Chicken Salad and Spring

Green Sandwich Star

Green Sandwich Star

I guess losing someone never gets easier. Or maybe it does, and I don’t remember things being so tough after losing Paw-Paw so many years ago.  I was a teenager then, and now an adult.  The heart understands more now, and in turn I believe it does hurt more.  With that being mentioned, I’m looking forward to Spring.  I really am.  It was a gosh awful Fall and Winter.  Sometimes I think only my head understands, and not another soul can relate.  But, I know out there others have dealt with the same situations I have been going through recently.  Which is just proof that survival happens.

Which brings me back to Spring.  Spring always reminds me of renewal and a refresh on life.  From that first bird chirp waking me up in mid-January, to the ever questionable weather leading up to the first day of Spring, it’s always exciting.  For the past month at least, we’ve had snow, thunder, and 70s.  I love the North Carolina weather.  Seriously.  *smiles*  I am, however, looking forward to sunshine again.  That nice, warm, sunshine that kisses the skin (at least when I’m wearing my 5,000 SPF sunscreen, *wink*).

Sunshine reminds me of picnics.  Picnics remind me of sandwiches.  Sandwiches remind me of my favorite kind, Chicken Salad.  Now I’ll fully admit that I definitely cop out and always get Chickfila Chicken Salad Sandwiches in lieu of making my own homemade.  (It’s so good!  If you haven’t tried it, the next time you’re around one, please do.)  Sometimes though, I get the feeling like I need to grow up and make my own like any self respecting Southern lady does.  But it’s so easy to just buy the best!  *sigh*

The initial search began with a quest to find St. Patricks Day food.  I wanted something kind of green or “March” for y’all.  I then came across, somehow, a Lemon Chicken Sandwich recipe featured on one of Oprah’s Australian Outback shows in 2011.  Ummmm….no idea why that came up in that particular search.  But, I had a hankering for chicken salad recently, and something was screaming at me to make them!  That, and the photograph featured was beautiful to me.  So I had to accept the challenge to duplicate it.

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…their photograph…

If you haven’t figured it out yet, you should know that I don’t always follow recipes (unless dough is involved…I suck at dough) in my kitchen.  I take them under advisement.  It’s just more fun that way.  *smiles*  The version I came up with was basily delicious.  Honestly.  With NO lemon and NO mint as the original recipe suggested.  I’m not that dainty when it comes to cooking.  Just seemed like I could find a better use for the lemon juice and mint by making a cocktail later.  *wink*

After it was all said and done, and the photo was to my liking, I decided I couldn’t possibly eat all of the Chicken Salad sandwiches I had made, and they were deconstructed.  As you see below, one outside edge was decorated with chopped chives.  I scraped those off into the Chicken Salad as well and mixed everything together before storing it in the fridge.  It was best the next day, and even though you may feel it was a lot of chives to include in the recipe, the basil and chives balanced each other perfectly.  Don’t forget, salads like this are always better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld together in the fridge.  Hope you enjoy!

Green Up Close Sandwich

Basil and Chive Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 chopped cooked chicken breasts (I chopped mine very fine for a less chunky consistency)
  • 3/4 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise (plus extra for spreading)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil leaves
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped chives
Directions
To make the Chicken Salad: Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, basil, salt and pepper.  If you do NOT want to garnish your sandwiches, throw the chives in the mix as well.  Set aside in the fridge until ready to eat.
To garnish the sandwiches: Cut into small triangles and brush one side with extra mayonnaise. Press the mayonnaise into the chives and serve.  On a side note: to prevent getting too many chives caked on to one sandwich, I spread a thin layer of chives on a cutting board, and then pressed the mayonnaise smeared edge into them.

*For the original recipe that includes the Lemon and Mint on Oprah.com click here.

To go along with the green and March theme, I did make candy coated Jumbo Marshmallows that day as well.  *big smiles*  Jumbo marshmallows that I dipped in Vanilla candy coating and pressed Lucky Charms marshmallows into.  Easy and magically delicious!  *wink*

Green Marshamallows Lucky Charms

Changing the way we cook: Dialysis friendly recipes

20131128_121551What a crazy month it’s been!  Four weeks ago tomorrow, Maw-Maw was first admitted to the hospital for kidney failure and a myriad of other things.  Two weeks before that approximately she had a pretty bad fall, and that started the downhill roll for her kidneys.  Between work, home, and hospital (or rehab center for 4 days) we’re all exhausted and ready for a break.  

Good news is that she came home Friday – hopefully for good now.  All of us are tired of hospitals to be perfectly honest. 

The bad news….

She is now on permanent Dialysis.

We’re a family that eats together a LOT.  I grew up around the dinner table and have wonderful memories of everyone being together with a warm meal.  Chicken Pie, Roasts, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, brownies, cakes, pies, etc.  We always had a delicious meal.  Well, times have changed a bit.  With Maw-Maw’s dietary restrictions, we really have to think outside the box.  Things that were once second nature to throw together for a decent meal, now have to be prepared special ways, or have many normal foods that we cook with excluded.  Needless to say, it’s been a challenge.  But, it’s a challenge we’ve all accepted and are determined to conquer! 

We’ve been looking at this site, http://www.davita.com/recipes/.  It’s been able to provide us lots of recipes and ideas for meals that Maw-Maw can enjoy.  Below are a few that I have found tasty.  If I made any substitutions, I listed them in parenthesis.  I’ve also linked each recipe from the actual site if you want to read other people’s comments and suggestions.

As a whole of any situation we’re handed, we have a choice.  We can lie down and pity ourselves and feel like life is over as we know it, or we can pick ourselves up by our boot straps and make the most of it.  In the end of this hurdle, it’s not really bad news.  If only for the simple reason, that she IS able to do Dialysis and continue living with us. 

One person’s health may impact the entire family with holiday meals and all, but it takes that entire family’s support to help one person’s health.  We do what we have to do, and we do it out of love in this family.  Love of one another, and love of our time spent together.

 

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 All-American Meatloaf

These were actually really tasty when I made them in the Muffin pans.  This was one of our  items we had in the hospital on Thanksgiving.  The review from the patient was that they would be best served fresh.  Unfortunately, hospitals don’t just have microwaves near the rooms.  *smiles*  Unfortunately, we ate these before I could snap a photo.  *wink*

Ingredients

    • nonstick cooking spray or oil to grease pan
    • 1 pound lean ground beef (10% fat)
    • 1 egg (I used Egg Substitute)
    • 20 squares saltine-type crackers, unsalted tops, finely crushed
    • 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped  (I used minced onion)
    • 2 tablespoons liquid nondairy creamer  (Coffeemate)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup catsup  (no-Salt added)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon milk (Coffeemate)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray or oil (I used a muffin tin to make mini meat loafs since I was carrying them to the hospital for us to eat there on Thanksgiving.)
  3. In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, finely crushed crackers, onion, nondairy creamer and black pepper. Mix well.
  4. Form into a loaf and place in loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. To make topping sauce, mix catsup, brown sugar, vinegar and milk in a small bowl.
  6. Remove cooked meatloaf from oven and cover with sauce.
  7. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  8. Slice into 6 portions before serving.

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Soft Ginger Cookies

THESE ARE AMAZING!!!  I didn’t change a single thing about the below recipe.  Not being a huge molasses fan, I was surprised I loved these so much.  They were good for a few days after, but were honestly best the first and second day.20131128_094120

Ingredients

    • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 3/4 cup butter 
    • 1-1/8 cups granulated sugar(divided use)
    • 1/4 cup liquid low cholesterol egg substitute
    • 1/4 cup molasses

Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
    2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in 1 cup sugar.
    4. Add liquid egg substitute and molasses; beat well.
    5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.
    6. Shape dough into 1-1/2″ balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each.
    7. Roll balls in the remaining sugar to coat.
    8. Place balls about 2-1/2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed. (Do not over bake.)
    10. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

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Cranberry  Muffins

I’ll be honest…these were ok.  Just ok.  The flavor was spot on, but instead of using sugar, I used Splenda.  That may have impacted how bad they stuck to the muffin liners.

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Ingredients

    • 1-3/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 7 tablespoons sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3/4  cup cranapple juice
    • 1/4  cup cooking oil
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries coarsely chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease twelve 2-1/2″ muffin cups or line with baking cups; set aside.
  2. To prepare streusel topping, combine 3 tablespoons of the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
  3. To prepare muffins, combine remaining flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.
  4. In another bowl whisk egg, juice and oil together. Pour egg mixture all at once into flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chopped cranberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. 

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Pancakes

That’s right….I said Pancakes.  These were absolutely perfectly fluffy and tasty!  I ended up with a  VERY happy Maw-Maw this morning for breakfast, and I was quite pleased myself.  Don’t be alarmed at allowing your milk to sour with the vinegar.  It was easy.  *smiles*

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Make sour milk: add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 2 cups milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes until soured.
  2. Sift flour; add baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Beat eggs with mixer until fluffy. Combine with “sour” milk and oil.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle or heated frying pan, greased with nonstick cooking spray until bubbly. Turn only once for fluffy, light pancakes.

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Sundays with Friends: My friend Jen and her Peanut Butter Balls…

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022Do you remember my good friend, Jen? She last wrote for us about Wild Turkey Stew, and this time she’s bringing us a very near and dear to her heart recipe for her Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls. I meant to get this to you before Christmas, but we all know how busy the Holidays can become. However, you have to forgive me….I AM bringing you one of the most delightful recipes I have EVER put in my mouth. From my friend that understands the importance of loving her mother and hanging onto handwritten recipes, all the way to your kitchen, please welcome back Jen!

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I love Christmastime and one reason why is because I love making my mom’s peanut butter balls. My 020mother passed away over eight years ago from cancer. We used to make Peanut Butter Balls together every year before Christmas. When my mother became sick she didn’t have the strength to make Peanut Butter Balls with me. I had to make them on my own. She passed away in October 2006, and that Christmas I went to her house. I made the Peanut Butter Balls like I usually did, except that year she wasn’t present to help; however, I felt her spirit there with me.

I try to make my Peanut Butter Balls every year because it was me and Mom’s Christmas tradition. I didn’t make them last year because I was trying to eat healthier and knew if I made them I would about eat all of them. I promised Jennifer that I would make them this year and write for her Sunday’s with Friends. I hope that you can take this recipe, make your own Christmas tradition, and enjoy it like I do.

Oh and by the way I still have the handwritten recipe that my mother wrote.

Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls Recipescan0001

  • 2 cups of Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1 lb of powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter melted
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts
  • 4 oz of flaked coconut
  • 12 oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • 12 oz or more of chocolate candy wafers

Mix first 6 ingredients in order given. Form into balls, which may need to be chilled for a while. Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler and dip balls into melted chocolate. Place dipped balls onto wax paper until hardened. You can put them in the fridge or keep them on the counter. But, let them sit out on the counter for a bit before eating if you’re storing them in the fridge.

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The Beauty of Pimento Cheese…

Pimento Square Plate with Names

I just remembered that I never posted the November 2012 article I wrote for the November issue of our local magazine here.  Enjoy you guys!  December will be posted in the next couple of days!  *smiles*

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There aren’t many moments when I went to Maw-Maw’s house and didn’t see a plastic container of Pimento Spoons Red 2 with Nameshomemade Pimento Cheese sitting proudly in the refrigerator. Come to think of it, it’s probably one of the first things I learned to make growing up – besides homemade Buttermilk Biscuits that is. It wasn’t always about the Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Cookie Jar, the paintings we would do, the late nights watching Statler Brothers on PBS, or the playing of (banging on) the piano. Part of the joy at Maw-Maw’s was that container of orange-colored goodness named Pimento Cheese.

Let’s take a look at what Pimento Cheese is for the folks that may not quite understand this Southern delicacy. It’s typically shredded cheddar cheese, diced Pimentos, a little mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. That’s it. You can eat it slathered between two pieces of lightly toasted white bread, sandwiched on crackers, or even spread into the hollow of a celery rib if you’d like. It’s one of those treats you can eat how you prefer and no one judges the method to your madness.

Speaking of how you prefer your Pimento Cheese – there are many different ways it’s prepared. Some like more mayonnaise so it’s creamier. Some like it thicker and chunkier. You can use Mild or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, depending on your preference. Some like it hot and add jalapeno, or even get adventurous with green olives and pecans in theirs. There are just so many tasty options when you start with such basic ingredients!

This brings me to my point – Did you know there are three different Pimento Cheeses that start with the letters “St” made right here in Alamance County? We have Stan’s, Star’s, and Steve’s. Out of curiosity, I went on a tasting spree the other day, and I wanted to share with you what I discovered with each one.

Before we start this, I think you need to know that I’m not one to be swooned by elaborate wrappers and labels. I’m a no-nonsense kind of Southern Gal. So, these were judged strictly on taste, and these are my Pimento Square Plate with Namesown opinions. Let’s go over each one’s high and low notes, just like at a fancy wine tasting.

· Stan’s (Burlington, NC) – Other than Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese, this one was the other staple in our house. There are nice large shreds of the cheddar cheese which gives it a thicker consistency, but still creamy. The coarse grind of black pepper in it helps balance out the mayonnaise twang. Pimentos are scattered evenly throughout the container, and the label even says it has Texas Pete in it. It’s a little higher in calories, and the high fructose corn syrup may contribute to that. However, I’ll make the sacrifice for a nice overall flavor.

· Star’s (Burlington, NC) – The “cheese” is quite a bit more processed in this one allowing it to be a thicker and creamier spread. The fact that it has a creamier texture would make it easy to pipe into cherry tomatoes or onto crackers as an appetizer at a holiday gathering. It’s definitely sweeter than Stan’s. The only thing that I found to be a negative about this one was the ingredients read “imitation” cheese, and this might explain the much embellished orange color of the spread. I guess this is why they call it Pimento Spread and not Pimento Cheese.

· Steve’s (Graham, NC) – You buy this little gem at Steve’s Garden Market in Graham, so that makes it a Pimento Cheese Bowls with Namesnice buying experience with the super friendly staff and great looking produce. If you’re a mayonnaise fan, this would be your choice. The first ingredient listed is mayonnaise, and it’s obvious why it’s listed first. The texture is very smooth, almost runny, with large chunks of cheese throughout and plenty of pimento. This was the only commercial one without High Fructose Corn Syrup as well. It ended up being pretty tasty. I personally prefer a little less mayonnaise with a thicker texture, though.

· Maw-Maw’s (Burlington, NC) – You knew I couldn’t leave hers out! Even though you can’t purchase it, I added it among the taste test so I would have my constant. Maw-Maw’s has always had Sharp Cheddar Cheese in it to give it a very cheesy deliciousness. She leaves the pimentos somewhat chunky so you can see and taste them. Very little mayonnaise goes in it, and just a hint of mustard. Salt and Pepper of course join those ingredients, and you end up with a nice chunky Pimento Cheese. What was that you asked? Any negatives about Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese? Only one negative…that you aren’t able to enjoy it with me.

Who would have thought they would have such similar names, but have such different flavors? Now I’m not one to tell you which one to go out and buy. I am one, however, to tell you to go taste them all. Life is about making your own decisions and enjoying the variety of options that you have in front of you to feed off of. Fortunately for you, food is one of the easiest decisions in life. I’m just here for guidance, and right now, I want you to smile. For the simple reason that you just read an entire article about the Southern delicacy that is Pimento Cheese. Say CHEESE y’all!

Pimento Spoons Words

CONTEST: Who loves BBQ Sauce???

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I do! I do! I do! Who loves supporting local companies and businesses??? I do!

So with that said, I am pleased to bring you my first ever contest. Woohoo!!!  On top of that, what better thing to kick off the first contest with than some of the most amazing BBQ Sauce ever!

I’m so in love with Tay’s BBQ Sauce that I would like to give you two bottles of it. One is their “Sweet and Smoky”, and the other is their “All Purpose”. I think they both should be labeled all purpose because I use them each on everything! Below are a couple of links for you to check out two posts I’ve already written about this culinary delight called Tay’s Southern BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Sauce Makes Life Sexier

Quick and Easy Dinner Alert!

Gosh I love this stuff!

A little tidbit from Tay’s website…“Tay’s Sauce, LLC was created by Doug Hankins and his daughter, Taylor, from Cameron, NC. One year, they made BBQ sauce as Christmas gifts for their family and friends. Everyone loved the sauce, and it became a common request for them to make more. They were encouraged to bottle and sell their sauce, so in the spring of 2009, the “All Purpose Southern BBQ Sauce” was made available for purchase. After the all-purpose sauce took off, people started requesting a sweeter and smokier flavor. After months of trying to find just the right flavor combination, Doug introduced the “Sweet ‘N Smokey” flavor in the spring of 2011. We know that you will love this sauce just as much as their friends and family do. Doug and Taylor discussed that a percentage of all proceeds will go to their home church.”

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How to Enter:

The only thing you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below that tells me why you love BBQ Sauce.

***For extra entries***(once you complete each one, comment below and let me know you did it)

Good luck everyone, and I am so incredibly excited to share Tay’s with you!

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Contest ends Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 11:59pm ET. 

Tay’s Sauce, LLC is part of the fast growing “Goodness Grows in NC”, a department of the North Carolina Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Rambling on my way to my 30s and a Cooking Class on 9/5/12!!! Yay!

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First, I must apologize for all of the “reflection” posts lately, and lack of recipes. I’ll be back on the recipes shortly, I promise. I’m just in a very pivotal moment it seems in life. By no means is it a bad thing, but it is definitely causing me to think a lot about the future. A LOT.

For instance…let’s go through my current To-Do List…or should I call it my “What I’m Involved in while trying to maintain my sanity” list? *wink*

  • I have my regular day job – 10 hours a day/4 days a week.
  • I go to the gym each of those above 4 days I work, at 6am in the morning.
  • I write the blog for Iron Hen Café in Greensboro, NC.
  • I work part-time for Darryl’s in Greensboro, NC, managing a portion of their Guest Relations.
  • I have been submitting articles to various magazines, and one of which should be published in the month of September in our local Alamance County Magazine.
  • I also (you’re my witness) maintain my own baby the best I can, TheOnyxPlate.com.

Last but certainly far from the least…

  • I have been asked by Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC, to do a cooking class for them. YAY!

Not only is this a great month of September coming up for me with the magazine publishing me, and the class happening…but, I’ll be turning 30 on September 4. 30! I’m excited about it. I’m not where I expected to be in life, honestly. By now, I expected to have a child…maybe two if the birthing process didn’t gross me out too much. Seems God had other plans though, as we’ve been trying for around four years now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ok with this for the time being. He’s brought so much more our way, and I have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. I also expected to not be in marriage counseling (however, I do believe it’s good for anyone to do…this is a good thing that we’re in counseling, folks). Sometimes you have to reach out and admit that you need a little help reconnecting. *smiles* I also expected to be stuck in a dead-end job (sorry, but I did)…and I’m truly not. Now, I’ll admit it, I want to be out of my current job by the end of the year. That may or may not happen. It’s not because I dislike the company I am working for…it’s because my passions in life are leading me elsewhere. I have been given so many opportunities to pursue in life, that I would be a fool to give up on this and stay stagnant in my ever-evolving life. There’s food to taste…people to meet…lives to inspire! *smiles*

So as I get ready to turn 30 in a little over a week, I will be preparing for my trip to Savannah, GA, with my Mom. She and I are going on a Mother/Daughter trip for a week to see the beauty, sights, and food of Savannah for my birthday. I can’t wait! What more could you ask for than going on a road trip with your best friend?

But, before the trip…I’ll be kicking off the first day of my 30s by exploring yet another avenue of my passion of inspiring people with food by doing the cooking class on September 5. I am so dang excited, y’all!

If you’re near the Greensboro, NC, area, I’d love to see you there! It’s going to be held at the Savory Spice Shop location in Friendly Center. The class is from 7pm-8:30pm, and the cost is $10/person. You must pre-register by calling them though, as there is a space limit for the shop. However, if more than a certain amount are interested, I get to do a second class! Woohoo!

With all of this being said, and thank you for listening, I’m going to trek on to my 30s. My 20s were absolutely amazing (with a little heartbreak and sorrow mixed in, as life does continue to happen), and I learned a lot about myself and life in general. I can only imagine where I’m headed in my 30s….but, you know what?….I’m ready!

A few shots of the advertising for the cooking class. I need to get my hands on some of these for mementos. *huge smiles*  There’s also some shots of the very rough draft prep work below while I was formulating some of the recipes yesterday.  I love taste testing!

Lions and Trees on plates, Oh My!

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For many of you that know me or have been following my blog, you know how important my family is to me. Today was an extremely warming day. Not just that it was above 90 degrees here in the humid South, but because I spent half the day with my most wonderful Grandma.

Every year, our church has Vacation Bible School. Each night of bible school, a different woman of the church prepares the snacks for the children. Monday was pizza, Tuesday was weenie biscuits, and tonight…yes, tonight…was Maw-Maw’s. *smiles*

About a month ago, Maw-Maw and I decided this would be a fun project to work together on. Now, granted, she may have been a little skeptical about working with a perfectionist…who can sometimes be difficult…she still agreed graciously. *wink* We came up with a cute idea after I saw a photograph online of food fun ideas, and we ran with it.

The day started at 1pm today with my arrival at her house. First thing was first, had to slice the apples and put them in Orange Juice (Maw-Maw found that this keeps them from turning…and it DID!). I’ll admit it…this would not have been an easy task were it not for my Williams-Sonoma apple corer/slicer/thingymabobber. Could not, would NOT, have done it without it. 20 apples later, it was time to cut the bread. We had 50 “heads” to cut out, and luckily Mom had lent us her Fondant cutters. To make things easier, Maw-Maw thought of freezing the loaf bread. With the freezing, it allowed the bread to cut through with the cutter and not just smush around the edges of the cutter. Ingenious, that woman is. Now you see where I get it. *wink*

After that, we began to assemble the “heads” into Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. For the “non-PB” people (the crazy people), we made Ham and Cheese sandwiches. Being a good Southerner is all about pleasing everyone. Unfortunately…. *smiles*

We finally wrapped up prepping around 3:30, and we had just enough time for a little sit-down break. Shew, she worked me today!

The neighbor girls that Maw-Maw takes to VBS arrived around 4:15 at her house, and off we went. When we got to the church, the girls were great! They helped with everything we asked them to do, and we couldn’t have asked for any better. It was the kind of help that gives me hope that the generation below me isn’t all bad.

The plates were set out, and an abundance of adults and kids were commenting on how great everything looked. They ate, we cleaned up, and then we watched them do some of their activities.

Even 20 years later, you still remember the activities from VBS. The same women that were there when I participated in it, were still there this week doing it. Maybe a little grayer, more love-lines, but who cared? They did it with just as much love tonight, as they always did when I was young. It reminded me of a simpler time, when all I needed to know how to do was move my hands in various motions to match the words that I was singing. It was just pure bliss seeing the little kids do that tonight. Made me smile. *smile*

I caught up with an old friend as well while there, loaded up the car, and sat around with Maw-Maw until the kids were done. The girls hopped in her car, and we all went back to our respective homes. It was a day complete.

So that’s the schedule of the day. There was much more about the day that made it warm. Today was a good day for Maw-Maw and I to spend time together. Today is the 16th anniversary of the death of Paw-Paw. He was such an important part of our life, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Dealing with someone’s death never gets easier, we just learn to move forward with their memory. That’s why it is so incredibly important not to take for granted the days we have with our family members and loved ones. We all know how life turns out, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make it beautiful for others while we’re here. So that they too will have warm memories of us for years to come, as I have of my Paw-Paw.

 

The NC BBQ Company…some of the best letters ever combined together!

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Just take a second and review the below company seal…what all do you see?

Every little detail screams North Carolina and BBQ! Just love it!

While I was sick in the middle of December last year, I was laid up at home on the computer…A LOT! I entered a FB contest to win some BBQ during that time from The North Carolina Barbecue Company and won! Woohoo! Below is how they announced the winner of their contest….(how clever!)

I went by and picked up my BBQ a couple of weeks ago, and my oh my. It was quite the great experience. I got to meet with one of the owners, Ryan, and discuss BBQ. We talked a lot about their business plans coming up, and how I might be able to participate in some other things BBQ. Let’s get to the nitty gritty though and discuss what I won…

A Battle Box….you know (well you might not if you’re not from around these parts) that old battle between Eastern and Piedmont BBQ? Well, this perfect little package lets you judge for yourself in one convenient box, with super easy to prepare packaging (the BBQ comes in boil bags! *perfection*).  It contains BBQ, slaw, and sauce for both Piedmont and Eastern styles (and a mini Texas Pete – perfection). If you’re not too familiar with the differences…Eastern sauce is more vinegary and Piedmont is thicker and sweeter normally. Eastern slaw is mayonnaise based, and Piedmont slaw is marinated. Eastern BBQ is the whole hog, and Piedmont BBQ is traditionally the shoulders. Understand a little better now? *smiles*

I'll take a bite of everything!

I had my family over for dinner that night I picked up the Battle Box, and we had a very tasty dinner full of BBQ! The Eastern had everything I love in it….big meaty chunks of pork. The Piedmont was more chopped, as you would expect shoulders to be done. Even though they both were amazingly flavored, we had a mixed table that night. I, myself, loved the Eastern style BBQ. The sauces were pretty similar and both were quite tasty. Now…the slaw…in LOVE with the Piedmont marinated slaw. *huge smiles* Nothing better to go with delicious BBQ than marinated slaw in my book.

If you want to have your own Battle Royale of BBQ then you can order your own Battle Box by clicking here. Five of us ate off the small Battle Box that I had won…not including leftovers for about three more sandwiches.

Food for thought: Ryan made a good point when I was talking with him…BBQ establishments are good wholesome family places. They are all deeply rooted in family and religion, and you never see a BBQ restaurant that serves alcohol around here. So go check out your local BBQ joint, or order you your own Battle Box….or, hey, if you’re blessed with the BBQ gene, get to making your own (but don’t forget to call me over)!

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A Simple Savory Saturday Veggie Quesadilla

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Happy Valentine’s Day weekend, everyone!

I don’t know about you guys, but I enjoy a simple Saturday. You work all week, and sometimes it’s just nice to do something for yourself…relax. *relaxing sigh*

Along with relaxing Saturdays comes relaxing food. I’m not the one that enjoys a lot of food prep on Saturdays for lunch, but I do enjoy a tasty meal…with minimal food prep.

Today, I made Veggie Quesadillas. This isn’t like crazy-stuffed veggie quesadillas with everything under the sun…it’s simple. Remember what I said about relaxing?

It was a great combination, and it is quite a common combination. I just wanted to make sure you weren’t forgetting how common, and “normal” food can be just as exciting as creating some sort of crazy fusion recipe. *smiles*

Simple Savory Saturday Veggie Quesadilla

(This recipe made 2 quesadillas, 5 WW Points Plus per quesadilla)

  • 1/2 cup(s) fat-free canned refried beans
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium uncooked scallion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 medium whole wheat tortillas

Directions:

  1. Place pan on burner and allow to warm on medium-low to medium while you prepare the tortilla.
  2. Divide the beans in half on each tortilla and spread to the outsides (much like putting pizza sauce on a pizza crust).
  3. Place in pan, bean side up, and sprinkle 1/2 the cheese, 1/2 the jalapeno, 1/2 the scallion, and 1/2 the cilantro evenly on top.
  4. Allow to stay in the pan until the cheese just begins to melt towards the center. The outsides will already appear melted. Maybe 5 minutes? Just keep an eye on it.
  5. Then fold in half and leave in pan for about another minute. Remove from pan and serve. I didn’t cut these in slices. They were easy to eat all in one piece so you didn’t lose any of the insides if you were to cut them in slices.

Enjoy!

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