Monday, December 27, 2010

It's a Boy !!!!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. It was an exciting time for our family, our early Christmas present came on December 23rd when we found out our new grandbaby is a boy. A Baby Boy, I am so excited. Somehow, I was certain it was a boy all along. I can't wait to go shopping. Just as soon as I can get out of my driveway.................

Can you believe we had a white Christmas? I love it, it created magic on Christmas morning. Even today, it is so beautiful outside, with the sun sparkling on the snow. It makes it difficult to get anything done, I just want to stand at the door and gaze outside into the woods. Our first white Christmas since the year Lacy was born, 1981.

Kids grow up and traditions change over the years but the constant for me has always been Christmas morning. Our family gathers for a mid morning breakfast with my Daddy doing the cooking. Daddy is a great cook and this is something we look forward to all year. No matter how I try my gravy is never as good as Daddy's.
Fluffy biscuits like you wouldn't believe, tender sausage and crispy bacon, breakfast never taste as good anywhere else.

Today has been a tad busy trying to catch up in the house with the laundry and simply putting things back in their place after the rush of the holidays. So, I was looking for something quick and easy for supper tonight. Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins used to be a standby and when I thought about them today I realized I haven't made this recipe in a few years. Give it a try on these cold days between Christmas and New Years. A simple recipe always tastes good after all the rich treats of the last few weeks. It is so easy but still a guaranteed hit with your family.

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins in a Skillet*
Chicken Herb Rice
Green Beans
Parker House Rolls

Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins in a Skillet

4 -boneless - skinless chicken breasts - cut into strips or or 10-12 tenderloins
1 cup Italian dressing
(don't use the fat free here)
2 tsp. lime juice

3 tsp. honey

Place chicken in large zip-lock bag. Combine all other ingredients and pour over. Seal, place bag in a bowl and marinate in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Pour all ingredients into a large skillet and cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and remaining marinade becomes thick and caramelized. Coat each piece of chicken in marinade by rubbing it around on the bottom of the pan before removing it.

So, Until Tomorrow.................,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

.........................., just not with every Christmas card I write. Don't you just love that song?
Truthfully, I am dreaming of a white Christmas, and with good cause this year. It's the Christmas card part that doesn't work for me. For the first time in my entire adult life I did not send out Christmas cards. Earlier in the month I was feeling extremely stressed with tons of things to do so I just decided that was one task I was going to take off the table. Oddly, just making that one small concession helped. Now, of course, all the things that I was stressing about are finally done and I feel sad that I let this holiday tradition slip by. I have resolved not to let this happen again. I am usually excessively organized, lists, lists and more lists, but somehow the holidays got all jumbled up this year. I'm really not sure why.

Now a days Ronnie and I share a very quite Christmas Eve at home. I am working on the menu, which always includes a beef tenderloin. This year I think I am going with a coffee rub recipe that I came across several months ago and filed away for Christmas. Now, I know you have heard me talk about how much Ronnie and I both hate coffee, so perhaps it seems a bit strange to know I am about to use a dry rub containing ground coffee beans on an expensive cut of beef. Truth is, I have had coffee encrusted steaks (actually once it was a rib eye and once it was a pork loin) a couple of times in restaurants and you would never know it was coffee. The taste is a bit hard to describe, but oh sooooo good.
If you haven't decided just what to fix just might want to give this a try.

Coffee Encrusted Beef Tenderloin

One 2-pound beef tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver skin


1/4 cup finely ground coffee beans

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. paprika

2 tsp. sage,

1 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 Onion - Quartered

Remove meat from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Fold over thin end of meat and tie with string.

In a small bowl, combine spice rub ingredients. Rub meat generously with the spice mixture. Let meat stand for 15 minutes and repeat rub.

Place meat on a rack in a roasting pan; arrange quartered onions around meat. Do not cover. Place in oven. Turn oven down to 400 degrees F. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until internal temperature of roast is 130 degrees F for rare to 145 degrees F for medium. Remove from oven; let meat rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Serve with Coffee Gravy.

2 cups beef stock

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. instant coffee

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. seasoned salt

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup water

3 Tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine broth, Worcestershire sauce, coffee , dried thyme and seasoned salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer.In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in the water and whisk until smooth. Stir into broth mixture. Cook until gravy has thickened. Cut butter in small pieces and stir in. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

So, Until Tomorrow..............


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Drum Roll Please

Thanksgiving is the best day of the year, and Thanksgiving 2010 was no exception.

Our family has much to be thankful for everyday of the year, but Thanksgiving day brought fantastic news..............., Ronnie and I are going to be grandparents!!!!! Actually, we have known since October 15th, but have been sworn to secrecy so Lacy and Bashar could share their news with the family before Thanksgiving supper. We are so excited, a summer baby! I love summer birthdays. June seems so far away now but I know the time will fly as we start shopping and planning for baby Massarani.

Sugar and spice and everything nice or hammers and nails and puppy dog tails, makes no difference to us. We are grandparents and babies smell so good!!

So, Until Tomorrow.......,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving !!!!

Just popping in for a second to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

I have been busy running the Thanksgiving gauntlet all week but I promise to be back next week with some great new recipes and some wonderful news!!

Be safe, be happy and most of all be thankful.

So, Until Tomorrow...........,

Monday, November 15, 2010

While We Are Cheating..........

Since I went ahead and put it out there for all ya'll to see that I used fish sticks in a recipe, I thought I just might as well go all the way out there and give you one of my favorite "cake mix" cakes. To my Mother it was a sin right up there with having a Coke with your meal to use a cake mix, and truthfully I rarely use one, but this recipe is the exception.

Thought this might come in handy what with the holidays coming up and all...........

Southern Pecan Praline Cake

1 - pkg. Betty Crocker Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 container ready to spread coconut pecan frosting
4 eggs
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease and flour a 10 tube or Bundt cake pan.
Combine cake mix, frosting, eggs, oil, water and 1/2 cup pecans in mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup pecan in the cake pan. Pour batter evenly over pecans.
Bake 55 minutes or until cake tastes done.

Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

So, Until Tomorrow.........

Monday Night Fish Tacos

Supper tonight was one of those super easy meals that makes it okay to cheat sometimes. By cheating I mean, a recipe where you can use the forever made fun of fish sticks. Yep, I said frozen fish sticks.I would say cheap fish sticks but amazingly the fish sticks cost more than the chuck roast I bought for tomorrow night. Now to be perfectly honest, they have changed a bit from the mystery fish that we had in the school cafeteria in the 60's and 70's. The Mrs. Paul's that I buy are actually good, made from whole flounder fillets.
That said, the crowning glory to this humble little taco is the cilantro cole slaw. I am told that there is a small segment of the population somewhere that does not like cilantro, I don't know any of those people so I go a little heavy handed on the it because we love the flavor. To me it is a clean, herby, fresh taste, to those that hate it I hear it tastes like dish soap. So, on the off chance that you don't eat cilantro, feel free to leave it out or even substitute parsley.

For dessert I am playing around with the sacred pumpkin pie. I saw this Pumpkin Rum Pie last year and wanted to try it but time got away from me so I am getting an early start this year. The tablespoon of rum seems like a complimentary ingredient. At least it makes it interesting enough for me to give it a try. Even if this is the most wonderful pumpkin pie we have ever tasted I will of course make the traditional Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe on Thanksgiving Day. I think it is some kind of a law or something..........

Easy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cole Slaw*

Baked Tortilla Chips



Roasted and Salted Sweet Potatoes Rounds w/ Garlic

Pumpkin Rum Pie*

Easy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cole Slaw

4 package frozen crispy fish sticks

1 package - 8-inch flour tortillas

1 bag cole slaw mix

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (or more)

1 green onion, diced (green part too)

1 tsp. chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)

1 Tbsp. mayonnaise or sour cream

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper, to taste

Bake fish sticks according to package directions.Wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and place them in the oven to heat.Or heat them in the microwave by package directions.

In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage mix (I chop mine up a bit finer with a round cutter) with all the remaining ingredients. Place about 3-4 fish sticks into a hot tortilla and top with with lots of cole slaw.

We usually add more finely chopped onions and a dab of sour cream mixed with a tiny bit of taco sauce on top.

Pumpkin Rum Pie

3 large eggs

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup Karo corn syrup

1-1/2 cup heavy cream (try not to substitute)

1-1/2 cup canned pumpkin (1 - 15-ounce can)

1 Tbsp. dark rum (optional)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 - prepared pie crust

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place crust in pan and prick with fork.

Bake pie shell about 8 minutes or until very, very lightly browned. Allow to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Whisk the eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the Karo syrup. Stir in the heavy cream, pumpkin and rum. Add the salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pie shell. Bake until the filling is set, 50-60 minutes.

Makes 1 - 9-inch deep dish pie.

So, Until Tomorrow..........


Friday, November 12, 2010

Candied Yams for Toni

In response to Toni's comment about candied yams, I am probably the wrong person to answer but, of course that never stops me. Sorry..........

I remember my great grandmother used to make candied sweet potatoes in an iron skillet by slicing the sweet potatoes and layering with white sugar. I think they cooked for quite a while on the stove top with her adding a little bit of water along. I wish I remembered more about this because I really liked them fixed this way when I was small.

I am not a big fan of the yams topped with marshmallows. If I have marshmallows I want them in s'mores or hot chocolate. Baked sweet potatoes with a dab of butter and some cinnamon sugar are a common dessert at our house, but sweet potatoes or yams do not appear on our Thanksgiving table.

A few months back I saved this recipe thinking to make it this fall, maybe this weekend I will.

Sweet Potatoes Praline

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 medium yams cooked, peeled and quartered

Place sugar, cream, butter, pecans, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in heavy saucepan. Stir over low heat until ingredients are blended and thick and syrupy. Pour over hot yams in serving dish.

So, Until Tomorrow.........

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Anyone ?

Have you finalized your Thanksgiving menu yet? I have, but really, it pretty much stays the same year after year. I sometimes vary the recipe for the turkey a bit and no one seems to mind. Last year I brined the bird and I was positively thrilled with the results, so I am most definitely repeating that process. It is not overly time consuming, but simply a matter of planning ahead. The brine last year was very simple with not a lot going on flavor wise, it just produced the moistest turkey I have ever roasted. This year I am changing the recipe up, looking for more flavor, and plan to use Alton Brown's brining solution. I have read rave reviews and can't wait to taste the turkey. The only change I plan to make is to use half butter and half canola oil to coat the turkey and perhaps sprinkle with some rosemary.

I wanted to get ahead of the game and post the recipe so you would have plenty of time to plan, should you choose to brine. I can promise you will not go back once you step over. The results are amazing.

Oh, oh, oh, I almost forgot to add. The Williams Sonoma brining bags are a life saver here. They take up far less room in the refrigerator than a bucket and I think they are easier to handle.

Good Eats Roast Turkey


1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar - packed
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics

* 1 red apple, sliced
* 1/2 onion, sliced
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 cup water
* 4 sprigs rosemary
* 6 leaves sage
* Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

The night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

So, Until Tomorrow.........,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frozen Pizza for Supper

Where has the extra hour gone? Guess we slept it away. We had a few errands to run and a couple of Netflixs (I love The Closer) to catch up on and bam, Sunday has disappeared. I say that as an excuse to say supper tonight was Totino's cheese pizzas. Should I be embarrassed to admit that? Not in the least. Totino's are the only frozen pizzas I eat and they are cheap too. I really don't even dress them up, simply add a few chopped onions and a sprinkle of pepper and call it supper. Ronnie likes to add pickled banana peppers to his at the table.

I did manage to add a fresh apple crisp to the menu. All the beautiful apples in the grocery store called out to me. We like a crisp that doesn't have oatmeal best. Certainly you could sub oats for part of the flour in the recipe and make it a tad healthier to boot. Need I even mention that a scoop of cinnamon or vanilla ice cream on top would be perfect? And/or a drizzle of caramel sauce?

Autumn Apple Crisp

6 medium size apples (I used Galas)

2 Tbsp. lemon juice (bottled is fine)
1 1/2 cup cold water

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Combine lemon juice and and water in a mixing bowl. Peel and dice apples into the lemon water mixture. Drain well and place apples in a 9 inch deep dish pie plate that has been sprayed with pan release or buttered.
Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt well in a medium size mixing bowl. Add vanilla and melted butter. Stir until crumbly. Spread topping evenly over apples.
Bake at 375 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

So, Until Tomorrow................,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Soup Time

It is chilly outside, a beautiful sunshiny day, but oh so chilly. Cold weather always has me looking through my folders for soup recipes.
As much as I like to eat out, I love to come home from work on a cold night and know that I am in for the night. Change into my play clothes and relax for the very first time that day.
S0, Friday I planned soup for supper with the cold weather in mind. French Onion is Ronnie's favorite soup but time did not allow so I made the next best thing, Creamy Onion Soup. Roast beef, avocado and provolone on Everything Thins rounded out this early November supper.

Creamy Onion Soup

3 medium sweet onions
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

4 cups chicken stock (Kitchen Basics)
1 cup vegetable stock

2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. cold milk
1 packet Lipton Cream of Chicken Soup mix

11/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
4 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan
1 tsp. season salt (I like Morton's Natures Seasoning)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Slice onions very thin. Melt butter in a 4 quart stock pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Add chicken stock and vegetable stock. Simmer 15 minutes. Mix cornstarch and milk until smooth. Add to onions and stock. Sprinkle in cream of chicken soup mix. Stir until smooth. Return to boil and cook 2 minutes or until soup begins to thicken.
Add heavy cream and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses until they are melted and the soup is smooth. Add season salt, nutmeg and cayenne. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with Parmesan crisps or Better Cheddar crackers.

So, Until Tomorrow............,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Email Presents

Opening my email is like opening Christmas presents. I love surprises. Today I received a cute one.

1. Aspire to be Barbie - that bitch has everything.

2. If the shoe fits - buy a pair in every color.

3. Take life with a pinch of salt... A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

4. In need of a support group? - Cocktail hour with the girls!

5. Go on the 30 day diet. (I'm on it and so far I've lost 15 days).

6. When life gets you down - just put on your big girl panties and deal with it.

7. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is truly your personality.

8. I know I'm in my own little world, but it's okay. They know me here.

9. Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.

10. Don't get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.

11. When life gives you lemons - buy some Coronas. ( I thought it was limes but what do I know)

12. Forget about the perfect man - he's living in San Fran with his boyfriend.

13. Keep your chin up, only the first 40 years of parenthood are the hardest.

14. If it has tires or testicles it's gonna give you trouble.

15. By the time a women realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she's wrong.

'Good friends are like stars... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there'

'Remember yesterday, dream about tomorrow, but live for today'.

So, Until Tomorrow..............,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The View From My Kitchen Window

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Yesterday was golden. I was off from work so when I woke up and walked into the kitchen the sun was shining through the leaves of the maple, beech and sourwood trees that cover the hillside out my kitchen window. In years past we have had more red in the fall foliage, but this year has brought mostly gold. The windy days sadly tossed most of the leaves down before they could put on their annual color show. Days like this remind me to be thankful for the scraps of warm weather we have left. I fear this weekend might be the last of the Indian summer days that temper us into the much cooler days of fall.
Cooler nights have me in the mood for comfort food so I took my inspiration from TV....

While I was watching Food Network the other night I saw Bobby Flay challenge Paula Deen to a Country Fried Steak throw down. Watching this had me craving this southern comfort food with a vengeance. I usually make country style steak slow simmered several hours in a brown gravy with onions to make it fork tender, but I grew up on my Daddy's more traditional country fried steak and gravy. So yesterday I stopped at the Ingles and picked up a package of cubed round steaks for supper. I experimented a bit as I went along but over all I was very pleased with this Friday night supper. I'm not sure what the difference is in country style steak or chicken fried steak but I have decided I like the sound chicken fried steak best. Maybe I have listened to too much Zac Brown.
Oh, oh, oh, I almost forgot to tell you........, most things work out in the end, Paula won the throw down. As much as I love Bobby, ain't no way a Yankee can beat a Georgia girl in a country fried steak competition!!

Chicken Fried Steak with White Thyme Gravy*
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Corn Custard
Cream Potatoes

Chicken Fried Steak with White Thyme Gravy

3 - cubed round steaks
seasoned salt ( I like Morton's Nature's Seasons better than Lawry's)
1-1/2 all purpose flour
1 tsp. pepper

1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs - beaten

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 Tbsp. instant chicken bouillon
2 cups whole milk or half and half (or more, if needed)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Bring steaks out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. Place a cooking rack on a 1/2 sheet pan and set aside for steaks.
Measure flour and pepper into a glass pie pan. Stir to combine.
Combine 1 cup buttermilk and two eggs in a second glass pie pan.
Sprinkle steaks on both sides with season salt.
Dredge in peppered flour and then dip in the buttermilk and egg mixture and back in the peppered flour.
Place on the rack that your have prepared and continue until all steaks are well coated.

In a large skillet heat 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil over medium high heat until the handle of a wooden spoon sizzles when placed in oil. Add steaks to hot oil and reduce temp to medium. Brown steaks on both sides, 4-5 minutes per side and return to cooling rack. Place in warm oven while you make gravy.

Pour away all but 4 Tbsp. of the cooking oil, being sure to keep the browned flour bits in the bottom of the skillet.
Sprinkle 4 tablespoons flour (use the left-over flour from dredging process) and 2 Tbsp. instant chicken bouillon in the hot oil. Stir with a wooden spoon, quickly, to cook the flour a bit. Once you have a smooth paste gradually stir in 2 cups milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add dried thyme, garlic powder and onion powder. Lower heat, and the gravy will thicken. Continue cooking and stirring a few minutes until gravy reaches desired thickness. Check seasonings and add more salt and pepper according to your taste.

So, Until Tomorrow.................,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Did I Not Know?

Why didn't someone tell me? Must I be the last to know everything?

Lacy and Bashar were home for a few hours last weekend and they just happened to mention that a friend of theirs eats frozen waffles with peanut butter and maple syrup. Hummmmmmm.
Now, that sounded interesting, especially to a peanut butter lover like me. So, I had to start experimenting. First I tried the peanut butter and maple syrup. Admittedly, it was really good. Then I tried peanut butter and jelly. We were really on to something here. That peanut butter melts down into the squares and it is heaven on a waffle! Next we tried Nutella and of course, it was wonderful. Then again, Nutella on cardboard would be wonderful.

That brings us to today, Wednesday. As you know I don't cook supper on Wednesday, so I was looking for a quick snack. Back to the frozen waffles. Tonight's rendition was pumpkin and marshmallow cream with cinnamon. Oh my goodness..........................., you have got to try it.
The possibilities are endless, cooked apples and caramel sauce, bananas and peanut butter, peanut butter and chocolate syrup, coconut cream pudding and pineapple................., you get the picture!

So, now I know the secret to a fun snack and so do you.

How do you eat your waffles?

So, Until Tomorrow.................,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Perfect Day in WNC

Today was one of those perfect Western North Carolina days. Beautiful sunshine sparkling through the red and gold leaves. I am one of those fortunate few in the Grove Park Inn that has an office with a window. I ate lunch at my desk today and couldn't help but stare out at the orange leaves on the huge maple outside. The beauty only lasts a few days and then it disappears into colder weather and my wish for snow.

I had planned to make beef stroganoff over noodles tonight but just wasn't in the mood for a dish that I associate with cooler days, so I changed gears and made a quick supper. Something easy so we can plop down on the couch and watch an episode of the new Hawaii 5-0 that we have on the DVR.

Monte Christo Sandwiches* w/ chips and pickles
French Onion Soup au Gratin

Monte Christo Sandwiches

1 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I love Kraft light)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
4 slices sandwich bread (your choice, I used white wheat)
2 slices cooked turkey
2 slices cooked ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. half and half
½ cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
Unsalted butter

Combine mayonnaise and mustard, spread lightly on one side of each bread slice.

Place one slice each of turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese on top of 2 bread slices. Top with remaining bread. Cut each sandwich in half diagonally.

Beat eggs; add sour cream and half and half, whisk well.

Dip sandwich halves in batter; coat with breadcrumbs. Carefully lower sandwich halves, one at a time, into pan that butter has been melted in over medium heat cook until golden brown, turning only once. Drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately.

Fix a quick supper and enjoy everyone of these glorious days, they will be gone way too soon!!

So, Until Tomorrow.................,

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Apple Time

Apples and fall go hand in hand. Apple pie, apple turnovers, fried apple pies, cooked apples with pork tenderloin and of course, apple dumplings. Did you know that there are over 7500 varieties of apples and that apples are grown in all 50 states?

I was caught in traffic on Old Fort mountain last week for 3+ hours (overturned transfer truck) and a gentleman in one of the cars in front of me got out and rummaged through his back seat and came up with beautiful red apple. Wow, did that ever look good! Made me long to be the overly prepared person that keeps a snack in the car, just in case.

Anyway........................, I love cooking with apples. My mother in law used to bake apples by coring them and putting butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in the center. So simple and so good. This is a recipe I found a couple of years ago and almost didn't try because I hate Mountain Dew. I could have missed out on a great simple dessert. Hope you enjoy!

Autumn Apple Dumplings
2 large apples, peeled and cored ( I used 3 smaller Galas to equal 16 wedges)
2 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 cup butter
1 - 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I only used 1 cup as my apples were sweet)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
12 oz. (1 1/2 cup) Mountain Dew

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 or 9x12 inch baking dish with Pam.
Cut each apple in 8 wedges. Separate crescent rolls in triangles. Roll each apple wedge in a triangle, starting at the smallest end. Pinch edges to seal. Place in a baking dish. Melt butter in a small sauce pan, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to dissolve sugar. Pour butter mixture and Mountain Dew over apple dumplings. Bake 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.
**Original recipe calls for Granny Smith Apples**

So, Until Tomorrow...........

Monday, October 11, 2010

Only 45 Days til Thanksgiving

Nothing really exciting going on around the kitchen the last few days. On Friday, I took a rare sick day and the weekend was a bit slow for me. Feeling mostly better today but still looking for a simple, get out of the kitchen quick supper, so Taco Salad with Avocados it is. It doesn't hurt that it is one of Ronnie's favorites either.

Am I the only one that is getting excited this early about the holidays. You know my affinity for Thanksgiving, it truly is my favorite, but mostly because I have all my family around me for this one special day of the year. The menu changes very little from year to year, if I even think about making even a minor change some certain un-named family members start to come unglued. One faithful Thanksgiving I swirled maple syrup on the top of our traditional pumpkin pies and you would have thought I single handedly ruined the entire holiday. Being the daring type (yeah, right), I want to throw in something a tad different this year. Maybe, bacon roasted Brussels sprouts, or a carrot souffle, even a really good cranberry salad, since I have never been pleased with one I have made so far.

Share your 2010 Thanksgiving ideas with us. I will be posting our menu later once I run it past the voting majority!

So, Until Tomorrow.........,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Week of Fall Firsts

The first week of fall has brought our first pot of chili and our first roast of the season. Additionally, we had a supper to celebrate Octoberfest.

I wanted to celebrate the 1st day of October with a meal reflecting the upcoming season. A trip to the Fresh Market rendered some store made asiago mushroom chicken sausages so I was well on my way. My friend, Michael, who was shopping with me, even scored some pumpkin whoopie pies! I did just barely manage to pass on the whole whoopie pie thing since I had made pumpkin bread earlier this week.

Octoberfest Supper

10 baby red potatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 carrots - peeled and sliced
1 large onion - quartered
1 red pepper - cut into rings
1 lb. sausages (your choice)
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Cool red potatoes in salted vegetable stock 10 minutes. Add carrots, onion and red pepper and cook an additional 10 minutes. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Using a large spoon place vegetables in skillet. Drop sausages in the vegetable stock you cooked the vegetables in. Cook the sausages in the stock 5 minutes. Remove from saucepan and add to the skillet with the vegetables. Cook over medium high heat until vegetables and sausages are browned and caramelized.
Add additional salt, if needed, pepper, parsley and rosemary.

We served this with pretzel rolls and mustard butter.

So, Until Tomorrow...............,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Pumpkin Time

Pumpkins.............., probably the best thing about fall!
I love to decorate with them, I love to cook with them, I love to see them out in the landscape.

Tonight I was cooking pumpkin. This rainy cool day was the perfect evening to make pumpkin bread. It's Wednesday so the guys are downstairs in the studio working and I knew they would appreciate some warm pumpkin bread with a vanilla spice glaze.
My pumpkin bread is similar to almost every other one you find on the internet. I have made many variations over the years but I have settled on this very simple recipe that has come together from several different sources.

I like it warm from the oven or lightly spread with butter and toasted for breakfast. A slice of pumpkin bread and a mug of hot tea does you good on these cool fall nights, or mornings if you are so inclined.

Pumpkin Bread w/ Vanilla Spice Glaze

2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar - packed
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground clove

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter - melted
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin (I only use Libby's - some store brands contain water)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar and spices in a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl whisk melted butter, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until well combined, being careful to not overmix.

Divide batter between two loaf pans that have been prepared with soft butter and flour.
Bake at 350 approximately 50 minutes or until bread test done with a cake tester.
Remove from oven and cool in pans 10 minutes. Turn out on a wire rack.

Vanilla Spice Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
pinch of salt

Stir until smooth and drizzle over slightly warm pumpkin bread.

So, Until Tomorrow.........

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Night Salmon

This afternoon as I was deciding what to have for supper on this gorgeous early fall day, I remembered a salmon that I had on a cruise many years ago. It was a maple glazed salmon. In the years since I have made several different maple glazed salmon dishes that were good but still not quite what I had remembered. While watching Food Network this week I saw Anne Burrell making a chicken dish with a maple glaze, I noticed that she reduced her maple syrup. It was a light bulb moment. I knew that was the reason my maple glaze seemed thin and watery. So, tonight I recreated the recipe and it was on target, finally.

This time of year I am insistent on enjoying supper on the deck every possible evening. I know these times are slipping away and I don't want to miss any opportunity. So this late September Friday supper looked like this; can you tell I didn't work today?

Union Square Bar Nuts
Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar
Toasted Pita Triangles with Smoked Salt and Pepper
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Chile)

Maple Glazed Grilled Salmon*
Romaine Lettuce Salad
Pesto Creamed Potatoes
Roasted Squash and Onions
Zenato Pinot Grigio 2008 (Italy)

Impossible Heath Bar Cheesecake*

Maple Glazed Salmon

2 medium salmon fillets
1- 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. minced garlic

Place maple syrup in a sauce pan and reduce over medium high heat to 3/4 cup.
Add soy sauce, pepper and garlic and continue to cook 1 minute. Let cool slightly, place fillets in glass skin side down and pour syrup mixture over top, reserving 1/4 cup for basting. Marinate in refrigerator as long as possible, overnight is great, but make sure you get at least 30 minutes. It will get a little sticky, but that is ok. Remove from refrigerate and let sit 30 minutes. Place on hot grill, skin side down, that has been well oiled (this is important) and baste with reserved maple syrup. Cook 6-10 minutes depending on thickness of fillets.
Remove from grill and baste once again.

Ronnie loves cheesecake and I love Heath Bars so I found this recipe several years ago in a magazine, don't remember which one as I just have the clipping. It is simple and sooooo good.
The recipe will remind you of the Impossible Coconut Pie that your Mother made back when Bisquick was a new product!

Impossible Heath Bar Cheesecake

1/4 cup half and half
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Original Bisquick
2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese - softened and cut in squares
4 Heath bars - crushed

In food processor crush Heath bars and set aside.

Combine half and half, vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, Bisquick and cream cheese. Pulse 1 minute or until well combined. Add crushed Heath bars and pulse a couple of times to combine. Pour into a deep pie dish plate sprayed with Pam.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 325. The center should not be set, it will continue to cook after you remove from the oven.

So, Until Tomorrow............,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Craving Pimento Cheese

Today has been busy, busy. My day off got an early start when Ronnie accidentally set off the alarm at 5:15 am. Have I mentioned lately that I am not a morning person? Not the way I planned to start my day. I had visions of orange juice in bed with at least an hour with my book and then maybe, just maybe, another quick little nap. Finally, leisurely rising around 10:00 am.
Yeah, that really was a dream, wasn't it?

A couple a weeks ago I managed to break my glasses, (long story), so I spent a good part of today taking care of getting new ones; with a tad of clothes shopping thrown in for good measure. This threw me later getting home than I would have liked so we decided to grab a bite at the Harvest. The Harvest is a Marion institution. It's the kind of place we all flocked to in high school. The menu is exactly what you expect; double barrel burgers, hot dogs, chipped ham sandwiches, BBQ, clubs, spaghetti, onion rings and the best hushpuppies in town. The best part is you sit in a booth and order via telephone, way too cool!

As I was deciding what to have at the Harvest I had a crazy craving for a pimento cheese sandwich. Not one from any restaurant, but good old homemade pimento cheese. Being Southern to the core, I, of course, have my own recipe, so do you, I am certain, so please, please, share with us. You can't ever have too many pimento cheese recipes. Nothing in the grocery store touches homemade. Our pimento cheese is more creamy, but you can make it with grated sharp cheddar (don't use the pre-grated in a bag), and you will have more texture. Either is really good, but I prefer the creamy style.

So, a quick trip to Ingle's is on my agenda for tomorrow for sure.

Southern Pimento Cheese

3 oz. whipped cream cheese - softened
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt - or to taste
dash cayenne pepper - or to taste
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup mayonnaise (for me, it is always Kraft Light )
8 oz. Velveeta cheese - cubed
2 oz jar pimentos - well drained

Process in food processor with the steel blade, softened cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, cayenne, sugar, mayonnaise and Velveeta until creamy. Stir in pimentos by hand. Scrap into a glass dish (never use plastic here) and cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours. Indulge........

Note: I use my food processor to mix the ingredients but a mixer would just work as well.

Enjoy on toasted white bread with lettuce, grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich, on baked potatoes, on hamburgers, a dollop on top of tomato soup, on crackers, or just by the spoonful.

So, Until Tomorrow............