I’ve been gone a while, I know! To be honest, I didn’t have much time to bake over the Christmas holidays because we were so busy traveling. I did bake a little, but it was mostly things I already have in my blog. And while I’ve been gone my baby turned 6 months old!! It’s so hard to believe. He’s been eating cereal for a couple months now and finally is getting the hang of it I think. So I decided it was time to start him on some solid foods. I’ve always wanted to make my own baby food, one because it’s cheaper and two, it really seems easy to do. So I decided that I would start off with carrots. I’ve read not to start off with fruits because babies will tend to prefer sweeter foods more than veggies, but I didn’t want to start off with green foods either. So I thought carrots would be a happy medium. It’s pretty self explanatory how to do this but here are the steps.

Baby Food: Carrots

4 large carrots, peeled, washed, and cut up into small pieces

Steam until tender. Allow to cool.

Puree in a food processor until very smooth. Scrape down the sides to make sure you get all the carrots pureed.

Spoon the pureed carrots into ice cube trays and cover with foil. You can also use these baby food freezer trays. Place in the freezer.

Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the trays and store in freezer bags. Be sure to label them with what’s in the bag and when you made it.

4 large carrots made about 6-7 one oz. servings.

I will probably make more next time, but I wasn’t sure how much it would make. You can thaw the frozen cubes in the fridge overnight and thin with water or cereal/formula/breastmilk combo if needed.

And the result of my first baby food making attempt??

He ate them! He doesn’t look very happy in this picture, but he really did seem to like them. He kept opening his mouth for more every time I would show him the spoon. After a few days of trying carrots, we’ll move on to the sweet potatoes. Everything I’ve read says you should wait a few days in between trying new foods in case one particular food causes an allergic reaction. Something else I learned is that I should probably take his clothes off before feeding him and maybe wear a raincoat! It was so messy and we had carrots on his clothes, the table, and me!

Baby Food: Sweet Potatoes

Thoroughly wash 3 medium sized sweet potatoes. Poke holes all over each potato with a fork. Wrap in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 1 hour-1 hour 15 min. They should be fork tender. Allow to cool. Remove the skins from the sweet potaotes and discard. Place the potatoes in a food processor and puree until very smooth. Spoon into freezer trays. Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the trays and store in labeled freezer bags.

3 medium sweet potatoes made 12 one oz. servings.

 

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Hosting My First Thanksgiving

November 28, 2008

I’m back and just in time for a Thanksgiving post. This was my first year hosting Thanksgiving and let me tell you, I was so excited. I’ve always wanted to host turkey day at our house, but we normally go to my in-law’s. But this year, they were out of town and we weren’t able to go to my parents’ so they decided to come here. So my first Thanksgiving was a small one; just me, my husband, and my parents.

My family likes pretty traditional foods for Thanksgiving so I decided I’d play it safe and just make everyone’s favorite foods so there would be no misses. After browsing through lots of recipes I finally settled on the ones I would use. After a lengthy (and expensive) trip to the grocery store I was finally ready to get started. Thankfully, I got off work early on Wednesday so I could get a head start on the prep work. My parents came in Wednesday night so my mom helped me a lot on the actual day. And the verdict? Everything turned out great! But if I learned one thing from hosting my first Thanksgiving it would be that it’s a lot of work! I am so much more appreciative of my great-grandmothers, grandmother, my mom and mother-in-law who have planned and hosted Thanksgiving for many more people than I did for many years now. I would love to host again, but I think I might have to go into training beforehand next time. ; )

On the menu this year:

Garlic and Citrus Brined Turkey

For the brine
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
3 bay leaves
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 gallon water

For the turkey

1 8-10 lb turkey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in 1 gallon of water. Place the turkey in a large stock pot or brining bag. Pour the brining solution over the turkey. Add the sliced oranges, lemons, garlic and bay leaves to the brine solution. Refrigerate over night or place in a cooler with ice. Before cooking the turkey, rinse it well inside and out and pat dry with papertowels. Rub the turkey inside and out with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook as desired.

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And yes, that is canned cranberry sauce…the only kind my family and I like!

Dressing

2 cups prepared cornbread, crumbled
2 cups Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing mix
8-10 crumbled crackers (saltine or club will work)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
chicken broth (about 3-4 cups, enough to make the bread mixture moist)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Begin my sauteing the onions and celery in a little olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes. In a large bowl, combine cornbread, stuffing mix, celery, onion, butter, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Add chicken broth until the mixture is very moist. It will be just slightly soupy but the bread will absorb the liquid. Place in a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake 35-40 min.

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Sweet Potato Casserole
(my mother-in-law’s recipe)

3 cups sweet potatoes, cooked until tender (should be easy to mash) about 4 med potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a baking dish.

For the topping:

1 cup pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted
1/2 cup flour

Mix all dry ingredients and sprinkle over casserole. Pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min. The top should be bubbly and have a golden crust.

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Jiffy Apple Pie

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 box Jiffy yellow cake mix
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place chopped apples in an 8×8 baking dish. In a bowl, mix dry cake mix, cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Slice the stick of butter into thin slices and place all over the top of the cake mixture. Bake for 35 min or until the top is golden and bubbly.

 

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This apple pie is obviously not a traditional apple pie. It’s best served warm as a dessert topping for vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Classic Pecan Pie

  • 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.
  4. **To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.
  5. RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.
  6. NUTRITION TIP: To reduce calories, substitute new Karo® Lite Syrup for the Karo® Light or Dark Corn Syrup.
  7. High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

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My only complaint from the whole Thanksgiving dinner was that my pecan pie didn’t set. It’s the first one I’ve ever made and I followed the directions exactly, and it just didn’t set in the middle. I’m not sure why, but I’ll definitely be making another one in the future and hopefully will have better luck with that one.

Along with this we also had green beans and rolls.

It’s hard to believe I’m from the south and have never made potato salad. I’ve always liked it, but have always bought it from the deli counter or eaten some that other people have made. Well my husband invited my in-laws over last night to grill out and while he was in charge of the grill, I of course, was in charge of the sides. I thought potato salad would be a good side for grilled burgers. Since I knew I’d be working all day, I decided to make this potato salad the night before. This recipe is a little different in that the potatoes are roasted instead of boiled like in most potato salads. It turned out really good and everyone seemed to like it. I do think making it a day ahead really helped all the flavors to meld together nicely. I got this recipe from a cooking chat board that I frequent. Thanks ad52905 for this great recipe!

Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing
From Cooking Light

3 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 bacon slices (uncooked), chopped
2 cups diced Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 2 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar(I used red wine vinegar because that’s all I had on hand)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring once. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds. Add onion mixture and bacon to potatoes; toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes.

Combine mustard, mayonnaise, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add mustard mixture and parsley to potato mixture; toss gently.

8 servings (yield: 1 cup)

 

Let the Food Speak for Itself

February 26, 2008

I don’t have much to say in my post tonight. I could probably come up with some funny or witty little story to throw in here but I won’t. This is what we had for dinner tonight and it was great which is why it’s in my blog in the first place. ; ) The scalloped potato recipe is my favorite, I haven’t made it in a while, so I made it tonight to go with our barbecue chicken and roasted broccoli. So try it, you’ll like it. And that’s about all I’ve got to say. ; P

PS: If you’re reading this and you have a blog, you know you have posts like this too. And if you don’t, you know you want to sometimes. : )

Scalloped Potatoes

5-6 red potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
1 Tbsp italian seasoning
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or blend of cheeses
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. In a dutch oven or other heavy pan melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook 3-4 minutes until the onion cooks down a little. Add the garlic and italian seasoning and cook about a minute. Next add the chicken broth, milk, salt and pepper. Place the sliced potatoes into the pan, cover and let simmer about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly tender. Top with the cheese and place the pan into the oven for about 15 minutes. Let sit 10 min before serving.

Low Country Boil

January 15, 2008

You can’t really get more simple or more rustic than this dish. Traditionally, a low country boil is done outside on a hot summer day, in a huge pot over a burner. Once everything is done, the water is drained and the contents of the pot are poured out onto a large table covered in newspaper where everyone serves themselves. I never really liked that part of it because all I could think about was the ink from the newspaper getting on my food. But anyway, I love the simplicity and unpretentiousness of this dish. The key to this dish is really the timing. You have to know just when to add all the ingredients to ensure everything is done at the same time. Unfortunately I overcooked the potatoes a little tonight and they came out sort of mushy. My husband and I still enjoyed it though. While this is normally a dish for a large crowd, I made it on a somewhat smaller scale and it’s still a great meal for 2.

Low Country Boil

-5-6 medium red potatoes, quartered (you could also use small red potatoes and leave them whole. It actually works better with the smaller ones.)
-4-6 small ears of corn
-1 lb cleaned, deveined shrimp with tails
-2 links Cajun smoked sausage, sliced diagonally
-2 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
-1/4 cup salt

softened butter, sliced lemons, and Cajun Spice mix for serving

Begin by boiling 8 qts of water in a stock pot. Add the salt and Old Bay seasoning. Add potatoes and cook for about 10-12 min. Next, add the sausage and corn on the cob. Cook about 7 minutes and then add the shrimp. Boil another 3-5 min just until the shrimp are pink and heated through. Drain water and pour the contents of the pot onto a platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 2 Tbsp Cajun Spice Mix or additional Old Bay seasoning. Serve with lemon wedges and softened butter.


Since the new year has started, I’ve been trying to find some healthier recipes online. I ran across this one by Ellie Krieger today on the Food Network website. I make roasted potatoes all the time, usually with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder or italian seasoning. But this recipe calls for minced garlic. So I decided to make these fries tonight to go with the chicken and green beans I was already making. These are definitely better than my regular roasted potatoes. The slightly crunchy bits of garlic are a nice surprise when you bite into the fries.

Garlic “Fries”

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used 1 tsp dried parsley since I didn’t have fresh on hand.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.Heat the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil with a small mesh strainer. Set both garlic and oil aside.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley, reserved garlic, and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.

I also had some greek dressing in the fridge that I made the other day. I found the recipe in a cookbook I received for Christmas, Christmas with Paula Deen. I thought it would be great as a marinade for chicken breasts also. I marinated the chicken for about an hour in the dressing and then pan seared it for a few minutes in a skillet with some olive oil. Then I finished cooking it in the oven for about 15 minutes. It turned out so good!! I highly recommend this dressing for a salad or as a marinade. It was delicious both ways.

Greek Salad Dressing

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sugar (I added a bit more because the lemon juice was a little too acidic)

Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to use, allow the dressing to come to room temperature and shake well. Makes a little more than 1 cup.

 


On my quest to avoid the grocery store until the end of the week, I pulled out my last two boneless skinless chicken breasts to defrost this morning. I had no idea what I wanted to do with them but I was determined to use what I had on hand. I figured I’d come up with something fabulous by dinner time. While I was at work today, I remembered hearing a buzz about a chicken recipe on Elly’s blog. A lot of people had made it from a cooking board that I frequent. In fact, so many people have made it, it’s being called “chicken Elly”. So I looked it up and decided that’s what I’d make tonight. It was really easy using basic ingredients that I always have on hand. I followed it exactly except for the fact that I used chicken breasts and she made this with leg quarters. I also used skin on red potatoes. It was great! So Elly, how does it feel to be famous? ; )

How I made it:
(I’m copying this straight from Elly’s post) : )

First, peel and quarter (or eighth) the potatoes (I use 2 small or medium russets). Then, add some extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon to a baking dish. Add the potatoes and the chicken leg quarters to the baking dish, and turn them around to coat them with the EVOO (sorry) and lemon juice. Then, add salt, pepper and dried oregano to the chicken and potatoes. Flip them, and salt, pepper & oregano the other sides. Add about 1/3 cup of chicken broth to the pan (so it just covers the bottom of the pan, about 1/4″ or so standing). Squeeze the rest of the lemon over the whole thing. Bake it for about an hour at 400*. Check on it 1-2 times to add chicken broth as necessary or baste the chicken with the juices.

Breakfast for Dinner

September 7, 2007


Breakfast foods are probably some of my favorite foods and some days there’s nothing better than breakfast for dinner. Ever since we went on vacation a few weeks ago and I had the best sweet potato pancakes ever, I have been wanting to try and make them at home. I was planning on saving this for a weekend morning but thought it would be a great dinner too. So tonight was my first attempt at sweet potato pancakes and I’m happy to say they turned out so well! I will go ahead and confess that I used Bisquick for the pancake batter. I used to only make homemade pancakes, but they never turned out any better than when I used a baking mix so I switched back. I had read several different recipes online, all different, and finally decided to just come up with my own. At any rate they were very light and fluffy and not overly sweet potato-y. Very delicious! We had these tonight with smoked sausage links and warm maple syrup.


Sweet Potato Pancakes

2 cups baking mix like Bisquick
1 3/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 small sweet potato, cooked and pureed
cooking spray

Combine baking mix, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl. Add milk, eggs, melted butter and pureed sweet potato. Stir until batter is mostly smooth. Heat a grill pan (or skillet) over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Pour batter onto hot grill pan. When the batter starts to bubble, flip the pancake over and cook on the other side until golden brown. It only takes about 35 seconds per side depending on how hot your pan is. Repeat for desired number of pancakes. This recipe makes about 10-12 large pancakes. Serve with warm maple syrup.

*I baked the sweet potato wrapped in foil at 425 degrees for about an hour and 15 min. I refrigerated it over night until I was ready to use it tonight and then pureed it.
*Next time I make these I’d like to add some toasted, chopped pecans to the batter. I think they would be even better with that addition.


One of the simplest but most comforting foods is mashed potatoes! But not just plain ole mashed potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes. I made up this recipe a couple years ago and they are the only mashed potatoes I ever make now. It’s also one of my husband’s favorite side dishes. A word of caution about this recipe though…I don’t really measure anything. The measurents are my estimation on how much of each thing I actually put in. I mostly go by look and taste. We had these potatoes tonight along with barbecue chicken breasts and green beans. It was a wonderful meal.

My Garlic Mashed Potatoes

4-5 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into cubes, skin on
1/4-1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain water off and place potatoes in a bowl. Add milk, butter, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or a mixer to remove any lumps. Add grated parmesan cheese and parsley and stir into the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Burgers and Fries

May 30, 2007

Tonight I decided to put a healthy spin on traditional burgers and fries. So I made turkey burgers and baked sweet potato fries. The turkey burger recipe is a basic recipe I got from one of the ladies on a cooking board I frequent. They turned out very tasty!


Delicious
Turkey Burgers

Entrée-Turkey

3 lbs. ground turkey

¼ c seasoned breadcrumbs

¼ c finely diced onion

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

¼ c chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 t salt

¼ t pepper

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 12 patties.
  • Cook patties in a medium skillet over medium, turning once, until heated through.

* I actually halved this recipe and made 4 larger patties instead of 6 smaller ones.

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt
5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch “fries”
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

*The recipe calls for a garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce which I didn’t make since we aren’t really fans of mayo. Instead I sprinkled the potatoes with a little garlic powder for extra flavor.

Giada’s recipe-foodnetwork.com http://tinyurl.com/2j9e75