Monday, February 19, 2018

The BEST Snickerdoodle Cookies...

I LOVE cookies.  I love making them AND eating them.  These Snickerdoodles from Smitten Kitchen NEVER EVER disappoint. They come out perfect every time and always make me and everyone else that eats them very very  happy.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

In one bowl, stir together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Using a mixer or hand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine. At this point, I chilled the dough for an hour (or you can overnight) before scooping it, because I otherwise found it too difficult to scoop into balls and roll but the original recipe doesn’t find this step neccessary.
Once dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small ice-cream scoop* to form balls of the dough, and roll Bake at 400 degrees until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about five minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. In theory, they can be stored in an airtight container up to one week, but I say good luck wtih that.

Happy baking!!!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Only Pizza Dough Recipe You'll Ever Make Again...

Mr. U and I have been married for 19 years.  And over the course of these wonderful 19 years, I've probably made at least 12 different pizza dough recipes.  I have been searching for THE recipe- you know, the one that makes you want to make homemade more than you want to call up Domino's or Little Caesar's. 


I said last year I'd share the recipe after we made it several times and we were all positive it was "the one".  Well,  IT IS!!!!  So I'm finally sharing it,  It's so good and really easy- so easy that my 11 year old is now the official pizza crust maker.  

So STOP TALKING and get to the recipe, right??

"The One"... Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 T olive oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Combine water, sugar, and yeast and gently stir.  Let it sit for a few minutes.  When the yeast "blooms" (see video below to see what blooming looks like) stir in oil and salt and gradually add in flour.  Knead until combined and smooth- 5-10 minutes.  Place in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).  Punch down dough and roll into pizza.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. (But remember all ovens are different so pay attention that it doesn't burn!!)

This can also be made ahead and frozen!!!  Knead the dough and instead of letting it rise, place it in a zip loc freezer bag and close it tightly.  When you are going to use it, take out of the freezer and out of the bag and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Let it thaw and then rise- anywhere between 4-6 hours based on how cool or warm your kitchen is.  When risen, roll out and bake as directed above. 

We've also made this in the morning when we knew we were going to be gone all day!!  When you put it in the lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.  When you get home and ready to cook dinner, take it out and see how it's doubled!!  It's all ready to be rolled out into a pizza shape for dinner and baked like the recipe says!!  

Y'all,  it's SO SO SO good to finally have "the one" after all these years of my attempts!!

Monday, February 05, 2018

My Southern Sour Cream Poundcake...

There are a few recipes that seem to be just so Southern and pound cake is one of them. I've been holding back on sharing this recipe for a long while.  It is my FAVORITE pound cake recipe in the universe!!  Why have I been holding back?  Well, selfishness, I suppose.  It's just SO SO SO good.  Mr. U says he likes it best with a glass of sweet tea.  Me?  I just like it period!! 

See how the individual slice looks?  Look at the crust toward the bottom of the photo- now THAT is good crust!!!  Kind of doughy looking, but not doughy at all- just dense and full of flavor!!!

Here's what you need for this recipe.  Not a lot of ingredients and there's a really good chance you've already got all you need waiting for you in your kitchen.

Let's get baking!!!!

Sour Cream Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
3 cups all purpose flour
8 ounces sour cream (NOT fat free)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 T vanilla

Heat oven to 315 degrees.  

Prepare a bundt pan by wiping it throughly all inside with butter or shortening and then dusting with flour and pour out any extra flour remaining in pan.  (You can use Pam and spray the pan, too, if you'd rather).  

In one bowl, sift flour and baking soda together and set aside.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugar well; add vanilla and then eggs- one yolk at a time.  Add 1/3 of the flour/baking soda mixture and mix well.  Then add 1/2 the sour cream and mix well.  Then add another 1/3 of the flour/baking soda mixture and mix well.  Then add the rest of the sour cream and mix well.  Finally add the rest of the flour/baking soda mixture and mix well.  In a third bowl, add salt to the egg whites and beat with mixer until fluffy.  Then gently fold egg whites into the batter.  Carefully pour into your prepared bundt pan and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes until done.  There should be no jiggle left and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.  Cool 5 minutes in pan and then turn onto a plate to cool completely.  

(Note about photo below: see this crust on top?  It's going to be on the bottom as soon as you turn this out onto a plate or platter.  At least that's the way my mom has always done and I'll do it the same way until the day I die.  Why?  Because if my mom does it that way, then it's the right way.  <smile>)

This is how pretty it looks after being turned out of the bundt pan. See how sweetly they are already kind of sectioned off?  Like it's just asking to be cut into smaller and larger pieces?  Yes, I prefer the larger pieces, but I bet you already knew that. :)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sausage Lentil Soup...

How's the weather where y'all are?  It's been such a crazy winter here in Atlanta.  A snow before Christmas and then another snow two weeks ago.  NOT typical for our state at all!!!  

These cold days call for something warm and tasty to fill our families' bellies.  Eons ago, I shared a lentil soup recipe we really enjoy and it cooks up in the crock pot.  SIMPLE!!!  Today, I'm sharing yet another lentil soup recipe and this time it features hot Italian sausage- so SO good!!!

Sausage Lentil Soup

1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tsp salt
2 cups dry lentils
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp basil 
1 tsp oregano 
1 T parsley
1/4 tsp thyme

Using a dutch oven or stock pot, brown sausage.  Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat cover.  Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Serve each bowl with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  This makes 8 hearty servings. 

OH!!  And if you want something super tasty to serve with your soup, buy or make some french bread and serve it with this DEEEELICIOUS dipping sauce!!  Have you been to Carrabba's? They serve something very similar with their bread.  A change from garlic bread, but really really good!!!

Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/8 dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or ground sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients except oil and lemon juice in a small food processor or coffee bean grinder or use a mortar and pestle. Chop until all ingredients are about the same size. Stir in oil and lemon juice. To serve, combine about 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend to 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil on a small dish. Dip sliced bread in mixture. 

Y'all be sure and let me know if you try these out!!  Recipes on my blog are recipes that I REALLY make for my family. These are all meant to be made by YOU in YOUR kitchen for the people you love.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Easy and Delicious Chicken Taco Salad...

There are probably a hundred ways to make taco salad.  This is just one version I serve my family and I think it's delicious! And it's a cinch, too, because I cook the chicken in the slow cooker.  Easy peasy!!!!

Chicken Taco Salad

-3 chicken breasts
-3 T taco seasoning mix (from store bought or homemade)
-romaine lettuce
-grated cheese of your choice
-pickled jalapeƱos
-sour cream
-tortilla chips
-good squeeze of lime

Place 3 chicken breasts in the slow cooker that's been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle taco seasoning  mix on top of each chicken breast, add 1/4 cup water, and cook on low 7 hours or high 4 hours.  When done, remove from slow cooker and shred with a fork.  Then pile your plate with chopped lettuce, seasoned chicken, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, jalapeƱos (feel free to use fresh if you want, too!!!), sour cream, salsa, crushed tortilla chips, and squeeze the lime on top.  So SO good!!!  Whatever toppings each family member loves most will make each plate so tasty.

Tip: Make sure you have all ingredients chopped beforehand so that when it comes time to eat it's all just a matter of piling it all up on your plate.  YUM!!!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Beefy Enchiladas...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who LOVES Mexican food.  Am I right?  And I am also sure I am not the only one who can't afford to go out to eat at a Mexican restaurant every night, correct?  So why not give Mexican flavors a try at home?  

I have two enchilada recipes on my blog (Sour Cream Enchiladas and Chicken Enchiladas in Cream) and both are SO SO SOOOO good!!!  But WHERE'S THE BEEF?  (totally showing my age with that comment!!  Who else knows where that came from??) 

I've been making this Beefy Enchilada recipe since 2001!!!!  For the life of me, I cannot figure out WHY I haven't shared this before!  It's incredibly easy and, clearly, one we enjoy since I've been making it for so long.  

The recipe is from Quick Cooking with Karin Calloway and it looks like that cookbook can only be found used now.  :(  Karin is a chef and did weekly cooking tips and recipes at The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA.  She also had a weekly spot on a local TV station sharing recipes.  Every recipe of hers I have ever tried have been so tasty!!!  

Hope y'all enjoy trying these enchiladas!  

Beefy Enchiladas
1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning (or make your own taco seasoning)
1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
8 fajita size flour tortillas
8 oz cream cheese (I prefer neufchatel- it's just creamier)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (10 oz) can mild enchilada sauce
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Brown ground beef and drain well.  Return to pan and add taco seasoning and green chiles and remove from heat.  

In the middle of a flour tortilla, spread 1 oz of cream cheese.  
Then carefully place 1/4 cup of the beef mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll up. Place in the prepared 9x13 pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas. 

Pour tomatoes and enchilada sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  

Remove foil after 30 minutes and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

Makes 4-6 servings.  

Monday, January 08, 2018

How to Menu Plan...

(image found here)

I did not fully appreciate all that my mom taught me while growing up.  Nor did I truly appreciate all the things she did that I simply watched her do and learned by her example.  One such example is menu planning. 

I remember watching her on Friday nights. She'd get some paper and pen and sit down in her favorite chair, turn on a TV show, and start writing down her grocery list to be shopped for the following day.  My sweet dad always went on Saturdays and got whatever my mom had written on her list for him to buy.  I will admit to truly wishing she'd write down 5 boxes of Krispy Kreme donuts or several boxes Lucky Charms cereal, but somehow neither ever appeared on her lists.  :)

She started by listing the days of the week like this...

... and beside each day she listed a dinner idea.  Now that did NOT mean that we would have what was listed on each day on THAT particular day. It just showed her what was available to cook that week.  For example, the above list shows Ham and Black Bean Soup for Monday.  We had it on Thursday because it ended up being easier on my schedule this particular week.  

After making the menu out, my mom would then list all that she needed to prepare each dish.  Then she'd add in stuff needed for breakfasts and lunches, as well.  Here in our home, we eat leftovers or simple sandwiches for lunch. Our breakfasts are eggs or oatmeal of some kind of homemade muffin or pancakes.

After the menu is made, she would go to her pantry (well, I think she USUALLY did this... Mom, if you're reading this, please correct me!!!) and if she found she already had an ingredient, she would scratch it off her list.  I do this and it works really well for me because who wants to end up with 8 cans of cream of chicken soup because you forgot to check and see if you already had it on hand?!?! (Yes, totally speaking from experience here!!!)

The end result looks something like this photo above.  Nothing fancy.  No beautiful handwriting needed.  Just a list of what is needed to feed your family for the upcoming week.  I personally shop every Saturday. Mr. U usually works on Saturdays, but if he is off on Saturday, I will make sure I get groceries on Friday so that we can have family time together.  :) 

(By the way, there are plenty of people who shop every two weeks or even once a month!!!)

After your list is complete, it's just a matter of heading to the store (or stores) to purchase what's needed.  I always head to Aldi first and then Publix to get whatever Aldi did not have that I needed.   This particular day, I also needed to stop at Sprouts for a few things (their coffee is THE BOMB!!!!!!).  Then I headed home, put away all the groceries, and sat back and relaxed knowing that our food was taken care of for the upcoming week.  

THANK YOU, Mom, for teaching me how to menu plan!!  I've met soooo many ladies who have no clue where to start and I am so sooo thankful for your example!!

If y'all have any questions, PLEASE feel free to ask!!  And if y'all have any ideas to share that work for you, please share that, too!!  


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