Thanksgiving 2015

I know I’m late with Thanksgiving wishes for everyone but we had our Thanksgiving today instead of yesterday so I didn’t have much to post on the actual day.  My brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew came for Thanksgiving today in addition to my mom, Olivia and Davis.


I used my Lenox Autumn china (Yippee) and my Wallace Grande Baroque silverware (Yippee again.)  I love both of those tableware choices.  I picked those out of a magazine when I was 17 years old and have loved them ever since.  I see now that my plate is a little crooked.  I guess I would get in trouble on Downton Abbey. They measure every little placement of glass, silver, and china.  No butler here.  No measuring here either.


Here is Olivia looking pensive as she contemplates the Thanksgiving array. Rarely do my offspring willingly smile at a camera.  But at least this is better than the faces I sometimes get from the both of them when they know I’m trying to take a picture.  They take photobombing to a new level.  In fact, they sabotage their own pictures most of the time.  No help needed.


One of my favorite parts of the meal was this Thanksgiving bread I got at Publix.  Love it!


Olivia always starts us out with her famous cheese trays.  You get your hands slapped if you try to sneak cheese early. That is, if she catches you…


I still have a few herbs growing on my deck so we garnished with oregano and lemon thyme.  We also used fresh mint in our flavored water.   Those three plus basil and rosemary are my favorite herbs to grow and eat.


A new recipe we tried which also came from Publix was Kale-Mushroom Stuffing


Kale-Mushroom Stuffing

1 fresh leek, rinsed and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces presliced fresh baby portabellas

1 teaspoon dried thyme

8 ounces deli morel and leek cheese, shredded

2 9-ounce packages frozen chopped kale or spinach

4 cups cubed bread stuffing

1 10.75 ounce can condensed cream of chicken with herbs soup

1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9X9-inch baking dish with spray.  Cut leak in half and slice (white part only, about one cup.) Preheat large saute pan on medium-high 2-3 minutes.  Add butter, mushroom, thyme, and leeks; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Combine stuffing mix, soup, milk, and cheese until blended.  Stir soup mixture into kale mixture, cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until hot.  Spoon stuffing mixture evenly into dish.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until top has browned slightly.

Let me take a minute to jump ahead to our leftovers.

We also had fun with stuffing leftovers and made “Staffles”.  I made up that name so you can call them what you want but we made waffles with the stuffing. We actually made two kinds of stuffing this year, and the one shown below is the basic one from Pepperidge Farm and not the recipe given above.

DSCF4555 Here is a picture before we loaded them with potatoes and gravy.  You get the idea.  They were super good and I will definitely be making these again.


Back to the original dinner.  After meals when we get together, we play lots of board games and then have some grab bag prizes. This particular game is a favorite of ours, Mr. Bacon’s Big Adventure.  You have to put a time limit on it though.  It’s a long one.  Elyse busted me back to Gristle Grotto and it was all downhill from there.


Boosted by her stunning victory at Mr. Bacon’s Big Adventure, Elyse ended up being the big winner today and got to choose last.  She got a “fabulous” Star Wars water bottle. She’s living right, I guess. I got frog chip clips.

dogAs the day came to an end I realized that I didn’t finish my turkey door hanging,  but since I actually started it last year I don’t feel too bad. What’s one more year? Does it take anyone else three years to finish a craft? Probably not.  Maybe I’ll crank it out tomorrow.  I can extend this belated holiday one more day.  Don’t you think?


Brown Cake with No Frosting — Can it Possibly be Good?

My mom made this plain brown cake with no frosting.  Very plain.  No frosting.  It didn’t look very tasty but being the dutiful daughter I smiled and said “Boy Howdy” when she asked if I wanted to try it.  Then I spied a leftover dish of fruit cocktail sitting next to it.  Now we haven’t had fruit cocktail from a can since the seventies so I was becoming even more UNexcited to try it.

“It’s fruit cocktail cake,” she announced proudly.

“Mmmm,”  I was able to produce enthusiastically.

Visions of fifth grade sitting in the basement cafeteria of Conley Hills Elementary School returned to me.  I remembered the Friday fish, the Wednesday spaghetti, and most of all the made from scratch served with real butter rolls.  There was also fruit cocktail splurped on our divided green polycarbonate rectangular trays, but we seldom ate it.  The peeled green grapes stared at you liked eyeballs and then there were additional grapes dyed red as if we couldn’t tell they weren’t maraschino cherries.  A brave imposter.


My fears were for naught.  The cake was great.  I will even go so far as to call it delicious. You couldn’t even tell there was fruit cocktail in it which is a bonus as far as I’m concerned.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 medium can fruit cocktail, undrained

1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease  a  9 X 13 inch pan.  In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and eggs.  Add the oil.  On low speed, beat in the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add the undrained can of fruit cocktail.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Top with brown sugar.  Bake for 30 minutes or until cake tests done.

Speaking of elementary school, I want to give a shout out to two long-time besties who came over for a golf cart ride.  I made them do a little labor before we left.  There’s no free rides around here.



Dinner in Atlanta

We enjoyed a lovely evening in Atlanta eating at two different restaurants.  One was an old favorite and the other was a new find.  We started at The Nook across from Piedmont Park.


The Nook specializes in tater tot recipes.  For example, Olivia got “Totchos” which is tater tot nachos and Davis got Buffalo Tots which is Buffalo chicken wings and tots.  Davis and Olivia liked their choices and said they would order it again.


I had the fried chicken breast with mashed potatoes and onion rings. My sides choices were a little starchy but those were my favorites of the offerings. The onion rings were very good and the potatoes so-so.  Perhaps the towering rings of fried goodness made the potatoes pale in comparison.



We got there at 5:45 and it was pretty empty but by the time we left, all the tables were full. We ate out on the porch which is somewhat enclosed for the winter.  The heaters overhead baked the top of your craniums, so we moved a little off to the side.


For dessert we headed over to an old favorite restaurant, Cafe Intermezzo. This was the marble cheesecake.


We also ordered coffee and/or hot chocolate.  It come with “fresh schlag.”   That’s whipped cream for those of you who don’t speak Austrian.  Ha!


I do not speak Austrian however I do speak Schlag and this schlag was very tasty in any language.




We had a fun evening.  Olivia headed back to college and we headed back to the City of Peaches.  We’ll be back soon. I’m sure of it.



Thoughts for Paris

Such a sad turn of events in a beautiful city.  My first visit to Paris was 30 years ago and I loved the city as much then as I do now.  Here I am in 1985 on my first trip.ll

My thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones in this vicious attack. I know we all hope that these senseless acts will cease.



I spent a lovely weekend at Lake Allatoona.  We had another crafting weekend with the same people as the Fourth of July DIY Weekend.  This time we made seven crafts for fall and Christmas.


It rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained and rained.  Get the idea?  So, it was a perfect weekend to stay inside, wake up to a delicious make-your-own quiche bar, and then start crafting.


Gina fixed topping ahead of time and we used a Breville Pie Maker to make individual quiches.  Genius!DSCF4494

Mine was on the top right.  I had broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and cheese.DSCF4495

Just close it up and cook until the ready light comes on.DSCF4496

We added fruit and it was a perfect breakfast.DSCF4497

Ready for some craft ideas?  Here we go.  First up was a food craft of bread dipping oil.

Bread Dipping Oil

4 cups olive oil

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, if desired (I left it out)

Combine dried ingredients and place in bottle.  Add olive oil and shake to blend.  Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese and/or balsamic vinegar.  Shake oil before serving.


The oil was a quick and easy craft so we jumped right into the Snowman Hot Chocolate Tower. This craft was also quick and had a cute factor to it, too.


Simple to make.  Get three Ball or Mason jars.  Use black spray paint to paint the jar rims. Note that the jar on the bottom looks the same size but it is really larger than the other two. The top two jars are the same size.

The bottom jar is filled with Ghirardelli Double Hot Chocolate.  The middle jar is filled with peppermints.  The adorable belt is a piece of ribbon with a soda pop top belt.  Too cute. The top jar has marshmallows.  The scarf is a piece of ribbon fringed on the ends. Cut a “doughnut” of felt for the hat and use puffy paint for the face.


Let your paint dry!  Do as I say, not as I do.  I picked up little Snowy too quickly and smeared him.  However, I began to be fond of his deformities and left him to dry.  I love his little carotty mustache and his happy smile.

Hot chocolate is a favorite of mine.  And I really love lots and lots of marshmallows in my hot chocolate so I’m sure I will empty out his little puffy brains in a hurry. Sorry Snowy.

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Craft number three took us back to nature with this sweet pinecone garland.  Diane brought both plain and painted pinecones for us to string on jute.  We painted some of the plain ones gold and then added eye screws to all.  Next we strung them on the cording and added accents of silver ribbon.


Diane has fingers of steel. Those eye screws were easy peasy for her vice-like grip. Not so much for the rest of us.


Cabana Boy made a quick trip through the room.  More about him later.


Gorgeous on the beautiful fireplace mantel!


Craft number 4 was also a nature craft.  We made Birdseed Rings for our feathered friends’ Christmas brunch.


Birdseed Ring

4 cups birdseed

1 cup water

1  1/2 packages dry unflavored gelatin

1/3 mounded cup cornstarch

3 tablespoons corn syrup

Lightly grease an angel food cake pan or a bundt pan.  Place birdseed in a large mixing bowl.  In a saucepan add the water, gelatin, cornstarch and corn syrup.  Heat until thickened and then add to the birdseed.  Mix well. Use a spatula to press the birdseed into the pan.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before removing from the pan and allow to dry 24 hours before inviting birds to your feast!



Both shapes were pretty. I didn’t really have a preference.  I liked the clean lines of the angel food pan but I also loved the fancy shape from the bundt pan, too.


We took a quick lunch break on paper plates.  No time to wash dishes.  We had three more crafts to make.  Lunch was chicken salad, croissants, and broccolini salad. Cookies and Ghirardelli chocolate for dessert.


Sorry, no crafts for dogs this time.  Next time I’ll make some doggie bones. Isn’t Zoe beautiful?


Craft number five was a succulent garden.  I purchased the items for this craft from Joanne’s silk plant section.  Each craft used three plants.

Place a foam disk in the bottom of a terra cotta pot.  Cover foam with moss and place three fake succulent plants in the pot.  Tie a piece of ribbon around the pot and glue on a silver medallion, if desired.


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Time out to get the pork ready for smoking.  Gina showed the best technique for rubbing the butt! (Actually it was pork loin but that wasn’t as fun to say.) Cabana Boy Steve smoked the pork all afternoon for our tasty dinner.  Can’t wait!


The fairies visited and left us some lights to use in the next craft.  Gina brought some jars and jute to make these fun fairy lights. Use double stick tape to place the battery pack in the top of the jar lid.  Place the lights in side and screw on the lid.  Wrap the jar with jute and tie on a longer piece to hang the lantern.


I’m going to hang mine in my screened porch. I think I will hang a large and small jar at each post.


Pretty in the day and even prettier in the dark.DSCF4537

Our last craft involved wood burning and cutting boards.  So cool….


Gina brought burning tools and alphabet sets to show us how to create these cutting boards.  We had fun coming up with phrases to burn into our boards.   We used both sides to make holiday and regular boards. This photo shows two boards on top of each other. The different sizes were interesting together.


Finally, Cabana Boy brought in the smoked pork. DELICIOUS.


We enjoyed  dinner of pork, bourbon barbecue sauce, Hawaiian rolls, potato chips, and roasted asparagus with garlic.  This is a house specialty for Gina and Steve.  Thank you both for your warm hospitality for the weekend.


We collapsed onto the sofas in front of the fireplace and planned our next get together.

I can’t wait.

Olivia’s Queso Grits and Aunt Merry Carol’s Apple Dessert

It was family night for dinner as I celebrated recipes for two lovely ladies in my life.  First up is the Queso Grits.  Olivia got rave reviews at college for her short story “Queso.”   Maybe soon you will get to read it in print.  She is quite gifted in the fine arts. She paints gorgeous pictures and takes amazing photographs. She is also an accomplished dancer. But most of all she writes beautiful poetry and engaging short stories.One day we will see Poet Laureate after her name. I’m sure of it!

In honor of her story we had Queso Grits.  DSCF4473

There is no recipe for the grits.  I just made our favorite stone-ground, organic, nonGMO white corn grits (that’s a mouthful) and added a swirl of queso.  Super easy and very good. I found this particular brand of cheese at  Walmart over in the deli by the hummus.


For dessert my faithful, blog-following Aunt Merry Carol sent me this super-rich and decadent recipe for Apple Dessert. I actually have many tasty recipes in my recipe box from my aunt passed around between my mother and grandmother.

I’m not sure I made the topping correctly because much like my pumpkin muffins of last January, I think I had the butter too soft.  Even with my culinary impairment, it was delicious!


This recipe goes back to my very sweet-toothed great grandma Anna.  I love the addition of the orange juice.  The apples were soft and the filling was rich and creamy.


Apple Dessert

7 cups peeled, chopped apples

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt  (you can also add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, etc. but I didn’t add any spices.  I like apples without cinnamon.)

1 stick butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the apples in an ungreased 9X9-inch baking dish. Pour orange juice over apples. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugars, salt, and flour. Cut in the butter.  Crumble the topping over the apples. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until apples are soft and topping is lightly browned and crunchy.

I didn’t let my topping get to the crunchy stage but I loved the texture nonetheless.  I don’t think you can really mess up this recipe because there is nothing in it like eggs that have to be cooked to a certain temperature.  If you like a soft topping take it out earlier.  If you want a crunchy topping, let it bake longer. Easy!

And one final disclaimer for the day.  My pictures are dark because it is 7:00 and dark outside and foggy.  We have had nonstop rain for days and now with the time change, it makes it worse. I can’t get a post out before it turns dark because I work in the best daylight hours.  I miss the golden glows of the sunlight in the summer and my camera does, too.  However as a working girl, if I want to continue adding posts, I will just have to be satisfied with dim pictures without natural light until next spring.  And that’s my official rant for the evening.

And now, back to a happy place with only positive rants!   Good luck to Olivia with her stories and thanks for the recipe to my Aunt Merry Carol!

Apple Rose Pastries


I have seen these Apple Rose Pastries on the internet and since I just got back from Apple Land yesterday, I wanted to give them a try. I watched some German lady on Youtube making them today.  She spoke very rapidly and ironically the only thing she said that I could understand was “Pink Lady” and as luck would have it, that’s precisely the kind of apples I bought in Ellijay.

After I watched the video, I went to the grocery store and came home with the 4 ingredients I needed and about $100 worth of other ingredients not on the list.  You know how it is.


Apple Rose Pastries

3 medium-sized Pink Lady Apples (Cripps Pink is another name for them)


1/2 fresh lemon

1 package of puff pastry (2 sheets)

all-purpose flour

1/2 cup apricot jelly

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons turbinado sugar (or regular sugar)

1 tablespoon water

powdered sugar


Place the package of puff pastry out on the counter to thaw about 30 minutes before baking.  Grease a 12-cupcake tin. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Core and halve the apples.  Place the apples cut-side down on a cutting board.  Slice the apples  into very thin slices.  The slices should be thin enough to bend.  Place the apples in water with the juice of 1/2 lemon in a glass bowl as you slice them.  Microwave the bowl of apples with the water for about 7 minutes or until slightly tender.  You don’t want them soft and falling apart. Drain apples and pat dry.

Next, place a little flour on a counter or pastry board and roll out the length of the puff pastry to 12 inches.  Cut into thirds with a sharp knife where you can see the original indentations of the folds and then cut each piece into two for six pieces.  In a small bowl mix together the apricot jelly, cinnamon, turbinado sugar, and water.  Spread half of the jelly mixture over the  6 strips of pastry. Arrange 6 or 7 apple slices on the top half of the strip overlapping to about half way on each apple. Fold the bottom half of the dough over the bottoms of the apples.  Roll up the apples and pastry and place in a greased cupcake opening.  Repeat with other layers and with the second puff pastry.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until puff pastry is cooked.  Immediately remove pastries from the pan as they tend to stick easily.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I used an apple corer, but you can just use a knife if you don’t have an apple corer.  You have previously seen my kitchen gadget drawer so you had to know that I would have an apple corer.


Cut the apples into THIN slices.  A sharp knife is a must.


Place the apples in lemon water and then microwave about 7 minutes. Drain and pat dry when ready to use.


Next, roll out the puff pastry on  a lightly floured surface to 12 inches long. Cut each pastry into six strips.


Mix the filling ingredients and spread on the  strips.


Hang in there and don’t lose sight of the prize.


Next, arrange apple slices on a strip of pastry. I used about 6 or 7 for each strip.


Now, fold over the strip of pastry onto the bottom of the apples.



Roll and tuck apples back in pastry if necessary.


Place each roll in a cupcake tin opening.  Bake about 35-40 minutes until the puff pastry is cooked in the center of the roll-up.  You can see if it is done or not by looking at the texture.  When done, take the pan out of the oven and IMMEDIATELY begin removing the pastries from the cupcake tin.  It doesn’t take long for them to stick. I tried cupcake papers but they stuck to the pastry, too.  I might try silicone cupcake pans next time. Whatever you use,  JUST GET THEM OUT OF THERE PRONTO!

Allow to cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


What’s my opinion?  I liked them but I would also like to play with the recipe a bit more.  My main complaint was that the apple skin got really tough and was hard for me to chew.  I would like to try peeling the apple first but then you wouldn’t have that pretty rose look with the color of the skin.  An apple conundrum, I guess.  You also have to be sure that the puff pastry is cooked through.  If you look at the one in the middle on the left, the puff pastry didn’t quite get cooked on that one. It was a little too gummy.

Would I make them again?  Sure!  They are pretty and I enjoyed the taste with the apples and apricot jelly.  And honestly, I could roll anything up in puff pastry and I would probably like it.  Possibly not squid or green peas (my two most dreaded foods) but you never know. The Power of the Puff might be too strong to resist!


We made our yearly day-trip to Ellijay, GA to visit some apple houses. The clouds were quite interesting today.  I have never seen rows of clouds like this before. Maybe someone more meteorologically-inclined can tell me why there were textured stripes today.


First stop was Panorama Farm Market.  Lots of cheap pumpkins since today was Halloween. Raw pumpkin makes my arms itch when I carve them,  so I passed on the jack-o-lanterns this year.


One of my favorite things to get at Panorama is their apple cider doughnuts and their apple cider slushes.  It was a little chilly for a slush but I didn’t mind.  I also bought some Pink Lady apples.  The samples were delicious.


Then, we went across the street to Penland Apples to get their fried apple pies to eat with the slush.  It’s starting to seem like an apple scavenger hunt.


Their pies are good because they are light on the cinnamon and don’t use dried apples with sulfites. It is hard to find fried pies of any kind without sulfites.  Coughing to ensue if sulfites are present.


Finally, we finished our apple hunt at Merciers – the mother of all apple houses.  It’s giant and filled to the brim with customers.


I bought apple cider from Merciers and a bag of pasta which I will cook soon.


Many varieties from which to choose while being serenaded by live music.  The place is huge and very crowded.


There’s even an apple tree inside.


While we shopped individually, one of us stayed with Chupa while he explored the grounds. There were geese and swans to his delight.


The rows of apple trees are behind the lake.  You can also pick your own if you wish.


We finished the trip with a stop at Colonel Poole’s BBQ.  I love their Brunswick Stew.


At the grounds of Colonel Poole’s you can purchase a plastic pig sign with your name on it.  I bought one for Olivia and Davis years ago but I still haven’t found it. They won’t tell you where they put them.


The signs are in the shape of a pig on the hill.  It’s a fun place to go in Ellijay. With our trunk full, we headed home and enjoyed all of our goodies from our apple house excursion.


Authentic Pumpkin Pie

I pulled a homemade pumpkin pie out of the freezer tonight and we had a slice for dinner.  Delicious!


But wait, there’s more to this story.  Get your notebooks out.  I have a history lesson for you. I recently read that the first “receipts” of pumpkin pie from England in the early 19th century say that to make a “pumpion pie” you must  hollow out the pumpkin and fill it with eggs, cream, sugar, and spices.  You can also add sliced apples, dried currants, sliced almonds, and molasses.


Sounded intriguing so I thought, why not? I like cooked squash so I figured I could always just dump out the custard if I didn’t like it.  How’s that for a no-fail attempt?

I mixed together a custard of  1 tablespoon flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 cup milk, and 1 egg (assembled in that order).  I figured the brown sugar would impart the molasses taste. Then I added seasonings of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger,  You could also add allspice, cloves, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, salt, and pepper if you want to be historically accurate. Additionally, you can add almonds, raisins, and apples, too!  However, in full disclosure I must confess I altered history tonight and kept my custard on the plain side. But hey, go pumpion crazy if you wish.

I baked the pumpkin in a metal bowl placed in a glass dish of water at 325 degrees.


And I baked and baked and baked and baked.  It took about 3 hours for the pumpkin to get soft and the custard to set up.


Although it took a long time, it was worth the wait.  It was great!!!   I loved it and will definitely make it again.  Next time I will be a little more adventurous with the seasonings and I might turn up the oven a little higher so hopefully it won’t take so long to bake.  It might also be tasty to brulee the top to have that crusty, sugary burnt caramel to crunch into.  Lots of possibilities here for sure!


The Old Mill

After leaving Athens I headed  to Berry with my mom and Chupa on Sunday to take Olivia some Halloween decorations and to go the Chiaha Festival in Rome.  The festival looked pretty good as far as festivals go and we almost made it there… DSCF4373

…except for one small detail.


One small, furry brown detail.  They don’t allow pets.  Chupa looked suitably miffed.


Instead, we headed over to The Old Mill on the Berry Campus.


Mini history –  the mill was built in 1930 and has a 42 feet diameter wooden overshot wheel.  It is considered one of the largest in the world. The iron hub was originally used in a bauxite mine.  Henry Ford (the Henry Ford) had the hub moved to Berry and then students built the mill.  Once a year at Berry homecoming and other special occasions, you can still buy cornmeal ground at the mill.

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The photo below is from my phone.  The haziness and coloration reminds me of a Thomas Kinkade painting.



We enjoyed a beautiful day and then headed back home in the evening to cap off a fun collegiate week and weekend.