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My favorite memories have all centered around friends and family enjoying a meal together! It might have been a special holiday or a celebration, or it might have been dinner with friends at a great restaurant. I hope you will enjoy some of my favorite recipes and take time to fellowship with those seated at your table. You might make a memory to last forever!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Favorite Side Dish

I'm ready to start sharing some of my Christmas recipes...desserts, appetizers, drinks, etc.  But first, I have to share this casserole recipe with you.  It's a very popular broccoli casserole that many of you remember your mom making, or maybe you serve it to your family now!  This dish is requested my many and always prepared by my niece for our holiday dinners!  My boys rave about this casserole, so I decided to give it a try this evening.  It is rich and cheesy and delicious, but not the same as when Regan makes it!

Broccoli Casserole
    (Revised recipe of Paula Deen)

2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
2 Tbl. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.

In large mixing bowl, combine broccoli, mayonnaise, cheese, soup and eggs.  Mix well and spoon into prepared dish.  Combine crackers with butter until all crumbs are coated.  Bake for 35 minutes or until set and browned.

(I used 2 cups of cheese and I added more butter to the cracker crumbs.  I also added salt and pepper.)

You can also add sauteed onions or mushrooms.  Add shredded chicken to make a complete meal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Yummy Dessert for any Holiday!

A non-traditional, yummy dessert for your Thanksgiving feast...German Chocolate Upside Down Cake!  This recipe is also known as an Earthquake Cake to many people.  When you take the cake out of the oven, it is slightly sunken in the middle!  Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that!  This cake is requested, more than any other, by so many friends and family members. It is not only super easy, but deliciously gooey and studded with coconut and pecans!  How could anyone resist!  Enjoy with a large glass of milk after the kitchen is clean and you are ready to put your feet up!

German Chocolate Upside Down Cake
     (aka Earthquake Cake)

1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 German Chocolate cake mix (w/o pudding)
         Ingredients to make cake as directed on box
1 stick butter, melted
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar

Scatter coconut and pecans in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Mix cake mix as directed on box, pour the batter over the coconut and pecans; spread with spatula.  Combine the butter and cream cheese, mix until well combined; add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and blend until smooth and creamy.  With a large spoon, place 12 globs of the topping on top of the cake batter.  Drag a knife through the topping to allow it to spread across of cake.  Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes; the center will appear jiggly, but do not over bake.  Allow cake to cool for an hour or so.  Cut into squares and flip onto plate so the pecans and coconut are on top.

Gooey and Delicious!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tips for a "Calmer" Holiday


First things first: You need to make a game plan. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off is a surefire way to increase the amount of valuable time you waste and raise your stress level!

To prepare for the big day (or days, as the case may be) compile a master grocery list, as well as a list of all the tasks that need to be accomplished. Planning ahead keeps you from having to make split-second decisions when you are supposed to be cooking.

Buying some items pre-prepared also helps save time. It may feel like cheating, but it can really take a lot of the tension out of days that should be spent enjoying the company of family and friends.

It's a good idea to prepare your kitchen. Clean out your fridge to make room for prepared dishes and for leftovers. It’s also a good time to clean out your pantry; throwing away anything that is stale or out-of-date.

De-clutter your counter tops, making more room to prepare your holiday dishes.

Keeping your area clean is a major stress reducer, especially once the food is cooked and ready. Washing the dishes as you go along is a major timesaver. Wash a pot here and a bowl there, and you'll be amazed how much quicker after-meal cleanup takes.

Now is not the time to try to be Julia Childs or Martha Stewart! If you are trying a new recipe, do a trial run before the big day! Attempting to prepare a new dish for guests could possibly be a disaster!

Many tasks can be done a day or two ahead of time. Save yourself a little stress by cooking some dishes early and freezing or refrigerating them.

Last, but certainly not least, get some help from your holiday guests. No reason for you to slave away all by yourself!

Happy Cooking!

On To The Side Dishes!

For as long as I can remember, my Mamaw fixed this congealed salad for every holiday!  When she became ill, the recipe was passed down to me!  For years, I have been in charge of desserts; even though this dish has the word "salad" in the name, it qualifies for dessert!  It is so creamy and choc full of crunchy tidbits...apples, pineapple, pecans and celery!  Mamaw's Salad makes a nice addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner; or for me, one more spoonful for a midnight snack!  I hope you will try this delicious recipe and other special recipes that were passed to you from your Grandmother!

Mamaw's Salad

1 Lg. can crushed pineapple
2/3 cup sugar
1 box Lemon Jello
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Lg. Cool Whip

Combine pineapple with juice and sugar in medium sauce pan; bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Stir in cream cheese and lemon Jello; remove from heat and cool completely.  (See picture below of adding the cream cheese; it may appear curdled, but keep stirring!)

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese mixture, apples, celery and pecans. Fold in Cool Whip til smooth. Chill overnight.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin is a Thanksgiving Favorite

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only days away; do you have your menu ready?  Besides the turkey, desserts always take center stage; pumpkin, pecans, walnuts and chocolate!  Pumpkin desserts seem to be a favorite at our house...pie, cake, cookies or bread!  However, if you are not a fan of pumpkin, you should give this recipe a try!  I promise you can't eat just one!  Even though they are called Pumpkin Bars, they are so moist and the icing is so creamy, you will most likely need a fork!  I hope you will take time to enjoy dessert, as you begin to relax after your Thanksgiving feast!

Pumpkin Bars


4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda


2 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into 2 greased 9 x 13-inch baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Options: Add chopped pecans or walnuts to batter; or sprinkle over frosting.
4 eggs

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Time is Here

Thanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. I love this time of year...beautiful foliage, falling leaves, crisp, cool days, bright blue skies and of course, the smell of Apple Pie or Pumpkin Bread baking in the kitchen! I love when family and friends come together to share a bountiful meal, prepared with love by those who are special to us.  Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many ways in which we are blessed every day.  We are all blessed more than we know, even though we often loose sight of this.

Of course, Thanksgiving would be my favorite...I love to cook!  It is a time to pull out those tried and true family recipes; those that you look forward to preparing for your Thanksgiving feast!  I still make dishes that my Grandmother prepared so lovingly, but, I also have added a few of my own favorites to our Thanksgiving meal.  I hope you will enjoy the recipes that I will be sharing with you over the next few weeks!

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie is a must at every Thanksgiving table!  I've tried many recipes that add cream cheese, pecans or a praline topping; there is no replacement for the traditional Pumpkin Pie!  I use the recipe right on the can of Libby's Pumpkin and there is never a morsel left!  Add a dollop of whipped cream...a perfect Thanksgiving dessert!
Pumpkin Pie


1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can Evaporated Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)