Monday, December 28, 2009

Artichoke Marinara


1 (12 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Drain the artichokes, reserving about half of the marinade, and halve them lengthwise.

Cook onions in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, adding the garlic during the last 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the artichoke hearts and the reserved marinade and stir occasionally while simmering for 20 minutes more. Serve over pasta.

Yield: 6 servings

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas Dinner

Ham, Gingersnap Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Mustard/Collard Greens, Marshmallow Ambrosia Salad, Pear/Blue Cheese Salad, Mango Chutney Cheese Spread Appetizer...


Thursday, December 24, 2009


Top 10 Uses for Fruitcake

10. Use slices to balance that wobbly kitchen table.
9. Use instead of sand bags during El Nino.
8. Send to U.S. Air Force, let troops drop them.
7. Use as railroad ties.
6. Use as speed bumps to foil the neighborhood drag racers.
5. Collect ten and use them as bowling pins.
4. Use instead of cement shoes.
3. Save for next summer’s garage sale.
2. Use slices in next skeet-shooting competition.
1. Two words: pin cushion.

Just kidding, I love fruitcake!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Fudge

Delicious, fast and easy to make.

And there's a secret ingredient....

There's just a little something in this fudge that people can't seem to figure out.


3 cups (18 ounces) white chocolate morsels
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated orange rind (secret ingredient!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Line a 9” square pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil. Cook first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 11 minutes or until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in orange rind, vanilla and salt until blended. Stir in nuts. Pour fudge into prepared pan. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or until firm. Cut into squares and store in refrigerator.

Makes about 36 if cut into one inch squares.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Carrot Souffle

Have you seen the movie "Four Christmases" with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn? It's hilarious, I highly recommend it. The story is that their holiday getaway is cancelled/delayed so they have to visit with all the family they were trying to avoid. Both sets of parents are divorced, so they have four Christmas gatherings to attend. I wouldn't want four, but it's nice to have two Christmases.

My parents came over for a holiday meal with us this past Friday.

We had:
Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Pita Chips
Third Coast Salad
Chicken Amaretto
Green Beans
and this delicious Carrot Souffle.

Don't turn your nose up just because it's carrots. Think of it as an alternative to sweet potato casserole. It's sweet and yummy like that.


2 pounds baby cut carrots, cooked, drained and mashed (boil about 45 minutes)
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients; mix really well (I use an immersion hand blender). Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar if desired.

Yield: barely makes 5 servings, better double it next time!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts

This is a recipe I ran across at FoodGawker, a great website devoted to pretty pictures of food. Of course, they link you to the website with the recipe. This recipe came from a blog called Recipe Rhapsody.

I've tried a few spiced nuts recipes in the past, they never worked out like I expected. This one came out perfectly and it's really, really good. Might be a bit spicy for some people, so adjust if you prefer less spicy.


1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound lightly salted dry roasted peanuts (16 ounce jar)

Stir together the sugar and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. Stir together the butter, honey and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the peanuts until well-coated, then pour into a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish. (I used a glass dish sprayed with a little non-stick spray.)

Bake at 325 degrees about 30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times to ensure even cooking. Once done, pour the peanuts into a large metal bowl and sprinkle with the spice mixture; toss until well-coated. Pour onto a large baking sheet to cool completely; stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Note: I later tried with unsalted roasted peanuts, the spice mixture did not stick to the peanuts as well, so stick with the lightly salted or salted roasted peanuts (the salt provides a rougher surface for the spices to stick to). If you use salted, reduce the added salt by half.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

White Chili

This recipe calls for cooked chicken. Cook the chicken however you like - grill, bake, poach... Use leftovers if you have them or cook extra on another day that you have chicken.

This time, I used smoked turkey, had some in the freezer from a day that Eddie smoked several meats.


1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon cooking oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
4 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
3 (15 ounce) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream (optional)

In a 3 quart saucepan, sauté onions in oil until tender. Stir in garlic and next 4 ingredients. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add broth, chicken and beans. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in sour cream or just garnish each bowl of chili.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Eggnog Quick Bread

This is the last of the eggnog recipes unless I came across something new to try in the next week.

This bread is not too sweet, so it works well as a breakfast treat or with a cup of coffee.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (a little more if you like)
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons rum flavored extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease bottom only of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in sugar, eggnog, butter, rum extract and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle some extra nutmeg on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then remove bread from pan. Cool completely. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator. Serve slices toasted. (3/4 inch slices hold up well in a regular toaster.)

Let's recap my other eggnog recipes - the link will take you there...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Veggie Beef Soup

Yummy soup to warm you up on a chilly day...

Freeze some for another time...


1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
1 (9 ounce) package frozen cut green beans
1 (46 ounce) jar Hot Spicy V-8 juice
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (Italian style)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large saucepan, cook ground beef, onions and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain well. Put meat mixture back in saucepan and add the remaining ingredients; stir carefully. Cover, bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer. Cook for one hour.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pretty Things

Just showing off a cute outfit I wore last night...

I know, the sweater is a little small for me, but it has the most beautiful sequins and rhinestones. I couldn't resist buying it for $2.15 at my favorite thrift store, Value Village.

This necklace is actually a silver charm bracelet that belonged to my Nana. Every little heart has a different embossed design on it and each has someone's name or initials engraved on the back. I made it into a necklace by attaching a silver chain bracelet to it.

This is another vintage bracelet from Nana's collection.


My sweet boy Woodrow...

Once it gets cold and we have the heat on, Woodrow lays on the floor in front of this heating vent in the den. So, I put his little bed there. He laid in the bed a few times and then decided to do this instead.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eggnog Truffles

Third in a series of eggnog recipes...

I first tried this recipe from one of my Christmas with Southern Living books last year. It's another delicious way to enjoy eggnog, my favorite holiday indulgence.

They don't come out as pretty as I would like, but the taste makes up for it!


8 (1 ounce) squares premium white chocolate (Baker’s)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup refrigerated eggnog
2 tablespoons dark rum (like Myer's)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted
16 ounces vanilla flavored candy coating

Melt white chocolate according to package directions. Add powdered sugar, butter and eggnog; stir gently until mixture is smooth. Add rum and nutmeg, stirring just until blended. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls (a small cookie scoop helps). Roll in pecans and roll in hands to press pecans into eggnog mixture. Place on a wax paper lined pan; cover and freeze until firm.

Melt candy coating according to package directions. Remove truffles from freezer; reshape into balls, if necessary. Quickly dip each truffle into melted candy coating. Place on wax paper to harden. Store truffles in freezer.

Yield: 3 dozen

Notes: I used Capt. Morgan's Spiced Rum this time instead of regular dark rum, turned out great. I ran out of pecans half way through and finished up using some salted mixed nuts that I chopped. That worked well, too. Especially if you like a sweet salty combo.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I'll wear an ugly Christmas sweater for some good eggnog, too!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Apple Snack

When it's cold in the winter, I don't like to eat fruit quite as much as I should. So, I came up with this warm apple snack.

Just slice up your apple, layer it in a bowl with Splenda (or sugar) and either apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice. I like pumpkin pie spice, it has ginger in addition to the apple pie spice ingredients.

Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave. For a Granny Smith apple, I microwave for 2 minutes. For other apple varieties, usually only 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Stir and let cool just a bit before eating. I cooked a McIntosh apple for 2 minutes one time and ended up with warm applesauce.

It always feels like I'm eating more and getting fuller than when eating a cold apple.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken with Balsamic Sweet Peppers

Tasty dinner from a couple of weeks ago. Chicken with red, yellow and green bell peppers sauteed with balsamic vinegar. I served it with couscous.


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cups thinly sliced mixed red, yellow, orange and/or green bell peppers
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sauté the chicken over medium-high heat, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Cook the bell peppers and onion, stirring often, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the basil and vinegar.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pasta E Fagioli

Delicious Italian soup... Even better the next day. In the future, I may cook ahead for the next day just because the leftovers were sooooooo good.

I got this recipe from My Tasty Treasures, a great blog from another "regular" home cook. (She's actually kind of "special" in the nicest way possible.) It's great to find recipes on blogs rather than commercial websites, you know the recipes are ones that someone actually uses in their own home.

I've adjusted this a bit for our tastes. Also, the original recipe called for cannellini beans, but I always choose Great Northern as a substitute for any white beans. I just prefer them.


4 ounces bacon (4 slices), chopped
1 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water
8 ounces (1 3/4 cup) ditalini or other small pasta
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat until crispy, about 8 minutes. Spoon out most of the bacon grease, leaving just a tablespoon or two. Stir in onion, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, beans, broth and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and cook to your desired doneness (8 to 10 minutes for most small pasta). Off heat, stir in parsley and pepper to taste. Sprinkle individual bowls with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Friday, December 4, 2009

Eggnog Cookies

Yummy eggnog flavored cookies are soft and chewy. Ingredients can be mixed and prepared ahead of time, frozen and then baked at a later date.


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup low-fat commercial eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks

Mix the first 4 ingredients and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter until smooth. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Add flour at low speed until mixed.

Chill the dough for about half an hour. Scoop tablespoon size portions and roll into balls. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with extra nutmeg if desired.

Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Center will still be somewhat soft.

Yield: about 4 dozen

Note: Be sure to use low-fat eggnog for this recipe, otherwise the cookies will flatten out too much when baking. Trust me, I've done it.

If you want to freeze for later baking: Roll the dough into balls and place on waxed paper lined tray or baking sheet. Freeze for a couple of hours and then just wrap the dough balls up in the wax paper and put into a ziploc bag. Freeze.

When you are ready to bake: Place frozen dough balls on a baking sheet. Allow to sit at room temperature for half an hour and then bake as directed. Don't forget to sprinkle extra nutmeg!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shepherd's Pie

An easier, shortcut version of Shepherd's Pie.


1 pound ground beef
1 (24 ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes (Simply Potatoes brand)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
salt and pepper
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and warmed (carrots, peas, corn, beans, etc)
1 (1 ounce) packet dry beef gravy mix

Brown meat in large skillet. Drain well.

Make gravy according to package directions. Stir vegetables and gravy into meat.

Spoon meat mixture into baking dish.

Heat potatoes according to package directions and then mix with cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper until well blended. Cover meat mixture with potato mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through and bubbling around the edges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 Christmas Decor


Eddie's Tree.