R.I.P – My Big Dog

I am not sure this will ever get easier, but I do miss my big dog. I want another GSD, but I just do not think he will ever measure up to my Duke.

Duke was a strange combination of total laid-back dog and guard dog depending on the circumstance. I miss him every single day. And I will get another GSD – sooner rather than later.

He loved peanut butter, cottage cheese, sweet potatoes, any other kind of cheese, boiled eggs, ham, chicken, chicken water (what you boil the chicken in), turkey, more peanut butter and more sweet potatoes. So spoiled. But that is my job.

To my big boy – My Duke, big dog, puke (sorry, it was a nickname), brown, the best boy ever. And my very best guard dog.

Every single day I miss you.

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Sunday Sweet Potatoes

I know I do this every year, but this are so important in the pantheon of holiday foods for out holiday. Requested by all and dead simple in the grand scheme of things. DD_0315

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes – lately, I prefer roasting them ahead of time
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans – or more if you prefer, which I do*
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Mix potatoes, sugar, milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl. Put into glass casserole dish**. Blend coconut, pecans, brown sugar, flour and 1/2 cup melted butter. Top potato mixture with coconut/nut mixture. Bake at 375 degrees F.20 – 25 minutes or until brown.
Bench Notes:
*I also usually use a mix of pecans and walnuts and always use more than 1 cup because that is what you should do.
**You can use a 9 x 13″ glass casserole or a 11 x 13″ glass casserole (which I think is a better ratio – more crunchy bits on top).
Since I never have any idea of how many sweet potatoes are needed to make three cups of mashed sweet potato, I always end up with extra – hello, sweet potato biscuits. Now a traditional Thanksgiving appetizer stuffed with ham and horseradish cream. Thanks, JW.
Recipe from my sister-in-law – Wanda. I wonder if she knew when she started making these for our family how important they would become. Because now, no Thanksgiving or Christmas is right without them and the MotH’s family expects this – it is the side that is basically dessert. I guess that is how amazing recipes get shared from one family to another and then to another, and that makes new traditions.

Breakfast Sausage & Sweet Potato Muffins

I am a total fan of breakfast muffins as long as sausage is included. I mean what other kind of muffin does one want? One without sausage?  I may just cook sausage because I want some with real Maple syrup – from Two Pigs Farm. Hot breakfast sausage with really good real maple syrup – those two things are amazing.

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3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup mashed sweet potato
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 pound bulk hot sausage, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, oats, allspice, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, combine sweet potato, eggs, butter, oil, and syrup. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed. Do not over mix. Fold in the sausage.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes  out clean. Cool for five minutes then move to cooling rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Source: ChowHound

Thanksgiving

So I have mostly always made my same Thanksgiving appetizer, and I have to say it really is pretty much amazing. Sweet potato biscuits with ham and horseradish cream.  Just going to say, thank you once again to JW because this was all him. He was the best caterer for UNC-Chapel Hill while I was there and I totally took the idea and ran with it.DD_0184

Even so, I wanted to find a new appetizer for this Thanksgiving. But I do think I will make my small little sweet potato biscuits with all the best things, just because I can. But maybe this year my excellent cranberry sauce will be part of this mix.  Indeed.

That said, I have been looking for Thanksgiving appetizers – they all seem to involve cranberries or Rosemary – thank you most overwhelming pinterest. Sigh. Do love some Rosemary, but isn’t there anything else?

When I was young, Thanksgiving was a huge deal at our house. The only downer part about it was being stuck at the kids’ table. Really? Ugh. I understand that my older brother and sister were a LOT older and were pretty much married by the time I was 9-ish, but I was stuck with my younger sister and nieces and nephews – it was just insulting.

One of those weird things that I remember was a glass dish that my mother would take out for Thanksgiving and put gerkins on one side and olives on the other. Olives = ick. Gerkins = loved them. Besides Bread ‘n Butter pickles, gerkins were the only pickles I ever liked.

I  can totally see that glass dish. Should have asked for it long ago and now it is too late. Let that be a lesson – do not wait –  ask for what you want from your parents because if you do not you will be forever disappointed. I know I will be giving things away very early – like my Dad’s mom did. Simplify everything.

That just got slightly strange – but on to the Thanksgiving plans. And planning is involved – lots of it.

Apparently spell check does not like the word gerkins. No, it sure doesn’t.

So we are about a week-ish out from the big day and, my friends, this is go time.

1. Make decisions on what to make and how much depending on your guest list – my list, this year, is small. But that is not a bad thing because The Boy will be joining us and that makes me very happy.

2. Develop a grocery list of what you need and when you need to buy it. And then develop the “making” list – ie. when you can/will make each thing, but do what I do … plan for a catch up day on the Wednesday before the big day. That day, with nothing planned, will save you.

3. Order your turkey from the butcher shop. And also call your favorite bakery to order Parker House Rolls – I have been doing this forever. No need to make yourself crazy at this point. They will, pretty much, be better than anything you can make – unless you are making biscuits for Thanksgiving – and in that case, I salute you.

4. Pick one, just one, no seriously just one, new recipe to try. I will try.

5. Figure out what appetizer to make. Just don’t go overboard – less is more in this case. See above.

6. Add staples (butter, eggs, heavy cream, lemons, chocolate chips, local pecans, etc.) to your regular grocery list.

7. Watch grocery ads for Thanksgiving specials. Traditional there are lots of them. Hello fresh cranberries.

8. Decide if you want girkins. Hope you do for my sake.

Butter Usage – by month (December 2015)

2 December – 16 Tbs Rugelach – this dough works …

8 December – 4 Tbs – Rugelach filling – but the filling does not.

11 December – 4 Tbs – Rugelach filling – again did not – annoying – total failure – should really do a better job of reading the comments.

12 December – 8 Tbs – Banana Nut Bread – competition

14 December – 8 Tbs – Brownie Cookie

17 December – 8 Tbs – Glazed Lemon Cookies

19 December – 16 Tbs – Butterscotch Blondies

20 December – 4 Tbs – Everyday Orzo – yes. Again.

20 December – 12 Tbs – Lime Sugar Cookies

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Lime Sugar Cookies – pretty damn amazing.

23 December – 2 Tbs – Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms

23 December  – 13.5 Tbs – Sunday Sweet Potatoes

23 December – 16 Tbs – Walnut/Pecan Tassies

25 December – 1 Tbs – Toasted Banana Nut Bread

26 December – 12 Tbs – Sweet Potato Biscuits

29 December – 8 Tbs – The Browniest Cookies See Above.

30 December – 13 Tbs – Chess Tart

Total 145.5 Tbs = 18.1875 sticks = 4.5468875 pounds

Not my best month this year, but a damn good month by any measure.

I’m a bit frightened by what the total for the year will be if this is any indication. I may not keep up with this again, or maybe I’ll add keeping up with eggs too in 2016. Again, slightly frightening. But what the hell – makes for an excellent recap in an odd sort of way.

 

 

Prep for Christmas – in all its forms.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving which I enjoyed, but I am glad Christmas is going to be an all-out family party. I love the way my brother-in-law fries a turkey. No matter how many times I roast one (thank you AB for the best roasted turkey of all time! And I should add, the first turkey I ever made in my life), I still prefer a fried turkey, but do not have the nerve (or equipment) to do it myself. Very glad he does.

So here are my plans for the upcoming holidays:

Christmas Eve – just an aside – This is my favorite part of Christmas because growing up we had a smorgasbord (sorry lacking the umlauts and accents). Or at least my eleven year-old version of it. Why my mom let me kind of take over to a degree – although she still did most of the cooking, I have no idea. But that is what happened in my family. Christmas Eve we opened presents from each other and munched on a buffet of all kinds of things that my mom made and a few that I dreamed up. At the time, I realized I wanted to be a caterer, so it is not surprising that I went into event management – not really.

So for me Christmas Eve is meant to be relaxed. Our new tradition from a few year ago is to have Cheddar fondue night with all the things that go with it. In our case, that is apples, pears, grapes, baguette, and to gild the lily, some Boursin (for the baguette, not the fondue). Maybe some Brie or, well, who knows.  I always shop on Christmas Eve to get the freshest things I can find. It is so simple and it can be scaled for however many people you have. In our case, it is small – typically four of us, but fun nonetheless. I am just a bit too excited about this. Oh, and then there is dessert. Whatever kind of cookie I make for the next day – but we hit it anyway. Although after a bunch of fruit and cheese I do not have tons of room. Well, that is what I tell people.

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Sausage Balls – A Southern & a family tradition

Christmas Day – Morning. I am kind of going easy this year. I have my mom’s Banana Nut Bread that I will slice and broil until crunchy and smear with great salted European butter. I probably could just do with that. But I want something else, but something simple. This year, not sausage balls (which are a huge tradition in my family), or latkes which I love more than words, and yes, I might just be being a bit lazy in this department. But there may be just the two of us so I am going with sautéed hot breakfast sausage that I then add scrambled eggs. So the eggs cook in the sausage grease – it is amazing. That was the only way I ate eggs as a kid (long story – see: allergies).

Then the plan is to bake my stuffed mushrooms which you will see and reheat my Sunday Sweet Potatoes which you have seen way too many times, for Christmas with the family. I will have the third batch of Cranberry Horseradish Relish made by then and have more bags of cranberries in the freezer than make sense.  And have put up the pecan/walnut tassies as well – again things that people seem to really like.

So on the 28th, we are having another family thing on the beach – super cool! I plan to make my (yes, you’ve seen it here) sweet potato biscuits with something in them. May try to change this up this year. Probably will not, but … I might. You never know what happens.

I am dreading going to the grocery store today. I have put it off since it’s been raining for days. And the forecast does not get any better until, well maybe if we get really lucky – not likely, Friday for Christmas Day. That said, it will be in the 70’s. Not any kind of Christmas weather and certainly not any kind of candy making weather. Guess I am waiting for January for cold and dry to make Vanilla Taffy or English toffee, or Divinity or even Peanut Brittle. Nothing too unusual in the grand scheme of things. But irksome.

 

Butter Usage – by month (November 2015)

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Carrot Cake Cookies

It is always great when I start a butter usage post with using butter the first day of the month. It’s the little things in life that make me happy.

1 November – 8 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Blondies
6 November – 4 Tbs – Star Crunch
7 November – 8 Tbs – Toffee Snickerdoodles
11 November – 8 Tbs – Bolzano Apple Cake
12 November – 8 Tbs – Butterscotch Thins – totally, ugh, disaster
13 November – 16 Tbs – Carrot Cake Cookies
13 November – 8 Tbs – Carrot Cake Cookie Cream Cheese Frosting
13 November – 16 Tbs – Pecan Tassies
14 November – 8 Tbs – Cheddar Pecan Crisps
19 November – 16 Tbs – Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars
And now Thanksgiving ….
25 November – 13 1/3 Tbs – Sunday Sweet Potatoes
25 November – 12 Tbs – Sweet Potato Biscuits
25 November – 6 Tbs – cornbread
25 November – 6 Tbs – cornbread
26 November – 5 Tbs – Cornbread Dressing
26 November – 3 Tbs – Corn Pudding
26 November – 14 Tbs – Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake

159.3 Tbs = 19.91 sticks = 4.98 pounds

As it should be. November is a high butter month. Let’s see how December goes. Hoping for good numbers. Even better than this.