Sunday, November 21, 2010

Simple Side Dishes

More dishes for your holiday meals :)

Cheddar Corn Casserole


•2 eggs
•1 can cream-style corn, (14 3/4-ounce)
•1 pint sour cream
•1 small box cornbread mix (approx. 8 ounces)
•6 tablespoons melted butter
•1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


Grease a 9-inch square baking dish. Beat eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in cream-style corn and sour cream until well blended. Add salt, cornbread mix and melted butter; mix well. Stir in shredded cheese.

Pour casserole ingredients into prepared baking dish. Bake in a 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes

Southern Home-styled Cornbread Recipe:

This home-style cornbread recipe is made with fresh cornbread crumbs and optional diced chicken.


•6 cups crumbled cornbread
•3 cups soft bread crumbs
•4 ounces butter
•2 cups onion, chopped
•2 cups finely chopped celery
•3 to 4 cups chicken broth
•2 cups chicken, diced, optional
•1 heaping tablespoon dried sage, crumbled
•1 1/2 teaspoons dried leaf thyme, crumbled
•1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
•1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, chopped
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•2 eggs, lightly beaten


Heat oven to 400ºF. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornbread and white bread crumbs. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and celery in butter until tender. Do not brown. Combine the sautéed vegetables with the bread mixture. Stir in chicken broth, using enough to moisten. Stir in the diced chicken, if using, and the seasonings and beaten eggs, blending well. Spread the mixture in a large shallow baking or roasting pan measuring about 10" x 15". Bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

Classic Green Bean Casserole


•1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
•4 cups cooked green beans
•1/8 teaspoon pepper
•1/2 cup milk
•1 1/3 cups French fried onions


Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup of the fried onions. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Top with the remaining 2/3 cup fried onions and bake about 5 more minutes, until onions are lightly browned.
Serves 6.

Here's a variation of a cranberry side.

Cranberry-orange relish


•2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
•1 large orange
•3/4 cup sugar, or to taste


Finely chop cranberries in food processor or put through meat grinder. Peel orange, without too much of the white pith, reserving peel; remove seeds and white membrane. Put orange and orange peel through grinder or chop in food processor. Mix all ingredients together and store in covered container in the refrigerator. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Holiday Recipes

My kids have been raiding my cookie dough! Darn it!

See, a few weeks ago, as I was browsing recipes in a magazine, I thought it would be a great idea to stock up cookie dough ahead of holiday time, and assorted ingredients to make other deserts. I mean, don't we (women) go through enough stress during the holidays, sorting out our shopping lists, for groceries and for gift giving; driving through traffic and visiting busy stores, which even inside seem like rush hour at only 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon? With all the cooking we must do to provide for our family, potatoes to peel, basting turkeys, and ensuring there aren't lumps in the gravy, wouldn't it be great when we settle down on a cool evening to pop a tray of cookies already prepared weeks in advance?

Such was my thinking. However, yesterday my daughter Kayla admitted to snagging part of a roll of oatmeal cookie dough and tattled too of how her brother ate some too. Ok, my little snitches... won't you please leave the rest for the family? And don't you know how raw egg in it isn't good for you? I know... cookie dough is tempting to eat. But resist the urge. Please.

Now, I love this holiday time, when baking can be fun and creative. I love sitting cozy on the couch at night, with a cup of hot cocoa or even flavored coffee, and munch down on a tasty treat fresh from the oven. There are so many varieties of breads, cookies, pies and deserts to make, it can get crazy choosing a favorite, but keeping recipes simple and easy are always best.

So I'd like to share a few of my favorites as we wind into Thanksgiving week and into the wonderful time of Christmas. Perhaps even until New Years Eve too, when we all stop to reflect on the past year and what lies ahead. I'm grateful, as always, for the loyal readers who stop often to read my blog and I'm happy to share these delightful recipes with you. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in return, just leave it in the comment. So enjoy, be safe if you travel, and God bless.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt. In mixer bow beat shortening and butter for 30 seconds; add sugars and beat till fluffy. Add egg, milk, vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients into beaten mixture until well combined. Pour in oats and walnuts. Chill dough 2 hours; form 1 inch balls. Dip tops of balls in additional granulated sugar if desired. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 36.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir together flour, soda, and salt. In a mixer bowl beat butter for 30 seconds. add peanut butter and sugars; beat till fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture; beat till well combined. Shape dough into one inch balls; roll in granulated sugars if desired. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet; criss-cross with the tines of a fork. Bake at 375 degrees oven about 10 minutes. Cool about 1 minute before removing to a wire rack. Makes 48.

One of my favorite childhood memories is having a cup of hot cinnamon cocoa, carefully simmered on the stove with cinnamon sticks included with the cocoa. As he milk simmers, the sticks get really soft and you can pour it into a cup. It blends very well with the melting marshmallows my mother use to add on top. The cup of hot chocolate was a delightful treat. Now, when I want to take a fast trip down memory lane, this is an easy version:

Take about two cups of milk and simmer it on low on top of the stove in a pan. Add about two to three tablespoons of Hershey's Cocoa and a dash of salt. Stir very well until the cocoa is blended into the milk. Keep stirring so the milk doesn't scald. Add a dash or two of ground Cinnamon. When the milk is heated all the way through, add a dash of vanilla. Pour into your favorite holiday mug, add marshmallows or whip cream to top, and enjoy. It's a great treat to enjoy with your young ones.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A lovely fall day

Today was one of those fantastic days where you wish time could stop still forever. The sun was out. The temperatures were in the high 70's and the light breeze kept things moderately cool, but not uncomfortable. I call it sweat shirt weather.

So in this perfect day, my daughter, her boyfriend and I decided to visit one of the local parks to find pecans. Pecan trees are tall and some are centuries old. They grow in in abundance in Texas. They are native to this region such as the oak and the spruce trees. We found many still in their protective green/black casings. Not yet good for eating.

As I searched around scattered leaves and twigs in hopes to find one good nut, I stopped to look up into the tree. High on one of the branches, nestled close to the thickest part was a lone squirrel looking down at me. We made eye contact for a moment, but then he scurried up in silence to meet up with another squirrel and they disappeared around the circumference, overshadowed by other large limbs. I went back to my task, thinking how odd for it to be so quiet, because sometimes squirrels have a way to send out chatty, shrill cackles. I've heard them cluck at my dogs before in the backyard. Perhaps this squirrel thought I was out of luck finding a good stash of pecans. Perhaps he had them hidden in the tree and was being quiet so I wouldn't follow him up.

After walking around the park a bit, my daughter and her boyfriend followed me along
as I walked to investigate a hiking trail, dipping into a wooded nook. It seemed far removed from the parking lot and felt cooler. The smell of dirt and dampness penetrated my nostrils with each step. Long gray shadows fell onto the ground of heavy leaves and long stringy vines. I could imagine a possum coming out at night to scurry through it. Strange to feel this close to nature while still in town. We wanted to walk along more, but decided to head in. The afternoon seemed to be waning quickly even if we were affected by daylight savings time. We headed home in the car, thinking how terrific it felt to get out into nature and to get some exercise. We vowed to return again another weekend soon.

It had been fun and I love fall days such as these. It gives one a bit of inner peace in an otherwise hectic life. In my imagination while I was playing an explorer, I wondered if whether the Pilgrims felt such a bond in their surroundings, with dark woods, chirping squirrels, and the occasional Indian visitors stopping by their cabins? I imagine it would have been a pleasant time to be close to nature, but then the spoiled creature in me doesn't think I could survive very long without our modern conveniences, such as a grocery store, medicine, and electricity; most importantly, a bathroom.

So back to my hectic life I did return, with only a minor stash of pecans. The time out there didn't seem a total waste. It was fun to get outside to enjoy a beautiful day. I look forward to more walks in search of better pecans to put into a pie. After all, Thanksgiving is almost upon us. :)