Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!

Good morning!

I wish that you all will have a Happy Thanksgiving and you will take time to enjoy your family/friends.

We will be having our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow due to family medical issues. So, I will still be cooking up a storm in preparation of our big meal.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yummy Pecan Pie

I had never had pecan pie until I moved to the South. My first Thanksgiving here in Louisiana, my Mother in Law made me a pumpkin pie, something they had never eaten, to make me feel at home. It took me a while to warm up to the pecan pie. It was way too sweet, I thought. Who could eat that? But, it was only a matter of time before I was in love with the rich, gooey, sugary goodness that is the classic Pecan Pie. Never had one? Don't think you will like it? Try it, try it and you may.

Pecan Pie

1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup - I use Karo
1/2 cup Dark Corn Syrup - again, Karo
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter/margarine - melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups pecans
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell - regular, not deep dish

Stir together the corn syrups, eggs, sugar, butter/margarine and vanilla. Mix in pecans. Pour into pie crust.

Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool for at least 2 hours to let it finish 'setting up.'

TIP - Do NOT double the batch!!!! I have done this a few times and had dismal results. If you want to bake 2 at once, mix up the ingredients for each pie separately.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fudge Brownies - from scratch and easy

I used boxed brownie mixes for a long time, until I found this recipe for homemade fudge brownies. We like them better than the boxed ones and they are pretty simple to make.

Fudge Brownies

2 sticks melted margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup flour

Melt margarine. Combine margarine and sugar in large bowl with whisk. Add eggs and whisk until fluffy. Add salt, cocoa and vanilla. Stir well. Add flour. Stir until mixture is thick and chocolaty. Turn into a well oiled 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool before cutting.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Chicken and Dumplings

Ok, its confession time. When my husband and I were first married, I didn't know how to cook 'Southern' food. I only knew how to cook what he called 'bland' food. So, I went out and bought some cookbooks. And, I tried to learn some of his favorites from my Mother in Law. I was told several recipes that included lines like, 'just add some flour - however much you think is right,' 'just cook it until you think its done,' and, my personal fave, 'just throw in what looks good to you.' From this precise teaching method, its no wonder my first go round with roast, rice and gravy turned into roast, rice and brown water. And, my first fried chicken looked divine on the outside and bloody as the day it died on the inside.

The cookbooks I bought were called, 'Make it in the Microwave,' '5 Ingredients or Less,' and '30 Minutes or Under.' My husband told one of his friends one day that I never made anything that contained more than 5 ingredients and took less than 30 seconds to whip up in the micro. That was not entirely true, but close. Then, I found some shortcuts and now can make several of his favorites. Today, I will share one. Please don't look down upon me because of the simplicity - sometimes I do make things that are a little more complicated.

Chicken and Dumplings

4-5 pounds of chicken pieces (do NOT use skinless - it will add flavor)
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
1 four pk of Pillsbury Flaky Layers biscuits (they come wrapped in a 4 pk - get the brown ones)
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in large pot and cover with water. Boil until the chicken falls away from the bone. Drain and reserve the cooking water.

When it is cool enough to touch, debone the chicken. Add the chicken meat back into the cooking water. Toss the bones and skin - their job is done.

Turn the burner back on high and stir in the 2 cans of cream of chicken soup. Bring to a boil.

Pick a spot on your counter and coat with flour. Separate the biscuits and roll out in the flour. Cut each biscuit into 8 pieces and drop them into the pot, one at a time. You will have to push the pile under the water during this process. When all of the 'dumplings' are in the pot, turn it down to medium low and let it simmer until all of the dumplings have 'dropped' below the surface and don't float back up.

*PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stir frequently or they will burn on the bottom. Thank you*

Now, turn the heat off and leave the pot alone for at least 30 minutes. The longer they sit, the better they taste. After the time is up, you can season to taste in the pot or let each person season their own bowl. Enjoy.

Be sure to save the leftovers - they are even better the next day.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Rice Recipes for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is officially less than a week away and I think I have a game plan. I have made a list of all the prep work that can be done in advance. The plan is to make all of the desserts, boil the chicken, prepare the 2 rice dishes, make the deviled eggs, set up the veggie tray, and get the dumplings made on Wednesday. That will leave Thursday a little less busy than usual and hopefully I will be able to enjoy the holiday and our guests this year. My Nana hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 20+ people for several years. There is no end to the admiration I have for that woman.

So, in the holiday spirit, I am going to share with you the recipes to the 2 aforementioned rice dishes. They are dishes that I had never had until I moved to the South and they are sure to be on many southern Thanksgiving tables. Oh, and they're delish. Give 'em a shot.

Broccoli Rice Casserole

2 cups cooked rice - make life simple and use Minute Rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb Velveeta
2 packages frozen chopped broccoli
1/4 cup butter/margarine

Cook rice.

Combine soup, Velveeta and butter in large saucepan. Cook until well blended. Mix together broccoli, rice and cheese sauce. Pour into a buttered casserole and bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour uncovered.

Easy Rice Dressing
aka Dirty Rice

1 lb ground chuck - browned
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can French Onion Soup
1 cup uncooked rice
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Mix thoroughly all ingredients together in the order listed above. Place in greased casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. Stir with fork and re-cover. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Happy Cooking,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Shrimp Scampi

If you love shrimp, you must try this. It is super simple and very quick and easy to make.

Shrimp Scampi

1 lb angel hair pasta
4 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 lb small shrimp
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes - optional
1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
parsley - chopped

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain, set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat. Add butter. When the butter is melted, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Add shrimp, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook 2 minutes, flip shrimp over and cook another 2 minutes. Add stock and turn up heat, bringing to a boil. Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Turn down the heat to just a simmer and finish cooking the pasta until tender. This will allow the noodles to soak in some of the sauce while finishing cooking. Remove from heat and top with chopped parsley.

Happy Cooking,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crawfish Galore

Its Wednesday - I'm exhausted. The kiddos were all up VERY late last night and when they finally went to sleep, what did I do? Did I lay down and catch some ZZZZ's myself? No, I did what any overly-tired mother of 3 who is stressed out from all the work I have to do before the in-laws come for Thanksgiving. I read. I read and read and read. It was a really good book, but I stayed up much too late and woke up much too late and had to explain to the office at my daughters' school why she was late. Car trouble, of course.

I had a plan to post a recipe with step by step pics like The Pioneer Woman, but instead you will have to settle for 2 very yummy crawfish recipes that I have made several times. (If you don't like crawfish, or can't find them in your store's freezer section, try these recipes without them - they are still fabulous) I currently have 10 - 12oz. packages in my freezer.

Crawfish Cornbread
(I made this for Thanksgiving last year instead of cornbread dressing and everyone loved it.)

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 can cream style corn
1/4 cup jarred/canned jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tsp baking soda
1 and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound drained crawfish (I use 12oz frozen packages)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray and add the mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until golden brown.

TIP: I buy pot pie sized foil pans at the store and make individual cornbreads. They are always a hit.

Crawfish Corn Chowder
(This would be a wonderfully delicious creamy corn chowder if you want to leave the crawfish out)

1/2 stick butter
1 bunch green onions
8 oz. cream cheese - cut into cubes
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans cream of potato soup
2 cans niblets corn (undrained)
16 oz. 1/2 and 1/2
1 lb crawfish tails

Melt butter in saucepan. Saute onions in butter. Add cream cheese and all 3 cans of soups. Don't dilute the soups! Add both cans of corn and crawfish tails. Mix well. Season with Tony Chacheries, or any other cajun seasoning. Add 1/2 and 1/2. Cook on very low heat, stirring often until thickened.

Again, even if you aren't a fan of crawfish, or can't find it in your local grocery store, please give these a shot. They will not disappoint.

Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Boiling Eggs

My Nana taught me this years ago and it is the best way I have found to boil eggs. They come out perfect every time.

Place eggs in your saucepan/pot. Cover with cold water. Place on stove and turn the burner on high. When the water comes to a rolling bowl, start a timer for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, drain the hot water and place the pan in the sink. Begin running cold water over the eggs to cool. Proceed to peel as normal.

BONUS TIP: If you are making deviled eggs, turn the eggs over in the carton the day before you will boil them and the yolk will be perfectly centered when finished.

Click here for more Kitchen Tips

Monday, November 17, 2008

Orange Julius Copycat Recipe

These were a favorite of mine whenever we went to the mall. I like the strawberry banana ones too, but here is a recipe for the classic. Enjoy!

Copycat Orange Julius

6 oz. can frozen concentrated orange juice
1 cup milk - low fat works fine
1 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar - splenda works too
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ice cubes

Pour all ingredients in a blender - blend until smooth.


LSU vs. Troy

Thank goodness its Monday. Back to routine. I have a ton of housework to do, but I don't wanna do it, so I decided to post.

On Friday, my husband was given 3 tickets to the LSU football game. Madison loves LSU so we asked my sister in law to watch the 2 little ones and off we went.

Here's Madison on our way to the game

It was a 2 hour drive, plus a 2 mile walk to the stadium, but it was all worth it when she got her nachos.

We got there a little early

Here's a view from our seats

see those people way up there? I would never sit there.

see the mascot? That's Mike, the Tiger. Madison loves him.

It was 20 something with the wind chill. I felt very sorry for those girls.

With a lot of bundling, we still froze and left before halftime. (LSU was getting beat, but eventually came back to win) A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My First Product Review: Balls' Blue Book of Preserving

When I moved to the South 9 years ago, I never really thought that it would change me. I mean, I grew up in nowhereville NH and moved to nowhereville LA, how different could it be? Boy, was I wrong. Since then, I have fried gizzards, made cornbread dressing, said 'fixin to,' planted a garden, described sweating as 'puddling,' and have made my own jelly. Now, I'm sure that its not just Southerners who do all of these activities, but never in a million years did I dream that I would. No one I knew had ever done these things.

We were in Walmart the other day looking in my favorite aisle, the kitchen gadgets, when my husband noticed the canning supplies were on clearance. There was a book among the mix. He decided it would help with our canning (which means my canning) so we bought it. I was not prepared for the neverending love I would find for this book.

Balls' Blue Book of Preserving

It has several step-by-step instructional pages.

Like canning tomatoes

freezing corn

dehydrating apples

and even a problem solver page to help with common

canning issues.

(Please forgive the pictures, I am no Pioneer Woman but I am working on it.)

The book is full of recipes and the Amazon reviewers call it the Bible of canning. It is a must have for anyone who wants to can/preserve/freeze/dehydrate/pickle anyfood. This book is great for beginners because it simplifies the processes and has several step by step tutorials. The pictures are beautiful and the recipes are delicious. A must read for all home preservers.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Good morning everyone! Finally, we have the much anticipated part 3 of 'Meet the Fam.'

Today's contestant is our youngest, Lauren.

Sometimes, I like to call her Samurai baby.

She is a very entertaining child. Just look at the faces she makes.


what I mean?

about the faces?

oops, wait...that's not her

there we go...again.

But, she doesn't always want to look like a goof,
so she uses her sisters' make up to make herself 'pitty.'

and, she likes to share...sometimes

and, did I mention, that she is a complete angel?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipe Contest Winner!!!

Good Monday morning everyone!!!

First off, a BIG thank you to all who entered my recipe contest. You have some amazing recipes and I can't wait to try them all. I used to pick a winner and the winner is....


Here is her entry:

'One of my favorite crock pot recipes for this time of year is super simple ~Cut a squash in half, set in the bottom of crock pot, cover with butter and brown sugar, set on LOW overnight. Enjoy for breakfast in the morning.Mmmmm.'

In the near future, look for casserole, Holiday, dessert, etc. recipe contests. They will have fabulous prizes as well.

Thanks again for all the submissions!