Sensational Crock Pot Ribs

These finger-lickin'-good ribs fall off the bone and keep you coming back for more.

These finger-lickin’-good ribs fall off the bone and keep you coming back for more.

I have listened to every Food Network personality explain how to make ribs. Some say to boil ribs before grilling, while others protest that boiling the ribs is not the best method of action. All the conflicting information has made me a little wary of the whole world of ribs…. until now.

I found a recipe for crock pot ribs on Pinterest that sounded interesting and very easy. I modified the recipe from Team Hess just a bit, and this is the final result. I can tell you this: These ribs fell off the bone and were more delicious than any I have had in a restaurant.

From start to finish, this recipe should take approximately 8 hours.

Allison Siverly introduced me to Penzey's Spices when she was my neighbor and cooking partner in crime!

Allison Siverly introduced me to Penzey’s Spices when she was my neighbor and cooking partner in crime!

Ingredients
3 lbs. pork ribs
1 c. water
1/4 cups cooking sherry
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp Penzey’s Galena Street Rib & Chicken Rub
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup barbecue sauce

Right out of the crock pot, these ribs fall off the bone.  Notice the savory spices that cling to the ribs.

Right out of the crock pot, these ribs fall off the bone. Notice the savory spices that cling to the ribs.

Directions
Place ribs standing upright in crock pot.
Pour in sherry and water.
Sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, Galena Rub, and salt and pepper.
Pour barbecue sauce over ribs. Cook on low approximately 8 hours.
Serve with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

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All-Purpose Chicken

Easy and Delicious, this chicken can be served as your entree or as an ingredient in a more sophisticated dish.

Easy and Delicious, this chicken can be served as your entree or as an ingredient in a more sophisticated dish.

I am always looking for a good seasoning blend recipe to flavor chicken for a variety of purposes. This easy chicken recipe has great flavor and can be used to season chicken for Chicken Parmesan, chicken strips for a salad, or chicken as your main entree. I found this recipe on Pinterest on the blog: Our Life Uncommon and just modified it a bit. My crowd loved this in our Chicken Parmesan last night.

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 50 minutes.

Ingredients

Bowl of milk (enough to cover chicken)
½ stick margarine
1 lb. thinly-sliced chicken breasts
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp Possum seasoning
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut 1/2 stick of butter into a few pieces and place in a 9×13 pan.
Melt butter in pre-heated oven.
Place thawed chicken breast tenderloin strips in a bowl of milk.
Let chicken soak for 20-30 min.
Meanwhile, mix salt, Possum, black pepper, flour, and paprika in a gallon plastic bag.
After butter has melted, spread melted butter around the bottom of the pan.
Use cooking spray, if needed, to ensure there are no dry spots.
Shake excess milk off of chicken and completely coat each piece with the seasoning mix.
Either shake the chicken in the bag, until coated, or dip each piece in the bowl until coated.
Place each piece of chicken in the pan.
Cook for 15 min.
Turn each piece of chicken and continue cooking for 15 more minutes or until cooked through.

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French Toast Casserole

Delicious for breakfast or for a dessert served with vanilla ice cream.

Delicious for breakfast or for a dessert served with vanilla ice cream.

I have always loved French Toast.  I can remember my mother making French Toast in a skillet on the stove, and I used to order it everywhere I found it on the menu.  The Cottage House on Highway 268 in North Wilkesboro had the most interesting and amazing French Toast when I was growing up.  To this day, I don’t know what gave the toast its coffee-brown color and crunchy texture on the outside.  Inside, the crunchy toast was as soft as freshly baked bread.  Boy, I would love that recipe.

Today, I tried my first French Toast Casserole, and it was wonderful.  My first thought was that this could be served as a bread pudding with a side of ice cream rather than syrup.  I am going to try this on some friends at our next gathering.  Bon appetit!

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 60-75 minutes.

Ingredients

1 loaf french bread, cut into bite-sized cubes
8 oz. low-fat cream cheese, cubed
12 eggs
2 cups milk
2/3 cup syrup
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Spray 13 x 9 casserole dish with nonstick spray.
In a small mixing bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon.
Put half of the cubed bread into the bottom of the casserole dish.
Cover with the cream cheese cubes and half of cinnamon sugar mixture.
Cover with remaining bread cubes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and syrup.
Pour mixture over bread.
Sprinkle top with remaining sugar mixture.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Bake for 45-60 minutes.
If you shake pan and the bread jiggles, bake a little longer.
Serve hot with syrup.

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Cheesy Potato Soup

Potato soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold, winter day.

Potato soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold, winter day.

It’s cold outside, and it is bleak.  There are no leaves on the tress, and I find myself continuously counting down the days until spring returns.  It is on days like this that I just want to cuddle up on the couch with a good book, look out at the lake, and dream of the days we will be out there soaking up the sun.  What a great day for potato soup!  I went to Pinterest and looked through a variety of recipes and combined several to create this one.

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 5 hours 20 minutes.

Ingredients
8 cups chicken stock
5 lbs. russet potatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yellow onion diced
1 1/2 tbsp seasoned salt
1 1./2 tbsp black pepper
10 cloves garlic minced or 5 tbsp minced garlic
16 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: shredded cheese, bacon, green onions

Directions
Combine potatoes, stock, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in crock pot, and cook on high for five hours.
Stir in cheeses.
In a blender, emulsify about 1/2 of the soup, and return it to the crock pot.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with optional garnishes.

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Easy Cheesy Biscuits

Make these easy, scrumptious biscuits in less than 20 minutes.

Make these easy, scrumptious biscuits in less than 20 minutes.

Looking for a tasty starch to pair with any dinner?  Easy Cheesy Biscuits are the answer.  You can prep these delicious treats in five minutes and bake them in 12-15 minutes.  They will bring to mind Red Lobster’s cheese biscuits and are absolutely delicious.  However, these biscuits have fewer calories and fat.  Enjoy!

From start to finish, these biscuits will take approximately 20 minutes.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp Italian seasonings
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Stir all ingredients together.
Scoop evenly into a muffin pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake 12-15 minutes until baked thoroughly.

Makes 12 biscuits.

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Granny’s Best Chocolate Pound Cake

Granny's cake is moist, light, and perfect with a tall, cold glass of milk.

Granny’s cake is moist, light, and perfect with a tall, cold glass of milk.

Saturday nights were routine when I was growing up.  We’d go out to dinner somewhere, usually Western Steer, or Quincy’s, after a day of working on the farm in the chicken houses, garden, or lawn.  Then, after dinner, we would go visit my Granny Ola and Papa Stace.  Usually, my grandfather was sitting on the couch watching Lawrence Welk, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, or some sporting event.  We were at Papa’s mercy when it came to television.  It was his house, his rules, and his TV.

whole cakeHowever, my brother nor I seemed to mind too much because we knew every Saturday night Granny would have a homemade dessert for us to eat, and even if we couldn’t watch shows on TV that we liked, we could always look forward to the tasty treat that awaited.  You never knew what it would be… Coconut Cream Cake, Italian Cream Cake, Pound Cake, Chocolate Pie, Butterscotch Pie, Cherry Yum Yum, or a variety of other delectable delights.  I can still remember the adults drinking Sanka after the kettle whistled and forks clinking against plates while Marlin Perkins described the nocturnal habits of some exotic creature in the background.

My mom made a copy of my Granny's recipe that she found in a drawer in Granny's kitchen.

My mom made a copy of my Granny’s recipe that she found in a drawer in Granny’s kitchen.

Fast forward 30+ years to just a few months ago when my mother called me to share that she had discovered a tattered piece of notebook paper in the recesses of one of my grandmother’s kitchen drawers.  It was the recipe for Granny’s chocolate pound cake in her own handwriting.  We couldn’t believe it.  It has been years since my grandmother could bake a cake.  Age and time have taken their toll on her culinary abilities.  She was a master, and we have most of her recipes, but we never could find the chocolate pound cake recipe until recently.  It is the most moist and delicious chocolate pound cake I have ever eaten.  It took me back to those wonderful Saturday nights of anticipation of a delicious treat awaiting us at Granny’s house.

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 2 hours.

Ingredients
1 cup Crisco
1 stick butter
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 level tbsp cocoa
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring
1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions
Cream room temperature butter, Crisco, and sugar until fluffy.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa together.
Add flour mixture alternatively with milk until well blended.
Add vanilla and eggs one at a time.
Beat well.
Pour into a large, greased and floured bake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until done.

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Lakeside Chicken Pot Pie

This hearty, delicious meal is perfect on a cold, winter night.

This hearty, delicious meal is perfect on a cold, winter night.

When I was a child, our family would make our annual trek to Myrtle Beach each summer for five glorious days in the South Carolina sunshine.  My grandparents had a Taurus camper, and we always stayed at Pirateland Family Campground.  I had the most amazing experiences there:  meeting children from all over North America, fishing, riding bikes at dusk and marveling at the strings of festive lighting that hung from the awnings of campers throughout the park, swimming in the pool and ocean, playing video games, and watching my grandmother cook breakfast in a cast-iron skillet every morning.  However, when dinner rolled around, there was only one restaurant in all of Myrtle Beach (well… according to my grandparents anyway), and that restaurant was K&W Cafeteria.

No matter how good your pie looks or smells, be sure to let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

No matter how good your pie looks or smells, be sure to let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Every single night of our trip, we stood waiting in line, sometimes up to an hour, to get our trays and respond to one and two-word commands such as, “Salad?,”  “Y’awna meat?,” and “Bread?”  Back then, there were no hand-held video games to pass the time.  I would sometimes bring along a book to read in line, but most of the time, I would just chat with my brother or my cousin Michael as we would weave around the building and inside to the cafeteria-style meal.

My favorite entree was Chicken Pan Pie.  I ordered it every night they had it on the line.  I can remember being disappointed if they didn’t have my entree of choice.  To this day, when I take Jackson to J&S or K&W, I will often find myself transported back to the beach trips of my youth, and I will splurge and order the Chicken Pan Pie.  I smile each time Jackson orders this entree and blissfully proclaims it his favorite.

Surprisingly, I have never tried to make a Chicken Pot Pie until last night.  I scoured the websites for a recipe I thought would be tasty.  I modified the recipe below from this one I found at allrecipes.com.   I was not disappointed.  It was absolutely delicious.  One word of advice though:  No matter how good it looks and smells when the pie comes out of the oven, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Once it cools, the sauce thickens and is much tastier.

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. (This recipe makes two 9-inch pies.)

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds uncooked chicken breast
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups frozen green peas
2 cups potatoes diced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 stick butter
1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp celery seed
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
4 9-inch unbaked pie crusts

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a pot, combine chicken, carrots, peas, potatoes and celery.
Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent.
Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed.
Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk.
Simmer over medium-low heat until thick.
Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crusts.
Pour hot liquid mixture over.
Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough.
Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Walnut Brownie Pie

If you like chocolate and walnuts, you will love this pie.

If you like chocolate and walnuts, you will love this pie.

When I was in college at Western Carolina University from 1991-1995, one of my favorite things to do my freshman year was to get in the car and drive to Waynesville, NC with my friends Jeff Dillard, Pam Ward, and Robert Evans.  We would go to the Shoney’s Restaurant and order dessert.  I always ordered the Hot Fudge Walnut Brownie with ice cream.  I can’t begin to tell you how many laughs we had over dessert and how much these three young people meant to me my first year in college.  We were innocent, silly, and ready to take on the world.  Pam, Jeff, and Robert were my first college friends.  My memories of our time together are priceless.

Over the past 22 years, I have often been reminded of these late night treks to Shoney’s in Waynesville when I have eaten rich and decadent chocolate desserts.  However, sometime during the mid-90s, Shoney’s stopped carrying the brownie on its menu, and I have not had anything like it in two decades.  All that changed today as I searched for a new pie recipe so I could use the pie crust in my refrigerator.  I was limited by the few ingredients I have in the cabinets, and my search was proving futile, until I stumbled upon this recipe.

It looked easy and delicious, and I had all the ingredients!  Little did I know that upon first bite I would be transported back 22 years to those late night jaunts to Waynesville for dessert.  This pie, without a doubt, is an almost perfect reproduction of my favorite Shoney’s dessert – Hot Fudge Walnut Brownie.  Not only is the pie unbelievably easy and delicious, but the nostalgia was better than the dessert.  🙂

From start to finish, this recipe will take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.

Ingredients
1 9 inch pie shell
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven until 325 degrees.
Dust both sides of the crust with flour.
Add sugar and brown sugar until well blended.
Add flour and blend well.
Blend in melted butter and vanilla.
Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts
Pour into shell.
Bake one hour.
Serve warm with ice cream.

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Spicy Chicken Bake

This satisfying meal is perfect when you don't have much time but desperately want something homemade.

This satisfying meal is perfect when you don’t have much time but desperately want something homemade.

Today, I just craved comfort food, but I wanted something spicy as well. I did a little Internet research and combined several of my findings with what was in my cabinets, and I whipped up this spicy, comforting meal in just a few minutes. If you want to take out some of the kick, use mild Ro-Tel. If you want to spice it up even more, don’t drain your Ro-Tel, and add just 3 cups of water instead of 4.

From start to finish, this recipe will take you approximately 90 minutes.

Ingredients
2 lbs. chicken breast strips
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of cream of chicken & mushroom
1 can Ro-Tel drained
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tsp coarse black pepper
2 cups jasmine rice
3 cups water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease bottom of Dutch oven or 9×13 baking dish.
Place chicken evenly in bottom of oven/dish.
In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients well.
Pour mixture over chicken.
Bake covered for 1 hour to 90 minutes or until rice is tender.

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