November 17, 2011

How to Prepare a Turkey from Real Simple

Preparing a turkey for baking can be a daunting task. Real Simple has some simple steps that will make it a little simpler of a task. you’ll look like a pro. Plus, these are basic techniques that you can use again.

Use these tips while preparing this recipe for Thanksgiving turkey from Emeril Lagasse.

November 16, 2011

Traditional Cornbread

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and lots of us will be making Cornbread or Cornbread dressing or stuffing. Maybe more on the dressing vs. stuffing recipes later. This is a traditional cornbread recipe. Simple to throw together for your next Soup dinner or dressing (yes, dressing).


Traditional Cornbread

1- 1/2 cups self rising cornmeal (not cornmeal mix)
3/4 cups self rising flour
1 quart buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Add small amount of oil in a 12″ cast iron skillet – enough to cover bottom – and place in the oven while pre-heating.
Add cornmeal and flour to a mixing bowl.  Add buttermilk a little at a time until the mixture is a  thick milkshake texture.  You will use almost all of the quart. Add to HOT skillet (it should sizzle when you put the mixture in). Bake at 450 degrees for about 30 min.
Remove from oven – let sit for about 5 min then remove from pan to let cool.
November 15, 2011

Weight Watchers Caramel Cookies

Every week, my mother-in-law stops by and drops off the weekly Weight Watchers Weekly. It’s full of tips and always has a great recipe for something pretty yummy. She’s a lifetime member and instructor. I couldn’t resist whipping this one up tonight. They were great and guilt free!

Weight Watchers Caramel Cookies

Course: desserts
PointsPlus® Value:    1
Servings:  60
Preparation Time:  5 min
Cooking Time:  10 min
Level of Difficulty:  Easy


  • 1/2 cup(s) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup(s) packed brown sugar, dark
  • 1 large egg(s)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup(s) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Add remaining ingredients and beat thoroughly.
Scrape dough out of bowl and onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Roll dough into a log, about 2 1/2-inches wide; completely wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.
Cut dough into 1/8-inch-thick slices and arrange on several large ungreased cookies sheets about 1- to 1 1/2-inches apart. Bake until lightly browned around edges, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for about 1 minute and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving.

November 14, 2011

Easy Baked Mac & Cheese Casserole

My Nana made the best Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. She was the Martha Stewart of her time. Candies and pies from scratch and traditional casseroles probably lined four 6 foot tables on her back patio. That didn’t even include all the fresh made cranberry sauces and honey glazed ham and sweet tea on the adult table. (This was all served on the fine china too…which I am honored to now have in my house.)

All of this homemade, traditional Southern cooking, and you would think one of my favorites would have been all from scratch. This Baked Maccaroni and Cheese Casserole recipe is simple and easy.

Easy Baked Mac & Cheese Casserole

  • 2 regular sized boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (with the squeezy cheese!)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Cup (or 2!) of Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Follow the directions on your mac & cheese box. (Boil pasta, mix in cheese) Once you have all the cheese mixed in, add the flour, egg and milk. I add a little extra shredded cheese for good measure. Pour into a greased 13×9″ baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

November 11, 2011

Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

I hate meatloaf. Everything about is is repulsive to me. Even the word meatloaf is just bad. I think it’s that traditional red sauce that everyone covers it in, thinking it will make it taste better or make it have more flavor. It doesn’t. It’s gross. My husband actually found this recipe when he was craving meatloaf (he love its). He decided to email me to let me know that he was taking care of dinner that night and it was a surprise. I was working late, so everything was already in the oven when I got home. He wouldn’t tell me what was for dinner because he didn’t think I would let him cook it! He saw this recipe on Food Network and knew it would be good.

Bobby Flay rocks my world with this meatloaf. Surprise. I liked it. It’s not meatloaf. It’s a flavorful, moist and not greasy, and didn’t taste like a hug log of ground meat. If you hate meatloaf, this recipe is for you. Try it.

Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay for Food Network Magazine



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste with coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese) bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan
  • 1 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Add the zucchini, peppers, garlic paste, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until almost soft, 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the eggs and herbs in a large bowl. Add the meat, bread crumbs, cheese, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined.

Mold the meatloaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Whisk together the remaining ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the entire loaf. Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Additional notes: I used only pork and beef. It was still great!

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November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

Another tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipe. Take it to the office, send it to school with the kids, serve it for breakfast or for a snack for guests.

Pumpkin Bread


  • 1-1/2 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, beat pumpkin puree, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil together. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring just until moistened (overmixing will cause the bread to become too tough). Add chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour.

November 9, 2011

Jalapeno, Sausage, Jack and Egg Breakfast Braid

Can you believe there’s only 17 days until Thanksgiving? It has really snuck up on me this year. Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be posting some of my favorite recipes for the holidays. Some simple, some not, but all delicious and tested out in our household.

Many of us will host out-of-town guests over the holiday’s. It’s always tough (at least it is for me) to find breakfast recipes. I always look for something that is easy to put together but looks fancy. This recipe fits the bill and got rave reviews at a recent family brunch I hosted a few weeks ago. This is from my Cooking Light cookbook. It uses chicken sausage and pizza dough, which is lower in fat than crescent dough. You can also try to find light or low-fat cheese.

Jalapeno, Sausage, Jack and Egg Breakfast Braid

  • 1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 4 ounces chicken sausage with jalapeno peppers, copped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 Cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 Cup chopped seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Unroll the dough onto a baking sheet, coated with cooking spray. Pat into a 15 x 10″ rectangle. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sausage. Cook for 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in eggs and cook 1 1/2 minutes or until set. Remove from heat. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese lenthwise down the center of the dough, leaving about 2 2/1 inches of a border around the edges. Spoon egg mixture evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over egg mixture and top with jalapeno peppers. Make 2-inch long diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart along both sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of the filling, using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Arrange the strips over the filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling. Press ends under to seal. Brush with egg white. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut crosswise into slices.

Makes 6 servings. (Serving size: 1 slice).

Additional notes: I pre-chopped the vegetables and sauteed both the veggies and sausage the night before. Makes things much simpler the next morning when you are sleepy (errr….hung over…lol)! All you have to do is reheat and add the eggs. I also had some left over bell peppers, so I chopped those up and added it to the other veggies. We couldn’t find this specific Chicken sausage, but really, anything Chicken sausage will do. Ours had reg and green peppers in it.

What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? Do you have any special recipes that you always make?

November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Decor Inspiration

Wanted to share my Thanksgiving mantel, dining table and front door. Hope it gives you some inspiration this year!

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November 7, 2011

Smoked Pork Chops With Corn and Okra (or Lima Beans)

I get the Food Network Recipe of the Day emailed to me for inspiration. I save them occasionally and this one had been sitting in my Inbox, flagged, for quite some time. It was worth it! The pork chops were so tender and the corn “hash” was the perfect combination as a side.

First, something I always appreciate (err…am jealous of…) are the fabulous pictures that are on websites like Food Network or in magazines like Food & Wine. Here is what Food Network’s pictures looked like:

Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

Here is what it really looked like, when a normal, regular cook made it:

I digress…I did make some modifications. I used frozen lima beans instead of okra and canned corn in place of off the on-the-cob. Shame on me. Although, this recipe would be fabulous with grilled corn.

Smoked Pork Chops With Corn and Okra

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine


  • 4 bone-in smoked pork chops (3/4 inch thick), or 1 1/4 pounds ham steak, cut into 4 pieces
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut off
  • 1/4 pound okra, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey


[Dredge chops in flower and] sprinkle the pork chops with pepper and Cajun seasoning to taste. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and okra and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato, 3 tablespoons water, the honey and 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning; cook until the tomato is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the chops to the skillet; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and the chops are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes.

Per serving: Calories 276; Fat 10 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 32 mg; Sodium 846 mg; Carbohydrate 30 g; Fiber 5 g; Protein 21 g



November 3, 2011

Taco Soup

Taco Soup is the perfect dinner on a rainy day like this here in Nashville. It’s also super easy and quick to put together. I received this email during one of those chain email recipe exchanges, but modified it to what I thought would be better. 🙂


Easy Taco Soup

1 lb ground meat
1 taco seasoning packet (I used Medium)
1 ranch packet
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 can rotel

Brown ground meat in skillet, add taco seasoning.
Add all ingredients (do not drain) to pot and simmer until hot.

Serve with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips (but I love Frito’s the best!)


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