Cranberry Kolaches

1:17 PM

A few years ago I took my mom and children to an itty bitty town called Taylor in Texas. It is her hometown and while there visiting, I went to a local bakery for breakfast and had kolaches. They were so good. Light doughy balls of goodness with rich topping. Oh yes.

Being in Mississippi, I know of not one place where I can get these soooooo after all these years (and feeling a bit better about my bread making capabilities, I gave these a shot.

Recipe adapted from A Taste Of Home Bohemian Kolaches Recipe

Cranberry Filling
1 Cup of Cranberries
1 cup water
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
4 cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks

In pot, add in cranberries, vanilla, water and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until all cranberries have popped. Turn off heat and allow the cranberry sauce to cool.

In a bowl, add 1cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and yeast. Mix and allow it to sit until foamy for about 10-15 minutes.

(The original recipe called for more water, but I did not need any more water or milk added once I added in the yeast mixture.)

Add in 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, yolks, salt, butter. I have a mixer, but I mixed by hand with a rubber spatula. Add in flour 1/2 cup at a time. The original recipe called for more milk, but I did not have to add more water or liquid. I added in the flour until a sticky ball of dough formed.

Once dough was formed,  turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes and then place in  a bowl  greased with olive oil. Cover and let rise for about an hour or until it doubles in size.

Once it has doubled, remove dough so it falls back down and place back in bowl for another hour, covered.

After that turn once again on floured surface and flatten out the dough until it is about an inch or half an inch high. Cut out your circles and place on your baking sheet.  Allow them to rise once more and then pressing in center, create a indention. I used a shot glass covered in olive oil to make the indention. Fill with your cranberry filling and bake for about 15 minutes until golden at 350 degrees.

I added a simple glaze of 2 cups of powdered sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3 tsp of water.


Holiday Treat Decorating Party Idea

7:26 PM

Every year this time, I plan a 'decorating' party for my children and friends. We would do gingerbread houses but we would use graham crackers instead. One year, we used the house base as rice krispy treats. This year we are going completely traditional and decorating gingerbread people.

Why not skip the gingerbread house kits and make your favorite cookies or use different types of items. Spread it all out on a table alongside and let everyone go at it.

Everyone gets their own icing bags, cookies, and the candy is in bowls for everyone to choose from.

At the end of the night, guests are given treat bags to fill up with candy to take home.

This is always a fun thing to do and I can't wait to shop for candy and icing tomorrow!


Christmas Spirit

12:10 AM

Tomorrow will begin our countdown to Christmas. I think.....THINK.....that I have our baking/activities all sorted. We are forgoing decorating gingerbread houses this year and instead decorating gingerbread children. This should be fun.

I also have a head start on wrapping gifts and I am elated.  I aint no Martha, but I love wrapping gifts. Don't judge me.

More to come! Here's to the cranberry cream cheese danishes I am making next week. I can already taste them!

Holiday Sugar Cookies

8:02 PM

This time of year when I was growing up, you would have found my mom in the kitchen making batch after batch of her famous sugar cookies. She made them every single year and only for Christmas. Everyone we knew wanted to be on her gifting list and she sent them out to the major businesses in town. They were melt in your mouth gooood.

Find this recipe from my mom over at Living Locurto. We can't wait to make these with my mom this year. The countdown has begun. She said next week we start baking! Yes!


Thanksgiving Recap

9:35 PM

Thanksgiving was amazing. My mama threw down and the bread, cake and homemade cranberry sauce I made was a hit.  I kept the table simple by pulling some magnolia leaves off of our tree and just placing it on the table. Here is a pictorial recap. Oh yeah.

My mom's friend made a four layer caramel cake. If you are in the South or from the South, you know that these are HARD to come by. Not many people make them since the caramel is soooo tricky. Caramel cake is completely homemade. There is no box cake mix used and no caramel wrapped candies used in the icing. It is one of the most perfect cakes EVER. This is one cake that I am determined to learn how to make next year. It is also one of my top three favorite cakes ever.

My mom spent two days smoking and grilling. She made pulled pork, ribs, chicken breasts, and leg quarters. I was in heaven. And nothing, NOTHING beats her southern cornbread dressing. It is creamy and if golden could be a taste, it would taste golden. This recipe will be going up before Christmas. I hope she shares with me! 


Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday To My Son!

8:11 PM

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I just finished this cake for my son, Austin. He might think it sucks that his birthday is on Thanksgiving but I for one and super thankful for him, so it seems only fitting.

I made this cake for him. Chocolate overload surrounded by pocky and topped with his favorite---Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Recipe coming this weekend!


Made It/Loved It: Real Mom Kitchen's 30 Minute Dinner Rolls

6:15 PM

One of the things I look for when searching recipes on line is how many people actually tried it and if they liked it.  That is one of the reasons why I post when I try a recipe from someone else or even adapted from someone else. I want to be helpful and let them know how it was for me. Well, today I have another hit that is quick, easy and simple : Dinner Rolls found at Real Mom Kitchen.

Of course, I have made it no secret that I love bread. I made two dozen of these today and tonight ending up having to make two dozen more because my kids had INHALED them all at dinner time. When the kids did not leave so much as a bread crumb, this mama knew this was a winner.

And it is so easy!  So if you are looking for a quick and easy dinner roll recipe to make for Thanksgiving, give these a try. These have already been added to my recipe book for my kids.


Made It/Loved It: Farmgirl Gourmet's Honey Challah

9:18 PM

Hi. My name is Divian and I am a breadaholic.

I love bread. I am one of those people who firmly believes that a sandwich is only as good as the bread you make it with. I always go for rolls and baked loaves instead of the typical sandwich bread.

Although I love bread, I am no baker. I can bake a mean biscuit but hey, I am in the South and biscuits are easy. Imagine the thrill (and apprehension) I felt when I decided that I wanted to learn how to make homemade bread.  I tried the artisan crusty bread first....needs tweaking. Then I came across this bread....from Farmgirl Gourmet.

It looked amazing. Could I make it? Could I get it to look like hers? Would it taste good? I was going to try and try I did.

Although it does not look like hers believe me it tastes AMAZING. Everyone who tried it said they did not need anything to go with it...they were tearing into it like wolves! The first batch was gone in minutes. Today I made two more loaves and I had to fight everyone off. is just that good. A slightly sweet white bread that is not dry and is just heaven in your mouth.

I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in breadmaking to try this recipe from Farmgirl. I have already decided this will be on the Thanksgiving table.

I have a bit more practice so that I can get that smooth and noncracking top, but hey even though it is a bit ugly, it tastes like I went to school for this stuff lol

Also, google Challah and read up on the symbolism of the bread. Definitely interesting and makes it even sweeter.


Thanksgiving Tablescape

8:21 PM

Last month, I was able to work with Town and Gown magazine here in my hometown alongside, Thyme to create this tablescape. I am far from an interior decorator or event planner but I love how I was able to bring what I saw in my mind to life on the table. It was a great experience to be able to work with the store and choose what I needed. They were SO accomodating and helpful!

If you are in the Starkville area and looking for high quality and unique items for hosting and entertaining, please stop by and tell them Divian sent you. They are an amazing group of ladies with such fantastically beautiful pieces!

I went with a rustic silver look and I loved it.

Brisket Eggs Benedict...

8:06 PM

I had never had eggs benedict.  It is one of those dishes that I am familiar with seeing over and over again online but something about the poached egg turned me off. It was not until about a year ago that I actually started to appreciate and enjoy eggs sunny side up.

Eggs Benedict is one of those dishes that I always felt was the epitome of  having brunch at a fancy restaurant.  Maybe that is why I have never attempted to make it but I thought, today, why not and why not use a nice smoked bbq brisket instead of the traditional ham. 

To make this process easy, I used Sadler's BBQ Brisket...I found it at WalMart. It is already cooked and sliced. It is a bit pricey, but so worth it because the taste is amazingly good!

It looks like this:

Of course, if you are like my mom, you can bbq or smoke your own brisket. My mom makes a killer brisket for holidays. 

I started by just warming my slices of brisket in a pan.

I also tasted my english muffins in the drippings left by the brisket (which is not a lot). 

Now...poaching an egg....this is the part that actually intimidated me. I had never poached eggs before and really thought is was going to be some difficult process, but you know was so easy!

You will need to use fresh eggs.  If your egg is not fresh, once you drop it in the water, it will look like you are making egg drop soup.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once it begins boiling, lower the heat to medium/medium low.  Add one cap of vinegar (this keeps egg whites together) and a tsp of salt. stir and once the water has lowered from boiling, drop in your egg. If a few strands break away, don't worry, you can scoop them out. Once the whites turn well, white, you can use a stirring spoon to turn the egg. You want to cook the egg for 7 minutes.  Remove from water. 

For the hollandaise sauce, I used this recipe found over at She Knows... I followed the steps precisely and was very happy with the results. If you want to make this even easier, you can purchase Knorr Hollandaise Mix at your grocery store. I have not tried it but I know Knorr makes awesome sauces and seasoning mixes.

Once your sauce is done, assemble your brisket eggs benedict. These were absolutely delicious and I will be making these again very soon and they will be at my next brunch with friends and family. 

Thinking Ahead: Formal Dining --Napkins

5:22 PM

For a few years it seemed that most people began to shy away from formal entertaining. Parties and dinners became more relaxed. As I get older, I want to throw more formal events. I am excited about the upcoming holidays and I love the thought of actually using the 'good stuff'.  I have narrowed my menus down for Thanksgiving and Christmas, to ohhhhh say 100 possibilities (it is so hard to choose!!) and while I continue to widdle down my choices, I have other decisions to make.

One thing I do know is that the holidays will be formal dining experiences. Being that I made that one final decision, it has led me on an online quest for unique and gorgeous napkin ideas.

Here are a few that I found. I will be practicing these and sharing how well I could do them, how easy or how tough or if I just could not hack it.


African Cassava Leaf Stew With Rice

11:45 PM

I just recently returned from a week long trip to Chicago. I was there to photograph the Chicago Fashion Week debut of children's fashion designer, Alexandria Olivia and I had booked a few headshot and editorial sessions.

While it was mostly work, I was there to also enjoy some good food.

Being in Mississippi, there are limitations as to what we can experience. I know, I know...but yes, it is true. The designer I was commissioned to work for is of African descent. While there in Chicago, I was so thankful to experience authentic African food that literally made me say, "yesssssss".

One of the foods  I tried was called Cassava Leaf Stew with rice. 

Oh my. It was so good.

Full of all kinds of meats and  earthy ground leaves, it had me wanting to bring it on back to Mississippi.

And I did just that, I brought back some cassava leaves and palm oil -- determined, I made this delicous meal at home for my family.

I used beef neckbones, chicken, mussels and shrimp but the meat possibilities are endless. This is a hearty African comfort food that is perfect for these impending cool winter nights.

It was a hit and even my mom with her picky palate went back for seconds.

Here is a recipe I followed that you can try. Of course, cassava leaves and palm oil are not readily available in all areas. Check your local ethnic markets or online. It is so worth it.

*I served mine with parboiled rice. My mom, being the ultimate southerner and despite boiling the meat with a habenero, added hot sauce*


Start A Recipe Book

8:54 PM

Image from Alaina Ann

One of the reasons I started this blog was because I loved cooking for my children and wanted to share the things I made. One of the reasons I eventually learned to cook (and not just microwave) was because of my children.

One of the best memories I have of growing up are of the dinners and meals my mother, father and us kids would all have. I remember us coming home from school, my mom at the stove and once we put down our books, washed our hands, we had to set the table for dinner.  It was a routine, a tradition and it stands out to me so much as an adult. I cook because I want to give my kids that same feeling when they are older. I want them to know that their mama took the time to prepare good meals for them because she loved them so much.

While it is good to have a blog, which is the one stop internet is also best to have something else for them.  An actual recipe book that they can touch, feel, flip the pages of while reliving memories that go with certain dishes and be able to recreate themselves.

We depend so much on technology these days, but nothing beats handwritten or typed out bound books that people can actually enjoy outside of the computer, smartphones and tablets.

That is why I decided to make use of the recipe binder a friend got me for my birthday two years ago. It sat in the kitchen all this time as a decoration more than a functional piece. As I get older I realize that I would rather my children, my family have my recipes and the recipes I love all in one place that they can actually touch and feel.

So why not start a recipe book if you have not already? Don't rely on technology to keep records for you. You never know what can happen. Handwrite some, type and print out some...add your own special notes to recipes or include a memory with them! Your family and children will love it.

Here are some cool ideas I found on pinterest, that I love.

Pinterest and the internet is full of free printable pages and ideas for starting your own recipe book--just get started! I have started mine and while I take the time to write down recipes, it may seem a bit time consuming but all  I can think about is when I am gone and my kids--all grown with kids of their own--flipping through the pages until they memorize how to make the dishes they so loved growing up.

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