Tis The Season

Or is it? I have to say its been difficult to get into the holiday spirit the last few years mainly due to the fact that I find myself unemployed, yet again. Fourth year in a row.  That makes it hard to participate in holiday festivities so when I saw this drink recipe pop up on my Pinterest feed, you know I had to make it.  You know, feeling quite Grinch-like and all.

Funny, being a former bartender I seem to always have a pretty well stocked home bar.  I had all the ingredients to make this drink except the OJ and Sprite. Not bad!  I’m glad it worked out that well because this cocktail is quite good and would actually be good anytime of year. Due to its coloring, it could be a festive drink for Christmas, for St. Patrick’s Day, or you could even add a bit of blue food coloring to make it more turquoise and it would be a great summertime drink.

Whatever time of year you choose to make The Grinch, I’m sure you will totally enjoy it as I did!

Live it up and drink it down!

The Grinch
 
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Recipe type: Libations
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 3 oz Bacardi 151 Rum
  • 12 oz Orange Juice
  • 4 oz Sprite
  • 3 oz Blue Curacao Liqueur
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large container with lid.
  2. Shake to blend well.
  3. Pour over crushed ice in cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with peppermint stick and a maraschino cherry.

 

Chorizo and White Bean Soup

I recently posted the fact that I don’t cook many soups mainly because I don’t have that much experience with them. Growing up in Florida, we just didn’t have a lot of soup during the winter. Mom would make chili, beef stew, white bean navy soup and such which were all delicious. Our winters were short and not nearly as cold as winters I’ve experienced since moving to Georgia!  But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that I do tend to incorporate homemade soup much more frequently here in Georgia than I ever thought of doing in Florida. I am learning!

This recipe I found on Epicurious. It is actually from Bon Appetit and I’ve adapted it a bit from that recipe. It’s great, hearty (there is that word again), delicious and quick.  And I love the smoky flavor from the Chorizo. Really appetizing. You’ll love it too! Add a chunk of homemade fresh bread and you’re all set!

Hint:  If you plan to not have leftovers make as is. If you plan on leftovers, I would add the spinach as you go.  It will be fresher!

Bon appétit!

Chorizo and White Bean Soup
 
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Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo or Italian sausage links
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (about 10 cups)
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add onion, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-8 minutes. Add beans and broth and cook, until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach by handfuls and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Slice chorizo and fold into soup. Divide soup among bowls. Enjoy
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 570 Fat: 33g Fiber: 11g

 

Spiced Almonds

During the holidays most every year, I can be found making these wonderful and fragrant Spiced Almonds. You can also use pecans if they are more readily available to you but the almonds very much remind me of the same treat you can find at Falcon’s games or at the Renaissance Festival or usually at many outdoor festivals. They charge an arm and a leg for them so why not make your own at home?

They’re so good and this recipe is so quick to make. And inexpensive if you use almonds.  It’s a great snack to have on hand!! Or perfect for a hostess gift!

Bon appétit!

Spiced Almonds
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sweet Endings
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups almonds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and water. Cook to soft ball stage. Add vanilla and almonds. Stir until almonds are surgery. Pour onto waxed paper and separate almonds. Cool. Store in a covered container.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ cup Calories: 166 Fat: 6g Saturated fat: 0g Unsaturated fat: 1g Trans fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 27g Sugar: 26g Sodium: 1mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 3g Cholesterol: 0mg

 

White Cranberry Martini

What’s a holiday without a special new cocktail? This one is tasty and festive. Perfect for this holiday season. Try one tonight.

Live it up and drink it down!

White Cranberry Martini
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Libations
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ ounces Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 3 ounces white cranberry juice
  • Splash Triple Sec
  • Frozen Cranberries for garnish
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients, except for the cranberries, into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Vigorously shake the mixture for 35 seconds and then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Garnish the drink with the cranberries and then serve immediately.

 

Shepherd’s Pie

Aw, I can’t think of anything more comforting on a cold winter’s night than this wonderful dish, Shepherd’s Pie, for dinner. The flavor is robust and the meal is hot and hearty. Can’t beat that combination when its freezing outside. Add a fire in the fireplace and a few after dinner hot toddy’s and I call that evening a great success!

The recipe below was adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe. His called for lamb which you can definitely use. I prefer ground beef.

I also like the individual soufflé cups instead of one large dish but if you were serving a family, the large dish would be better. For me, the soufflé cups help a bit with portion control and Lord knows, we all could use a bit of help there! 🙂

Try making this tonight! It will satisfy your entire family and you, too!

Bon appétit!

Shepherd's Pie
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Mains
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 carrots; peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen English peas
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into ½-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the ground beef, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.
  4. Add the corn and peas to the meat mixture and spread evenly into 8 individual souffle cups. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 760 Fat: 59g Saturated fat: 23g Unsaturated fat: 23g Trans fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 9g Sugar: 8.6g Sodium: 491mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 45g Cholesterol: 238mg

 

Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving has always been a very favorite holiday of mine. I love to cook the entire meal from start to finish. Back in the day, I used to love to help my Mom, when she would let me. One of the dishes she made was the delectable Cornbread Dressing. I don’t remember her having a recipe nor have we found one. She died in 2001 and since that very year, I’ve tried to find a recipe that would stack up to hers.

I was chatting with a friend on the phone the other day and came to a startling realization – I will never, ever, be able to duplicate my Mom’s Cornbread Dressing. I can come close but it will never be the same as hers. And so, with that being said, I will cease my quest to do just that because I have finally found a recipe that I am happy with and going forward, will make every year. It can be my own new tradition. It is very close to Mama’s, for sure. I might add some poultry seasoning next time. She definitely used that in her recipe and this one doesn’t call for it at all. I didn’t miss it but we’ll experiment next time. And it’ll be my recipe going forward.

Cornbread Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salads and Sides
Cuisine: Southern
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter; divided
  • 3 cups self rising white corn meal mix
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 large eggs; divided
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups white breadcrumbs; soft
  • 2 large sweet onion; diced
  • 4 celery stalks; diced
  • ¼ cup fresh sage; finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned pepper
  • 7 cups chicken broth
Instructions
  1. Place ½ cup butter in a 13 x 9" pan. Heat in oven at 425 degrees for 4 minutes.
  2. Stir together cornmeal and flour; whisk in eggs and buttermilk. Pour hot butter into batter and stir until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Crumble cornbread into a large bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs and set aside.
  3. Melt remaining ½ cup butter in a skillet over medium heat; add onions and celery, and saute 5 minutes. Stir in safe, parsley, and seasoned pepper. Saute 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir into cornbread mixture.
  4. Whisk together chicken broth and remaining 4 eggs, stir into cornbread mixture. Pour evenly into 1 lightly greased 13x9" pan and 1 lightly greased 8" square pan.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 322 Fat: 16.7g Saturated fat: 8.2g Unsaturated fat: 4.5g Trans fat: 1.5g Carbohydrates: 30.8g Sugar: 28.8g Sodium: 2387mg Fiber: 2g Protein: 13g Cholesterol: 193.2g

Cranberry Relish

It’s holiday time with Thanksgiving now behind us, Christmas on the horizon and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Let’s hope you have an opportunity to make this Cranberry Relish sometime during the coming weeks. If not, save the recipe and be sure to try it next Thanksgiving.

It truly is very good and will change your tune from always having the canned “jellied cranberry sauce” or the other canned “whole cranberry sauce”. I don’t know why anyone would do that when a relish like the one pictured above is so easy and yummy!

And if all is not consumed during the holiday meal, there are many uses for the leftovers. I love to warm it and spoon it over pound cake then top with whipped cream! You can make a Cranberry Crumble with it, too. Or make little Cranberry Hand Pies. Or make pancakes one Sunday morning and warm up a bit of Cranberry Relish to use as a topping! Or try it on waffles! Get creative! I’ve even been known to just eat it straight from the container. It is THAT good!

Bon appétit!

Cranberry Relish
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Starters
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 13 ounces orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup walnuts
Instructions
  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and cranberries in a lightly greased pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Mix in remainder of ingredients and serve hot or cold.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3 Tablespoons Calories: 134 Fat: 5.3g Saturated fat: 0.3g Unsaturated fat: 1.3g Trans fat: 3.1g Carbohydrates: 22.1g Sugar: 19.9g Sodium: 7988.6mg Fiber: 2.2g Protein: 2.3g Cholesterol: 0mg

 

Wonderful Holiday Memories

A few weeks back I purchased this one pound bag of pecan halves for $12, I believe. Just one pound. I have very fond memories of a huge box of pecan halves arriving at our home in Panama City every fall, just in time for holiday baking. I’d love when that brown UPS truck would pull up in the driveway, knowing our pecans were on board. It was a glorious sight!

Mom and I would portion our bounty into quart size freezer bags and pack the standup freezer in our utility room with bags and bags of pecans which would last throughout the year. I used them sparingly, even then, knowing that one delivery did have to last all year long.

I do the same now but the quantity I purchase is very much different than what my Mom purchased for us back in the day. For instance, a 24 pound box of shelled pecan halves today would set you back about $280. Five pounds? About $60. They are still a precious commodity. And with the recent rash of bad weather in south Georgia, they are even more precious this season as I think I recently read that nearly 30% of this year’s crop was destroyed by Hurricane.

Be that as it may, I will enjoy my one pound bag for as long as I can and every time I do, I will be reminded of my Mom and our fall ritual. Very fond memories, indeed.

If you are so inclined to purchase your pecan stash in bulk, visit this page for a listing of Georgia Pecan growers. Back then Mom would pre-order her supply through the mail before the crop was even picked! And once the pecans were ready, they would ship so they would be at their freshest. Now, most orchards have websites where you can place your order online and receive your pecans even quicker, when in season.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to begin this annual ritual for myself. Maybe . . .

Breakfast Brunch

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and if you haven’t yet determined what you’ll be serving for breakfast, might I make a suggestion? This recipe for Breakfast Brunch is the best! It was shared with me from a dear friend many years ago and I’ve since made it a tradition to serve every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It’s quick to pull together and quick to cook. And it includes all your favorite breakfast items – eggs, sausage, cheese, and crescent rolls! Oh, and a little milk! You just can’t go wrong.

If you have left overs, yes, I said IF, you can portion and freeze. Take out from the freezer, as needed, and pop into the microwave for a couple of minutes. Wha la! Breakfast is served!

And if you don’t yet have any holiday breakfast traditions, well, it’s a fine time to start one! Now, get to the grocery store and get the needed supplies. In the morning, comment back and let me know how your family enjoyed your Breakfast Brunch.

Bon appétit!

Breakfast Brunch
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Beginnings
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces Pillsbury Crescent rolls
  • 16 ounces Jimmy Dean Pork sausage
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with vegetable cooking spray. Press crescent rolls into bottom and up sides about one-quarter inch of pan. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over crescent rolls. Cook sausage. Drain. Crumble sausage over cheese. Mix milk and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over cheese and sausage layer. Bake 12-15 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 230 Fat: 15g Saturated fat: 7g Unsaturated fat: 6.5g Trans fat: .6g Carbohydrates: 9.6g Sugar: 8.9g Sodium: 385mg Fiber: .7g Protein: 11.7g Cholesterol: 44mg

 

Mac and Cheese Bites

Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness and yes, I could say it again. These little morsels are so yummy. I made them some time ago and took them to the Atlanta Steeplechase as one of my dishes to share with the group. Then they were served at “room temperature” and were perfect for the occasion. Finger foods are always great at the Steeplechase so you can “graze” throughout the day with out being burdened with a plate, fork and knife. After all, you do need at least one hand to be occupied with a wine glass!

Make a batch of these very good, kid-friendly, yummies at your next barbecue or family get together as an appetizer and see how fast they go! You’ll be amazed! Oh, I did add a dash of red pepper just to spice it up a bit. Yum yum! And, yes, they are very addictive!

Bon appétit!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mac and Cheese Bites
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Small Bites
Cuisine: American
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • ½ pound Elbow Macaroni Noodles
  • 3 tablespoons Butter; divided
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1½ cups Milk
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar cheese; shredded
  • 2 ounces Cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon White pepper
  • 1 whole Egg; beaten
  • ½ cup Bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.
  3. Cook pasta according to packaged directions and set aside
  4. In a medium size pan combine 2 Tablespoons butter and flour over medium heat. Whisk until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Slowly add milk and bring to a simmer. Add 1½ cups of the cheese, cream cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, carefully stir pasta, cheese sauce, and egg until evenly mixed and pasta is evenly coated.
  6. Melt remaining 1 Tablespoon butter and mix with ½ bread crumbs.
  7. Spoon mac and cheese into mini muffin tins and top each with a small pinch of remaining cheese and pinch of buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow to cool 5 minutes before gently removing the bites.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 muffins Calories: 298 Fat: 16.4g Saturated fat: 9.8g Unsaturated fat: 4.4g Trans fat: 0.8g Carbohydrates: 25g Sugar: 24g Sodium: 269mg Fiber: 1g Protein: 12.4g Cholesterol: 67.9g

 

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