Friday, November 24, 2017

Classic Green Bean Casserole

When I was a child, I always looked forward to going to my Granny's on Thanksgiving for a lot of reasons.  The wonderfulness of it was partly because Granny always spoiled me but part of the wonderfulness was because of all her very best dishes came out at Thanksgiving.  Let's face it, y'all, I love to eat!  Both my grandmothers were good cooks.  Muffa, my Daddy's matriarch, prepared simple country fare and lots, and lots of it.  Granny, my mother's matriarch, was a fabulous cook as well.  Both of these ladies cooked for farm hands and a large family and used ingredients that were home-grown there on the farm - usually in a garden tended by themselves.  Many are the days that I remember walking barefoot through my Granny's garden with her and thinking it was a special treat when I was a little tyke.  I digress.

This recipe is one that my Granny would always have on Thanksgiving and I thought it was a fancy dish because it was something beyond just green beans out of a pot that had been cooked with a bit of ham meat and maybe some onion.  As a young woman I discovered canned French-style green beans and thought this casserole had to be made with those to make it fancier.  Then, after marrying Mike, I learned that home-canned green beans cooked with a bit of ham meat really do make the best green bean casserole for a crowd and can be simple, country fare and fancy at the same time!

1 can cream mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk (I have been known to substitute a cup of grated cheddar cheese for this, too.  Remember that I grew up on a dairy farm, y'all!)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 cups (or 2 mason jars) cooked green beans
1 1/2 cups French fried onions


  • I cook my green beans with a bit of ham meat till almost done.
  • In the pot I cook the beans in, I add the mushroom soup, soy sauce, milk (or cheese), and one cup of the onions.
  • Stir that up real well and pour it into a casserole dish.  (I like to use a deep one rather than a long, flat one.)
  • Bake 20-25 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup reserved onions and bake five minutes more.
  • Serve fresh out of the oven while it is warm and bubbly!
I hope my grandchildren look forward to coming to Grand B's house and tasting the fancy food we have!

Basic Cheese Sauce

2 fat Tablespoons butter
1-2 Tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
1- 1 1/2 cups cubed or shredded processed cheese like Velveeta
dash or two of black pepper


  • Melt butter and whisk in the flour till it is smooth and thickened but not pasty.
  • Pour milk into mixture slowly and stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Return to medium-to-low heat and stir till mixture starts to thicken a wee bit - maybe 2-3 minutes.
  • Add cheese and stir till melted and mixture is thick and ribbon-like when it dribbles off the wooden spoon - a couple of minutes more.
  • Add a little pepper to your taste.
We like this drizzled over broccoli and cauliflower but what isn't good with a little cheese sauce on it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 1/4 cups Ginger Snap Cookie crumbs
4 Tablespoons butter

3 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese
1 small can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 medium eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon



  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter springform pan (I have been known to just spray with vegetable spray.)
  • Mix cookie crumbs and butter together in a small mixing bowl.
  • Dump mixture into springform pan and press out to cover the bottom.
  • Bake 10 minutes and cool.

  • Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Soften cream cheese.
  • Beat cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.

  • Add pumpkin and whip till well blended.
Isn't that just beautiful?
  • Add granulated sugar and beat till fluffy.
  • Add brown sugar and continue beating.
  • Add vanilla and orange peel.

  • Beat in one egg at a time.
  • Pour over crumb crust and bake at least 50 minutes.

  • Cool to room temperature.
  • Chill for at least three hours but no longer than 10 days.
  • Loosen the edge of the cheesecake from the pan before removing the side piece.

This is especially delicious at Thanksgiving!

Hash Brown Casserole

I read this morning on the interwebs - and I think it was that Facebook thang - that somebody was offering to stir up a hash brown casserole that would feed six to eight people for your Thanksgiving Feast pleasure.  All this cook was asking for her troubles and the ingredients to have it ready for your feasting pleasure is a mere $25.  Whut?  Are you kidding me?  When all that is necessary are the ingredients below?  Nope, I'm making my own for my peeps.  Thank you very much!
1 two-pound package of frozen country style hash browns
2 cups grated cheddar or casserole blend cheese
1 pint of sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup (I have been known to use cream of mushroom or cream of celery in a pinch)
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of softened butter (and be sure to turn it upside down for the photo op)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients if you want a topping:
a handful of bread or cracker crumbs
thin-sliced or grated American or processed cheese - like Velveeta
minced parsley


  • Break up the frozen hash browns if they are clumped up after the long drive from the grocery store.  I usually just waller the bag around a bit and then give them a good stir with a wooden spoon after I dump them into my gigantor mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle the diced onion over the top of the mountain of hash brown potatoes.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the mountain of hash brown potatoes gilded with diced onions and stand back and admire the beauty of all that.
  • Give these three ingredients a good stir with your trusty wooden spoon.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper to suit your tastes (Or if you have high blood pressure, you may want to go easy on the salt and double up on the pepper.  Of course, if you have high blood pressure, you are not going to eat this dish very often anyway, so just go for the gusto!)
  • Stir together the sour cream, cream soup, and softened butter.
  • Add the creamy, buttery goodness to the cheesey, potatoy goodness and stir till there are no clumps and all the potatoes seem to be coated with the creaminess - or until your arthritic hands can no longer grip the trusty wooden spoon. (I have been known to just dive in and mix it all together with my hands but that is sort of squishy.)
  • Pour the mixture into a 13x9" casserole dish and tamp it down to firmly smash it all together.
  • Feel free to use the optional ingredients by just sprinkling a topping of bread crumbs over the top before baking or covering in more cheese to escalate your heart disease issues or sprinkling with a bit of parsley to make it look prettier.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes and serve warm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tennessee Whiskey Turkey Brine

This is a recipe that I adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Maple-whiskey Turkey Brine.  I didn't have all the ingredients when I got started on concocting my brine a couple of years ago.  So, I made some substitutions and I think it is delicious!

2 cups + 1 shot Jack Daniels Whiskey (I am from Tennessee, ya'll.)
1 1/2 cups Maple Syrup (I have been known to use home-made Pancake Syrup.)
2/3 cup Kosher Salt
3 Tablespoons Peppercorns
5 Bay Leaves
2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
2 medium-sized Naval Oranges, cut into quarters
2 medium[sized Granny Smith Apples, cut into slices
3 hefty springs of Rosemary
1 quart of apple or cranberry juice
Water (about two gallons)

  • Pour 2 cups whiskey and maple syrup into 4-quart pot.
  • Stir in salt, peppercorns, and garlic powder.
  • Add orange and apple pieces.
  • Add enough water till pot is at least 2/3 full - 3-5 cups.
  • Add Rosemary and bay leaves and gently stir.
  • Heat to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Make certain that salt is dissolved, put a lid on pot and remove from heat.  
  • Allow to cool. (You can even put in fridge to chill it so that the turkey and brine are the same temperature when combined.)
Bucket of Brine
  • Make sure the turkey is thawed!  Remove innards of turkey and wash turkey thoroughly and place in large brining container. (I  use a plastic bucket with a lid that I use for making pickles.)
  • Pour brine mixture over turkey.  (Add water and stir, if needed, to submerge turkey completely.)
Bird in the Brine
  • Put lid on bucket and set inside the fridge.  Let turkey marinade for at least 24 hours - longer is fine because I've left it for two days before.
  • Drink the extra shot of whiskey and call it a day!
When ready to cook:
  • Remove from turkey from brine and rinse well.  
  • Pat dry - if frying, let set to air dry.
  • If roasting, I mix up an herb butter and slide it under the skin of the turkey and slather it all over him.
  • If frying, Mike likes to inject the bird with butter as well as mix a combination of mustard and butter and coat the outside of the bird with it before frying.
  • Cook the turkey till internal temperature of the breast is at 165 degrees.
  • Allow to rest for about 20 minutes before carving
I'll bet this is also a good recipe to use with chicken that is going to be grilled much like this one.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Baked Butternut Squash

I have always loved sweet potatoes and when I discovered this simple method of baking butternut squash and that it has less carbohydrates, well, that was delicious news to me!

2 medium butternut squash
2-3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons cinnamon (optional)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)


  • Wash squash to make note of blemishes or bad spots and cut and large spots off.
  • Cut squash into two pieces right where the bottom bulbs out.
  • Cut off bottom of squash.
  • Cut off top of squash.
  • With a sharp knife, peel down the sides.
  • When sides are peeled, there may still be small stripes.  Take a vegetable peeler and peel those away.
  • Cut bottom part in half and scoop out seeds and pulp.
  • Cut into cubes and place on foil-lined pan.  I usually spray the foil lightly with vegetable spray.
  • Melt butter and brush on cubes.
  • Mix together cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over top.  (This is optional but I knew I could sell Mike on it better this way!)
  • Roast in 400 degree oven for about a half hour.
  • Serve it up warm!  We ate it with Parmesan crusted tilapia, wild rice, and broccoli the other night and it was delicious!
I have also pureed the squash after baking.  However, if you simply want pureed squash, you could simply slice the squash in half, scoop out pulp and seeds, brush with butter, and bake for about 45 minutes.  Then, scoop it out.  This saves the time of peeling and cubing.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 large green tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup Panko-type bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
vegetable oil for frying


  • Slice tomatoes into thick slices.
  • Whisk eggs and milk together.
  • Scoop flour onto a plate.
  • Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper and put on a plate.
  • Dip tomatoes in flour to coat.
  • Dip floured tomatoes into egg mix.
  • Dredge in cornmeal/breadcrumb mix to fully coat.
  • Pour enough vegetable oil in an iron skillet so that there is about a half-inch depth.
  • Heat over medium heat to get oil hot.
  • Place tomato slices in skillet without overcrowding them.
  • When the batter is browned, flip the slices.
  • Gently lift tomato slices from skillet when entirely golden brown and drain on a paper towel.
  • Serve warm!

Pancake Syrup

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white, granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon maple flavored extract


  • Stir sugars and water together in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add flavoring and simmer for three minutes
  • Serve over pancakes or waffles that have been liberally buttered!

I have been known to add a bit of rum flavoring.  I always store leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


This is a recipe shared with us from our daughter-in-law, Jessica.

20-25 cups peeled, raw tomatoes
6 jalapenos (1/2 cup chopped)
1 1/2 large onions (2 cups diced)
10-15 stems fresh cilantro
4 limes
6-8 cloves garlic
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cumin

How about these beautiful tomatoes?  Fresh from Mike's garden, washed and set out to dry...

And these jalapenos!  He brought them home from the vegetable stand and I washed them out and left them to dry as well...

Peeling tomatoes with little to no waste:

  • Dip whole tomatoes into boiling water for 15 seconds.
  • Remove and plunge into ice water.
  • Slide peel off tomato.
  • Cut out core of tomato and dice.
Salsa Prep:
  • Pulse diced tomatoes in food processor in small batches till thick and chunky.
  • Place tomatoes in large cooking pot.
  • Remove seeds and veins from half  to one/third of jalapenos and dice all of them.
  • Dice onions and add to jalapenos.
  • Pull leaves off cilantro and add to onion/jalapeno mix.
  • Juice limes (I even added the zest from a couple of them.) and add to onion mix.
  • Mince garlic and add to onion mix.
  • Sprinkle in garlic salt and cumin and give mixture a stir.
  • In small batches, place onion mixture into food processor and puree.
  • Stir pureed mixture into tomatoes.
  • Bring mixture to boil and gently boil and stir for about three to five minutes.
Canning Salsa:
  • While awaiting salsa mixture to come to boil, place clean pint jars in oven set to 200 degrees.  
  • Place jar lids in pot and bring water to boil to sterilize them.
  • When salsa is ready, place one jar at a time on a towel and dip salsa into jars with a ladle.  
  • Fill jars to within 1/2 inch at top.

  • Place lid on jars and screw jar ring on jar.  Do not screw on ring too tight.
  • Place jars of salsa into boiling water bath where water covers jars one-to-two inches.
  • Bring to gentle boil and allow to boil for 40 minutes
  • Remove water bath from heat and allow to cool for five minutes or so.

  • Lift jars from water bath and allow to ping and seal.
Yield: 9 pints and a 1/2-3/4 cup sampler
*Note: My first batch was a wee bit runny.  So, I drained out some of the tomato juice after we diced them for the next batch and it was much better.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

4 bone-in center cut pork chops
2 Tablespoons Steak Seasoning
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 cup diced onions
1 can cream of mushroom soup


  • Rub both sides of each pork chop with the Steak Seasoning.
  • Pour oil into skillet and heat to warm on medium heat.
  • Place pork chops into skillet.
  • Sear both sides until chops are golden brown.
  • After one side is browned, add diced onions to skillet so that they can begin to saute as well.
  • Remove chops from skillet and place in slow cooker on low heat.
  • Stir soup into onions and remaining bit of oil loosening and blending to add the bits of flavor from the chops that are left in the pan.
  • When blended well and all bits are stirred into the soup mixture, pour into slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for at least four hours but not longer than eight hours - depends upon the thickness of the chops.  (The thicker the chop, the longer the cooking time needed.)

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice and use sauce for gravy!