Happy Halloween

Today it's all about costumes, and candy, trick or treating, jack o lanterns, getting your spooky on. And candy...did I mention that already? So savor this moment, go through your kids stash and pull out your favorite candy and EAT THAT CANDY. It's one day. Light your jack o lanterns and get your spooky on. Oh and don't blink, cause then it will be Thanksgiving.

They'll never miss them...trust me ;)

Cheddar-Topped Shepard's Pie

I watched Martha Stewart make this on her show and couldn't wait to try this one on my family. It went over very well. My kids gobbled it up, even the veggies inside. It is now part of our regular dinner line-up. Perfect for a potluck.

 2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4) peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 medium carrots halved lengthwise, quartered if large, and thinly sliced
6 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 lbs ground beef chuck
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (6 ounces) recipe calls for white cheddar I use whatever I have on hand.

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover by 1 inch with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife. (15-20 minutes)

Meanwhile heat oil in a 5 quart dutch oven or heavy pot over med-high. Add carrots, celery, onion, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, 8-10 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook stirring 1 minute. Add beef; cook until no longer pink, 6-8 minutes. Add 1 cup water *(I use beef broth if I have it on hand) bring to boil and simmer 1 minute. Set beef aside.

Drain potatoes; return to pan cook over medium stirring until all liquid has evaporated about 1 minute. Remove from heat add milk and 1 cup of cheese. Mash until smooth season with salt and pepper.

Pour beef filling into 13X9inch baking dish. Drop dollops of potatoes on top and spread to edges with a spatula. Use a fork to make decorative peaks and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until topping is browned and filling is bubbling rapidly, about 20 minutes.

Pioneer Woman's Apple Fritters

So I could eat my weight in these things, actually I did eat my weight in these. Wow, that's all I can really say. They have apples in them..that makes them healthy....right?

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
powdered sugar for dusting

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In a separate bowl beat eggs with a fork then add milk, melted butter and vanilla
Gently fold dry and wet ingredients together until just combined, (do not over mix). Fold in apples.

Heat a couple of inches of canola oil over medium heat. Test the heat by dropping a tiny bit of batter in and make sure it sizzles and starts to turn brown. My first few browned up quickly but were raw in the middle, I just turned down the heat and waited a bit, they cooked slower and longer but turned out perfect. Drop teaspoons of batter into the hot oil, turning them as they brown. They should cook about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes total. Drain on a paper towel. Dust generously with powdered sugar, serve warm.

Goof Ball

I was taking pictures of some food the other night for some upcoming recipes and as usual Leon is at my feet, someday's I cannot tell if he just loves me so much he can't leave my side or he is secretly trying to get rid of me by making me trip over him and fall to my death. I decided to take a few shots of him. He started acting all strange. I wasn't even using my flash yet he would barely open his eyes. Like he was meditating or something.
I cannot tell if he's trying to be cute or pitiful, or evil.

 This is just plain weird...it kind of looks like he's guilty of something, maybe he just ate his poo again and is afraid he's been busted.
  Is he falling asleep? trying to be invisible? wishing he were anywhere else but here?
 no words.....
In this one he looks like he's trying to be wise....like a jedi master.

yes, that's definitely it!

Turkey Bacon and Cheese Burgers with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce and Potato Wedges

This is a Rachael Ray recipe.  The picture in the cookbook is what sold me on these burgers.  I have worked with ground turkey before and the recipes usually turn out dry and lacking in flavor. These burgers have changed my mind about turkey.  The flavors are fantastic and blend so well.


3 1/2 Tbsp EVOO
8 slices turkey bacon
2 tsps grated lime zest
3 limes
1 Tbsp  chipotle chili powder
1 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 scallions finely chopped
handful of cilantro finely chopped
3 lbs ground turkey
salt and pepper
1/2 red onion chopped
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp grainey mustard
1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, lightly drained
8 slices pepper jack cheese
toasted english muffins
sliced dill pickles (optional)

Heat 1/2 Tbsp EVOO in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add turkey bacon.  Cook until crisp, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate.  
While the bacon cooks combine the zest and juice of 2 limes with the chili powder, paprika, scallions and cilantro.  Add turkey to bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix together.  Form your patties. Add a Tbsp EVOO to same skillet you cooked your bacon in and  cook patties for about 4-5 minutes per side. While burgers are cooking heat 1 Tbsp EVOO in a meduim sauce pan heat over med-high.  Add your onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Then add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add worcestershire, mustard and tomatoes and let sauce cook on low while you cook second batch of burgers.  Top Burgers with cheese and you pull them off the heat.  To assemble your burgers place a pattie on the toasted english muffin top with pickles, bacon and fire roasted sauce. place on other end of english muffin.

Potato Wedges
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

4 baking potatoes
olive oil
Parmesean cheese
salt and pepper

Rinse and scrub your potatoes
slice into 1/8ths
toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt and pepper
spread on a baking sheet making sure not to overlap
cook for approx 30-40 minutes
remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesean cheese

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you love brownies you will love these cookies, they do not last long in our house.


1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture, mix until blended. Add chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set. Cool slightly on cookie sheets then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 

Parker's Beef Stew (Another Ina Recipe)

I love this woman, you know this by now. This is the best beef stew I have ever had. Try this recipe. It may just end up being the best beef stew YOU'VE ever had.

2 1/2 pound chuck beef cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 bottle good red wine
3 cloves garlic smashed
3 bay leaves
fresh ground pepper
kosher salt
good olive oil
2 yellow onions
1 pound carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 pound white mushrooms stems discarded cut in half
1 pound small potatoes cut in half or quartered
1Tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
1 large branch rosemary or 2 small
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp worcestershire
1 10 ounce package frozen peas

Place the beef in the bowl with red wine garlic and bay leaves. Place in frig to marinate overnight.
The next day preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the flour, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp pepper in a bowl. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the smashed garlic and bay leaves, reserving the marinade. In batches dredge the beef cubes in the flour shaking off the excess. In a heavy pot heat up 2 Tbsp olive oil, brown half the meat over medium heat until browned on all sides. (5-7 minutes). Once all the beef is browned (you may need to add more oil to the pan while browning) put in an oven proof dutch oven. Add another 2 Tbsp of oil to the hot pan and add your carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the hot, empty pot and deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the bits.Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, and worcestershire, 1 Tbsp salt, 2 tsp pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the lid on top and put in the oven for about 2 hours until the meat is tender, stirring once during the cooking process, if the stew is boiling rather then simmering at that time turn heat down to 275. Before serving stir in the frozen peas. Season to taste.

Brie En Croute

I've had both sweet and savory Brie, I'll take brie anyway I can get it. This is a sweet version, It's a Paula Deen recipe. Perfect for holidays. Eat it on it's own or slather on a water cracker or apple slice.

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry pre-packaged
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (8-ounce) wheel Brie
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Crackers, pears or apples, for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Defrost puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the walnuts in the butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and stir until walnuts are coated well. Place the walnut mixture on top of the Brie and sprinkle the brown sugar over the mixture. Lay the puff pastry out on a flat surface. Place the brie in the center of the pastry. Gather up the edges of the brie, pressing around the brie and gather at the top. Gently squeeze together the excess dough and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine. Brush the beaten egg over top and side of Brie. Place Brie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
Serve with crackers.
To give a special look, cut extra pastry into heart or flower shapes and bake until golden.

Caramel Apples

This is not a recipe post. But I do recommend making these...I made our whole family get flu shots this week. We did not get them last year, we all got the flu last year...at Christmas. We got our kids a new dog for Christmas and they did not care, they had fevers and chills and wanted to go back to bed, it was awful. We will not do that again...get the flu, or a dog. So we got our shots, and in return I let them make a mess of my kitchen. We made Caramel Apples,I had lots of toppings to choose from. I envisioned Williams and Sonoma's Caramel apples the size of your head all perfect and beautiful.

Halloween Caramel Apple

Yeah, they didn't turn out quite as perfect...
So my kids don't wear shirts, they HAVE shirts, lots of them, they just choose not to wear them, even in February, they DON'T WEAR THEM. It's weird. They are mine :) I still love them.

Pretty close huh? I'm thinking we could sell these, No?
Oh well, at least they had fun.

Chicken Pot Pie

When I think of comfort food, chicken pot pie comes to mind. I love one pot wonders, and since the veggies are all cooked together with the chicken I can get my kids to eat it because it all tastes the same! I have tried many recipes and adapted this one using ingredients I liked from each one. It's delicious.

*I use a rotisserre chicken for this recipe, it saves me so much time.


4 cups diced chicken
1 bag frozen soup mix veggies
1 cup diced potatoes
1/3 cup butter
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp celery seed
salt/pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
2 pre made refrigerated pie crusts


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Heat saute pan on medium heat. Melt butter add onions and potatoes and cook for 10 mins until tender. Stir in flour cook for about 2 min stirring constantly. Add broth, milk, cream, salt pepper, celery seed, chicken and veggies, reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened. Dump into a 13X9 baking dish. Top with 2 pie crusts, brush crusts with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut slits to prevent bubbling over. Bake for 45 min.

Pumpkin Crunch

This is Paula Deen's Aunt Trina's recipe. Boy that's a mouthful! Did anyone see Paula on Dr. Oz this week? I LOVE her. I am SHOCKED she has smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes a day for 50 years!!! I pray Dr. Oz can help her. Anyway, that was random....I can honestly say I have never heard of a pumpkin crunch until a week ago and I knew I had to test this recipe. First off, it is easy, second, it's quick, and WOW is it yummy. It is rich and delicious and a great dish to put on your Thanksgiving buffet.

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3 eggs beaten
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
2 sticks butter cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, milk, cinnamon, sugar until well combined. Add the beaten eggs and mix well.
Pour into a greased 9X13 baking dish, sprinkle cake mix evenly over top, sprinkle chopped pecans and then the butter pieces. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Top with whip cream. Listen friends, make your own whip cream, seriously, it's 100 times better than that container stuff, it takes 3 minutes to whip up, seriously 3 minutes, I timed it :) I don't measure, and I like it on the sweet side. I do equal parts heavy cream and powdered sugar, whip it good! (80's throwback) Add a splash of vanilla, add a dash of cinnamon for your autumn recipes, delicious!
  I've mentioned before, my kids don't do nuts, this is how most of our desserts look. 1/2 and 1/2

Boys and Football

I have THREE boys. There are not many dull moments in my house, I don't get a lot of "down time" unless I leave the house... ALONE. I get a lot of "Bless your heart" comments in public. They are rough, and rowdy, they break things and jump on furniture and throw my pillows. They stink, they are dirty, they burp and pass gas and laugh about it. They leave their socks and shoes all over the house, they leave their wet towels on the bathroom floor. It's crazy, I'm not gonna lie, some days I yell.
     When we went in for the ultrasound that third time and the nurse told me I was having a healthy baby boy, I wept. That sounds terrible I know. I just knew that this was my last chance for a girl, I did not want anymore babies three was enough. There would be no hair bows or dresses in my future, no tea parties and barbies. I cried like a baby and then felt horrible for crying. Of course I got over it, do not get me wrong I thank God everyday for the 3 blessings he has given me, I love and adore every single morsel of their dirty, stinky bodies. It is true that the older they get the easier it gets. They are becoming self sufficient for the most part. And they all love giving me hugs and kisses they have huge hearts and they are very caring and they love Jesus, so I can deal with the wet towels most days.
      Football is a huge part of our family. My husband is a die hard Panthers fan. He is raising his boys to be die hard Panthers fans. We don't win often but we will ALWAYS support them and cheer them on. I love that about my husband. I love the familiar surroundings of it, as a child my father was the same way, I also have 2 brothers. (they were stinky and dirty and passed gas and burped too) They grew up, they don't do that now, not often, there is hope. Our Sundays from late August til January involved our family in front of the TV watching football, supporting our team. Dad yelling at the TV. It was part of our childhood, part of our life. It's comforting and familiar to me. This weekend as I was admiring my boys cheering on their team giving each other high fives  I felt so much joy and happiness I loved the familiar, comforting feeling that filled my heart, I realized in that moment, that God knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he gave me three boys....and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Williams-Sonoma Apple Galette

I am not a patient baker, I am not a neat baker, usually my kitchen looks like an explosion took place after I am done baking. It's fine, it doesn't bother me. I don't do "pretty, dainty" desserts. I hate icing cakes, I love eating icing...I hate icing cakes, they never turn out "pretty" they taste good but they don't look so hot. Rustic is my middle name. SO when I saw this Apple Galette recipe I knew it was right up my alley. This is not an overly sweet dessert. I did not do the apricot jam part, I only had grape, that didn't sound good so I skipped it all together. The jam would make it a little sweeter. So,if you like rustic and don't do pretty, give this recipe a try.

Apple Galette

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 sticks cold butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

2 pounds apples (I used a variety) peeled, cored, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 eggs lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling
1/4 cup apricot jam

If you have a food processor you can make the dough in that, I do not so I use my mixer using the paddle attachment. I add all the dry ingredients and mix on medium, them set to low and add the butter, continue mixing until the butter looks the size of peas. slowly add water until the dough looks like course meal. If you squeeze the dough with your hands it should come together but not be sticky. Turn dough our onto plastic wrap, for into a disk and chill for 1 hours.
Preheat oven to 400. place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven. Position another rack in the lower 3rd part of the oven. Line another baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
To make the filling, in a large bowl combine the apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch, salt. Set aside.
Remove dough from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 12 inch round. Place on prepared cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Arrange the apple slices in the center of the dough, slightly mounding, leaving a 2 inch border. Gently fold the edges of the dough over the apples, pleating loosely. Brush dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle whole thing with sugar.
Bake until crust is golden and apples are tender. About 1 hour. Just before serving heat jam in a saucepan, brush the apples with the jam and let cool. Serve with whip cream. (Optional)

New York Part Deux

Chelsea Market is a really cool place to check out if your ever in the city. It is where they film many of the Food Network shows. Of course you cannot get up to see that part of it unless you pay for a tour, I was content just taking in all the other stuff they have available.

 I could have watched this guy all day, rolling out tons of dough so fast and effortless...
 Carb heaven. Sigh.
 I'll have one of everything.?.

 I am trying to figure out if I could squeeze that mixer in my kitchen.
 We love all the rustic brick walls inside, very cozy feeling.
 My only complaint about our visit was the warmer temps, living in the South you could find yourself sweating at Christmas. I wanted to not sweat in New York....that didn't happen.

 This guy still makes my heart skip a beat.

 This guy is NOT a statue.  Freaked some kids out when he smiled.
 That's me from a distance, so you can't see the sweat dripping down my face.
 Times Square
 We spent a good while in Central Park our last day there, it's so pretty.

I love New York. I miss it already and can't wait to go back.