Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Joyous Announcement!!

Photo by Brad W.
 Friends, I have such wonderful news to share with you.  Next week, my husband and I are scheduled to welcome a precious baby girl via c-section!  There are simply no words to rightfully express our excitement and joy.

It's been a long, emotional and rocky road for us to reach this point, but it will all be worth it the moment we see our daughter's face for the first time.  Feeling her little kicks, jabs and punches has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I know that you haven't seen me post many recipes lately, and now you finally know why.  As you can imagine, we've had a lot going on, and this mama-to-be just needed a tiny break.  But do not worry my foodie friends, this blog is still incredibly important to me and you will see many, many yummy recipes soon.  I can't wait to be able to share "mommy and me" recipe posts and updates about our little one!  Please keep us in your prayers as the big day approaches - July 16th. 

 The nursery is ready and all that's missing is our little princess!

I sewed a matching quilt, pillows and crib skirt for Baby.  

This Daddy-to-Be cannot WAIT to meet his baby girl!

My sister re-created this painting for us...isn't it beautiful?
My Grandfather hand-made this bench for me when I was little. 
I'm so happy to be able to use it in the nursery.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blueberry Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Can I just say that my hubby is THE best?!?  I sure do love him.  This past Valentine's Day, he surprised me with several goodies - and a Belgian waffle maker was among them.  I was so excited to open up the box and give it a whirl.  There are lots and lots of wonderfully thick and fluffy waffles in our (very near) future!

I wanted to start off with a classic recipe - nothing too crazy.  I pretty much love any recipe that incorporates buttermilk, so that seemed like a good place to start.  Belgian waffles are a little more involved than regular ole' pancake batter, but they are totally worth the extra effort.  They still came together pretty quickly, especially with the help of a stand mixer and using the waffle maker was very fun!  I have to admit, I was more than a little excited as I patiently waited for that first waffle to finish baking so that I could open the lid and take a peek at the waffle-goodness.  

These waffles came out even thicker than I thought they would.  They were fluffy and perfectly infused with blueberries and a hint of pure vanilla extract.  A drizzle of maple syrup sent them over the edge!

Bon Appetit, my friends!

Classic Blueberry Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
Adapted from:  Oster

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornmeal (optional)
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1  3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup blueberries

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt to blend thoroughly; set aside.

In mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add sugar;  continue beating just until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Whisk together egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla.  Using rubber spatula, stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, blending until dry ingredients are moistened.  (There should still be small lumps;  do not over-mix.)  Stir in melted butter.  Fold in beaten egg whites until combined.  

Pour batter onto bottom grid of hot waffle maker; sprinkle batter with fresh (or defrosted frozen) blueberries.  Close waffle maker and bake as directed.

Makes about 5 1/2 cups batter. 

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Giveaway - Christmas All Through the South - Southern Living

Photos courtesy of Southern Living

First of all, Merry Christmas everybody!  It's that time of year absolutely favorite.  A time that was so magical as a child, and yet still finds a way to be magical as an adult.  All of the twinkling lights, hot cocoa, holiday movies and music makes my heart happy.  And let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas!

Today, I bring you a truly magnificent Christmas book by the awesome editors at Southern Living - Christmas All Through the South.  When I first received this book to review, I was delighted with the cover.  It's so festive and pretty, and it's made a beautiful display on my kitchen counter this holiday season sitting on its easel.  It's a rather large book filled with gorgeous, full-color photos, which I love.

Photos courtesy of Southern Living

Here's a blurb from the official press release:
"Combining all the elements for which Southern Living is know and revered - food, travel and gorgeous homes - this books is a joyous journey around the region that showcases the unparalleled  hospitality, rich history and larger-than-life celebrations that are the Southern holiday way." 

Photos courtesy of Southern Living

One of my very favorite aspects of the book are the personal stories from all over the region.  Reading through them truly put me in the Christmas spirit.  There's a great Foreword by Rick Bragg, and the book is broken out into 5 Parts:  Joyful Anticipation, Delightful Destinations, Heartfelt Gatherings, Sparkling Celebrations and Festive Recipes.

I particularly loved the photos of Southern homes all decorated for the holidays.  They gave me some wonderful ideas and inspiration for what to do with my own home.  

I found the dessert recipes in this book to be particularly spectacular.  I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after seeing the recipes in the Christmas Morning Brunch and The Grand Finale/Christmas Cakes sections.  The giant stacks and tiers of Hummingbird Pancakes, Italian Cream Pancakes and German Chocolate Pancakes resemble tall layer cakes more than pancakes - a true feast for the eyes!  The Chocolate-Toffee-Gingerbread Cake, Layered Peppermint Cheesecake and Gilded Bourbon-Chocolate Cake had my mouth watering.

Photos courtesy of Southern Living

The dinner menus found within each section are also special, and I love that there's a summary of all of these recipes in the back of the book.  It's a well thought-out book that you'll cherish for years to come, for sure.

If you'd like a copy of this great book, please enter my rafflecopter giveaway below...It's super duper easy to cast your entry! 
  Good luck, friends!  :)

Photos courtesy of Southern Living
  IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you enter by leaving a blog comment, don't forget to click the "I Commented" green tab on the rafflecopter widget below.  If you don't, it will not count your entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Mom's Chicken & Dressing

Hand-written recipes are the best.
Who's ready for some Thanksgiving dressing??  Dressing is serious business around here.  Brad excitedly waits ALL year for the wonderful day that dressing graces his dinner plate.  In fact, I have to make 2 separate pans of it at the holidays.  One classic recipe, plus one with sausage added.  That way, there's sure to be plenty for leftovers after the hubbub of the big day is over.

This year, we had an extra special treat when my Mom visited us.  She was in the mood for her famous Chicken & Dressing for dinner, and Brad and I weren't ABOUT to complain.  You see, her dressing is the stuff holiday dreams are made of.  She's made it the same for as long as I can remember, and it's simply fabulous.  Try as I might, I've never been able to pull it off like her.  Mine always turns out differently.  But alas, I watched every step while she made it this time, and I think I've got it!  Hooray!

Also, I love hand-written recipes, and my Mama was nice enough to write down some notes for me to remember.  I've tried to translate these notes into a thorough recipe below.  I have to admit though, part of this recipe is simply magic.  The amounts aren't exact.  Perfection comes with years of making this for family and friends.  This is the sort of thing that's made with love...and you can tell.

Since this recipe makes 2 big dishes of dressing, we baked one right away and froze the other.  It was just as delicious after being frozen!  Simply cover the dressing well with aluminum foil and pop into the freezer (without baking).  When ready to cook, simply defrost and bake as instructed.

Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!

Mom's Chicken & Dressing
Source:  My Mama :)

1  (3-4 lb) chicken
1 (24 oz) bag Alabama King fine corn meal
1 onion, diced
2-3 hard boiled eggs, diced
1 stick butter, plus 3 Tbsp
Salt & Pepper, to taste
A dash of love :)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  

Wash chicken well.  Place the chicken in a large stock pot, and cover with water.  Generously season with salt, pepper, and 3 Tbsp butter.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Set the lid at an angle so steam can escape from pot. Lower heat to gentle boil and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, adding more water as needed.  Once meat is falling off the bone, remove chicken from broth to a cutting board and let cool, reserving the broth.  Discard the skin and remove meat from the bone, shredding as you go.  Discard the bones.

While chicken cooks, pour cornmeal into a large bowl.  Season with salt.  Slowly add warm water, stirring constantly, until you reach a thick, pourable batter consistency.   Pour into a greased 9x11 baking dish, and bake for 1 - 1  1/2 hours, or until golden brown.

Cook's Secret Tip:  While the cornbread is cooling and still in the baking dish, pour about 2 cups of the reserved, hot chicken broth right over the cornbread.  This will make it much easier to remove from the pan later!

Once cornbread has cooled, crumble and pour into a very large bowl.  Begin pouring the hot broth over the crumbled cornbread and knead with your hands.  Continue adding more broth and mixing with your hands until you reach a consistency sort of like mashed potatoes (not too thick).  This is the tricky part - You don't want the dressing to be dry, but don't make it too soupy.

Add onions, eggs and all of the shredded chicken to the bowl, stirring well.  Season with salt & pepper.

Pour mixture into two greased 9x11 baking dishes.  Slice the remaining 1 stick of butter into thin slices, placing all over the top of the dressing.

Bake at 350 F for approximately 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbling.


NOTE:  This dressing freezes beautifully!  Cover well with aluminum foil before placing in the freezer.  When ready to cook, simply defrost and bake as instructed.

Here's a favorite of me and my mom on my wedding day.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Bread


You won't find any tricks here today...only treats!  Hopefully your costumes are ready and bowls of candy wait by the front door in preparation for tonight's festivities.

I've seriously been craving something baked with apples and cinnamon lately, thanks to the arrival of my very favorite season.  Fall, I heart you.

This bread was fabulous.  It was perfectly sweet, packed with fresh apples and delightfully cinnamon-y.  It's easy to make and will infuse your entire home with delicious wafts of goodness.

I repeat, delicious wafts of goodness, people.  :)

It was hard for us to wait until the photos were taken before devouring this loaf.  You'll love it, too!  The next time I bake this (and there WILL be a next time!) I'm thinking about mixing the apples throughout the batter before it goes into the loaf pan, and then using the technique below to create the cinnamon/sugar swirl.  I think the bread would be equally fantastic with apples throughout, instead of just in the middle and on top.

Happy Halloween!

Bon Appetit, my friends.

Apple Cinnamon Bread
Adapted from:  The Happier Homemaker

½ cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk

2 large apples, peeled and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.  In a stand mixer, combine white sugar and butter until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat on medium speed until combined.  Add flour and baking powder, then milk.   

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Cover with half of the apples, patting apples into batter with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Pour the remaining batter over the apple layer; top with remaining apples and add more brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Pat topping into the batter with the back of a large spoon.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

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Sugar & Spice by Celeste