Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!! Time for the Pickle Drop!

Tonight we went to the Pickle Drop at Mt Olive Pickles. It was so much fun. It's great because it is New Years Eve tradition and they do the drop at 7pm, which is Greenwich Mean Time (or zulu time) so the whole family can enjoy it. Plus you can be back home before all the party goers get out on the roads.

We arrived around 5:30. They were handing out pickles (of course), hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and cookies. It was nice but the combination of everyone eating pickles and drinking hot chocolate was strange but funny because everyone was doing it. They were handing out party hats and horns which the children loved. We, being kids at heart, got our hats and horns so when we counted down to zero and shouted HAPPY NEW YEAR! we were ready.

Into the barrel:

There was a good crowd, especially for such a small town. It is so nice to have a fun family activity which can become a fun tradition for all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Braised Chicken Thighs and Vegetables

I received a wonderful new 6.5 quart cast iron dutch oven for Christmas from my dad. I love it! We have other dutch ovens, but they are used for camping and have feet on them. I wanted one I could use in the oven and on the stove top. I've already used it twice with great results both times.

Tonight's dinner came from a Cooking Light recipe but it doesn't taste like a light meal. I didn't even realize it was "light" until I was already making it. This may have to be one of the New Year dishes when everyone is trying to watch their diet.


* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons paprika
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 8 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skinned
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups (2-inch-thick) slices carrot
* 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
* 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
* 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag, shaking to coat.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and remaining flour mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly brown. Add carrot and onion; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, wine, and potatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.

(I put mine in the oven at 375 for an hour with the lid on, the vegetables were perfect and the chicken was as tender as could be. Delicious!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. Just remember, it's not just about the food and the presents. It's about spending time with family and most importantly about the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas friends.

This is a lemon sour cream pound cake made in a nordic ware Christmas wreath pan. I do love my nordic ware. I colored the lemon glaze to "paint" the holly leaves and bow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Brownies

Add this to your holiday baking. It is delicious and easy. Everyone who love peanut butter will love this. They are very rich so make sure you have a glass of milk handy. I left out the coconut because I made these for our youth group and most kids are not coconut fans.

I found this recipe at myrecipes.


28 small bars or 18 large bars


  • 1 (16-oz.) package peanut-shaped peanut butter sandwich cookies, crushed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 (1.5-oz.) packages chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 (2.1-oz.) chocolate-covered crispy peanut buttery candy bars, coarsely chopped (we tested with Butterfinger)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Combine crushed cookies and butter in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture into bottom of a greased aluminum foil-lined 13" x 9" pan, allowing foil to extend over ends of pan. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes.

Combine condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl, stirring until smooth.

Sprinkle chopped candy bars, chocolate morsels, peanuts, and coconut over crust. Drizzle condensed milk mixture over coconut.

Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in pan. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of pan. Peel foil away from sides of uncut brownies, and cut into bars.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shrimp Scampi over Spaghetti Squash

Garlic. Lemon. Butter. Shrimp. Delicious.

This is one of our favorite "Date Night" dishes. I make this when I want something special and to get us out of our chicken rut. One thing I do to make it different from most shrimp scampi dishes is to use spaghetti squash in place of regular pasta. My family actually likes it over the spaghetti squash better. It provides a nice contrast to the shrimp but still holds the sauce.

My favorite recipe for this comes from Cook's Illustrated

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined if desired
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 medium cloves garlic , minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
cayenne pepper
Table salt and ground black pepper


Heat 12-inch skillet over high heat until hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Add 1 pound shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until just opaque, about 1 minute; transfer to medium bowl. Return pan to heat and repeat process with remaining oil and shrimp.

Return empty skillet to medium-low heat; melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, add lemon juice and vermouth. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter; add parsley and cayenne, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return shrimp and accumulated juices to skillet. Toss to combine; serve immediately.

For the spaghetti squash:

Cut it in half and remove the seeds. Put in a glass dish cut side down with about 2 inches of water in the bottom. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in the microwave. Depending on your microwave and the size of your squash, the time will vary. It takes generally about 20-30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Thick Hearty Thighs with Chorizo

No I don't mean mine, though they could be described as big and hearty. As long as I have a love of cooking and food, plus keeping this blog, my thighs will forever be big and hearty.

This is another recipe from the Rachael Ray 365 book. Oh how this book saves dinner for us over and over. They are quick, they are easy, and they are almost always delicious. (We tried a pumpkin/sausage thing and it was horrible.)

We eat a LOT of chicken and I am always looking for something different to do with it. This will be one of my go to chicken dinners because it is easy to keep the ingredients on hand. Plus my husband kept saying how good it was when he was eating it, that makes it an A+.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt & pepper
1 lb chorizo, casing removed and sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock or broth
5-6 medium to small red bliss potatoes, cut in half and then thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 6oz jar roasted red peppers
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Crusty bread

Preheat a large skillet or wide soup pot over medium-high heat and add the EVOO. Season the chicken thighs liberally with salt & pepper. Add the chicken in the skillet and brown on both sides for 3 minutes. Scoot the browned thighs to the edges of the pan, making some space in the center of the skillet. Add the chorizo, onions, garlic, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.

Add the wine and chicken stock, turn the heat up to high, and bring the mixture up to a simmer. Add the potatoes and stir everything together. Cover the pan with a lid or a piece of aluminium foil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the roasted red peppers, peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley, and cook for 1 more minute to just head the peas through. Serve with crusty bread. Really. Don't forget the bread.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Study for exams or make sugar cookies?

which one would you pick? Yep that's the one I picked too. I haven't posted much lately because I had exams this weekend. I finished them today but yesterday before I took the first one, I made sugar cookies for our church youth Christmas party. Sure I could have been studying, but I HAD to make these cookies ya know?

The sugar cookie recipe is the same one I posted in October when I made the candy corn cookies. These cookies were Christmas themed for the party. I used a wilton pan you filled with dough to make the shapes instead of rolling out and cutting. It was so much easier and was not messy at all.

This is the pan:

Now that exams are over, I hope to be blogging a lot more so keep checking back for new recipes.