook and  no eggs. Needless to say, it's quick and easy! And yuuuummmyyy!

Now for the surprise ingredient. It is made with buttermilk! Before you squench up your nose and say "ewwwww", let me assure you that had I not told you, you would have probably never guessed it! As a matter of fact, I'm serving it at a luncheon this week and will not reveal until they have tasted. Ok,  if you're reading this and coming to my house, please don't tell! I'll serve Cream Cheese Pound Cake topped with Peach Ice Cream and fresh sliced peaches. Yuuuuuummmmm! I'm betting they love it! And so will you! Give it a try....

Peach Buttermilk Ice Cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups smashed peaches ( I used an immersion blender to puree them)
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups 1/2 and 1/2

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and peaches. Set aside.

Stir buttermilk and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients. Stir in peaches. Pour mixture into tabletop ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer to freezer container, place in freezer and allow flavors to ripen for 2 hours ( if you can wait that long!).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Baked Stuffed Eggplant

This summer has been one filled with strange weather and even stranger garden yields. The tomato crop from a few weeks ago is gone yet eggplants are plentiful and almost football size! We've grilled them ( Grill first simply brushed with olive oil, then pour over marinade while they cool.  They absorb the flavors easier!)  and I've  made a variety of casseroles. I finally dug out this recipe for stuffed eggplant that we loved years ago. It was and is still delicious!

Whether you have a garden abundance or just want to try something new, this recipe is sure to become a long standing favorite.  I made 4 stuffed eggplants and reheated the "planned overs" a few days later in my convection oven. You could freeze them, thaw in the refrigerator and reheat.  Depending on the size of the eggplant, one half can be a serving or you can cut them into smaller sizes. I used small ones and everyone had their own small stuffed half.

Baked Stuffed Eggplant
 2 medium eggplants, each cut in half lengthwise ( about 2 pounds)
2 slices white bread
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1  1/2 cups chopped onion
1  1/2 cups chopped pepper ( I used green. Red or a combination would work also)
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4  cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Score cut half of eggplant by making 4 shallow crosswise cuts. Place the eggplant halves, cut side down, on foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam. Bake for 25 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven, turn eggplant over, and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Remove pulp, leaving a 1/3-inch thick shell; reserve eggplant shells. Chop pulp. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place bread in food processor, pulse about 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 3/4 cup. Drizzle with olive oil and pulse to combine. ( I added fresh basil leaves to the breadcrumbs.)

Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with Pam over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté 3 minutes. Stir in chopped eggplant, chopped pepper, tomato, oregano and garlic, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Stuff each eggplant shell with mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes until  thoroughly heated and lightly browned.