Friday, December 16, 2011

Here, there and everywhere!


Happy Friday Friends!

This week has been a blur of excitement with several catering orders, my son's preschool Christmas program, last minute shopping and three Christmas parties. The Holidays are in full swing and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I hope you're doing the same. It's easy to get overwhelmed (especially when making several hundred cookies in a single oven) but in the end, I take a deep breath, pray and it all works out.



I made some fun treats for a reception this week and wanted to share the photos. Don't Christmas cookies put you in a fun mood? (That and a 2 lb. box of Godiva you find calling out your name in the kitchen!)



My meals this week have been a trip to our favorite pizza place, burgers on the grill, pigs in a blanket and some tomato basil bisque with cheddar and ale grilled cheese sandwiches (a.maze.ing) but nothing overly gourmet or difficult.

I'll let you get back to your mad dashes through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh for the many festivities going on, but wanted to give you a quick hello.

One more week and we celebrate the most important Birthday of all!

Cheers,
CC

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Show Stopper!


I was recently asked to participate as a vendor in a Holiday Homemade Craft Show. Held in someones home, 7 vendors who all specialize in homemade gifts (think candles, art, ornaments, linens/pillows etc.) sold their specialties to anyone and everyone who stopped by. I have never done this and was excited about getting the word out about my catering business.

Naturally my foodie booth was placed in the kitchen of the home...strategically placed by the complimentary quiche and mimosas. I baked Snickers Popcorn, Banana Bread, Kit Kat Cakes, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Carmel Fudge Brownies, Homemade Hot Chocolate and other such fun.




Thanks to the support of all who stopped by, my booth was nearly a sell-out! I came home with 4 lonely little items that quickly disappeared to the joy of my children. I made some great catering contacts and was excited to take a step into unchartered territory for me and my little business.

God is good!
CC

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheez-It Encrusted Chicken


Greetings friends! I'm munching on Peppermint Bark while juggling my to-do list, wrapping gifts, chauffering my children, helping them learn the lyrics to their Christmas program, figuring out when we're going to get our family Christmas photo taken for our cards, putting away the laundry, vacuuming, attending choir rehearsals for our church cantata (this weekend) and praying that the mahi tacos I have for dinner turn out as good as I hope. Anyone there with me?

It's the most wonderful time of the year and I am in the full throws of holiday cheer, while trying to keep my head above the eggnog, err, water.

We've been living on quick fix meals that I can make several of at a time so that when I've got gift wrap coming out my ears, I can run to the freezer and thank the Lord for a meal that will be ready in 30 minutes to the tune of 350 degrees. One such wonder is a Cheez-it cracker encrusted chicken that received rave reviews from the fam.

It's so easy and I've literally had the recipe since 11th grade (good 'ol Home Ec. class really had some winners!). The exception was, we MICROWAVED this in 11th grade and it was nowhere as good as the version I have below. Such a hideous error. Baking is key. Let's fix it!

Ingredients
3-4 chicken breasts
Cheez-it crackers
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Take 3-4 chicken breasts and cut them into large cubes.



Next, crush 1 1/2 cups of Cheez-it crackers, and melt a stick of butter. Keep in separate bowls.



Take a chicken cube, dip it in the butter (who are we kidding here? I make no low-fat claims in any of my recipes). Then roll in the bread crumbs before placing in a greased pyrex dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.



Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes and top with grated cheddar cheese 2 minutes before pulling it from the oven.



Honey, this is so good you can't even imagine! Pair it with some creamy mashed potatoes and a side salad and have yourself a merry little Christmas. The great thing is, it also freezes beautifully so you can pull out that extra pan in a pinch!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from The Musing Foodie


The older I get, the more sentimental I become. It's as if I understand things better now than when I was younger - I can see the bigger picture, understand the deeper meaning and feel for a situation like it was my own.

I look around me and see people who can't afford a turkey, hear of a family who has just lost a child, watch marriages on the rocks, individuals who are alone, people who will spend their holiday in the hospital and others who would do just about anything for a job.

I could use this post to share my favorite turkey recipe or the ultimate pumpkin pie, explain the difference in using fresh herbs vs. dried and give you a dozen tips on my favorite side dishes...but I'm focusing on more than the meal today.

You see, it doesn't matter if your cranberry sauce comes out of a can or is made fresh. The pumpkin pie can have a store bought crust or come from a box in the freezer section. It's ok if the stuffing is a bit dry or someone forgets to bring half the paper products.

What matters is that you're sitting around a table, surrounded by those you love and giving thanks to God, who is the source of our very being. I wouldn't be where I am today without the goodness of the Lord. He's my constant companion, my ever present help in time of need and my strength...my life. He's blessed me with a loving family, amazing friends, a roof over my head and clothes to wear. I have a refrigerator with food in it that somehow comes together to nourish us. My blessings are too numerous to count and I take no credit for any of it.

Every good and perfect gift comes from above. I am so thankful, my heart overflows. God is good, He is faithful and I love Him!

So whether your meal is on strofoam plates or china, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving. Take time to remember what really matters and enjoy every moment.

Much love,
CC

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cranberry Cobbler


Ahoy there! It's a rainy fall day in the Carolinas and I have a quiet minute to share a new recipe. This is cranberry season so I purchased a bag of fresh cranberries and whipped up this dessert the other night. It's been a hit in our house with the sweet cobblery-ness mixing with the tart cranberry...and of COURSE it's topped off with some vanilla bean ice cream. It's a unique twist that gives you something fun to do with cranberries besides make sauce.

Let's get started...
2 cups fresh cranberries
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 beaten eggs
1 stick of melted butter
1 cup of flour

Thats it? That's IT!

Grease a 9 inch pie pan and pour your cranberries in there. Aren't they pretty?



Next, pour 1/2 a cup of sugar and the nuts on top.



In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 cup of sugar, melted butter and flour. It turns into a gloppy goo that will eventually bake into an amazing cobbler crust.




Pour this over your cranberries and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees.




While it's still warm, scoop out generous helpings into dessert bowls and top with vanilla bean ice cream.




It's sweet, it's tart, it's soooo good!

Have a delicious day friends!
CC

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kicked Up Krispy Treats


So there I was...the kids were in bed, backpacks set out by the door ready for school the next day...I was forgetting something. Looking at the clock...it's 9:30pm....AHHH HA! I need to bake a treat for my son's special day at school tomorrow. Praise the Lord for Rice Krispys and Marshmallows! I whipped up a batch of the tried and true favorites that have been putting smiles on faces for decades. We all know the ratio of krispies to marshmallows with the 3 Tablespoons of butter...but how about adding a little pizzazz with a cup of M&M's and Reece's Pieces?! Now we're talking folks!

I added in this melt in your mouth - not in your hands treat as the final step before pressing them into the pan. How delicious!

I cut them in jumbo sizes and individually wrapped them.



And then, because by now it was 9:45pm and I simply had nothing else to do that evening, I added personalization and ribbon.



Think about the 3 gallons of Halloween candies you now have sitting in your pantry - a batch or two of these rockstar rice krispy treats can help you get through that candy in no-time.

Now, I'm going to sit back and relax and enjoy the two packages of Reece's Peanut Butter Pumpkins I just found at Walmart for 50% off. Never mind the 3 gallons of candy we have staring at me, calling out my name.

Have a delicious day!
CC

Monday, October 17, 2011

No Bake Granola Bars


I had a bit of a bake-a-thon this weekend and made a few new must-trys that have turned into a huge hit in my home. We are granola bar fanatics. Before the gym, part of lunches, afternoon snacks, grocery store 'save the days' during a 2 year old meltdown. They are an integral part of our life, we eat them by the dozens.

Well step aside Nature Valley, Quaker and the like - I'm making my own now! You most likely have these ingredients in your house, so the cost savings is phenomenal and they are not chock full of preservatives, and taste great! The best part - they are ridiculously easy to make. Need I say more? Go scour your pantry and make these with me...ready?

No Bake Granola Bars
2 1/2 c. Rice Krispys
1 1/2 c. oats
1 c. mixed nuts (roughly chopped)
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
Craisins & Chocolate Chips optional

First, take a large sheet of foil and line a 8x8 square pan.



Then, combine the Rice Krispys, oats, nuts and your optionl Craisins or Chocolate Chips (I used a handful of Craisins, as I like something chewy).



Next, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar and honey in a microwave safe bowl.



Don't skimp on these proportions or you will have a crumbly mess that won't cut into neat bars (not that I have any idea about this whatsoever). Microwave these ingredients for a minute and stir to combine.



Pour this peanut butter mixture over your dry ingredients and stir to coat well.





Next, pour this into your foil lined pan and press it down nice and compact. If it's not pressed enough, it once again will not cut into neat bars. Let this cool.



Once cool, lift the foil out and peel it back, slice into bars and individually wrap for tasty treats that will disappear quickly.




Enjoy!
CC

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogswap Gift Arrives!



This past weekend I was out of town attending a retreat at The Cove, in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains. It felt like Fall and completely put me in the mood for blue jeans and comfort food - with a pair of knee boots and a latte. Upon my return, I found my highly anticipated Blogswap Gift sitting on the counter - just waiting to be opened. (Noelle, I put your gift in the mail today - being out of town put me a bit behind but you'll get it soon!)

Sweet Jeni had my name and put together a fun box of treats...having done some research on my blog and discovering my love of sweets.



For each letter of FALL, they all incorporate my kitchen.

F - Fall Fragrance. It was an Apple Pie scented reed diffuser. I do love the smell (and taste) of apple pie. This gets me in the mood to bake one!

A - Aerated Chocolate. OH HONEY! I'm hiding this from the kiddos. I LOVE the new aerated chocolate and these will go quickly. Thank you for feeding my sweet side!

L - Luminary. Such a precious accent for my kitchen that needed a splash of fall. I love that it's a flameless candle!

L - Linen. This will go perfect in the kitchen as well. Some of my kitchen towels are a bit care worn and I needed an excuse for a new one. This is just the right accent.

And Jeni also typed up the most beautiful poem titled 'God in the Seasons' by Joanna Fuchs. It's such a perfect reminder of seeing the Lord in every stage of life and in every circumstance.

Jeni, my heart is thankful - I appreciate the gifts you sent me!

Happy Fall from North Carolina!
CC

Pumpkin!


It's a rainy fall day and I'm munching on the remnants of the best peach cobbler I've made to date for breakfast. This past weekend I enjoyed a retreat in the mountains with 300 other women from my church and have come back so refreshed and rejuvenated. The food was amazing and the fellowship and services even better. God is good!

I had a girlfriend call me just before I left telling me about the last of the peaches being sold at one of our favorite farmer's markets for the season. It's my families favorite fruit and I simply couldn't turn down a bushel of them. I was blanching peaches at 6am the morning of my trip and was able to weasel the secret family recipe out of my mother in law, so I could make "THE" peach cobbler. There were so many peaches, I had enough to make one humungus cobbler, and then enough filling for another for the freezer. Ah, the joy, the bliss, the delight! I was a hero in my families eyes as they had a special treat to enjoy while I was off.

But I'm not here to tell you about that recipe, it's a closely guarded family secret that I've only just stumbled upon. Nope, instead it's full speed ahead to fall and all things related to it. That means....Apples and Pumpkins! I have been on an apple kick and eat them with peanut butter, raisins and carmel dip. Apples just say Fall to me, as do Pumpkins.

I have such a great Pumpkin recipe to share with you - this one was a huge hit made by one of the sweet ladies I sing in the choir with at church. She brought it to an event and we all pounced on it like Tigger. After a helping or two and the evening drew to a close, women made up excuses to take some home...'Oh, I've GOT to share this with my husband, may I take a piece home?' - Innocent comments shrouded in the delusion of sharing. We all knew that none of us were sharing a crumb and that all evidence would be eaten, scarfed and licked clean on our respective rides home.

I had to have it, so sweet Sherri emailed it to me and I'm sharing it with all of you. Perfect for crowds or just a hungry family, here is the delicious pumpkin treat to tantalize your tastebuds....Enjoy!


Pumpkin Delight

1 can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 large can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 stick of butter

Mix together the first five ingredients and pour in 9x13 pan. Mix 1 cup pecans with dry cake mix and sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Melt one stick of butter and drizzle over cake mix. Bake one hour at 350 degrees. Let cake cool completely. Put icing on and refrigerate.

Icing
1 large container of cool whip
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

Mix ingredients together and spread over cooled cake and refrigerate.

Happy Fall Y'all!
CC

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I've been eating!


I celebrated my birthday this past weekend and boy was it delicious! Somehow I managed to swing 4 celebrations out of it. There was a girlfriend birthday at Buca Di Beppo's where I ordered the largest slab of lasagna you can possibly eat. I was too full for dessert on that one.

Next, I celebrated with my side of the family - my mom makes the best homemade pizza and apple pie that have ever graced the lips of mankind. Soooo good, I can bareley contain my excitement over that wondrous meal. The flakey crust, the warm cinnamon apples with vanilla bean ice cream. Oh hold me back!



Then, I celebrated with my husband's side of the family. Can I just say that the Barbeque Ranch Chicken Salad from Cheesecake Factory is a rock star meal? Top it off with a fun Oreo chocolate chip ice cream cake and life is good!



I celebrated with my immediate family and polished off the perfect ice cream sundae after a mexican feast, and now I'm sitting here pondering the caloric intake and regretting that the Zumba DVD has been collecting dust over the past week.

That's where I've been folks - eating 'til my heart's content.

I hope you are well. Stay tuned for a fun fall dessert later this week!
CC

Friday, September 23, 2011

2 year old smile on a dreary Friday


Happy Friday Friends! We made it! The end of the week is upon us and a date with my hot husband is just a few hours away. Whoo hoo!

It's pouring down rain outside and couldn't be more dreary. I've chosen to give you something to smile about in this post - no recipe, just a few crazy antics from my two year old.

The house will get strangely quiet, too quiet, so I know I have to find my son before permanent marker ends up on walls or a whole roll of toilet paper gets dropped in the water. One particular day this week, I found him all the way at the TOP of the pantry. I store the candy up there and he climbed up and got it, unwrapped several pieces and ate them before starting on the loaf of bread. (If you want to come help me organize my pantry, I would love you forever!)



Next, we like waffles around here and I found a jackpot of a deal and ended up with a freezer full of eggos. We won't have to buy them for months! For breakfast, to make it special, I will scatter a few sprinkles on the boys' waffles. Apparently I didn't put enough on there to my youngest sons' liking. I came downstairs to see this. We'll need new green sprinkles for Chrismas this year as mine are now gone.



The joys of motherhood! :) He makes me laugh and I wouldn't trade these moments for anything. I hope you have a wonderful weekend - don't forget to go to church on Sunday!

The house is too quiet, I'm off to find out what new mess I need to clean up.

Cheers!
CC

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chile Relleno Torta



I am a quiche lover - give me Sausage and Cheese, call me Lorraine, throw in Spinach, Mushroom or Broccoli and Ham and I am a happy girl. Pair it with a side salad and you have an entree. Heat it up in a mad rush and you have a perfect breakfast or afternoon snack (depending on how hearty you slice that wedge!).

I was excited to run across a new quiche recipe - don't let my title fool you. Chile Relleno Torta is the schmancy way of saying "Mexican Quiche". This is a zippy welcomed change and I was pleased. It's not difficult and the result is a really pretty presentation with the layers of color and flavor. Say Ole and let's begin!

Ingredients
1 premade pie crust, uncooked
1/2 lb. grated cheddar
1/2 lb grated monterray jack
5 eggs
1/3 c. flour
1 2/3 c. half and half
4 oz. can of diced green chilis
1/4 c. salsa or picante sauce

Form the pie crust into a 9 inch pie pan. Layer the cheddar cheese, then the monterray jack. Beat the eggs, flour and half and half together and pour this over your two cheese layers. Spoon the diced green chilis over top and then spoon the salsa or picante sauce on top of that (great color with all the layers!).



Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes, until the center no longer jiggles. Let set for 5-10 minutes and then slice and serve. So easy, so tasty and you'll be glad you tried something new.

Have a great day folks - get out there and enjoy this wonderful fall weather!
CC

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maple & Blue Cheese Steak



I have to admit, one look at the picture in my husband's taste of home grilling magazine had me drooling and pulling ingredients as fast as I could to fix this. Since it was a steak recipe, I knew it would be a hit with my meat loving husband and sons. Since it involved blue cheese and a balsamic reduction, it had me at hello.

Ingredients
6 T balsamic vinegar
6 T maple syrup (I used pancake syrup)
3 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. dried Thyme
1 pound sirloin steak
4-5 T. chopped pecans
1 T. olive oil
1/8 t. each of salt and pepper
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese


In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and thyme.



Take your sirloin and stab it a few times with a knife to allow the marinade to get in and really flavor up the meat.

Pour the marinade over the meat and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.



Saute your pecans in the olive oil until toasted and set aside.


Now, head out to your grill and attempt to refrain from burning off your eyebrows by setting the heat to medium low.

Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper and grill the meat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness. I like my steak cooked medium so there is a nice pink on the inside.



Place the leftover marinade in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, cooking until it has reduced by half, which takes about 2 minutes.

Slice your meat and drizzle each portion with the plate licking sauce, pecans and blue cheese.



It's divine I tell you. Divine.

Have a delicious weekend, enjoy this fall weather and don't forget to go to church on Sunday!
CC

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cheeseburger Soup


This past weekend I was in the mood for some hearty comfort food. With the air getting crisper, I took the opportunity to make my first soup of the season! The foodblog community that I belong to, FoodBuzz, gives a neat 'Top 9' rundown of the top 9 contributing recipes and this Cheeseburger Soup popped up, courtesy of The Country Cook

I was intrigued, in the mood for soup and that was enough to motivate me for Saturday night's dinner. This is sooo delicious and was an immediate hit with my family.

Cheeseburger Soup (Serves 4 to 6)

Ingredients:
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules (about 4 cubes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 oz. Velveeta Cheese
Optional: 1/4 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Garnish: 1/2 lb. bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled


Directions:
Brown and crumble ground beef. Drain excess grease and set aside.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Stir in beef and 2 cups of milk. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and remaining 1/2 cup milk until smooth. Gradually whisk into soup.

Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly (so mixture does not burn). Reduce heat; add cheese and stir until completely melted. Add cayenne pepper.

Garnish with bacon - it's key and really makes it.



Thanks Country Cook for sharing this great recipe!


Have a great day and we'll chat soon!
CC

Friday, September 9, 2011

Best Sweet Potato Casserole in the Universe


With Fall approaching and me looking forward to wearing sweaters, jeans, knee boots and preparing endless crockpots of chili, my mind has also wandered to the holidays. I like to switch up the sides I fix to keep things interesting, so I start now by experimenting with a few to see if they are Thanksgiving and Christmas worthy.

I hit the jackpot with this sweet potato casserole recipe from Kraft. It's by far the best one I've ever had, surpasses those that taste like wallpaper paste that I've made in the past, and by golly, I think I have stumbled upon the ultimate sweet potato fixer againer!

Fasten your seatbelts folks, this is amazing!

What You Need
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 can (40 oz.) cut sweet potatoes, drained
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
2/3 cup craisins
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped Pecans

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT cream cheese, potatoes, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon with mixer until well blended. Spoon into 1-1/2-qt. casserole



Top with the chopped apples and craisins. Oh, this is such a party!



MIX flour, oats and remaining sugar in medium bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle over fruit.




BAKE 35 to 40 min. or until heated through.

WATCH as your family devours it and your children and husband ask for seconds.




Have a delicious weekend and don't forget to go church on Sunday!
CC