Holiday Cakes: Cakes to Make This Season

9:59 PM

Everyone knows that Christmas and the holidays means pumpkin everything or sweet potato and pecan pies. At least here in the South. But this season, why not try something different? Something sure to calm the palettes down after a hearty dinner. Serve with coffee, hot chocolate or tea and sit around the tree or in the family room talking about all the things you are thankful for.

Death By Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ice Cream Brownie Cake

~tip: add a bit of pomegranate seeds for festive color and extra crunch and taste.

A southern staple, add some sliced strawberries.

I'll be back in a few days with some fabulous recipes featuring Greek Gods Yogurt. Oh my, yes.

Holiday Recap: Pies

12:03 AM

The holidays are here and it is all about desserts. I have finally finalized my Christmas menu (going a wee bit English traditional) and will be making an apple pie for the first time.

When it comes to making pies, I love pretty pies. Yes, I want them to no only taste good but look good too. I like that taking a little bit more time shows my family they are worth it. After all it does not happen all the time. Holidays are special because of the extra effort.
I saw a post by Sweet Paul about leaf pie crusts. It had me smitten. So gorgeous, I had to try. Nope, I am no professional baker but I think they turned out pretty good. I used premade pie crust to cut out my design and add to my pies. Of course, you can make your own, but this was a great time saver for me. 
I made peach pie, blackberry, and buttermilk pies. Everyone loved them.

When it comes to your pie, be creative. Everyone loves a good pie.

Take a fork and draw designs on your top crust. Use a spoon and press semi circles around the crust. Braid the crust and be patient. Oh how braiding can make you cry. Don't worry if it breaks. Keep rolling it out and trying again.

Seriously, the payoff is worth the extra effort.


Southern Buttermilk Pie

9:16 PM

Growing up, my mom baked a lot. We were your typical Southern family, eating traditional Southern meals and desserts reflected our roots. My mom did what you would find at nearly every family reunion or potluck here in Mississippi: red velvet cake, pineapple upside down cake, brownies, sweet potato pie and pecan pies. My mom made it thing she never did make was  the one pie I absolutely loved: Buttermilk. The name can be different depending on who you ask, Chess Pie, Egg Pie, Custard or Buttermilk Pie. I think of Chess Pie as having coconut, so Buttermilk is what I call it. And boy oh boy is it good. Golden custardy, buttery, sugary goodness. Seriously, the best. pie. ever. 

Now that I am older, I am wanting to try more traditional recipes....things that I just thought would be so complicated and guess what? They really aint that hard. Why did I not try this sooner!? For Father's Day and to celebrate my sister's birthday, I finally made a Buttermilk Pie. I had settled on making a Red Velvet cake when I started thinking....summer makes me think of pies.  And why not make something I have not ever tried to make and had not had in FOREVER. 

I found a super easy and simple recipe over at Add A Pinch. Seriously? Could it be any easier? It was a hit! I left out the lemon juice and zest because the Buttermilk pies I always had did not have a lemon taste to them and I wanted something that reminded me of my childhood and the only pie I would eat. 

I started with the crust. I have not tackled homemade pie dough yet and since I was in a time crunch, today was just not the day to start. I used store bought refrigerated dough.

I added a braid to the edge of one of the pies. You do this by cutting the dough into strips and then braiding. Just like you do hair.

Coat your pie edge with an egg wash (one egg white and 3 tbsp of water mixed) and then add your braids.

Press where the braids meet and coat with egg wash.

I love this technique. Using a spoon upside down, press the top of the spoon to make a decorative pattern around the edges of your pie crust.

Add all of your ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix well. Make sure you melt your butter  (which I did not do on the first pie) because if not, the pie filling looks like this....still bakes perfectly fine, but um, yeah, not too cute unbaked.

Melt your butter! 

Ahhhhhh. There we go. Much better.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes until top is brown. When you remove it, the pie will be jiggly like jello, don't worry, it will settle as it cools. Allow to completely cool before slicing and then enjoy the deliciousness that is Buttermilk pie. Oh yeah!


Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

1:17 PM

I absolutely love this time of year. Back when I was younger, Thanksgiving meant we ate the EXACT same thing, every single Thanksgiving, every single year. It never failed. My mom's menu never ever changed, as did none of the other menus here in the deep south.

Now that I am older and in more control over Thanksgiving, my mom still is the boss and head cook, but she does allow me to help her. That means trying new things and me being responsible for making those new things. I like variety and change. Of course, there are staples I just can not do with out, like cornbread dressing...but everything else can be replaced, removed, revamped, etc.

So while I may be the one bringing variety to the table, my traditional mom surprised me one holiday and made these cute individual 'sweet potato casseroles' by way of naming them 'Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes'. I have never been a fan of sweet potatoes so this was a shock that I liked these. But I have discovered, as I get older, my picky palate becomes less picky....or should I just say more matured.

You will need:
Mini Marshmallows (or make your own)
1 Sweet potato
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg/cinnamon mixed
1/2 tsp butter

In an oven bake your sweet potatoes at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut a slit at the top of your potato and begin scooping the inside out using a spoon. Leave a thin coating of the sweet potato inside so it does not tear.

In bowl, mix the ingredients, minus the marshmallows, in a bowl. Add more sugar to taste. Mix well and scoop back into the potato.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and then top with marshmallows. Bake for about 3 more minutes or until marshmallows brown or begin to melt. Serve warm.

This recipe makes one potato, adjust measurements by doubling, tripling, etc to make larger batches.


Easy Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

9:44 PM

Thanksgiving is on my brain and I can not wait to dig into my mom's creamy and buttery cornbread dressing. Dressing is my all time favorite dish ever. I could eat it every single day. Unfortunately, I have not mastered the art of making dressing, the few times I have tried it was NOT like my mom's. I am going to pay close attention this year and take photos as she makes it. My mom is a no recipe kinda girl, so I will have to make sure I am right there to record her steps and process.

Although I cannot make dressing to save my life, I do make nice cranberry sauces. Yesterday I did a test run on a cranberry raspberry sauce. It was to die for so good. Seriously, why buy the canned stuff when making the real thing is so easy and tastes so much better.

Not only does this sauce go perfectly with holiday dressing, it is amazing on french toast. (That's how I had it yesterday and it was sooooo good)  I am stocking up on some cranberries so I can make more batches of this sauce. Everyone loved it and it is the perfect breakfast condiment.

You will need:

1 1/2 cup of cranberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup of water
1 or 1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of lemon juice

In pot , bring water to a boil.  Add in your clean cranberries and raspberries. Stir in 1/2 cup of sugar and reduce heat when it bubbles. Your cranberries will begin to pop open, add your lemon juice.  Cook on meduim heat while stirring for about 5 minutes.

Take a taste and if you need more sugar, add it in slowly while stirring.  Remove pot from heat and allow it to cool.

When I was in college, there was this amazing place that served chicken tender po boys. One had a sweet and tart plum sauce on it. It was the best sandwich I had ever had. This cranberry and raspberry sauce would be perfect on top of a fried chicken tender sandwich. Hmmmm, I might have to try that tomorrow.

Living Locurto: Campfire S'mores Eggrolls

8:57 PM

It is cooling off and that means the perfect time to gather around a fire for s'mores!  If camping out is not on the agenda, try these tasty alternatives I came up with....s'mores eggrolls. Super easy to make and nice and crunchy. My children and our neighbors loved these.

Stop by Living Locurto for this easy recipe and many more.


Cereal Milk Ice Cream

11:55 PM

So this is not my recipe but it is one I tried with just minor adjustments. Oh my word. This is certainly a case of recipe goodness where it actually works and for the best.

Growing up, I remember eating cereal and the best part was not really eating the cereal, but drinking the milk in the bowl after all the cereal was gone. Yeah, I always wanted the novelty cereal, but no matter what cereal it was, it was the milk that never changed. It was all deliciousness that was the sweet happy ending to the fairytale that was in my bowl.

I made this ice cream for my kids and I freely admit that I asserted my parental authority when I imposed limits on how much they could consume because heck, I wanted more for me!

Adapted from Food 52

Cereal Milk Ice Cream

 cups Frosted Flakes
1 cup Rice Krispies
2 1/2 
cups whole milk
1 1/2 
cups heavy cream
cup brown sugar
teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tbsp Honey
egg yolks
teaspoon vanilla

Add your cereal to the milk and let sit for about 20-30 minutes until cereal is completely soggy. In a pot add your cereal . In a bowl, add in a few spoonfuls of the heated milk mixture to the eggs. Stir. Then add the egg/milk mixture to the main milk pot. Cook on medium until it thickens a bit.

Turn off the heat, and cool the mixture for four hours. Place into your ice cream maker. Chill the mixture for at least 4 hours, then churn it in your ice cream maker. Follow the directions from this point out that was provided by your ice cream maker.

I served my ice cream with sprinkles of frosted corn flakes in between the layers and a drizzle of honey on top. Oh. my. word. Yessss.

Even though  it is cooling down, who does not love a bit of ice cream.

Chicken Spaghetti

10:40 PM

Chicken spaghetti is pretty popular here in Mississippi.  It is often served at potlucks, celebrations, during times of bereavement.  It is an easy dish to make but many get intimidated by the prep.  It can be kinda messy to make too. 

You will need:
1 small packet of thin spaghetti noodles
3 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 large can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 large can of Cream of Mushroom soup
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
1 cup of shredded cheese
and about 3 slices of 1/2 inch thick velveeta cut into cubes

*optional 1 can of english peas and 1 can of corn (this is not in the dish I made, but I often have chicken spaghetti made by others and they include them.)

Cook your spaghetti noodles as directed. I learned from a tv show that you can tell they are done when you throw one at the refrigerator and it sticks. 

Drain the water and coat with about 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil...this will keep the noodles from sticking together.

In skillet, saute your chicken with salt, pepper or your seasoning of choice.  I use creole seasoning. Cook until the juices from poking the chicken in the middle run clear.

Cut chicken into cubes and place in bowl with noodles.

Add your cubed velveeta and then your Rotel. Then add your soups.

Mix very well.

Place into a large casserole dish. I used two 9x9 square cake pans since I broke my casserole dish.

This makes alot. If making for a smaller crowd, instead of large cans of soup, use the small ones, and only one can of rotel with one to two chicken breasts and half less velveeta.

Top with shredded cheese of your choice and bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes at 325 degrees.  

This is so good served with pretzel bread or a nice yeast roll or slice of garlic bread. 


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