Monday, April 30, 2012

Sharing...from the Hubby

The Belle, here. My husband recently asked me if I ever saw the photo he snuck on my camera the night I was photographing the pineapple upside-down cake. Somehow, I never did!

Well, let me explain something about my husband before I share the photo. He's addicted to frozen yogurt. And not just any flavor. It has to be Cookies and Cream. And he eats it by the ton. I usually buy 4 or 5 half gallons a week! (Of course the kids help some.)

Often, if he has a meeting and can't get home for dinner beforehand, he'll just come in that night and eat a huge frozen yogurt "dinner" with some extras. :)

Here's his prep area (photo above). :) And here's what's on the menu for this night where he'd missed dinner:

Giant bowl of Cookies and Cream froyo (as we call it around here)--about a third of a carton!
Chocolate syrup
Plate full of different kinds of nuts
Chocolate chip cookie (this night he ate a dark chocoalte haystack from our friend Barb at church)
Small square of an extra-dark chocolate bar
Huge glass of milk

How's that for a feast?? :)

He'll sit and read the paper and enjoy that until it's all melty. I timed him recently. He ate on it for an hour! Now that's a way to savor a favorite dessert/meal.

What do you like to take your time eating, savoring?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Regional favorites!

White hot dogs.

That's what we had for supper tonight.

Over a nice low/medium flame, flame-broiled outside....

With chewy buns...

Oh Mylanta, delicious!!!!  

They're made from pork.... and seasonings.... and they just taste so good, but you don't find them in other places....

Sponge candy....

Melt-in-your-mouth amazing!

Abbott's Frozen Custard:

A chocolate single dip in a waffle cone.... They only make a few flavors fresh, each day... Always chocolate and vanilla and chocolate almond.... daily flavors might be pistachio pineapple... butter rum... strawberry cheesecake... Heath Bar Crunch....

And this isn't normal ice cream, it's velvet-smooth, like true custard. How??? I don't know. I've tried to figure it out and can't do it...

YET.  :)

So what kinds of cool things do you have where you are? I know Missy has catfish where we use North Atlantic Haddock.... and The Texan uses chilies like they're FREE.... 


Every region has something special. Tell us about yours? 

And if it's scrapple, you can tell us about it, but I'll never eat it again, LOL! Once was enough!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Favorite Friday...Cravings!

Missy, here. It's Favorite Friday, and I started thinking about cravings I've had lately. I don't know if it's ever been proven scientifically, but I suspect we crave what our bodies need.

A couple of weeks ago, I craved eggs like crazy. And not my normal egg white omlets. No, I wanted the whole egg, yolk and all. Not only that, but I also craved the yolks runny! I hadn't wanted an over-easy egg in decades. It was all very strange. But I ate eggs several times that week, assuming I needed something in those runny yolks! :)

Then after than, I had cravings for greens.

I'd been on a kale kick already--remember the yummy kale chips? So one night recently for a quick recipe, I chopped up turkey smoked sausage and cooked it with kale. Dinner in ten minutes.

For lunch on two or three days this week, I made sauteed veggies to eat over pasta (which I toss with olive oil and keep in the fridge to eat on through the week). I included some garlic, broccoli, kale, shredded carrots and tomato. YUM! And it definitely satisfied my craving.

Then yesterday, I discovered something new at our grocery store. A mix of greens they call Power Greens! It's baby kale, baby spinach, and baby chard.

Tonight, I sauteed several hands full of the greens, garlic, broccoli and a can of chopped tomatoes. Oh, and I added a little bacon and pine nuts as well. I served it over linguine. Always, always, I top these dishes with shredded parmesan! Lots of it. :)

I'm thinking maybe I'll get my fill soon. But if not, at least it's a good thing to crave! What have you craved lately?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let's Talk Gardening!

Oh, man.

I lost this post once already. I have no idea where it went. It just disappeared. Obviously I'm a work in progress...

And it was a NICE post about gardens. Because it's spring and I love gardens. I love flowers. They don't talk back...

Nor do they weed themselves, but that's another story!

I love flowers. Greens. Bushes. Windowboxes. So fun!!!!  But I've had to maximize look for space because there's so little time with juggling working, family and writing.

This was the work in progress garden two years ago... It's finished now. And the porch is painted. But see the cool planter on the right? I got that in Allegany County on a research trip. LOVE IT!!!  I fill it with gorgeous flowers, some hanging, some crawling, some spikey...

Chiller, thriller, spiller!  That's the formula for hanging baskets and garden pots. So that adds a burst of color in that corner and now I follow the garden wall with a curve of wave petunias now... Wave petunias flower continuously, they spread, and they've got gorgeous colors. They fill in really nicely and are good in heat and sun.

This is one of my Clematis... I bought them years ago, moved 'em, moved 'em again... And most of them survived. Then I built trellises for them. I made Mandy help.


Another clematis.... They climb the wall and then people can't see the JUNK I hide behind them.
I call it creative gardening, LOL! Because I love to garden... And I love to write stories.

But remember, the year I got "The Call" an old friend figured I must be dying (or dead...) because she drove by a couple of times and the yard looked REALLY BAD, LOL!!!

The tulips got downhearted with this week's snow....


But the spikes for the Bearded Irish are coming through... Thick, spikey, sage green...

I love my Bearded Iris...

And I love shade gardens. Rock gardens. Water gardens. Walls of ivy... Toad gardens. Rose gardens. And my rhubarb is GORGEOUS right now. Time to harvest. In April.... so odd. But it's in a microclimate that brings it early, the back of the house, protected from wind, in the full sun.

So do you like to garden? What's your favorite thing to do in the yard?  Mine is when Beth and I get together in May to fill all the porch pots with impatiens.... vines.... bursts of color because then I have my flowers but I don't have to weed them. All I have to do is give them water because I use Miracle Gro soil and I don't even have to feed them.

Because I'd rather write books!!!  But I love me some flowers!

And Jeter. Of course!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coffee Chat!

Okay, it's our day to chat. And rather than come up with a topic, I thought I'd invite y'all to jump in with anything you'd like to discuss! (No, Ruthy, I'm not just being lazy!) ;)

So...what's on your mind today?? It doesn't even have to be about food. :) Although I will admit I stopped on the way home from my local ACFW chapter meeting last night and bought Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Two dozen glazed! And hey, if you can't think if anything to chat about, just tell me your favorite doughnut place. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick and Easy Tex-Mex

Mindy here, and Monday's are just crazy around my house. The boys don't have much time between getting home from school and heading off to Boy Scouts, so I either have to plan ahead (which rarely happens on a Monday) or fix something quick. This week, I kind of did both.

This is a dish I normally fix as a skillet meal. This time I decided to put it together in the morning and toss it in the Crock Pot.

First, I brown two pounds of ground beef with one chopped onion.

Drain fat and pour into Crock Pot.

Add one fifteen ounce can of beef broth, one can of Ro-Tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies), I use the mild variety, and one can of whatever corn you like. I found a Chipotle White Corn I thought would be interesting. You can use the Mexican-style corn or just regular corn. Or, skip it all together. You'll also add 1 Tbsp. chili powder and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder.

Stir it all up then mix in one cup of uncooked brown rice.

Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Sprinkle with 1-2 cups shredded cheese during last hour of baking.

Okay, if I hadn't been in such a hurry, and would have planned a little more, I would have added a couple of avocado slices for color. Hubby likes to top his with salsa. You could even add a dollop of sour cream.

Like I said, this can also be made in the skillet. After browning meat, mix in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice has absorbed liquid (45-60 minutes). I kind of like it in the Crock Pot, though, so all of the flavors have time to meld and I get that corn flavor throughout.

Also, this is one of those dishes you can make your own. Start with the basics and go from there.

Happy eating, y'all.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Favorite Sandwiches

Happy Monday! Missy, here. And I'm doing a very quick, simple post because I've been out of town since Thursday for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. I had a fantastic time! Saw good friends and met new ones. Met lots of readers, some who returned from last year. Signed some books. Attended workshops. And more!

Oh, and got to spend time with my family! My parents still live in Bowling Green, where the festival was held. And my sister and brother-in-law came up from Nashville. We had a great time.

One thing we did was eat at my parents' favorite restaurant, Cheddar's. I had a yummy Monte Cristo sandwich!

It's a ham and two cheeses sandwich, battered, deep friend, sprinkled with powdered sugar. Served dipped in raspberry preserves! It's tough to find a restaurant that serves a decent Monte Cristo. This one was  really good!

So what's your favorite sandwich when eating out?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

This is a Simply Saturday masterpiece.

Like most masterpieces, this one was born of someone else's idea and chance. The chance was because Sam's Club had a two-pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips for $4.18....

They jumped into my cart when I wasn't looking, the scamps!

And then they had the audacity to have a recipe on the back. Well, we pondered that recipe, and then decided it didn't have enough chocolate.

I mean, really....  The whole purpose of the chip is to be immersed in chocolate, right?

So we (I use that term loosely, Beth does not cook... She does own a stove. It's ridiculously clean.) devised a recipe....  Easy-peasy. And it's a five star, no lie.... Not even a HINT of EXAGGERATION.

With no further adieu, I give you:

Fudgy Peanut Butter Chip Brownies:

Our Assistant Chef of the Day is Elijah.... Note the cracked eggs.  The kid is QUICK.

1 large (13 x 9") box Pillsbury Brownie Mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
Chocolate syrup for drizzle
1/2 bag (more is never a bad thing) Reeses Peanut Butter Chips
1/2 cup Peanut butter

Mix together brownie mix, oil, water and eggs as stated on box. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of 13 x 9" pan.

Spread brownie batter in pan...

Drizzle with Hershey's syrup, making a ribbon-type pattern.

Now drop teaspoons full of peanut butter all over the top of the brownie mix.  Do the same with the peanut butter chips...

Now drizzle with syrup again:

Take time to lick the spoon....

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-34 minutes....

And here's the finished product!!!

And the plated version:  (which did not last long!!!)

Preparation time was maybe 8 minutes, really....

Baking time around 31-32 minutes....

And eating time???


Friday, April 20, 2012

Favorite Friday--dessert!

Missy, here. Sometime a couple of weeks ago, someone mentioned a pineapple upside-down cake. And (thank you), I started having a craving.

Well, I saw a mix at the grocery recently and snatched it up!! I made it (the same night as the disaster potatoes! LOL) and wanted to share. It was amazingly easy and delicious!

I used the Betty Crocker mix. Pineapple and topping are included. All you have to add is an egg, butter and water.

You melt the butter in the oven right in the pan. Then you sprinkle the brown sugar topping mix and the pineapple over the butter.You mix up the cake mix, water and egg and pour the batter on top of the other ingredients. Bake 40-45 minutes.

Immediately turn pan upside down on serving platter. Wait 1 minute and then lift off (it came off easily!)

Here's the gorgeous cake. Looked so yummy I wanted to lick the topping right off!

Here are the scraps left in the pan which I also wanted to lick right off. I won't tell you whether or not I did. :)

It's not a very tall cake, but it sure was good. We ate it in about 24 hours. I had it for breakfast the next morning!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, New England Style...

This is not easy-peasy.

It's not hard, either.

Just takes a little time. And feel free to cut the recipe in half, this one makes a big 13 x 9 or 15 x 10 casserole full. I think I actually used about six pounds of potatoes and my leftover spiral ham from Easter... Oh, yum!!!

I love my Cuisinart Food Processor. I told you how Lacey gave it to me for Christmas two years ago, right? Because Mandy bought me a blender and it came with a FREE FOOD PROCESSOR...

Such a deal!!!!  EXCEPT.... that the food processor didn't lock together, and it would come loose, and Lacey was fairly certain I would decapitate some small child when the whole thing blew apart some day...

Hence the Cuisinart edition which I love!!!!!

So here's the recipe, which is perfect when you have some left-over ham or pork chops hangin' 'round.

Potatoes (I usually do a big batch, so figure five pounds or so. I like nice big, firm russets or Idaho)
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup flour
Salt/pepper to taste
1 small onion, chopped fine-to-medium
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
Leftover ham or pork, cut or broken into bite-sized pieces (or leave it meat-free for my veggie-tarian buds!!!!)

Peel potatoes, place in pot of cold water so they don't oxidize. (turn brown)

Chop onions...

Melt butter in sturdy 3-4 quart kettle. Add onion and flour and allow to cook over low heat until onion is transparent, about five minutes.

 Add milk, whisk together, allow to heat on low-medium heat. Mixture will thicken somewhat, but thickens more with baking later...

Now the fun part!!!

For smaller batch use 8" x 8" or 9" x 13" pans, greased. For my batch I'm using the 15" x 10" Pyrex casserole dish I love!!!

Put 1/3 of potatoes through food processor 'slice' blade...

Lay them in pan.

Toss half of the ham/pork over them. Ladle about 1/3 of the sauce over this first layer. Sprinkle with half of the cheese.  Repeat: Potatoes, meat, cream sauce, cheese. Final layer should be potatoes topped with cream sauce. (Cheese browns too much on the top layer).

Cover with foil, bake at 400 degrees for about an hour and fifteen minutes, then remove the foil and allow top to brown for about 15 minutes more...  Total prep and cooking time is a couple of hours, but it's so stinkin' down home delicious that it's totally worth it.

And it smells so good while it's cooking, all creamy-potatoey-oniony!!!!

Of course I forgot to take a pic when it came out of the oven. I blame Beth. I told her to remind me, therefore it's her fault, right????  So I borrowed this pic, but mine was bigger...:)
It makes Dave smile.

It makes everyone smile!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coffee Chat! Embracing Change.

Let's chat!!

Missy, here. My oldest will be graduating from college soon. I've been weepy about it for the last month. Especially when writing a letter to be read at the senior banquet for the campus ministry group he's been very active in--Wesley Fellowship.

Here's one of the photos I shared for a poster they'll be doing for him for that banquet night. My beautiful baby! And he's graduating, applying for jobs, moving on in life as an adult.

So tell do you let go? That's our chat topic today. I realize not all of you have children. So I guess I'm asking in general, in life...How do you let go and not weep and whine?? How do you embrace change?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Glimpse Into a Texan's Cookbook

Mindy here, and the cookbook I want to share with you today is not mine, but my husband's great-grandmother's. This cherished book was written with love for the recipes within, those who shared them, and those who would partake in the results.

As you can see from the photos, this book has been well-used. Lots of notes and every page filled with, what she thought, were some of the best of the best.

Several years ago, prior to his passing, my father-in-law rewrote much of this book and put it in spiral format, along with his own comments and memories, and gave them to his children and grandchildren. I can't think of a better idea.

Here's some of what he wrote in the preface:

"My Recipes is the name of a book originally with blank pages. Over approximately 50 years, many of the pages were filled with hand-written recipes by my grandmother, Pearle Harcourt Wooten. The recipe book is not an ordinary cookbook, but rather a testimony of what recipes, in her mind, were worth recording. They were not all her original recipes, but special ones obtained from her friends, that she thought deserved recording."

Pearle Wooten was born in 1869, almost a hundred years before yours truly. She was a well-respected member of her community, and apparently a well-respected cook based on something my FIL added to his notes.

"When I was growing up, nearly every Sunday one of the ministers would eat dinner at my Grandmother's house. It was a standing invitation. I remember Reverend Marmion..., and Rev. Arey. Also there was Bishop Quinn from Houston, who came about every three or four months to conduct Sunday services in Columbus and Eagle Lake. Bishop Quinn and his wife always ate at my Grandmother's house after service. It is possible that he arranged it so as to have to Columbus service at 11:00 o'clock."

Of course every good Southern woman must have a recipe for cheese straws. Pearle had two. Here's one of them.

1 1/2 cup dry cheese
1/3 amount of butter
2 scant cups of flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 yolk of egg
pinch of cayenne

Cold water to make stiff dough, small amount of baking powder. Roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Cut in narrow strips, bake in hot oven.

How's that for a recipe? Do you know what dry cheese is? And just how much is 1/3 amount of butter?

Here's a recipe you're sure to love. You'll be chomping at the bit to serve this one at your next family gathering.

Pickled Tongue
(for two tongues)

1 Tbs. saltpeter
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 cup salt

Cut slits in tongue, put pieces of garlic. Put in stone pot, held down with weight for one week. Then cook and peal. Keep in ice box, wrapped in paraffin paper.

I'm guessing paraffin paper is our waxed paper, but what exactly is saltpeter?

I thought this was an interesting recipe.

Wartime Delicate Frosting

Heat 1 cup  honey on top of stove until it pours quickly. While this is warming, beat one egg white to which 1/8 tsp of salt has been added. Pour slowly the warm honey into the egg mixture and continue beating. Beat until frosting is stiff. Add flavoring if desired. It is delicious and a pretty cream color.

I totally get this one. Sugar was rationed during the war, so they found other ways to make due. And this one just might not be too bad.

Then, as now, they had their special recipes they'd break out for holidays.

The Best of All Christmas Candy

Take 1 cup of dates (seeded), 1 cup figs or prunes soaked and seeded, but not cooked, 1 cup nuts (any kind). Run all four materials through grinder using medium cutter. Moisten with a little orange juice till all is molted into a paste. Roll into smooth, even balls the size of marbles. Toss each ball on a plate of sugar till coated. Lay in neat rows on a plate till dry. 1 1/2 doz. of these balls neatly arranges on a holly decorated plate and covered with holly paper napkins - nice to take to neighbor friend on Christmas morning.

Pearle's book ended with Rules for Serving.

Informal Dinner

Remove salad plates with left hand, change to right hand, then take the two to the kitchen at one time. Beginning with hostess, next person to right of hostess. Do all around the table. Next place the carving fork left, carving knife and serving spoon at right of host.

Place turkey in front of host. Cranberry molds with service spoon at left of host. The dinner plates are on serving table.

The maid, having two dinner plates in hand, stands behind the host at his left, places one before host, who wills it also placing one cranberry mold. The maid then removes the filled plate with the left hand and places the empty plate before the host with the right hand. The maid carries the filled plate to the hostess - she then takes an empty plate from the service table and proceeds as above.

Maid passes vegetables in serving dishes to each person after she has placed the dinner plates with meat and cranberries on them to everyone. The maid passes bread and relishes and keeps glasses and butter replenished (serve hot rolls when needed).

First remove turkey. Remove dinner plates, dinner plates in left hand, bread and butter in right. Remove salt and pepper and any other unused silver on small tray. Remove crumbs, if necessary with plates and napkins.

Y'all, if this was an informal dinner, I can't imagine the formal dinner.

I wish I could have been a guest at Pearle Wooten's table. That is, so long as she wasn't serving Pickled Tongue. When I look at some of her recipes, I can see how cooking and baking was an all-day affair. But the meals were truly an event. Something I know I would do well to learn from my great grandmother-in-law:-)

I know we often discuss old cookbooks here at the cafe. What is it that makes a cookbook special to you? Do you prefer the ease of today or wish for those time-honored traditions of yesteryear?

I love the fact that my FIL took the time to compile the recipes and his memories for all of us to share with generations to come.

Happy eating, y'all.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drop Back and Punt!

Missy, here. And I recently jumped in to try a new recipe. Here's the original:

Twice-baked New Potatoes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

Well, I had a disaster. The potatoes didn't get done in the time the recipe called for. It was almost 8 pm, and my tennis player kids were starving. They kept coming in the kitchen asking the age old question: Is it ready yet? (Like are we there yet?)

Most of the dinner was almost ready, and the potatoes were still hard!

No way could I scoop out of these hard new potatoes!

Since I already had the other ingredients in the mixing bowl ready to go, I decided to mash them. I sliced them up and stuck them back in the oven to roast for a ten more minutes. I also took advantage and tossed some asparagus on the tray to roast as well.

The kids loved them! I'll probably make them again.

Here's what I did...

Slice 12 new potatoes, coat them in olive oil, and roast in the oven.

While they're cooking, put these ingredients in a stand mixer:
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 a block)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, pressed (see photos if you've never pressed garlic before)

put the clove in the gadget

mash and scrape into the bowl

Add the potatoes to the mixer. Top with desired amount of butter (I used about 1-2 tablespoons).
Turn on mixer and add milk as needed to get the texture you like. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I didn't add the cheese this time but may try it. Personally, I love old fashioned mashed potatoes with butter, milk, salt and pepper the best. But my family loved the garlic and sour cream. So I guess dropping back and punting was successful...this time.

So, please tell me I'm not the only one to have a failed recipe lately! Please share yours...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Simply Saturday Chicken Parm!

I love chicken parmesan.

Pollo Parmigiana!

Whatever you want to call it, I've had it lots of different ways, and this is my favorite.
When I don't have time to make sauce, I use



A jar.  ;)

This is a great marinara type sauce I get at Sam's Club, to die for delish!

For this recipe you need:

Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
Flour for dredging (not like the river. Yuck)
Mozzarella cheese
Fresh bread crumbs if available (Remember I use old bread, crumb it and keep it in the freezer)

So far, easy-peasy, right????

Beat eggs. Add water to thin them a smidge
Put 1/2 cup flour (give or take) on plate or in bowl for dredging
Put bread crumbs in bowl big enough for thrashing chicken around.

Cut chicken breasts into smaller pieces. Pound out if too thick. (This also releases pent-up anger management issues, very therapeutic)
Dip chicken into flour

Then egg/water mixture:  

Then into the bread crumb bowl they go!
(feel free to add Italian seasonings to the bread crumbs if you must. I like mine with salt, pepper and garlic... But you can add basil... oregano... parsley...onion... Whatever your heart's desire!!!)

Now heat your olive oil to hot, not smokin'... Don't burn the house down,
that's all I'm sayin'...

Settle enough chicken into the pan to allow room for turning...

Brown on both sides...

Chicken will look like this...  And right now you're almost done. Really.

Place chicken onto cookie sheet or pan.... top with cheese. Keep warm in 250 degree oven while cooking pasta and warming sauce in microwave...

And here's where I messed up because I forgot to snap a picture of a pretty plate filled with Barilla pasta al dente, Chicken Parmesan, covered with the jarred marinara and dusted with Parmesan cheese...

So here's one from the Internet!

Just so you know... I used more sauce than that ... Really, that's barely worth mentioning.... And I didn't do the broccoli although it looks wonderful.

I totally, absolutely carb-loaded.

Shame on me!  ;)

And here's a gratuitous picture of something cuter than cute...

This was yesterday at my house... How cute are they? All of' 'em???

A representative sampling of how fun my week has been!