Dinner Party Menu

Friday evening we had two couples over for dinner. When it was time to plan the menu, I thought about a couple of recipes which I had not made in quite a while and decided to bring them out of retirement. So as Randy barbecued chicken breast (which btw, he has totally perfected and is so good) and thighs, I made corn casserole and rice pilaf. One of the other ladies said she would bring the salad, which is one of those things that I do not make well. Maybe its because it is healthier than what I usually make, but for whatever the reason, salads are my least favorite thing to make. It surprised me to discover that neither couple had even experienced either of these recipes before, but they loved them. Then it dawned on me that they were not from the South, so had not grown up going to Southern Baptist potluck dinners. Both of these recipes were staples at the church gatherings and graced every table at Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. So…here you go! Your welcome!

Corn Casserole

1 box of Jiffy Cornbread mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
1 can (drained) whole kernel corn
1 can cream style corn
1 (8 oz) sour cream
*optional 1 small can diced green chiles

Spray with Pam or grease a 11×7 (or medium size pyrex baking) dish. Preheat oven to 350. Melt Butter and pour into mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake uncovered in preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges and middle is almost firm to the touch. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Rice Pilaf

1 can French Onion Soup
1 can Beef Broth
1 cup water
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups rice
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a medium size baking dish that has a close fitting lid or Smaller Dutch oven. Melt the butter in the dish in oven. When butter is melted, pour the water, and both cans of soup into the melted butter. add the 2 cups of rice and the almonds and stir to combine. Bake covered in the over for about 40-45 minutes or until rice is done. Stir and serve hot.

Butter & Biscuits

We have been watching lots of I’ll Have What Phil Is Having on Netflix as we sit in our lazy boys and dream of the adventures that we live through Phil. He goes everywhere and eats the most amazing food. We were so thankful that when we watched his episodes of his travels to Florence and Venice, we were already in the process of planning our trip to Italy next April, where we hope to stay for 3 months trying to fit in and look like the locals. I know, I will need to give up walking up to folks and saying, “hi y’all, how y’all doing today? We were fixin to eat some vittles and wondered where the good ones are? We’d be must beholden to you if you could hep us”. I’ll work on my accent and maybe learn a word or too of Italian. Already have pizza, lasagna and gelato down pat. Just need to learn a few more important words.
The last episode we watched Phil travel through was Ireland. That had never really been on my radar to visit….until we watched Phil eat his way through the lucky clovers.
It made me stop and think about how much time and money we had. Do we have the time and resources to go everyplace that we want to go? If not, how could we experience some of the great foods that we see on his program. So the last trip to Wally World, I decided that I wasn’t going to let $1 get in my way of being adventuresome. I proudly walked up to the butter counter and reached over the Great Value brand of butter and without a moment of hesitation, threw the Kerrygold, pure Irish Butter in our basket. Yep….we went for the gold! Sorry kids, another dollar gone from your inheritance. But We were so proud of ourselves. We had really gone out of our comfort zones. We couldn’t wait to get home and smather (is that a real word?) a tablespoon of this Irish butter over a fresh slice of bread. We stood in the kitchen, downing our first bite of real Irish butter. I think we both thought that little leprechauns would come dancing out of our cabinets by the way we stood there waiting to see how it tasted.
We looked at each other and until finally one of us said, “darn, we could have spent that extra $1 on a McDonalds fried apple pie. We couldn’t really tell that much difference. But it had so much more color to it that our normal butter we buy ,so we figured that maybe the cows in Ireland were much more colorful than cows in America. But it did wake up the notion in us that we need to be willing to spend the extra $1 here and there and experience some new flavors now and then. The best thing about the Irish butter was the recipe I found inside the carton. It sounds amazing and cannot wait to bake these scrumptious biscuits. Randy is going to start practicing drinking green beer and has already sang “My Sweet Irish Rose” to everyone who walks by our house! Guess its a good thing we are moving!

Dubliner Cheese Biscuits with Sage and Walnuts

2 cups flour
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
1/2 cup cold Kerrygold Pure Irish butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, divided
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 teas dried ground sage
1/4 teas freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking sheet. In medium owl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add butter to dry ingredients and cut in with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbles.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the Dubliner Cheese and remaining ingredients. Stir until mixture forms a ball, adding a little more flour if dough is too sticky.

On a lightly floured board, press dough into a 1″ thick circle. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheese over the top and press lightly into surface.
Turn and repeat with remaining cheese. Cut into 12 pieces and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake on center rack of oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 12

Living Will

As I sat there this morning applying layer upon layer of makeup to cover a wrinkle here and there (actually there are more than that, but it sounds better to put it like that), it dawned on me that I need to write out a living will. Not the kind that tells which kid will one day be given the job to “pull the plug” but the kind of will that gives specific instructions as to the following should the need arise. It seems that I am always telling Randy some of the following:
If I have a stroke and cannot talk for awhile or am not able to get myself dressed this is what you need to remember. Then I panic and think, “oh my gosh what if he forgets everything I am telling him to do. Would he still allow friends and family to enter the room and as they gaze down at me, and see whiskers flowing freely out of my chin? Would they stare in wonder thinking “oh my gosh, so that’s what she looks like with no earrings or eyebrow pencil!” Oh the poor dear, if she only knew which jammies Randy was putting on her to receive company! Those are the things that are keeping me up at night as the “golden years” are so quickly engulfing me.

All that to say, that after staring at myself this morning in the makeup mirror with the sunlight casting such a bright light into the bathroom, I decided that women need a true living will. A will that will keep us looking like we are alive, even if we are laying there trying to blink the alphabet to our caregivers letting them know that we are wanting our morning Diet Dr Peppers and the 3:00 p.m. Hershey candy bars. So here we go, please feel free to download it and print it off for your precious hubby who might need just a bit of wisdom in how to really take care of us, should the need happen.

1. Leave a list of which earrings go with which outfits/jammies
2. Always, and this is a command, not a suggestion: keep a razor on the bedside to quickly run over our faces before ANYONE enters our rooms.
3. A list of your favorite candy and snacks to keep hidden in case the silly nurses think you should be snacking only healthy Ensure. I think we all know by now that Ensure only assures you that you will remain regular, no matter what.
4. A manicurist will be sent to our home/nursing home every two weeks, no matter if you are in surgery or unconscious. This is a most important requirement.
5. The children cannot talk about what they will do with the inherited money from the will or insurance in the room, as they gaze lovingly down at me, even though I might look like I cannot hear them. I will come back and haunt them.
6. A list of great books that I want read to me. A good murder mystery is always good to keep our minds active trying to figure out who did it.
7. Should my teeth be in a container, insert them before any company and apply #325 lipstick (Revlon) at least 6 times a day. List the makeup bases and cheek color so you won’t look like a clown should your husband decide that the orange stick is close enough to the color you normally wear.
8. My hair is to remain blond, (shampoo in Loreal #120) at all times! Even if I am 102. No gray, EVER!
9. Do not let my Mary Kay extra emollient night cream run out. It is what keeps my wrinkles just “every here and there” and last but not least….
10. Be sure that my toenails are always painted a pretty bold color. At least as I look down at my feet, I will have something bright to be staring back at me.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

It was a shock to me to find that I had never posted my Spaghetti & meatball recipe. It is one of our most requested dinners from family and friends alike. When I lived in Corpus Christ for years, there was a neighbor, Cam, who was Italian from New York and she gave me so many of her recipes that to this day, her meatballs, pecan pie, sour cream pound cake, and so many other of our desserts are still most treasured.

1 large can of Hunts Traditional or Del Monte pasta sauce
1 can (the large can, I don’t have any here today but its about a 24 oz can I think) of small chopped diced tomatoes in sauce
1 small can oof tomato paste
2 cups water
2 packets of Thick and Zesty Italian Seasoning
1 teas Italian Seasoning
1 teas dried oregano
1 cube of frozen garlic (or one garlic clove or almost one teas of garlic powder)
1 lb 93/7 ground hamburger meat
1 lb of Italian flavored ground turkey
1 lb of ground pork
1/2 cup Progresso Italian flavored bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teas garlic powder
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all the meat in a large bowl.
Add one (1) packet of the Italian Seasoning, the bread crumbs, the parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley and 1/2 teas garlic powder (I usually add a little more than that, but we love garlic)
Mix well with your hands and form meatballs about 2″ in size. Place on lightly greased jelly roll pan or pyrex dish and back in preheated 400 degree oven until meatballs are done. About 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven.
Remove meatballs from baking dish and set aside.
In a oven proof dutch oven, spray it with Pam or lightly with a little oil. Pour all of the tomato sauce, water, paste and diced tomatoes in the pan. Add the other packet of Italian seasoning, the garlic, the Italian seasoning and the oregano. Stir and place meatballs in tomato mixture.
Bake in preheated 300 oven, covered with heavy lid for 2-3 hours, or until thick and deep red in color. Sometimes, I have to add a little more water if it cooks to quickly.
Remove from oven and spoon oven cooked (according to directions on package) spaghetti. Sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.
This serves about 8-10 people.

Stuffed Mushrooms

These great little gems have now been placed in my “oh my gosh why haven’t I made these before? I only have maybe 20 years or so left to eat them” folder! Because we had some friends over last night for spaghetti & meatballs, I started thinking about the left over cornbread dressing from Thursday evening when I made stuffed zucchini. They were so good I had the leftovers today for lunch. They were easy, quick and will be a favorite for any fall/winter dinners that we have.

12 large white mushrooms, cleaned and stems taken out and chopped very fine (the stems, not the mushrooms)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained very well. I just continued to squeeze the thawed spinach until I couldn’t get anymore moisture to squeeze out.
1 box of sage or herb Stovetop ( I can’t remember what the box said now) cornbread dressing, made according to directions.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tables Worcestershire
2 tables red wine vinegar
1/2 teas onion powder
Black Pepper to your liking
Parmesan cheese for topping the mushrooms.

Prepare a baking dish by spraying with Pam, big enough for the mushrooms to fit.
Melt about 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a medium frying pan. Add the finely chopped mushroom stems and sauce until they are cooked. About 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the onion powder,and pepper to your liking.
Add as much of the drained spinach as you like. (I used about 2/3 cup.) Stir until well mixed. Add about 1 cup of the corn bread dressing to this mixture. Stir until well combined.
Place about a tablespoon of this mixture into each hollow mushroom cap and then place mushroom in baking dish.
Melt the rest of the butter in a microwave safe container. When butter is melted, add the Worcestershire sauce and the red wine vinegar. Pour over the tops and around the mushrooms. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the tops of the mushrooms and bake in preheated 350 over for about 10-15 minutes or until stuffing is bubbly and mushrooms are tender. d
*Depending on the size of the mushrooms, you might not use all of the stuffing mixture. I had some left over and just spooned it around the mushrooms in the dish so I could eat it all….it’s that good.

Friday Blue Plate Special

I love Fridays. It makes me think of what all I want to bake for the weekend and who can I invite to have dinner with us. It is fun to immediately think, “wow, we can watch Netflix until midnight if we want and still sleep in on Saturday and so what do I want to bake for a Republic of Doyle, or Call the Midwife or our new favorite, I’ll Have What Phils Having” marathon?”
Last night, since we had Mexican food that we had not eaten at a favorite Mexican restaurant at lunch, instead of me having to make dinner, I choose to go ahead and make our dessert for tonight. Tonight is a great night. Friends are coming over for dinner for spaghetti and meatballs and ta da…..Tuxedo Cake, before taking off for game night at the clubhouse.
That is probably my favorite cake outside of wedding cake. Of course Randy and I had to go ahead and have a slice. We couldn’t go from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. last night without dessert, so a slice we had.

Tuxedo cake is very simply a chocolate cake with almond flavored buttercream frosting with chocolate ganache poured over the top. Not only is it beautiful but gives me that almond flavor that I love. This year a very special lady and friend gave me one a most favored gift. A cake server/keeper. Not only is it the color of my kitchen, but it has what has become my motto written on the front:
“Made With Love & Butter” How could I not love it? So tonight, The recipe for this wonderful cake is on the blog already, so I’m not going to post it again, but simply put Tuxedo cake in the search bar and it will pop up. Will post the recipe for my spaghetti & meatballs tomorrow.
Have a great and blessed weekend, but remember no matter what you make, make it with Love & Butter!

Old Fashion Chicken Pot Pie (Minus the Peas)

One of the most dear to my heart comfort foods is chicken pot pie. But, because one cannot ever find it without peas, I am forced to make my own. Actually, it is such a great dish to make. For some reason, it makes me feel like autumn is in the air, even though it is over 100. It brings back memories of sitting by a fireplace while the pot pie is in the oven and the apple crisp is sitting over on the counter waiting to bring about a wonderful closure to our meal. Yesterday I could not wait any longer. Chicken pot pie was on the menu. I didn’t care if there was no fire in the fireplace, or that the thermostat was turned down to 64 so the oven could be on. Because we had had the kids over for dinner on Sunday evening for barbecued chicken and hash brown casserole, there was still some of the potatoes left over so I began to think, “hum, the hash brown casserole could be used in my pot pie and give it a wonderful cheesy flavor. And flavor it did have. The pie was absolutely wonderful and we ate unit there would have been no room for apple crisp (ok, not for a couple of hours anyway, but we had pumpkin cookies and cherry pie so didn’t need to make anything else). The only thing I will change when I make it again is that I will homemake the biscuits to place on the top. Last night I used canned biscuits because I was in a hurry to get to game night at a girlfriends house. But it was still really really good.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped chicken
1 cup chicken broth
1 can Campbells cream of chicken with herbs (not ever store has this but if you can find it, get it, it is a great addition) I find it at Walmart
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup of finely chopped cooked potato
(If Randy would not have been here, I would have added 1 cup of sliced mushrooms and cooked them along with the onion, celery, chicken mixture)
1/2 teas poultry seasoning
1/2 teas thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Biscuits to cover the top of casserole

To a medium size saucepan, place carrots and potato in a little water to cook for about 3-4 minutes after bringing to a boil. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet (If you use an iron skillet, you could actually complete the baking in the skillet and would not need to pour mixture into a different baking dish), melt the butter and add the chopped chicken, onion and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper until veggies are tender and chicken is done. Add the can of cream of chicken to the mixture. Stir. Slowly add the chicken broth (you might not need to add the full cup, so after adding about 1/2 cup, stir and add to thin mixture until it is still creamy, but not to runny) to this mixture along with the poultry seasoning and thyme. Stir in the drained carrots and potatoes. (Yes, if you are a pea lover, you can add those also, but be are and drain them well before adding.) Stir until mixture is well combined. If leaving in iron skillet, you an top with enough biscuits to cover the top and bake at 350 until mixture is bubbly and biscuits are done. (I cut each biscuit in 4th’s, but I think if I did use canned biscuits in the future, I would slice them in half horizontally making each biscuit into two. That way the biscuit isn’t so think on top.
If you are not using an iron skillet, pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish, top with biscuits or corn bread stuffing and bake until bubbly and biscuits are thoroughly cooked.
This pot pie reminded me so much of Thanksgiving that I think next time i make it, I am going to top it with corn bread dressing. The sauce in the pie using the cream of chicken with herbs was outstanding.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Casserole

I am ready to get back in the kitchen and begin posting again. This summer we have been gone for over a month to California and Texas, where we experienced the birth of a precious new grandson, Collin Howard. New birth seems to bring on a sense of hope and realizing the many blessings which are given to us. It has been a struggle, for some reason, this summer to get in the mood to not only cook, but to post recipes. Maybe because I still prefer to bake desserts instead of meals. But, this is the new me….after watching Food Channel, Triple D and now, I’ll Have What Phil is Having (on PBS), food has again drawn my attention to trying new recipes. When I received my new Paula Deen magazine last month, I began to look through all my old PD magazines and found this one, which I had every intention of trying when I saw it, but it got pushed to the background behind settling for burgers & fries and pizza. So, here we go and I think you are going to like this one, ALOT! Thanks Paula for always drawing me back into Cookingville! You truly do inspire me beyond cookies, cakes and pies.

1 (6 oz) pkg fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup refrigerated pesto sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
12 oz uncooked penne pasta, cooked according to directions
2 1/2 cups choppe rotisserie chicken
4 oz pre-shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tables thinly sliced fresh basil
1/4 teas paprika

Preheat oven to 375. Toss together spinach and pesto in a medium bowl.
Stir together Alfredo sauce and chicken broth in another bowl. Spread 1/3 of Alfredo mixture (about 1/2 cup) into a lightly greased 11×7″ baking dish. Top with half of spinach mixture.
Stir together cooked pasta, chicken and remaining Alfredo mixture, spoon, half of chicken mixture over spinach mixture. Repeat layers once with remaining spinach mixture and chicken mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 min.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.
Return to oven and bake until hot and bubbly; about 5 min. Top with basil and paprika.

Serves 4

Baking Chocolate Cakes

Chocolate cake (or cupcakes) always seem dryer than vanilla so wanted to share something a dear lady taught me years ago! When baking chocolate cakes, take the layers (or cupcakes) out of oven when they still have a glossy look to part of the top. They will continue to bake for a min after removing them from oven so this helps keep them moist. Plus after frosting my cakes or cupcakes, i cover them and place them in fridge until a couple of hours before serving. Ensures a more moist cake!

Lemon Cream Cheese Crescent Ring

Some sweet ladies came to our house for a brunch a couple of weeks ago. Because I had talked about sausage gravy over biscuits at water aerobic class, a couple of the ladies expressed a desire to have some, as they had never experienced this wonderful southern dish. While others in the class are talking about how this class is helping them feel better and building muscle strength, we are at the other end of the pool planning our sausage gravy biscuit brunch. One of the ladies said that she would bring some watermelon so we would have one healthy food item, while yet another said that she would bring a coffee cake. Well, this is the pastry she brought and everyone had a hissy (I’ve been dying to see that word)fit over it. We had such a grand time that morning. The night before, I got this great idea to type out questions to pass around the table and let everyone pick out one a the bowl was passed around. Here are some of the questions that got us talking and getting to know each other a little better. So before I post the recipe a little further down, why not think about having some ladies over that you would like to get to know and use this idea to start the conversation flowing. IT was a really nice morning and we had some really nice memory sharing among us.
What is one of your favorite summer vacations?
What is your favorite toppings to put on a hot dog?
Tell us about a memorable 4th of July
What color of the American flag best describes your personality?
A favorite summer food/drink
Which do you prefer, the beach or pool and why
Did you have a favorite swimming place to go growing up?
What time/place did you experience watching fireworks that is still a great memory?
Favorite flavor of homemade ice cream
Favorite thing to grill

Now for the great recipe that Patty was so kind to share. Thanks Patty for another reason that my bathing suit is tighter than before our breakfast
Crescent Ring:
3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temp
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tables fresh lemon juice
2 teas grated lemon peel
1 can 8 oz Pillsbury refrigerated Crescent Dough Sheet or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teas milk

Heat oven to 350. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon juice and peel with mixer on medium speed until blended.
Unroll dough sheet (if using the rolls, unroll dough and separate into 2 large rectangles) Overlap long sides to form 13×7″ rectangle; firmly press edges and perforations to seal.
Spread cream cheese mixture on rectangle to within 1/2′ of edges.
Starting with 1 long side of rectangle, roll up; pinch edge to seal
With seated knife, cut into 12 slices.
arrange slices on cookie sheet in a circle; over lapping slightly.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl, mix glaze ingredients until thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over warm crescent roll.

* (Because I love orange flavor also, I’m going to use orange juice/peel next time I make this)