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Showing posts from 2009

Ad Hoc's Fig-Stuffed Roast Pork Loin & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The above photo is by my wonderful hubby, Brad. ***I hope you've got your champagne and confetti ready to go! The new year is only hours away!! I can't believe another year is almost over. It seems like time just flies by lately. This past year turned out to be a great one...However, I'm excited to see what 2010 has in store for us! Brad and I are excited to be shooting a wedding tomorrow. It seems like the perfect way to start out the new year. Because of this, we decided to have a nice night at home, since we'll be getting up early tomorrow morning for the wedding. We'll be getting home late tomorrow night, so I went ahead and cooked our traditional New Year's Dinner tonight...complete with the following menu: This photo is also by Brad... New Year's Dinner: Fig-Stuffed Roast Pork Loin Sauteed Spinach with Pecans & Feta Black Eyed Peas with Lardons Buttermilk Biscuits (made from scratch!) The champagne is chilling and our tummies are full from

Incredible Potato-Bacon Torte - Melissa d'Arabian

***Every once in a while, I get the pleasure of baking a recipe that reminds me all over again why I love cooking so much. This recipe is fortunately one of those! Brad and I watched Melissa d'Arabian make this today on her TV show, Ten Dollar Dinners. We were practically drooling by the end of the episode, so I made out a grocery list and my sweetheart of a husband went to the grocery store for the ingredients. We decided it would go perfectly with the Italian-style pot roast that had already been slow-cooking for hours. This is one of those recipes that is good to eat at home for several reasons... Reason #1: The deliciousness of this dish is sure to make you lose all self-control. You may very well be reduced to a case of the giggles while you revel in the yummy-ness that you are so lucky to be eating. Eating this dish at home will help avoid the embarrassment that may result from said reaction. Reason #2: You'll be SO giddy that you have left-overs sitting in the fridge

Merry Christmas!!!

What can I say...We had a wonderful Christmas this year. We started the day with Pioneer Woman's amazingly sinful, made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls. You might remember me making these last year on Christmas morning. Those things are so ridiculously good...It's hard to find the words to describe them...Hah. Pioneer Woman says it best: "If you begin making these for your friends and family during the holidays, I promise you this: you'll become famous. And, on a less positive note, people will forget everything else you've ever accomplished in your life. From that moment on, you'll be known - and loved - only for your cinnamon rolls." Folks, she's not kidding...they're THAT good! You can find the recipe HERE . I even surprised 3 of our neighbors with pans of these cinnamon rolls. They seemed very excited! I also made another Red Velvet Cake. This time, I decorated the top and sides of the cake with candy canes. They added a wonderful, peppermin

A Gingerbread House...Just for Christmas!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi . They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes. I love this time of the month, because it's Daring Bakers time!! I was super excited when I found out our challenge this month...baking a gingerbread house...from scratch! I was especially excited to get to work, because I had to miss last month's challenge. We were given 2 recipes to select from. I chose the recipe from Good Housekeeping magazine. It sounded pretty traditional and none of the ingredients were too exotic...most of them were already sitting in my pantry and fridge. I really didn't have any major problems with the dough. My only obstacle was the fact that the dough needed a few extra tablespoons of cream in order to help it come to

Oh, Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding!!

A great friend of mine, MK, called the other day and had a very special request. She said that for years, she's loved the Christmas song, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (specifically the Muppet version..hehe). However, she had always wondered what in the world the "figgy pudding" was that's mentioned in the song. I considered it for a few seconds and realized that I had no idea either! However, it must be pretty tasty because the carolers in the song refuse to leave until they get some. Have you ever wondered what this classic dessert is? Well, after a good bit of research, I found a lot of recipes for figgy pudding that were actually more like a cake...not a pudding, after all. Traditionally, it's steamed instead of baked. Some say it was first created in the 1400's and really became a popular Christmas-time treat in the mid 1800's in Victorian England. I think the best way to describe this particular recipe is that it's a mix between c

Red Velvet Cake - A Christmas Favorite!

***Ahh...the joys of holiday baking...I love it! I've already been at it hard and heavy this year. This Red Velvet Cake is one of the latest Christmas goodies to come out of my kitchen. I made this for one of my best friends in the world - Ashley. She was having a family Christmas get-together and she needed a scrumptious Red Velvet Cake. I knew just the recipe to use. I've baked this particular recipe from Southern Living magazine many times, and it has always gotten rave reviews...especially the cream cheese icing. I also just love a good Red Velvet Cake around Christmas time. There's something special about that deep, red color of the cake batter...I only wish that I could have taken a photo of a cake slice...maybe next time!*** Red Velvet Cake Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon white vinegar 3 large eggs 1 (1-ounce) bottle liquid red food coloring 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons uns

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Chops with Almonds

This photo courtesy of http://www.pomwonderful.com/ ***Recently, the great folks at POM Wonderful sent me a case of their POM Wonderful 100% Pure Pomegranate Juice and some of their POMx Iced Coffee (which tastes fantastic!!). My challenge - Create a recipe with the POM juice and share my results here. I was very excited to receive these samples in the mail and start brain-storming about what sort of dish I'd like to try first. These Pomegranate Glazed Pork Chops were my results. And let me just tell you...I was very proud of the way they came out. The taste was amazing, with a subtle and fresh fruity flavor...not too much and not too little, but just right! The sweetness of the pomegranate juice and brown sugar paired with the savory-ness of fresh rosemary and garlic made for a stellar combination. The flavors were perfect with the pork. In fact, when I asked Brad if I should make any changes to the recipe, his only suggestion was to make more pork chops the next time around!

Tilapia with Gingered Orange Sauce

***I'm always looking for fast and simple ways to prepare tilapia. It's such a versatile fish, and there are so many flavor combinations that are great when paired with it. I almost always have some stored in the freezer for busy weeknights when I need a fast meal. A few nights ago, I had some tilapia thawing and I needed a quick recipe. I turned over the package of fish, looked on the back, and found this recipe. I had everything that I needed on-hand already, which made it even easier! I did substitute the ginger root with some ground ginger from my spice rack. I also had to use orange juice concentrate in the sauce. It came out pretty tasty! Bon Appetit!** Ingredients: 4 Tilapia fillets, thawed 1 1/2 cups orange juice 1 Tbsp. ginger root, unpeeled, freshly grated (I substituted with ground ginger) 2 tsp. honey 2 tsp. Dijon mustard Directions: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high. Boil until reduced to 1/2 to 3/4 c

Easy Home-Style Fries

***There are some side dishes that you don't need to fool with too much...they are always good and non-fussy to make. French fries are certainly a good example. This recipe from Cuisine at Home magazine is very easy, but the fries have a wonderful taste. They are perfectly soft on the inside (thanks to the parboiling), with a crunchy exterior. I added a sprinkling of Lawry's Seasoned Salt to finish these off. Of course, they would go perfectly with a juicy steak or a scrumptious cheeseburger...and many, many other dishes too! French fries are hardly ever glamorous, but they sure are tasty every once in a while!*** Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 tsp. dried thyme Lawry's Seasoned Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Directions: Parboil potatoes 5 minutes in 3 quarts of boiling salted water; drain well. Heat oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and saute 5 minu

A Simple Recipe for Chinese Fried Rice

***If you're a Chinese food fan...and I definitely am!...There's no doubt you've had Chinese Fried Rice before. It's one of those side dishes that never gets old, and there are many variations on the popular dish. If you have left-over white rice from the night before, fried rice is the perfect solution. In fact, it's better with day-old rice. Before making this dish, my only foray into Chinese food was making homemade egg rolls. So, I am by no means an expert on Chinese cooking. However, THIS recipe seemed simple and straightforward, so I decided to give it a try. I paired it with store-bought sushi, and I had a fantastic meal! Feel free to add chicken, shrimp, beef, onions, garlic, etc...!*** Ingredients: 1 - 2 green onions, as desired 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon salt Pepper to taste 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed 4 cups cold cooked rice 1 cup frozen peas 1 - 2 tablespoons light soy sauce, as desired Preparation: Wash and finely chop the green on

Classic Southern Pecan Pie

***There are a few days every year that turn grocery stores into a mad house...Thanksgiving Eve is certainly one of them! Did you have to make a last minute run to the store this year? I had a few things left on my list to get, and I knew that the stores would be crazy-busy, but I braved them anyway. It wasn't too terribly bad. I did search 3 different grocery stores for fresh fennel...with absolutely NO luck! I couldn't find the licorice-smelling veggie anywhere. So, I just left it out of the turkey recipe. It still turned out great, so no worries there. I didn't even miss it. As I frantically made my way through the craziness of all the other grocery shoppers, I decided to make a pecan pie at the very last minute. In fact, I was craving a pecan pie so badly that I almost bought a store-made pie...I know, right? GASP! It sat in my shopping cart for a while, but I finally changed my mind. I figured that I could probably make one for cheaper than I could buy one pre-made, n

Honey Pecan Pork Chops

***This time of the year just makes me want to let out a happy sigh...I absolutely love the holidays. What are you thankful for this year? I have so much to be thankful for...I truly feel blessed. I hope that you feel the same way! Right now, I have a turkey de-frosting in the refrigerator and a grocery list of things that I still need to go buy for the big day. This year, I'm responsible for the turkey, cornbread dressing, homemade cranberry sauce and Pecan-Caramelized Brie for the appetizer...no pressure! ;-) Here are the recipes I'll be using: Roast Turkey with Bacon-Herb Butter Cornbread Dressing - I'll be using a combination of THIS recipe and THIS one. Double Cranberry-Apple Sauce Pecan Caramelized Brie These are all recipes that I've used in the past, and I can't wait to make them again! Now, back to the current post...I wanted to include this recipe for Honey Pecan Pork Chops because it's got "holidays!" written all over it. These porkch

Buttermilk Baked Chicken

***As a Southern girl, I just can't resist fried chicken every once in a while. It doesn't get much better than chicken marinated in buttermilk, breaded with fresh bread crumbs, and then fried to a perfect golden brown. However...the one thing that does get better (well, at least healthier!) is when the chicken is baked...instead of fried. This recipe is the perfect combination of both worlds. You get that delectable crunch that fried chicken has, but without all that extra grease and fat! The addition of Parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs does add a few extra calories, but it adds a great flavor to the finished dish. I found this recipe in Martha Stewarts' Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook. I can't say enough good things about this particular cookbook. It's divided by seasons, so it really makes it easy to cook according to what ingredients are in season at that time. The recipes are all really simple but certainly deliver on taste. I've probably cook

Pecan Caramelized Brie - Easy & Incredible!

***WOW...I just made this a few minutes ago, and I couldn't wait to share this recipe with you. This appetizer is the perfect fusion of French and Southern cuisine...In fact, it makes me want to say "Bonjour, Ya'll!" Haha. This time of year, I also like experimenting with new recipes that I might incorporate into our Thanksgiving dinner. Without a doubt, this will be the star appetizer on our table this year! It is incredibly easy...It only took me 10 minutes to throw together...and it makes a gorgeous presentation! We recently visited a fabulous, family-owned restaurant named The Char in Beckley, West Virginia. That night when we were trying to figure out where to eat dinner, I came across their website and took a look at their menu. I immediately knew that I wanted to eat there when I saw "Pecan Caramelized Brie" on the appetizer menu. I was intrigued! Such a quick decision is rare, folks. Now, let me just explain something....As a libra, I am SUCH an i

Paula Deen's Squash Casserole

***In my opinion, side dishes don't get much better or certainly...comforting!...than a cheesy casserole. This recipe has comfort food written all over it...After all, what Paula Deen recipe doesn't? Plus, this dish is super easy! Squash is one of Brad's favorite veggies, and we recently came across some beautiful, fresh squash at a local store. I couldn't help but grab some up! I found this recipe by Paula online, and I knew it sounded fabulous. I didn't have the exact ingredients on-hand, but I made some substitutes that ended up being perfect (my changes are in orange below). For example, instead of sour cream, I used mayonnaise...Plus, I changed the amounts and varieties of cheeses just a little bit. One of my favorite cheeses recently is a scrumptious Gruyere...I have yet to taste something with Gruyere in it that I didn't love. It added a wonderful taste to this casserole and a divine depth of flavor. This recipe is sure to remind you of your Grandmothe

A Spooky Halloween Party!

Our "haunted" house for the evening... I had fun making this graveyard cake! The table decorations... We had so much fun at our Halloween party this year...I just LOVE decorating for the spookiest day of the year, and the party was a hit. There were witches, vampires, princesses, fairies, wolverines, and even burglars! Haha. On the menu: Steaks Broccoli & Cheese Casserole Salad Garlic Toast Pumpkin Spice Cake with a "Bleeding Chocolate" Ganache Glaze! (Graveyard Cake shown above) Here are a few pics from the night: I told you that I like Halloween decorations...lol. The lights in the house were dimmed for the party and lit by candlelight. Spooky music played in the background, while spider webs covered everything!!! My adorable niece, Dakota, and my cute nephew, Tristan... Nicole and our precious neice, Amber Rose... I was a fairy! A fairy and a burglar (aka Brad)! Hehe... Dakota thought it would be funny to make the fairy wear the witch's hat... We c