Monthly Archives: November 2013

Aunt Mabel’s Cheese Ball?

Aunt Mabel's Cheese Ball

Aunt Mabel’s
Cheese Ball

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Family favorites are always on the menu. Mark was looking for his Aunt Mabel’s cheese ball recipe… Well he found a recipe in his mother’s card file, not sure if it hers, but he made it hoping for the best. One taste and he was smiling….still not sure if it’s his Aunt Mabel’s or his mothers…..but it made him smile and that’s what really counts.

Ingredients:  makes 2 at about 5-inches in diameter

  • 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 TB onion, minced
  • 1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • chopped pecans

Mix all the ingredients except the pecans. Make sure it’s thoroughly blended. Shape into balls and roll in the chopped pecans. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I’m leaving it in the refrigerator for about 40 hours before serving.


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Green Bean Casserole in the Crockpot

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Green Bean Casserole

First off, I am not a fan in the least of the Green Bean Casserole…..but dang if almost all of my Thanksgiving guest are. Well at least they seem to be as it is always requested and always seems to make it to the table. (Someone always insist on bringing the darn thing) This year Mark actually requested it and look so disappointed when I said no way. Oven space on this day is at a premium and I did not want to share even a minute of it for this side dish. Then a young cousin of mine shared a recipe where the casserole was made in a crockpot….Hmmmmm, could this be? How could that change the way it taste? Well after looking over the recipe I found it used a cream sauce made from scratch. Well I can’t bear to chance a homemade cream sauce turning sour in the crockpot….so why not blend the traditional French’s Green Bean Casserole recipe and this one. And that’s exactly what I have done. Plus of course I have doctored it up a bit. (Sorry about not having the finished dish photo, but hey it won’t be done until Thanksgiving Day)

Julia Child's Sauteed Mushrooms

Julia Child’s
sautéed Mushrooms

Ingredients:   Serves about 12 people

  • 8 oz of butter sautéed mushrooms and green onions, cooled (see Julia Child’s recipe, just search “sautéed mushrooms” here on my blog.)
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground thyme
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 to 3 cans green beans, drained (this was hard to measure as I used green beans I had canned over the summer)
  • 1 1/2 cups French’s French Fried Onions, divided use
  • 1 TB salted butter
  • 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

In a large bowl, whisk together the soup, milk, salt, pepper, thyme, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Fold in the sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon and the green beans. Butter the bottom and sides of your crockpot and add this green bean mixture. Top with 1/2 cup of the French’s French Fried Onions and cook on low for at least 4 hours, but it can cook all day if you need it to. About 15 minutes before serving, put the cooked mixture into a warmed casserole dish. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the Panko Bread Crumbs and sautéed until toasted. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of fried onions, toss well. Put this topping over the green bean mixture and serve.

Make ahead tip: After combining the bean mixture I put it into a gallon sized freezer zip lock baggy, write down the finishing instructions and place in the freezer. Now on Thanksgiving morning I will defrost it a bit on the counter, put into the crockpot and continue on my way. (I’ve completed the assembly of this dish today, Saturday….1 dish down only 7 to go)


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Thanksgiving in my Kitchen

squirrel with orange

It’s that time of the year….but don’t let it become a burden. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Most people don’t find that a surprise because I love to cook….but actually it’s my favorite because I love to watch my family and friends enjoy and be comforted by the food I prepare. I love to rekindle childhood memories with special recipes…I love to create new memories with special people and new recipes. Now don’t mistake my excitement and enthusiasm for a stress free Thanksgiving. I do find it very stressful…..but I also have a few tried and true tricks up my sleeves to get myself through it.

First of all the best advice I have is if you are a person who does not enjoy the planning, prepping and preparing of food….don’t do it. Bring the meal in. Just because your guest may think you should cook it all yourself that doesn’t make it pleasurable….and that just doesn’t make for a good holiday. There’s nothing wrong if you don’t enjoy cooking such a celebrated meal. Try making it a pot luck, try buying a smoked turkey which has already been cooked, or if you must cook it yourself, prepare dishes you are comfortable with and enjoy making.

Now if you are like me and could spend all day in the kitchen the following are some of my tricks of the day.

  1. When planning your menu keep in mind that if you are serving more than 8 guests that the serving size of each dish will be less than if you are serving only a few guest. So when preparing your side dishes there is no need to expand or double the recipes. With so many options, people take less of each.
  2. Turkey size, plan on 1 pound per person. This will give you plenty for your guest and some leftovers. (Remember to look for those grocery store sales. I got my 10 pound turkey for only $5.00. How? Well most markets will give you big discount on your turkey if you buy a particular dollar amount in groceries. In my case I only had to spend $25 to get a turkey at 49 cents a pound. Take advantage of this) Don’t forget your turkey may take 5 to 7 days to defrost and should be defrosted in the refrigerator.
  3. Make a list of every ingredient you will need to prepare the dishes on your menu. Include staples as you may need to pick more of them up. SHOP EARLY! Don’t wait until the days before the holiday….it’s crazy in the markets and you don’t need that added stress.
  4. Do all of the cutting, dicing, chopping and assembling the weekend before Thanksgiving. Then freeze your sides to be finished on Thanksgiving day. (That’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. It makes Thursday run very smoothly. This is my schedule for Saturday and Sunday: Saturday – chopping and dicing of all veggies for the stuffing, toasting of the stuffing bread, assembling and baking my graham cracker ginger snap pie crust, then I freeze it to be used on Wednesday night when I will make my pumpkin pie. I will bake my beer bread and corn bread and freeze these also. On Sunday – sauteing my mushrooms and onions then assemble the green bean casserole and freeze, to be cooked on Thursday in the crockpot. I will make my cranberry sauce and baked mashed potatoes and freeze them also. Now on Thursday I will bring everything to room temperature and finish the baking process in the oven. But the key: No assembly required and no unnecessary dirty dishes.
  5. Ask people to pitch in. Whether they bring a side dish, the dessert or bring the beverages, it all helps to relieve the stress. (Here’s the help I’m receiving. My Daughter-in-Law will be making, in my kitchen, upon her arrival a corn pudding. Mark’s niece will also be cooking when she arrives and she is making our macaroni & cheese. Mark’s sister’s are also pitching in. One will bring a dessert, the other beverages.
  6. Create a cooking and oven timeline. How long will each dish take to finish off in the oven or on the stove? What serving dishes and utensils will be needed? Get them out and set aside. Now schedule each dish as to when it should be in the oven, how long it has to cook and when will everything be done. DINNERTIME!
  7. Last piece of advice……set the table or tables early. Set everything, including the silverware, glassware and decorations. Now cover it with a clean sheet. This will keep your beautifully set and decorated table clean and in place until the special day.

I hope my tips will help you relax and enjoy this wonderful holiday. Remember, if this is your first Thanksgiving…it’s do-able, it can be enjoyable and remember it’s just family and friends so it’s no problem.


Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Holidays, Thanksgiving, Tips


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Beef Stew

Beef Stew

Beef Stew

Yesterday we were in the midst of a big storm. Rain, wind and some tornadoes….couldn’t be a better day to make a batch of comforting Beef Stew. Boy does this stuff make the house smell wonderful. I’m now calling this my Tornado Beef Stew.


  • 1 pound beef stewing meat (or you can cut any beef boneless chuck or round roast into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 TB bacon grease (or you can use vegetable oil, but the bacon grease adds so much wonderful flavoring)
  • DSC_16852 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 TB Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup bourbon sauce (see my recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 2 large potatoes, cut in large cubes
  • 2 carrots, cut into about 1-inch pieces
  • DSC_16862 stalks celery, cut into about 1-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 TB flour

Dry the meat pieces very well by smashing them between paper towels. In a bowl combine the 1/2 c flour, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and black pepper. Dredge the beef pieces in this mixture until well coated. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, then add the bacon grease to melt. Place the beef into the hot grease and cook until they are browned on all sides. Once the meat is completely brown add the chicken broth, Worcestershire Sauce, bourbon sauce, salt and white pepper. Using a whisk, scrap the bottom of the pot to deglaze it and release all that wonderful flavoring. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and continue to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours, until the beef is tender.

When the beef is tender add the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Raise the heat to medium and bring back to a boil, lower the heat once again to low, cover and simmer another hour or so until the vegetables are tender.

Mix the cold water and the 2 TB flour. I shake these 2 ingredients together in a jar. Bring the stew back to a boil, gradually stir this flour mixture in the stew. Stir constantly until you have reached the thickness you desire. Lower the heat until ready to serve.

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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Beef, Casseroles, Soups and Stews


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Garlic Cheese Muffins

DSC_1684Yum, Yum, Yum, that’s all I can say when I take a bite of these muffins. Smother them with butter and I can’t say a word….just pass me another please.

Ingredients:    makes 9 muffins

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 3 TB salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt

Preheat your oven to 400 and butter your muffin tin. Using real butter, makes a really yummy crust.

Mix the minced garlic, shredded cheese, milk, egg and Bisquick thoroughly. Fill each of the 9 muffin tins 3/4 full. Stir the garlic salt into the melted butter and spoon over the batter in the tins. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.


Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Breads


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Chicken Chilaquilas

Chicken Chiliquillas

Chicken Chilaquilas

Yum, Yum, Yum ….. another recipe that sends me back to my Southern California roots. Chilaquilas of any kind are just a great way to use up leftovers. Whether you make them for breakfast by adding some scrambled eggs or use them as an afternoon snack, they will hit the spot.

Ingredients:  Serves 3 to 4 people

  • 12 corn tortillas, cut into eighths
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • a couple of cups of shredded Chipotle Chicken (see my recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups Green Tomato Enchilada Sauce (see my recipe)
  • 3/4 cups Queso Fresco
  • 1 to 1/2 cups shredded Mexican Cheese

Preheat your oven to 375 and butter your baking dish

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, fry the corn tortillas pieces until they are thoroughly browned.

In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the fried tortillas, shredded chicken, green tomato enchilada sauce and the queso fresco. I use my hands to do this, it’s messy but you can mix all the ingredients gently this way. Place in the baking dish, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. Cover with foil that has been sprayed with a pan release. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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Roasted Bourbon Glazed Vegetables

These vegetables turned out so good. Definitely will be adding this recipe to my Thanksgiving menu.

Roasted Bourbon Glazed Vegetables

Roasted Bourbon
Glazed Vegetables


  • Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • French Green Beans
  • Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB or so of Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • fresh rosemary, minced
  • fresh parsley, minced
  • about a half cup of Bourbon Sauce, heated over low (see my recipe)

Preheat your oven to 425 and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil that has been sprayed with a pan spray.

DSC_1674In a large bowl toss all the above ingredients except the Bourbon Sauce. Season with salt and pepper, spread out on the foil lined and sprayed baking sheet. Roast 15 minutes, toss and roast another 5 to 10 minutes until the squash is soft. When finished roasting move to a warm serving bowl and drizzle the bourbon sauce by a teaspoon over the vegetables. Drizzle as much or as little as you like.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Thanksgiving, Vegetables


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