Monday, November 30, 2009

Pantry Meals: Super Easy Beef, Andouille and Mushroom Lasagna


Lasagna can be a bit daunting at times, so I have to give a shout-out to Campbell's for this amazingly easy and super delicious lasagna recipe, made with ground beef, andouille sausage and mushrooms.

It's no secret that Campbell's soups are a regular pantry item in this household - we in the south love our southern béchamel sauce - otherwise known to the rest of y'all as Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. I admit that I never thought to use it as a sauce in lasagna though. Course, I would have never thought to try it with a baked spaghetti or in a crawfish etouffée either.  Very clever. It works perfectly and is just delicious. This is a keeper and a go-to I will definitely be making again. It came together fast and was so easy it's ridiculous!


Couple of cooking notes. The original recipe, which you can find here {along with a boatload of other great recipe ideas from Campbell's} called for a smaller pan than I had, so I used a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and  increased the milk, pasta sauce, and lasagna noodles.  I also southernized it a bit with an almost Trinity, some mild andouille sausage, and since I used a generic Great Value pasta sauce, I bumped up the flavor with a few seasonings and herbs, and added in a small can of mushrooms.


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crockpot Pomegranate Cranberry Chicken


I thought I would experiment with the old standby cranberry chicken dish, and use a bit of Cajun seasoning to spice it up a tad like I do with the other recipe, but this time, I decided to add in some pomegranate juice. What a delightful addition it was! The pomegranate just gave this an extra tangy punch above the cranberry and produced a nice sauce, even better than the usual.  The best part? It's a slow cooker dump and forget about it dish! Who doesn't love those?

You may have noticed that I've been adding POM Wonderful to quite a few recipes here lately - there was the Pomegranate Cosmos, the Spicy Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce, the Cranberry Pomegranate Holiday Sangria, and now this Cranberry Pomegranate Chicken dish. I love this stuff!!


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Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes

My personal recipe for more than 30 years, these make simply perfect homemade buttermilk pancakes that I know you'll love. Pictured here with blueberries.

Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes

Besides tweaking the baking powder and baking soda, I've been making my homemade pancakes this way for more than 30 years, and I think they've stood the test of time. Don't get me wrong - I do realize that just adding water to a pre-packaged mix sure makes things a bit easier in this hurry-up world we live in, but honestly it doesn't take any time to mix up a fresh batch of pancake batter and no worries over weird ingredients or preservatives lurking in there either because you know what went in it. So, on your day off, why not make them homemade!


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Southern Ham and Egg Salad

Chopped cooked ham, typically leftover from a holiday ham, and boiled eggs, come together with celery, green onion, mayo, mustard and a little Cajun seasoning, for a southern favorite - Ham and Egg Salad. Easy and delicious!

Southern Ham and Egg Salad

Here's another one of my favorite egg salad recipes, made with ham and a perfect sandwich filling to utilize leftover holiday ham. If you don't have leftover ham or ham that you've previously frozen, just pick up a ham steak from the meat department, or ask the deli to slice you a 1/4 to 1/2 inch slice of ham. That's what I do!


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers


Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

To me, there is nothing better than plain ole turkey sandwiches on white bread with mayo after Thanksgiving, and I can eat them for days. But if you have hosted a big family Thanksgiving at your house, it's likely that you will end up with a whole lot of leftovers.  Here are a few ideas I've thrown together to give you some inspiration.

Cranberry Sauce - Besides spreading it on a turkey sandwich, use this as a condiment on waffles, pancakes, french toast, oatmeal or as a spread for rolls, croissants and biscuits. Spread cream cheese on a bagel and top it with cranberry sauce. Spoon it into yogurt and over frozen yogurt and ice cream or to top a piece of cheesecake. Swirl it into a cake mix, or make it into a glaze. Mix with a bit of apple cider or juice and make it into a sauce for pork chops or chicken. Mix it up with your usual olive oil vinaigrette recipe. Mix it with pepper jelly and pour over a block of cream cheese as a dip for crackers.


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Weekend Cocktails - Cranberry Pomegranate Winter Sangria

This winter sangria combines the best of what is available during the season - cranberry, pomegranate, orange, apple, and of course a good red or white wine - and is perfect as a Thanksgiving and Christmas sangria. Plan to double it though!

Cranberry Pomegranate Winter Sangria

I adore a good sangria, especially over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and let me tell you. They go fast so you might even want to double this, depending on how many folks you have around. We'll add this to our Weekend Cocktail Series, a little bit early so that you can enjoy it with your holiday meal - and I am here to tell you that this is goooooood!


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Roasted Stuffed Boneless Turkey Breast

Turkey Roulade, a whole turkey breast, butterflied and deboned, pounded thin, stuffed, rolled and roasted.

Roasted Stuffed Boneless Turkey Breast

A turkey roulade recipe is a fantastic way to go, if it's just you and your significant other for the holidays, or you just don't want to deal with roasting an entire turkey. A turkey roulade is simply a boneless turkey breast that has been butterflied, pounded flat, and then stuffed, rolled and roasted in the oven. It is an excellent way to get a taste of your traditional turkey and dressing, without having a boatload of leftovers.


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Fast and Easy Brining Solution

By brining, you are providing a moisture cushion for the meat - all provided by the process of osmosis.

Fast and Easy Brining Solution

Brine. Your. Turkey. (or your chicken, or your pork...) Period. Just trust me on this one.

What is brining? And why bother?


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Classic Green Bean Casserole

A traditional classic side dish for the holidays, it wouldn't be the same around our house if green bean casserole didn't show up.

Classic Green Bean Casserole

I don't know what it is about Green Bean Casserole, but I am the first one to say I love it, and I expect it at holiday meals. Gooey, creamy southern béchamel (that's Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup for those of y'all with a more sophisticated palate) mixed in with one of our favorite southern veggies - green beans - and accented by crunchy French fried onions. Oh yeah. Comfort food for sure and likely to invoke all kinds of memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas past. Maybe that's why we love our Green Bean Casserole so much in The South.


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How to Make Homemade Giblet and Egg Gravy in the Roasting Pan

A homemade gravy made from the roasting pan drippings, turkey giblets and egg.

How to Make Homemade Giblet and Egg Gravy

My Mama always made turkey giblet gravy on the holidays. It was just a given that you'd find gravy on the table with those little bits of giblets floating in it. I under-appreciated it back then, but now I know the added punch of flavor that infusing the gravy with giblets gives us. Some southern cooks add chopped, hard boiled egg to their gravy. Mama never did and neither do I, but feel free to throw some in if you like. You'll want 1 hard boiled egg, diced and stir it in just before serving.


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Creamy Oyster Stew

A roux based oyster stew in cream sauce, a drizzle of hot sauce and garnished with broken saltine crackers and green onion.

Creamy Oyster Stew

It used to be said - and lots of folks still live true to it today - that you should only eat oysters in months that contain the letter "R" in them, that being early spring, but mostly in fall and winter. It's really an old fallback to the days when refrigeration and spoilage were an issue, but there is a bit of truth there in that those "R" months just happen to be when Gulf oysters are at their peak flavor. These days oysters are also farmed, so you can pretty much get good oysters year-round all over the country. Well old folks tale or not, lucky us that we are in an "R" month because down here in the Deep Coastal South, we love our fresh Gulf oysters and they show themselves in many of our holiday dishes, one of them being oyster stew.


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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perfect and Easy Old Fashioned Cloverleaf and Crescent Yeast Rolls

Mama's favorite cloverleaf and crescent holiday yeast roll remains my favorite recipe too, even after all of these years. These are truly the original old fashioned yeast roll - tender, light and perfect.

Old Fashioned Yeast Rolls

This is my go to holiday dinner roll recipe, an absolutely perfect dinner roll for any holiday dinner, and, of course, any other day really. I wrote it for my stand mixer but if you don't own one, don't fret! You can still make these rolls with a little bit of extra elbow grease, so I've also included basic instructions for hand kneading in the recipe.

Airy, soft and tender on the inside and nicely browned with the tiniest bit of crunch on the outside, they truly are the perfect holiday roll. It's really a shame that we don't make homemade yeast rolls more often, but mostly they only make an appearance at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner because of the time needed for the two risings. Those 30 minute quick rolls are nice as a fill in, but they are really more like a biscuit than a roll to me because you really do need that extra long rise for the yeast to develop. They are so worth the extra time though, and especially for these two special meals, and aside from the rising time, so easy to make.



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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

A classic southern pie made with spiced fresh sweet potatoes, topped with toasted pecans and drizzled with syrup.

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

Southern Sweet Potato Pie was one of three pies that nearly always graced our holiday tables growing up - along with pecan, and pumpkin - though I seem to recall that me and Mama were the only two who truly indulged in the sweet potato pie. Somewhat likened to pumpkin pie, and certainly seasoned similarly, they really are different from one another, and if you put the two side by side, I'd be able to identify which is which, as easy as I can tell if it's homemade or made from a canned sweet potato pie filling. Not that there's a thing wrong with whipping up a pie using canned pie filling, but like homemade pimento cheese versus a commercial pimento cheese product, you can usually spot homemade.


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Fresh Citrus Not Better Than Sex Cake

What do you get what you marry the concepts of Paula Deen's Is it Really Better Than Sex Cake and a Mandarin Orange cake?

Fresh Citrus Not Better Than Sex Cake

These are the two cakes that stuck out in my mind when I had several pounds of tangerines left that I needed to use and I knew I wanted to use them to make some sort of a cake. So I took the two concepts and created this Fresh Citrus Not Better Than Sex Cake But Pretty Darned Good. Hey, don't look at me ... I didn't name it that originally.

Now first remember, I used the tangerines because I had them and needed to use them, but absolutely substitute a large can of mandarin oranges! Keep it easy y'all.

Now, I do have to put in a disclaimer here for my local readers, since I can hear y'all saying "that is not a Better Than Sex Cake Mary." Yes, I do realize that Paula Deen's "Is it Really Better Than Sex Cake" is nothing like the "Better Than Sex Cake" we know and love down here in this part of the south. Our "Better Than Sex Cake" always involves chocolate and nuts and cream cheese and Cool Whip and a few other ingredients, none of which are actual "cake."  You can find that delicious layered concoction right here and man oh man is it good.


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

A delicious and easy gumbo made with a roux, the Trinity of vegetables and using a whole chicken and andouille sausage.

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I've talked before about being a big fan of Miss Lucy H. Zaunbrecher's show, Classic Cajun Culture & Cooking and her Louisiana recipes. It comes on PBS stations generally, but I've caught her on the RFD-TV station too. I just let the DVR catch her show whenever she is on.

Her recipe is a little different method from how I usually do a gumbo, but I tried to stay pretty true to it, substituting thighs in place of the whole chicken, just because that is what I happened to have in my freezer. I cooked my roux to a medium dark - like the color of a dark copper penny - but you could also take this one darker. My dark oven roux would work well here too.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Toffee Bark - Saltine Cracker Candy

Saltine crackers, spread with a boiled brown sugar and butter sauce, then topped with chocolate, sometimes called Christmas Crack or Crack because they are downright addictive. Scatter some finely chopped nuts on top if you like!

Saltine Cracker Candy

Chocolate Toffee Bark or Saltine Cracker Candy as it's known, is truly one of my most favorite chocolate treats. Trisha Yearwood's family calls it crack and some people have taken to calling it Christmas Crack around the holidays - but geez, associating those two words together well, that just seems so wrong on so many levels.


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Crispy Oven Fries

Potatoes dredged in a seasoned buttermilk, rolled in cornflake or panko crumbs, and baked.

Crispy Oven Fries

Generic corn flakes are a great way to get a nice crunch when you want to oven fry, but that doesn't have to be limited to chicken. Give it a swing sometime with potatoes and add a whole other layer of texture. Try it with panko bread crumbs, or check out the variation at the bottom, using a mayonnaise coating and cornbread dressing mix.

Here's how to make them.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oven Baked Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

A roasted meat Cajun jambalaya with chicken and smoked sausage.

Oven Baked Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

I love this recipe for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya - the kind that builds flavor, layer upon layer, with herbs, seasonings, and seared or roasted meats. The primary success tool for making a proper jambalaya to me though, is that it should be cooked in a cast iron dutch oven. All of this takes just a bit more time to pull off but it produces a nice, fluffy jambalaya, without worrying over a pot on the top of the stove.


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Monday, November 16, 2009

Deep Fried Bread 'n Butter Pickles with Comeback Sauce

Bread & Butter Pickles coated in cornmeal & flour & deep fried.

Bread 'n Butter Fried Pickles

Who knows where it started, but I'm fairly certain that it's pretty much a southern thang to deep fry pickles. I'd venture to guess that somebody was frying up something and had some pickles nearby and a lightbulb went off with them wondering "hmmmm..... wonder what a fried pickle might taste like?" as they plopped a couple in the frying pan.

Now mostly you hear about dill pickles being fried, but me, I like the sweeter ones better (imagine that) and to me the bread and butter pickles are just perfect. Wickles Pickles are exceptional because of their spicy sweetness. Of course dill pickles are good, as are pickles spears. All I know is that fried pickles are good!


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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Roasted Pears with Brown Sugar Butter Sauce and White Chocolate Drizzle


I had some Bosc pears on hand and couldn't figure out what exactly I wanted to do with them, though I had considered roasting them after seeing someone do that on a segment on Food Network.  Then I ran across an ad insert in Bon Appetit magazine, and the photo of these roasted pears was so enticing that I knew I had to try this one.

The recipe is custom created for McCormick Gourmet Spice Collection by Cat Cora, a fellow Mississippi gal, and a favorite chef for me, who also happens to be Executive Chef for Bon Appetit.  This is a slightly adapted version from the one in the ad insert, and I'm thinking that this dish would make an amazing addition to any holiday table.


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crispy Panko Coated Ranch Chicken

The good ole, standby, oven baked Ranch Chicken that everybody loves, updated with the use of mayo, panko and crushed saltines.

Crispy Panko Coated Ranch Chicken

I am so glad that panko bread crumbs have become more commonplace and readily available over the past couple of years, because they add a special crispness to foods. Panko bread crumbs are jagged edged and flaky, so that they remain crisp whether they are used in frying or baking, plus they make a great topping too.



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Friday, November 13, 2009

Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

While oyster dressing may not be a traditional holiday dressing across the south, here along the Deep South of the Gulf Coast, where the oysters are salty-sweet, it absolutely is a star.

Southern Cornbread and Oyster Dressing (Stuffing)

I realize that oyster dressing is not something that is common at the holidays all over the country, and not even in The South really, but it certainly is down here in The Deep South, especially along the coastal waters. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, my Mama almost always made two dressings - well, essentially three, really, since she also stuffed the turkey with her herb stuffing.


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Shrimp and Brown Gravy with Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Let's see. Bacon, check. Shrimp, check. Gravy, check. Homemade mashed potatoes, check. How can you go wrong with a combo like that?

Shrimp and Brown Gravy with Homemade Mashed Potatoes

A popular south Louisiana dish, this is best served over homemade mashed potatoes, though you could probably get away with serving it over noodles, rice or grits also. Do me a favor though and at least try it the first time over homemade mashed potatoes, and only homemade, because, well, there just really ain't nothin' like it. This recipe is so simple, it's a shortcut version avoiding the need to stir up a roux, yet so delicious - try it. I got a feeling you'll fall in love with it.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing (Stuffing)

A traditional southern cornbread dressing, made with crumbled cornbread and toasted crumbled bread.

Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing

Southerners sure do love their traditional cornbread dressing and some of them will get all "stuffy" over what constitutes dressing and what constitutes stuffing. In my humble opinion, it mostly just depends on where you were born!


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spicy Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce


When I was growing up we'd be halfway through the holiday meal when I'd pipe up and say, "Hey, where's the cranberry sauce?"  Invariably, the little can of sliced up jellied cranberry sauce always seemed to be forgotten. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one who really missed it, but I just love to eat cranberry sauce along with a bite of turkey or ham, and it's just not the same without it really.



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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Old Fashioned Apple Pie - made with mixed apples and jam and pictured with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

This recipe is for a very basic, old fashioned apple pie, using 3 pounds of mixed apples for a nice depth of flavor, and the addition of a bit of jam or jelly as a nice little extra flavor burst. A brush of the bowl juices across the top and we've got another great recipe for the apple recipe collection!


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Monday, November 9, 2009

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

A broccoli and cheese casserole using cream soups.

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

Ahhhh.... broccoli and cheese casserole! Another one of those dishes that for us lovers of broccoli, is expected to grace the tables of several major holidays. Lots of ways to make this - one of the most well known, involved a little roll of garlic cheese. And then suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, Kraft just discontinued the garlic cheese roll, without even giving an acceptable substitute!


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Kraft Garlic Cheese Roll Substitute

Oh the lament across the net a few years back when Kraft decided to discontinue the garlic cheese roll! Didn't Kraft realize that while it may not have been a big seller throughout the year, thousands upon thousands of cooks across the country used that roll of garlic cheese to make their holiday broccoli cheese casserole, spinach casserole, garlic cheese biscuits, cheese balls, stove-top garlic cheese grits, and baked cheese grits, who knows what else?!

Well, I was not a user of the famous cheese roll, but in researching this topic for my readers, I ran across a tidbit that said a grocery store manager was told by the folks at Kraft, that the squirt cheese product called Easy Cheese Roasted Garlic Cheddar flavor, was actually the same exact product contained in the roll, 1 can equal to 1 roll.


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Green Bean Casserole with Crumb Topping

A few little twists on the old classic, this green bean casserole, includes freshly sauteed onion, sliced almonds, and a buttery crumb topping.

Green Bean Casserole with Panko Crumb Topping

Green bean casserole is just about as traditional as you can get for the holidays, and I don't care how much folks try to knock it, it's another one of those dishes that are expected down South at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's made most often in the classic way that has been around forever ... with our famous red and white can of southern béchamel - better known as Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup!

Well, I decided to try something a little different this time - minor changes - but just a little experiment. Don't worry though, we've got the old standby recipe too, just in case you prefer to stick with all out full classic for the holiday meal.



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Corn Spoon Bread

Corn spoon bread goes by a number of names, but it's basically a souffle made of cornmeal, corn, sour cream, milk, eggs and butter. A wonderful side dish for any holiday.

Corn Spoon Bread

Corn Spoon Bread, is an old fashioned dish that has been around since the establishment of the colonies, and goes by many names these days - Corn Casserole, Corn Pudding, Corn Spoon Bread, to name a few - though all of those actually started out as completely separate recipes. Pretty much they all now represent a single dish similar to this one.


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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Traditional Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

Classic old fashioned souffled sweet potato casserole topped in the traditional way with gooey marshmallows, or if you prefer, a praline topping.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I don't know what it is about sweet potatoes fluffed up souffle like and topped with gooey marshmallows, but we sure love this dish down here in The Deep South and it is a rare Southern table that is not graced with it on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or both.


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Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekend Cocktails - Pomegranate Cosmopolitan


Here's our next adult beverage in the Weekend Cocktail series - The Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

Looking at that blood red, makes me think this would've been a great cocktail for Halloween weekend. Oh well, it'll have to wait till next year!


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Praline Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Casserole

A wonderful side dish combining butternut squash with sweet potato and a praline topping.

Praline Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Casserole

Try adding this combination of sweet potatoes with butternut squash to your holiday menu. We have a pretty short window of availability for any kind of winter squash in the south, and butternut barely gets a passing glance in the grocery stores here. Given that, it isn't a squash that I have experimented with much. One thing I did find, however, was that I was not too wild about it at all in any kind of soup form, which seems one of the most common ways it is presented. It didn't take me long to figure out that I preferred butternut be treated more on the sweet side than the savory, but I'm not too into sweet soups either.  I have to say though, I was super pleased with the way that this dish turned out.


The squash and the sweet potatoes marry together so well in this dish, and the praline topping is just a perfect accent. My husband is not a veggie eater, though he will eat sweet potatoes. I managed to pull off this recipe without my husband knowing there was a bit of squash in it all! He simply thought it was sweet potato casserole.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate and Pecan Dixie Pie

A classic southern pie, made with chocolate and pecans and affectionately known in the south as Dixie Pie is sure to please!

Dixie Pie

This is another one of those classic southern pies that's been around forever - and one that everybody has a slightly different version of; some use corn syrup making it similar to pecan pie, some use more eggs and make it more of a custard pie. Some use coconut, or raisins, or walnuts, or some combination of any or all of the above! And some, well, they add a nip of bourbon too.

In fact, if you use change the sugar to 1/2 granulated sugar with 1/2 brown sugar, add a nice hefty splash of Kentucky bourbon to the filling, and fold in the pecans/walnuts and chocolate chips with the pie filling and pour everything mixed up into the pie shell, you might have something fairly close to a copycat Kentucky Derby Race Day pie.


I like this version because to me this is simple and classic and I prefer both of those. A thin layer of chocolate on the bottom, topped with a filling that is reminiscent somewhat of a blondie and then a top layer of crunchy, toasty pecans. Helloooo darlin'.


And so easy! You don't even need to break out the mixer for this one - everything can be stirred right up in one bowl and and then poured over a pie crust topped with chocolate chips. And you can simplify it further by using a premade pie crust. I highly recommend Pillsbury.


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Stir Fried Cabbage with Ground Beef or Turkey

A simple stir fry of ground beef, cabbage and rice, it's quick, easy and delicious!

Stir Fried Cabbage

This stir fried cabbage recipe made with ground beef, and affectionately referred to as Crack Slaw by low carbers, was a favorite back when I was low carbing. Yeah, I did it, the whole low carb thing, and frankly, it is a great way to lose a few pounds pretty quick, say, for instance, those holidays pounds. For me, however, it was not good for the long term. My weight loss stalled pretty quick - apparently my body likes a bit more balance. I mean, it started getting to the point that I had to limit SALAD for pete's sake because things like lettuce and tomatoes have carbs and so long as I had any carbs, my weight loss stalled! Whatever. But, if you want to knock off a few pounds fast, cutting back on carbs for a little while can help with that.


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