Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Honey-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops



Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!






I love pork. You know! The other white meat? It has great flavor and it goes with so many things. Cooks quickly, too. Well, I found these center loin chops on sale the other day so I picked them up and froze them. Then I ran across a recipe that called for honey and with a big jar of honey from my daddy's hives sitting in my pantry, I knew I wanted to try it. It was absolutely delicious. It got four thumbs up!


Isn't that pretty? The meat has a little char for flavor, but it's not a dry, leathery pork chop!

Honey-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

4 boneless center cut loin chops about 3/4" thick
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Cut a slit on each side of the chop through the fat. This will keep the chop from drawing up as it cooks. Combine sugar, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Pat chops dry with a paper towel and then rub both side of chops with the sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.


Whisk vinegar and cornstarch in a small saucepan until smooth. Stir in honey, mustard, thyme and cayenne and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer until the glaze reduces to about 1/4 cup. Should take about 5 minutes. Stir often until reduced.


Heat grill on high for about 15 minutes. Clean and oil grill and then turn three burners to medium-low. Cook chops on the cooler side for about 4 minutes on first side and about 2-3 on second side. Brush chops with glaze and move to hot side of grill for one minute on each side to caramelize the glaze. Remove to platter and tent with aluminum foil for about 5-10 minutes. 


Be careful not to overcook the pork. It will cook quickly and get dry very easily. The sugar rub helps it to caramelize and get color quickly without overcooking. 

I served this with corn on the cob, turnip greens and cornbread. It was so good, the kids asked for more! We will definitely put this into the dinner rotation. Winn Dixie puts this cut on BOGO all the time, so watch out for it and stock up!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake

Today's blog post is a little different than most. While I'm going to share the recipe for a light and delicious lemon cake, I also plan to let you peek behind the curtain to see how everything isn't always picture perfect in our neck of the woods! 

Last week, I shared with you the details of my Mother's Day tablescapealong with a simple craft for easy rope-accented flower vases and the recipes for the best sausage and shrimp etouffee and my out of this world hushpuppies. Today, I'm giving you the details of the Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake that almost didn't happen!


Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake

for the cake
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 large egg whites
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

for the icing
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

Be sure to prepare all ingredients before beginning the cake.



Preheat oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the lower third of the oven to allow cake room to rise. Sift flour and 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl. Whisk egg whites on medium speed until frothy and bubbly (about 1 minute). 


Add lemon zest, juice, tartar, vanilla and salt. Continue whisking on medium speed until soft peaks form (about 2 minutes or so) and then gradually add remaining cup of sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk to firm - but not stiff - peaks. This will take about another 2 minutes. Remove from mixer stand. 


Sprinkle the egg white mixture with about 1/4 of the flour/sugar mixture and fold in by hand. Continue to add by fourths until flour/sugar mixture is incorporated. Be gentle, but continue to scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain. 


Transfer batter to an ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean. This took my oven right at 60 minutes. Begin checking at 45 minutes. When cake is done, invert cake (still in the pan) onto a bottle and allow to cool for 1 1/2 hours. Remove to a plate to finish cooling. Store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

While cake is baking, make the icing. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl. then whisk lemon juice, sugar, flour and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly for 1 minute as it thickens. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set it in the ice bath to cool. Stir occasionally. As it cools, whisk the chilled heavy cream on medium until medium peaks form. Do NOT over beat. This should take about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into the juice mixture by thirds. Refrigerate until ready to ice cake.

Now - here's where my problems began.

First - I took the cake out after 45 minutes. Two reasons - it was starting to brown a little and I thought angel food cakes are prettier without color. Well, icing takes care of that. Second, I tend to under bake my cakes and cupcakes a little. Not raw under-cooked, but if it suggests 18-21 minutes on a cupcake - I go with 18. I just like them that way. I was afraid overcooking would make the cake heavy.

Also, as I folded in my cake flour/sugar, I saw that a little didn't incorporate, but I didn't want to overdo it and deflate the egg whites. I figured the liquid in the cake would draw in the flour as it cooked. Wrong. When the cake came out, it had hard doughy knots in it where the flour was not mixed.


It also didn't rise very high or seem very light.
So, What did I do?


You betcha' I did! 
As you can see - it was NOT a success.

I ended up making another cake. I beat the egg whites longer to add more air and rise to the cake. I made sure to completely fold in all the dry ingredients. And finally, I baked it for a full hour, checking every 5 minutes from 45 minutes on. 


Luckily, I discovered all this before icing the cake. The second cake was light, refreshing and delicious. Everything an angel food cake should be! And the subtle hint of lemon made it extra special for Mother's Day.

This cake is not hard, It just takes a little bit of time and concentration! I'll definitely use the cake recipe again. I'm thinking about making my own cake cups for strawberry shortcake this summer. And the lemon icing is really like a lemon whipped cream. I think it'd be delicious dolloped on top of blueberry shortcakes!

Well - I hope you see that everything doesn't always turn out perfect around here! But I didn't flip out. I kept my head and just tried again. And it worked!

I hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day celebration as much as I did!

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Out Of This World Hush Puppies...

Warning - Nostalgic back story necessary for full appreciation of this recipe.
Please bear with me!

I'm not gonna lie. I'm a snob when it comes to hushpuppies. Seriously! I have eaten a lot of them over the years, and I can tell a good one from a bad one just by looking at it. I don't even have to taste it. I'm not kidding! Hushpuppies that are little and perfectly round...well, they were probably made by a machine. Mine are bigger and fluffy and sweet and irregularly shaped. All signs that they were made fresh, by me!


I don't think I ever really thought or cared about hushpuppies until I was a teenager spending time with my grandmother at her mother's home in Dasher, Georgia. Mama Judy (my greatgrandmother and Jewell's namesake) loved to fish. She drove her own outboard motorboat to go fishing at Ocean Pond until she was in her 80's! She taught me how to bait a hook and how to take a fish off the hook once he was caught. Skills every true Southern lady must master...

My Georgia relatives (shout out to the Copelands!) live back on Poley Bay Swamp and my Uncle Charles had a place they called "The Shack" where we would have fish frys. That's where I first became aware of what constitutes a good hushpuppy. I can just see Mama Judy and my Aunt Nette frying huspuppies while the men cooked the fish. They were so good...

Well, I don't have their recipe, but I know what I like, and I have worked to perfect my own recipe over the years. My mama's brothers and sisters and their families all get together for a fish fry at my mother's brother's place (Uncle Greg the Great, as my kids call him!) every Memorial Day, and while the men still fry the fish, I'm in charge of the hushpuppies.

So - I'm sharing my recipe with you today. But you need to know a couple of things. First, you probably won't fry a perfect hushpuppy your first time out the gate. It takes some practice. And second, these babies are dangerous. My niece, Ann Welch, discovered them (I guess for the first time) on Mother's Day, and she must have thrown back at least a dozen. No kidding. So proceed with caution, but please, by all means, proceed...

Out of This World Hushpuppies

7 tablespoons yellow corn meal mix
(I only buy Martha White brand in the yellow package)
5 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
(I chop it so fine that my kids don't know it's there!)
buttermilk
salt/pepper


First, I want to show you what I call a "tablespoon".
I actually use a tablespoon and it is a heaping one at that. No measuring spoons here.

Add all you dry ingredients to a large bowl. Add onions. Salt and pepper to taste. (I probably use a half teaspoon of salt and crank the pepper mill until I get bored. Sorry, I've never measured exactly how much it is!) 


Here's the dry ingredients before adding the onions.
Didn't want any in the picture in case my kids are reading this.
I told you they don't know about the onions!

Add egg and about 1/2 cup of buttermilk to begin with. The consistency should be pretty thick. They've got to hold together when you drop them in the grease. I've tried to show you the consistency below. When I drag the spoon through, it leaves a little trail and doesn't complete fold back in on itself.


Let them sit for about 10 minutes to rise (the leavening agents in the corn meal mix, self-rising flour and buttermilk will react and it will puff up a little). Just let it sit while you heat your grease to 350 degrees. You can't make this batter ahead of time. BTW - you'll need to heat about three inches of grease. They've got to be "deep fried".


Once my grease comes to temp (be sure to use a candy thermometer so you can monitor the oil as you cook), I use the tablespoon I measured the corn meal with and a smaller spoon to form the hushpuppies. I get a spoonfull of batter with the larger spoon and then use the smaller one to scrape it off (gently and away from you!) into the grease. 


I usually get two hushpuppies per spoon full of batter. Don't make them too big. They will puff up some as they cook, but if they're too large, they'll get too brown on the outside before they're cooked through on the inside.

Now - here's the tricky part. Watch your grease. I heat it to about 350, because it will drop in temp a little as you drop in the batter. Regulate it and try to keep it between 325-350. Any lower and they won't cook, any higher and they'll burn.

After I get about a dozen in the grease (don't overcrowd them), I let them cook a couple of minutes then I take my skimmer or slotted spoon and just tap them. If they're about done on the first side, they'll flip over by themselves. Cool, huh? If you let them cook too long on one side, you'll never get them to stay flipped on the second side. I know it sounds complicated and temperamental, but once you've cooked them a couple of times, you'll get the hang of it.

When they're a light brown, remove one and cut it in half to make sure it's not wet. Then drain on paper towels. I should have made a picture for you of them as I took them out, but they mysteriously kept disappearing.

So there you have it! One last suggestion - they're delicious on their own, but I love to dip them in Heinz ketsup. Don't judge. Just try it! The moral of the story is - friends don't let friends buy frozen hushpuppies!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Best Shrimp and Sausage Etouffee...I Garontee!

It's hard enough to pull a meal together under normal circumstances, but when you've just gotten home from church and you have hungry men hanging around asking if you have "Hor-D-Vores", it can be a little nerve-wracking! I tried to plan a menu for this year's Mother's Day luncheon that could be done ahead of time. It worked, and it didn't. But regardless of how and when it came together, it was really good. I mean REALLY good. I got compliments all around, but my brother, Jon, actually said it was the best thing I've ever made! Thank you, sir!


Mother's Day Menu 2015

Sausage and Shrimp Etouffee
White Rice
Coleslaw
Corn on the Cob
Hushpuppies
Lemon-Iced Angel Food Cake

I knew I needed something that would cook itself in the crockpot so I could focus on other things, so I chose to do a sausage and shrimp etouffee. I ended up combining a couple of recipes, but it turned out really good! I have to warn you, it wasn't cheap. But it was Mother's Day and it did feed 14 people!

Sausage and Shrimp Etouffee
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chopped Vidalia or yellow onion
1/2 cup bell pepper (I used orange for the color and sweetness)
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
1 bunch green onions, slivered
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 (8 oz) bottle clam juice
1 (14.5 oz) can original Rotel tomatoes (with juices)
1 1/2 pounds of small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package Conecuh hickory smoked sausage

Begin by making a roux with the oil and flour. Cook this low and slow and continue to stir. You want it to be about the color of caramel - or my coffee! Not gonna lie - this took about 30 minutes. You have to develop this dark color without burning your roux. It goes a lot faster after this!



Once the roux is done, add your onion, bell pepper and celery. (These should already be chopped so you can mind your roux.) Cook the vegetables in the roux for about 10 minutes. The water content in the veggies will keep the roux from burning. The veggies should begin to soften, but will finish cooking later.


This is the vegetable and roux mixture below.
It looks like a sticky mess, but don't worry.
It will loosen up when you add the liquids.



Add the green onions, celery, garlic and seasonings and cook for a couple of minutes, until you begin to smell the garlic. Add the tomatoes and clam juice and stir well. (After I added the tomatoes and BEFORE I added the clam juice, I pulled some out for my SIL who is allergic to seafood. She had sausage only. Also - be sure not to go back and forth stirring them with the same spoon!) Bring it to a boil, then reduce to simmer. At this point, I added my sausage. I wanted the sausage to cook slowly in a simmer and not get tough.


(You see two packages, because I doubled my recipe.)


At this point, I put it in crockpots and cooked it on low during church (about four hours total). The shrimp is not added until the end because you don't want it to get rubbery. This is where I encountered trouble. I waited until 30 minutes before we were supposed to eat to add the shrimp. Normally, I would add shrimp to a stove-top dish about 5 minutes before eating. When I added the shrimp to the crockpots, it lowered the temp drastically. It took more like 45 minutes for the temp to rise enough to cook the shrimp. Next time, I will add it an hour before we eat.

Other than that, it was a total success! I cooked white rice and we put that in our bowls before spooning the etouffe on top. It.was.divine. And my house smelled incredible!

This is definitely a special occasion dish. It's a little expensive and it takes a little care to get it going, but it was definitely worth it! I hope you'll try it soon and let me know what you think.

Y'all ever watch the old Cajun chef Justin Wilson on PBS? Well, he'd be proud, I GARONTEE!

Tomorrow I'll share my recipe for out of this world hush puppies!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I HEART...Easy Rope-Accented Flower Vases



Our Neck of the Woods is now pinnable!



Everybody loves Wednesday, right?
The week's half over.  The weekend is on the way.
What's not to love?
Each Wednesday, I want to share something with you
that I absolutely love and can't live without!

Today I wanted to share with you a simple little craft that packs a lot of punch! I made these three rope-accented flower vases in less than 30 minutes. They were the perfect centerpiece for my Mother's Day luncheon last Sunday. I've seen a similar idea before, so it's not original with me. But it sure was easy!


I began with a fluted rose bowl from Dollar Tree and a roll of jute rope from Hobby Lobby which just happened to be half off!


These vases are shaped like fishbowls, but technically, it's a fluted rose bowl, meant to hold flowers. I like using these because the flared and ruffled edges allow the flowers to spread naturally and it actually makes them a little easier to arrange.


I began by hot-gluing the rope, starting at the bottom, into the little groove at the base of the vase. The rope is 6mm and it fit perfectly into the groove. I left the tape on the end of the rope so it wouldn't unravel. You can't see it anyway, can you? I would place about 3 inches of hot glue on the vase and then lay the rope down into it gently. It dries almost immediately on the glass, so don't get ahead of yourself. Also - I laid the rope side to side as I went around so that you couldn't see through, but not so tight that it buckled. I let the rope unwind from the roll by my side while I worked so the rope wouldn't untwist.


Here you can see better that the rope is not too tightly wound. I think it accents the rope when just a little light can be seen between the wraps.


So to be honest, I figured a 15 yard roll would be enough to cover a vase. It wasn't. But then I thought it might look cool to end it around the middle, so as I got closer to the end, I stopped gluing and tied a knot about an inch from the end. Then I glued up to the knot. Once it was dry, I took the tape off the end of the rope. I think it looks pretty cool! And I didn't have to try to start a new strand of rope and worry about it not looking seamless.


For the floral arrangements, I purchased a $9.99 bundle of orange Alstroemeria from Costco on Friday and picked rosemary from my flowerbed on Sunday. I had to put the flowers in a vase of water up on top of my china cabinet to keep Possum (the cat) away. He loves fresh cut flowers, and whenever I put them out, he will hop up on the counter or table and chew on them. Besides the mess and mangled flowers, it's not safe. Luckily, he left them alone way up high!


Here's my rosemary bush outside my front door. I love to smell it at night when a breeze is blowing or right after it rains. Rosemary is by far my favorite herb, and I cook with it a lot. But I've also found that I like to add it to floral arrangements. It fleshes them out, adds texture and smells divine! (That's a bird's nest you see in the bottom left.)


I divided the bouquet of Alstroemeria into thirds and cut 15 long springs of rosemary - five per arrangement. A decorator once told me to group things in odd numbers, so three arrangements, five springs of rosemary...


I trimmed the stems to fit the bowl, making sure to keep them long and not trim away too much at one time. Too short and they won't stay in the bowl. Once I had placed the Alstroemeria, I went back and tucked in the rosemary. That's it!

So with the rope being half off (on sale for $1.50 a roll) and the rose bowls coming from Dollar Tree, I only spent $2.50 per vase!


Alstroemeria will last two or three weeks if you keep it cool and out of sunlight. If it starts to look a little sad, change your water and re-trim the stems. It'll pick right back up. The color was the perfect shade to match my tablescape, and I think Alstoemeria looks like azaleas, the quintessential Southern flower, so it was perfect for my elegant Southern tablescape.

I sent one vase of flowers home with my mother, who has recently retired. I knew she would enjoy them for a couple of weeks. I have the other two still on my dining room table. Possum hasn't chewed on them, luckily, but he has been napping on the table close to them. I think he likes the rosemary, too!

Tomorrow, I'm gonna share the recipe for sausage and shrimp etouffee. Ummm...I still think there's a little left in the fridge. See y'all...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day 2015...An Elegant Southern Tablescape


We hosted my parents along with my brothers and their families for Mother's Day. Family get-togethers are always loud and rambunctious at our house, to say the very least. And this one was no different! I decided to make it all about the mothers - mine, my sisters-in-law and me. The men and the boys just got to tag along!

Last Mother's Day, I went all out and had a very feminine theme. You can read all about it here. Below is a quick look back at my tablescape. I chose to use my wedding china along with Tiffany-inspired diamonds and robin's egg blue accents.


This year, I went in the opposite direction. I think it turned out to be casually elegant and very beautiful, but it is a definite stark contrast to last year. Here's a wide view of my table.


I began the planning with my menu on Friday. I wanted to do something that I could start the night before and put into crockpots so there would be less to do at the last minute. Jewell has discovered seafood (bless our wallet's heart!!) and I've been promising to make her etouffee like she gets at The Shrimp Basket. So, I planned the menu of shrimp and sausage etouffee, coleslaw, corn on the cob and hushpuppies. A light lemon cake rounded out our meal. I'll share all these recipes later this week.

Since we were going to be eating a "soup", I knew I wanted to use my soup crocks. I found these on sale about ten years ago at a kitchen outlet store. I think they were $5 a box for four covered crocks and a bean pot. You know me, I bought several boxes and gave sets to mama and my SILs. They're a little more casual, so I started digging around in my dish pile to find something that would work with them.


The plates underneath came from Carolina Pottery. The dinner plates were $1.49 each and the salad plates were .99 cents each! I got them when we were at the beach celebrating our 1st anniversary...14 years ago! I ran them through the dishwasher Friday since they haven't been used lately. When Gerald was unloading them, he said, "I've never seen these!" I assured him we have used them a few times. I bought them because I thought they were very "Southern" and they matched the walls in my dining room. And, oh yeah, they were cheap!


Rounding out the placesettings are some things you've seen before. The placemats last made an appearance at Mama's Orient Express birthday dinner. The green highball glasses are "Sweet Swirl" by Noritake. We got these as wedding gifts. The clear coffee mugs are "Cheap" by Dollar Tree! I bought these one winter. I love to drink hot chocolate with whipped cream out of them. I pulled them out since I don't have coffee mugs to match the plates. The flatware is my everyday pattern, "Austin" by Yamazaki.

Saturday afternoon, I had some time to myself so I went to Hobby Lobby and walked around, just to see what I might find. I knew I planned on using the dishes and placemats above, but I didn't know what I was going to use for a tablecloth. I have an off-white cotton tablecloth that matches the napkins above but I thought it was too stark against the darker dinnerware. I stopped in the fabric department and found two perfect prints - on clearance! 


The black floral reminded me of the flowers on the plates. The black also repeats in the trim around the placemats. The checkered print on bottom is actually a little more burgundy than red, and it went well with the plates, black print and my walls! The off-white napkins lighten it all up a little and pick up the off-whites in the different patterns. I like the way it coordinates without being too matchy-matchy.

The red checkered fabric was 54" wide. I bought 54" for a square. It was on clearance for $4 a yard. The black print was on sale for $5 a yard and I bought 45" of it. Together, my fabrics cost me less than $12! Usually, I finish them with a neat little hem, but since I bought it Saturday, I was short on time. I ended up just straightening the edges with my pinking shears. I plan to hem them in the next couple of days before I wash and put them away. They'll last longer that way.

The dining room was set for women only (the men all ate at the kitchen table), and I had each daughter sit next to her mother, including me! I used a little corked bottle for the mothers' place card holders. I had each daughter write her mother a special Mother's Day message which was later rolled up and placed in the bottle for each mother to take home. I got the idea from the Miss Manners craft party we had back in February at Nancy's home.


I used craft paper and a little leaf stamp I already had
to make the girls' place cards, as well.


I am so proud of the floral arrangements running
down the middle of the table.
Here's a peek.
I'll show you how to make them on Wednesday!


The candles were part of my post-Halloween Walmart score.
They are pumpkin-scented, but the color was perfect, and they were .10 cents each!

So there you have it! The table setting for my Mother's Day 2015 luncheon. Over the next few days, I will share with you how to make the rope-accented vase above, as well as give you the recipes for the etouffee, hushpuppies and lemon cake.

I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and were able to spend it with your mother, your daughter, or if you were lucky like me, both! 

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Where in the World?

I know this is my second post today, but I was just looking at my blog stats and I have two things I want to share.

First - my post last Saturday about french fries had over 800 views in 24 hours! What?! That's insane. I mean, they are good fries, but, really? My next most popular post has had about 900 views, but that's over a year's time, not a day.


They do look good, don't they?

So then I started looking at where my readers are located. So far this month, my little ol' blog has had 1825 views, and aside from the United States, you readers are located in the following countries:

Canada - 26
Mexico - 16
Australia - 9
Germany - 9
South Korea - 4
Argentina - 3
Malta - 3
Ukraine - 3
United Arab Emirates - 2

(I'd like to be cute and say I don't even know where UAE is,
but those of you who know I'm a news junkie would call me on it!)

That is way cool, y'all! I would love for you all to comment and let me know where you live. Especially you international readers. I'd love to hear from y'all! Maybe you'll see this and we can chat. I'd love to have a pen pal!

If you enjoy reading my blog, take a minute to sign up with Google + or to get email notifications. I'd really appreciate it!

Time to sign off and get the kids ready for bed. Hope you all have a wonderful night, too! Wherever you may be!

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Mixed Berry Cobbler

Today I'm wrapping up Brack's birthday dinner by sharing a simple recipe for Mixed Berry Cobbler.

It's super easy and really yummy! You can use any kind of frozen fruit. Adjust your sugar if you use naturally sweeter fruit like peaches. Sometimes I use straight blackberries. This works great with fresh fruit, too, but I love that we can buy the frozen any time.



Mixed Berry Cobbler

1 package refrigerated pie crusts
1  12 oz. bag frozen mixed fruit
1 cup sugar
1/4 stick butter
2 tablespoons flour
egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add sugar to fruit and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow pie crusts to come to room temp as well. When fruit is mostly thawed, add flour and stir well. Spray a deep dish pie plate lightly with cooking spray. Place one pie crust in the bottom and add fruit. Cut butter into small pieces and place around fruit. Place the top crust on the cobbler, seal and cut slits in top crust. Brush with egg wash and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until crust is brown and juices bubble through the slits a little. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.


My daddy will pour milk on his if there's no ice cream.
That's delicious, too!

Much to his chagrin, that wraps up Brack's birthday!
But never fear...
He's already thinking about next year!

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day!


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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Would you like fries with that?

Brack chose bacon cheeseburgers and homemade fries for his birthday meal last week. Today, I want to share with you the secret to making homemade crispy fries. They're not hard, they just take a little extra care!


Preparing the potatoes
AKA Secret #1

I use russet potatoes. When I'm making fries for the four of us, I usually use six medium-sized potatoes. Before peeling the potatoes, I prepare a big bowl of ice water. As I peel each potato, I rinse it and then drop the whole potato into the ice water bath. After all the potatoes are peeled, I slice them into thin slices and then into thin shoestrings. Then I drop them back into the water as I go. I let them sit in the water while I pat out our hamburgers.

Cooking the potatoes
AKA Secret #2

Before frying the potatoes, I drain the water and rinse the starch off the potatoes. Then I pat them dry. While doing this, I heat a dutch oven of canola oil to 350 degrees. I fry the potatoes in small batches and drain them on paper towels. The trick is that I only fry them long enough to cook the potato. I don't want any color on them. Since I have cut them in shoestrings, it does take but about 3 or 4 minutes. Then, after all the fries are par-cooked, I make sure my oil temp is back up to 350. (Make sure you have the rest of the meal ready, because you'll be eating soon!) Once the oil has reheated, RE-fry the potatoes, again in small batches. It will take less than two minutes to achieve a pretty golden brown and they will be deliciously crunchy! Remove each batch to a paper towel to drain and salt as desired.

That's it. All it takes is a little preparation and a little patience. They are the best homemade fries you'll ever eat! Try it and let me know if you don't agree. You'll see why Brack chose them for his birthday fare!

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I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Brack's Birthday Dinner

Our Neck of the Woods is now pinnable!
If you see something you like, feel free to pin it!

As you know by now, one of our family traditions is choosing your birthday meal. Well, for a pretty picky kid like Brack, there weren't a lot of options. It's wasn't a fancy choice, but it sure was a good one! For Brack's birthday dinner, we had bacon-cheeseburgers and homemade crispy fries. I even let him have Dr. Pepper to drink. It was his birthday, after all!


The black tablecloth and green napkins were back from his Minecraft birthday party, but there's a couple of other things I wanted to share with you, too.


For dessert, Brack chose a mixed berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and decaf coffee. That's my boy!


A few years ago, I found this birthday cake dessert plate at Hobby Lobby. Whoever has the birthday gets their dessert served on this pretty, festive plate!


I found these glasses at Dollar Tree just last month. They're fun and festive and match the special birthday dessert plate, so I picked up a few to add to my collection of glasses and stemware. (They still have them, so I hope you'll run out and get some for your birthday celebrations!)

I love creating traditions, and little, inexpensive details like these make for a fun birthday dinner! And something to look forward to from one celebration to another.

Do you have birthday traditions in your family? I'd love to hear about them!

Soon I'll share the secret to my delicious homemade crispy fries!

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I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
Please take a moment to sign up to receive new posts by email.
I wouldn't want you to miss one crazy thing...


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