a recipe roundup (my faves)

I have to admit, I have started googling recipes and just making whatever recipe has the most and best ratings on it, and I’ve done pretty well recently with this practice. So I thought I’d let you in on a few of the not-so-secret recipes I’ve found on the internet recently, that I think you should probably try.

  • Pumpkin Bread – now, I had a bit of trouble with this recipe after the first time I made it, but when I first made it I only used one can of pumpkin (because that’s all I had), and it was perfect. I can’t imagine what it would be like with the full 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin, but you are welcome to try it! I also didn’t make the streusel topping, which I’m sure is divine. Also, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can mix together regular milk and white vinegar as a substitute (or these other options)
  • Cornbread – this is a sweet cornbread, and it is phenomenal. I use 2 tsp baking powder instead of the 3 1/2 it calls for, but otherwise the recipe is perfect.
  • Butternut Squash Soup – we officially make this in our household every two weeks, if not more often. It is Marshall’s favorite meal. I never really measure the butternut squash, I just always use one big one. I have absolutely no idea why it calls for two packages of cream cheese though, I literally use 1/8 to 1/4 of one package and it is more than enough. I used half of a package one time and it was way too much. So definitely go easy on the cream cheese. You can always add more. Oh, and do yourself a favor: get an immersion blender. Oh, and then do your self another favor: make the cornbread with it.
  • Spaghetti – this I made for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and all of our guests loved it. It is a little different tasting, particularly if you use the italian sausage (you can use ground beef instead, if you like), but it is sooo tasty. I definitely recommend trying this one. I will cook it again very soon.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – made this for myself when I was sick one day, and it fulfilled all my hopes and dreams for the day. I used chicken thighs because we had them, and I think it made the soup tastier.

And then of course there are always the recipes that I’ve already posted on the blog, which can all be found right here.

Now get cookin’!


unwrapping the memories of christmas cookies. (and a recipe.)

lone cookie

I don’t own any cookie cutters. I was preparing to make Christmas cookies with the kids I nanny for the other day, and I tried to remember whether I had any. I thought surely I did, I mean, who doesn’t have cookie cutters, right? Who didn’t grow up making lopsided stars and headless snowmen and deformed Christmas trees out of flattened dough that never seemed to fit as many cookies as you wanted it to?

I looked online for a recipe that I could use, searching for one that looked like the typical sugar cookie dough we could use with the cutters. I found a recipe that had great reviews, decided to make it, and then realized that it didn’t have almond flavoring in it.

I hated almond flavoring growing up. My mom used a recipe that called for the flavoring in both the cookie and the frosting, and I always tried to make her put less than the recipe called for. But then, one year, I don’t know why or how, I started to like it. By then I was old enough to make the dough myself, so I would even put in a few extra drops sometimes.

So of course, when I decided that we would be making Christmas cookies this year, I wanted to use almond flavoring. So what did I do when I couldn’t find one online? What I should have done in the first place. I called mom.

Now, I’ve been frustrated recently, because my mom has started to send me to Google every time I ask her for a recipe of hers. Somehow I haven’t been able to convince her that when I call her looking for a recipe, I want the one I grew up eating, not one that is sort of similar or has the same name or sounds like it is probably better than hers. But when I asked for the cookie recipe, she didn’t try sending me to Google first, and she knew exactly where to find it. I think it’s because she loves the recipe so much herself. It’s that almond flavoring.

The last time I had made these cookies was a few years ago with some friends from Nashville, because we hadn’t done it for years and so we could serve them at my Christmas party. Do you know how hard it is to make the cookies look like they weren’t made and decorated by five year olds? It’s impossible.

So it was good to have some actual five year olds working on this year’s batch, so I could blame my artistry on them if needed.

cookie recipe

Once again, I had my mom take a picture of the recipe and send it to me, so I’ve posted it here for you, in its original form. It comes from the Memphis Cookbook, one of the books in my mother’s pantry that is covered in food stains and falling apart at the seams. I don’t think I changed a thing about the recipe on here.

Oh, and don’t forget the icing. It’s the best part. And use food coloring! It makes everything more fun.

cookie exchange

My portion of the cookies made their debut at a cookie exchange with some seminary friends, and I’ve been finishing them off bit by bit since then. {I’ve still got some dough in my fridge…shhh….}

It’s little things like making Christmas cookies from your childhood that make this season the wonderful time that it is. Don’t forget to notice the little things. They are often the things that make life special, and we can easily miss them when we try too hard to get the big things.

Merry Christmas,


{this post is a part of Tuesdays Unwrapped over at Chatting At The Sky. Go check it out!}

i will eat this on my deathbed grits casserole

I remember one Christmas morning at the house I grew up in, we were getting ready for our usual breakfast after opening presents. My mother is a wonderful cook, she cooked dinner for us virtually every night of my childhood, and she makes some amazing meals. But, like any cook, she is not without her faults.

Like me (and the entire rest of our family), she tends to get distracted. So on big occasions especially, she has been known to leave a dish or two in the oven for a bit too long. This year, it was the grits casserole.

Now let me tell you something about my family and grits casserole. We have been eating grits casserole since before I could say casserole, and ever since I can remember it has been a staple at Christmas breakfast. So when the crushed corn flakes on top of the casserole were burned on this fateful December morning, something had to be done.

My mom put me in charge of remedying the situation, so I took the casserole dish over to the trash can and started to scrape off the burnt flakes.

Well. Apparently the grits weren’t quite as congealed as I had guessed, and after a couple of scrapes, the entire casserole followed my spoon into the trash.

So when I made grits casserole for my prayer group girls a few days before I left Nashville, I watched my oven closely and stayed away from trash cans.

I had my mom take a picture of the recipe so I could copy it into this post, but when she sent me the picture I knew I had to post it as is.

What do I love most about this picture? Is it the written in TRIPLING of the recipe? Is it the obvious butter stains that could be decades old? Is it the fact that Mrs. Erle E. Wilkinson wrote this recipe? No, I think it has to be the snippet of yet another grits casserole recipe above it. If I remember correctly, there is one below it as well. I love the south.

The only thing sadder than the trash can story is the death of the garlic cheese roll. A few years back, while I was in college, Kraft discontinued the cheese. I wish I could find some of the forums I read on the internet that year filled by southern women lamenting its demise, wondering what on earth they would use for their beloved garlic cheese grits recipes, would their families stop loving them, should they even go on living.

I felt their pain. Luckily I am a survivor, so I got some regular cheddar cheese (I would have boycotted Kraft but they have the best cheese so I caved) and added garlic powder to my liking. It’s still no garlic cheese roll, but it will have to do until Kraft returns from its waywardness.

As you can see, we have tripled this recipe in our household, despite the fact that it serves 8 and we are a family of 5. We have to make two big dishes of it every Christmas so my brother can have half of the first and we all still get leftovers for lunch and the next breakfast. We don’t butter the cornflakes (there’s enough butter in it) but you are welcome to.

Don’t forget the cayenne pepper. It makes the recipe.

Please do yourself and your family a favor and make this grits casserole recipe.

It will change your life.



the best, and easiest, recipe, ever. you’re welcome.

Okay so this isn’t really a recipe but it’s so good that it’s worth posting on here as one. Technically, it calls for more than one ingredient and you cook it, so I’d say that makes for a recipe.

This is a dessert my family (and everyone else who ever goes there) gets at Bricktop’s in Nashville, and we fight to the finish. I’m lucky to get two bites.

Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

What you will need:

Chocolate chip cookie dough (store bought, homemade, whatever is closest to you)

Vanilla ice cream (Breyers, duh.)

A tiny cast iron skillet

An oven

What you will do:

Grab a hunk of cookie dough and throw it in the little skillet (mine is about 4×4 inches), and push the dough out to the edges of the skillet.

Put the skillet in the oven and bake it at whatever temperature the cookie dough says, for however long the cookie dough says (perhaps not quite as long, if you like it a little doughy, which is the way I like it).

Remove the skillet from the oven, let cool for a couple of minutes.

Grab your ice cream, and scoop out an inordinate amount of ice cream. Throw that on top of the cookie in the skillet.

Die of happiness. Try to share.

The end.


what’s better than popcorn? kettle corn.

When I was growing up, my dad’s signature weekend snack was popcorn. And not just any popcorn, he cooked it on the stove. No one will ever cook popcorn like my dad does, just like no one will ever make pancakes or mix bloody marys like him. But I’ve learned from the best, so I can make myself a mean pot of stove-cooked popcorn when dad’s not around.

Because of the popcorn I was raised on, I have always preferred stove-cooked. But our friends brought over microwaved kettle corn for movie night last week, and I immediately remembered how much I also love kettle corn.

Problem: we don’t have a microwave yet.

Solution: the stove.

I knew there was a way to make kettle corn on the stove, but I hadn’t done any research on it, so I spent about 15 seconds on google and figured out how embarrassingly easy stove-cooked kettle corn is.

Do you know how to make stove-cooked popcorn? Well let me tell you. First, you put a large pot on the stove, pour in some vegetable or canola oil (about a tablespoon or two, enough to cover the bottom), and heat it up on medium high heat.

For normal popcorn, throw a few test kernels in (you can find the bottle of kernels right next to the fake popcorn), and once they start to pop, add about 1/3 cup more kernels for 1-2 servings. You sort of have to play around with the kernel amount until you hit your sweet spot.

But for kettle corn, before adding in the test kernels, let the oil heat up for a minute or two before adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Stir it around in the oil until it starts to melt (it will take a couple of minutes), and then add all the kernels.

Place the top on the pot, and shake the pot vigorously throughout the popping so the kernels don’t burn. Once the popping slows down to sporadic pops, your corn should be ready. Add some salt for a little kick, and enjoy yourself some homemade kettle corn.

Dude, just do it.