Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Healthy, Holiday, Homemade, Leftovers, Lunch, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potatoes, Quick cooking, Turkey, Veggies, Winter

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Merry Christmas readers!

I don’t know about you but I’m pooped!  Every year I tell myself that I’m going to simplify the holidays but then somehow one party turns into three, the number of presents to wrap keeps growing, I’ll bake just one more batch of cookies, the holidays in non-profit world keep getting busier (not that I’m complaining about all the people we’re helping!), traveling gets more hectic.  And then all of a sudden it’s over and I realize I didn’t stop and remember the reason I feel compelled to do all that to start with.

I’m challenging myself over the next couple days before Christmas to slow down, enjoy time with family, remember to take a little “me” time and don’t forget to breathe.  One way I’ll do that is to relax and enjoy some of the little traditions we do this week.

One of my absolute favorite things to do during the holidays is curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa (and homemade marshmallows), a fuzzy blanket, and my husband and watch classic Christmas movies and cartoons.  Each time I settle down to watch Charlie Brown, White Christmas or Claymation Christmas I feel a calm settle on me.  I get super sappy and nostalgic when I watch those things.  I remember the childlike wonder and amazement of the Christmas season and at least for a few minutes all is right in the world.

My very favorite Christmas cartoon is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Not only do I love everything Dr. Seuss, I love the reminder that Christmas isn’t about things and being busy, it’s about the quality time we spend with family and friends celebrating the season.

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

Let’s all take our queue from Mr. Grinch and Whoville and remember…

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.


Hash is a great way to use up leftover meat and veggies that are hanging in the fridge around the holidays.  I love to make hash and every time I do I can’t help but think of the Grinch slinking through Cindy Lou’s house stealing everything including the Who hash!

This hash combines sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and homemade turkey chorizo for a filling breakfast fit for a Christmas morning full of opening presents!!

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 Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos’ feast, he took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast. He cleaned out that ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took their last can of Who hash.

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The Grinch’s Who Hash

Olive oil
Garlic
1 cup red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 cups sweet potato, pre-cooked (this is a great way to use leftover roasted potatoes)
2 cups brussel sprouts, sliced thin
Homemade chorizo (recipe below)
Fried eggs
To finish: salsa, cilantro, cotija cheese (all optional)

Turkey Chorizo
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Splash of apple cider vinegar

To make chorizo: Mix all spices and apple cider vinegar together to make a paste.  Mix it with the turkey until thoroughly combined.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add a big glug of olive oil and let heat. Add chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Heat a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add onion, bell pepper and poblanos and cook until slightly charred around the edges. Add sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts and cook another 5 minutes or so until all the veggies are cooked through and a little crispy around the edges. Add the chorizo back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: top the hash with two eggs any way you like them. I prefer over easy with all their yolky goodness. Top with a little of your favorite salsa, cilantro and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Yum!

Source: Ruth’s Table

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch / You’re the king of sinful sots / Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots / Mr. Gri-inch! / You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

I bet if the Grinch started his day with this hash he wouldn’t have been so Grinchy!  🙂

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Posted in Baked, Casserole, Chicken, Classic, Comfort Food, Dinner, Family Friendly, Leftovers, Make Ahead, Mushrooms, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potluck, Winter

Comfort Food – Chicken Elegant

Some days just call for comfort food.  Especially cold, rainy Sundays that start at 5:30am with a busted water heater that leaked down through the floor into the neighbors apartment.  That’s not the way you make friends!!

Don’t mind me.  I’ll just be over here with this pan of deliciousness and a fork.

This was one of the very first recipes I remember making entirely by myself as a kid.  It’s super simple to put together, especially if you have leftover chicken just hanging out in the fridge.  The only thing you have to be careful about is taking the hot pan in and out of the oven.  This recipe has been a part of our regular repertoire for years!  It’s simple, inexpensive, and quick to get to the table.  It’s great recipe to make with your kids or let them take the reigns while you sit back and relax!

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It’s not really a looker but it is so tasty!

Chicken Elegant

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz. can of mushrooms
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup chicken broth
1 8 oz. package of herb stuffing

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix chicken, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth together with herb stuffing. Bake in a 9×13 pan for 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Randy Travis’ Favorite Recipes, 1989.

You’ll notice my source is a cookbook written by Randy Travis.  I was a huge fan of his when I was little (who am I kidding I still love me some Randy) and picked up this gem at his museum in Nashville back in the 90s.  My mom recently uncovered it in a box of my stuff I’d left at their house after college.  It’s a great little piece of nostalgia for me and there are actually some great, simple recipes in there that I had completely forgotten about but will probably find their way back into the rotation.

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Tomorrow is Monday, I need all the comfort I can get right now, ha!  And I have leftovers for lunch!

Posted in Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cranberry, Dessert, Fall, Family Friendly, Family Recipe, Holiday, Make Ahead, Potluck, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

Thanksgiving?!  How did that get here so fast?!

I wouldn’t normally post another recipe this close to the last one but I wanted to make sure you all had it before Turkey Day!

I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to write this post when I started.  As some of you know, we lost my Grandma back in August and it’s been an emotional road since then. This Thanksgiving seems especially hard because this time last year is when she got sick and she never bounced back.  It’s a really bittersweet week for me and I’m getting ready to celebrate my favorite holiday.

I don’t know if I’ve ever had a time when I’ve been as nostalgic about recipes as I have been the last few months.  Everything seems to be reminding me of my Grandma this fall just like all the fresh veggies and gardens remind me of my Pappa in the summer.  A few weeks ago I found myself crying over melted marshmallows while I was making Rice Krispie treats.  My Grandma used to start making sheet pans of treats a month before Halloween and freeze them in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

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Today I started my prep for Thanksgiving dinner and I told myself I was going to be strong.  I got out my recipe card for Cranberry Salad that my Grandma had lovingly typed up for me soon after I got married (she typed everything!) and gathered all my things to start cooking.  Surely I’ll be able to get through one recipe without tears, right?!  Wrong.  As I started prepping the cranberries I had to fight back the water works.  Cranberries make me cry, okay?!

I did stop myself and think about the first time I remember making this with my Grandma though.  Now my Grandma wasn’t a huge fan of cranberries (I’ll save that story for later) but every Thanksgiving and Christmas this recipe made it to the table.  When I was little I remember her getting out the cast iron meat grinder to grind everything up and then she’d let me help put everything together.  One time, when I was really little, I remember asking her what cranberries tasted like.  I loved her cranberry salad but had never tried a cranberry on its own.  Wow was I in for a surprise!  I still remember her laughing at me as I puckered up and made a funny face!

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Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

2 boxes strawberry Jello
1 pound cranberries
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 apple, cored, peeled and seeded
2-2 ½ cups sugar (I only do 2 because I like it more tart)
Nuts (optional, I usually leave them out but pecans or walnuts would be preferable here)
Cool Whip, for serving

Grind cranberries, orange, and apple in a food processor. Add sugar and let sit until juice starts to release from fruit. Drain the liquid into another bowl. Use the liquid as a part of the cold water when making the jello. Continue making jello according to package instructions. Add ground ingredients. Put mixture in a 9×13 pan. Top with nuts if using. Refrigerate until set. Serve topped with Cool Whip.

Source: My Grandma’s recipe book

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This Cranberry Salad is one of our family’s staples during the holidays and I didn’t think it would be right to leave it off the table this year.

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My mom recently gave me my Grandma’s recipe book which will forever be one of my most cherished treasures (and seeing her handwriting brings on the tears again!).  I can’t wait to share some of these family recipes!
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Me and my Grandma in the kitchen
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Thanksgiving feast with cranberry salad right in the middle!
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My Grandma had a sassy side!
Posted in 4th of July, Canning, Classic, Cook out, Grilling, Pantry Staples, Patriotic, pickled, Portable/Picnic, Preserving, Sandwiches, Summer, Vegetarian, Veggies, Vintage

Summer Bounty – Bread & Butter Pickles

You all know I say I am NOT a big fan of summer.  I’m really not.  I don’t like the humidity.  I burn when I look at the sun.  The only time I “like” to sweat is when I’m working out or cleaning my apartment or something.  I’m  not a super big beach/pool person so I could kind of care less.  I know that’s sacrilege for a lot of my friends!

BUT…

The more I think about growing up in rural Ohio (I’ve been getting seriously nostalgic lately) the more I realize there are things about summer that I absolutely love.  So many of my favorite memories as a kid happened during the summer time.  And so many of those memories are wrapped up around our garden, the local farmers, spending time harvesting lots of veggies and spending a lot of time with my Grandma in the kitchen as she cleaned, prepped, and canned green beans, beets, tomatoes, made jam, and made her own homemade pickles.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I can’t stand pickles.  Well I should say, I don’t like dill pickles.  Growing up I would tolerate my Grandma’s bread and butter pickles but get anything dill anywhere near me and I would run the other way.  As I’ve gotten older and my tastebuds have grown with me I have finally discovered a love of all things pickl-y.  I’m still not a fan of dill but my world has been opened up to so many amazing ways of preservation in the last few years that I’ve been much more adventurous and have found some things I can’t live without.

One of my latest summer staples has become the humble bread and butter pickle for sure.  It’s amazing how easy they are to make and how just this simple little pickle will make a burger, or even a simple turkey sandwich something really special.

I’ve been working to perfect a new smoked turkey recipe that isn’t quite ready for the world yet but I had to go ahead and share this quick and classic pickle recipe that you can enjoy all summer!!

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I need to get my Grandma’s recipe but this one has become my go-to!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2 pounds medium Kirby cucumbers
2 cups small dice sweet onion
¼ cup kosher salt
1 pound ice
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups cider vinegar
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
3 whole cloves
½ jalapeno pepper, sliced paper thin

 

Sterilize three quart canning jars, along with the rings and lids. (I recommend checking out the Ball canning website for tips if you’ve never canned before, http://www.freshpreserving.com/canningmenu.html.

 

Cut the blossom end off the cucumbers and slice the cucumbers into 1/8-inch thick slices. To draw out the excess liquid and increase the crunch, layers the cucumber slices with onion, salt, and ice in a glass or stainless steel container. Weight with a plate large enough to cover all the cucumbers and keep them submerged when the ice melts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Drain the cucumbers and onions, put them in a large stainless steel, and add the sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, turmeric, vinegar, bay leaf, cloves and jalapeno. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Using a digital thermometer to check, make sure that the internal temperature of the cucumbers reaches 180° and stays there for 90 seconds. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

 

Divide the hot cucumbers among the sterilized jars. Ladle the remaining hot vinegar mixture over the cucumbers, leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and threads clean. Place the lids and rings on the jars and tighten the rings. Cool the jars on a clean dish towel or a rack, not directly on the countertop.

 

Refrigerate for at least 1 week to let the pickles cure before eating (you can skip this step but the wait will be worth it!). Unopened, the pickles will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Once opened, they will keep for up to 3 weeks longer in the refrigerator.

 

Source: Heritage, Sean Brock

 

Posted in Autumn, Baked, Baking, Classic, Comfort Food, Dessert, Fall, Holiday, Nuts, Pie, Portable/Picnic, Thanksgiving, Vintage, Winter

Pie in the Sky

I grew up in a small town, Fletcher, Ohio. Well, it’s considered a village actually. Go ahead, look it up on a map. It’s there. Straight up I-75 between Dayton and Toledo. It’s one of those towns you’ll miss if you happen to blink. Unless of course you get stopped at one of the two traffic lights where you’ll enjoy a view of the post office and funeral home. If you take a left you’ll pass the Methodist Church on your way out to the grain elevator. Every time I have a chance to visit I know I’m home when I see that grain elevator.

I have many fond memories of growing up in this little piece of the Midwest. When I graduated from high school and moved to the big city for college I pretty much ran and never wanted to look back. The older I’ve gotten the more I realize how important that town and it’s people were to shaping me in to the woman I’ve become today.

Many of my fondest memories revolve around church and community gatherings.  I would always look forward to serving Thanksgiving dinner with the youth group at church or gathering with the neighbors at the firehouse for the monthly fish fry.  I miss those small town traditions.

One of my most favorite parts of those gatherings were the pies that all the town ladies would make. Sugar cream, Dutch apple, peach, lemon meringue, pecan. Nothing says comfort and tradition to me like a big slice of pie!

As we near the holidays I’ve found myself getting really nostalgic.  In light of all the scary things happening in the world all I want to do is cling tight to tradition. Let’s not forget all the things we are thankful for this season.

Today I am most thankful for my supportive husband. AND it happens to be his birthday so I made his favorite pie!

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Mom’s Pecan Pie
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 frozen or refrigerated pie crust (or homemade if you have time)

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk all ingredients but pecans together. Stir in pecans. Fill prepared pie crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes until center is almost set (cover with aluminum foil if crust and pecans start to get too dark). Remove from oven and cool completely, 2-4 hours, before serving.

Source: Mom’s recipe book (I think she got it from a Betty Crocker cookbook she’s had for as long as I can remember)

Posted in Appetizers, Autumn, Baked, Baking, Brownies, Candy, Cheese, Childhood treats, Chocolate, Classic, Comfort Food, Southern, Tailgate

Tailgate Time – Pimento Cheese & Brownies

Football season is well under way so that means it’s tailgate time! Well, by tailgate time I mean time to hang out at home in my yoga pants, watching football on my big TV, and stuffing my face with lots of yummy food. Let’s call that “home-gating”!  Sure beats dealing with the crowds, traffic, and rain!

As you know I’m from Ohio and in Ohio we take our Buckeyes football very seriously.  You can yell “O-H” walking down any street in Ohio (and a lot of times here in Nashville) and be heartily greeted with a reply of “I-O!”.  We Ohioans are everywhere!!  🙂

Other things taken very seriously in my family include pimento cheese and brownies.  These two things show up at every one of my family’s gatherings.  Our pimento cheese is the best (although by saying that I will lose a LOT of friends here in the south).  I didn’t realize how fanatical I was about that until I moved down here and no one makes it like my Mom!  However, on one trip to Asheville I was converted to the southern way of enjoying it.  Let’s give a hearty welcome to: Warm Pimento Cheese.  *applause*

Warm Pimento Cheese

8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup diced roasted red bell peppers

Tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Bake for 15-20 minutes in a casserole dish.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Source: Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook by Chef Brian Sonoskus

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Another staple at our family gatherings has always been brownies.  My mom has a great recipe for cream cheese brownies that I’ll share sometime but today is not that day.  What could possibly make a brownie better you ask?  Marrying it with another Ohio favorite, the Buckeye.  Seriously, where have these brownies been all my life?!  They are soooo easy it’s ridiculous.  Let’s give a round of applause, standing ovation, and do the wave for: Buckeye Brownies.  Prepare to have your world rocked.

Buckeye Brownies

1 box fudge brownie mix

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Make the brownies according to the package directions for a 9×13 pan.  Let cool.

In a bowl mix powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter and peanut butter together.  Mix with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Spread over the cooled brownies.

Melt the chocolate chips with the remaining butter in the microwave, mixing after 30 second intervals until completely melted.  Stirring between each interval.  Spread the chocolate over the peanut butter layer.

If you can stand to wait, let the chocolate set up a little bit and then cut into squares and devour!

Source: http://lilluna.com/buckeye-brownies/

IMG_20151024_210331I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have a plain old brownie again.  Go Bucks!  O-H!!