Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Table


For my birthday this year, my mom gave me this beautiful sign.

A friend that she works with made it!
It's on an old cabinet door -- it weights a ton!

I was so excited for the holiday season to come around so that I could put
it on my dining room tablescape!

That's why we have a dining room table -- to decorate, not to eat at!
Matter of fact, sad truth is, we haven't sat at this table in 2 years!

Really!

Look at all the stuff on the table -- it'd be such a hassle to move!
So instead, we just decorate it every season and look at it!

I just LOVE this sign and knowing me I'll be using it in different ways all throughout
the year -- not just at Christmas!



My great grandmother simply loved birds, especially cardinals.
I remember as a young girl, going to her house and in her backyard were
lots and lots of bird feeders and we'd watch the cardinals peck away at the food.

My grandmother has been in heaven for nearly 25 years, and I think of Grandmother often,
but never is there a time that I see a cardinalthat I don't think of how wonderful she was!

In honor of Grandmother, I have several cardinals that I put out during the winter months
and thanks to her, I have "be-u-te-ful" winter cardinal dishes too!



I also love my nativity.  My mom and dad gave this nativity to me for our first Christmas
that the Mr. and I were married.

I usually separate out the pieces, because I'm weird that way.
This year, I decided to use only the Shepherd boy and some of the cows.

I really like the Shepherd boy. 
He's one of my favorites.

Back to the piece that caused me to post today --
the Christmas door.

Denise makes these signs.
She's very creative!
You can look at her creative and amazing blog
 .  . . and if you're wanting your very own
special cabinet door, you can order from her!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Candied Bacon

Candied Bacon Bites

It sounds strange, I know. 

But keep an open mind and give it a try before you rule it out!

Please!

Some call it "Pig Candy," others call it "Sugared Bacon," but most call it "Candied Bacon."

It's versatile, I think.

"I think" is what I've been doing while I am making this appetizer.

"I think" is what you do when you are cooking 11 pounds of Candied Bacon!

I am cooking enough "Candied Bacon Bites" so that 300 women sample this treat at a holiday event tomorrow night!

"I think" candied bacon will be good:
  • crumbled into a salad
  • a twist for a BLT
  • a toast point with a small scoop of pimento cheese and a garnish of candied bacon
  • cream cheese with a bit of blue cheese mixed in, spread on a cracker with a bite of bacon on top
  • on a turkey, Swiss cheese, and candied bacon sandwich
  • a cream cheese, candied bacon, and apple dip.  I don't know how to make that yet, but I think I might just work on a concoction
 . . . that's all I can say for now, there's bacon in the oven!

Just remember this, when being creative -- "sweet and salty!"  That will help you think outside the box!

Candied Bacon

1 pound thick sliced bacon
Brown sugar
Cayenne or black pepper, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with heavy duty foil and place a cookie cooling rack inside the pan.



Pour a generous amount of brown sugar into a pie plate.  Put just a sprinkle of cayenne or black pepper into the sugar and stir around.

Dredge the bacon in the sugar and pack in onto the bacon.



Place the bacon on the cookie rack and bake until crisp, being careful to not let it burn; 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove from the cooling rack and place on a clean cooling rack to cool.

Serve in your own creative style -- or by itself.



Friday, November 25, 2011

Library Brunch Casserole

Image of basket of eggs used from the internet

The other day I walked into the library at school and they were having a breakfast birthday party for the librarian.

It was a very cute idea -- there was coffee, a breakfast casserole and a donut birthday cake! 

I resisted everything at the moment . . .

then!

A friend of mine told me, after the party, that the breakfast casserole was absolutely yummy and I needed to take a bite.

So I did.

I don't like hurting people's feelings!

She was right -- it was so yummy!

So I asked the girl who made it for the recipe.

And you know what?

She doesn't like hurting people's feelings either!

She gave me the recipe!

Yeah, her!

She said it's from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook.  Those are usually good cookbooks, if you haven't heard of them before.  I know the name of the casserole has got be be something different -- but I don't remember, so I renamed it!

Speaking of Gooseberry Patch, here is the website where they post a recipe each week!  http://www.gooseberrypatch.com/gooseberry/recipe.nsf/f.recipeweek

Enjoy!

Library Brunch Casserole 
4 cups croutons (she used "bacon" flavor croutons, found at Wal-Mart)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs, beaten
4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp mustard
1 tbs dried, minced onion
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Spread croutons in the bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, mustard and onion; pour over cheese. Sprinkle bacon
on top; bake at 325 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until set. Serves 8

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving


Psalm 145:7

"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wildrice Harvest Salad


Not long ago I was doing a lunch for a group of ladies and I wanted to serve a cranberry wild rice side dish.

I was researching how to keep rice warm and discovered that it's not really safe to keep rice warm!

Warm rice encourages bacterial growth.

I know -- try not to think about all the times you've eaten "kept warm" rice.  Proof that it was OK is that you're still living -- but I didn't want to be responsible for ladies getting sick!

So I changed the plan and made a cold wild rice salad.

I've never eaten anything like it before and I was kind of creating as I was going.

It actually turned out to be a nice side dish with the chicken.

Later that evening, I even topped a spinach salad with a scoop of the wild rice salad and drizzle poppyseed dressing over it. 

I surprised myself there too!  I liked the way the rice changed the texture of the salad!

Wild Rice  Harvest Salad

1 box of wild rice (no seasoning packet needed)
craisins, to desired taste
1 crisp apple, chopped (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Fuji)
1 can mandarin oranges, "rough drained"
3 TBSP Olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice until tender.  Drain any remaining water from the pan.

While the rice is cooking, mix the olive oil, lemon juice and honey together.  Depending on the amount of rice you are making, or your own taste preference,you may want to double this recipe.  I was making a large amount and I did the recipe times 4.

While the rice is still warm, add in the desired amount of craisins.  The craisins will plump out from the heat of the rice. 

Refrigerate the prepared rice until ready to serve.  I made the rice and craisins the day before.  Before serving, add the chopped apple and the oranges.  I did a "rough drain" meaning that I wanted some of the juice from the oranges in the rice for added flavor and moisture.




Friday, November 18, 2011

Choice Chicken Casserole



The other day I cooked lunch for a meeting of a small group of women.

When I do this, I usually go with my "stand-bys."  Those tried and true recipes that are easy to prepare and taste great!

But this time, I went out on a limb and made a new casserole . . . and a new side . . . it was a whole new day!

Actually, I'm not afraid to try a new recipe on unsuspecting guests -- it's a great way to see if it's a hit or not!  If you think about it -- when you're having company over, just about anything you make for them is "new."  So whether it's tried and true to you -- it makes no difference to them! 

This casserole, when I was making it, I kept thinking, "ummm, I don't know.  I'm not so sure this is going to be good."  It's a Paula Deen recipe, and normally those are great.  Granted, I often make minor adjustments to them after the first time I cook them, but over-all, they're trustworthy.

But I wasn't so sure with this one . . .

'Til the next day -- when I actually heated the casserole up and served it.

It was great!  I thought it tasted good . .. but the true affirmation that it was a keeper . . .

when women go back to seconds, you know it's good!

I had a bit of left-overs that night and that's what I fed my cherubs.  They scarfed it up!  My boy cherub was inhaling when he said, "Mom, is there enough for me to have this for lunch tomorrow?"
Here's what I like about this casserole -- you have a choice!

That's right, a choice!  You can decide to make it with broccoli OR spinach!  That's kind of exciting, don't you think?  This time around, I did the spinach . .. but next time!  Next time, I'm throwing in the broccoli!

"Choice chicken casserole" isn't the real name -- I took the liberty to re-name it! 

Choice Chicken Casserole

2 10 oz packages of  EITHER frozen spinach or broccoli  (remember, it's a choice!)
6 chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and shredded or chopped

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder (I omitted, I didn't have this spice)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Defrost the veggie of your choice.  Drain and squeeze the excess moisture very well.  Place in a large bowl.  Add the cooked chicken.

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and curry powder, if you have it, and the chicken broth.  Stir well and pour the sauce over the veggie and chicken mixture.  Mix well.

Spray a large casserole dish with Pam.  Pour mixture into pan, or divide into two 8X8 pans.

Combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle mixture on top of the casserole(s). 

Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This casserole can easily be frozen!

Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bread Winner!


I've said it before . . .

I am not ashamed . . .

L.O.V.E bread!

I love to make bread -- but that's not the only way to have "good" bread!  You can find some great breads at a local bakery or the deli section of your grocery store . . .

or in the freezer section!

That's right!  The freezer section!

I love these rolls:
You can bake them off and serve them hot, which, by the way, melts your butter just perfectly!  Or, if you need to, you can thaw them out in the bag and dump them into your serving bowl and serve them room temperature.

Which is exactly what I did today!

They are great!  They're moist.  They're tasty. 

And the best part of all -- they're easy!

Right now, I've got 2 thawing out and I'm going to make my cherubs little grilled chicken sliders for their lunch tomorrow! 

That's lunch-box envy, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creamy Ham and Cheese Sandwiches


My family knows that it's time for me to go to the store when we start having "made up meals!"

We're to that point again this month!

It comes around so often!

I had to take my boy cherub to an activity -- but before we left, he ran back in the house.  When he got back in the car he said,  "Dad's gone.  Where is he?"

"Oh, he ran to the store for me."

"Yeah!"  My boy cherub said!

"Oh!  Don't get too excited, he had to get stuff for me to take to lunch tomorrow!"

So, that was my first clue that we're needing stuff -- the boy cherub is noticing!

The second clue is tonight, we're getting a "made up meal."  But using our trusty rating system at dinner, I decided this was worthy to post -- in case you're needing a "made up meal" too this week!

This recipe will drive some of you crazy!  I just started mixing things in, without measuring, going by looks and taste.  You'll have to do the same!  I'll give you a "guess" of how much I used, but remember, it's only a gauge!  Always start with less and add more if necessary -- that's kind of how I do anyway!

Creamy Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

1/2 container of cream cheese spread, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped purple onion
1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup finely chopped cooked ham (or chicken)
4 Hawaiian deli rolls

Combine cream cheese, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and chopped ham in a bowl and mix well.

Place 1/4 of spread on bottom of Hawaiian deli roll and spread to the edges.  Toast the bottoms (with the mixture) and tops of the rolls until golden. 

Serve warm with a side of fruit and some chips. 

Now, my girl cherub, while munching on her new sandwich, said, "Mom, this would be good as a hot dip, with pita chips or something like that!"

There ya go, sometimes a "made up meal" just hits the spot!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing

I heart cranberries!

I've already bought my first three pound bag of cranberries of the season!  It's so exciting!
I've already thought of the many "cranberry" things to make -- and wondered about new recipes!
This is a new recipe.  I'm taking a salad to lunch tomorrow with new friends and wanted something that wasn't expected -- what better than a tart dressing on beautiful spinach greens! 

I'm already excited!

The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of cranberries.  Really!?!?!  Only 1/4 of a cup -- you could hardly taste that!  So, I went a little wild and added more! 
The recipe also called for 1 cup of oil -- but I wanted to add cranberry juice -- one for a little extra punch of tartness and also for color.  So, I reduced the oil significantly and added the juice.  I'm pleased with the changes.  But if you want to fiddle with the recipe -- go ahead, it won't hurt my feelings!

Remember, this has cranberries in it -- so it has a bit of a bite to it -- which I love this Fall season!

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed (original recipe is only 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-3 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil (original recipe is 1 cup)
1/4 cup cranberry juice (original recipe doesn't include this ingredient)

Puree cranberries in processor until smooth. Add vinegar, onion, sugar and mustard and process until well blended. With processor running, gradually add oil and juice and process until well blended. Transfer to serving container. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. 




Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deborah's Hot Chicken Salad


Image taken from Taste of Home

A very long time ago, when we were celebrating the arrival of our youngest cherub, I had this hot chicken salad for the very first time at our baby shower!


I love this recipe!  I love the unique taste that the onion juice gives.  I also like that it's "big" enough for a man!  It doesn't look like "sissy salad on a croisant!"  It makes alot, so if your feeding a hungry crowd, it's a no-brainer!  But, if you just want an easy lunch for your family, it can easily be halved.


With the holidays just around the corner . . .and the hassle  hustle of company coming and going, this just might be a life-saver for you!


Deborah's Hot Chicken Salad

8 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
4 cups mayonnaise
5 cups diced celery
3 8oz cans water chestnuts, chopped
1 TBSP onion juice (found on the spice aisle; this is the "secret" ingredient!)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups crushed potato chips

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, EXCEPT for the cheese and chips.  Pour into 2 greased 9 X 13 casserole dishes.  Sprinkle the tops of each casserole with the cheese and chips.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hot,  at 375 degrees.

Serves 30 for a ladies luncheon.

This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated before baking.  Just don't add the cheese and chips until ready to bake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Poppyseed Cake


This thick batter turns out to be one delicious cake!

YUM!

This is a recipe from my mother-in-law.

When the Mr. and I got married . . .
a long time ago . . .
my mom gathered family favorite recipes
from both sides of the families and
put together a cookbook for me!

It's one of my favorite go-to cookbooks
because it has all of the delicious recipes
from our family and friends!

This cake is one of the Mr's favorite!

Poppyseed Cake

1 yellow cake mix
3/4 cup of oil
2 TBSP poppyseeds
1/2 cup of sugar
1 8oz container sour cream
4 eggs


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pan with pam
and sprinkle with sugar, shaking out excess.

Mix  all of the ingredients together, until well incorporated.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake
passes the toothpick test!

Cool for 15 minutes and then release from pan.
Cool completely on rack.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pineapple Pickles

Image taken from the internet

Once a month, different ladies from our church  host all of the minister's wives for a luncheon in their home.  It's a treat and I look forward to it every month.  The ladies who host us treat us to such generous kindness and incredible food.  Because our church staff is so large, sometimes this is the only time some of the wives get to see each other! 

The other day we had our luncheon for November.  As always, the food was delicious!  This particular day, though, I had something that I had never heard of  . . .pineapple pickles!

I put a small spoonful on my plate, next to the chicken.  After one bite I knew I hadn't gotten enough!  It was delicious!  I think this would be good with poultry, ham, grilled shrimp or salmon, or pork loin.  It would be a nice addition to a holiday meal as well!

Pineapple Pickles
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons diced red jalapeno
2 tablespoons diced white onion
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup chopped pineapple, without juice (can use canned, drain extremely well)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place oil in saute pan and heat.  Add jalapeno and union and saute until tender.  Add all other ingredients into the pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Caramel Popcorn


Who doesn't love caramel popcorn?

Not the gross kind -- that's just kind of all brown color with no flavor?

I'm talking the caramel corn that's perfectly, buttery-vanillay-crunchy popcorn!

The kind that you pour the melted caramel mix over the popcorn, toss to coat, and pop it in the oven on a low temperature to bring out the crunch AND the color!

The kind that you say, "Oh, I'll have just a bit . . . and a bit again . . .and a bit again!"

That's this popcorn recipe!

Caramel Popcorn

2 bags microwaved popcorn, popped and kernels removed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla (or Vanilla Nut OR Buttered Rum from King Arthur!)
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place popped corn in a large pan, such as a roasting pan.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Stir together sugar, butter, syrup, and salt in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and baking soda.  Stir until well combined. 

Pour caramel evenly over the popcorn and stir the popcorn around until well coated.  Place coated popcorn on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Spread on wax paper to cool.  Break into clumps and place in airtight container.

FOR ULTIMATE CARAMEL CORN

nuts
chocolate almond bark, melted

Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pecan or almonds or peanuts to the popped corn

Proceed as directed:  AFTER IT'S COOLED AND BROKEN INTO CLUMPS,  drizzle the melted chocolate almond bark over the popcorn.  Allow the chocolate to set up before placing in a container.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick-or-Treater's

My cherub and his friend, Coleman.
My cherub went to the Fall festival
as a middle schooler . .  . creative!
Our little friend went as a "plain cowboy."
"Plain Cowboy" is 5 years old!

There you go!
My cherub and her friend;
"plain cowboy's" big sister!

My cherub has worn this skeleton outfit since
she made it in kindergarten!
I'm going to say that this was the last
year of sporting it out in public!

Her friend was "Princess Elizabeth."
Elizabeth isn't her name  . . .but she
said if she were a Princess, then she'd
be "Elizabeth!" 

After the Fall Festival at church
we came home and changed into different
costumes and went trick-or-treating
in the neighborhood!

Someone asked my cherub if she
was a housewife!
"No, I'm a girl who just got up!"

Walking down the sidewalk, my cherub
said, "I don't even know what a housewife is!"


My cherub stuffed his check full of
sunflower seeds . . .see?


You may wonder why we change clothes?
Because this momma has carried
pieces of "must have" costumes
around one-to-many Fall Festivals
in my lifetime. 

My rule is this:
"if you won't wear it, I won't carry it."
So for many years now, my cherubs have
just worn something fun and easy to
romp around on those bounce houses.