STOCKING UP + SOUTHERN LIVING COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY

Pantry Essentials | for the love of the south

Those who love to eat have the ability to be the best cooks because they understand how to satisfy their own cravings and are more likely to trust their instincts. If you adore what you are cooking, you will have more ambition in the kitchen. Whenever you create something you love and are excited about, people sense and share that excitement with you. If you go into the kitchen preparing a dish you’re unsure of or doubt, it will most likely come out abysmal, but if you begin with confidence and thinking of dishes you love to eat, masterpieces are already in the works before you even wield a knife. Cook with pure poise and sheer selfishness.

Along with coolness in the kitchen, utilizing your pantry and stocking your freezer will set you up for triumphant meals that you and your loved ones will treasure. Whenever I have afternoons of downtime, I spend them in the kitchen hoarding the pantry and the freezer. It’s the sort of therapy I love, and it makes me feel utterly productive. What I don’t do is make multiple meals at a time and freeze them. I don’t find this practical at all. You will most likely forget about these dishes, they will end up shoved into the abyss of the freezer, and the mystery meals with be tossed away along with the time and money you spent preparing the dishes. What I do do is prepare elements of dishes I use in my everyday cooking. I leave meals like Pot Roast, Roasted Chicken, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Lasagna Bolognese for those lazy Sunday afternoons when I have hours and hours on end to prepare supper.

FREEZER:

I will forever keep these essentials in my freezer. Like I said, I don’t freeze entire meals, but I do have basic elements waiting for me in my freezer. A great tip for freezing anything is to make sure you put an expiration date on the container so there is no guessing and no waste. Label everything!

Pizza Dough, we eat pizza at least twice a week in my house!

Homemade Stock (Vegetable or Chicken)

Tomato Soup is a comfort meal; all you have to do is add grilled cheese!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Sandwich Bread freezes great and never goes bad in a small household like ours.

Chicken Legs for Roasted Chicken Legs

– I have a gallon-sized bag of Vegetable Scraps in the freezer for homemade vegetable stock. Whenever the bag is full, I just boil the scraps with water, fresh garlic, onion and spices for 1½ hours, strain it, label it and freeze it!

Sticks of Butter are securely stashed in the freezer especially during the holidays when I do a lot of herb butter rubs and caramels. I never run out!

– I freeze Bacon to ensure it doesn’t go bad before I get a chance to use it all up!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (I live with a cookie monster)

Base of an Ice Cream Maker; you never know when you will have a craving, and I hate waiting 24 hours for it to freeze!

PANTRY:

A well-stocked pantry will take you far in the kitchen. I buy my pantry essentials in bulk so I never run out of these ingredients. They are essential to many quick meals.

Rice makes a great side; leftovers are perfect for fried rice and pairs with the gumbo that is securely stashed in the freezer.

Dried Pasta is a lifesaver in the kitchen. I make the perfect Macaroni & Cheese, Pasta with Red Sauce, and Pasta with Pesto with dried pasta from the pantry.

Canned Tomatoes

Local Honey

Potatoes & Onions

Homemade Granola makes for the perfect quick breakfast and the easiest afternoon snack.

Chocolate in my house disappears straight out of the package most of the time.

Vinegars & Oils are essential for quick dressings and they boost the flavor of endless dishes.

Lemon & Garlic

Cornmeal makes for the perfect Griddle Cakes and speedy Cornbread.

Whole Bean Coffee… there is pretty much an endless supply in my pantry. I make Chicory Granita and Pumpkin Spiced Iced Coffee with the beans, along with my morning coffee.

Homemade Vegetable Stock Using Scraps:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped and skin left on

1 garlic bulb, cut in half at the equator

1 gallon-sized freezer bag filled with vegetable scraps

1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

4 quarts of water

In a stockpot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add onion, garlic and scraps to the pot. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the scraps begin to wilt from the heat slightly. Add peppercorns and water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours. Strain and divide between freezer bags. Label, date and stash in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Quick Start Homemade by Southern Living

To give an extra helping hand, I am giving away a copy of Southern Living Quick-Start Homemade, which has even more great tips, tricks and recipes for great weekday suppers! All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know your favorite speedy supper between now and midnight, October 13th. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be contacted via email on October 14th! Limit 1 comment per person, pretty please! Good luck, y’all!

CONGRATS TO JANE WHO WON THE SOUTHERN LIVING QUICK-START HOMEMADE COOKBOOK! THANK YOU FOR ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

TICKET GIVEAWAY FOR THE SOUTHERN C SUMMIT IN NASHVILLE

I adore spending time with fellow Southerners, sharing our passion for the South, the culture, the cuisine, and, of course, the folks who make it so darn charming. Gabbing over biscuits and sweet tea on a front porch is one my favorite places to be in the entire world. The Southern C is a virtual front porch in which I’m a proud contributor for, and I am inviting a special reader to The Southern C Summit taking place in my hometown of Nashville, TN on October 17th. I’ve also included  personal snapshots in this post of my favorite spots in the Nashville area!

All you have to do is leave a comment below, telling me your favorite aspect of Southern culture! I’ll announce the lucky winner on Tuesday, September 24th and contact them via email to get their contact information. I’m giddy as a schoolgirl about this event, and I hope to see you there!

Congrats to Nick for winning The Southern C Summit Ticket Giveaway! Thank you for everyone who participated! 

Here is a link for the schedule of the event. Below is more information about the event from the creators of The Southern C!

Cheri & Whitney’s Top Ten Reasons to Attend The Southern C Summit in Nashville

1.  It’s Nashville!  Need we say more? 

2.  Our venue is beyond cool! Ruby Nashville is located on the edge of Hillsboro Village, surrounded by Fannie Mae Dees Park (aka Dragon Park) and across the street from the Vanderbilt.  The space has been referred to as contemporary, industrial, historic and natural – almost anything other than institutional.  It is housed in what used to be a Primitive Baptist Church (constructed 1945).

3.  Our host hotel, The Loews Vanderbilt, is the only AAA Four-Diamond hotel
in Tennessee for over 28 consecutive years and they just completed its $17
million renovation in July 2013! Swank! 

4.  Can we say VIP?  Take a chartered shuttle (ie. party bus) to Fontanel
and get your Goo Goo on as you sip some Whisper Creek Tennessee SippingCream.  Third time Summit attendee and Goo Goo Cluster Marketing Director Beth Sachan is cooking up a fun plan with the Whisper Creek folks for a big time on the bus!

5.  Can we say double VIP?  Go on a private tour of the Southern Living Idea House and hear from the big man himself… Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Bierman!

6.  The Southern Living Idea House will be decorated for Christmas… squeal!

7.  Two words:  Come hungry!  From Callie’s Charleston Biscuits Breakfast to lunch from Nashville favorites (shrimp & grits from The Southern!) to delicious desserts provided by Husk Restaurant and Grey Ghost Bakery to freshly made pralines prepared by Epting Events and featuring Schermer Pecans, be ready to eat!

8.  All together now… SWAG BAG!  No more words necessary

9.  Educational sessions focusing on social media and marketing strategies with award-winning internet consultant and nationally acclaimed speaker Ryan Dorhn of Brain Swell Media, Southern Living Homes Editor Jennifer Kopf, culinary author & food stylist Libbie Summers and lifestyle blogger Cassie Kelley of Womanista–Inspiring panel discussions with Leapfrog PRGreen Olive Media and Recipe for Press author Amy Flurry with Nan Myers, event designer & owner of Firefly boutique

 10.  We have some surprises in store for you!

FAREWELL SUMMER

Fresh Sweet White Corn | for the love of the south

While driving down a long, dusty road in North Alabama, towering stalks of corn inched away on my right and fields of soybeans lazily waved to me on my left. As they edged further and further in the distance, I became entranced by the jade landscape and was immediately reminded of the few fleeting summer days that were drawing further and further away from me.

Fresh Corn on the Cob | for the love of the south

Summer has served me well with its beautiful, charming produce that never ceases to inspire, endless days spent reading and writing on the river and the ability to devour countless blackberry snoballs without feeling the least bit guilty.  It’s been a good summer.

So, in honor of its last few days, I made a heart-warming soup with summer gold as the star. Sweet white corn is gently cooked with aromatics, simmers gently for just a few moments, and then puréed to perfection.

Farewell summer, it’s been golden.

Sweet White Corn Soup | for the love of the south

Recipe: Serves 4 as an appetizer| 2 as an entrée

Note: If you want a smooth corn soup, just strain the soup after it has been blended and discard any solids left behind. Also, you can garnish the soup with sliced cherry tomatoes, slices of grilled avocado, tortilla strips or salsa if you like!

2 tablespoons of butter

1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for garnishing

1 medium onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, sliced

4 ears of sweet corn, shucked and kernels cut off cob

1 pinch of red pepper flakes

5 sprigs of parsley, plus more for garnishing

2 ½ cups of water

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often until the onion has softened and become translucent. Add sweet corn kernels, red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the corn begins to soften.

Add parsley sprigs and 2 ½ cups of water to the pot. Bring the corn mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the corn is soft. Discard parsley sprigs.

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), purée corn mixture and season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with olive oil and parsley. Enjoy!

MY FAVORITE THINGS: AUGUST

August Favorites | for the love of the south

I have fallen in love with so many great products this month, and I wanted to make sure I shared them with y’all!

(Starting top left, working clockwise)

Ever since I received this stunning Chopper from New West Knifeworks, I’ve been using it to chop almost all of my fruits and veggies. I love the feel of the handle and the length of the blade, and … it’s gorgeous!

Beyond Bacon is a terrific Paleo cookbook that teaches you how to use the WHOLE hog. I love the concept and have many, many recipes dog-eared to make including Savory Bacon Jam… heavenly.

Bathtub Gin Rum Raisin Mission Fig fruit spread is superb… Thompson raisins are soaked in spiced rum and infused with earthy, citrusy, and spicy notes. The first bite of this fabulous fruit spread reminded me of the holidays. Loving this Nashville-based company!

Another beloved Nashville-based company is Olive & Sinclair . Their Sea Salt chocolate has become one of my favorite guiltless pleasures. I adore any dessert that has a wonderful balance of sweet and salty, and this chocolate is utterly sublime.

xoxo, y’all

amber

THE PEACH TRUCK

Poached Peaches

There are few joys in life that are greater than the first peach of the season. A wave of childlike giddiness rushed over me as Michael and I pulled into the Franklin Farmer’s Market on a steamy Saturday morning. The Peach Truck sign caught my attention, and I immediately turned the wheel of the car in its direction (did I mention I was riding shotgun? My hand should have been slapped, but I believe Michael was amused at me bouncing out of my seat in excitement, and all was forgiven.) Ten peach enthusiasts were in line in front of me, all beading at the brow, but no one seemed to mind as long as we could take home a brown paper sack filled with fresh peaches.

Fresh Peaches

Patient waiting paid off as a young lady handed me a brown paper bag stamped with a tiny farmer’s truck and The Peach Truck logo. She let me know I should keep the peaches in the paper bag on the counter until Monday and let them sit in the fridge to ripen the fruit. Politely, I nodded knowing full well the moment I was out of her line of sight one was going directly into my mouth.  Michael dealt with the “business” side of things and handed the sweet lady cash for my treasures. By the time he turned around, I was nose deep in the bag, inhaling the honey and flowery aromas coming from the peaches.

Fresh Peaches

Immediately my mind began racing with endless possibilities: peach tart, peach pie, roasted peaches, muddled peach lemonade, grilled peaches with brown sugar. On and on the list went, and finally, the perfect preservation of the peaches pervaded. Vanilla poached peaches. Poaching peaches slightly softens the fruit and allows for the skin to easily be peel away, exposing the blushing flesh. It’s the next best thing to eating a peach right off The Peach Truck. It’s the best dessert for the greatest summer fruit: the precious peach.

Recipe: Inspired by Seasons by Donna Hay

Serves 6

Note: Add leftover vanilla pods to sugar for vanilla sugar or save in a bottle of rum or vodka in the pantry for at least 6 weeks and you have your own homemade vanilla extract! Also, the sweet vanilla-peach infused syrup is wonderful in sweet tea.

2 pounds of ripe peaches, thoroughly washed

3 cups of water

2 cups of sugar

1 vanilla bean

Make a long slit through the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all of the vanilla seeds. Reuse the leftover pod for vanilla sugar or homemade vanilla extract.

Slice a shallow “x” into the base of each peach. Set aside.

Place water, sugar and vanilla seeds in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add the peaches to the poaching liquid. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the peaches are soft to the touch. Take the saucepan off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Peel the peaches, place in a sterilized Mason jar and pour the syrup over the poached peaches. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Serve over ice cream, muddled in lemonade, or all by themselves!

UP IN SMOKE

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri

Happy 4th of July!

In the South, summer leads up to a sweltering  4th of July where food, freedom, and family goes hand-in-hand with barbecue, sweet tea and (unfortunately) flocks of mosquitoes.

No matter how hard we tried, a trip to the store for lighter fluid and charcoal always seemed like the first order of business in the morning, that and getting pounds and pounds of both regular and smoked boudin from the local Market Basket. So with Community Coffee in hand, the women started to get to work on the fixins. Deviled eggs, which were slightly addictive from the addition of white vinegar. Slabs of French bread were sliced horizontally and brushed with melted butter and served with Jack Miller’s barbecue sauce for dipping. Pale yellow potato salad came modestly dressed with mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne. Smiling half-moon slices of cold, juicy, ripe cantaloupe curiously counted as a vegetable (and not as a dessert.) Plump, meaty slices of homegrown tomatoes and skinny slices of cucumbers both covered with salt and pepper donned our holiday menu.

I can remember the subtle creak of the screen door as I stretched it open to check on the progress going on outside (the creak reminded me of the sound a grasshopper makes while scratching one leg against the other.) The combination of Louisiana humidity and smoke from the barbecue instantly made my eyes sting, but the lovely, familiar waft of meat smoking away on the pit made up for any inconveniences.

As this holiday is approaching this week, I have been reminiscing on this 4th of July memory as I sit in my yard-less, grill-less, loft in Nashville. Destined and determined, I pulled out my sturdy grill pan, cranked the heat to high on my electric stove, and seared a beautiful skirt steak to pure perfection. In my excitement, I failed to realize A) the entire place quickly began filling up with smoke, and B) I live in a loft, which means “opening up all of the doors” is not an option for ventilation. The whole place smelled of grilled meat, smoke and immediately my eyes began to water. I smiled as curiously as a cantaloupe. Success.

I hope you and your loved ones are blessed this holiday with feasts, family, and fireworks!

Recipe: Serves 2

Note: This steak is particularly amazing served with this side and this sauce! Also, this recipe has only 2 ingredients, which means the quality of the ingredients really matters. Make sure you get the best skirt steak you can find and use great quality salt as well! It makes all the difference in the world.

1, 1-1 ½ pound skirt steak, trimmed

Course sea salt

Sprinkle coarse sea salt onto both sides of the steak and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, crank up a grill pan or cast-iron skillet to high. You want the pan to be smoking hot (literally.)

After 30 minutes, dab the steak with paper towels making sure the steak is as dry as can be. Season both sides of the steak with sea salt.

Once the pan is ready, place the steak in the pan/skillet and let cook for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes. This step allows all of the lovely juices to evenly distribute back into the meat. Thinly slice the steak at an angle, against the grain (not straight down into the meat.) This will ensure tender, juicy pieces instead of tough, dry pieces. Enjoy!

Dear Old Faithful: Paw-paw's barbecue pit in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Dear Old Faithful: Paw-paw’s barbecue pit in Lake Charles, Louisiana

ROLLING IN THE DOUGH

Basic Pizza Dough

As you may have already noticed, I’m kind of in love with pizza. Pizza was a memorable dish I grew up eating at my grandmother’s house during the summers, and I am a firm believer that one of the greatest characteristics of Southern comfort food is familiarity. Pizza has remained to be one of my most beloved and treasured meals.

Here are a few tips I have found helpful throughout my dough-making days, and I hope they encourage you to make your own!

  • You don’t need a food processor, Kitchen Aid or bread machine to make pizza dough. Although I love the texture and ease from a Kitchen Aid fitted with a dough hook attachment, I have made dough by hand in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, kneaded it out on the counter with a little flour, and it turns out just fine (it just required a little more elbow grease!)
  • Pizza stones and paddles are completely fine to use when making pizza, but they are not necessary. I’ve used heavy duty rimmed baking sheets to make pizzas, and the crust still gets crunchy and charred (no preheating required for the baking sheet.) But if you do have a pizza stone, which I do and love, preheat the stone in a 500-degree oven for at least 45 minutes. Lay your dough onto a piece of foil or parchment paper, roll it out to your desired thickness and top it with the ingredients. Once the oven is preheated and the stone is hot, slide the pizza (parchment paper/foil and all) into the oven onto the stone. After 10-15 minutes, just slide it out of the oven and onto a cookie sheet for easy transport back to the counter.
  • Dough is sometimes temperamental when rising. So, to make sure I get consistent results, I preheat the oven to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, turn off the oven and let the dough rise, covered with a tea towel for 1 hour in the oven. This way, no matter if its chilly or scorching outside, my dough will always rise, worry-free.
  • Yes, you can freeze pizza dough. I usually make pizza dough one day a week and save it for quick dinners and lunches for the rest of the week. Whenever the dough has finished rising, cut the dough into 8 equal pieces (each piece is 1 serving), wrap each piece in cling wrap and stack the covered pieces of dough into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. The dough will stay good for 3 months. When ready to use just take out however many individual balls of dough that you may need and let them come to room temperature for 2-3 hours on the counter.
  • For all you visual learners, below is a collage of photos on how to make the basic pizza dough using a Kitchen Aid fitted with a dough hook attachment, but the full recipe for both this method and making dough by hand are also listed below.

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe: Adapted from Tyler Florence

Makes 8 Individual Pizza Rounds (Serves 8)

Note: If you aren’t one for breaking out the thermometer to check the water temperature for the dough, just put the very tip of your finger in the warm water, if it begins to burn after a few seconds, it’s too hot, but if it’s not warm to the touch, it’s not quite warm enough. You want to make sure you start off with the correct water temperature, or else the yeast will not bloom, and you will have to start over. No bueno.

2 cups of warm water (100-110oF)

2 packages of yeast

2 tablespoons of sugar

4 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl

2 tablespoons of salt

6 cups of all-purpose, plus more for dusting

If mixing with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook: Combine water, yeast and sugar in the mixing bowl. Gently stir to dissolve the yeast. Let the yeast sit for 5-10 minutes (once the top of the mixture begins to get foamy from one side of the bowl to the other, I know it’s done.) On the lowest speed, turn on the mixer and add olive oil and salt. Slowly add in the flour (I usually add half the flour, let it incorporate slightly, then pour in the other half.)

Increase to medium speed and mix the dough until it begins to form a ball and wrap itself around the hook, this step should take about 2 minutes. With your thumb and index finger, squeeze the dough. If it’s too crumbly, add more warm water, and if it’s too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Make sure the dough is smooth and elastic.

If making the dough by hand: Combine water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Gently stir to dissolve yeast. Let the yeast sit for 5-10 minutes (once the top of the mixture begins to get foamy from one side of the bowl to the other, I know it’s done.) With a wooden spoon, stir in olive oil and salt. Then, begin stirring in the flour. Once the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon, knead the rest of the flour into the dough by hand. As you knead, squeeze the dough between your thumb and index finger. If the dough is too crumbly, add more warm water, and if it’s too wet, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, this should take about 10 minutes.

For both methods: Form the dough into a ball and place into a large bowl coated with olive oil. Cover the dough with a tea towel to discourage a skin forming on the dough. Place in an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees and shut the oven off. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in the warm oven.

Once the dough has risen, punch down and cut into 8 equal-sized pieces (or cut the dough in half for 2 large pizzas, which serves 6-8 people total.) Use the dough immediately or freeze up to 3 months.

NATURALLY DYED EASTER EGGS

Naturally Dyed Eggs

Growing up, spring had officially arrived whenever the family gathered around my grannie’s enormous table and partook of the ritual of dyeing Easter eggs. The wood of the table was protected by sheets of old American Press newspaper and red solo cups which stood like perfectly painted soldiers, standing at attention patiently as we collected the egg dyeing mise en place.

Grannie gathered the pearly boiled eggs that she carefully nested in a tea towel while boiling to prevent the shells from bumping together and cracking. Gallon-sized jugs of distilled white vinegar made their way to the party, appearing with a loud thud as they smacked onto the table. Finally, tiny, candy-like, multicolored tablets were strewn across the paper-lined surface, and the power that lay inside each one of these capsules released neon-staining abilities.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

My favorite part of dyeing the eggs was the plopping of the little tablets into the solo cups filled with vinegar and watching the tablets bubble and dissolve, leaving blazingly colored vinegar as its only remnant. Now, as a much older child, I appreciate making these egg dyes with natural ingredients. Turmeric gleams and glows with a sunny yellow hue, blueberries create a tone that mimics the depths of the ocean, and beets blush in beautiful rosy bliss. It’s a wonder to watch pearly eggs resurrect from their bright, watery grave, beaming with such stunning tones from dyes made with natural ingredients.

Naturally Dyed Eggs

P.S.

Instead of tossing any leftover dye, you can use the dye to stain the bottom of white cardstock to create a hand dyed Easter menu. Just dip the bottom part of the cardstock into your choice hue and let dry on a flat surface. After the pigment has dried, handwrite your items onto the prepared menu. Place at each table setting. Here is where my inspiration came from.

Hand Dyed Easter Menu

Hand Dyed Menu

Each Dye Makes 1 ½  cups

Inspired by The Blender by Williams Sonoma

Note: This may seem obvious, but make sure you buy WHITE eggs. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought brown ones just by habit. Also, make sure there are no markings, cracks or stamps on the eggs prior to purchasing the carton.

1 Dozen Eggs, boiled and cooled

Pink: Beets

1 large beet, scrubbed and chopped

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

2 cups of water

 

Yellow: Turmeric

1 tablespoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

2 cups of water

 

Blue: Blueberries

1 cup of blueberries, slightly smashed

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

2 cups of water

For each individual color, combine all the ingredients in a pan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium for 20 minutes until reduced. Let cool and strain. If necessary, add cold water until the total volume for each dye is 1 ½ cups (these dyes can be made ahead. I made mine the night before I dyed the eggs and just stashed the dyes in jars on the counter overnight. Before I needed to use the dyes, I just shook the jar and they were ready to go!)

Make sure the surface you are using is well protected with newspaper or an old towel before you start laying out all of your dyes. Fill up 3 plastic cups halfway up with the natural dyes (since I used glass jars to store my dyes in, I just left the dyes in their individual jars.) Carefully place an egg in each one of the vessels (I use a gravy ladle to get each one in and out easily.) Let the eggs sit in the dye for at least 30 minutes. Using the ladle, slowly pull each egg out of the dyes and lay onto a roasting tray lined with paper towels and fitted with a cooling rack. Let dry completely before handling. Continue with the rest of the dozen eggs until you have dyed them all.

White Boiled Eggs

 

 

Mason Jar Snow Globes

Christmas time is here! I saw these little jar snow globes in a specialty store for more than I could afford, so I decided to buy the supplies at a local hobby store and recreate this fun holiday decoration. I paid about $2.50 per snow globe! This is also a great project to do with the kiddies (just make sure there is an adult to control the hot glue gun!) I hope you and your family will have a very merry Christmas!

The Case of the Missing Pecans

Holidays without pecan pie is a sin, but holidays in Louisiana without pecan pie… you might as well slap yo grandma! Well, to be more accurate, my grannie would probably give me a quick slap on the behind if her beloved dessert were to be forgotten. Whether she is aware or not, Grannie is a nibbler. Complaining of being too full at meals, she wonders why she is never hungry. One holiday evening while making pecan pies, I solved the mystery.  After toasting the pecans in the oven, I allowed them to cool on a cookie sheet on the counter. I created the batter and went to add the final ingredient, toasted pecans. Just as I turned around, I realized that many of the pecans were missing! I was left with one clue, a bouncing head of white hair scurrying out of the kitchen! It was Grannie! This didn’t surprise me a bit because pecan pie was always one of her favorite desserts. Now at meals whenever Grannie says she feels too full to take another bite, I just sit and smile while knowing full well that she nibbled right through her appetite. I’ve allowed the charade to continue for many years. Nowadays when I make pecan pies, I have two piles of pecans, one for the actual dessert and the other for the bouncing nibbler I affectionately refer to as Grannie.

Recipe: Makes 1 11-inch tart

Pie Crust:

2 ½ cups of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 stick of butter, cold and cut up into cubes

½ cup of shortening, cut up in small pieces

6-12 tablespoons of ice cold water

1 egg, slightly beaten

In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and shortening to the flour mixture. Pulse to combine all of the ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the cold water, tablespoon-by-tablespoon, pulsing in between tablespoons. Add water until the dough comes together. The dough should not be sticky or crumbly. Divide dough in half and shape into 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

*Note: This recipe only uses 1 disk of pie dough. You can freeze the other for later use.

Filling:

3 eggs

½ cup of brown sugar

¾ sup of light corn syrup

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of toasted pecan halves

Combine eggs and brown sugar in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Once the ingredients are incorporated. Beat in corn syrup and slowly add the butter and vanilla extract. Beat until all of the ingredients are well blended. Stir in the toasted pecans.

To Assemble:

Preheat oven to 350o

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until 12-inches in diameter. Gently place the dough into the tart pan. Cut off the excess dough. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place the filling into prepared tart shell. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the crust has become golden brown and the filling has set (if the crust gets too brown, tent the tart with foil.) Let cool for at least an hour before unmolding from tart pan.