Monday, December 29, 2008

Cranberry Apple Casserole

Back in the day when I was working as an Extension Home Economist, several of my colleagues from surrounding counties put together a travelling road show every year of holiday favorites. Our focus was not on just producing good recipes, but including important nutrition, menu planning and food safety tips in the presentation. It was during this time that Baldwin Morris shared her recipe for Cranberry Apple Casserole. For more than 25 years, this has been a family favorite and is always on our holiday table. This year I added a pint of frozen blueberries from our garden. The blueberries tamed some of the tartness of the cranberries and extended the recipe to feed more. Try this recipe and I promise it will become one of your family's favorites!

Cranberry Apple Casserole

I package fresh cranberries
3 Granny Smith apples, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine fruit and sugar in a greased 11 3/4" by 7 1/2" Pyrex dish. Mix together remaining ingredients and spread over the fruit. Bake for 1 hour or until brown and bubbly. Serves 10.

Breakfast Casserole

A breakfast favorite at Quail Hollow is the easy, delicious Breakfast Casserole that is prepared the night before and refrigerated overnight. That is just what I did for this year's Christmas brunch and there was none left!

Breakfast Casserole

1 pound bulk sausage
6 slices of bread, cubed
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
6 eggs
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage in a large skillet. Drain. In a greased 11 3/4" by 7 1/2" Pyrex dish, layer the bread cubes, sausage and cheese. Beat eggs and add milk, salt and pepper. Pour over layers, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes to an hour and the center is set and the top is golden brown. 8 - 10 servings.

Granny's Cookbook

Several years ago, Kenny's mom and I started work on a scrapbooked cookbook of her favorite recipes. Granny gathered the recipes while I hung out at the local scrapbook shops looking for just the right paper and scrapbook for the project. Work began on the computer, typing the recipes using cute fonts. This was the easy part, well kind of easy considering the number of fonts I purchased. Next came the task of finding suitable pictures. A search of the pictures I had collected over the years and a look into Granny's stash resulted in some great photos. Copies of the pictures were made at Target, lots of copies since I planned to create multiple cookbooks, one for every family member.

With the recipes, photos, and a variety of papers - all color coordinated - I set out to create the pages. The progress was slow and even with weekly scrapbooking nights at Dale's, I couldn't seem to get the past the many decisions - which paper to use, the layout of the page and selecting just the right picture for each page. I would frequently pull out the project and sit and look at the 3 pages finished.

With Granny's 87th birthday in July, I knew that it was time to finish the cookbook. My goal was to have the cookbook completed in time for Christmas. The format changed from a scrapbook to a digital book, thanks to Blurb. I finally realized that I am not a scrapbooker but I do love working on the computer. I had previously tried some of the online sites for booking making, but Blurb was unique because the BookSmart software is installed on your own computer and you don't have to upload your pictures to a website and be online to work on your book.

After many hours of work, the cookbook was completed just in time for the deadline for Christmas delivery. When the books arrived, I was thrilled with the quality and proud of what will be my first of many books from Blurb. This was a labor of love and honor for Granny, a wonderful mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who feed her family well with delicious Southern foods.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Cioppino is a wonderful seafood stew native to the docks of San Francisco. As the story goes, Italian immigrant fisherman coming home from a day of fishing would all "chip in" a small portion of their catch for a seafood stew made on the docks. The broken English of the Italians soon became "chip in o" and thus the name of this stew. If you search the Internet, you will find lots of recipes for Cioppino.

Or you can stop by Williams-Sonoma and buy a jar of the Cioppino Soup Base. Just add your seafood and you will have a meal in minutes. My rendition included a pound of shrimp, a pound of mussels and a couple of tilapia filets. Serve with crusty garlic bread and you have a delicious, quick meal.

Christmas 2008

Today the was the end of our wonderful Christmas celebration. There are no presents under the tree, the house is a wreck and the frig is full of leftovers. This is often a sad day, but for me, my heart is full of memories of spending time with family and friends. Too often we can become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and fail to take the time to enjoy the little things. Things like watching Reeves open his Christmas present from us and begin planning his trip to Monster Jam. And Cash's excitement with the Lightning McQueen motorized car as he learned to use the remote to speed across the floor. And playing games with Maggie. These are times that are special and will be remembered for years to come.

This year's family celebration started on Christmas Eve with dinner at Quail Hollow. After dinner, we enjoyed the Christmas Communion Service at Newnan Presbyterian Church. On Christmas morning, Terri and Payton served a delicious brunch with Breakfast Burritos as we watched Reeves enjoyed his presents from Santa. After brunch we went to Peggy's to visit with Granny.

But this was just the beginning of our Christmas celebration. On Friday, Kacy, Judi, Jason, Sherri, Maggie, Reeves, Doug and Melody joined us. Saturday began with brunch and was followed by a shopping trip to Ashley Park. I loved taking Maggie and Cash to the new candy store and we all selected a bag of our favorite candies. One observation, Kenny and I filled our bag with chocolate treats while Maggie and Cash selected the taffies, gummies and other sugar treats.

After shopping, it was time to get ready for dinner in the barn. Judi and Kacy provided the appetizers of Redneck Caviar and Cheesy Sausage Dip. Payton cooked the turkey and Crawfish Dressing while Kenny and I made the Dressing with Giblet Gravy, Cranberry Casserole, and Pannetone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce. Peggy and her family brought Baked Ham, Hash Brown Potato Casserole, and Green Beans. Lisa's treat was a Sausage Roll. For dessert, Judi made her almost famous Apple Pie and Terri baked one of the family's favorites, Bourbon Pound Cake. As you can tell from the pictures below, a good time was had by all!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Beef Tenderloin for Christmas Eve

It has become a tradition to have Christmas Eve Dinner at Quail Hollow. This year Mama, Daddy, Payton, Terri, and Reeves joined Kenny and I for dinner. The menu included Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Sauteed Mushrooms and Pearl Onions, Roasted Beets and Oranges Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette, and Hot Bread. This is a very simple meal to prepare and absolutely delicious. The potatoes were simply boiled in their skins, smashed and mixed with one head of roasted garlic, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. The mushrooms were sliced, sauteed in butter with on pack of frozen pearl onions, and seasoned with red wine and Worchestershire sauce. The horseradish sauce is equal parts of sour cream and mayonnaise, a dash of Worchestershire sauce and enough horseradish to give it a kick.

Beef Tenderloin

1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sear the tenderloin on all sides in 2 tablespoons olive oil until brown. Mix together the mustard, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and thyme. Place the tenderloin on a rack in a roasting pan. Brush the mustard mixture evenly on all sides of the tenderloin. Bake in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes until the internal temperature of the tenderloin reaches 125 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve. 8 servings.

Roasted Beets and Oranges Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

There are many foods I have never cooked before and beets are in my list. For our Christmas Eve dinner, I decided to try a different salad and with fresh beets in the frig, this was the perfect opportunity to incorporate them into our dinner. After an Internet search, this was the result, a beautiful tasty salad with seasonal fruits and vegetables and the perfect compliment to beef tenderloin.

Roasted Beets and Oranges Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

6 beets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
Salad greens
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup roasted pecans, chopped

Wash the beets and cut off the tops. Place the beets in a roasting pan, drizzle with the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender. Remove from the oven, cool, remove skins and and cut into wedges. Combine the balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add beets and onions and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the citrus juices, honey, olive oil, thyme and salt. Toss the salad greens with just enough vinaigrette to coat the lettuce (you will have some left over). Plate the greens and top with the roasted beets and onions, orange slices, blue cheese and pecans. Serves 8.

For those of you who want to make this salad in a hurry, pick up a jar of pickled beets and some orange sections. I think you will like the results.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Alessandra's Meatballs

During our trip to Italy, we had the pleasure of cooking in Alessandra's kitchen. One of our favorite dishes was Polpettine di Olive, or as I call it Alessadra's Meatballs. This was the first of the many recipes Alessandra shared with us and it has been a hit with our family and friends. The preparation is simple and the tasty treats can be frozen before breading and used as needed. Tonight we made them for our neighborhood dinner. As you can see, Kenny was the fry cook! Thanks, Alessandra for sharing your kitchen and love for cooking.

Alessandra's Meatballs

2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
3/4 cups celery, chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound bulk sausage
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup olives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Panko bread crumbs
Saute the vegetables in the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the meats and cook until done, stirring to break the meat into small pieces. Drain, if needed. Return to the skillet and add the wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the parmesan, 1egg, and the seasonings. Mix well and chill. Once chilled, form into 1-inch balls. At this point the meatballs can be chilled or frozen. Roll the meatballs in flour, egg and bread crumbs and fry in olive oil until brown. Serve with mayonaise seasoned with Worchesteshire sauce, basil and oregano. Makes 40 meatballs.