Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cookie Trays - A Southern Tradition

Christmas Cookie Trays are such an old southern tradition.  I love planning out my trays -- including some Christmas classics as well as some new recipes.  Last years trays were some of my favorites. 

They included  -
Bourbon Balls
Jam Thumbprints

I'm already working on my cookies for this year. Can't wait to get started!

Linked to Life As Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap
Tater Tots and Jello Weekend Wrap Up
Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - November 26

Last week's favorite was Baked Garlic Shrimp.  It was so good, we didn't even notice it was a Weight Watchers recipe.  It is certainly going in the tried and true recipe binder.

I always like to make my post Thanksgiving week menu easy and a bit lighter to combat all the work and calories of the week before.

Sunday - Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Monday - Crockpot Spagahetti and Meatballs, Salad (we didn't make this last week)
Tuesday  - Catalina Chicken, Couscous, Fruit
Wednesday - Catalina Chicken Wraps, Fruit
Thursday -  Cheesy Mexican Rice, Salad
Friday - Subway - Nanny's Treat
Saturday - Some type of soup and crusty bread

For more menu ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 31 Happy Thanksgiving

When I began this series on October 1st I truly hoped to blog for 31 straight days.  Well, that didn't happen, but I did blog for 31 days over the course of 8 weeks on one topic.   Not quite the goal I was going for, but I decided that even if I was behind, finishing the project was more important.  I'm glad to have blogged about our family's favorite time of  year and to have on record our favorite outings, recipes and a couple of craft ideas too.  

So to everyone
and thanks for reading!

Part of 31 Days of Fall

Monday, November 19, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 30 - Turkey on the Grill

We love turkey around here.  When the November turkey sales hit the grocery stores, I buy 2 or 3 at the rock bottom prices so we can enjoy it all year, even in the summer.  Our favorite way to cook a whole turkey?  On the grill -- rubbed with butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, wrapped tight in aluminum foil and placed on a indirect heat grill.  As the turkey slow cooks, it get basted from time to time.  The result?  A golden, moist amazing turkey. 

There are several advantages to this method besides the delicious turkey.  It keeps the oven free to cook other items and it keeps the heat and mess out of the house.  Winner, winner turkey dinner.

Part of 31 Days of Fall.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - November 18

Gearing up for the Thanksgiving holiday is always anticipated at our house.  We are out of school the entire week, which means we get to have some fun and get ready for the holiday too.  We also get to spend a bit more time in the kitchen, whipping up some wonderful special dinners.

Our hands down favorite meal from last week was Grillled Greek Chicken.  I served it with Parmesan couscous and a greek inspired salad - mixed greens, feta cheese, kalamata olives, diced cumcumbers and an oil and vinegar dressing.  Wish I'd have time to take a picture of someone's plate before it was all gone.  It was beautiful. 

We didn't care as much for the Cheesy Spinach Pasta.  It has potential, but needs some tweeking.  However it was much better the next day for lunch.

Sunday - Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad
Monday-  Baked Garlic Shrimp, Rice, Asparagus
Tuesday - Teriyaki Chicken, Fried Rice and Salad
Wednesday- take out - -kids choice
Thursday - Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings
Friday - Leftovers after shopping
Saturday - winging it, based on leftovers and what we feel like eating
Sunday  -  homemade pizza maybe?

Since we are home all week for the Thanksgiving holiday, I have included some breakfast items --

Breakfast Casserole (WW) - if we like this, I'll make one for the freezer too.

For more menu ideas visit I'm an Organized Junkie

31 Days of Fall - Day 29 Apricot Pecan Bread

What a fantastic flavor combination -- apricots and pecans.  With dried fruit being a fall treat it only makes sense to make this delicious bread when the weather turns cold. 

Part of 31 Days of Fall.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 28 Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is an original Kentucky Derby Pie recipe.  I typically make it for Derby Day, but it is also a delicious fall pie, filled with chocolate and pecans.  Don't for get to serve with a dollop of bourbon flavored whipped cream.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar
6 T flour
2 eggs
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c pecans, chopped
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 unbaked 9" pie crust
1 c cream, whippped with 1 1/2 t bourbon

Combine sugar and flour; add remaining ingredients, except cream, and pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 325 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes.  Serve just slightly warm with whipped cream.

Part of 31 Days of Fall. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 27 Italian White Bean Soup

One of the best parts of fall is cooler weather, and at our house cooler weather means lots and lots of soups.  Some of our family favorites are Potato Soup, Chili, Chicken Noodle and Bean with Bacon
One of my personal favorites is this Italian White Bean Soup.  Most of the members of my family don't care for this particular soup, but that is just fine with me.  It freezes very well and I like to keep indivudual portions ready to take for lunch.   
Italian White Bean Soup
1 T vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chicken broth
1/ 4 t black pepper
5 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1 1/2 t dried)
2 c water
1 bunch fresh spinach
1 T lemon juice
grated Parmesan cheese
In a 3 quart saucepan, heat oil.  Add onion and celery, cook 5 - 8 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds, stirring continuously.  Add beans, chicken broth, pepper, thyme and 2 c water. 
Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. 
While soup is simmering, clean spinach, discarding any tough stems.  Thinly slice spinach leaves.
Use emersion blender to blend soup.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Stir in spinach, cook 1 minute or until wilted.  Stir in lemon juice, remove from heat.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.   
Part of 31 Days of Fall

Monday, November 12, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 26 Knit Dishclothes

Part of fall is getting ready for the holiday season.  I truly enjoy making as many of my holiday gifts as I can.  My time is limited, so I depend on some quick ideas, including these wonderful knit dishcloths.  If you have never done dishes with a homemade cotton dishcloth, you are really missing a life changing experience.  Everyone who comes to my house and after a party helps with the dishes loves them and asks for one, two or seven for their own kitchen.  I'm pretty sure I've not used a regular, store bought dishcloth in 12 years. 

You only need the most basic of knitting skills and equipment to make these.  I can make one in less than an hour.  It is a favorite fall tv-watching pass time. 

Links to dishcloths patterns -

Basic Dishcloth - this is the one shown, it is my favorite pattern
Simple Discloths - these are a bit "fancier"
Easy Dishcloths - easy and quick patterns 

Part of 31 Days of Fall.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - November 12

Our healthier eating journey is getting easier.  We tried some new recipes last week and they were great. One of our favorites was Baked Chicken Parmesan.  It was just as good, if not better than my ful-fat version.  I highly recommend trying it out. 

Saturday - Grilled Steaks, Roasted Garlic Risotto, Salad
Sunday - Tilapia Parmesan, Risotto Cakes, Roasted Asparagus, Apple Pear Crisp
Monday - Grilled Greek Chicken, Couscous, Salad
Tuesday - Spinach Cheesy Pasta Casserole, Salad
Wednesday - Tacos, Mexican Layered Salad
Thursday - Lacrosse Banquet
Friday - Subway -- Nanny's Treat!
Saturday - Madonna Concert!!!!!

For more great menu ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie.

31 Days of Fall - Day 25 Cheer Bowl

The highlight of fall cheerleading is Cheer Bowl.  Starting in September each cheer team puts together a cheer, dance, tumble, stunt performance all to perform at the FCYFA Cheer Bowl.   We are lucky to have a great squad and amazing coaches.  This year resulted in a 5th place win.  Can't wait to do it all again next year!

 Last run through at our playoff game
With our trophy and medal!  Go Wolverines!

Part of 31 Days of Fall

Saturday, November 10, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 24 Fall Lacrosse

As lacrosse has rapidly worked its way south, we have caught the bug.  This is our 5th season of playing lacrosse and what a great time it is.  Unlike the spring season, fall lacrosse is laid back and a lot of fun.  The boys try out different positions and throw a few trick plays in for a bit of excitement. 

Waiting for the Play

Here it comes...
In action

Another W for the team
Part of 31 Days of Fall

Friday, November 9, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 23 Halloween Hayride

Since my son was a year old, we have been hosting a Halloween Hayride at our house.  For the past 13 years we have loaded up lots and lots of friends and had a trick or treat extravaganza.  This year was bittersweet, as my son and his friends at 14 decided they were too old for the hayride.  So this year, my daughter had a trailer full of all her very best friends.  While different, it was still a GREAT time.

Part of 31 Days of Fall

Thursday, November 8, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 22 Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

We LOVE sugar cookies in our house.  We like them with icing and without, with sugar and without.  We like them vanilla flavored and almond flavored.  We like them cut out and rolled.  We like them just about anyway you can think to make them.  I am always trying out new sugar cookie recipes to add to our collections.   This one, a Pinterest find is a real keeper.

Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c white sugar
2/3 c butter, cold
2/3 c shortening, room temp
2 eggs
2 1/2  t almond extract
1 1/2 c cake flour
1  c all purpose flour
2 t cornstarch
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
colored sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream sugar, shortening and butter.  Add eggs and almond extract.  Combine flours, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll in colored sugar of your choice.  Place on cookie sheet. 

Bake for  4 minutes.  Quickly press each cookie to flatten with the back of a spoon or spatula -- if you don't the cookies will remain in balls, not flat perfect sugar cookies.  Bake 4 more minutes.  Cookies should hold thier shape, but not browned. 

Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely. 

Part of 31 Days of Fall
Ingredient Spotlight

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - November 5

Another week, another meal plan.  I'm kind of at a loss this week.  I'm just not sure what to cook.  As we are trying to eat much healthier, I don't have my usual recipes to fall back on.  Also, most of our fall sports are finished, so I have more time to cook.  We'll see how this goes.

Sunday - Chef Salad
Monday - Baked Chicken Parmesan, Salad
Tuesday - Veggie Quesadillas, Fruit
Wednesday - Cheer Banquet
Thursday - Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad
Friday - Subway - Nanny's Treat!
Saturday - Soup and Sandwiches - just not sure what type yet

For more great meal plan ideas, visit I'm An Organized Junkie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 21 Pear Muffins

In all the love pumpkins and apples get in the fall, pears are sometimes left out, which is terribly unfair as pears are such wonderful fruits.  So, to pay homage to the delicious, juicy pear, I sharing a pear muffin recipe I've been making for at least 13 years.

Pear Mini Muffins

2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1 16 oz can pear slices, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line mini muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt.

In a large bowl, blend buttermilk, oil, egg and brown sugar.  Add flour mixture top wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Fold in pears.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until golden.

Part of 31 Days of Fall. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

31 Days of Fall - Day 20 Fall Snack Mix

Boo Boo's Girl Scout Troop recently spend the night at Zoo Atlanta.  Wow, what a wonderful experience!  To keep away the late night muchies, we made this Fall Snack Mix for each of the girls and moms. 

Fall Snack Mix

Maple Frosted Mini Wheats
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Cheez-It Crackers
Reese's Pieces
Candy Corn
Pretzel Sticks
Caramel Corn
Mini Oreos
Teddy Grahams

The best part about making a snack mix is you can put in whatever you want.  Then package it up to share with your friends.

 To start at the begining of the series - 31 Days of Fall.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

We entertain.  A lot.  We love to have people over and just enjoy life.  As a result, I have quite a collection of quick, easy and delicious appetizer/snack recipes.  These stuffed mushrooms are a favorite, even for people who don't like mushrooms. 

I like to serve these anytime I need a quick yummy appetizer.  You can make the filling a few days ahead and refrigerate or you can make the entire recipe earlier in the day and refrigerate until time to bake. 

I orginally found this in a cookbook put together Seaside Beach Community.
Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
2 packages baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened slightly
1 pound sausage, cooked and drained.
Parmesan Cheese

Combine cream cheese and cooked sausage.  Stuff mushrooms with sausage mixture.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake at 350* for 15 minutes. 
Best served immediately.