"Growing up Southern is a privilege, really. It's more than where you're born - it's an idea, a state of mind that seems imparted at birth. It's more than loving fried chicken, sweet tea, high school football, country music, and acoustic guitars. It's being hospitable, being devoted to front porches, magnolias, the good Lord, and each other. We don't become Southern - we're born that way."

12.29.2010

Canine Cordon Bleu

For Christmas, I decided to make treats for my dogs. I was going to make the Puppy Cookies that I've posted here before, except that I had bought a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter so I wanted to roll them out.
I picked up the baby food at the grocery store, just grabbing the first few meats that I saw, and when I got home I noticed that I'd gotten chicken & ham. Which made me think of Chicken Cordon Bleu. Which gave me an idea.
So I modified the recipe below by adding whole wheat flour. I added it by the tablespoon until it the dough was thick enough to roll out. I think I ended up with 7 tablespoons. Then I floured my cutting board and cut out the cookies.
I baked them for about 10 minutes; for my dogs I have to be careful that they don't get hard.
THEN....then I took out some slices of swiss cheese and cut them out with the cookie cutters. I placed them on top of the cookies and put them back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.
Viola! Canine Cordon Bleu!
The dogs loved it, but of course they love practically any & everything.





I had so much fun with these things! Here's the basic recipe.

Puppy Cookies
3 small jars of baby food, chicken or beef flavor (or ham!)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup dry milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and drop with a tablespoon onto a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.


12.16.2010

Sausage & Rice Casserole

I used to make this dish more often, but for some reason, I hadn't made it in years. John doesn't remember ever having it, nor do the younger kids. So when I made it this week, the whole family fell in love, and Elayna requested this as her birthday dish next month!
It's easy and delicious!
It contains the Holy Trinity of Southern Cooking - bell peppers, onions, and celery. So you know it's gonna be good.


Sausage & Rice Casserole

2 lbs. ground sausage (mild or spicy)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups rice
2 cups water
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used the kind that contains roasted garlic too)
1 can french onion soup

Brown sausage, celery, onion, and bell pepper in a large sauce pan. Drain grease. In a medium bowl, mix soups, water, and (uncooked) rice until smooth. Add sausage mixture. Pour into a large, lightly greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for one hour, stirring halfway through.

It's off the chain!


12.14.2010

Mama's Meatloaf

Mmm, meatloaf. One of those comfort foods that's especially good in the winter.

Growing up, our meatloaf was very plain. Meat, salt & pepper, and ketchup.
I hated it.

But my ex-husband's late mother shared a secret with me. (when she was still alive and we were still married, of course.) She told me that she put pineapple in her meatloaf.
And I nearly gagged. But then I tried her meatloaf, and it was delicious.
And she was not even Southern! She was from Michigan, for crying out loud. But she sure could cook some meatloaf.

So I started experimenting and came up with a meatloaf recipe that I love. The problem is that I don't measure anything, so I'm going to estimate amounts, and you can play with them and make it the way you like it!

Mama's Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 packet of French's Meatloaf Seasoning
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1/2 cup ketchup
1 small can of crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Yes, it's yucky, but that's just the way you have to do it! Squish it all together, then put it in a 9x13 casserole dish and shape it into a meatloaf shape. I always squirt some ketchup on top in a swirly pattern, too. Then bake for 30-45 minutes, making sure it's done in the center.
It's off the chain!

You just have to make mashed potatoes with this. I recommend Pioneer Woman's recipe.


12.06.2010

Saltine Cracker Candy


My sister-in-law made this candy last year at Christmas time and sent some home with my parents, who gave some to me. Lucky me! My sister-in-law is a great cook, and one of my cooking inspirations. Many of my recipes come from her kitchen.

A Facebook friend told me they call this stuff Christmas Crack, so that's what we're calling it now.

I took some of this candy to work last year and it was gone before I could even turn around! This stuff is delicious, easy, and totally addictive. It's that wonderful combination of salty and sweet.
It's great to throw in a tin and give as a Christmas gift!


Saltine Cracker Candy

1 stack of saltine crackers
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 (12 oz) pkg Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (completely cover it) and spray with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with crackers.

In a medium saucepan, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over crackers, spreading out as best as you can. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle top of hot crackers with chips and chopped pecans. Cover with wax paper, pressing firmly with oven mitt to insure pecans “stick”. Place cookie sheet in freezer (might want to put towels underneath pan, since it will still be very warm) until “set” (about an hour). Once ready, peel of wax paper and foil and break apart. Store in a container in the refrigerator.



12.05.2010

Apple Dumplings

Last night, while we were decorating our Christmas tree, I had Apple Dumplings baking in the oven.

I got the recipe from Mrs 4444s, who got it from The Pioneer Woman's cooking blog.
They were Off.The.Chain! And ridiculously easy.

You gotta try 'em!

I did two things differently; I used Golden Delicious apples because that's what I had on hand, and instead of white sugar I used brown sugar. I didn't have much white sugar on hand and we were out of sweet tea. And hello, this is Southern Loving food blog. Tea is a must around here!

They came out fabulous!

I have pics, but I will add them later, because right now blogger is ticking me off.
The recipe is Pioneer Woman's.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1-½ cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • Cinnamon, To Taste
  • 1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.


11.29.2010

Little Old Me???

I received an email informing me that I have been honored by a website called Online Cooking Schools. I am listed as a Top Southern Style American Cuisine Blog.

I am on a list with such blogs as A Southern Fairy Tale and Deep South Dish, two of my favorite food blogs, among many other amazing food bloggers! I was so surprised to see my little old blog's name on that list!



Thank you for the honor!

11.24.2010

"Turkey" Day

I'm doing nearly all of my cooking tonight, and I'm wondering....what's cooking in your kitchen this Thanksgiving Holiday?

We are having Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws this year, and they've decided to have ham instead of turkey. I'm not a huge turkey lover so that's ok with me.

Ever since the first holiday meal I had with my in-laws, I learned to bring several dishes to supplement the dinner that they cook.

I am, obviously, from the South.

They are from England. The food is different, and so is the quantity.

The first time I had a holiday meal with them, I looked around and literally thought, "where's the rest of the food?" It just looked like any ordinary dinner for a small family. The food was okay....some of it anyway (ok, the mashed parsnips were freaking nauseating). But I was glad we were going to my parents' afterward! I couldn't wait to dig in to the real food! I don't know how John survived all these years without me; the man LOVES food.

Anyway, this year I am bringing:

chicken & dumplings
peanut butter cookies
w/ hershey kisses on top
mashed potatoes & gravy (John's request, I don't think it really 'goes' with ham, but whatever)
Fordhook lima beans
deviled eggs
sweet tea
and our
traditional turkey bread that I get from Publix every year. We may not have turkey, but we will have turkey bread!!

And Shelbie is making
Monkey Bread.

So, I'm making sure our Thanksgiving Dinner is Off the Chain!
Hope yours is too.....what's cooking at your house?

11.23.2010

Monkey Bread

I mentioned on my main blog, Putting the Fun in DysFUNctional, that my daughter Shelbie made Monkey Bread for our church potluck lunch this past Sunday.
My friend Unknown Mami was alarmed, and said she refused to eat bread made with monkeys!
To which I replied, Don't knock it till ya try it!
So I thought I'd share the recipe here on my regretfully neglected food blog.
{I'm on a mission to get all of my blogs going strong again!}

Now I promise, no monkeys are harmed in the making of this monkey bread. In fact, I have no earthly idea how they came up with the name Monkey Bread, but who am I to question?
I first learned about monkey bread from my late-ex-MIL. That is, my ex-husband's late mother. She used to make it for her kids, and she passed the instructions on to me. I haven't made it in ages, but they make it at the ex's house often, and my teenage daughter has learned how to make it. The recipe is actually on the back of the Pillsbury biscuit package, and that's the one I'm going to share here, because we don't really use a recipe.

Monkey Bread

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cans refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
3/4 cup LIGHT brown sugar

NOTE: The recipe calls for this to be made in a Bundt cake pan. However, I don't have one and have never made it that way. We just bake them on cookie sheets individually (not piled up). This also reduces the cook time a lot, you just bake them for about 10 minutes like you would bake biscuits normally.

1. Grease or spray 12 cup Bundt cake pan (or cookie sheets).
2. Mix sugar & cinnamon in 1-gallon bag. Cut each biscuit into quarters. Shake quarters in bag to coat; place in pan. Mix butter & brown sugar; pour over biscuit pieces (we just spoon it over them).
3. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes (if using Bundt pan); 10 minutes if using cookie sheets, or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. If using Bundt pan, turn upside down. Cookie sheets, just remove with a spatula & pile them up on a plate.

Serve warm. It's great for breakfast or a dessert. YUM!

9.12.2010

Southwestern Pasta

I snagged this recipe from One Starry Night last week (one of the most beautiful blogs in the blogosphere, truly). I made it for dinner tonight. As promised, it was easy and delicious!
I did add chicken since it was our main dish, however it will definitely be a new Meatless Monday dish as well! I also eliminated avocado because I no likee. It's a nice flexible recipe, you can alter it to your tastes.
Its rating: Off the Chain!

Southwestern Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, large dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, large dice
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (15oz generally)
  • 3 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 bag of frozen corn (1lb)
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, (28oz)
  • 1 box of dried penne (1lb)
  • 1 block of sharp cheddar cheese (8oz, eliminate this to make the dish vegan!), cubed
  • 4 limes
  • 1 TBSP oil (I personally use olive but vegetable is fine)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Start by boiling the water for the pasta, make sure you salt your water VERY well as this is your only chance to really season the pasta. Once your water is boiling like crazy, drop your pasta in, give it a stir, and cook for 8-10min until it’s done but not mushy, still has some texture to it.

In a separate skillet, add the oil, cumin, and the frozen corn. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the corn is soft and slightly caramelized.

In a large pot, add the beans, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, avocado, garlic, corn/cumin mixture, and diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for around 5-10 minutes, just to heat through.

Dump the cooked pasta and vegetable mixture into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cubed cheese, the juice of the 4 limes, and any additional salt/pepper that it may need.

8.29.2010

Mediterranean Dinner

If you don't have Publix stores where you live, you are really missing out.
They have these little Apron meal stations where they cook delicious dishes and then give out samples. The other day when we were there, the dish was Mediterranean Ribeye Steaks with Pierogies a la Vodka. The kids and I tried it and we loved it.

So tonight, I made it for dinner. It was super easy, and super yummy!

Here are the recipes.

Mediterranean Ribeye Steaks

Ingredients
3 cups fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lb boneless beef ribeye steaks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup pre-diced red onions
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto


Prep
  • Chop spinach; place in microwave-safe bowl.


Steps
  1. Cover spinach; microwave on HIGH 2–3 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly.
  2. Preheat large saut√© pan on medium 2–3 minutes. Cut steaks into 4 portions; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper (wash hands). Place butter in pan, then add steaks and onions; cook steaks 5–6 minutes on each side or until 145°F (for medium-rare). Stir feta cheese, bread crumbs, and tomato pesto into spinach.
  3. Spread 1/4 cup spinach mixture over top of steaks during last two minutes of steak cook time. Carefully turn steaks and spinach mixture over to heat topping; cook 1–2 more minutes or until golden and slightly crusty. Gently turn steaks over and serve.
    NOTE: This topping may also be browned, using an oven broiler.

Pierogies à la Vodka

Ingredients
1 (16-oz) package frozen potato/Cheddar pierogies
1 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups vodka pasta sauce
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese


Steps
  1. Combine pierogies, water, and butter; cover and bring to boil on medium-high. Boil and stir 2–3 minutes.
  2. Remove lid; boil and stir 1–2 more minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed.
  3. Gently stir in pasta sauce; reduce heat to medium. Cook and stir 3–4 minutes or until hot and sauce begins to thicken. Stir in pine nuts and sprinkle with cheese; serve.
We had garlic toast with ours.

Note: I'm not being compensated in any way for this post; just sharing a good dish from my family to yours! =)

8.27.2010

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies!

I found the recipe for perfect peanut butter cookies, thanks to my friend Irregular Tammie.

They're from Publix's Apron Simple Meals. They're insanely easy and truly delicious!

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Flatten with fork in a crisscross design.
3. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and slightly puffed. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack. Serve.

Then stuff your face!

8.24.2010

A Little Random



I posted a while back, maybe here, maybe on my main blog, I don't know, about making my own laundry soap. (awesome run-on sentence, no?)
When I started, I made the liquid version. I threw the whole first batch away because it didn't reach the right consistency (too watery). The second batch turned out the same way, so I did some research and found out that sometimes it doesn't thicken up, and that's ok. So I continued using it and it did seem to work fine. But, I kept wanting to try making powdered laundry soap. I found this blog post with the instructions and beautiful pictures, so I decided I was going to try it.
I will never make the liquid kind again! To make the powdered version, you basically just do a few of the same steps as making the liquid, and then you're done! Much easier, and it works better. Win!
Another win? You can employ child labor. (Shh...they think it's FUN!)

Elayna grating soap

Elayna & her friend Emma



This weekend I made Cabbage & Sausage and Shelbie informed that it's her favorite meal. =)
It sure is yummy!



I made peanut butter cookies from scratch last night and they turned out "meh". Does anyone have a really yummy recipe? Mine was just the basic recipe, and they were a little dry and not peanut-buttery enough. Any suggestions?



Go forth and be random!
Visit The UnMom for more of this random stuff.

Oh and visit my main blog, Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional, too.
Please. And thank you.

8.19.2010

Baking Up a Storm

It all started with the blackberries growing in our yard.
Hundreds of them.
Then the blueberries started to ripen.
So to the interwebz I went, looking for recipes. And I began to bake cobblers.
And I made many, many cobblers with alllll of those berries. Peaches, too.
I also made muffins and pancakes.
Then, I was looking at some bananas that had turned soft and mushy and the thought of banana bread popped into my head.
So for the first time ever, I baked banana bread.
And it was good.
It is now official.
My name is Cyndy, and I'm a Bakeaholic.

{I've already posted the cobbler recipe, but if you want any of the others, let me know!}

8.17.2010

Scotch Eggs


My in-laws are British, and for holidays they always make Scotch eggs. I'd never had them before the first holiday I spent with them, and I was missing out! They are delicious and simple. I never tried to make them at home though, because I assumed they had to be deep-fried. (I very rarely fry anything, and I don't even own a deep fryer.)
But I decided to check it out, and many of the recipes call for them to be baked. I also learned that there are many variations of this recipe, but I chose a simple one and they turned out great. John and I had them for brunch on Sunday and then snacked on them throughout the day. They're great for breakfast, brunch, or a dish for a party. There are also many different sauce recipes to go with them, but we don't use any sauce on ours.



  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 6 hard cooked eggs
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs, purchased or home made, plain or seasoned
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard



DIRECTIONS

On a sheet of waxed paper, divide sausage into 6 equal portions; wrap 1 portion around each egg. Roll each wrapped egg in bread crumbs. Beat egg with mustard and water; dip sausage-wrapped eggs in beaten egg mixture.

Roll in bread crumbs again;place on a rack in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes or until browned, turning once during baking. Cut into halves lengthwise; serve hot with Dijon sauce or sauce of your choice. (or, no sauce at all!)

8.16.2010

Black Bean Lasagna ~ Go Meatless Tonight!


While reading this month's issue of Reader's Digest, I learned that eating black beans is heart-healthy. (so I guess that song is really true! Beans, beans, good for your heart.....)
Anyway, I knew they were healthy but according to that article, one 3 oz. serving per day could increase your risk of heart disease by 40%!
Along with the article there were several recipes using black beans. This Black Bean lasagna recipe from Taste of Home sounded good to me, so I tried it this weekend.


(photo from Taste of Home)

Black Bean Lasagna
Ingredients

* 9 lasagna noodles
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 teaspoon canola oil
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
* 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
* 1 cup water
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
* 1 carton (15 ounces) reduced-fat ricotta cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
* 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend

Directions

* Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, cilantro and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened.
* In a small bowl, combine the egg whites, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and parsley.
* Drain noodles. Spread 1/2 cup bean mixture into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with three noodles, a third of the ricotta mixture, a third of the remaining bean mixture and 2/3 cup cheese blend. Repeat layers twice.
* Cover and bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

This dish was very good, but it did not quite earn the rating of "Off the Chain". It was close, but hanging onto the chain by one arm. So we've decided the next rating down from "Off the Chain" will be "Slap Ya Mama". Also, it was better after it sat for a while and then we reheated it; I think the spices needed to soak in a little.

*ETA* I forgot to add, this dish is perfect for Meatless/Meatfree Mondays!!


One day a week - cut out meat!


8.11.2010

Tangy Ranch Chicken

A couple of weeks ago, my friend posted on Facebook that she was making Tangy Ranch Chicken for dinner. I asked her for the recipe, and she passed it along.
I made it the other night and it was pronounced "off the chain". It is really good!
And not only that, but it's really cool to me that I made something from a recipe from a friend who I haven't seen in years, and who lives in Texas now. It's like a connection spreading across the miles, and yet another way that food brings people together!

So now, I'm sharing it with you.

2/3 cup ranch dressing
1/3 cup mustard (I used Hellmann's dijonnaise)
1/4 cup brown sugar
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs

Mix dressing, mustard & brown sugar in a bowl. Marinate chicken in this mixture for 30 minutes. Then bake the chicken at 350 for 45 minutes - an hour, until chicken is brown, adding leftover marinade as the chicken cooks.

I served mine over rice.

8.02.2010

Meatless Monday

I was all by myself this Meatless Monday, so I kept it very simple & went Mediterranean. I picked up an edamame salad and some roasted garlic hummus from Publix. I bought sesame blue chips for my hummus. It was all sooooo delicious!

One day a week - give up meat!

7.30.2010

Asian Night!


Last night was Asian Night in the Dysfunctional household.
No recipes provided, because I made it from a bag from the frozen section! PF Chang's and Wanchai Ferry - both very good. We had orange chicken and General Chang's chicken & broccoli, and I also made Lo Mein noodles.


{dinner}

But the best part was, I made everyone eat with chopsticks!
They were skeptical at first, but they were good sports and got the hang of it almost immediately.

{Tim}

{Shelbie}
{Elayna}

{You'll notice we're very formal at the dinner table around here. The kids had just gotten out of the pool. Elayna's in her bathing suit, Tim didn't bother with a shirt, and Shelbie's got a towel on her head. Classy!}

We topped it all off with fortune cookies!

{Tim}

{Shelbie}

{Elayna}

{Apparently, it's "Take a totally unflattering picture of your mom stuffing her face" month. I must have missed the memo.
Purple neon seems to help a little!}

{Moi}


"Through food, we learned that there were other people in the world." Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

7.29.2010

Sloppy Joe Pizza

I found this recipe at Recipe Shoebox. I made it this weekend when the kids weren't home, and John and I LOVED it. In fact, John pronounced it "Off the Chain", which is the equivalent of a 5 Star rating at our house.
I made it again tonight for the kids, and they loved it too, although the girls were skeptical. They said it sounded gross. *eyeroll* But - they loved it! Tim just inhaled it, typical of him.
Anyway, I just had to share it with y'all!



Sloppy Joe Pizza
From the Recipe Shoebox.

The ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (16-oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1+ cup favorite BBQ sauce (add until you get to your sauciness level)
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 (12-inch) prebaked pizza crust
1-1/2 cups shredded colby-jack cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large skillet, brown meat and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in corn, BBQ sauce, green onions, and heat through. Spoon beef mixture over prebaked crust on baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 6-8 servings. Enjoy!

I actually used a can of Manwich instead of BBQ sauce, but I only used about 2/3 of the can because John doesn't like it super-saucy. (I guess I'm saucy enough for him. HA!)

7.28.2010

My Kitchen

Today, while baking (yet again), I was thinking about my cooking habits.



I have always liked to cook, but lately I've been cooking more than ever before. I thought back to the time in which I cooked the least, which was a few years ago. John and I were on a kick where we went out for dinner often or had take-out. I was wondering what had changed between then and now.



And I realized...it was my kitchen.



Back when we were at the eating-out-all-the-time stage, we lived in a townhouse. I loved it; 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, it was beautiful.



Except for the kitchen.



It just wasn't conducive to real cooking. It was tucked way back in the back of the first floor. It was a windowless little cubby. There was barely enough room to turn around. And in the back of the kitchen was the stacked washer and dryer. So yes, it doubled as a laundry room!



The rest of the townhouse was very roomy, but the kitchen was absolutely claustrophobic.
Since then we've lived in a few different homes, but this one is by far my favorite, and so is this kitchen.



It's very big and open. There's room for a table, which we don't have yet but plan to get soon, and there's a seperate dining area outside of the kitchen. It has a huge, deep double sink. Plenty of cabinet space.



It has two windows, and it's right in the front of the house. It's very conducive to cooking, and most importantly, to hanging out. There's always a kid or two hanging around, snacking eventhoughI'veaskedthemnotto, and chatting with me while I cook. Usually, they're helping too, or at least getting in my way. =)



And Sofie the boxer is always hanging around, waiting for me to drop goodies.



It's an old fashioned kitchen that I'd love to update one day. But it's not about the style of cabinets or the flooring; it's the size and the feel of it. It's the kind of kitchen we can all hang out in. Like tonight, while I made chicken & yellow rice, white acre peas, biscuits, and peach cobbler for dessert! {I told you I cook a lot now.}



And I love it!

{I found this picture while browsing around, and this is a very similar layout to my kitchen. But, the stove is actually opposite the window. Where the stove is in this picture, is where one of the doors is in my kitchen. And this one is a little more modern and prettyful, and my appliances are black.}





7.19.2010

Homemade Dog Treats

So, let me just get this out of the way right off the bat.
YES, I cook for my dogs.
Not all the time, not all of the dogs.
But I cook for Sofia on a regular basis. She is the most recent addition to our family, a boxer mix we adopted back in February. When we adopted her she was thin, and then she lost even more weight. So I went on a mission to get her up to a healthy weight. In the morning she gets regular kibble, but at night along with the kibble she gets rice, scrambled eggs, or sometimes some of what we are eating, mixed in with her food. Sometimes I even buy liver and cook some of that up for her. She is looking WONDERFUL, and it makes me happy to see her healthy again.
My poor Sofi also has a dental problem. She has a condition with a long name which I can't remember, but basically, her teeth break very easily. So she can't eat anything crunchy or chewy. Also, my old dachshund, Suzie, is very old and just has terrible teeth which cause her discomfort. For general feeding, I just soften their food with warm water or give them canned food. But the problem was, treats!
Every dog deserves treats, and these two dogs are the sweetest, best dogs ever. I've looked for soft treats for them everywhere, but they are just nearly impossible to find. Everything is either super-crunchy or super-chewy.
So, finally, yesterday, a light bulb went off - make them yourself!
I even found recipes in a cookbook I've had for years.
So this weekend I made two different types of soft treats for my canine kiddos, and I'm going to share one of the recipes with you today.

Puppy Cookies
3 small jars of baby food, chicken or beef flavor
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup dry milk
(I also added a tablespoon of peanut butter because my doggies LOVE it.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and drop with a tablespoon onto a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

So simple, and the dogs LOVED them!

6.22.2010

Fresh Berry Cobbler



When we moved into our home, we knew we had blueberry bushes growing in the back, and we were told that they produced well.
We were not told that they actually produce like the world is coming to an end and blueberries were the only thing that would save human kind.
We also didn't know that we had wild blackberry bushes growing all along one side of the fence. Soooo needless to say, we have an abundance of berries right now, and I am looking for things to do with them. I found a cobbler recipe in an old cookbook, tweaked it, and made two delicious cobblers. I brought the blackberry cobbler to work with me two hours ago and there is maybe one large spoonful left! The blueberry cobbler, I left at home to be devoured eaten by me hubby with vanilla ice cream. O.M.G. is it good!
So here is the recipe, which I will probably be using a LOT in the coming weeks!

*note: this recipe is for one cobbler.*
Blackberry or Blueberry Cobbler
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
2 cups blackberries or blueberries, washed & drained

Melt butter in 8" square baking dish in 350 degree oven. (I used a round dish for one cobbler. The universe did not explode.) Blend next 6 ingredients in bowl. Pour batter into melted butter. Spoon berries into the center of the batter. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon & sugar. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees until browned.
Serve over vanilla ice cream. Eat until you are ready to POP!

blueberry
blackberry
{Do you think I need to change the stupid date stamp on my camera?}

P.S. I'm giving away FREE CHOCOLATE over at Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional!
Check it out!

6.15.2010

What's Going On?

I've been on a little bloggy break lately. You can see what I've been up to here.
I wanted to share with you all a couple of new recipes.
I found this one at a new-to-me site, Recipe Shoebox.

The ingredients:
4 strips bacon, halved crosswise
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1-1/2 lbs)
salt and pepper
1 cup favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 chipotle pepper, minced (optional)
1/4 cup water4 large onion rolls, split (we used onion hamburger buns)
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fry bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in bacon fat until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken and add barbecue sauce, chipotle pepper (if desired), and water.
Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Remove chicken from skillet and slice into bite size pieces. Arrange onion rolls cut side up on baking sheet. Divide chicken among bottom haves of rolls and top with sauce, cheese, and bacon.
Bake open-faced sandwiches in oven until cheese melts and rolls are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Top each sandwich with toasted roll top.
Serve immediately with a fruit smoothie on the side. Makes 4 sandwiches. Enjoy!

My notes: I skipped the chipotle pepper just because I didn't have any around. I doubled the recipe and added more bacon, because, ya know, bacon!!! YUM!! It was absolutely delicious, we all loved it.

And this dish from Taste of Home is sitting in my refrigerator right now, waiting for me to finish it for our breakfast in the morning. I'll let you know how it turns out. I am so looking forward to going home and eating it, it sounds wonderful!

Ingredients
1 loaf (10 ounces) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (10 cups)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt, optional
TOPPING:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Maple syrup, optional

Directions
Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt if desired. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Dot with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
Cover and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup if desired. Yield: 12 servings.


6.01.2010

Krispy Kreme Free Doughnut & Publix Deal




Friday, June 4th, is National Donut Day!

What better day could there be, I ask you?
And Krispy Kreme is giving away one Free Doughnut on that day, no purchase necessary!






Also, if you have a Publix nearby and drink Pepsi products like they're going out of style (not that I would know anything about that, ahem, *sips Diet Dr Pepper*), then this deal is custom-made for you.


At Publix you can buy 3 twelve packs of Pepsi products for $11.oo, and get a 4th one for free. (so, it's 4/$11.oo). Great deal!




Happy saving!

5.27.2010

Toad in the Hole

While surfing the internet the other night, I came across the mention of a dish called "Toad in the Hole". I saw that it was a traditional English dish, which caught my attention, so I decided to search for a recipe. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes, and made it last night.

Classic English Toad-in-the-Hole Recipe

Preparation time: 1 hour.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb of good-quality sausage (pork, turkey)
  • salt and pepper

Method

1 Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Sift flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour. Whisk the eggs and the milk into the center of the well in the flour, gradually to smooth out lumps. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

2 Brown the sausages in a little olive oil and cook through, about 10 minutes

3 Put sausages in a roasting pan, pour the batter over the sausages and place in oven. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the batter is risen and golden. Serve at once.

Serves 4-6

I didn't have any traditional UK sausage on hand, so I used Hillshire Farms smoked turkey sausage cut into small pieces. Also, I intended to double the recipe, but I didn't have enough flour. I did double the sausage.

Here are a few pictures:




{mmm, fresh corn on the cob from the produce stand!}
{please ignore the stupid hard water stains on my pan
from the dishwasher of the old house...grrr!}




I will definitely be sure to have enough flour to double it next time because there wasn't enough of the biscuit mixture, but it was still very good! The kids enjoyed it.
Nobody seems to know why it's called "Toad in the Hole", but next time I make it, I I think I'm going to make it in a muffin tin, with smaller chunks of sausage. Then it will really look like a toad, popping its head out of a hole!


5.25.2010

Meatless Monday??

I haven't done a Meatless Monday post in a while. We've still been doing Meatless Monday at home, but my recipes have been pretty boring stuff.
And then yesterday, we skipped Meatless Monday because we were fundraising at a local restaurant for Elayna's All-Star softball team!
For everyone who told their server they were there for the All-Stars, 10% of their bill went to the team.
We handed out tickets at the door so that not only the people we invited participated, but anyone eating that night could help out too! We also got a few straight donations from people who weren't eating at that restaurant, but just walking by.
So we, of course, ate there also. The little kids got the traditional kids meals of mini corn dogs and a cheeseburger, and Shelbie and I shared a Cheeseburger Wrap (which is SOOOO yummy!).
We are so wrapped up in softball right now! I never realized what a serious business this can become.



Ain't that the truth!

5.22.2010

$1 Flip Flops!


In case you didn't know, today is the big day for us flip-flop lovers!
Saturday, May 22nd ONLY, Old Navy is selling their flip-flops for ONE DOLLAR!
My advice to you: get there BEFORE they open and prepare to do battle, it will be crowded and crazy!

5.05.2010

Cinco De Mayo!

Did you do anything special for Cinco De Mayo this year?
Every year I say we're going to celebrate big, but then it sneaks up on me and I end up throwing something together.
This year was no different.
As I posted on my main blog, Putting the Fun in Dysfunctional, this week was ROUGH. So Cinco de Mayo at my house was celebrated with a simple dinner of very Americanized mexican food: Chimichangas (plenty of sour cream on top, of course), tortilla chips & salsa, and corn with some salsa mixed in. It was very yummy! But not very authentic....at all.....
Oh well, there's always next year!

Ole!


5.03.2010

Quizno's Deal!

Ya know how many restaurants have one night of "Kids Eat Free with paying adult"?
Well Quizno's is blowing that out of the water!

Starting today, May 3rd, Quiznos is offering up a “Kids Eat Free” program where kids can eat FREE all day, every day!


For every adult entree purchased (Sub, Toasty Torpedo, Chopped Salad or Choose 2), you can snag one FREE Quiznos Kidz Meal:

* Kidz Meals include Kidz Subs, Sammies & PizzasOffer is valid for children aged 12 and under (child must be present)
* Begins May 3rd with no end date as of yet (be sure to call your local store to verify their participation)!

I will definitely be taking advantage of this one!

4.30.2010

Cabbage & Sausage

I think cabbage gets a bad rap. So many people don't like it. Many times I've read in books about a place smelling like "cabbage and stale body odor" or something equally unpleasant.
I don't get it! I love cabbage!
And one of my very favorite things to do with cabbage is to make cabbage & sausage.
We got a head of cabbage and some big white onions from a local grower this weekend and I couldn't wait to make cabbage and sausage.
It's so easy! All you need is:

1 head of cabbage
1 white onion
1 pound of smoked sausage
butter, salt, seasoning

Chop up your veggies and sausage. Put them in a big pot and cover them with water. I add salt and Nature's Seasons. Bring it to a boil, then cook on med-high for about 15 minutes. Add a little butter and serve!
I always make Jiffy cornbread to go with mine.
Enjoy!

4.28.2010

Going Green, Saving Green


I've been talking over at my main blog about going green and saving money. I decided to go into more depth about those things over on this blog. I'll start posting tips on both subjects over here, so keep your eye out!
Today's tip was found at 3 Little Ones. Visit Energy Efficient Now and you will receive two energy efficient light bulbs for FREE! No shipping charges, nothing. This is such a win/win/win! Free stuff, going green, AND saving money! Love it.

4.27.2010

Carbon Neutral

We're making big changes in my household and making a big effort to be more environmentally friendly. We've put up a clothesline, we're making an effort to recycle absolutely everything that's recyclable, we're conserving water, and making our own laundry soap, among other things!
Sometimes it's easy to think "oh, one person can't make a difference!" but if everyone made changes, the world would be a much better place...and the Earth would thank us!
Just for joining this cause, a tree will be planted in honor of my blog...how cool is that?!

carbon neutral coupons with kaufDA.de


Check it out!

4.26.2010

Meatless Monday & Stuff

Another Meatless Monday rolled around. We went with an old standby this Monday; bean burritos with sour cream, cheese and salsa; corn, and the Margaritaville tortilla chips that I picked up at Publix (BOGO!!) this weekend. They are super-good chips. I especially like the extra thick variety. I saw that they also sell salsa, so I want to try that as soon as I can find it.
In other news, I started my window herb garden this weekend. I planted parsley, basil, and chives. I can't wait until they start sprouting! I should see sprouts in 7-10 days.
I also planted a bell pepper plant. I haven't planted veggies since I lived at home with my parents (we're not going to discuss how many years ago that was, mmmkay?). I can't wait to watch them grow and then eat my own produce! I'm also going to plant tomatoes and cucumbers.
We have a blueberry stand that is supposed to be producing soon. There are little tiny blueberries EVERYWHERE. I am going to be needing blueberry recipes....LOTS of them!
We picked up some fresh vegetables at a craft festival this weekend. I'm always thrilled to get fresh veggies from local growers and the price is fantastic, then I forget and go right back to buying at the grocery store! DUH! This town has a Farmer's Market every Thursday and I am determined to start going!
Hope y'all have a great week!

4.11.2010

Anniversary Dinner

Friday, April 9th was our 5th Anniversary.
It came at the end of our Spring Break vacation and in the beginning of our move, so it sort of caught us off guard. But John still brought me home three beautiful bouquets of flowers.

{However....all of my vases are packed. Thus, the redneck vase!}

For dinner, we went to a lovely restaurant called The Ivy House. It's located in a big, old Southern home and they serve good old fashioned Southern cooking.

When we arrived, they were already getting busy and they asked if we'd mind being seated in the Coffee bar. We didn't mind at all!




We started with sweet tea (which was PERFECT), tossed salads, and cheese fritters for our appetizer. YUM.


{our waitress kindly took a picture of us!}

My entree was Southern baked chicken, which came with seriously the best cornbread I've ever had, amazing macaroni and cheese, green beans, carrots, corn, and a crescent knot. It was ALL fantastic and I could only eat a tiny bit of it!
John ordered ground beef with peppers and onions, which came with french fries, carrots, corn and green beans.


The desserts looked delicious but we had absolutely no room for any of them. We took a lot of our food home in boxes!
They also have a lovely gift store upstairs.
It was a wonderful Anniversary dinner!


{The Ivy House}

4.05.2010

Meatless Monday






Another Meatless Monday/ Meatfree Monday has rolled around. I wasn't feeling very creative tonight, so I decided to cheat a bit and make fish.
We're having pan-fried tilapia (not breaded), Fordhook lima beans, and King's Hawaiian rolls.
I can't wait! I love seafood.
How about you?


One day a week - give up meat!


4.03.2010

My Easter Dish

We're going to my parents' house for Easter and my Mama is making a ham. My contribution is going to be Cheezy Potatoes. I didn't want to make potato salad again, so I decided to make something potato-y and cheesy. I went to allrecipes.com and found this Cheezy Potato recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of potato soup
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (16 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large baking dish, mix together potatoes, soup and sour cream. Mix in cheese and butter. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Top the mixture with potato chips.
  3. Bake 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mixture is bubbly and lightly brown.
  4. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

However, I chose to substitute bacon for the potato chips, because...um, hello, bacon?? Who needs a reason?
In fact, I think that should be one of Southern Loving's mottos: One never needs a reason for bacon.
I'll let you know tomorrow how it turns out, but I really don't see how I can go wrong with these ingredients!
Oh, and my Mom is making Chocolate Delight....I think I'll post that recipe next! It's fantastic!