Thursday, November 15, 2012

Under the Weather

I have been under the weather so haven't felt very creative the last couple of days.  I'll be back after I'm feelin' better.  Hope you have a great day.  Sun is shining and I think I could sure use some of it's vitamin D today.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mom's Pecan Pie

Tradition in our family for years was everyone brought something to the family Thanksgiving dinner and it was mom’s job to bring the pumpkin pie and the pecan pie.  She no longer bakes and I really miss that.  We would all gather and say “Maw, that sure looks like good pie” and we’d laugh.  Mom, it sure was good pie!

Pecan have become very expensive, but once a year we have to keep with tradition and forget about cost and calories.

1 9 inch pie shell (frozen or chilled for an hour if freshly made)
1 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
¾ cup pecan halves
2 beaten eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs. melted butter
2 tbs. flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Top the pecans with the pecan halves.  Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie.

Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Mom always made her own pie crust, but I think the frozen ones are as good as anything I can make, so I use frozen.  Her recipe was lard, flour and a little bit of ice water.  Use your favorite recipe or make it easy and buy a store bought crust.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chocolate Pie

At Thanksgiving, we always had a large assortment of pies and desserts for the large gathering.  We ate all day and had several dessert as the afternoon passed.  There was never any left over chocolate pie. You needed to get it early or you did not get any.  You always need at least one chocolate dessert for Thanksgiving.


4 tbs. of cocoa
1 cup of sugar
5 tbs. of flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups of milk
½ tsp. of vanilla
3 beaten egg yolks


3 egg whites
¼ tps. cream of tartar
4 tablespoons of sugar

Your favorite pie crust (make it easy and buy a frozen pie crust)

Mix your sugar, flour, salt, cocoa, eggs and milk (all except vanilla) with a whisk.

Cook while stirring on medium until it bubbles and thickens (about five to 10 minutes). If it becomes lumpy, put through a strainer. (It will not get any thicker in the oven so cook until it's as thick as you want it.)

Remove from heat and stir in your vanilla and butter. Meanwhile, poke holes in your pie crust with a fork and bake it at 350 degrees F. until it’s brown (about 20 minutes).

Beat your egg whites with salt and when they start to get fluffy add the sugar. Pour the chocolate custard into the baked pie shell and top with the beaten egg whites. Bake it until it the peaks on the meringue are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Do not walk away.  Watch it closely.

Variation –  You may replace the meringue with whipped cream if you like and shave chocolate on the top to decorate or top with miniature chocolate chips.  Once you have added the chocolate pudding to the baked crust, let it cool fully and top with the whipped cream and chocolate.

Stay sweet, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Skillet Glazed Sweet Potatoes

This is a very simple dish for the sweet potato lovers in your group.  My mom says you have to have sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving.  It is an unwritten law. She loves them just baked like a baked potato with butter.  She picks some up every couple of weeks during the cold months.
This recipes dresses them up a little more for company.

1/2 cup sugar (you may use brown sugar if you like)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, and sliced thin

Boil the sweet potatoes in their jackets until they are nice and tender, for about 25 minutes.  Let cool, then peel and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. 

In a heavy skillet, combine sugar, water, butter, and salt. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add sliced sweet potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, turning frequently until the sweet potatoes are well glazed.  Serves 4.

Variation – You may add a sprig of thyme and some orange slices or pineapple slices if you want to take it to another level.  

Keep it sweet, be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Thanksgiving Menu and Memories

Every family has its own Thanksgiving traditions and standard Thanksgiving menu.  This was ours for many years:

With extended family growing, they are now creating their own traditions. Life continues to change our family also.  We lost our sister Tony this year to cancer and I’ll miss what she always brought to our Thanksgiving.  I’ll miss her Tony’s Tators and her baked beans.  Most of all, I’ll miss her laugh and huge personality.   Her warm spirit and memories will still be a part of all of my future Thanksgivings and will always be a part of my heart.  So with change comes new traditions, but I can still carry with me the wonderful memories.

So today I thought I’d share some of our Thanksgivings gone by standard menus.  I have shared many of the recipes already with you in my blog and will continue to share more.  If there is anything special you would like, please let me know.  I’d be happy to share it. 

The invitation always read noon. Yes, we sent out invitations with RSVP on them, but very few ever RSVPed, they just showed up or not.

Everyone brought their special dishes.  We were outraged if they did not bring what they had brought for years or they did not come bringing their special dish.  Everyone was told to be there at noon and they arrived very hungry, so I always had appetizers ready to start snacking on.  Two huge buffets were always set up, one for desserts and one for dinner.  Mom always made several pies for the occasion and we’d all say over and over again “Maw, that sure looks like good pie!”  We never tired of the ol’ tease.   Dion or Eddie carved the turkey and we would all hover over it to see if we could steal part of the gizzard or liver.  There were so many of us (when my house was full of foster kids we would number over 30), that we could not all sit at the tables set up, so everyone scattered throughout the house and found a chair to their liking.  The men would sit in the living room so they could watch the game. The kids went through the line first, then the adults filling their plates with two meats, two potato dishes, and all the trimmings.  The group always went back for seconds. No one counted calories or watched diets on Thanksgiving and their was always plenty.

When the day was over and it was time to go, if there were any leftovers, people would get baggies and left over containers and take home what ever they could grab.  It became a tradition to get to the leftovers early and get what you could and hide it so you got your fair share.  Dion always made dozens and dozens of rolls so we could take home his wonderful rolls.  

I can hear the noise now and see the mess left, but after everyone was gone, I missed it and was so thankful for having it in my home.  Big old houses were meant for just such occasions. 

I’ve shared many of the recipes already with you.  I’ll note what I shared already in case you wish to refer back to them.  I’ll also share a few more recipes in the next week before Thanksgiving. 

Turkey – I just shared it this week
Mashed potatoes and gravy – I shared the gravy with my turkey blog and I’ll share our mashed potatoes in a future blog.
Tony’s Tators -  I’ll share this soon
Dion’s smoked pork – He won’t share his secret bread and pork recipe, so you’ll have to come up with your own.  I did share a great recipe for Texas Road House biscuits and they would be great for Thanksgiving.
Tony’s baked beans – I’ll share
Sausage and sage dressing – I’ve shared oyster and a sweet dressing.  I’ll share mom’s  sausage dressing yet.
Cranberry fluff – I shared this week
Sweet potatoes – I’ll share
Green bean casserole – I’ll share 
Pie’s – I’ll share
Charmayne’s pumpkin bars – I shared in an October blog
Cranberry compote – I’ll share
Cherry dessert – I shared this week

The family is scattering further and further away and each of my siblings have their own extended family Thanksgiving now.  I now go to my son’s and we have established new traditions which are very special because my grandsons are part of those traditions.  I still treasure the many years I held Thanksgiving at my home though and thank God for those memories and special moments, but look forward to future Thanksgivings with my growing immediate family.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with much love, lots of tradition, and great memories.  Be happy and may God bless you.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sweet Sausage Dressing

Wow, I sure got a lot of hits on my turkey-in-a-bag.  Don't know that I have ever got so many people looking at my blog in a day.  I love easy and simple things and after doing it for over 25 years, it must be easy or I would not keep doing it.

Thought I would share a sweet dressing with you to pair with your Thanksgiving turkey.  Your guests can pick a traditional one or a sweet one or both.  This would go great with a pork roast also.

16 slices of dried out white or wheat sandwich bread
1 lb. sausage
1 and 1/2 apples, cored and chopped
1 finely chopped onion
5 oz. bag of craisins
1 cup coarse chopped walnuts or pecans
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3 teaspoons sage
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock
1/4 honey

Cube the bread, crusts and all, into 1 inch pieces. Add to bowl. Fry up the sausage until completely done, along with the chopped apples and onion. When sausage is cooked through, pour this mixture over the bread and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add craisins and nuts, mixing well after each addition. Combine all of the spices and sprinkle over the stuffing, mixing well to insure the spices are distributed evenly. As you’re mixing, add a little chicken stock (1/4 cup at a time) to the stuffing, being careful not to add too much. You want the stuffing moist, not sticky and gloppy.  Sample taste it. Adjust spices if necessary. If you feel the stuffing could be a little sweeter, add 1/4 cup of honey. If you accidentally add too much stock add additional bread to soak up the excess moisture. Bake at 350 degrees F. just until heated through.

Variation - You can substitute some of the bread with corn bread if you like.

An ideal Thanksgiving will still have my mother's traditional sausage and sage dressing and an oyster dressing on the table.  A small spoonful of each will work for me.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Frozen Turkey in a Bag

You may think me mad, but I have made my frozen turkey in a bag for over 25 years.  While everyone else is slaving over an oven, I'm still in bed and not worrying about my Thanksgiving turkey.  The process of unthawing a turkey and basting it for hours is not the only way to go.  I don't even know where I got the idea any more, but it has worked for me.  You might want to try this and break all the rules.

I used to have well over 20 to 25 people for Thanksgiving each year so needed a very large bird so I could have left overs.  I would look for a 25 pound turkey (getting very hard to find) which normally meant you had to have room in your refrigerator to unthaw a bird for days and then had to get up very early in the morning to start it so it would be done for a noon meal.  There is no brining to make it moist because the bag keeps it moist.  Now I ask the grocery store for a paper bag when I buy the turkey and the night before Thanksgiving, before I go to bed, I take my frozen turkey, rub it with salt and pepper and put it in the bag, sealing the bag by making sure the bag is tucked under the turkey and air tight.  I put it in the oven at 250 degrees F. to cook it low and slow and go to bed (around 10 or 11 PM).  I wake to the smell of turkey.  The bag soaks up the juices and bastes the turkey and it becomes golden brown with me doing nothing else to it.  How long it needs to cook depends on the size of the turkey.  It usually is golden brown before noon and so tender it is falling off the bone.

Since it was frozen, I had to leave the gizzard and liver in the turkey.  Who ever carves the turkey gets to eat them.  We fight over who gets them.

With rules now saying you can't stuff a bird, using a baster I take juices from the pan (there is an awful lot of it) and use it for gravy and for the stuffing.  I save any that is left over because it is wonderful demi glace for turkey left overs.

My gravy is about 2 cups of demi glace and 4 cups of potato water.  We make a huge pan of boiled potatoes for mashed potatoes and do not let the flavor or nutrients from the potatoes go to waste.  Taste and see if it needs salt or pepper and season.  Thicken it with a slurry of corn starch.

Try a turkey-in-a-bag and see if you don't get a golden, crispy skinned bird that is as moist as can be using a paper bag. It is so super simple anyone can do it.  Make sure the shelf in the oven is set as low as possible in the oven to allow for hot air flow around the bird. Also make sure the breast side is up when putting it in the bag.  For easy clean up, I buy one of those throw away aluminum pans with the deep grooves in the bottom. For food safety, the internal temperature of the turkey should be at 165° F. when you take it out of the oven.

Oh I can smell the turkey now.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cranberry Fluff Salad

This has been a staple at most of our Thanksgivings dinners.  I have played with it and added the cherries.  It goes perfect with the turkey dinner.

1 bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 red apples
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows
8 oz. whipped topping
1 cup grapes and/or 1 cup Marciano cherries

Chop the cranberries in a food processor until they are finely chopped.  Add the sugar, cover and let set over night in the refrigerator. 

Cut up the apples in small pieces and add to cranberries.  Add chopped walnuts and marshmallows.  Mix with your favorite whipped topping. 

Variations:  You can add 2 stalks of celery in place of the cherries. This is also great in your Christmas dinner menu and the green makes it more festive. 

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

No Bake Cherry Dessert

This was brought to many a family Thanksgivings by my brother Dion and his wife and we all loved it.  The first one is their recipe.  I’ll share 3 very similar no bake cherry desserts with you also.  You can pick which one sounds the best. 

2 cups graham crackers, rolled fine
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

1  8 oz pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 envelopes Dream Whip (Need to use boxed Dream Whip)
1 cup whole milk

2 cans cherry pie filling 

Make crust by mixing crackers, butter and sugar and pat into pan or you can buy store bought crust to save the work.

For the filling mix cream cheese and powdered sugar together.  Beat Dream Whip with milk and add cheese mixture and beat with Dream Whip.  Pour over crust and cover with cherries.  Refrigerate. 

Variation - I have used marshmallow in a jar in place of the Dream Whip and it worked out well.  You only need the marshmallow and the cream cheese.  Nothing else for the filling.

Or here are another variations of the cream cheese filling.

2  8 oz.  pkg. cream cheese
3 Tbs. milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs. sugar
1 cup  Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 tsp vanilla


1 pkg. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 Can Eagle Brand Milk
1/3 cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp.Vanilla
1 Can cherry pie filling
1 9" prepared graham cracker crust

Beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually add Eagle Brand Milk.  Blend thoroughly.  Stir in lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour into prepared crust and chill 3 hours.  Top with desired amount of cherry pie filling.

I always like choices and if I can use something I already have I often wing it.  You can pick the cream cheese filling that sounds the best to you and the topping also.  Strawberry or blueberry  pie filling would be good also.

You can also make them in cupcake papers and have individual servings.  Because of the color, they are also great for Christmas.  Try making the pie crust with chocolate crushed cookies for a chocolate crust. You are only limited by your imagination.  

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chicken Pizza Meatballs

Do you need to take a meat dish to a function? Try this easy one.  You may also freeze them and keep for that lazy day you want to just toss something quick into the oven.  This recipe makes 12 large meatballs.  

1 1/4 pounds ground chicken
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (you may use Italian if you like)
1 teaspoons of onion powder
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon of chopped pimentos (Optional)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 egg

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14 ounce can of your favorite store bought pizza sauce (or make your own)
4 ounces fresh mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400° F, setting rack to upper third part of oven. In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together first 10 ingredients. Shape into golf size balls and place a few inches from each other on a foil lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix one spoonful of your pizza sauce with olive oil. Brush this mixture on top of each meatball. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven, spoon some sauce on top of each meatball, and cover each with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil another 3 to 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden.  Heat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan and serve them with a dollop of sauce on the plate for dipping.

Variation - You can use ground turkey or ground if you like.

With Thanksgiving getting close, I think I will focus on some Thanksgiving recipes in my blog for the next couple of week that are tradition to my family and maybe some new ones for the great feast.

Have a great Sunday.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Breakfast Tortilla Wraps or Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole

1 package frozen hash browns (unthawed)
2 packages fully cooked refrigerated pork sausage breakfast links, sliced into ½ inch pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 eggs
1 ¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 ounce jar of your favorite salsa

Place unopened bag of frozen hash browns on a work surface and press on bag to loosen potato pieces and eliminating any large chunks.

Scatter 1/3 of the frozen potatoes into a 6 quart slow cooker.  In order, top with 1/3 of the sliced sausage, and 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat to make 3 layers, starting with potatoes and ending with cheese.

Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add milk, chili powder, salsa, salt, and pepper, and whisk to blend well. Slowly pour milk mixture evenly over top of potato mixture, allowing it to soak in.

Set crock pot temperature to low and cook for 6 to 7 hours, or until the sausage is golden brown and mixture is set, but still creamy.

Warm a package of flour tortilla shells for a minute in the microwave and put under a clean dish towel to keep warm.  You can serve on a buffet and let people make their own or make the wraps and serve them.  You may put extra toppings out if people want to add more cheese or salsa. 

If you do not want to wait all day for the crock pot you can also bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.  You may also serve as a breakfast casserole and not make wraps. 

I also make one on top of the stove top that is much simpler that we call Mexican eggs.  I use a package of Chorizo sausage or make my own by adding a packet of taco seasoning to a pound of sausage and fry it up.  Drain off the grease and add 8 eggs and a package of graded cheddar cheese.  When the eggs are done, sprinkle some green onion on top of the eggs and serve them in a rolled up, warm tortilla.  Serve with a side of your favorite salsa or hot sauce.

Have a little spice in your Sunday breakfast or brunch tomorrow.  This also makes a great evening meal. 

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Spicy Chicken Skewers

If you are tired of the same old chicken, try this spicy dish or appetizer.  It is sweet, hot and spicy which makes for a great Friday night chicken supper.  Serve it with fried rice (See my May, 2012 Chinese recipes for the recipe).

Recipe for approximately 32 skewers

2 or 3 large skinned & filleted chicken breasts
4 tbs. soy sauce
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pepper
¾ tsp. cloves

Vegetable oil


2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of chili flakes
Approximately ½ cup boiling water

Just place all the above in a saucepan, gently bring to the boil; simmer for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is really thick just add a little more hot water. Cool slightly and it's ready to go.

For the Skewers

Pre soak your skewers in water.

Cut each breast lengthwise into thin slices.  Thread each piece onto the cocktail sticks folding slightly.  In a dish mix together the rest of the ingredients, (minus the frying oil) & marinade the skewers in this for around an hour.

Pour around 1½ inches of oil in a frying pan begin to heat up to a medium heat you can test this temperature later.  You don't want the oil too hot or the chicken will burn before the inside is cooked out.  Drain the marinade from the skewers. 

Test the oil is hot enough by placing just one skewer in the pan, it should immediately start to gently bubble around the edges.  Cook in batches, turning once and don't overload the pan, they should take no more than 4 to 5 minutes, when they will be crispy on the outside and thoroughly cooked through.

Place onto paper kitchen towel if you fried them and keep warm until you've cooked them all and serve immediately with the warm sauce.  Serve with salt and pepper so everyone can season to taste.  I like mine sprinkled with salt.

Variation - You may also bake in the oven.  Place in a pre heated oven at 350 degrees.  Coat your baking dish with a cooking spray and bake until done.  Time will depend on how thinly you cut the breasts.  Turn over after 5 minutes and check if done in another 5 to 10 minutes.

You can always freeze these after you've marinated them so they're all ready for your party, and quickly fry them off after defrosting.

Hope you enjoy.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012


My family and I love oysters.  I can’t say that about all of my extended family though.  My dad loved them and I was one of the few siblings that learned to love them too.  I am not sophisticated enough though to do the raw thing.  They have to be cooked.

Fresh oysters are supposed to be available in months ending with R.  It is the first of November and oysters are now readily available so they come to mind in meal planning.   Fresh oysters are however expensive (Fareway ad today showing them at $12.99 a lb.), so the question is do you want fresh or canned.  Because I use them mostly in oyster stew and oyster dressing, it really does not matter to me if it is canned.  Canned are less expensive so I usually pick canned for easy storage and the price. 

When I used to pack lunches for Josh, I used to toss in a can of smoked oysters on occasion as a treat.  He loves them and it gave him a protein treat for his lunch.  It was a simple way of saying I love you when he opened his lunch.  But my favorites are oyster stew and oyster dressing.  Here are my simple recipes.

Oyster Stew

1 pint fresh oysters in liquor or 2 cans of whole oysters
1 quart whole milk
1/4 cup butter
Salt and pepper
Oyster crackers

Pour oysters and their liquor into a soup pan.  Bring to a slow boil over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the edges of the oysters begin to curl.  Salt and pepper and add butter and allow the butter to melt.  Pour in the milk.  Do not let the milk boil.  Just heat it until it is hot. 

Sever with oyster crackers.

It is so simple and good.  We have a family tradition of having oyster stew on Christmas Eve and I eat it all through the winter.  I grab a can from the pantry and in a few minutes have a warm soup for lunch with left overs for tomorrow.

Oyster Dressing 

This dressing is very similar to my sausage and sage dressing.  I’d like both on the table at Thanksgiving, but I always go for the oyster dressing for myself.

2 oz. butter
6 generous cups bread cubes, crusts removed
1 finely diced onion
4 oz. canned oysters or more if you like lots of oysters
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tbs. dried parsley
1 beaten egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread bread cubes on a flat baking sheet and toast for five minutes on each side.

Drain the canned oysters, rinse and pat oysters dry.  Chop oysters into ½” pieces.

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add in diced onion and sauté until soft and translucent.

Add chicken stock and bay leaf to onions and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until broth has started reducing. Add chopped oysters to skillet during the last five minutes, stirring once to ensure even cooking.

Remove bay leaf from skillet. In large bowl, combine oyster broth mix to toasted bread crumbs. Stir dried parsley, salt and black pepper. Add in beaten egg and still well until thoroughly coated.

Pour into a 9 x 9 inch baking dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the top begins to brown and become crisp.

I have the canned oysters on my weekly shopping list so I’ll pick them up tomorrow.  I think I’ll be having oyster stew for lunch one day next week. 

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.