Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bacon-Cheddar Quiche with a Grits Crust

Bacon-Cheddar Quiche with a Grits Crust 

Is it just me, or did November absolutely fly by?  Guys, I made it!  I posted every single day for the whole month!  This exercise was really good for me.  It forced me to go a little outside my comfort zone, and kind of reignited my passion for blogging.  And while I don't plan on posting every day in December, I do plan to keep the momentum going and post at least 3-5 days per week.  I kind of loved doing the weekend posts.  Putting together themed menus and party ideas is so much fun, and I also liked giving you a snapshot into our life… and I'll be honest, I always love sharing pictures of my cute kids :)

So now we move on to the holidays.  A time for family, celebration, decadence, and extravagance.  And this quiche kind of embodies all of those things.  This recipe makes a big deep dish quiche, which is big enough to serve several people.  It's decadent, rich, and definitely worthy of a celebration!  The grits crust is the stuff dreams are made of.  I mean, really.  And the quiche filling is custardy, rich, creamy, and absolutely delicious.  

this is definitely not a light and healthy dish.  It's the opposite, actually.  There's bacon, tons of cheese, heavy cream, half-and-half… yeah.  But it's a great dish for a celebration, and a great dish to share.  I actually think it would be pretty perfect for Christmas morning.  It can be prepped and assembled the night before, then just pop it in the oven to bake while you open presents in the morning.

I hope you're ready for some holiday cheer around here… because I have a lot to share with you in the next few weeks.  Get ready!

Bacon-Cheddar Quiche with a Grits Crust 

Bacon-Cheddar Quiche with a Grits Crust
adapted from Southern Living, December 2014
serves 10
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup uncooked stone-ground grits
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.  

Transfer 1 tablespoon of the drippings to a medium saucepan.  Add the milk and butter and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Slowly whisk in the grits, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook, whisking constantly, for about 15 minutes (or until the grits are very thick).  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and 1 egg.  Spread the grits in an even layer in the prepared springform pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the grits, spreading it to the edges.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.*

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the half-and-half, remaining eggs, cream, scallions, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and the red pepper flakes.  

Pour the mixture over the grits and sprinkle the bacon over the top.  

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the quiche is lightly browned and just set (barely jiggles when lightly agitated).  Let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

To serve, run a sharp knife around the edges of the quiche, remove the sides of the pan, and serve.

*At this point the grits crust and the egg mixture can be stored separately overnight in the refrigerator.  To serve, assemble and bake as directed.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Favorites from Friends and Family

friends and family faves

I consider it to be the highest form of praise when my friends and family make recipes from my blog and give me the thumbs up.  I have to confess, anytime someone tells me that they're going to make one of my recipes I get a little nervous… like first date nervous.  What if they think it's gross or bland?  Or decide that I'm a terrible cook and blogger?  These are the ridiculous thoughts that go through my head.

But there are certain recipes that my friends and family just love.  Since I love my friends and family, and consider them to be the best of critics, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of some of their favorites.  Kind of an unofficial "Greatest Hits of Pink Parsley" sort of thing.

I did a bit of an informal survey, and thought about the recipes that I know my people love, and there are some definite common themes here.  These are all tried and true by my toughest critics:  the people I love most ;)

BBQ collage

Everyone loves BBQ.  Apparently if I post a recipe featuring bbq sauce, it's going to be a hit.  My friends love bbq… which is why they are my friends :)

BBQ Chicken Meatballs over Cheddar-Corn Quinoa
BBQ  Chicken Burgers
BBQ Pork (or chicken) Taquitos

mexican food

We also all love Mexican food!  From the authentic to the … not so authentic, my friends and family will always and forever be fans of these recipes.

Chicken Enchiladas
Tex-Mex Skillet Pasta
Foil-Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn
Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake
Chicken Tortilla Casserole
Chicken Taquitos 
Watermelon Margaritas

pizza and pasta

Pizza and Pasta are also popular within my network.  Especially if it's a spin on a favorite or a one-pot pasta.  Quick and easy always wins.

One Pot Creamy Lemon Pasta
Skillet Lasagna
Lasagna-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
Pizza alla Vodka
Wild Mushroom & Fontina Pizza

Cheesy Collage 

Really, any and all comfort food is always a hit.  These are some of my very favorite recipes, and I'm tickled to death that my loved ones love them as much as we do.  Um, did you notice that they are all centered around cheese?  We are pretty cheesy (sorry, I can't help it).

Four Ingredient White Bean Chicken Chili
Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Pimento Cheese
Baked Tex Mex Pimento Cheese
Cheesy Zucchini Rice
Baked Fontina
Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Crockpot)

healthy collage 

 But I do have to say that my friends and family like to eat healthy as well.  These light and healthy recipes have been hits in many of their houses!

Grilled Summer Vegetable Chopped Salad (my very favorite salad on this planet)
Fall Harvest Pear Salad
Mushroom-Crusted Turkey Burgers
Tomato-Basil Quinoa

I hope you've enjoyed this round-up.  I always like seeing what my friends and family are cooking, and selfishly, I love when they use Pink Parsley recipes!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Menu: Trim the Tree & Deck the Halls!


Goodbye Thanksgiving, hello Christmas!  This weekend marks the official start of the Christmas season, and I'm so excited!  We plan to go buy our Christmas tree this weekend, and then the decorating and Christmas extravaganza will begin!  This is quite the ordeal - loading everyone in the car, spending a ridiculous amount of time picking out the *perfect* tree, pulling out all the decorations, sorting the decorations, and then of course doing the decorating.  Therefore, snacks and refreshments are a necessity.  Here's a fun and easy menu to keep you nourishing during the tree trimming!  If you need a full meal, include the stew and biscuits.  But if you just want to snack, then the drinks, toasts, and fudge would be perfect for tiding you over until dinner.  Especially if you add some fresh fruit or credit!

 It's become our tradition to sip on Peppermint White Russians as we deck our halls, and this year will be no different.  A pitcher of these will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit!

Bacon and Cheddar Toasts
Chicken and Sausage Stew with White Beans and Spinach
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Beth's Famous Fudge
Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I'm looking forward to sharing tons of fun baking ideas and festive recipes this month!  If you have any special requests or ideas, please leave them in the comments.

Thursday, November 27, 2014



I joined the track team in the seventh grade, and ever since, I've identified myself as a runner.  I ran cross country and track all through high school, recreationally in college and as a young adult, then kind of fell off the running wagon when I got pregnant with Caroline.  In between pregnancies, I half-heartedly trained for a few races, sporadically run from time to time, and to be honest, kind of lost the love.

But this year, I slowly began picking it back up.  A few miles here, a run at the gym there.  I completed the Couch to 10K program, and then ran a 10K in March with some friends. Strangely enough, I began to find myself yearning for the pavement again.  Joey and I ambitiously signed up for The Triple Peach, a series of races in Atlanta this summer and fall.  We ran the Peachtree Road Race in July, a 10K, The Atlanta 10-miler in October, and today we capped off the trifecta with the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon.

These races have pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of.  Over the past few years, I've stopped telling people that I'm a runner.  When talking about running or races, I'd say "I used to run."  I came up with so many excuses and justifications for not running.  I have too many kids.  It's too hard to schedule runs.  I don't have time.  I've gained too much weight.  I felt sad, because I felt like a small part of my identity was gone.

But as selfish as it may sound, running is one of the only things in my life that's mine and mine alone.  It's my alone time; my quiet time.  I love running because you get out what you put in.  Today I smiled through half of my race because I was so ecstatic just be out there.

I ended up beating my best half marathon time by seven minutes!  I crossed the finish line and almost burst into tears because I was so happy.  I really and truley never thought I'd find the joy in running again.  But after today, I'm already excited about my next race.

My heart is full of gratitude today.  For the ability to run, for the time to run, and for my husband and mother-in-law for helping out with the kids so I could fit in my training runs.  I hope that you all had a wonderful, healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to take a quick moment to with you all a Happy Thanksgiving!  I have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is all of you wonderful readers and friends.  Wishing you all a day full of turkey, love, and laughter!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Celebrating FRIENDSgiving

You may be familiar with a little show that used to be on the air called Friends.  I guess you could say I'm a big fan.  I only make Friends references in the majority of my posts.  And my friend Annie and I   have entire conversations using only lines from Friends.  We are in agreement that the Thanksgiving episodes are some of the best of the series, and definitely some of the most memorable.

For the past few years, Annie and I have been talking about how much fun it would be to get together and watch all the Thanksgivings, then cook all the food from those episodes.  We decided this was the year, and I planned a last minute trip to Indy for the weekend.


We had an absolutely perfect weekend together.  We ate inordinate amounts of good food, watched many many episodes of Friends, drank lots of wine, laughed a lot, played with her sweet kids, worked out together, and even went to a Friday afternoon movie - such a luxury!  Saturday was our big day, and we headed to Whole Foods to stock up for our Friendsgiving Feast.

And then came back to Annie's house to do what we love most - spending the day cooking together!


Here is our Friendsgiving Feast.  If you can catch all these references, consider yourself a true Friends fan :)

Three Types of Potatoes:
     Mashed Potatoes with Lumps
     Mashed Potatoes with Peas and Onions
     Tater Tots (get a little turkey, cranberry sauce, a tot)
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows in Concentric Circles (these also doubled as Brad Pitt's yams)
Monica's Righteous Mac and Cheese
Rachel's Traditional English Trifle (you know we had to!)
Joey's Turkey

 I know what you're all curious about.  That infamous trifle.  Here's what we had.  A layer of lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, more ladyfingers, beef sautéed with peas and onions, another layer of custard, bananas, and whipped cream.  So how did it taste?  Well, I wouldn't say that it tasted like feet, but more like your dessert got mixed up with your main dish.   I didn't finish my portion, but Annie's husband Ben got seconds.  Beef?  Good.  Custard?  Good.  Jam?  Goooooood.

This was easily one of the most fun projects I've taken on, and it was pretty amazing to get to do so with one of my best friends.  We had an absolutely perfect weekend, and I loved getting to spend so much time with Annie and her family.

Whether you're spending Thanksgiving welcoming hot dancers to the new world or hiding out from your family because they think you have VD (both Joey), or maybe proving your friendship by hanging out inside a huge box (Chandler), I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cran-BBQ Turkey Taquitos

Cran-BBQ Turkey Taquitos

Turning leftover meat into taquitos is one of my M.O.'s, but the idea to combine turkey and my cranberry BBQ sauce with my pulled pork taquitos was one of my best yet!  In case you can't tell, I'm kind of obsessed with Thanksgiving leftovers, and I'm always on the hunt for new and novel ideas.  These taquitos may have surpassed my Turkey Cranchiladas as my favorite use for leftover turkey.

These baked taquitos are super simple, and the payoff is huge.  A little smoky, a little spicy, a little sweet… a lot of deliciousness.  I absolutely loved these, as did Joey and the kids.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving is "Rivalry Saturday,"and I think these taquitos would be an awesome snack to have on hand while you watch football.  Add some chips, guacamole, maybe a pitcher of apple-habanero margaritas… pretty good little Saturday!

Cran-BBQ Turkey Taquitos

Cran-BBQ Turkey Taquitos
  • 3 oz cream cheese or sour cream, at room temperature (low-fat is fine)
  • 1/3 cup cranberry bbq sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Pepperjack cheese
  • 8-10 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
  • canola oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the bbq sauce, paprika, garlic powder, mustard, brown sugar, liquid smoke, chile powder, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cilantro, scallions, onion, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt.  Fold in the turkey and cheese.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Add hot sauce if you like things spicy!

Working 3-4 tortillas at a time, stack them on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Cook 30 seconds, or until tortillas are soft and pliable. 

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly.  Place seam side-down on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.

Brush the taquitos lightly with canola oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown.  Serve with bbq sauce for dipping.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Snack Cake

Having a quick and easy cake recipe in your back pocket is pretty essential.  A simple, delicious cake that you can whip up on a moment's notice.  A cake that you can just keep on hand at all times for snacks, an easy dessert, or heck, even breakfast.  This is that cake.

It's a very basic, and astonishingly easy buttermilk sheet cake, but it's amped up with a cinnamon-sugar filling and topping and chocolate chips.  I know it's not the most mainstream combination, but I really love cinnamon and chocolate together, so this cake is right up my alley.

You won't believe how easy this is either.  You literally just dump all the ingredients into the mixer, mix it up into a batter, then layer the batter with chocolate chips and cinnamon-sugar in the baking pan. The cake is super soft and moist, with a crackly sweet cinnamon-sugar crust and melted chocolate chips  imbedded throughout.

Between the ease of preparation and the resulting tasty cake, I see no reason why you shouldn't have a big pan of this cake on hand at all times.  Agreed?

Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Snack Cake
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
    Cake Batter:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 kosher teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

  • Filling and Topping
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 if you're using a glass pan). Grease a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon for the filling and top of the cake and set aside.

In a large bowl combine all of the cake batter ingredients. Mix for 1 minute at low speed; increase the sped to medium and mix 3 minutes.  

Pour 1/2 of batter into greased pan. Generously sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon and sugar over batter making sure to get the corners and then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining cake batter on top and spread across bottom layer. Repeat with cinnamon and sugar and chocolate chips. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached(don’t overbake or the cake will be dry!).

Cool 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.  The cake is at its very best served the same day, but it's wonderful microwaved for 15-20 seconds on subsequent days.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

10 Sandwiches for Leftover Turkey

Thanksgiving leftovers are just meant for sandwiches.  Now there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple - turkey, lettuce, tomato, maybe a little mayo.  But I like to mix things up, so I thought I'd share some fun sandwiches I've rounded up from around the web.  Which one of these sandwiches calls out to you?

This Pulled Turkey Sandwich with Cranberry BBQ Sauce is from the archives of my own blog.  I love this not only because of my obsession with bbq, but it also helps you use up leftover cranberry sauce!

Any good Friends fan knows all about the turkey sandwich with the moist maker.  I have a particular affinity for all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes (more coming this week on this topic!); so this sandwich from Spoon Fork Bacon is pretty much perfect.  I will definitely be making this sandwich after Thanksgiving!

Oh, my.  Baked Turkey Sliders with Cranberry-Bacon Chutney and Browned Sage Butter.  Is anyone else drooling right now?  My friend Shawnda killed it with these little beauties.  I can totally see us making a big tray of these to snack on while we watch our beloved Yellow Jackets get stomped by UGA on Saturday.  We like to dull our pain with food.

And my friend Annie also killed it with this Thanksgiving Leftovers Panini.  It has turkey, cranberry sauce, and brie, and it's made with pumpkin bread!  Amazing.

I love the idea of waffle sandwiches for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving, and how gorgeous are these Pumpkin Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches from Running to the Kitchen?  There's cranberry sauce, turkey, and a fried egg, all on a pumpkin waffle.  Love.

Chicken Salad on a Croissant is one of my favorite sandwiches, and I almost always use leftover turkey to make a batch of this Apple-Almond Chicken Salad Sandwiches.  It's a great quick lunch, or a few scoops of this with crackers makes a nice snack as well.

While it's not really a true sandwich, I couldn't write the post without including these Turkey Tostadas with Cranberry-Chipotle Sauce from Apple a Day.  You guys know that I eat Mexican food any chance I get, and I love this idea!

This Open Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich from Simply Recipes is so simple, but it looks so comforting and delicious.  Sometimes simple really is best.

I love Cuban sandwiches, so this spin with roasted turkey and a cranberry-dijon mayo makes me so happy.

And finally, for a sandwich with a totally different flavor profile, Jamie Oliver's Turkey Banh Mi.  How gorgeous is that sandwich?  I really want to just face-plant right into it.  mmm, cilantro.

These sandwiches all look so amazing, and I might have to roast a turkey just to use for sandwiches.  I really and truly can't decide which one to make first!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Remix!

Thanksgiving Remix

Thanksgiving is on all our minds this week, so I'm dedicating this week's menu to repurposing your leftovers!  I know people are split on leftovers - some love them, some hate them.  I for one love leftovers.  I love them just purely reheated, eating the same delicious meal a second time.  And I really love them repurposed into a whole new dish.  So I've made that my focus today, since so many people have no desire for Turkey Day 2.0.  We're going with a Mexican fiesta theme.  Are you surprised?

Thanksgiving Remix!

Pomegranate Sangria
Tequila-Infused Chorizo Queso Fundido
Bacon-Chipotle Guacamole
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa 

Turkey Cranchiladas
Sweet Potato Salad & Pomegranate Salad with Pepitas and Avocado

Cranberry-Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits

This is one of those recipes that I've been holding out on you guys.  My pal Elly posted these biscuits almost two years ago, and I've made them at least dozen times since.  I make them when we have house guests.  I make them and freeze for quick and easy breakfasts.  They have become my go-to breakfast item when attending a pot luck breakfast or brunch.  I take a batch to new moms or friends who need some TLC.  And I make them when I go out of town for the weekend, leaving Joey in charge of all the kids for four days (ahem, like right now).  They are pretty much his favorite breakfast, so it's an easy sell.  All that is to say that these biscuits, without a doubt, belong on my very favorite recipes Pinterest board.

So what makes them so great?  Well, they're biscuits, for starters.  And they are stuffed with sausage and cheese.  And they are flaky, and tender, and buttery.  I'm sure you're familiar with the ubiquitous sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits from a certain fast food chain, and these biscuits without a doubt put them to shame.  Psst.  They are also pretty fabulous topped with a fried egg.

I know many of you will have house guests in the next week, so I'd highly recommend baking up a batch of these biscuits.  I actually prefer to make them the night before, freeze, then bake in the morning.  It helps them rise and get even taller, fluffier, and flakier.  Plus, this makes them an even easier sell in the morning.  You can stumble downstairs, tired and bleary-eyed, and just pop them in the oven.  And um, not that I would know, but I venture to guess that they'd be pretty great with a mimosa as well.  Hey, it's the weekend, and it's almost a holiday!

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits
adapted from King Arthur Flour, via Elly Says Opa!

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup very cold butter, cut into pats
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • 12 oz breakfast sausage, crumbled, cooked, drained of excess fat, and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt,  garlic powder, and oregano. Pulse a few times.  Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse sand.  
Dump into a large mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk, sausage, and cheeses, mixing evenly to distribute (but not overworking the dough). If dough seems very dry or crumbly, add another tablespoon or two of buttermilk.
Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured work surface, and knead a few times to form a cohesive dough. Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Cut the dough into 20 squares  using a sharp knife, or use a biscuit cutter to cut out the pieces. 
Place the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced at least 1 inch apart.  At this point, the biscuits can be frozen or chilled in the refrigerator.
When ready to cook, bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 13-15 minutes or until medium to deep golden brown.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups

Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups

T-minus one week until Thanksgiving.  Are you hosting?  Are you ready?  Yesterday I talked about non-negotiables on the Thanksgiving table, and stuffing/dressing certainly qualifies as such.  People are very opinionated on their stuffing, and for good reason.  I am not necessarily a purist when it comes to dressing, but this classic southern style dressing tops my favorites list.  Last year I shared this biscuit, bacon, and oyster dressing.  It's a little off the wall, but amazingly delicious.  And this year I'm dialing it up with a kind-friendly, portable recipe:  apple-sage stuffing cups!

I realize that these are a bit on the precious and cute side, which is not really what I think of when I plan a Thanksgiving meal.  But they make up for the cutsey-ness with the flavor.  I absolutely love apples in my stuffing - both from a flavor and textural standpoint.  They are a nice texture in contrast to the soft bread, and a lovely burst of sweetness as well.  As such, the sage tempers the sweetness nicely, and when cooked in muffin tins, you get all the coveted crispy edges to yourself.  No fighting over with your brother!

As I made these, it occurred to me that these would be a great offering for a kids' classroom Thanksgiving feast.  They are already perfectly portioned, and kids always love things shaped like muffins - I know mine do anyway.  If you're still planning your Thanksgiving menu, or if you're attending a casual Friendsgiving this weekend, these apple-sage stuffing cups are a great option - easy, portable, and obviously delicious!

Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups

Apple-Sage Stuffing Cups
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2014
makes 12 muffins

  • 12 oz of a baguette or rustic white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apple
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1 1/2 Tbs minced fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake 15 minutes, or until the bread is toasted, stirring halfway through.  Transfer the bread to a large bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the apple, onion, celery, sage, pepper, and salt.  Sauté 5 minutes, or until tender.   Add the apple-onion mixture to the bowl with the bread, and toss to combine.

combine the chicken broth, eggs, and parsley in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Pour over the bread mixture and use a wooden spoon to gently combine.

Divide the bread mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using a heaping 1/2-cup for each.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and crispy.  Use a spatula to gently pop out each muffin, and serve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust

Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust
On my Thanksgiving table there are non-negotiables.  Turkey, duh.  Gravy, cranberry sauce, a legit green vegetable, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes.  I will forever and ever have a soft spot for sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows.

And while I'll never turn down those ubiquitous marshmallow sweet potatoes, I can't help but cringe a bit as well.  I mean, have you ever made a classic sweet potato casserole?  Do you know how much sugar is in there?  Cups.  CUPS of sugar, in a "vegetable" side dish.  No wonder they're so good!  You might as well just move that pyrex to the dessert table.

So for the past few years I've been making sweet potatoes that highlight the actual sweet potatoes, and qualify as a reasonable side dish, not a dessert disguised as a vegetable.  And this year, I finally found the ultimate sweet potato dish.  Mashed sweet potatoes.  Apples.  Bourbon.  And an herbed pecan crust.  Yeah, this is good stuff.

In lieu of actual spices to this dish, whole spices are simmered with cream and then strained out, leaving behind a whisper of scent and subtle flavors.  The bourbon lends a gentle smoky, sweet flavor.  And the apples contrast to the sweet potatoes both in texture and sweetness.  The tartness of the granny smiths works really well with the lightly spiced sweet potatoes.  The crispy bread crumb and pecan topping gives the dish much-needed texture and crunch, rounding out the whole thing perfectly.  This recipe highlights the actual sweet potatoes, rather than disguising them in mounds of sugar and marshmallows.  I think it's safe to say that I've finally found the perfect sweet potato dish.  No question.

Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust 

Bourbon Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole with a Pecan Crust
barely adapted from Fine Cooking, Holiday Dishes 2014
serves 8

  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 large)
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz toasted pecans
  • 4-5 slices rustic white bread (such as sourdough or country bread), torn into pieces
  • 2 Tbs fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 Tbs bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and arrange on a baking sheet.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until they are completely tender when pierced with a fork.  Let them rest until they are cool enough to handle.*   Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees.

Discard the skins and put the flesh in a mixing bowl.  Use a fork or potato masher to mash the potatoes (they don't have to be perfectly smooth!).  Set the bowl aside.

To make the crumb topping, combine the pecans, bread, and parsley in a food processor.  Pulse until the nuts and bread are coarsely chopping.  Transfer to a small mixing bowl.  Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and mix into the bowl, along with a generous pinch of kosher salt.  Set aside.

To infuse the cream, combine the heavy cream, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon stick in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, watching carefully so it doesn't boil over.  Remove from heat immediately, cover, and let steep for 15 to 20 minutes.  Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of the bourbon, the vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  

While the cream-spice mixture is steeping, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the apples, season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and toss well.  Increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened and lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes.  

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon of bourbon.  Stir until it evaporates, which should only take a few seconds.  Stir in 1/3 cup of the infused cream.  

To assemble the casserole, lightly grease a shallow 3-quart baking dish (such as a 9x13 inch dish).  Stir in the remaining cream to the mashed sweet potatoes, and season generously with salt to taste.  

Arrange the apples across the bottom of the baking dish, then spread the sweet potatoes over the apples in an even layer.**  Sprinkle the pecan-crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes.

Bake at 375 degrees until the crumb topping is dark brown and the casserole is heated through, about 25 minutes.  Serve.

*This is a great thing to do ahead of time.  Bake your sweet potatoes off at least a day in advance, then when you are ready to assemble, you have them ready to go.

**At the point, the casserole and the crumb topping can be stored (seperately) in the refrigerator overnight.  When ready to bake, sprinkle the topping over the sweet potatoes and add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Crispy Green Bean Fries with Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Crispy Green Bean Fries with Sriracha Dipping Sauce

When you go to the grocery store, do you painstakingly measure and weigh each ingredient you're buying?  Or do you just kind of estimate and buy what looks about right?  Because if you're the latter, then you may have gotten yourself into trouble before.  Either you are short and don't have enough of what you need, or you grossly overbuy and then have a bunch of some random ingredient to use up.  Not that I know this from experience…

Anyhoo, should you find yourself with extra green beans after Thanksgiving, or if you're looking for a fun and unique side for your turkey leftovers sandwich, I have a recipe for you!

These crispy green bean fries use steamed green beans.  You coat them with some herbs, spices, and panko bread crumbs, and bake them to crispy perfection.  And then.  You serve them with a spicy Sriracha dipping sauce.  The bright freshness of the green beans pairs so nicely with the creamy, spicy sauce.  To be totally honest, I was a little skeptical of this recipe.  I mean, green bean french fries?  Really?  Just drop the act and give me real fries, please and thank you.  But Joey and I were both pleasantly surprised by these!  And that sauce.  It's really really great.  If you make these green beans to serve with a a turkey leftovers sandwich (and you should), then I highly recommend that you slather this sauce on your sandwich as well.  It's Thanksgiving leftovers perfection.

Crispy Green Bean Fries with Sriracha Dipping Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2014

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs buttermilk
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • 2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb steamed green beans
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Sriracha, and lime juice in a small bowl.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover, and chill until ready to serve.

Spread the panko in an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 4 minutes, until light golden-brown.  Transfer to a shallow dish (like a pie plate) to cool.

In a gallon-sized ziploc bag, combine the flour, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and oregano.  Add the green beans, close the bag, and shake to coat the green beans with the flour mixture.  

Add the egg whites to a shallow dish as well.

Working a few beans at a time, shake off the excess flour, dip in the egg whites, then roll in the panko.

Arrange in a single layer on a  rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are crispy and golden-brown.  Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

(Make Ahead) Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes


So I had mashed potatoes as my lunch yesterday.

Ohhhh boy.  These potatoes.  In the words of Uncle Jesse, "Have mercy."  They're really really good.  I feel like I could probably just stop right here, because really, these need no further explanation.  But I'm verbose and annoying, so I'll keep going.

While these are goat cheese mashed potatoes, they aren't JUST goat cheese mashed potatoes.  There's also garlic.  Lots of it.  And herbs.  And butter.  And Parmesan cheese.  They are impossibly creamy and rich, and I'd venture to say that they could easily be the best dish on your Thanksgiving table.

The Barefoot Contessa really hit it out of the park with these.  Because not only are the incredibly delicious, but you can prep the whole dang thing ahead of time and just bake it off on Thanksgiving day.  No muss, no fuss.  No leftovers.


Make Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
barely adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Make it Ahead
serves 6 to 8

  • 3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz garlic and herb goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • snipped fresh chives, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Place the potatoes, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large pot.  Fill with water so that the potatoes are all completely submerged.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Drain the potatoes and garlic, then transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.*  Beat at medium-low speed until the potatoes are smooth, then while they are still hot use a wooden spoon to mix in the goat cheese, butter, sour cream, milk, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle parmesan over the top.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are bubbly and lightly browned.  Sprinkle with fresh chives and serve hot.

*Alternatively, you could use a food mill/potato ricer, or just a potato masher and mash the potatoes by hand.

**To make it ahead, assemble the dish, including the parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Bake before serving.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sunday Scenes

Happy Sunday, my friends!  I hope everyone is having a stellar weekend, and staying warm!  This week I have lots of pictures to share, as usual.

Family Pics 2

As I mentioned last week, we recently had family pictures taken, and suffice to say, I'm pretty much obsessed with the photos and look at them at least once a day.  I had to laugh about this though.  It's always a little baffling to me when I see a pic of young kids, and they're all looking right at the camera and smiling angelically…. well we kind of got one of those, but the bottom picture is really a more accurate representation of our photo session.

Family Pics

Our fabulous photographer, Jody Lynn, really worked hard for us that morning!  It had been quite a while since we'd had family pictures made, and the kids are so fun and full of life, and I know I will treasure these for years to come.  These are a few of my favorites from our session.

Outside Time

Even though the past few days have been stupid cold, we've had such a lovely fall here in Georgia.  Subsequently, we've been enjoying as much time outside as possible.  These kids LOVE playing outside, and they all run to the door like puppies if they so much as hear the words "outside," "playground," or "backyard."  


Even though I absolutely abhor winter and cold weather, I suppose sitting by the fire is pretty nice.  When she got home from school on Thursday, Caroline asked if I could start a fire, then sheepishly asked if she could also have some hot cocoa.  How could I say no to this sweet face?


Speaking of sweet faces, here's one for the books.  While at the grocery store last week, Tucker pointed to this magazine and said "Look, it's Daddy!"  I about died right then and there, and at that moment Tucker became Joey's favorite child.  #iwish #andtheniwokeup


And speaking of my handsome husband, we had the luxury of enjoying a night out last weekend.  We went to a new development here in Atlanta, and tried out a new upscale Mexican restaurant.  There was a long wait, but armed with margaritas (mine had St. Germain!), we didn't mind.  If you live in the northern Atlanta suburbs, check out Avalon.  It's a super fun shopping center with some pretty amazing restaurants.  We ate at The El Felix, and highly recommend it.  Cheers to date night!

I've been busy this weekend cooking up some Thanksgiving dishes for you.  I have a lot of amazing recipes to share with y'all in the next two weeks, so hang on to your hats!  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Throw a Fancy Pizza Party!

Fancy Pizza Party

I know many people are pizza purists, but I for one love the wild and crazy flavors and combinations.  Pizza parties are one of my favorite ways to entertain; just put together a few pizzas, and there's something for everyone!  This menu showcases seasonal ingredients and foods, and I for one would be so excited to go to a party where all this food was featured!

Fancy Pants Pizza Party

Appetizers and Drinks
Sparkling Pear Sangria
Salted Cocoa Roasted Nuts
Sausage and Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms
Roasted Figs and Prosciutto

Pizzas and Sides
Pizza alla Vodka
Bacon, Brussels Sprouts, and Goat Cheese Pizza
Fontina and Wild Mushroom Pizza
Fall Harvest Pear Salad
Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Mocha-Frosted Espresso Brownies
Glazed Cranberry-Lemon Cake