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.

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  • 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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Delancey’s – Perfect Southern Goodness

Brownstone Front Cake

I know some of you already know this, but if you’re late to the Foodie Party, I also write for a local magazine here. I try to share each article with you after it’s published. However, I’m a month behind. This one is from the December 2012 issue of Alamance Magazine. It’s about the most wonderful little Southern restaurant and catering company, Delancey’s in Burlington, NC. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did eating the food photographed! *smiles*

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Sorghum Syrup, Green Beans, Sausage Balls, Cheese Straws, Meatloaf, Macaroni and Cheese, Pintos, Chow Chow, and Brownstone Front Cake – are you hungry yet? I guess hungry isn’t the question. The one thing I should be asking you is if you felt a little warmer in your soul reading the names of good old-fashioned Southern delights. I have found that food can evoke wonderful memories of times gone by, especially at the holidays.

I have many memories of my family and extended family always gathered around one or more dinner Mac and Cheese 1 copytables during the holidays. Not a one of those memories would I trade for anything. In thinking of the ones involving my first cousins, I can still remember the table full of us when I was much younger. Of course we had to sit separate from the grownups at a card table in the kitchen. We were definitely a messy bunch! Ham, Turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, broccoli casserole, homemade biscuits, you name it…I grew up in a family of amazing Southern cooks and we knew how to devour and make a mess while doing it!

We’re not all together anymore, which is sad, in and of itself. The cousins were scattered as parents moved. Three moved to the West Coast, one to the Mid-West, and three of us were fortunate enough to remain here in the Burlington area. Later on in the years, the three of us that were left remained close. Fast forward a few more years, and sadder still, one of us three is now in Heaven. But, the good thing about families is that they are continually growing and making new dinner table memories. We have been blessed greatly in our family to have the addition of four more cousins here local, and marriages have brought many more with all of our spouses. Even though we’re not around the card table together each holiday now, on rare occasions we have been able to get back together around the “Grown-Up Table” since we are now officially grown-ups in our thirties. Don’t tell anyone.

Collard Greens copyI have my own household now and found my own relationship with Southern Cooking. I love cooking for my family and whoever wants to enjoy a meal. Along with that, I have learned the importance of planning meals out and juggling time. I’ll be honest, it’s no fun stressing away in the kitchen while everyone else is sitting in the den or around the dining room table enjoying the food you have prepared. I definitely don’t like missing out on hors d’oeuvres, because they are my favorite part of any meal. I also end up missing a lot of the conversations and the time that is so rare with family nowadays.

Well, Thanksgiving has passed, and we now have that constant reminder of planning needed to ensure the Christmas meals go smoothly and everything is organized and stress-free. This is where I imagine a good plenty of you just had a silent chuckle to yourself. If only because you know that the holidays bring on a different kind of stressor that you normally don’t deal with throughout the year, and to some, a stress-free holiday is truly a joke.

This is where I want to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to the blessing of Delancey’s during the holidays.

About four years ago I found myself completely stressed about what to fix for a family Christmas meal. IPintos and ChowChow was working a full-time job and time and money were extremely hard to find. There wasn’t much hope for our meal until I ended up having lunch with Maw-Maw (my Grandmother) at Delancey’s one day. Sitting beside their register was this paper. It wasn’t just any paper…it was my saving grace for Christmas.

I had never put two and two together that Delancey’s did take-home meals, catering, or anything like that until then. This was a combination deal where I could choose a meat and two sides to feed a family of 6-8 for quite the low price. I jumped on it, and I picked up my meal the day I needed it. The entire family loved every morsel of food I had ordered, and I got to spend time with them that I otherwise would have spent in the kitchen. That, my friends, is priceless in my book.

Peach Cobbler2 copyLucky for you, Delancey’s still has this along with all of their other Catering options. Even better for you, they’ve sweetened the pot since I took advantage of it. For just $79.99 you can feed 12-15 people. You have your choice of a moist Turkey Dinner which consists of the whole Turkey, dressing, gravy, and cranberry relish, or a delicious Dinner Sliced Ham. Along with your meat, you have your choice of three of their mouth-watering Southern sides. Folks, they have everything your Southern heart can imagine: Broccoli Casserole, Crowder Peas and Corn, Collard Greens, Baked Apples, Squash Casserole, Pintos, Candied Yams, Macaroni and Cheese, and the all-important Sweet Potato Casserole. Those were just a few options. You don’t just get that though. You also get a gallon of Sweet Tea and a dozen Yeast Rolls. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a great Southern option for a stress-free holiday meal!

After learning about this year’s deal, I couldn’t help but want to tell you about it! (This is where I want you to know that I write what is honestly in my heart, and I wasn’t asked to write about Delancey’s. After deciding that I wanted to tell you about Delancey’s and their Holiday Family Meal option, I went to talk to the owner, Mike Thomas, and find out about his Southern roots. You won’t find any quotes from him here. But, I used his words and passion to inspire what I would take away from our conversation and share with you. He was very inspiring to say the least.)

It all started when his father began making wedding cakes many years ago. Later on, his mother joined Brownstone Front Cakehis father by adding good Southern celebration staples like Sausage Balls and Cheese Straws to the mix and they began catering small events. It wasn’t long before it was a family affair, and fast forward many years later, Mike began his own food adventure with Delancey’s. He felt so passionately about bringing good quality to his guests, that he wanted to ensure the recipes he used stayed true to the South. He explained to me how they are the result of sitting with his father in the kitchen for hours upon hours watching him to get exact measurements. See, his father was a lot like many of us and our parents and grandparents. A dash of this and a pinch of that would make anything taste amazing, but if someone asked for the recipe, they were pretty much out of luck. When Mike felt that all of the recipes were perfected, that’s when he brought Delancey’s to us. On a side note, they also have their own Sorghum Syrup business, for us true Southerners. You buy it directly from Delancey’s to put on your homemade biscuits Christmas morning…just a tasty thought.

In closing, from the Chow Chow made fresh, to the Brownstone Front Cake (just $34 for a 4-layer 9-inch cake!), all the way to his Mom’s Broccoli Casserole recipe, you really can’t describe Delancey’s any other way but lovingly Southern. So when you think to yourself this Christmas Season that you aren’t going to be able to combine family and food preparation easily, think of Delancey’s. Let them do all the prepping for you, so all you have to do is take it home, pop it in the oven, enjoy the company of your guests, and then serve a piping hot Southern meal with Southern hospitality. After all, the holidays are meant for spending time with your loved ones and making memories. Don’t miss out on them because you’re stuck in the kitchen. They will still love you the same, even if you don’t come to the table worn out in a food stained apron.

Poppin’ for Popcorn!

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For Christmas Eve with my family, I decided to have a Popcorn Bar with different selections of seasoned popcorns.  I, being the stellar daughter that I am, had to call Mom and make sure she had her braces off so she could enjoy the selection.  Needless to say…they have been off for a few years.  Oops.  *smiles*

I had all of the recipes selected and saved to my favorites online, and then the hub decides to hook up the Xbox to the wireless internet the day before…guess who loses internet connection for a couple days because someone changed something on the router settings???    Needless to say, I had to wing it. 

To make it easier, I used microwaved popcorn bags (come on folks, you know I take the easy way out when I can…especially on rushed holidays).  I ended up with these five mixes….what they are called is what is on them….

  • Butter White Cheddar
  • Parmesan Garlic Sea Salt
  • Cajun Red Pepper Parmesan
  • Cinnamon Sugar Butter  (this was Mom’s favorite)

AND

  • Chocolate Marshmallow!  YUM!

The Chocolate Marshmallow was pretty interesting, and was the most involved to make because of the oven time.  However….still SUPER EASY and DELICIOUS!

Chocolate Marshmallow Popcorn

  • 3 Milk Chocolate Hershey Candy Bars (Go bold if you want Dark Chocolate…your choice!)
  • 1 cup (or more *smiles*) mini marshmallows
  • 1 family size bag of popcorn

Directions:

  1. Pop the popcorn according to package directions.
  2. Poor popcorn in a pan and break the chocolate bar in pieces on top of the popcorn, and sprinkle the marshmallows on top.
  3. Place in the oven at 325 degrees and watch until the chocolate melts a bit.
  4. Pull out of the oven and stir together.  It will slightly be like a Rice Krispies Treat sticky, but I pulled them all apart so they didn’t clump together.
  5. Lay out on a piece of wax paper to air dry a bit or serve immediately.  I let mine lie out on the paper for a bit over an hour so the marshmallow and chocolate wouldn’t be so messy.  Enjoy!

Now to put down the leftover marshmallows in the bag beside me before I eat them all.  They are fat free though….isn’t that alright?  *wink*

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Would you like some Pudding, Puddin’?

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A shot of the Banana Pudding I made for Thanksgiving...

I know a lot of you have been asking me for my Banana Pudding recipe, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to give that up yet. Instead, I have a very easy Corn Pudding recipe you must make for your holiday dinners this season!

I took this two places this year for Thanksgiving, and both households absolutely swooned over it. Honestly though, it’s so simple, and it’s a Jiffy recipe. Beautiful food doesn’t have to be from scratch. It can be found in any recipe that your family loves, as long as it’s prepared out of love.

Of course you know I made a Banana Pudding for one Thanksgiving meal, but it may be a bit before I make another one. I made so many of them preparing for the Washington, D.C. trip. A recipe that was maybe made once or twice a year, became once a week for the month of October and beginning of November…too much sugar, and maybe why I started back on Weight Watchers last week. *smiles*

I truly hope you will try this delicious Corn Pudding that is so easy to make when everything else seems to be a hassle at most Holiday functions.

Jiffy Corn Pudding

  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can cream style corn
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix

Directions:

Beat eggs. Add melted butter, add sour cream, corn, and Jiffy mix. Put into 2 1/2 quart casserole. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

*Variation: Try adding some of these items…1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 fresh jalapenos (seeds and all), 1 chopped bell pepper (any color), or maybe even a minced fresh garlic clove. Get creative with it, and enjoy!

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Best tip I can give you for your food prep this season…Utilize your cooling racks in your fridge to maximize space.  They allow you to stack dishes in there that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to stack on top of each other.

Sundays with Friends: Don’t like Ricotta? No Problem with Sara’s Lasagna!

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Today’s Sundays with Friends comes from my very good friend, Sara. I met Sara through work six years ago , and we have remained close friends ever since. Sara is the friend everyone needs in their lives. She’s the one you go to when you need advice. She’s also the one you go to to tell the funny dirty joke you just heard. Most of all, she’s the one you go to when you need that extra pick-me-up, or to feel the presence of God close by you in the form of an angel that is named Sara. As her writing advises us…she does take food to people…”such as a friend who just had a baby or someone who had surgery and can’t cook for themselves yet”.

I love my Sara (and her Rockstar hub and baby), and I think anyone that knows her would agree that we are all blessed to know her. With love to you, Sara, and thank you for joining Sundays with Friends on The Onyx Plate!

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While growing up, my mom would make this lasagna every Christmas Eve. It was the perfect meal, with salad and garlic bread, to fill our bellies as we prepared to attend a Christmas Eve Service and then wait for Santa to make his appearance. As an adult, I carried on the tradition last year when my husband and I spent our first Christmas Eve alone, and, although it didn’t contain my mom’s touch, it was still delicious.

This is the lasagna for lasagna lovers who don’t necessarily like Ricotta cheese. Personally, I love anything with noodles, sauce and mozzarella, but I just never got into the consistency or flavor of Ricotta, so this is the perfect lasagna for me.

This lasagna is also a great meal to carry to those in need, such as a friend who just had a baby or someone who had surgery and can’t cook for themselves yet, because of the amount it makes. The recipe usually makes enough to have left-overs…and believe me…you want left-overs of this! It’s even better the next day! Enjoy!

Mom’s Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 large Onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped (or ground to a pulp as Sara likes hers done in her Magic Bullet, hehe)
  • 2 10-oz cans Spaghetti Sauce with green peppers and mushrooms
  • Oregano,Garlic Powder & crushed Red Pepper to taste
  • 1 8-oz package Lasagna Noodles
  • 2 8-oz packages Mozzarella Cheese slices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brown ground beef & drain.
Beef. Yum.
  1. Put chopped onion & green pepper in water & heat in microwave for 5 minutes. Drain the water out after heating.
This is what I meant by Sara likes her peppers in a pulp through her Magic Bullet. I did ask her what that was all about. She said it needed to be more like a soft sauce consistency with no chunks. Now, it all makes sense. *smiles*
  1. Add spaghetti sauce to ground beef & mix in onion & pepper combination. Mix sauce with oregano, garlic powder & red pepper to taste. Bring mix to a boil. Turn temperature down to a simmer & cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Look at that beautiful color! So hungry just putting this post together for you guys this morning!
  1. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil & add noodles. Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  3. Layer ingredients in this order: sauce (bottom), noodles, cheese, sauce, noodles,cheese, sauce.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.
When I saw this picture Sara sent me, I immediately felt like saying, "Roll that beautiful Lasagna footage."
So bubbly and golden! I love the super brown spots on the cheese on top. I'm calling dibs on that part!

The end of the Christmas food season…

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We have been saving the one lone carton of Southern Comfort Egg Nog in the fridge until we couldn’t stand it anymore.  Every Christmas, it seems a non-thought to pick up the carton on the weekly trip throughout the season.  But, oh goodness!!!  The calories!!!  As I embark on renewing my commitment to healthier eating, it just had to disappear.  And, what better way to make something disappear than to consume it!  Every yummy calorie of it!  Besides the silver-lining of it being oh-so-delicious, it’s officially out of the fridge.  The temptation is no more. 

As I sadly close this Christmas food season…enjoy this picture of the eggnog formerly known as “The lingering high-calorie yumminess in our fridge”.

(Oh wait…I think I know where there are some Hickory Farms goodies still hanging out…let me go check…FOUND IT!)

Ugh…Dishes…I despise dishes..

I can’t think of anything I despise more than doing dishes.  Unfortunately, for me (and the hub), I love to cook and my hub loves to eat. 

Let’s face it, us Southerners have so much more we could be doing with our time on a nice evening besides doing dishes after dinner.  We could be sitting on the front porch sipping a glass of sweet tea (with lemon if you prefer), we could be visiting with our neighbors on a nice summer evening, we could be playing with the kids in the backyard until the sun sets gracefully behind our home, we could be taking a stroll down the road with our sweetie, and there are many other options depending on who you ask.  Wait a minute…dang…I don’t have a front porch with a great view…we rarely see our neighbors (although when we do, we love them!)…I don’t quite enjoy southern evenings because I am sweet meat, the mosquitos love me, and the evenings in North Carolina tend to me muggy…we don’t have kids…and the husband doesn’t like to “stroll” after coming home after a long day at work…Ugh!  It seems I am all out of options…good grief!

Unfortunately, this leaves a time-honored tradition around too many of our households nowadays…sitting on our caboose in front of the television…only after doing dishes.  What does that get you???  Yes, there are plenty of chuckles to be had watching Chuck (ha!  I made myself chuckle with that one).  There are plenty of dramatic comedic moments watching House.  But, aren’t you missing out on life if you just sit in front of the television after dinner to digest?  Do you and your family actually talk during the shows?  On top of that, how many of us start a show late off of DVR just to skip the commercials?  At that point, there aren’t any commercials to mute and spend time conversing with your family until the next segment of the show comes on…you sit in silence for a majority of the night.  No good people!  Oh no, I hear it coming…crap…it appears I am going to make one anyways…sigh…I resolve, this year, to spend more time away from the television.  There!  I said it!  I declared I wasn’t going to make one this year, but I just did.  It’s a worthy one.  It will match nicely to my healthier lifestyle.  Now…if I can only convince the dear hub of this resolution (and make sure all of my programs are set up correctly for DVR)…

So, back to dishes…(that is what this post is about afterall)…the upside to having dishes to do???  It signifies a wonderful meal was just prepared (most of the time at least).  It’s proof that you put effort into something today, instead of just coasting through life nonchalantly.  It’s evidence that you…unlike others…are not starving.  You have been blessed with another meal.  On top of that, if you didn’t prepare it, and are the one stuck (and I do mean stuck in all the sincerity) doing the dishes…you had someone who loved you enough to spend time preparing that meal for you.

Don’t take for granted the chef…a lot of love goes into cooking!!!

One of the best times to do dishes in our family, is after Christmas morning breakfast at Maw-Maw’s.  You  know why?  Because there is this one glorious dish…this one dish that you can’t wait to scrape clean just so you can enjoy the gooey sugar clinging to it.  It’s Maw-Maw’s Biscuit Ring (this is something I have talked about before on here)!  Now, for those that have been asking me…you get what you ask for…but, think about it…how does this recipe fit into your resolution???

Maw-Maw’s Biscuit Ring

(I looked in my trusty Maw-Maw Cookbook, and lo and behold…no Biscuit Ring recipe was in it!  The shock!  The one staple of our Christmas morning breakfast not included.  Sooooo…that just means I had to call her to get it.  She said this is one of her recipes where she just throws it together by heart.  Sounds pretty simple…enjoy and excuse the vagueness at some points…sometimes cooking with your heart gets you less specifics, but wonderful dishes…)

  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • After your oven is at temperature, place one stick of margarine in a Bundt pan and slide pan in the oven.  Allow to sit in the oven just until the stick has melted completely.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups of brown sugar and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  • Take 2 cans of flaky biscuits (you can find these in your refrigerated dough section) and lay them out, separated, on a sheet of wax paper.
  • Dip each side of each biscuit in the melted margarine in the Bundt pan, and then dip in the brown sugar mixture on both sides returning to the wax paper.
  • Next, after all have been dipped, stand them up in your Bundt pan to form a ring. 
  • Bake at the 350 until the ring is browned.  She wasn’t sure how long this took, as she is super busy every Christmas morning with other cooking.  As you can see from the pictures below, it becomes a nice golden brown.
  • Once removed from the oven, dump upside down immediately onto a heat proof plate.
  • Combine 1 cup of confectioners sugar, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and (here’s where it gets tricky and you need to use your common sense) enough milk to make it the consistency of a cinnamon roll icing.  Mix this together well and drizzle over the Biscuit Ring (this creates that decadent dish that everyone wants to clean).

This is truly a family loved dish.  From our family to yours…cooked with love.

(I don’t have many pictures of this decadence, as it got devoured quite fast…including my piece.)

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The only thing I would have changed…

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It is with great pains that I write this entry…I AM SO STUFFED!  I feel like what I assume a Thanksgiving Turkey feels like when someone has violently shoved random items inside of it.  Absolutely stuffed!  Ever since I have been working out and watching what I eat again, I have felt vibrant, peppy, and almost giddy.  Not tonight.  Now, tonight, right this very moment, I am sitting in bed with my computer in my lap, and praying that my tum stops hurting.  But, you know what I got out of today?  Do you?  I got more memories for my arsenal.  I spent time with family I haven’t seen in a while, I ate food I truly love, and I received some awesome gifts from my loved ones.  I can honestly say I have been blessed with wonderful family, and wouldn’t trade a single one of them (including the in-laws)! 

Family is important.  But, seriously, when my Mom asks her brother if he wants his Pecan Pie warmed, but doesn’t even bother to ask me (her own daughter) if I want mine warmed…Houston we have a problem.  Yeah, I get it that he flew in from Oregon, but sheesh.  That’s only from across the country.  I’m here!  I’m here waving my hand…I want my Pecan Pie warmed.  Just kidding…kinda…hehe.  I can’t be too upset with the special treatment though.  Goodness, I want to give him special treatment too, just for sending me cheese.  Yes, he’s my Tillamook Unc!  I loaf him and so thrilled he joined us for this Christmas! 

Everyone has specific foods they love around the holidays.  I can pick at least one out of each meal today.  Breakfast lended me sausage gravy, hot sausage, and this sweet, flaky, gooey, buttery, doughy goodness out of a bundt pan.  The Maw-Maw rolls are not to be outdone, nor are her biscuits.  But, this sweet, flaky, gooey, buttery, doughy goodness (Is your mouth watering yet?) I am talking about kills them all dead in their tracks.  That recipe will be on here shortly.  Lunch presented Deviled Eggs…or as his momma refers to them as, Angel Eggs.  This is one of my favorite finger foods.  Love them!  I also enjoyed Ham here at this meal that was so moist and flavorful.  The recipe that will end up on here out of all of this meals items will be the Million Dollar Pies.  I will be the first one to tell you I only like coconut in certain dishes, but these pies take the use of coconut to a whole new level of deliciousness for me.  Dinner yielded an amazingly moist pork tenderloin, moist-never-dry turkey, little green peas, Pecan Pie, Brownstone Front Cake, and my favorite dressing ever…Sausage, Apple and Cranberry (sans Apple this time).  Look for this recipe shortly.  It’s packed with a flavor punch like none other that pleases the most difficult palate. 

Being that Christmas isn’t always about gifts, I will touch this very shortly and sum it up in one statement…I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever (get the point?) ever ever ever thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would be so completely excited about receiving cookbooks, kitchen utensils, and kitchen gadgets as Christmas gifts.  Someone needs to check my brain I believe…

So, with that being said, as miserable as I may feel, it was all worth it.  After four stops, five meals, a thirty minute nap, lots of snow, wearing the wrong shoes for snow, wet feet, and feeling lethargic in the bed right now, I still have time to look back on the day and smile.  I wouldn’t trade a bit of it for anything. 

The only thing I would have changed…I wouldn’t have eaten so much dang good southern food.  May God bless our wonderful Southern Cooks!  (Just to prove the point of the wonderful food…see below.)

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