November 24, 2014

Apple and Yam (Sweet Potato) Casserole

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is almost here.  I am so unprepared.  As usual.

I always vow to stay out of all retail stores until the middle of January beginning the day after Thanksgiving.  The Internet is my friend.

That does not hold true for the grocery store though, there is no avoiding that.  Luckily I can sneak in when most others are at work and avoid most of the crowds.

This recipe is one of those that I love and appreciate. I love it because I love the combination of apples and sweet potatoes with the lovely syrup made with orange juice and spices. I appreciate it because the two main ingredients can be bought well in advance and they last a long time. Therefore avoiding the crowds just a little bit more.  But even if you have to run out into all that mess you won't regret it.  These flavors have become some of what I look forward to the most during the holidays.  The spices and sweetness of the apples and sweet potatoes with that little hint of orange juice in the background is a favorite of mine.

Apple and Yam Casserole
Recipe from Favorite Brand Name Old Fashioned Holiday Recipes page 102

  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes
  • 2 large golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Precook the yams or sweet potatoes until they are tender, let cool. You can either cook in the oven at 400º for 50 minutes or by poking holes in them and using the microwave.
  2. In a small casserole dish, layer the apples and sweet potatoes.
  3. In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, ground cloves and orange juice. Heat over medium heat until thickened and then pour over the apples and yams. Sprinkle with nuts if using.
  4. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes.

November 19, 2014

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie

I can't believe I'm just getting around to making one of my dad's favorite pie's.  I've only made this one other time but it was many years ago. This isn't a pie I remember having very much when I was little.  My dad always tells the story of one of our neighbors who makes the BEST Sour Cream Raisin Pie.  I have no idea if this one would live up to hers, but it was still very good.

The filling is thick and full of flavor.  I chose not to use chopped nuts because my dad never mentioned the one he loved so much having nuts in it, and because I'm not a huge lover of nuts inside of desserts.  This pie reminds me of and old fashioned dessert.  I don't know how to describe it exactly except that it made me feel like I was home, cuddled up next to a fire with my family.

I think my dad would be proud of this recipe, I'll have to make it for him the next time I'm in town and get the comparison.  The spices make this a fall/winter dessert for me.  Maybe that's why it feels old fashioned to me.

Well, whatever the reason I'm so glad I tried this recipe.  This would be great for the holiday table!

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Recipe from Taste of Home

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 pie shell, baked
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp granulated sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In a small saucepan add the raisins and cover with enough water to cover.  Heat to a boil and then remove from the heat and let sit until needed. 
  3. Use a large saucepan and add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves and cinnamon. Whisk in the sour cream and the milk until smooth. Stir and cook over medium high heat until thick and smooth.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove from the heat and stir some of the hot mixture in with the egg yolks to temper them.  Once tempered you can add the yolks into the saucepan with the hot mixture and turn the heat up until the mix is at a gentle boil and stir and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Drain the raisins and reserve 1/2 cup of the liquid.  Add the liquid and the raisins into the sour cream mixture and stir until smooth. Pour into the baked pie shell. 
  6. For the Meringue. In the bowl of your stand mixer or using a hand mixer and a small bowl, beat the egg whites and the salt using a whisk attachment until it reaches stiff peaks. Add the sugar in 1 Tbsp at a time.  
  7. Smooth the meringue over the top of the filling, bringing the meringue over to the edge of the crust. 
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. 

November 17, 2014

Apple Pie Bars

Some of you might be inundated right now by pie recipes, I know I am.  My email is full of them!  They all look amazing but they aren't exactly easy to eat especially if you're holding a plate while standing up and trying to balance a drink in one hand.  This scenario makes these apple pie bars the perfect holiday party dessert.

I was a little curious how they might taste, truth be told I didn't even try one until I was AT the party.  Well, they are fantastic.  I'm an apple pie lover but I'm not necessarily a "crust" lover so I didn't know how I would feel about these. The little drizzle over the top puts these bars into the pastry column.  It adds just a little something that makes these irresistible for me.  The filling was perfect for my tastes.  I cut back on the sugar added to the filling and I used a Jonagold apple instead of a Granny Smith so I knew they weren't going to be quite as tart.  The result was amazing.  My husband is a very big believer in apple pie, it's one of his favorites and he loved these (gulp) even MORE than regular apple pie.

I know!!!

I was shocked too.  I guess I'll be adding this recipe to my favorites page. I love it when I find a new family favorite.  Too bad it wasn't for broccoli or something else I wouldn't feel guilty about eating all the time.

Apple Pie Bars
Recipe from Old-Fashioned Holiday Recipes (Favorite Brand Name) Cookbook page 326


  • Milk
  • 1 egg yolk (save the egg white)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 cups *tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, sliced to 1/4-inch thickness.
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp *granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. For the crust, use a measuring cup to add enough milk to the egg yolk to equal 2/3 cup. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl combine the flour and salt.  Cut in the butter using two forks or a pastry cutter. Add the milk/egg yolk mixture and mix with a fork until a dough ball forms. Divide the dough in half and put one half on a well floured surface. Roll the dough out to fit your jelly roll pan (make sure it has at least a 1 inch edge, approximately 15x10x1 in size). Place the dough into the jelly roll pan. 
  4. For the filling. Put 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs over the top of the rolled out dough layer.  Sprinkle evenly. 
  5. Place apples in an even layer over the top of the graham cracker crumbs. Use 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon and nutmeg, stir together and sprinkle over the top of the apples. 
  6. Roll out the second half of the dough to the same size as the first one, lay on top of the apples. Brush the top of the dough with the egg white that has been whisked until foamy.  Sprinkle the top with 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp of ground cinnamon. 
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  8. For the drizzle, stir together the three ingredients until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and then cut into bars. 
*I used Jonagold Apples which aren't super tart, therefore I cut back on the sugar added to the filling and only used about 1/2 cup. 

November 14, 2014

A.1. Slow Cooker Pot Roast

This recipe is found pretty easily, from the back of the bottle.  I know, I'm original like that.  The thing is.  I have a tiny itsy bitsy obsession with A.1. sauce and yet it never occurred to me to look on the back of the bottle for a recipe.  So, maybe you're like me.

I love pot roast from a slow cooker.  I love the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and it being done by dinner time without me having to do much work.  Not to mention the wonderful smells in the kitchen that really work up my appetite.

If you're not a fan of A.1. or at least not obsessed with it like I am, don't worry, this recipe just has a background flavor of A.1. but not an overwhelming one. I'm glad I gave it a try.  I usually have all most of these ingredients on hand so I an throw this together when I want to.  This is a delicious cold weather comfort meal.

A.1. Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Recipe from a bottle of A.1. Steak Sauce

  • 1/2 cup A.1. original steak sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 package (0.9 oz) onion-mushroom soup mix
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck eye roast
  • vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, onion as examples
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the first 3 ingredients.
  2. Place the meat in the slow cooker and top with the desired vegetables and then pour the sauce over the top of it all.
  3. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 6 to 7 hours.

November 12, 2014

Simple Artichoke Dip

Talk about an easy recipe!  Three ingredients and it's delicious!

I have a small obsession with artichokes.  Seriously, I eat them plain and in salads, I throw them in pasta and on pizza.  I love them.  I also loved this recipe.  I do warn you, if you're not a mayonnaise fan you will probably want to try another recipe.  You can certainly taste the mayo in this one. Also, I recommend you use some artichokes that are in brine.  You can rinse the brine off if you want but that salty briny flavor is really good in combination with the other two ingredients.

I love how easy and delicious this recipe is.  Definitely a keeper.

Simple Artichoke Dip

  • 1 - 14oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in an oven proof dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve with pita chips, sliced bread or crackers.

November 10, 2014

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

If you're like me and you have a ton of these little kisses left over from Halloween, this cookie is a great use for them. 

This recipe is by no means new.  I've been eating this cookie for as long as I can remember.  I think it's been a staple at most of the picnic's and pot lucks that I've ever gone to.  The recipe is usually displayed right on the back of the Hershey Kiss package, but I tore mine and couldn't read it.  So here it is, ready for you anytime you are.

If you're a peanut butter and chocolate fanatic like most of us are, you will love this recipe.  I did also do one small bit of experimenting with this recipe, I used natural refrigerated peanut butter.  You know, the kind you have to stir.  I think they still turned out just fine.  My husband prefers them to the kind you would make using a non-refrigerated peanut butter.  He says that the peanut butter flavor is better although I noticed that there is a difference in texture.  Mine were still soft but not really "chewy".  They tended to break apart a littler easier than the kind made with the other peanut butter. Not that they were falling apart, they weren't at all.

I know that some recipes very specifically will say you cannot use natural refrigerated peanut butter, but in this case I think it was just fine.

A classic cookie recipe!

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Recipe from

  • 48 Hershey's Kisses
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • additional granulated sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 375º.
  2. Remove the wrappers from the kisses and set aside. 
  3. Mix the shortening and both sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl until light and well mixed. 
  4. Add the egg, milk, vanilla and mix well. 
  5. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda and salt and then gradually add it to the wet ingredients.  
  6. Use a teaspoon to grab a little dough about 1 inch in size and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball around in some additional granulated sugar and place on a ungreased baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes and as soon as you take them out of the oven press one Hershey's Kiss into the center. Let sit for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. 
  8. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

November 7, 2014

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake (Graveyard Cake)

Guess what I brought to a Halloween party?

Besides the fact that this cake was so much fun for my daughter and I to decorate, it was also fantastically moist, chocolaty and delicious.  Truly a wonderful chocolate cake recipe.

I used this recipe for the frosting because I didn't want anything that would be too thick and fluffy.

I will be making this cake again for other occasions.  It had the perfect chocolate flavor, enhanced by the coffee (which you can't taste) and I'm sure the buttermilk is responsible for how moist it was.  Look no further if you're in the market for a great chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Recipe from Serving Up Southern

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup strong, hot coffee
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together (not the sugar) in a medium bowl. 
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together the sugar and the oil. 
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. 
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour and then pour the hot coffee in by pouring it down the side of the mixer bowl.  Batter will be thin. 
  6. Pour into a jelly roll pan that has been oiled and floured and bake for 20 minutes. Test for doneness by putting a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean it's ready. 
  7. Let cool completely before frosting and decorating. 
Graveyard Decorations: 

Oreo's - cut to look like headstones
Candy Corn - just for decoration
Chocolate Tree - melt chocolate bark and pour some into a zip lock back with the tip cut off or a pastry bag.  Lay a piece of wax paper on a work surface and design your tree.  I recommend not making it too tall, and make sure the branches and truck are wide and sturdy.  Decorate with some Halloween sprinkles if desired.  Let dry and make sure your cake is completely cool before decorating or else your tree will melt. 
Candy Mice - jarred cherries that have been rinsed and dried well.  Dip in chocolate bark and use a Hershey's Kiss for the head.  Place two sliced almonds behind the head for the ears.  Make little eyes with either melted chocolate or sprinkles. 

November 5, 2014

Dinner Club: Theme - Fall Foods

Dinner club is back in session on our cozy little street.  I missed it.  There is just something wonderful about the people living on our street, more than anywhere else I've ever lived. We all spend time with each other eating, drinking and looking out for one another.  It's great.

I was a little hesitant about dinner club in October because it's such a busy month for everyone.  Soccer is in full swing and I think most of us on this street have kids who play, volleyball is going on as well.  Not to mention trying to get ready for Halloween and school in general.  Busy busy busy, I'm sure you all can relate even if you don't have kids.

I decided to take a chance and host the first dinner club since back in the spring.  Luckily the attendance, food and company were awesome!  We had a new member join use last night, hi Alison!  Glad you could make it!

I made two recipes for this dinner club feast.  The main dish was Texas Chili that was made in the slow cooker.

The second recipe I made was dessert, Chocolate Lasagna in fact. I've had this dessert many many times but I've never actually made it.  It's so easy and so delicious that I can see why it's such a favorite. 

Jambalaya is a great fall weather food.  Alison brought this delicious dish and everyone loved it.


Ingredients and Directions

2 liquid to 1 rice ratio
Roux - 1 can tomato paste and oil 
add trinity and garlic
add sausage and chunky chicken
cool down a bit
add 1 can/box chicken stock/broth, 1 can hot water, 1-2 cans tomatoes whole/sauce, 1 can rotel
season with tony's
bring to boil
add uncle bens rice
bring to boil, cover and simmer until rices is done and no liquid remains (30-40 min) depending on how much is made

trinity-onion, bell pepper, celery

Everyone loved this cornbread casserole made by Lisa W. So full of flavor, I loved the texture and it appears to be easy to throw together for those busy weeknights. 

Cornbread Casserole
Recipe by Home Sweet Ruby

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 packages Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Add all the ingredients (except the cheese) together in a medium bowl and stir.
  3. Pour into a greased 9x13 for thinner, 8x8 or 9x9 for thicker pan.
  4. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes.
  5. Add cheese to the top and bake for another 5 minutes.
  6. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This little gem was made by Wendy. The original name for this recipe was "No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes" but we all thought that they were much more like a mousse than a cheesecake.  We loved the light an fluffy texture and the wonderful pumpkin cheesecake flavor.  Easy to make since there isn't any baking involved.  Great for the holiday's because your oven is probably already overloaded.  We all enjoyed this one tremendously. 

Pumpkin Mousse Cups
Recipe from A Family Feast 

  • 1 sleeve graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 - 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 - 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 - 1oz package sugar free cheesecake flavored instant pudding
  • 1 - 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-12oz container frozen whipped topping + extra for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Add the graham crackers to a food processor and process until they are fine crumbles. Add the melted butter and both sugars and process again until combined and it looks like wet sand.
  2. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of several 9 ounce plastic cups. Refrigerate while you make the mousse. 
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese until smooth. 
  4. Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and pudding until well mixed. 
  5. Switch to a whisk attachment and add in the whipped topping, slowly, until combined. 
  6. Refrigerate for one hour. 
  7. Use a pastry bag or a zip lock bag with a tip cut off to add the filling into the cups on top of the graham cracker crust. 
  8. Refrigerate until ready to serve, top with more whipped topping and other garnishes if desired. 

Thank you Emily for bringing this one. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all loved this soup.  Most of us love sweet potatoes anyway so this soup was a favorite.  Sweet potatoes are so good for you anyway so to find a new use for them is awesome. Full of creamy flavor with little bites from the cashews.  So good!

Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
Recipe from

  • 4 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp half and half
  • 1 dash thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cashews for garnish
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375º
  2. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender, about 45 minutes. 
  3. Peel off the skins and mash them.  You don't need to get them completely smooth, some chunks are OK. 
  4. Add the mashed potatoes into a large stock pot and add the remaining ingredients except for the cashews. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour. 
  5. Add cashews when ready to serve. 
I believe we will resume our dinner clubs after the holiday's.  I can't wait!

November 3, 2014

Orange Cookies

Halloween is just over and already the stores are rockin with Christmas shoppers.  I feel so behind already.  I tend to be one of those who gets all my shopping done in one day the week before Christmas.  I'm prepared like that. Oh, and also mostly online.  I dislike Christmas shopping in stores immensely.

My neighbors and I have a holiday baking day right before Christmas and that's the day that I look forward to every year.  In preparation for that, I have begun to make recipes I want to make.  This one is out of my newest cookbook "South Carolina Hometown Cookbook" that I absolutely LOVE.  From my research online it appears they will have one for each state, so far they only have six I think.

This recipe makes quite a lot of cookies so be prepared.  However, they are delicious so that wasn't a problem in my house.  I also brought them to a Halloween party we attended and they were loved there as well.  

Great orange flavor, moist, caky texture.  The glaze on top really drives home that orange flavor.  We added some sprinkles because cookies just taste better with sprinkles, and because they look pretty with sprinkles, and also I have a little girl who adores them.

It's nice to have this fresh orange flavor in the midst of all this chocolate and mint (which I also love) flavors.  Makes me feel like I'm eating healthy, when I'm actually not at all. 
Orange Cookies
Recipe from South Carolina Hometown Cookbook page 195
Originally named Great Grandma Marden's Orange Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 whole orange, juiced and zested
  • 3 leveled tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 whole orange, juiced and zested
  • powdered sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer add the butter and sugar and beat well.
  3. Add the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and orange juice and zest and mix on low speed.
  4. Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt and mix until blended.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. (I used a cookie scoop)
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes. The tops will remain pale but the bottoms will be golden. 
Makes about 50 - 2 inch cookies.