Do Believe The Hype Bread

anadama bread 3 BBA

Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice has been around for a while and has certainly made the rounds in the food blogging world.  After seeing a few of the recipes on various blogs my interest was piqued, but being a little bit of a skeptic, I told myself this book couldn’t be all that.  I had other baking books that I was sure were just as good, and do I really want to spend two, three, or more days working on a single bread recipe? Continue reading

Barefoot Bloggers Tuna Salad Ina Style

BB Tuna Salad

HELP!!  I’m drowning in parent-of-school-age-children-end-of-the-year–hectic-ness!  Field trips, dance recitals, baseball games, school carnivals….STOP!  I need to come up for air!

I’m always so glad to see the end of the school year, not just because I’ll no longer have to get up at the crack of dawn to rouse children that are dead to the world, but also because after the stressful month of May I just need to decompress.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Tiramisu Cake(wreck)

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Today’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Tiramisu Cake, chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures (click for recipe), turned out to be a little bit of a ‘cake wreck’.

I made half of the cake recipe and baked it in a springform pan, to make it easy to remove and hopefully easier for us to finish!  The cake baked up nicely and came out of the pan with no problems.  When I started to cut it in half, though, it broke up into a bunch of pieces.  Waah!

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Ham-burg-er Bun-s

homemade-burger-buns

I really like knowing exactly what’s in my food.  I’m like one of those kids in the Breyer’s ice cream commercial where they’re reading the ingredients on the carton of the ‘other brand’ saying “polyphenolari-wha?”.  Whenever I can make something myself that is just as good or better than store-bought, I’m all for it.

Lately I’ve been put off by the long list of ingredients in hamburger and hot dog buns.  Even those in the bakery section of the grocery store include things I’ve never heard of.  So, I started searching for a recipe for buns that I could make at home and keep in the freezer.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Chocolate Cream Tart(lets)

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Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind, where everything you do takes 5 hours longer than it should.  I had set some lofty goals for myself around the house and in the kitchen, including hanging bathroom hardware, washing and folding the 50 loads of laundry that had mysteriously piled up over the weekend, spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, baking the Chocolate Cream Tart for Tuesdays with Dorie, carving and cooking a country ham, and making homemade pizza for dinner.  In my mind this seemed quite achievable.

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Barefoot Bloggers Croque Monsieur

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Not the most photogenic sandwich in the world, but soooo rich and cheesy.

The Barefoot Bloggers pick this week comes from Kathy of All Food Considered.  This French sandwich recipe appears in Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  It’s basically a seriously over-the-top grilled cheese.  Dijon, ham, Gruyere, and a white sauce with more cheese makes ONE SERIOUS SANDWICH.  Not necessarily something you would just throw together everyday, but after you make it once, you know it won’t be the last.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

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Okay, tell me you know what I’m talking about.  That look when the cashier who’s checking your groceries picks up some unusual item you’re buying and reads the label – MEXICAN DRINKING CHOCOLATE – raises their eyebrows, and gives a little shrug.  Sometimes they might even say, “What is this?”.  “A citrus reamer”, you answer sheepishly.  Yes, I’m thinking, I know it’s beyond your comprehension why someone might need two popover pans, but I do!

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Don’t Get Them Started Brioche French Toast

brioche-french-toast1

At the grocery store the other day I was in dire need of some windshield washer fluid, and the only kind they had said it was ‘scented’.  I wasn’t really sure how much you would be able to smell something that’s sprayed on the outside of the car, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Much to my amazement, I could actually smell the scent of the fluid after I used it the first time.  It was sort of nice.

Fast forward to about a month later, with the family in the car on the way home from dinner.  After hearing many large insects splatting on my windshield (you know it’s spring in the South), and having just had my car washed that day, I suggested to the husband that he spray some cleaner on it.  This is the conversation that followed:

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Tuesdays With Dorie 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

twd-amaretti-torte

Last night my husband was watching a show on the Golf channel called The Haney Project where Charles Barkley was trying to learn to become a better golfer.  Charles says at one point something like “I just know I’m going to be the one who goes through all this and still sucks.”  I can relate.  I started taking tennis lessons with some girlfriends recently, and I can just see myself being the one who still sucks after it’s all over.  I always wanted to play tennis, but it never came naturally, and no one wants to play with you if you can’t hit the ball back.  I even took tennis as a course in college, but it soon become apparent that everyone else already knew how to play, and were just doing it for the A.  Well, that’s not what I got.

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Barefoot Bloggers Chinese Chicken Salad

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Today I received an email from my best friend/college roommate saying she joined Facebook and that I should “get my butt on there, girl!”  Apparently, she has recently joined and reunited with all our sorority sisters, her high school graduating class, her first boyfriend in kindergarten – well, maybe not him (yet).

I have other friends who are on it, too, but I just can’t bring myself to put it all out there like that.  I know, I know, you can choose who can see your page, and refuse to be “friends”, but this is a Southern girl you’re talking to and we don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, you know?

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The Great Biscuit Debate #3 The Whole Hog

biscuits-3

The biscuits are back.  This time they are made with White Lily flour and half butter, half shortening.  I’ve actually made these a few times, but was just too lazy/busy/forgetful to take a picture.  We’ve been having country ham a lot with the biscuits, my personal favorite biscuit accompaniment.  I’m thinking I must do some research on buying whole country hams, so we can have it more often, but I digress.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Banana Cream Pie

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Ever since my daughter could express herself, she has been an animal lover.  She used to stop people walking by our house with their dogs and ask if she could pet them.  Her book choices at the library always include at least one animal book.  Horses, whales, hedgehogs, naked mole rats – you name it, she wants it as a pet.

But she can’t stand monkeys.  I don’t even know when her dislike for monkeys started, but the first time we went to the zoo she told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want to see the monkeys.  “You know I hate monkeys, Mommy,” she said.  I do??  Monkeys have been very popular on kid’s clothes lately, and she was completely freaked out by this.  At her school one of the third grade teachers had decorated her room with all kinds of fun monkey stuff.  It would have been very traumatic if she had turned out to be my daughter’s teacher.

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Not So Guilty Pleasure Black Bean Nachos

black-bean-nachos

Most of the time I try to cook and eat wholesome, homemade food.  I try to avoid a lot of processed foods, additives and preservatives.  But when it comes to stadium food, my will power goes out the door.  I’m a sucker for hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, popcorn and pretzels.  These things just don’t taste the same at home, good thing.

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Cookies Revisited And A Thank You

cookie-collage

To wrap up Cookie Week here at Shortbread, I’d like to revisit a few of the cookies I’ve waxed poetic about in the past.  If you’re new here, or if you’ve been visiting a while, I’d just like to re-introduce the melt-in your mouth Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies, the over-the-top Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, and the blog-tastic World Peace Cookies.  A little something for everyone.

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Don’t Wake The Dogs Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

kitchen-sink-cookies

It amazes me how a dog can be sleeping so soundly, snoring and chasing squirrels and catching birds, and as soon as a single chocolate chip drops to the floor, he’s awake and in the kitchen scooping it up.  The way their supersonic ears can pick up the sound of a bag of chips being opened from the other side of the house just blows my mind.

Really, I can’t even walk into the kitchen without our dogs being in there under my feet waiting for something to hit the floor.  And the fact that I can be a little clumsy works to their advantage.  But sometimes I would like them to just STAY ASLEEP so I don’t have to worry about them while I’m trying to concentrate on a recipe.

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Always Trendy Thick And Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

tc-choc-chip-cookies

You know you’re getting old(er) when trends start to reappear from your childhood.  Like skinny jeans, legwarmers, and (gasp) shoulder pads.  Some say you should only follow a trend once in your lifetime.  Sometimes, however, a trend returns with such popularity that eventually you just have to embrace it.  Like wide-leg jeans, leggings, and big sunglasses.  I remember thinking I would be glad when the capri trend passed – that’s what my mother wore when she was young – and now they are a fixture in fashion.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Coconut Butter Thins

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I am a procrastinator baker.  If there is dusting to be done, I bake cookies.  Pictures to be hung?  I make bread.  Toilets to cleaned?  I must find a use for those browning bananas.

So this weekend when the floors desperately needed to be swept and mopped, I found myself in the kitchen once again baking up this week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie selection, Coconut Butter Thins.

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Cookie Carnival Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies

carrot-cake-cookies

No, these aren’t oatmeal creme pies!  But they look like them, don’t they?

Kate at the clean plate club has a baking group called The Cookie Carnival.  She will be posting around the end of every month a round-up of all the bloggers that make a chosen cookie recipe.

I’ll tell you, I’m all for celebrating the cookie!  I probably make cookies more than any other dessert, just because they are fun, family friendly, and freezer friendly.  So this week I’m going to have my own Cookie Carnival and post cookie recipes all week.

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Barefoot Bloggers Tomato And Goat Cheese Tarts

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Let’s just get something out of the way right now, before going any further.  I have a serious love for food, and I don’t discriminate.  If you read through all these posts, you would definitely notice the words I LOVE in probably every one.

My kids have been into this game lately where they say, “If you had to choose between chocolate and cake, which would you choose?”, “How about cake or ice cream?”, or “If you had to choose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?”.  They can’t seem to understand when I say I don’t know, that for Mommy, this is the hardest question in the world.  I just can’t choose favorites when it comes to food. It would be like choosing between my children.

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Inaugural Tuesdays with Dorie Blueberry Crumb Cake

blueberry crumb cake

There’s a boy in my son’s second grade class who is constantly making up stories.  And my son, bless his heart, believes every word he says.  Most recently, my son reported, this boy made up a new crayon color, sent it to Crayola, and they are going to start putting in their box of 64.

I had to explain to him that sometimes other people don’t always tell the truth.  “You mean he LIED??”, he asked, horrified.  “Well, this is more like a tall tale”, I told him.  So now he’s never sure he wants to tell me the latest from the tall tale teller, ’cause he knows I probably won’t believe him.  Bless his heart.

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No Cereal Bar Charleston Shrimp

shrimp salad

My husband’s favorite food is cereal.  He could eat it for every meal and snack, with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure, and never get tired of it.  Doesn’t allow me much room for creativity, does it?

Thankfully, he is willing to change it up at dinnertime and eat what I cook.  Lucky for him, he can now get his vitamins from something other than the powdered ones sprayed on his Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

His second favorite food is shrimp, which was his only request for our wedding reception (after being told we couldn’t have a cereal bar).  He loves them in any form (except jumbo) and any flavor, but loves them the most with a big helping of creamy grits.

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The Great Biscuit Debate #2 No Laziness Allowed

biscuits 2

Okay, are y’all ready for some more biscuits?

This is the second batch I made in my ongoing quest for the perfect buttermilk biscuit.  You can find Batch Number One, made with unbleached all-purpose flour and shortening here.  Batch Number Two was made with bleached, enriched flour and shortening, and actually turned into sub-batch a & b (how disturbingly obsessive is this?).

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Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Brownie Pudding

brownie pudding

It really just blows my mind when I think about the number of books in the world.  I feel like I’m in a race to read as many as I can before I die.  There’s just not enough time.

That’s how I feel about recipes, too.  I have tons of cookbooks (and keep buying them!), piles of recipes I have clipped or printed out, a computer file of saved recipes, and a list of my own recipe ideas.  JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME!  I think I need some kind of a plan of action to help me tackle some of these recipes and gain a little sense of control in my kitchen.

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Monday Red Beans And Rice

red beans and rice

Last summer I came across a reference online to a cookbook called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose, and well, the title had me at ‘screen doors’.  I promptly went to Amazon and ordered it, and it turned out to be even better than I imagined.

This book is full of traditional and contemporary Southern recipes from the author’s native Mississippi and I am slowly making my way through each one.  Since I love to read and to cook, I really enjoy cookbooks like this one that have stories and history along with the recipes. Continue reading

Dear John Buttermilk Pound Cake

brown sugar pound cake

Dear Williams-Sonoma,

You are one of my favorite places to shop.  I love to look at your great selection of gourmet kitchen accessories and food products.  The recipes from your catalog and website are always exciting and delicious.  I have really enjoyed building a relationship with you.

It hurts me to say, however, that there is one thing that bothers me about your store that I just can’t get over.

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Back Porch Southern Sweet Tea Cocktail

Firefly cocktail

Finally, a light at the end of the long, cold, winter tunnel.  I do believe I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and would never make it anywhere farther north without a blue light.

After enduring a weekend of cold rain and two children with the flu, I think a celebration is in order.  With temperatures in the 70’s this weekend, I have cracked open my bottle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, bought a few weeks ago with dreams of enjoying it on my back porch.

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I Miss You Fish Man Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

pecan crusted tilapia

In the town where we lived previously, I used to get my fish from a man who would travel on Thursday from Greensboro to Topsail Island and pick up loads of fish and shrimp and bring them back to sell on Friday and Saturday.  I discovered him one day set up across from the Farmer’s Market and bought some shrimp that turned out to be the best shrimp I had ever eaten.  After that I was hooked (pun intended).

I started getting all my seafood from “the fish man”, as my children called him, and would pick it up on Fridays after school (which caused no small amount of moaning and groaning in the back seat).  It was all fresh, never frozen, and top quality.  I found out that I could cook fish at home that tasted better than even what I ate at most restaurants.  Spoiled is what I would call it.

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The Great Biscuit Debate (and the search for the perfect buttermilk biscuit)

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I don’t know what food embodies the South more than the Buttermilk Biscuit.  And just like most other foods of the South, the biscuit recipe is one that is handed down through generations and every family has their own way of making them.  A marriage in the South often leads to a little (or a lot) of argument discussion over what makes a good biscuit.

My mom’s mother could throw together a batch of biscuits in a matter of minutes, cutting hers out with a can and baking the scraps into little pieces for us to snack on.  My dad’s mother would use what I’ve seen referred to as the pinch method – she would pinch off pieces of dough, roll them up and flatten them in the pan with her knuckles.  My mother, a terrific cook and baker, was surprisingly not much of a biscuit maker, preferring the yeast roll or sometimes (gasp) biscuits that came from a can. Continue reading

Don’t Shoot The Messenger Breakfast Tart

breakfast tart
This is the time of year I begin to despise weather reporters.  All I want to hear when I watch the forecast is “Sunny, with a high of 69”, or something along those lines.  But what I get instead is “Freezing rain and snow, high 38.”  That’s when I growl and turn off the TV.

I know it’s not their fault, and it’s nothing personal, but who else can I take my frustrations out on?  I’ve had enough of putting on coats and sweaters and socks – oh, the endless socks I have to wash and sort in the winter!

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Barefoot Bloggers Meringues Chantilly

meringues chatilly 3

I can’t remember my mother or grandmothers ever making any kind of meringue when I was growing up.  They didn’t put meringue on top of their banana pudding, or make divinity.  In my foggy memory I think I might have made some kind of meringue dessert since I have been married, but it doesn’t stand out in my mind.

That should have been a hint…

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Muscle Building Homemade Mayo And Cashew Curry Chicken Salad

cashew chicken salad

I was inspired to make my own mayonnaise this weekend.  Let me tell you, it was TOUGH ON THE FOREARM.  You have to whisk, whisk, whisk, the whole time you are S-L-O-W-L-Y adding the oil.  A cup and a half of oil didn’t seem like a lot to whisk at first, but I think it multiplied while I was working!  The kitchen got a little shower of oil when I found out I’m not quite as coordinated with my left hand.  It makes me wonder whether you could make it work in the ol’ Kitchenaid.  I’m trying that next time.

We don’t really use much mayonnaise in my house, actually, I’m the only one who eats it and not that often.  The husband has sworn it off, along with Chinese fast food and pretty much lunch altogether (it’s a lot like this).  I don’t tell him it’s in the pimento cheese.

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Coffee Love Yogurt Cake

yogurt-cake

I first started drinking coffee in college to help me stay awake at night so I could study longer.  I discovered, however, that it only helped me to sleep on the couch with a book in my lap longer.  I do love it still, especially the smell of freshly ground beans – I probably could just snort it right out of the coffee grinder!  (Maybe that would have worked better in college.)

I have heard all the health benefits that come from tea drinking, and I like hot tea, but it just can’t replace a fresh, hot cup of coffee in the morning.  I figure I’ll just get my ‘tea vitamins’ from ice tea.

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Low Maintenance Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

butternut squash

Say hello to my newest favorite fall/winter vegetable, the butternut squash.  No offense to the sweet potato, which still carries me through the fall and winter with its sunny and warm disposition.  But now I can add another just as sunny and warm vegetable to my weekly grocery list.  It has all the things you could want – it’s healthy, tasty enough the kids will eat it, and easy to prepare.  Trust me, I’m not a fan of high maintenance vegetables.  Roasting it in the oven (my newest favorite way to cook vegetables) really takes it over the top.  If you haven’t already discovered the beauty of the  butternut squash, don’t put it off any longer!

Here are some great tips for preparing this jewel:

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Super Saturday Light And Crispy Waffles

stawberrry waffles

Some Saturdays you just want to sleep in, then get up and have a big cup of coffee and lounge around reading, watching the food channel, doing some online shopping – mainly just being lazy.  These waffles are not for those Saturdays.

These waffles are for the Saturdays when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, and you wake up rested and ready to treat yourself (and the rest of your household) to some light, crispy, ready for the butter and syrup waffles.

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Chicken Of The Sea Herb Butter Scottish Salmon

herb butter salmon

Until just recently, my children knew of only two types of animal protein:  “chicken” and “meat”.  The chicken category included not only chicken, but also fish, pork and turkey.  And the meat category included beef, venison, and sometimes ham.  They were told to “eat your chicken” or “eat your meat”, no matter what it was.  This was mainly to avoid the whole “eeewww, I don’t like fish/pork/turkey” reply for as long as possible.

Apparently, Jessica Simpson’s mother never got past this point with Jessica, but we have now started to call things by their real name, and the kids have become curious as to where all their food comes from, so we have to tell them that, too.  And since they have eaten these things before and like them, they can’t really argue about eating it just because it has a strange name.

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Valentine’s Day Don’t Be Late Pink Velvet Cupcakes

pink velvet cupcakes

When you live in a small town, often that means one road from your house to where ever you’re going.  And that often means you’re most likely to end up driving behind someone going at least five miles under the speed limit when you are running late for something, be it work, school, doctors’ appointments, karate lessons, whatever.  So it doesn’t help to be someone who is always ten minutes late for everything.

Unfortunately, that is the situation I find myself in quite often, therefore resulting in a lot of cussing (silently, so the children can’t hear) at those who left in plenty of time to get to where they’re going.  I have dreams of becoming one of those people, and I haven’t given up.

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Barefoot Bloggers Real Meatballs And Spaghetti

meatballs and spaghetti

When I was a new bride, I already had a few dishes in my cooking repertoire, but I wanted to learn to make some of my husband’s favorite dishes, too.  So I asked his mother to teach me to make these recipes, and one of them was spaghetti.

Here’s what she puts in:  onion, ground beef, tomato sauce (sounds pretty ordinary so far, right?), ketchup, tomato soup, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/3 cup of sugar.  Not that it tastes bad or anything, I mean I had eaten it a few times before and it tasted fine, but not only is it way different than what I learned to make from my mother, but it’s almost like sacrilege to even call it spaghetti sauce, what with all the crazy things it contains.  My brain just can’t seem to accept it as spaghetti sauce.

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My Grandmother Was Green Peanut Noodle Salad

peanut noodle salad

My Grandmother was green.

Not the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba Thropp kind of green, but the eco-friendly, earth-preserving kind of green.  She kept her thermostat turned way down in the winter and way up in the summer (if on at all).  She never let the water run while washing the dishes.  She hung her clothes on a clothes line.  She re-used plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  She had a garden that grew a lot of her food.  She used her coffee grounds and egg shells in her flower garden.  And she never threw away food.

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Snow Days Breakfast Casserole

breakfast-casserole

When I was growing up, my family lived beside my grandparents.  I had an aunt and uncle that lived about two hours away in the country.  I remember that whenever there was a big snow, though, they were always at our Grandma’s.  I really didn’t think about it much at the time, my cousins and I were having too much fun playing and sledding and being out of school.  But when I got older I realized that they must have heard the forecast and started frantically packing everyone in the car to head to Grandma’s house so they wouldn’t be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no power, no neighbors, and worse yet, no one to play with in the snow.

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World Tour Day Six Cranberry Pecan Scones

cranberry scones

World Tour Day Six:  Great Britain.

The first time I had scones with real clotted cream and jam was in London at the hotel where we were staying.  I was very excited to sit for a proper afternoon tea and enjoy the formality of the tradition.  Even though I had eaten a nice lunch not long before, I was determined to have a pot of tea and scones while I was there, hungry or not!

I like a little tradition and I like a little formality now and then, too.  I have to say, I get a little frustrated with how casual and informal things have become.  I swear I was sitting beside a woman at the movies last night who was wearing her pajamas and bedroom slippers!  It just makes me a little uncomfortable.  I mean, if you want to watch a movie in your pj’s, get something from the movie store and stay home!  I’m really not interested in what you wear to bed.

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World Tour Day Five Almond Whiskey Sour Cocktail

almond whiskey sour

World Tour Day Five:  Italy.

I am in search of a signature cocktail.  Something that I can order at any bar, or have someone make for me at their house, or that I can throw together at cocktail hour.  Something that is simple to make, includes a few fairly common ingredients, and that will please me when I’m not in the mood for a special drink.  And most of all, something that says “KAREN”.

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World Tour Day Four Salsa

salsa

World Tour Day Four:  Mexico.

When I was pregnant with my first child, this was what I craved.  A big bowl of salsa and some chips and I was good to go.  At the time, I was working three days a week and on those days I would suggest/coerce/force the girls in the office to go with me to the Mexican restaurant for lunch.  We would go to one of the many in the area, all named after some Jose – San Jose, Juan Jose, Don Jose – it didn’t matter which to me, as long as they kept the salsa bowl filled.  I know the girls were glad when my due date finally came.

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World Tour Day Two Hummus Dip

hummus

Day Two of the World Tour:  The Middle East.  Or at least I think so.  It seems that hummus has been around so long, since pre-history even, that its origins aren’t exactly clear.  It is most widely credited to the Middle East, though, so that’s what I’m going with. If you’re interested in a brief history lesson on the subject, check out this site – The Straight Dope: Fighting Ignorance Since 1973 (its taken longer than we thought).

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World Tour Day One Tattie Scones

tattie scones 2

I’ve been on a little bit of a cooking world tour lately.  Kind of like my rockin’ Rock Band 2 band, Crash Warning, with whom I’ve been traveling around the world on tour this weekend (I’m just a little bit addicted to this game, okay maybe a lot).  Probably it just has to do with the fact that I enjoy experimenting with different flavors from different cultures.  So this week I am going to write about some of the recipes from around the world that have made it onto my table recently.

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Parts Is Parts Venison Stew

Venison Stew

My husband is a hunter.  It’s his hobby, pastime, passion.  He brings home the bacon in both senses.  And I like the idea of getting some of our meat from the wild instead of a grocery store.

I was raised, however, in the era of the cleaned and washed, plastic wrapped, part-labeled meat package.  Very neat and tidy with no confusion as to what piece of meat you have.  To my dismay, the person who does the packaging of the meat my husband brings him is not too concerned with which part is which, there are no labels at all.  Obviously, to him “parts is parts”.

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Barefoot Bloggers Cheese, Cheese And More Cheese

cheese platter

The summer my husband and I got married, we went on a trip to Paris.  I was in food heaven.  Crusty bread with every meal, wine all the time, and cheese, cheese, and more cheese.  At restaurants the waiters would come around with the cheese tray so you could pick which cheeses you wanted and they would just slice some onto your plate to eat with your crusty bread.  It was cheese bliss.

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Rapper GP Turkey Olive Panini

Olive Turkey Panini

We have what I call a small zoo at our house.  Two dogs, a bunny and a guinea pig that all eat, drink and make waste, to put it mildly.  The kids have to be reminded quite often who these animals belong to and whose responsibility they are.  We have threatened to give away said animals quite often, also.  But as I was looking through my photos this weekend, I discovered that the animals do find a way to get a little attention.  This was just too funny not to share. Continue reading

Furniture City Olive Dip

Olive Dip

Most days I would rather just have a plate full of different appetizers than a main dish.  What I like most about going to parties is getting to do just that, and being able to see what kinds of new things are available.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone brings something like Captain’s Wafers wrapped in bacon and Parmesan cheese, or cream cheese covered with caramel and toffee bits, or chocolate chip cheese ball. Continue reading

Barefoot Bloggers Easy Sticky Buns

Sticky Bun

You know how it goes.  You’ve made something really yummy and the last one is waiting at home for you after you’ve say, taken the kids to school in the wee hours of the morning, or worked all day, or worked out extra hard, etc.  Then when you finally get to the kitchen to sit down and enjoy your treat, all you find is AN EMPTY PLATE. Continue reading

Peace

World Peace Cookies

In honor of the Inauguration yesterday, I baked up a batch of World Peace Cookies.  If only baking cookies could solve the problems of the world…

Our new President has a hard road ahead and I, like everyone, hope he is what America needs to get us through.  In the meantime, bake some cookies for you and yours and spread some peace in your own corner of the world. Continue reading

No Glue Guacamole

Guacamole

We live in a small town on the outskirts of a larger metropolitan area.  Since we moved here just about a year and a half ago, many restaurants have come and gone.  A pizzeria, two delis, an Italian restaurant, a country kitchen, and a bar and grill have all closed.  We still have a barbecue place, a chicken shack, two bar and grills, and a southern style restaurant, along with the usual smattering of fast food and pizza chains.  But the restaurants that really do the business here are the Mexican and Chinese places.  There are at least three Chinese restaurants that I can think of, and there may be more hidden somewhere in the strip malls.  I have to admit that I haven’t been to any of them, and not for any reason in particular, but I’ve heard they are all pretty good.  A new Mexican restaurant just opened up last week, which is really a good thing, since the other one is packed every night of the week.  I have been to both of these, and I can say they are both pretty good, too.  I just have one complaint. Continue reading

What’s The Deal? Weekend Harvest Grain Wheat Baguette

whole-grain-baguette1

What is the deal with this cold weather??  “Arctic air mass drives through the south” says one TV station.  Wrap water pipes, leave faucets dripping, cover outside plants?  What?  It’s not very often that my part of the south hears things like this and that’s one of the reasons I like it here so much.  Long summers and mild winters are right up my alley.  But I guess we need some below freezing weather every once in a while to kill all the mosquitoes. Continue reading

Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Even though it’s origins are in New York, cream cheese is something the South has embraced as one of it’s favorite ingredients to elevate a recipe from really good to heavenly.  Think carrot or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, or any other kind of layer cake, cupcake or sheet cake for that matter.  Think cream cheese pound cake, brownies, or pumpkin roll.  Think cheese balls and cream cheese dips of endless variations, and meat or vegetable casseroles.  Even cream cheese fruit and jello salads.  Throw some cream cheese in it and call it DUUN!

Continue reading

Six Degrees of Martha Stewart Cheese Grits

Cheddar Grits With Roasted Vegetables and Egg

When I used to live in the “Furniture Capital of the US”, I was invited to the premiere of Martha Stewart’s furniture line at one of the showrooms there.  I’m not really sure how I ended up on the guest list, and I thought it was a joke at first, but I RSVP’d for me and my guest and my mother and I dressed up and went.  As we sat there with all the furniture buyers and sellers, we realized listening to Martha speak that she actually has a really good sense of humor.  She is actually very funny in person, something my mom and I agreed wasn’t displayed in her television shows. Continue reading

Tickle Your Taste Buds Crispy Apricot Pork Chops

Crispy Pork Chops

I have read that children have a greater number and more sensitive taste buds than adults.  I have also seen it noted that it can take a child anywhere from 10 to 20 tries of a new food before they develop a taste for the food.  Also, around the age of seven is when children begin to be more open to the idea of trying new foods.  Lucky for me, my children have just arrived at that magical age!  Not so lucky for them, I now get to flex my wings and dive into the vast expanse of the produce section.

Gone are the canned green beans and frozen corn.  Today there will be eggplant, zucchini, arugula, butternut squash and even (gasp) turnips!  Beans of every variety and melon and grapefruit.  I might only be able to convince them to taste one bite, but that’ll do for now. Continue reading

What’s The Dill Potatoes

Dill Potatoes

I have often wondered what the deal is with going into a store looking for some help, only to find that all the employees of said store have gone to lunch/gone on break/mysteriously disappeared/were never there in the first place.  Recently I went to a major home improvement store to buy some light fixtures.  After a long dialogue with myself and my daughter about which fixtures to buy and a lot of putting things in and taking them out of my cart, I finally made a decision.  Then I realized that the last one I needed was on the VERY TOP SHELF. Continue reading

A Tale Of Two Toffees

Two Toffee Brownies

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

It could have been much worse of course, but the wind storm we had really made a mess of my car.  A tree fell and the top half flew onto my car.  Crazy.  Lots of dents and cracks and broken things.  I hope falling trees are not going to become a pattern.

The question is, what does one do when such a depressing, frustrating thing happens?  Go for a jog?  Do some yoga?  Scream at the top of one’s lungs?  Well, I chose to bake brownies.  Not just one, mind you, but two kinds of brownies to help ease my mind. Continue reading

Barefoot Bloggers Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

*There was no entry yesterday since high winds and rain caused a loss of cable and internet service and a tree to fall on my vehicle.  No kidding.  More on that subject tomorrow.

Today is about pancakes, one of my cooking obsessions.  I’m not sure when my obsession started, possibly when I got married and realized I would be making them every weekend forever.  Or it could have to do with my perfectionist tendencies and the fact that I can’t be satisfied with good or even great.  I need to hear “these are the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten!” Continue reading

Sage Advice From An Eight-Year-Old & The Best Bloody Mary

The Best Bloody Mary

Let’s talk New Year’s resolutions.  I, personally, find it helpful to make them.  Usually by the end of the year I am sliding down the slippery slope of not-so-healthy eating, disorganization, and crazy stress from the holidays.  Resolutions help me get back on track.  I don’t make strict rules like “no sugar” or “loose 10 pounds” or “exercise every single day” because I just don’t have that much willpower.  My resolutions always start with TRY. Continue reading

You Say Peecan and I Say Pahcahn Shortbread

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread

It’s the most famous nut in the south, with the most variations on how to pronounce its name.  I tend to change the way I say it depending on where I am.  With my family in NC – PEECAHN.  With my family in SC – PEECAN.  With the girls in the Junior League – PAHCAHN.  It’s all the same to me, and the pecan is probably the nut I choose first for my recipes.  They are so good just off the trees in the fall, and they freeze well, too.  And when you toast them, it takes them to another level. Continue reading

Peanut Butter of the South Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese and Bacon Sandwich

North Carolina author Reynolds Price once wrote about pimento cheese:  “…it was the peanut butter of my childhood–homemade by mother…I’ve been caught eating a pound in two days (though it keeps well), especially if life is hard.”  We definitely had peanut butter in our house growing up, and still do, but pimento cheese (we call it PUHMINNA cheese) was and is my “stand at the sink” sandwich of choice.  I can eat it as an appetizer, on top of my burgers, in between two slices of white bread, and lately as my favorite version with bacon and tomato (if it’s summer) on whole wheat as pictured above. Continue reading

Back From the Black Hole Tomato and Olive Pasta

tomato and olive pasta

Our garage has turned into a black hole.  Like the washer and dryer that secretly steal single socks, the garage has been sucking things into the vast emptiness of oblivion, never to be seen again.  The tool box, the dog’s backpack, my Christmas china.

I blame this on the fact that we have moved twice in the past two years and on the moving company we used for our last move to try to save money.  JUST-PLAIN-SCARY.  However, during the transition we didn’t unpack all the boxes from the first move.  So I have also rediscovered things I forgot I had.  An ice cream maker, a gilt frame mirror, these soup/pasta bowls that go with my Christmas china. Continue reading

Chai Yai Yai! It’s Hot Toddy Time

Chai Yai Yai Cocktail

You know it’s going to be one of those days when your oatmeal boils over in the microwave, your printer refuses to print your Christmas card addresses in the center of the labels, you realize after signing, labeling, stamping and sealing one hundred and fifty Christmas cards that your husband put the stamps on the wrong side of the envelopes, and you get home to find your Christmas tree that was leaning slightly when you left has now FALLEN COMPLETELY TO THE FLOOR. Continue reading

A Fresh Start

I believe there are two categories of cooks – those who cook so others can enjoy the food, and those who cook so they can enjoy the food.  I happen to fall into the second category, so my family and friends are often served creations from my kitchen which incorporate my favorite food groups:  cheese, bread, and potatoes (preferably french fried), and we almost never have the same thing twice.  I always thought this was the case in every household until I met my mother-in-law, who will not eat anything made with cheese, mayonnaise, milk, or processed meat products.  I discovered this at our wedding shower when she didn’t eat, even though there was creamy olive dip, cocktail hot dogs, cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, and chicken salad.  However, she makes some of the best homemade macaroni and cheese, ham salad, and cheesecake.  Go figure.  She once asked me if there was any food I didn’t like…I was stumped. Continue reading