"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."


Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken & dumplings. In my family, they are the ultimate comfort food. My chicken and dumplings are easy, and so, very delicious. I've never followed a recipe, but I'll do the best I can to instruct you so that you can experience the pleasure of this amazing dish.

The necessities:
*6-8 chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer white meat, I am a dark meat girl)
*4 cans of biscuits (cheap, plain biscuits. Do NOT get butter-me-not or anything fancy, they'll stick and burn!!!)
*Nature's Seasons seasoning blend. (I put this on everything, and they are not paying me to say that, but if they'd like to they are welcome to do so!!)
*2 tbs butter or margarine

First, you cover your chicken thighs with the Nature's Seasons, then boil them for an hour. Remove them from the water and let them cool. Save that water to boil your dumplings.
While the chicken is boiling, begin your dumpling making. It's great if you have your 16 year old son and 9 year old daughter helping, as I did this past weekend. They make it fun!
Get out your cutting board and pour flour all over it. Then take a canned biscuit and cover it with flour. Roll it out nice and flat, then cut it into about 6-8 pieces. Do this with each biscuit. When they're all rolled out and cut up, drop them into the boiling chicken broth. Add your butter or margarine, more Nature's Seasons, and salt. Stir very frequently, especially at first, or they will stick to the bottom! While they're cooking, take the chicken off of the bone. The dumplings are done when they float to the top of the mixture. Add in the chicken, stir it all up, and you're done!
Serve. Drool. Eat until you are ready to pop!

And be comforted.


Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

We made these adorable ice cream cone cupcakes for Elayna's 9th Birthday party and I wanted to share them here.
They are incredibly easy - you just prepare your cupcakes as usual, and instead of pouring them into cupcake papers, you just pour them into ice cream cones! You fill them about 3/4 full; if you overfill them, it will leak out onto the cones, but it comes off very easily. Then you bake as usual! The kids love them.


Introducing My Assistant Chef

My daughter Elayna, who will be 9 on Saturday, is my Official Assistant Chef. She takes her role very seriously and heaven forbid I accidentally complete a task myself that she is capable of doing! She gets VERY upset with me!
This particular dinner was very simple. I had to get up in the middle of my normal sleeping time (again!) so I was tired and not really feeling it. Also, the kids were hungry very early, so we went ahead and cooked early. We had sausages with peppers & onions on buns, mac & cheese, and tortilla chips.

Elayna did the macaroni & cheese (from a box) by herself, except that I drained the water. She helped me with the sausages.


And it was a big hit!

Happy kids + full bellies + easy dinner = Happy Mama!


Meatless/Meat-Free Monday

I'm late posting my Meatless/MeatFree Monday dinner, but I wanted to do it anyway. I've gotten much more consistent with having no meat nearly every Monday. I've realized that it's actually easy with just a little thought or planning.
This Monday, my sleep was interrupted for several hours due to appointments and errands, so I went back to sleep at dinner time and John did Meatless Monday. He did noodles and a green salad. Simple, healthy, and meat-free!
Click the links for more Meatless/MeatFree ideas, and check out this poster displayed at the UC San Diego campus - this cracked me up!!


Weekend Yums

This weekend was much warmer, which was wonderful! It was also rainy, so we stayed at home most of the weekend watching movies. I found a wonderful recipe on Deep South Dish and decided to try it while the kids weren't home. My kids are great eaters and not picky, but they don't LOVE onions or spicy stuff, and this has both. And it is also DELICIOUS!
If you're not already reading Deep South Dish....um, WHY NOT? Get over there and check it out, it's awesome!

Easy Pork Chop and Onion Bake
Posted at http://www.deepsouthdish.com/

6 bone-in pork chops
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper and Slap Ya Mama
(or your favorite) Cajun seasoning, to taste
1 Vidalia or yellow onion, sliced into rings
1-1/2 cups of beef stock or broth
1 teaspoon of dried thyme, crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat canola oil in a large stainless skillet. Dry the chops well and add to skillet, sprinkling the top side with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning; brown. Turn, sprinkle the other side with seasonings, brown; remove to a baking dish.

In the same skillet, break the onion into rings and saute in the pan drippings until lightly caramelized. Add the broth to the skillet and deglaze. Pour the entire contents of the skillet over the chops, spreading the onions evenly over the top of the chops; sprinkle with the thyme.

Cover and bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes or until tender and cooked through. Spoon pan sauce over individual servings.

I baked mine as recommended and again, they were seriously delicious and I highly recommend them! I served mine with mac & cheese and a salad.


A Simple Favorite

Today I'm sharing a very simple recipe, which is one of my family's favorites.
It's so easy and yummmmy.
You just put boneless pork chops or ribs in the crockpot, season them and pour a family size can of Cream of Mushroom soup over them. Then cook them on low for about 6 hours.
*side note - I do not like mushrooms at all, but you don't taste them in this dish and the soup has a very good flavor.*
Serve the whole thing over rice.
Simple, delicious!


Baby, it's COLD outside!

I am in Florida and our low tonight is predicted to be 18. EIGHTEEN?!?! What on earth?
I put beef stew in the crockpot and let it cook all day. It was so good, and totally hit the spot! We had cornbread with it, which Elayna made. She is my kitchen helper. My teenage daughter, Shelbie, suggested I make chili on another of these cold nights. I hate cold weather, but I do LOVE cold-weather food!

I saw these Kitchen Safety Tips over at Annie's Home and wanted to share them with you all.

While cooking,

1. stay in the kitchen, don’t leave cooking food unattended. (stand by your pan!)

2. wear short or tight fitting sleeves. Long loose sleeves are more likely to catch on fire or get caught on pot handles.

3. don’t become distracted.

4. enforce a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around your stove. Turn pot handles inward facing the wall to prevent burns caused by overturning or spills.

5. keep the area around the stove clear of towels, papers, pot holders or anything that could burn.

6. cook at indicated temperatures settings rather than higher settings.

7. regularly clean your cooking equipment so that there are no cooking materials, food items or grease accumulation.

8. have a pot lid handy to smother a pan fire. Do not attempt to pick up the pot or pan. Shut off the heat and cover the fire with a lid. Do not use water. It will cause splashing and spread the fire.

While many of these tips are not new to there is a list of these tips and other information located at this link http://www.centerpigeonfire.org/firesafetytips-kitchencooking.html


Southern Loving - Love, on a plate.

Clearly, I've lost my mind. I've decided to start another blog! This one is going to be all about cooking. Or as I call it, Southern Loving. I thought the best way to start this out was with a re-run of a post from my main blog, Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional. It's called Southern Loving, hence the title of this blog.

Southern Loving
There's something about us Southern Women. Many of us love to cook. It's not just the preparing of food and satisfying hunger. Feeding people is a way of taking care of them. Food equals love. If we love you, we feed you, and we feed you well.
If you don't fall into this stereotype, don't get offended.
But many of us Southern women do. It's in our blood. There is not much in this world that compares to the comfort food prepared by a Southern woman. Chicken & dumplings, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, beef stew, chicken & yellow rice....potato salad, banana pudding...I could go on all day.
I am dead serious when I say that my cooking is one reason my husband fell in love with me. He wasn't used to it; his family is from England and their way of cooking is quite different. He got used to my cooking very quickly. His favorite is holidays, when several Southern women get together and cook. And dinner on the grounds at church is his idea of Heaven.
We feed our men, we feed our kids, we feed our sick, we feed our grieving. We eat to mourn and to celebrate.
Sometimes we keep recipes to ourselves as a sort of signature dish. I'm always the one who brings potato salad to our family gatherings.
Other times we happily share our recipes. If you ever want some fantastic Southern recipes, go visit my friend Rachel at A Southern Fairytale. My family even loves her because I try so many of her recipes and they are amazing!
Now the time has come that one of my daughters is interested in cooking. The little one is all about helping, but Shelbie can actually cook. A few weekends ago, she was at her dad's house flipping through a cookbook. She found a recipe for Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Bars, and her signature dish was created. They are delicious! She's made it a few times at her dad's house and now twice at home. I brought one dish to work, and now everyone on the unit, from clerks to neurosurgeons, think she's the bomb! And when I told her that, she was so pleased. She's learning already that feeding people good food is rewarding. It just feels good.
Another dish I love to bring to work is the Black Eyed Pea Dip. It may sound a little odd, but it is make-you-wanna-slap-your-mama good! I got that recipe from Melissa at Stretch Marks. Even my friend from Chicago, who thought it sounded horrible, ended up LOVING it, and now that she's moved back to Chicago, she's making it for her family there!
When you come to my house, you might trip over a dog or a cat. You might have to move some clean laundry over to have a seat on the couch. But you will be fed, and you will be fed well.
It's love, on a plate.

And since, when I love you, I feed you....here are some Southern recipes for you. Enjoy!

Hot & Cheesy Black Eyed Pea Dip
1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained, rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 envelope buttermilk ranch salad dressing mix
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spoon into a baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Serve with crackers or tortilla chips. (I prefer crackers)

Shelbie's Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup peanut butter (Shelbie says you should use a little over a cup)
6 tbsp stick butter, melted
2 cups graham crackers
1 twelve oz package of MILK chocolate chips

Stir all ingredients together except chocolate chips. Press into a 9x13 pan. Microwave chocolate chips for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes; serve.

Now I'm not promising to update this blog extremely frequently. But I will be moving my Meatless/Meatfree Monday posts here, and adding recipes or other cooking posts when it strikes my fancy. I'm also teaching my kids to cook, so there will be posts on that too - fun! I hope you enjoy! Oh and please follow me!