November 24, 2015

Chili Lime Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Chili Lime Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I always prepare a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year, complete with all of the trimmings. As much as my family loves all of the usual fare, sometimes we enjoy a little freshness at our holiday table. These mashed sweet potatoes are a nice alternative to the typical super-sweet, marshmallow-laden casserole. They are just a little sweet, and a little spicy with just a hint of fresh lime. (I may even say they are a little bit...healthy.) Healthy or not, they are delicious and go great with a Thanksgiving turkey, or a Christmas ham (but are perfect for a an everyday lunch or dinner, too)!

October 19, 2015

The Easiest Slow Cooker Apple Butter Ever

Apple butter is one of my favorite treats for fall. I make a batch every year like clockwork, using my slow cooker to make it easy, and to avoid standing at the hot stove stirring for several hours. This year, however, I have found a way to make it even easier. This recipe still uses a slow cooker to do all of the work, just like my older Slow Cooker Apple Butter recipe. The difference in this recipe, however, is that instead of peeling and chopping all of the apples myself, I start with a big jar of prepared applesauce. I know, I know, it isn’t 100% from-scratch, and not peeling and chopping those apples somehow seems like a bit of a cheat, but trust me, this shortcut is downright practical when you are short on time or energy. 

October 8, 2015

Easy Beef and Macaroni Skillet

Beef and Macaroni Skillet Goulash

Earlier this week, on our first chilly fall afternoon of the season, I whipped-up this easy beef and macaroni skillet supper.  Not for the first time, I appreciated that this dish is almost magical, with the ability to transport me back to my childhood, and a far simpler time. Back then, we called it goulash (I know, it’s not authentic goulash), or on the days  it was served in our school cafeteria, we called it beef-a-roni. I loved this meal as a kid, but now as an adult, I still love this little one-pan recipe - it is so darn simple to prepare, but still just so comforting and delicious. OK, maybe this dish seems a little old-fashioned, but it can’t be beat on a crisp fall day, when you want to get a hot, comforting meal on the table fast.  

September 23, 2015

Egg Noodles from Scratch

Homemade Egg Noodles

I believe that homemade noodles are one of the ultimate frugal comfort foods. A bowl full of steamy chicken soup, piled high with noodles and carrots is my idea of hearth and home in a bowl. Make no mistake, however, these from-scratch egg noodles are heartier than the more delicate store-bought variety, and very, very filling. Growing up, we sometimes referred to these noodles as kluski, and they are honest to goodness, stick-to-your ribs comfort food.

September 5, 2015

Easy Jerk Chicken

Easy Jerk-Style Seasoning for chicken, fish, shrimp and pork

It's almost hard to believe it when Labor Day rolls around every year - the summer always seems to be over just a little too soon. I’ve been thinking all week about recipes to celebrate the end of this summer season. Grilling outdoors is always a good option for celebrating Labor Day - we may be having nice weather now, but we never know just how many chances we’ll have for grilling before the weather turns cold and wintry. For those hardy souls living in the cold climates, this could be the last hurrah for the year, and it could be quite a few months before heading outdoors for a cookout again.

August 24, 2015

Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper Slaw

Pennsylvania Dutch Pepper and Cabbage Slaw

Labor Day is approaching, the kids are starting a new school year, and the end of summer is here. Over the next two weeks, I thought I would share a few recipes to celebrate the Labor Day holiday, and the unofficial end of summer. This is always a bittersweet time for me. While I will miss the hot, lazy days of summer, truth be told, autumn is truly my favorite season, and I am always eager to usher it in. I love the cooler temperatures, the brilliant red and orange hues of falling leaves, the bounty of the harvest, and, of course, Halloween and Thanksgiving. For now, though, I am in no rush, and will simply savor these last couple of balmy weeks.

August 20, 2015

Summer Peach and Sausage Pizza

Summer Peach and Sausage Pizza with Basil and Caramelized Onions

Peaches are so ripe and juicy this time of the summer, I just can’t resist them. They are one of those fruits that I enthusiastically eat my fill of when they are in-season, and when the season is over, I leave the fresh ones alone until next year. None of those rock-hard peaches found in supermarkets in the dead of winter for me!  I also like to freeze and can a bunch of peaches in the summer, so that I can use them in cobblers and other recipes, as a reminder of warm, sunny days during those cold months of winter. 

August 6, 2015

Sweet Corn Succotash with Bacon

Sweet Corn Succotash with Bacon

In my mind, succotash is kind of an old fashioned dish. It was popular in our grandparents' generation (especially if your grandparents lived in the Northeast U.S. or parts of the South), but doesn’t seem to make much of an appearance on menus today. It was also a popular dish during the Great Depression because it was cheap and made from common ingredients (just the kind of thing we like around here). It's simple goodness of is exactly what makes it a perfect side for a family meal. I like to make it as an easy side dish full of fresh, summer vegetables, and topped with a little bit of bacon, just to make it extra good. (It's also great for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas).

July 8, 2015

Blueberry Lemon Jam

Blueberry Lemon Jam

Every summer, I eagerly await the first ripe berries of the season to appear. Frozen berries are fine for the rest of the year, but when they are juicy and fresh, straight from the bush, they are simply heavenly. We always eat some of the berries fresh, and then use the rest for pies and jam.

June 8, 2015

BLT Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing and Croutons

BLT Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing

Back when I first started cooking from scratch, it came as a revelation to me that I could make my own homemade ranch dressing from scratch (without even opening a packet of that well-known seasoning mix!) Before this realization, it had never actually occurred to me that this tasty concoction could be made using various combinations of simple ingredients like mayonnaise, buttermilk, milk, sour cream and/or yogurt. Add in some herbs and seasonings, and a little lemon juice or vinegar, and there you have it - ranch dressing! Over the years, I have played with the recipe, based on what I like, and also based on ingredients I typically have on hand. With my herb garden growing full-blast right now, I thought it would be a good time to whip up a batch.

May 3, 2015

Spring Vegetable Chicken and Rice

Spring Vegetable Chicken and Rice

Here is a recipe for an easy one-pot meal that my family just loves. Tender chunks of chicken in seasoned yellow rice, all cooked in one pot – so easy and delicious. The added bites of spring-green asparagus give this dish a dash of crispness and color. I like to serve this along with a simple green salad.

April 7, 2015

Turkey Meatballs with Dill-Mushroom Gravy

Turkey Meatballs with Dill Mushroom Gravy

These meatballs are pure comfort food, but with a lightened-up flavor for spring. Made with ground turkey, then browned in a skillet, and smothered  with a creamy mushroom and dill gravy.

March 30, 2015

A Cedar Planter for Herbs

Although some might not find it worth the time and effort to grow vegetables, for me, the value in it is huge. There have been years when I have had space for a large garden, and others I only had a place for a few little pots on the patio, or a windowsill. No matter what kind of space I've lived in, however, I've nearly always made the effort to grow something - simply because I find the investment to be small compared to the rewards. The vegetables just taste better than what I can buy in a supermarket and, frequently, I end up saving some money. Plus, there is some comfort in knowing that I am able to provide my family with at least some of our food, and not have to rely entirely on the industrial food system.

Elevated Raised Herb Planter Bed
Elevated Cedar Herb Planter

March 26, 2015

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus season - cream of asparagus soup

Asparagus is a vegetable I rarely eat out of season. It’s a delicacy so firmly associated with spring in my mind, that it just seems wrong to eat it all year-round.  Asparagus heralds spring in the same manner as the bright yellow daffodils, and the green buds on the trees. It is also a vegetable that, while available year-round, is definitely less expensive when you buy it in season.  You can buy it at the supermarket, or buy it locally-grown the farmers market. This is also the time to buy a big bunch and preserve it for the rest of the year. Pickled asparagus is lovely alongside a sandwich or in a Bloody Mary, and since a jar can be quite expensive, it’s definitely worth making yourself (I really will try and get a recipe for pickled asparagus posted soon).

March 12, 2015

Beef and Guinness Stew

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

This week I have been debating whether or not I should make the traditional corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day (still haven’t made up my mind). I've read some speculation that corned beef and cabbage is actually more of an Irish tradition by way of NYC, than it is a tradition imported directly from Ireland, but it was always something my mom made in our Irish-American household as I was growing up. Now, as a grown-up in my own kitchen, I sometimes want to make something different for St. Paddy’s Day, so I look to other Irish-inspired dishes to celebrate the day. There are so many good options, but this stew is one of my favorites.

March 4, 2015

Huevos Rancheros with Avocado

Huevos Rancheros with Avocado

Huevos Rancheros is a classic Mexican breakfast or brunch recipe. There are countless ways to make it, to be sure, but at its most basic, it consists of a tortilla, some beans, an egg, and a tomato-based sauce. It is so simple, yet elegant, and I could eat it every day (as I often do for long periods of time). This time, I also threw in a little sliced Hass avocado. (Avocados being another food that I find myself eating almost daily these days.) For some reason, I have been on a little kick where I just can’t get enough of those creamy avocados. For me, an egg paired with an avocado = magic.

February 21, 2015

Waste Less and Save More While Staying Safe

Eggs and Food Safety

Are your eggs past their expiration date? How about that open jar of peanut butter sitting in your pantry? What about the fresh shrimp you brought home yesterday? Sell-by and expiration dates aren't always the best indicator of whether a food is still safe to eat. Of course, we want to waste less food, but keeping our loved ones safe is the most important thing. I wanted to share links to a couple of my favorite sources I look to when I need to find out information about the shelf life of my food items.

February 19, 2015

Orange Lime Sweet Rolls

Orange Lime Sweet Rolls Baked in Cast Iron Skillet

Deliciously gooey sweet rolls are on the menu. Get a pile of napkins and get ready for a gloriously sticky, sweet treat.

Now I do have to admit, I am more of a salty and savory kind of girl, than a dessert kind of girl. Salty, savory, spicy and even sour flavors are my thing. Every once in a while, though, I just want something sweet. Maybe it’s the current frigid temperatures making me crave something warm, sweet and comforting, but when I saw the beautiful photos of sweet rolls baked in a cast iron skillet in the new issue of Taste of the South magazine, I just knew I had to make these. The recipe for these sweet rolls is so amazingly easy, and I already had everything in my cupboard to whip up a quick batch.

February 7, 2015

Greek-Inspired Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables

Greek Inspired Orzo Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta

This Greek-inspired pasta salad is so simple and easy to make. It's light and flavorful, with the Mediterranean flavors of lemon, oregano and feta cheese - just perfect as either a side dish, or as a main meal. I like to serve it alongside some pan-grilled chicken for an easy supper.

January 29, 2015

Stewed Chicken with Light and Fluffy Dumplings

As I sat down to write this post today, I realized that it’s been two weeks since my last post. I really didn’t intend to be absent from my blog-posting duties for so long, but packing up and moving to another state really is a long, hard chore. I am still not completely unpacked, and find myself sitting here amongst a formidable pile of boxes. I don’t even have my desk set up to write (because the storage cubes have yet to be delivered), so I have a little makeshift work area set up on our blow-up mattress in my living room. I’m making progress, though – the new fridge is coming today, and, hopefully, the rest of our stuff will arrive before the weekend.

January 12, 2015

Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut

kielbasa and sauerkraut

Right not I’m in the process of packing to move. Not my favorite thing to do, for sure, but it’s something that I have to finish by the end of this week. My husband got a great job in Savannah, Georgia this past November, and has been commuting back and forth for over a month. Now, it’s time for me to pack up everything, and everyone, and join him. My plan is to fully enjoy this year in Savannah, and then start looking for a new homestead in the Georgia mountains, which we can fix up on the weekends.  So as far as gardening goes this year, it will be an experiment in raised beds and urban homesteading. The good news is that we are living on a barrier island, where wild Georgia shrimp live practically in our back yard!

January 5, 2015

Pressure Cooker Italian-Style Pot Roast Sliders

Italian-Style Post Roast Slider

I have a confession to make: right now I am loving my pressure cooker even more than my slow cooker. Don't get me wrong, I still love my slow cooker (actually, I have a new slow cooker recipe coming soon), but these days I use my pressure cooker far more often. I know, it may seem a little retro, and I know that there are lots of scary stories about exploding pressure cookers (yes, this really did happen on occasion with the older models). 
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