Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Squash Casserole

I got rid of the written version of this recipe years ago. It's one I just "know" how to cook......

Take a few squash.....six to seven medium to small squash.  Wash them and trim the ends. 

Slice the squash and add to boiling salted water.  Cook about five to ten minutes.

While the squash cooks. Chop one medium onion and two carrots.

Use a colander to drain squash. While it's draining....it should not be watery....open one can Cream of Mushroom soup and add to it one small container of sour cream. Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add drained squash to the soup/sour cream mixture.

I used a whisk to mix in the squash. You don't want to puree it.....just break it up into manageable pieces. Stir well.

Melt one stick margarine or butter in a microwave safe container.  Add one-two cups Pepperidge Farm Seasoned Stuffing Mix to the butter. Stir well. Add more stuffing mix if you need to in order to get the butter mixed in. Spread some of the stuffing mix....just a little.... into your casserole dish. Reserve most of it.

Pour the squash mixture on top of the stuffing mix and spread evening in dish. Top with remaining stuffing mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

The recipe was my mother-in-law's....I made a few changes to it, and have made it for years and years. It's one way I managed to get a few vegetables down my the throats of my children when they were little.

This dish is always one we rely on for big family dinners......or like tonight....when I want a little "comfort" food.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ham and Swiss Breakfast Pie

This "pie" is a simple recipe that I'll use again. It's real easy to substitute other ingredients depending if you are using the dish for brunch, breakfast or dinner. Change it up with sausage, bacon. Use Gouda cheese or Parmesan  Add in some chopped asparagus for a brunch type dish.  

No matter what.....it will be great!

I followed the recipe exactly last night and paired it with sliced tomatoes and fruit topped with a little mixture of sour cream and brown sugar.

1 1/3 cups water or chicken broth (I prefer the broth, but if you use it omit the salt)
1 cup whipping cream
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1 1/4 cups (5 oz.) shredded Swiss Cheese
8 large eggs, divided
1/2 lb. cooked ham, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup milk
Garnish with fresh chopped chives

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Bring first 6 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking occasionally 5-7 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cheese stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Lightly beat 2 eggs, and stir into grits mixture; pour into a lightly greased 10-inch, deep dish pie plate.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes; remove from oven. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.  

Saute ham and onions in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until onion is tender. 

Layer ham mixture over grits crust. Whisk together milk and remaining 6 eggs; pour over ham mixture.  

Sprinkle remaining cheese over mixture. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and cut into wedges. Garnish, if desired.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken Casserole

Everyone seems to have their own version for a Chicken Casserole and my mom and my mother-in-law were no different when I first married. Each wanted to know that I was using their recipe with some regularity. 

It was a little stressful considering I wanted to put my own mark on the whole thing. After all......it was MY kitchen, right?

So....I combined the two recipes.  Well, actually I combined the parts of both recipes that I liked, and this recipe has seen us through busy school days, nights at the ball field, and serves as a type of comfort food when we need it.

It's one of those things I make with NO recipe.  I just know what it should look like.   So.....I'll try......TRY to get it written down here.

First take one box (16 ounces) of linguine and cook it according to the package.   I salt the water and add a little olive oil.  I sample the noodles while they cook to make sure I don't get them too done......I generally take the pot off the stove once the noodles reaches the al dente stage.   

Drain the noodles.

In the meantime chop one medium size onion.   Throw it in a bowl with 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup.  

Mix in one 8 ounce container Sour Cream, salt and pepper to taste, a small package of slivered almonds.

Add in 2-3 cups of diced, cooked chicken.   I generally buy 2 packages of the diced, cooked chicken at the grocery store to save myself a step.   I stick to breast meat.....

Mix everything well.  

Add the noodles and mix again very well to coat the noodles.   

Pour the noodle/chicken mixture into a glass 13 x 9 baking dish.  

Melt 1 stick butter in a 4-cup glass container.  Once melted mix in 2 cups Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix. Coat the dried breadcrumbs with the butter.

Spoon the breadcrumbs over the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly around the edges.   

I generally serve this casserole with a nice green salad and rolls.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Great Balls of.........Ice!

 More and more as we order drinks here and there my husband and I noticed that many places are choosing to use ice balls rather than the boring smaller cubes when serving their cocktails.  

You might not realize it, but ice is the most important ingredient to a cocktail.

Ice keeps what you are drinking at the appropriate temperature...and while you might not like the fact that the ice melts....it's actually a good thing.  Water seeps into your drink and balances the blend and helps various ingredients to harmonize.

The ice ball is perfect for sipping whiskey....and as many bartenders advise...it just looks sexy cool.  

The trend to use ice balls actually started in Japan.  They carve the balls out of mineral water using an ice pick or a very sharp sushi knife.  One of the tasks that must be completed if someone wants to join the National Bartenders Association in Japan is to be able to carve a perfect ice ball quickly.  

So, what do you do if you want to have a drink with an ice ball at home?  Well, my family rarely lets me around a knife due to my "handicap".....being left-handed, but other methods exist besides carving them yourself.

You can purchase an ice ball maker for an insane amount of money.....over one thousand dollars or, you can go to the silcone mold route even though they tend to leave a seam mark around the sphere.

Check out this post from theKitchn.com where two types of silicone molds are discussed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Anatomy of a Shopping Trip

I've been spending most of my shopping time lately in the housewares departments of various stores including HomeGoods.......

Now I like dishes, glassware and linens almost as much as I enjoy shopping for clothes, for jewelry or shoes....but sometimes it's not as much fun when the trip is a "have to go" trip and not just an impromptu "fun" trip.

My trips lately have been to help Dear Daughter purchase things for her first apartment........so, I did some fun things while shopping to keep my boredom at bay while we looked at basic things she needed.

For example......these lovely martini glasses with a brown tint.     There were six in the set, so I snapped them up.   They now reside at MY house.

Fell in love with these wonderful chairs, but I can just see them with motor oil stains or ink.....or anything else that will head like a magnet in my house.   Even with grown children my furniture is still a magnet.  Still.....they are pretty.   

I snapped a picture and then walked quickly away.


Now this chair is a little more feasible in design, and I like it......Cataloging it in my memory for a hunt at a later time.

I've been wanting to move my dining room lamps on my buffet cabinets to the master bedroom which means i need new lamps for the buffet cabinets.   These might work....but then I decided they were a little too plain.   

 I've only been hunting for lamps for the last year.......

I was drawn to this piece of wall art, but when I tried to think about where it could go I decided I was basically drawn to the arrangement of plants on the steps and decided that's what I really want.

Perhaps the Mister will see this and make it so.....one can only hope.   I mean.....I saved him some money by NOT puchasing the the picture, so......

I'm always drawn to black and white art..........again, I wasn't sure where I would put it so I kept walking.

Dishes.....my real weakness.  

I loved these so much I took two pictures.   I loved the square plates....especially the small plates.    I loved the colors noticing right off the bat how they would match my kitchen/dining room.   

I kept talking myself into getting them.

The good girl in me fought back.....I knew I already had now many sets of dishes?   How many sets of dishes stored all over my house?>   I quickly snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook and instantly had several comments regarding how pretty they were.   

Just goes to show my friends have good taste.    So, then I admitted how weak I was with dishes.   How I buy them on whim and was very, very close.   That's when the Mister zoomed in and commented......"What?  More dishes?   Where are we going to to put them?"

I mentioned how I loved the square plate.......the scalloped edges of the bowl, and the very tall coffee cup..............but I knew I needed to keep walking.   

I mentioned how he had yet to build me those cabinets in the basement to store my various dishes, serving pieces, cutlery, linens, and glassware, but I knew I really didn't need them.

I was proud of myself when I walked away.   I had my martini glasses after all, and I really did need them......

.....But  I wonder now - a couple of weeks later - if those dishes are still there waiting for me.   :)

They wanted to come to my house so, so terribly bad.

I hope they found a good home, but.....if I go back this week, and they are still on the shelf.......

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Best Chicken Marinade Ever

The bad news......I had to wait until close to 9 p.m. last night for dinner.   The Mister wanted to grill some chicken, and he was late getting off the golf course. 

The good news....it was worth the wait.   Seriously.    I've decided our chicken should be marinaded using this recipe from now on......it's THAT good.

Recipe source:    The little old website you will find here.

Put the amount of chicken you want to grill in the bottom of a big bowl. 

In another bowl combine the following using a whisk:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 (10 oz) bottle Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce

3 T. Italian Seasoning

1 T. Salt 

1 T. White Pepper

Pour the mixture over the chicken, and refrigerate overnight, or for 4-5 hours...at least.

Remove chicken from the marinade to grill......Enjoy!!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strawberry Sangria

8 cups fresh strawberries, halved and trimmed
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 750 ml bottle white wine....such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 cups sparkling water, chilled
1 orange, sliced

To prepare syrup, in a large saucepan combine trimmed and halved strawberries, sugar and water.  Bring just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat.   Cover.   Cool to warm temperature.

Press mixture a little at a time through a mesh sieve, discard solids (you should have about 3 cups syrup) in a 2-quart pitcher stir together the syrup, wine and sliced strawberries.  

Cover and chill up to 24 hours.

Before serving stir in the sparkling water.  Serve in glasses with orange slices.

Makes 8...8 oz servings

Monday, August 27, 2012

Yet Another Speckled Heart Grits Recipe

The other day I wrote about my trip to Callaway Gardens and my love affair with their speckled heart grits......if you forgot you can see the post here. 

Here is another recipe.....

1 cup Speckled Heart Grits
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated sharp cheese
1 stick margarine
Dash of Tobasco

Cook grits according to a traditional recipe above.   Combine all ingredients.  Pour in a casserole dish.  

Bake 1 hour in a 325 degree oven.   

Serves 4-6

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pasta Primavera

12 ounces Spaghetti
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, 6-8 ounces, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut into half moons
1/4 cup water
1 can (14-14.5 ounces) no salt-added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 T. )
2 T. fresh lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Heat 6-quart saucepan of water to boiling on high.  Cook pasta as label directs.  

Meanwhile in a 12-inch skillet. heat oil on medium.  Add onion and garlic; cook 2-3 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally.

Add grape tomatoes; cook 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.   Add asparagus, zucchini, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.   

Cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes begin to burst.  

Stir in beans and carrot; cook 2-3 minutes or until beans are heated through.  

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta; return to saucepot and add vegetable mixture, Parmesan, lemon juice, reserved cooking liquid, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss until combined.   

Divide among serving plates

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sour Cream Chive Biscuits

I had these wonderful little biscuits at The Farmhouse restaurant down at Serenbe recently.  

I loved these little bits of joy so much I searched on the Internet until I found the recipe, and I discovered why they are so good.......simple is always best, and this recipe is simple.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

Take 2 cups White Lily self-rising flour and add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Then add in 1 cup sour cream and 2 sticks ( 1cup) melted butter.

Stir mixture gently until combined.   Do not over stir. Put approximately 1/4 cup of mixture into each greased muffin tin.

Bake 12-15 minutes till lightly golden brown.  Frozen chives can be used.   Yield:  12

I love baking these in a muffin tin so that you get a nice crust around the outside of each biscuit.  

Don't they look great?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

I like this recipe because I usually have the ingredients on hand.   

These bars can be used for breakfast or a snack....a dessert as well.

 It suits the craving for something sweet......satisfies the craving fairly quickly, but the bars aren't overly sweet......and most importantly since you use an 8 x 8 pan there are tons of leftovers to feel guilty about later.

Short and sweet......and done.

1 ½ cup quick cooking oats

¼ cup light brown sugar-packed

½ t. kosher salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. vanilla extract

½ cup milk

1 lightly beaten large egg

Mix everything listed above together.

Add 1 large mashed banana and 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter.

Pour the mixture into a greased 8 x 8 pan spreading the mixture evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cut into squares after cooling.

Top with Peanut butter if you like.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Callaway Gardens Speckled Heart Grits

For the last two years I have taken a little trip by myself around Mother’s Day…just me, myself and I.   It’s a time of reflection, rejuvenation and I also use the time to review goals and set new ones for the year to come.   

Relaxation and great food and drink fit into the weekend, too………of course!

The first trip I took was a return trip to a place my mother and I visited often…and a place where we had taken a “girl’s trip” with my best friend and her mother when my friend and I were in high school.   

The four of us had a wonderful time…making Callaway Gardens one of my “special” places to visit.

One morning while we were there we left our hotel and drove up Pine Mountain to Callaway Garden’s Store and had breakfast.  Not only did we have a wonderful view from breakfast….we had some of the best grits I ever had.

The grits happened to be speckled heart grits and they aren’t your normal run-of-the-mill grit at all. 

Speckled heart grits are made from the whole grain including the heart of the corn kernel.   This results in robust grits that roll around your mouth with a slight grainy texture.

I love them.

I love them so much I bought two bags during my weekend sojourn at the gardens.  The bag had an interesting recipe……I’ll admit I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to soon.

Here's the recipe:

Baked Grits Souffle

1 ½ cups Speckled Heart Grits
4 ½ cups water
2 cans mushroom soup
6 eggs, well beaten
1 cup cracker crumbs
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook grits according to traditional recipe above.  Mix with Mushroom soup.   Add well beaten eggs.  Place mixture in baking dish greased well with bacon drippings.   Cover with cracker crumbs and cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes    Serves 4-6

While it’s almost ten months until my next trip I’m already thinking about the location.   I usually try to stick somewhere in the Atlanta area.

Any suggestions?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Restaurant Review: Six Feet Under

We had dinner Wednesday night at Six Feet Under.  The Mister and I had dined there this past April, and we liked it so much we wanted a return trip.   The occasion was the Mister’s birthday and our grown children would be joining us. 

Six Feet Under has two Atlanta locations……437 Memorial Drive, S.E. and 685 11th Street.    We have only been to the Memorial Drive/Grant Park location so far, but love the atmosphere.   It’s a great restaurant…..tavern……and hang out spot with lots of beer choices and interesting food.
First of all Six Feet Under is located in a great historic place with a  Grant Park address….close to neighborhoods like Cabbagetown and Glenwood Park, PLUS it overlooks historic Oakland Cemetery making my history loving toes curl. 

In fact, the reason why the Mister and I ended up at Six Feet Under in the first place had to do with the fact we were enjoying a Sunday afternoon wandering through the 48 acre cemetery visiting the graves of folks like golfer Bobby Jones, Gone with the Wind’s author…Margaret Mitchell, and various other Atlanta notables.

The complex that houses Six Feet Under is known collectively as The Jane and it’s more than just a restaurant.   The complex offers office and retail space and loft condos are in the mix as well.

Second, the restaurant is housed in a reclaimed Atlanta manufacturing company.  The building used to be the home of Southern Elevator Company as far back as the 1920s.   A blurb on the Six Feet Under menu states, “According to local old-timers the factory produced everything except those ‘really fancy cabs’.  A former controller at the factory enjoys ‘sitting in his old office’ now that [the restaurant has moved in.]”  

While the space was renovated for the restaurant there are still signs that the space was a manufacturing spot with exposed pipes and factory windows.  There is a bar downstairs 

…along with a main dining room.   Notice all of the old beer signs along the walls.

Take a walk up the beautiful staircase and you find yourself with one of the best views of Atlanta’s skyline where you can dine and drink on the rooftop.

During our afternoon visit in April the place was packed and we had to wait a few minutes for a table.  The Mister sampled the oysters….

….while I ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes.   I’ve tried everyone’s from Savannah to Asheville….so why would this be any different?   We joke that we are on an extended Fried Green Tomato tour across the South.   

I pronounce these to be yummy.   The tomatoes are dusted with a cornmeal rub and deep fried…then brought to you drizzled with a horseradish-dill sauce and a few chopped tomatoes scattered about.

I then opted for the Fried Chicken Tacos.   The waiter delivered three soft flour tortillas to the table stuffed with fried chicken, cotija cheese, shredded lettuce, roasted corn.  Each taco was drizzled with spicy salsa drizzle and a fried jalapeno.  A little salsa verde was served on the side.

The mister had the Black n’ Bleu Slider which consisted of a honey wheat bun, bleu cheese crumble, fried leeks and chopped spinach.  

Everything was great!

Wednesday night's dinner was great as well…..

Dear Daughter had to sample the Crab Cakes…..four sautéed crab cakes served over fresh spinach and topped with corn, micro greens and mustard sauce.

She also sampled the Chilled Cucumber Soup…..served with a crab cake and topped with micro greens and Sriacha – a Vietnamese hot sauce.   I admired how the soup was presented with dots of the Sriacha on the lip of the bowl.

Dear Son followed in his father’s footsteps and enjoyed the Black n’  Bleu Slider while the Mister and Dear Daughter enjoyed Crab Legs which were described as being a fisherman’s pound.   

I had the Fried Shrimp basket and the one word I could use to describe my meal would be……LIGHT.     Yes, it was fried, but I didn’t leave the restaurant feeling like I had just ingested a greasy meal.   The basket came with several shrimp, homemade chips, and two hushpuppies which were unique.   They seemed to be a mix of flour and cornmeal….with the end result being more like a cake than the normal hushpuppy.   While I didn’t rave over them…..it was a nice change, and I try to be open to new ways of preparing food.  The menu stated the hush puppies as well as the tartar sauce were prepared with chopped jalapeno, but they weren’t hot at all.

As I mentioned above one of the enticements of visiting Six Feet Under has to do with Oakland Cemetery……check out some of my pictures I took at the cemetery in May and one of my favorite Oakland stories over at Georgia on My Mind.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Setting a Lovely Table

If you had to query some of my friends for my weaknesses I venture to say that a majority of them would mention jewelry as a top weakness.  They would be right.  I do love my baubles, geegaws, and trinkets. 

My friends may say I have a weakness for dining out, and they would be correct.  I love to try a new restaurant, to try different versions of the same dish, to experience the different décor in various restaurants.

However, one of my major weaknesses I try to keep under control….mainly because it can be so expensive….is I adore decorating a table.  Plates, cups, saucers, various pieces of silver, crystal, mixing and matching things, using unusual items to decorate a table….I adore all of it.   I have several different sets of dishes and glassware.   When I’m out shopping I will pick up a set a of dishes or items that might make a great table-scape like folks pick up a new shirt or pair of pants.

 If I ever win the lottery I will have a room….not a closet….but a ROOM devoted to table linens, glassware, china, silver, napkin rings, and objects to use on dining tables.  

However, until I win the lottery I’ll just have to keep my weakness under control. 

I  went to the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival today and one of the sections of the flower show including table decorations…..I snapped up several pictures to refer to later for ideas. 

You can click on each picture to enlarge it a bit and see it isolated on a page by itself.  Then hit the "back" button to return to the post.

Here they the tables I loved:

I need a set of red glasses like these.....

Notice the greenery tucked into the napkin.....

Look at the plate on this table.  I love the deep red....

I don't particularly like the table cloth for this design, but it does stick to the horsey theme.  

This picnic scape is one of my favorites.   The trunk, the basket and the hat all add to the theme for a country picnic while you are out gathering a bouquet of hydrangeas.

Some of the entries were for buffet tables....my preferred way to serve a large crowd.   I love the mix of flowers here......

This is another buffet setting that caught my eye.   

It's hard to tell in the picture but placed along the table were peacock placements or a runner of some sort.   I'm really coveting these napkin rings.  Love them!!!

This was an interesting table, too!   Greens and tans......    Loving the simple basket to prop the plates up with the napkins draped over....

There were flowers and lanterns all down this buffet table.....

The center bouquet was interesting.   Yes!!!!  They used green apples in the bottom of the glass container to keep the flowers stationary.  

This is the same arrangement from the top....

Another section of table designs has to do with breakfast trays.  I loved this particular one because it's so simple yet elegant with unique plate choice.    Love!!!!    

What's more elegant than white and silver?   The theme for this year's festival was The Royals tying in types of hydrangeas with the Queen of England's Jubilee.   This table designer picked up on the theme as well.  The napkins rings were rhinestone tiaras.

This is from the table above....I loved the detail of wrapping the wine bottle in white.

And the last table I snapped pictures of.....lovely china.   Too lovely not to get a picture.  I was very tempted to turn over a piece to see what it was....but I didn't.  :)

The same table as above but showing the full detail.....notice the small box on the table next to the flowers.  It had the wedding portrait of the Queen of England and Prince Phillip painted on it.

Former UGA football coach Vince Dooley was the featured speaker for this year’s hydrangea festival.   He shared his love of gardening with us as well as some pictures of his gardens. 

You can see some pictures of him and his gardens I've posted over at Georgia on My Mind
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