Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nutella Oatmeal


My granddaughter thinks I'm cool. Hey, she's 13, and most days I'm sure she thinks I'm a fossil, so I will gladly accept that "COOL" title and wear it proudly! What makes me so cool in her eyes? Well, I made her a yummy breakfast. Doesn't sound very exciting or cool? What if I told you I found a way to combine two much-loved ingredients into one yummy dish and one of the ingredients tastes like dessert? Well, that's what I did. I know oatmeal doesn't sound very exciting, but I made it with Nutella, that chocolatey hazelnut spread that most of the free world is mad about. If you've never tried Nutella, you might want to make this dish your first foray into the world of Nutella. Think how cool you'll be!

1 cup quick oats (one-minute kind; if you use long-cooking oats, adjust cooking time and liquids)
1 1/2 cups water*
1/2 cup half and half* (or lower fat milk)
1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
dash salt
3 Tbsp. Nutella*

*You may adjust these to suit your preferences. Some people like thinner oatmeal and some like thicker. Likewise, you may like more of a Nutella kick, or less. This is an easy recipe, so adjust to your liking.

Bring water, half and half, sugar, butter and salt to a boil. Add oats. Cook for one minute to one and a half minutes, stirring several times. Remove from heat and add Nutella; stir until well-blended. Spoon into two serving bowls. Allow to sit a minute or so to complete thickening. Serve while hot!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Crawlin' Cake

Crawlin' Cake

Here is a super-easy, quick recipe for a moist, delicious cake. You start with a couple of packaged ingredients and off you go!  There are so many flavor combinations for this cake, you can just choose whatever you are in the mood for when you make it. You can also start with white cake and cream cheese frosting and add a couple of teaspoons of your favor flavoring(s). I only buy Duncan Hines cake mixes and frostings, I don't care what is on sale! Make a Crawlin' Cake will have your family crawlin' back for more!

Crawlin’ Cake

1 box cake mix, any flavor
4 whole eggs
3/4 cup of oil
1 cup of milk
1 can frosting, any flavor

(Note: I used white Duncan Hines cake mix and Chocolate Duncan Hines canned frosting for the cake in the photo. You may use ANY flavor you like!)

Preheat oven to 350º
Break eggs in mixing bowl and beat by hand with whisk. Add the rest of the ingredients except the frosting.
Mix by hand until well-blended. Fold in frosting…yes, put it in the batter!
Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt or tube cake pan. Pour mix in evenly. Place cake pan on a cookie sheet in oven. Bake at 350º for about 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into thickest part of cake comes out clean.

If you want, only put 2/3 of the can of frosting in the mix. Microwave the remainder until soft and drizzle the rest over the cake after it cools. (I put the whole can of frosting IN the batter.)

Note: Do NOT use a mixer to make this cake. It incorporates too much air into the batter and the cake will overflow in the oven, hence the name “Crawlin’ Cake.”

Don’t open the oven door to check on it because it may fall, and make sure the cake is completely cool before trying to take it out of the pan. If you have greased and floured the pan sufficiently and allowed the cake to cool completely (you may need to run a knife around the edges of the cake, just in case some batter sticks) it should come easily out of the pan. This cake is so moist…and it’s a super-easy cake to make in a hurry!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crock Pot Southwest Chicken

The weather in much of the country is starting to get cooler and hints of Autumn are in the air! The days are sun-dappled and warm, but a cool breeze and chill mornings have taken the place of blistering hot days whose heat extends well into the night. Many hearts race a little faster because it's football season. I am married to a sports fan, so I watch as his excitement stirs at the thought of games, games and more games! I don't share his enthusiasm, but I support it. And I always provide the food for game days!

Get out your best game day kitchen friend, the crock pot! Here is a super easy, economical, crowd-pleasing recipe that you can put together the night before game day, with little time in the kitchen, and have ready by kickoff!

Crock Pot Southwest Chicken

1 (2.5 - 3lb.) bag frozen chicken breast tenderloins
8-oz. block of cream cheese (not fat free!)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed - don't skip this step; your tummy will thank you!
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Rotel (your choice...I use Rotel with Lime and Cilantro)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Cooked rice
Mexican Blend Cheese, optional

Place frozen chicken breast tenderloins in crock pot. Add the block of cream cheese (yep, just put in the whole block), drained and rinsed black beans, drained corn and Rotel...just dump it all in there!

Cover crock pot with lid and cook on Low for 8 hours. At about 6 to 7 hours, I shred the chicken and stir things up really well, then add salt, pepper, onion powder and cumin and finish cooking. Here is the Crock Pot Southwest Chicken, ready to be served!

Ladle this scrumption chicken dish over rice in individual bowls. Sprinkle Mexican Blend Cheese on top, if desired. This easy dish is great for cold weather days, game days or any day you need a "fix it and forget it" meal.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home-Canned Goodness

Home-Canned Goodies
From Our Garden
Pickled Okra, Tomato Jam, Bread & Butter Pickles,
Pickled Carrots & Cauliflower, Tomatoes,
 Red Cinnamon Pickles,
German Okra with Carrots & Red Peppers,
Jezebel Sauce
and Cinnamon Jelly...We've Been Busy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Your Hometown Shapes Who You Are & Who You Become

Taylor's Pharmacy
Tullahoma, Tennessee
(Circa 1937)

Taylor's Pharmacy...for anyone growing up in my hometown, those two words bring back a flood of memories. It wasn't just a "drug store" was an icon, a gathering place, somewhere to go to always see a friendly face and eat a fantastic meal. You see, Taylor's had a "soda fountain" that was the scene of true Americana! You had your regulars, your colorful characters, 5-cent jukeboxes at each booth and counter seating which usually held the men. Men in suits, men in work clothes, men in uniform, all sitting over one of the best cups of coffee in town!

My father took me there frequently all through the week and on Friday evenings, when the "downtown" was a place to see and be seen. I would have a hard time choosing between my two favorites...the best Cherry Milkshake you could ever hope to find or the real-cream Chocolate Ice Cream, which the waitresses would put in a wax-coated Coca-Cola drink cup for me and cover with "wet walnuts" (for you Yankees, that's walnuts in syrup.) I can remember looking longingly at ladies having lunch and wanting one of the beautiful creations on their plate. I didn't know what they were, so my father could never figure out what to order for me. "Daddy, I want one of those round red things with stuff in it. It's laying on something green on a plate and has stuff on top." Poor wonder he had no idea what I was taking about. (My descriptives vocabulary has grown considerably since then!) I was a grown woman, and Taylor's Soda Fountain was long gone, before I knew what that intriguing dish was...a tomato stuffed with what I'm told was one of the best chicken salads you would ever eat and dusted with paprika on the top. Oh, if I only knew what it was, I could have ordered it...something so simple, but far too complex for a four-year-old to know by name.  It only made me want one go back in time and feel so grown up ordering one of those Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes!

I remember a time I was so sick that the pharmacist, Dr. Bill Mathews, brought medication to my home. This is the same thoughtful, caring pharmacist who presented my parents with a silver spoon, engraved with my name, my birthdate and a clock with the time of my birth, that I treasure today. There was "Ms. Annie," the lady who pierced the ears of just about every little girl in town (and maybe even a few boys in the 70s and 80s)...with a hypodermic needle! She is still around town and everyone knows her!

Yes, Taylor's Pharmacy was a huge piece of my childhood. And the food there, along with my mother's exquisite Southern cooking, delighted and intrigued me so much at such a tender age that I knew, even then, FOOD was in my blood and in my future. I have made a career out of loving food...preparing it, selling it, showcasing it, advertising it on television and radio, teaching people to cook it, feeding it to people and eating it! The places and people in our lives are an important part of shaping who we are and who we become. I'm just so thankful and very happy that I had such a wonderful town filled with wonderful people and experiences to give me part of ME and shape me through lessons, memories and parts of who they were then and, if living, still are today.

Oh, and as for the picture, it was taken a few years (quite a few years) before I was born into this town. Hey, I'm an antique little girl, but I'm not THAT old!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giveaway and a New Foodie Friend!

Julia Child
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Bon Appetit!

In the Food Blogging World, we share so many of the same interests. We also appreciate each blogger's differences because they give us new ideas, challenge us to try to new foods or techniques or just plain old entertain us! Check out my new Foodie Friend...Apron Strings Blog. They are having a super giveaway, in honor of Julia Child's 99th Birthday on Monday, August 15th, that you won't want to miss. Don't let the timer go off, because it won't be long until this giveaway is DONE! And Bon Appetit!

From Aprons Strings Blog:

Just a reminder to all our fabulous followers: THERE ARE THREE DAYS LEFT TO ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY OF A BLENDTEC BLENDER! You can enter to win up until midnight on Monday, August 15th.
In honor of culinary icon Julia Child’s 99th birthday on Monday, August 15, 2011, we will be selecting the winner through on Monday at 11:59 p.m. and posting the win on Tuesday, August 16th. Be sure to stop by and see who wins!
Oh, and here’s a bonus: We have enjoyed all your comments so much that we have decided to give away three BONUS PRIZES! Yes, you read that right: we’re picking three of our favorite comments and giving away three copies of Julia Child’s Two Volume set: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the cookbook that started it all.

Two Volume Set
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
by Julia ChildGiveaway at Apron Strings Blog!
Photo Courtesy of:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, A Food Blogger's Request & Remembering Mikey

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
in Memory of Mikey

Food Blogger, Jennifer Perillo from In Jennie's Kitchen recently lost her husband, Mikey, to a sudden heart attack. Many of us who follow her blog do not know her personally, but still grieve for her and her girls in their tremendous loss. Jennie has asked anyone and everyone in her personal blog post to make Mikey’s favorite dessert, Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, in his memory. Food Bloggers are a "sharing, caring" type of people and recognize that we are one big family knit together not only by our love for food, but our love for family and tradition. How many of us are using recipes handed down by a loved one...or make a special dish for a special someone in our life and think of them each time we make it? One of my favorite foodie quotes is from Laurie Colwin, author of several books including Home Cooking (1988) and More Home Cooking (1993)...she left us at only 48 years old:

"No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers."

I think we are also surrounded by the memories of those who lovingly cooked for us and those for whom we lovingly cooked. Share this recipe with the ones you love today because you don't know if you will get a tomorrow. Today is the only guarantee we have. This one is for you, Mikey.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
(recipe from In Jennie's Kitchen)
Serves 10 to 12
8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.
Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Mikey...a Picture Taken by Jennie
on their Last "Date"
Jennie Now Wears His Wedding Ring
Around Her Neck
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