Happy Birthday, Sara!!!

Shells

I think in life that we always find that certain someone that changes the way we look at things.  They change the way we do things.  Frankly, they change our entire existence at times.  Then sometimes, they scare the crap out of us with how much they know our heart.  That’s my friend Sara.  I met her in 2004 at our then workplace.  Wherever she advanced in the company, I seemed to follow her lead (minus the management part).  She was the perfect example of what hard work and dedication looked like in the job place.

Sara and I moved to our final department together in 2009.  We shared intimate moments from our lives outside of the workplace as well as gathered inspiration to get through the day at times.  She left the workplace first, and then I followed suit.  We both took leaps of faith with leaving the security of one job to another.  She, to be a wonderful stay at home Mom to her beautiful girls.  Myself, to pursue a career path closer to my passion with food.

Sometimes we go through life not knowing what to expect in our next chapter of life.  But, it is Cobblertimes like that when it is so reassuring to know you have someone in your corner.  See, Sara moved about 4 hours away a few weeks ago.  Up until her moving time, we gathered a few last times for a few “last meals”.  Sara makes the best tuna salad, lasagna, and was holding back on these amazing stuffed shells that she makes.  I enjoyed our meals and conversations together immensely.  They always seemed to come at the right time.  I am also thankful that she is a great friend of mine that loves food as much as I do and is always willing to open up her kitchen to me! —- The last meal, when we had the stuffed shells, Sara’s daughter was so excited to give me a gift she had picked out for me.  They had a bible for me.  Not just any bible, but a pink bible.  Sara had given me explicit instructions to read a certain book in the bible for the situations I have been going through lately, and I know she was making sure I had absolutely no excuses not to read it.  Sara and her husband have moved through life with leaps of faith.  With every leap she takes, she spreads the love of God as well.  This was just another example of her inspiration to others.

In that…she is the perfect example of God’s love everyday, and that is something I hope to follow in her footsteps with as well.

Happy Birthday to my amazingly beautiful friend, Sara.  I love you.

She’s made an appearance on TheOnyxPlate.com before, and you can find that recipe for her easy Lasagna at this link here.  We normally paired our meals with a good salad, bread, and a tasty dessert.  Of course by tasty dessert I only mean brownies or Peach Cobbler.  *smile*

Below is the recipe for our “last meal” while she was in town…her Stuffed Shells.

Shells

Sara’s Stuffed Shells

  • 12 oz pack of jumbo pasta shells

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 – 15 oz cartons of Ricotta Cheese

  • 2 cups shredded Mozz cheese

  • 1.5 cups grated Parmesan Cheese (I’ve used both grated and shredded before; both work)

  • 2 tbsp dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh–I’ve never had fresh on hand, so I always use dried)

  • 1/2 tsp salt (I also add about 1 tbsp basil and 3/4 tsp oregano–or roughly 1.5 additional tbsp of a mixed italian seasoning when I don’t have the specific herbs on hand)

  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Drain and let cool. Mix eggs in separate large bowl. Add Ricotta, Mozzarella, parmesan (directions say to add 3/4 cup and using reserves for top–I’ve been adding all it lately in the mix and then sprinkling extra some on top), and all the seasonings/salt. Spoon the cheese mix into each shell. Spread some spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. Arrange shells in dish. Top with spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with parm cheese and mozz. Bake for 25-30 min or until heated through. ENJOY!!!!

 

Surprise yourself…you’re worth it!

Shrimp

ShrimpSome days are harder than others to move forward in life.  I have had a few of those in the past few months (maybe quite a bit more than a few, to be honest).  Now that it is just me, I find it harder to invest in good meals for myself.  It seems like a waste of time to go through the trouble of cooking when it is just one person, and no one to share the outcome with just seems sad.  Unfortunately, I have thought this way for a while now.

Cooking was always about cooking for someone and cooking with love for them.

The trouble with the above statement is that I am basing the effort on someone else.  I am not basing it off of myself being worthy of a good home cooked meal.  I am not thinking about or showing love to myself.  I was judging the happiness of the meal off of someone else being there.  When in the end, it was not about who I was sharing something with, but it was about being happy with myself.  Some may say, respecting yourself and giving yourself what you deserve.

After thinking about these things this morning, I went to the grocery store with an open mind.  I promised myself that I was not going to have just something simple for dinner tonight.  I am worth much more than simple.  A little inspiration was received, and I was off to the store.  I ended up buying fresh shrimp, string beans, red pepper, basil, and WINE.  Wine makes everything better!  After the cooking process, I ended up with a white wine-butter-garlic-basil-shrimp concoction that surprised even myself!!!  It was then that I realized…I’m totally worth a good home cooked meal on my own.  Try not to forget you are worth it as well!  Now…what shall I make tomorrow?

Don’t forget to keep up with me on Facebook for much more frequent activity!  *smiles*

Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Fire in the Triad: Marisol vs. Meridian

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I had one of the most amazing experiences last night in my foodie adventures.  I was asked to guest blog over on Nik Snacks for the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series Fire in the Triad.  Last night, Marisol was up against Meridian.  The two mystery ingredients were Pepsi and America’s Best Nut Co. Peanuts!  Wow!  How much more Southern can it be made?  Love it!  Enjoy!

 

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There are moments in life where you just can’t believe what you’ve been asked to do.  These are moments that you seize with every fiber of your being, and you enjoy them!  When Nikki of Nik Snacks asked me to guest blog in her place, I couldn’t have been more excited.  I was one of those people that always checked the CompetitionDining.com site to see who the Chefs were, and what they were cooking.  I wanted to be there incredibly bad!  Sometimes life finds ways of connecting us to where we are supposed to be, and this was where I was supposed to be that night; enjoying the battle between Marisol and Meridian.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women in my life!

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Mom and I…2011
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Maw-Maw and I…2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess grief comes out differently for everyone.  It also seems to come out at different times for everyone as well.  It’s impacted a lot in my life lately, hence the absence (although I know you’re probably tired of hearing excuses, but I’m going to do better.  Promise.).  I did, however, want to share this with you…

I was asked this week to write a little something for my home church.  Well, I was asked to say something about Maw-Maw in relation to Mother’s Day.  The preacher thought it would be nice seeing as how she was a very loved woman in the congregation.  I knew that I surely couldn’t make it through reading anything as much as I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Nonetheless, I agreed, with the condition that I didn’t have to read what I wrote.  I thought all week about how to relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day when she was really my Grandmother.  It wasn’t Grandparent’s day.  It also seemed selfish to single her out on a day meant for mothers.  But, she was a mother, and still lives on as one in my own mother’s heart.

I began to relate it to how women were created by God to be a motherly presence and guide us all in the eyes of Christ.  I, myself, don’t have children, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t acted as a Mother at some point in time to someone.  I love everyone, and that in itself requires that motherly instinct.  I started thinking about all of the mothers in the church.  All of the wonderful memories they made for me growing up, and all of the protection they provided me at the same time.

This, my loyal friends, is what I ended up with today.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all, whether you have children or not.  Love your Mother today, and if she’s sadly physically gone from us, then have a talk with her today and know she is waiting for you with milk and cookies in Heaven.

Love, Jennifer

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This Mother’s Day won’t be like they have normally been in the past.  Our family is missing a very important Mother.  Things honestly haven’t been the same.  I guess things aren’t supposed to be the same when a Mother passes away though.  See, Maw-Maw was an integral part of our everyday lives.  From the like clockwork phone calls at 9am, Noon, and 10pm every night between Mom and Maw-Maw, and then me at night.  To the motherly advice that was always available when needed.  We’re missing all of that, everyday.  I, myself, am extremely fortunate to have my own Mother living, but I know she hurts today at the loss of her own.  And I know that no amount of love and Happy Mother’s Day cards or flowers to the best Mom in the World will take away that pain.

When I relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day, I’m reminded that Maw-Maw was an example of what God put women on Earth to do.  We are meant to be Mothers – to guide and encourage others in the name of Christ.  Take for instance this beautiful church I grew up in.  Whether someone had 5 children, or they had no children, they were all acting mothers at one point in time.  It could have been as simple as just keeping an eye out when a little one was getting a little too close to the edge of the stage in the Fellowship Hall.  No one knew you were keeping that eye out, but you know you did…and so did God.

Just as I know Maw-Maw was to most of you, I had many mothers at Shallowford, and I still have a place in my heart for all of you.  I remember Choir…lots of mothers in our Choir helping me to hit the right notes in life and on the pew each Sunday.  Mothers in Sunday School, especially my own, who I know was a mother to a lot of you out in the congregation today on Sunday mornings.  There were Youth groups, fantastic Vacation Bible Schools, covered dish lunches after church, Girl Scouts held here, and lots of laughs.  Church fellowship time was always my favorite where we were able to walk around and greet others before the Sermon began.  Towards the end of my childhood, I found it incredibly difficult to leap over Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw and make it to hug the neck of every single person in Shallowford.  If I didn’t make it to you every Sunday, well, the piano music just wasn’t ever long enough.  It sure did make a nice backdrop though while going around hugging all of the Mothers in our church that I love.

At Mother’s Day, and always, I want to make sure you realize that mothers are all around you.  Women are made special.  We are a special gift from God.  So whether we have children ourselves or not, it doesn’t mean we can’t be mothers in God’s eyes.  It is, in the end, about loving others.  And here at Shallowford, I have never felt a lack of love.  To my mother, to all of the mothers in the audience, and to the mothers that are waiting in heaven for us with milk and cookies, I wish you all a very special Mother’s Day.

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My lovely Mom
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Her lovely Mom, Maw-Maw.

 

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

Maw-Maw died today…..

*Please forgive the rambling nature.  This post is pure and unproofed. 

I held her cold hand for a while today.  It was odd though.  Her skin was just as soft as the last time I touched it.  Her hands just as cold as they always were.  She was always cold.  It was like she was just going to wake up and miraculously tell us to put a blanket over her because she was cold.  But, she was cold.  Dead and cold.  I don’t know what I expected sitting in the hospital room.  Did I expect her to wake up?  Did I expect her to look at me and smile?  Did I expect her to squeeze back while I was holding her hand…cold cold hand.  It was all so surreal. 

Mom and I knew she was real sick these past two months.  But, she was improving now with Dialysis.  She was.  I promise.  For the last 4 nights, she had been able to stay at home on her own.  She didn’t need someone to mirror her every move to make sure she was ok.  She was good.  She was getting better.  She was. 

I guess I can keep telling myself that she was getting better.  She was.  In the end though, it’s on God’s time.  It was her time.  Damn saying that sucks ass, and to this grieving heart it offers no solace. 

We went back to Mom’s to do some cleaning after the funeral home took her body away.  We know there will be tons of people visiting and bringing food.  We are well loved.  While I was cleaning the bathroom at Mom’s, it felt as if I were cleaning the house for Christmas.  That we would all go and pick Maw-Maw up and bring her to the house for Christmas dinner tomorrow.  But we weren’t.  This was it.  That was it.  It was it.  I mean….what do I say?  It is what it is?  That saying can kiss my ass right now.

Maw-Maw loved my writing.  She never could wait to see the next magazine issue that I had written in.  Not sure she’d love this one too much.  Quite a lot of ass in here.  *smirk* 

I remember while growing up and standing beside her in church…hearing her voice.  Man could she sing.  My love of music came from her and Paw-Paw.  The joy of cooking was found in her kitchen.  The lesson of food is cooked with love was found in her kitchen.  A lot of lessons were found in that kitchen.  If only I had figured out the bread making….

Driving home tonight from Mom’s, it all hit me.  That was my last grandparent.  What does one do when they no longer have a grandparent to confide in?  There’s nothing like a grandparent/grandchild bond.  Nothing.  But that’s it.  It will have to live on in my heart. 

Every single night, she would call me at 10pm.  Mom, Maw-Maw and I were close like that.  We were the 3 amigos, 3 muchachas, the 3 generations of strong, stubborn women.   We shopped together, ate together, and cried together.  I wouldn’t trade a single phone call or “I love you” for anything ever. 

The last kitchen thing she said to me was when she called me while I was making my cinnamon rolls.  She said she had a kitchen tip.  “Place a wooden spoon on the top of a pot of boiling pasta water, and it will not boil over.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I already knew, so I accepted my new piece of advice with love and thankfulness that she thought of me to tell me. 

Oh shit.  No more emails from her.  She was an email queen.  I was so happy when she figured out how to use the computer.  She was a tech grandma for sure.  Last email she sent me……was yesterday at 7:11pm.  A religious one.

As I’m sitting here writing, I can still feel my hand holding hers earlier.  Oh the softest skin.  I’m sure I’ll forget what it feels like one day.  Sad.  

Words cannot express how sad I am.  They can only express what I am feeling, and all of the thoughts I am trying to process.  In a nutshell, the holidays have sucked ass thus far for my family.  We can’t choose our time to leave, but I’m pretty sure Maw-Maw just didn’t want us to buy any Christmas gifts for her again this year.  She hated us spending our money on her. 

Devastated.  Broken.  Lost.  They all apply.  I feel like a huge chunk has been ripped from me.  I guess it was.  She was and is a big part of who I am today. 

Now let’s hope this Ibuprofen PM kicks in soon.  It’s going to be a long couple of days ahead.  Days of sadness…….It’s like Mom has been saying… “What do I do now?”

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: Kelli and her Crawfish Soup

Crawfish soup

I’ve had this one in my back pocket for a long time now, and frankly, I have my usual story about being incredibly busy in life.  However, I’ve also been waiting for colder months.  A very dear friend of The Onyx Plate sent in this recipe back in June, and I couldn’t wait for it to get a little colder to share it.  It’s finally cooler, and I’m finally sharing your recipe, Kelli!  Thank you so much for your patience, and I love the story attached.  It’s all about improvising and making a dish your own!  You are one cool foodie in my book!  :)

Don’t forget to follow The Onyx Plate on Facebook as well….. https://www.facebook.com/TheOnyxPlate

Take it away, Kelli!

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About a month ago, I bought this massive amount of live crawfish and did a crawfish boil just for my family. My extended family all seemed to be busy and couldn’t make it so it ended up just being my mom, my two kids, and me, so there were plenty of leftovers. I knew they would never get eaten before they went bad and that it would be blasphemous to allow such a delicious crustacean to go to waste, so I froze them.

Thursday evening, I decided to thaw some out for dinner but I couldn’t decide how I wanted to make them. I threw suggestions at my 6-year-old daughter and she got excited about the soup suggestion. She just adores soup, you see. So, I naturally headed over to Pinterest.

First, I looked through my soup board and found a Crawfish and Corn Soup recipe but I didn’t have everything for it. I left it open for reference but went back to the main Pinterest page and typed in “crawfish soup.” I found many recipes for Crawfish and Corn Soup. I looked at a couple more of them and they were all quite similar but a few had different ingredients. Either way you sliced it, I didn’t have all the ingredients. So I kept looking. Then, out of nowhere, there’s this different crawfish soup called Crawfish Broccoli Cheese Soup. Broccoli Cheese soup is one of my favorites and adding crawfish just sounded like heaven. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all the ingredients.

I refused to go to the store so I improvised. I sort of combined the two recipes and added my own flair.

First, since my crawfish were already cooked and frozen, I thawed them out and had to shell them. I have a raw spot on Crawfish soupmy thumb where shelling that many crawfish ripped skin off. I would recommend purchasing live ones and boiling them in Swampfire, but only if you like yours a little spicy. If you can’t get or don’t have swampfire, crab boil will work. I steamed broccoli and chopped it up, reheated leftover corn, then gathered these things around my soup pot.

First, I put in a can of broccoli cheddar soup with a can of milk. Then, in went a can of cream of asparagus soup with a can of milk. (I know some people don’t use condensed soup and I’m sure this soup would be better with homemade broccoli cheese and cream of asparagus soup but I didn’t have the ingredients for those so canned it was!) I added another cup of milk and whisked it. Then I dumped in the crawfish, corn, and broccoli and turned on the stove. After that, I had no idea what I was going to put in it but I knew it needed something else.

While the stove was warming up and I stirred the ingredients into the soup base, inspiration struck. I wanted this to be oh-so-creamy and cheesy so, I had my little helper (my daughter) go get a block of cream cheese from the refrigerator. After cutting that up, I put each little piece in and pushed them down to the bottom to help them melt. I threw in some spices and some shredded cheese (because, let’s face it, what’s a cheesy soup without cheese stringing cheese?) When I was throwing in the spices, I realized I had forgotten to sauté the onions so I just threw in some onion powder. I let it simmer for a few minutes then served it. As an afterthought, it would be good with some sliced carrots in it, as well.

My mom added salt and pepper to hers. My kids and I decided it needed a little shredded cheese on top. My son doesn’t usually care for soup but he ate two bowls, my daughter had her usual amount, and my mother ate 3 bowls and wanted a fourth but her stomach was exploding so she stopped. My son thanked everyone who had taken part in the production of the soup because it was so good. I win!

Crawfish Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of cooked crawfish tails, shelled (add more if you want)
  • 16 oz of broccoli florets, steamed and roughly chopped
  • 4-5 cups of warm buttered yellow corn
  • 1 can of condensed broccoli cheese soup
  • 1 can of condensed cream of asparagus soup
  • 2 cans of milk + 1-2 cup(s) of milk
  • 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed
  • 2-3 cups of fiesta blend shredded cheese
  • 1 yellow onion, sautéed (or onion powder, to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, to taste
  • Fiesta blend shredded cheese, to taste

Directions:

1.   Clean your live crawfish, boil them in swampfire (or crab boil if you want it less spicy). Then shell them once they’ve cooled.

2.   Steam the broccoli then roughly chop it.

3.   Heat your corn with butter.

4.   Get a soup pot, put in the can of broccoli cheese soup and a can of milk.

5.   Add the cream of asparagus soup and a can of milk.

6.   Measure a cup or two of milk, add it, and whisk.

7.   Add the crawfish, broccoli, and corn and stir.

8.   Turn the eye on to high and let the soup warm up a bit.

9.   Add the cubed cream cheese and stir.

10. Lower the temperature to medium-low and push the bits of cheese to the bottom.

11.  Stir frequently.

12.  Add shredded cheese and stir.

13.  Add spices (and onion if you went that route) and stir.

14.  Reduce heat and cover to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite warm bread. Enjoy!

Taking Time for Autumn Beauty

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Here in North Carolina, Autumn has come almost perfectly.  I’m starting to think that Winter is fast approaching because of the brisk winds lately though.  Either way, I’ve pulled my sweaters and soup recipes out and am ready!  (Wow, I felt a little old saying “I’ve pulled my sweaters out…”.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what grandparents say, right?)  *smile*  

When our clocks changed last weekend, I didn’t quite realize the impact it would have on my drive home.  I live in a rural area, and yes, some days I have to wait for chicken to cross the road.  Dead serious….  *smile*  So, I’ve become accustomed to taking notice of things along my drive, even if as not to hit them.

For instance:

There is this small barn/cabin that I pass every night.  I approach a field of crops, see the cabin there, and almost everyday I see their American Flag flying high and proud right outside.  I have found that I look for that cabin daily, and am saddened when our flag isn’t prominently displayed for all to see.  In fact, I found that I’m quite disappointed the time has changed.  It’s pitch black when I drive home now.  *sigh*

Another sight is the lake I pass that almost always has two horses standing together beside it.  The sun will be setting, they will be huddled close, and the reflection of the trees around bounces back from off the lake.  It’s always beautiful, and it became even more beautiful when Autumn approached with its changing leaves.  

The third sight is the view below.  Every time I cross over these train tracks, I can look down them and see the most beautiful sunsets.  As the season changed, it was only then that I really started noticing the trees around the tracks.  Before, it had always been that longing to travel down the tracks and escape for a bit.  It wasn’t always about the nature around them.  Fortunately, I took the below photo a day before we flipped our clocks back.  Yes, I stopped my car on the tracks, and snapped this photo.  I am that crazy lady.  *wink*

I wanted to share this photo with you for the simple reminder to enjoy nature and everything around you.  One day, you won’t be able to look upon it daily.

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