Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup, a Sweet As Pie Cooking Club selection, has so many things I love...tomatoes, basil, cheese and pasta!  

Last year, during tomato overload at my house, somewhere between the marinara
and the tomato jam , I made my own "sundried"  oven roasted/dried tomatoes.  Of those new things, the roasted tomatoes is the one I'd do again, given lots of fresh garden tomatoes.  Why I didn't share it here, I don't know.   Anyway, I used the last of those tomatoes in this soup.

If I make it again, I'll try substituting one can of the tomato soup with tomato sauce so it's more tomato-ie and not so creamy. 

Not pictured:  Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Why I didn't take a picture to share it here, I don't know!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Jo Jo Potatoes

I think it was back in the 80s that I first had Jo Jo potatoes.  They were at a local convenience store deli counter...actually more like a fried chicken counter than a deli.  I thought they were named after the owner "Joe".  Ha ha, I am so gullible like that!  Anyway, they were GOOD.

Since I liked them so much, I was excited to see them appear on the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club selections.    AND, thanks to the people at Cook's Country there is a simpler process to prepare
 Jo Jo potatoes than I had seen in the past.  Much lighter too, than the breading of the 80s.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lizzie's Strawberry Cupcakes

These strawberry cupcakes showed up on the September Sweet As Pie Cooking Club menu.  Being in a mood for fall food, they didn't catch my attention until I realized I had local strawberries in the freezer.  And I had been saving them for some reason...not sure what...maybe just the right recipe to come along.

Trisha's photo shows that she used paper cupcake liners.  The recipe doesn't say to use them, and I'm not a big fan of them, so I didn't use them.  I didn't want to take a chance of half the cupcake sticking to the liner.  Have you ever tried to eat cupcake off the liner?  Oh, just me?  Ok, nevermind.

If the strawberries don't have syrup, just add a sprinkling of sugar and let them sit in the bowl for a few minutes while they make their own syrup.

The kitchen smells like one big strawberry as these bake!  Yum!

As for the icing, comments in the review say that folks had trouble getting it to blend well.  The butter needs to really be at room temperature and even then mine didn't come out looking as glossy as the photo.

They are VERY good!

Here have a bite.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jack's Brunswick Stew

With fall in the air, despite 80 degree plus temps outside, Trisha Yearwood's uncle Jack's Brunswick Stew sounded really good!  My mother made Brunswick stew when we were growing up and it's been a while since I've had it.  Some BBQ joints around here make it, just be prepared for a "smoked" flavor though.  I was glad to see a stew on the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club.

The recipe called for 1 lb each of beef, pork and chicken.  Since it's difficult to get this small amount at the meat counter (unless you ask the butcher which I usually don't), I chose a package of beef for stew, a small pork roast, and a small package of chicken breast.

This recipe said to puree everything.  I guess I don't get out much because stew, in my opinion is not pureed.  Soups may be pureed, but not stews.  I guess it's a regional thing.  It took about 4 hours to make it so if I pureed everything it would have taken even longer!

I used less corn than it called for but other than that, I followed the recipe...well, except for puree.

Anyway, to make a 4 hour long story short I thought it was good.  The Bassman ate a bowl and didn't care for more.  

Huh?  He didn't like it?!

Not really.

Now what was I to do with the rest of it?  It makes a LOT!  These things have a way of working themselves out.  I took a bunch of it to his aunt's house since his uncle had just passed away and the family was coming in for the funeral.

I liked it, but won't make it again.  And that's a potato chunk in the photo, not pureed.

Sorry Jack and Trisha.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Skillet Rosemary Chicken

I can hardly believe September has come and gone as well as another month of Sweet As Pie Cooking Club recipes!

One thing I wanted to do with our meals this fall is to try more "one pot" meals.  Seems to me though, most one pot meals are really "almost one pot"!   So this Skillet Rosemary Chicken from Food Network fit perfectly in my plan.  It takes 2 pots.

I used chicken thighs because, once again, there were only chicken-zilla breasts at the store.  And I wanted tender chicken, not tough chewy chicken.  Dried rosemary from my herb pot worked well and I didn't need to buy fresh rosemary.  The lemon juice adds a nice zing, although I didn't include the halves in the final one pot.

The Bassman has a like/hate relationship with mushrooms.  I decided to put them in and he could decide to eat them or not.  I wish I had used cremini, like the recipe calls for, because I don't know that I've ever had cremini mushrooms before.   So that means, I'll try this dish again.

Here it is, right out of the oven.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Caramel S'mores Cups

A game day with a few college kids around is a perfect day to make these Caramel S'mores Cups.

They're cute and simple and were a hit!  That bite of chocolaty caramel from the Rolo in the middle was a surprise.

They're best popped in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Skinny Tuna Cakes

After making these Thai Style Tuna Burgers I was excited to see another tuna recipe at the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club.

I would like to include more seafood in our meals but I am concerned about what I'm buying also.   I ran across this site which seems to be user-friendly and a helpful resource and I suppose it's credible...

On to the recipe, this one just wasn't as good as I had hoped.  Lots of onion inside and the tasty mayo on top helped.   I used the entire egg since I wasn't as interested in the "skinny" part of the recipe.  I knew the amount of mayo I might use would more than offset any fat/calorie savings by leaving out the egg yolk!

A great idea, but Sorry Charlie!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Provencal Cherry Tomato Gratin

Provencal Cherry Tomato Gratin was a recipe that I picked from Ina Garten's Foolproof cookbook for the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club.    I love tomatoes and they usually take over my countertops during the summer.   This is why I chose a tomato recipe so I might find a new yummy way to eat them!  Unfortunately, this wasn't such a good year for tomatoes, but I managed to have enough from my brother's garden to make this dish.  

It's very simple and SO tasty!  I took it to a potluck lunch and every.bite.was.gone.  And afterwards several friends asked for the recipe!   I used my own dried thyme and since I never buy country style bread I used whatever bread I had in the cabinet including the crusts. 

The dish doesn't look so appetizing in my photo.   Turns out 40-45 minutes in my oven is a tad too long and the bread crumbs got too brown.   I almost didn't take it to the potluck for that reason, but it didn't seem to stop folks from trying it.

I made it again a couple of weeks later and used dried basil instead of thyme.   Of course tomatoes and basil go good together so it was just as good.

I never would have bought Ina's cookbook for myself, a friend gave it to me.   I've always had the impression that what she calls simple is still over my head and took way too long.  But not this one!!   The more I look at her recipes the more I run across something that looks appealing to try.

These Jalepeno Cheddar Crackers were the first recipe from the book that I tried last year.   

I think the jalepeno and cheddar got my attention, because the thought of "making" crackers did not!!   They're similiar to cheese straws, except better.   Everyone tried one and then I ended up eating the rest....

Ina may have ventured out of the uppity Hamptons and into good ol 'Bama.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peaches, peaches and more peaches!

I've been obsessed with peaches this summer.  It must be a good year for them!

One day on Facebook, my daughter saw the mini peach cobblers made in a muffin pan.  So we made that and it was as good as that basic peach cobbler recipe is.  You know, the one with milk, flour and sugar combined and poured over the butter in the pan...yeah.   I can't find the link now or I would show you.  Anyway, don't do this unless you enjoy cleaning those 12 muffin holes.  Takes about as long as making the cobbler!

In the midst of the kitchen remodel, I rediscovered a couple of cookbooks.  So I tried one of the cobblers in there, hoping to recreate the crispy crust peach cobbler we had back in the school cafeteria.   It turned out just ok.

But I love the Simple Peach Sorbet that I ran across in the Southern Living Homestyle cookbook.  Only 3 simple ingredients!  It's a great way to finish off those peaches that are getting ripe.

Simple Peach Sorbet

4 or 5 fresh ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup sugar
 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1) Process in a blender until smooth, stopping to scape down the sides.  Pour mixture into a pan.  Cover and freeze 3 hours or until firm.
2) Remove the pan from freezer, let stand 10 minutes.  Break frozen mixture into chunks and process again until smooth and serve.

In step 2, after letting it stand long enough to scoop it out of the pan, I skip the rest of that step and just eat it.

Yummy!  Now gotta go join Jamie, she's having a peachy party and Michelle's always having a potluck!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thai-Style Tuna Burgers

I almost passed over these Thai Style Tuna Burgers in the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club selections.  It just didn't sound appealing at the time.  

But I do like canned tuna.  I was raised on it, we had tuna salad sandwiches often for lunch.  I keep a couple of cans in the pantry.  You never know when it will come in handy!  My daughters, however, are not fans of tuna.

So why not try a new spin on it?  This recipe makes 4 burgers, just enough to try without feeling like a lot of time or money was wasted.   It also turned out to be easy and healthy!

The recipe starts with a ginger/mayo mixture.  I used ginger in a jar since I had it on hand.  If you don't care for the strong ginger flavor, just don't spread the ginger/mayo on the bun.

I got my daughter to try it by telling her "if you like ginger with your sushi, you'll like this, just try it".   She liked it.  The Bassman liked it too.

The best thing about them, other than being healthy, is that the 2 year old grandaughter liked it too.  I love a good peanut and butter and jelly sandwich, but I was glad to find an alternative to change out the lunch options!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pork Chops with Garlic and Wine

The kitchen is open now and I'm still trying to find my way around it!  Although I still need to pick out a paint color and actually do the painting myself, maybe I'll take a few photos soon to share.  Getting the island top cleared off to take the photos seems to be as difficult as picking out a paint color!  Ha ha! Anyway, I'm trying to catch up on the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club selections.

This Pioneer Woman Pork Chops with Garlic and Wine dish was pretty quick to prepare.  The number of servings was perfect for our dinner and a lunch of leftovers.

Although we love all the ingredients...we love pork chops on the grill, we love garlic in a lot of things, we love red wine, but we just didn't love these things together.  Maybe using white wine as she suggested would have been better.

Just not one of P-dubs best.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

White Cheddar-Chive Pimiento Cheese

We love pimiento cheese around here so I was excited to see another version to try in the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club.  We put it on bread, crackers and on celery sticks.  It doesn't last long!  I've noticed it a lot lately making an appearance at local restaurants.  They spread it on hamburgers, shrimp and grits and chicken sandwiches!  That reminds me, I should also make Mrs. Mattie's Southern Pimiento Cheese again.

My chive pot out back has been busy this summer!  This recipe is one of the reasons.

The recipe description says the key to great pimiento cheese texture is to grate the cheese yourself (which I usually do) using both sides of the grater (which I usually don't).  

So I tried this dual grating thing (pictured above).  The result is cheese stuck on both sides of the grater.  I didn't notice or hear any feedback on improved pimiento cheese texture.  Sometimes the best things are just quickly thrown together which is what I did and why I don't have more pictures to share!

I took this to my Mom's to have with her chicken stew at our big family gathering.  There were no leftovers!  I'll make it again, probably without pictures again.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Banana Pudding @ The Well

My go-to banana pudding recipe is this one from Southern Plate.   I like my banana pudding warm.

But this summer, the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club challenged me to try a new one.   This was a great opportunity since I needed a large dessert for our Fourth of July get together.  So I chose this one by Paula Deen.

It is a great cold dessert on a hot summer day and everyone loved it!  Even the leftovers were eaten the next day.  It can and should be made ahead of time.  Those Chessman cookies, with their small bag and big price, were a first for me.  I think one can save that $ and use some of those yummy butter or shortbread cookies from the generic cookie section or vanilla wafers.

And then, just as we were enjoying this new version of banana pudding, Paula Deen was all over the news.  Oh my.  Not good.  Is this true?  Is this really happening?  I live in the South and I'm asking myself this question.  Because we're human, racism and judgement of others is a reality.  We all do it, we all judge others in some way and tend to stay in our comfort zone.  It's not easy to deal with.  It gets complicated so then we avoid it.  Our best chance (and only) of overcoming racism is to see each other as God sees us.  Beautiful souls that we are.  Our best chance is for each of us to individually, deep inside us, seek Him and His wisdom first.  Put God's work first and do what he wants.  Then other things will be ours.  Including freedom from this issue that causes so much hate among us.  Treat others like we want to be treated.  It's not easy, but I believe it is possible.

Banana pudding will always be a reminder to me of this event and my need for Him in my life!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Country Quiche

Let's just go ahead and say if there's a man quiche, this Country Quiche might be it.  It has a good ratio of sausage to egg and cheese and no green stuff like spinach!   Trisha says Garth likes it and so did the Bassman and I.  Typically, quiche is one of those dishes that I'll try when someone else makes it.

It is easy to assemble.  Although I fried sausage myself, that step could be skipped by using Jimmy Dean prepared sausage crumbles in the frozen food section.

This was the first dish baked in the new oven.  There's actually nothing that I bake regularly, so might as well try the new oven out with a new dish!

The portion size in the picture above looks deceiving.  I had two of those so be aware a realistic portion size might be closer to 1/4 a pie!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Cheesy-Herb Mashed Potatoes

After this recipe from the Sweet As Pie Cooking club, my next cookbook purchase may be a Cook's Country book.  I have been interested in the TV show off and on but many of the recipes and their process was too much for me, the not-a-gourmet cook.  I hope Jennifer keeps those Cook's Country selections coming to the club!

I've never had Boursin cheese until now.  This cheese takes potatoes to a yummy new level so we'll be having those again!   The nice girl in the Publix deli, told me she loves to spread Boursin cheese on wraps.  She's also very helpful, just look for her, she's the one with the purple streak in her hair and gauges in her ear lobes.  I think she recognizes me as the lost old lady always wandering around looking for something!

1/4c of chives is called for in this recipe.  My chive pot, which was mostly neglected last summer, has been the most popular this summer.  Good thing the pot is full!

The pan sauce is simple.  I used boneless skinless chicken breasts so there wasn't much drippings left in the pan from cooking them, but enough to whip up in the sauce.

Just serve with a green side like the roasted asparagus above.  Oh, and don't forget a fresh garden tomato.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet As Pie Cooking Club - Baja Chicken Sliders

The kitchen is STILL closed and I am WAY behind on the Sweet As Pie cooking club recipes.  But I do have access to a grill and managed to put together the Baja Chicken Sliders that I chose back in May.  Back in May????!   Yes, it's been that long!

The slaw in this recipe is the best part.  Crispy broccoli coleslaw with red pepper, onion, jalepeno, and lime, and cilantro.  Fresh and crisp!

Without a dishwasher and kitchen sink, I'm using way more paper plates than I would like.
The second best thing about this recipe is the sour cream and lime zest spread.

Pile it on the toasted bun with the marinated chicken and slaw.

I was so ready to eat I forgot the lettuce and tomato.  With this slaw, it wasn't necessary anyway.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New Orleans and a "thank you" to Ms. enPlace

The kitchen remodel is moving along, more about that later.  The blog obviously hasn't received any attention these days.    Today is Saturday and the carpenters are working away so I'll finish sharing that surprise trip to New Orleans.

I especially want to give Michelle at Ms. enPlace a big THANK YOU for her local insights. I emailed Michelle to see if she could suggest where the locals eat in New Orleans.  You know it's easy to find the touristy places anywhere and there are a LOT of good places to eat, but I wanted to know where the locals would go.  Michelle gave me lots of places to consider and her recommendations didn't disappoint!  

The Bassman had made brunch reservations at a couple of well known local places.  The first day, we made our way by taxi to Commander's Palace (where Emeril got his start in the kitchen) in the garden district.  I found myself looking often at a layout of the city to see which "district" we were in.  

Turtle soup is one of their specialties and it was good along with that crusty french bread.

Visiting the cemeteries wasn't on our to-do list, but since there was one across the street from Commander's Palace we took a few minutes to take a look.  The architecture is interesting just don't get lost in there!

We made our way back via the streetcar.  This is the way to go as a tourist for no stressful driving!   If they're busy, the timing can be an issue so just make sure you allow plenty of time to get where you're going or better yet don't have a set schedule.

Now on to the French Quarter Festival for some music, sightseeing and lots of walking!

 Of course you don't want to miss Cafe Du Monde's famous beignets.  Are they ever not busy?  More beignets, please!

Dragos just happened to be right down the street from our hotel.  Michelle mentioned that this is one of her parent's favorite places.  And yes, have the grilled oysters.  Now we want to make these on the grill at home, only because there's not a Dragos nearby.

I mentioned earlier about not having a schedule but we did have to set the alarm to make our breakfast reservation at Brennan's.  

Bananas Foster was created here.  This was the fanciest breakfast I've ever had and, yes, I had Bananas Foster for dessert!

Now on to more music, sightseeing and walking.....

...on ROYAL street.  I liked the tile street markers.

WHO DAT cat in the window at the Bourbon Street Veterinarian.

Past a historic architect's house.

On to the house that Michelle recommended for their poboys, Napoleon House in the French Quarter.

I enjoyed the muffaletta.

There was plenty of crawfish at the festival.  Here is the Bassman getting some tips on how they prepare them.  He is getting very good at his own crawfish boil at home.  It is becoming an annual tradition!

Music stages everywhere just stop and listen.  It brought a smile to my face to hear praise and worship music in the French Quarter.

Another place Michelle recommended is Mother's Restaurant.  I wasn't clear on whose mother it was, but her Ferdi special poboy (not pictured) was worth the wait.

Michelle mentioned 7 other places in her email so there was plenty to choose from and not enough time to make it to all of them.  The down side is we both came home with 3 or 4 extra pounds that we didn't have when we arrived!   It was kind of like a scavenger hunt to visit as many as we could and definitely a nice connection to have through a blog!

Thanks Michelle!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Amtrak Crescent to New Orleans

The Bassman surprised me with a long weekend trip for our anniversary.   Now this was a surprise and a treat because I usually get the travel planner title around here!  I admit I was a little nervous about it too!  Not that I'm a control freak or anything...maybe a little.

We often talked about taking the train to New Orleans and we finally did it!   We boarded the Amtrak Crescent in Tuscaloosa.  The train station itself is old, yet clean, and has a lot of character.

We had never taken a passenger train before so this was a new and exciting experience.

Shortly out of Tuscaloosa, we passed Moundville, AL

We stopped at several stations, each with their own character, to board more passengers.  If the stop wasn't your final destination, you're not allowed to get off the train.

There is evidence in some cities that business was good at one time around the train stations.  But sadly, many of the buildings along the route are empty.

Entering Louisiana, you get a great view of wetlands.

Whew, we had just missed a storm!  This was the sunset after the storm over Lake Pontchartrain.  It was a very impressive site.

And on the train ride back to Alabama, we ran into a special friend.   You see our area, as well as others, opened their arms and hearts to those who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  One of those ladies stayed here for a long time until she felt the need to reunite with her family.  She says this is her home away from home and comes back to visit when she can.  Today, she will tell you how God was working in her life through all of this.  You can imagine our surprise to run into her taking the same train back home!

More later on our trip and how a local blogger gave me some great tips!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The kitchen is closed

The kitchen is closed due to illness.  I'm sick of it.

The pans won't fit in the cabinets.  It's not that the cabinets are full (which they are), but they physically will not fit into the narrow door openings!  So they must sit on top of the stove ALL the time.  The taupe countertop has got to go as well as that corner sink.  A corner sink?  Yes.  Sounds and looks neat but put more than one person in there ... well that is the problem...you can't get more than one person at the sink!

The tile floor is cracked and the grout is gradually crumbling away.

It's been 2 months since I've talked about anything except to share a recipe experience with the Sweet As Pie Cooking Club.   No painting projects, no craftiness, no crochet, no sewing.  No project of any kind has received any attention except this one:  the cabinet layout for the kitchen redesign.

Goodbye old kitchen!

Goodbye sunroom floor.

After week 1, the house is a mess with the contents of 3 rooms being shoved into 2 rooms and out in the garage.

The cabinet install started today and I am getting excited to see it come together!

More to come!
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