Wednesday, November 26

Graham Cracker Pralines

There are many definitions of a "good friend". One who rejoices in your successes, pours you wine with your failures, and brings you the Southern Living Incredible Cookies book as a quiet time read.

Yes sir, that's a calorie lovin' good friend. My bathroom scale and I love her!

My sugar induced reading coma led me to this little gem of a recipe. superbly delicious!

If you're a last minute planner, this would be a great take along treat for your Thanksgiving festivities.

12 graham crackers (honey, cinnamon or chocolate)
1 1/4 cups margarine (this makes a better syrup than butter)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Optional: I added a few mini chocolate chips to sprinkle on top.

Break graham crackers in half and place on lined baking sheet with rim.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Add sugar and bring to a boil, constantly stirring until sugar is melted. Add pecans to mixture. Pour evenly over graham crackers and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Yes, I know. It looks like a soupy buttery mess. But I promise, it will result in something divine!

Here's a close up so you can fully appreciate the beautiful mingling of flavors. Am I the only one who appreciates a lovely culinary close up?

Bake in 300 degree oven for 12 minutes. 

Now for the most important part, let cool on rack for 30 min. It can be done, your willpower is great! Caution: They'll be an ooey gooey mess so my advice is to put a piece of wax paper under your rack. 20 minutes of scrubbing the countertop is time I'll never get back.

After completely cooled (pardon my lack of photo, I was too excited), dig in! Your mouth is ready for the taste of pralines, the texture of a cookie, and none of the dental work!


Tuesday, November 25

Green Chile Cornbread Dressing

It's finally here! As promised, the December issue of North Texas Farm & Ranch Magazine has arrived! My Mom's famous Green Chile Cornbread Dressing is in homes around the country. What?!?! Woo hoo!

I've been waiting until its debut to share the recipe here at S&S.

Today is the day...just in time for your Thanksgiving festivities.

This, my friends, is for you!
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans green chiles, chopped
3 tablespoons parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 pecans, chopped
6 cups cornbread, crumbled

Toast pecans at 350 degrees for five minutes (making your house smell like holiday magic). Set aside and let cool while you melt butter in pan over medium heat.

Add onion and celery, cooking until onions start to appear translucent.
In a large mixing bowl, add broth, corn, chiles, and all spices. Stir to combine (is it just me or does "stir to combine" seem slightly redundant? I guess there's always "slosh to combine", "swirl to combine", or a seemingly messier option "shake to combine"). Squirrel...
Stir in crumbled cornbread (Quick tip: I prefer to use the Jiffy Cornbread Mix, it adds a little sweetness. I also bake it the night before to save time). 
Isn't she lovely...
Last, but certainly not least, add the super star of the dish...drum roll...the pecans! Yummy...nutty...goodness!
Pour in greased 9x13 pan. Disclaimer: The photo below shows an 8x8 pan. This is not a mistake, I was doing a Thanksgiving dress rehearsal so I cut the recipe in half. Hey, I can't be trusted with an entire pan of this hanging around with just 2 1/2 of us to eat it!
Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, uncovered.
And here it is, the moment you've been waiting for...a heavenly mixture of sweet and salty. I promise your crew will love it and it keeps you from having to stuff something in the cavity of a bird...which is always a plus in my book!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Friday, November 21

Shoe Sale Cookies

Some people call these "Thumbprint Cookies" but I've affectionately renamed them "Shoe Sale Cookies"! They are so divine, you'd pass up a good shoe sale to get one!

"Manolo Blahnik...Christian Louboutin...Prada...outta my way, there's a jam-filled yummy in my future!"

Jam and life is complete!

My only piece of advice, double the recipe! They disappear faster than you can say stiletto...or bunion! (Super Hunk said they are so good they taste gourmet...he actually said "store bought" but I know what he meant!)

Shoe Sale Cookies
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • large egg, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cashews, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup fruit preserves of your choice

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk (reserve white) and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in flour and salt. Continue mixing on low until dough comes together in a ball.

  • 2. In a bowl, mix cashews and sugar. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, dip each in egg white, then roll in cashew mixture, turning to coat. Transfer to baking sheets. Using your finger, make a deep indentation in center of each ball. Transfer pans to refrigerator; chill 20 minutes.

  • 3. Fill center of each cookie with some of preserves (do not overfill or preserves will leak out while baking). Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cookies are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets on wire racks, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

  • I used three different kinds of fruit preserves. I wanted to use my three tier display and two would set my OCD on its end!

  • I hope this brightens your day, that's my goal!

I'm off to buy shoes...

(Recipe from All You)

Tuesday, November 18

Knitting For A Cause

Since it's the season for giving, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite charities with wonderfully caring readers.

Today, I want to introduce you to a cause very close to my heart. Knit A Square (KASCare) was founded in 2008 with the purpose of providing knitted and crocheted blankets (and other items, such as hats) to orphans in South Africa.

I was initially drawn to this because Super Hunk and I embarked on a mission trip to Africa in 2010 to work with the country's orphans and currently sponsor our own little boy. As a knitter (thanks to my lovely, Aunt Linda), this organization immediately spoke to my heart. How can I not participate? How can I not do my part? How can I sleep at night, in my warm bed, knowing there's children freezing with nothing to keep them warm?

So I researched. What can I do?

Knit a square? It can't be that easy!

Yep, an 8"x8" square...simple as that. Knit...mail...done!

Once received, the squares are stitched together by KAS volunteers and distributed to local orphans. Can you imagine? A tiny square, created in minutes, can be the only love some of those children will ever know.
Squares come from all over the world.

If you knit or crochet, I encourage you to visit the KAS website for more information. Read the FAQ page and watch the videos. I promise, it will melt your heart. Consider this for your ladies group, a project for your kids, whatever you heart desires.

Blankets being distributed by KAS Founder & Volunteers.

Let's join together to make the world a little warmer. I'm off to knit!

Monday, November 17

Gourmet Gratitude

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Despite all of the pressure to start celebrating Christmas, I'm sticking to my guns and cherishing one holiday at a time.

Turkey Day is always so festive in our family. My Mom has a love of fall decorations, transforming the house into a harvest wonderland. She also makes a mean pot roast (stay tuned for her famous cornbread dressing recipe). The house is always filled with various aromas, making every person who enters feel instantly welcome.

This year, I'm spreading the thankful cheer by preparing a few goodies for our guests. Numerous batches of Sweet & Spicy Nuts are in the works (and making my house smell like something from the Yankee Candle Company test lab).

I'm delivering a few to various S&S supporters beforehand so packaging must be as charming as the nuts (weird sentence alert). The perfect glass jar, a fun fall ribbon, and a tag with grateful greetings...perfect.

I hope you're having a good time planning your menu/festivities...even if it's a small gathering with turkey sandwiches and french fries...go all out! Be sure to try the Sweet & Spicy Nuts recipe, you'll LOVE it!

Also, here are a few links to free Thanksgiving tag printables. Adorable!

1. Thankful Printable

2. Grateful Printable

3. Happy Fall Printable

4. Thankful For You Printable

Wednesday, November 12

Fill Your Cup Giveaway - Winner!

*********** Winner ************
Brianne Bond
Congrats, I hope you enjoy all your future measuring endeavors! Your cups are on their way!

Thank you to everyone who participated and stay tuned for more fun giveaways!
It's Monday and what could make a mediocre start to your week better? You guessed it! A giveaway!

As I was preparing a quick breakfast (because, as stated above, it's Monday and every task seems to be preceded by the word "quick" on this particular day), I realized I haven't shared with you my love of measuring cups.


New or old, they all seem to tell a story. Like a famous writer's favorite pen or a baseball great's lucky bat, they're essential to every wonderful dish.

So today, because we all could use a little happy in our day and because I love ya, I'm giving away a set of my favorite measuring cups. So charming!

To register, comment below with your favorite guilty treat. Hey, it's Monday and I'm working on a morning only a Snickers can fix! Ha!.

Winner will be selected on Wednesday evening. Stay tuned and happy registering!

Let's Have A Soupapalooza!

It seems as if the entire country is hunkering down (southern translation: settling in for a cold snap), bitter cold is here. Wooooo hooooo!

As soon as Jack Frost begins to nip (that could be considered a questionable phrase), I warm up the stock pot. Soup, soup, and more soup is the cold weather ritual in our household. My Mom refers to it as a "Soupapalooza", she's adorable!

Since I assume most of you are are experiencing the same weather we are, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite soup recipes.

Enjoy, my toasty friends (the proper use of a comma is essential to the true meaning of this sentence)!

1. Wonderful White Chili (My #1 favorite soup of ALL TIME.)

2. Creamy Corn Chowder (My #2 favorite soup on THE ENTIRE PLANET.)

3. Lasagna Soup (My sweet friend, Barbara, lovingly gave me this recipe. I love it...and consequently, I love her!)

4. Chicken Tortilla Soup (Out of all the tortilla soup recipes swirling around out there, leave it to Pioneer Woman to make the best!)

5. Summer Squash Soup (One word: Scrumptious!)
Happy ladling!

Friday, November 7

Magnolia Wreath

I have one word for you, my friends...REPURPOSED!

I love a charming door wreath and last year I had a very unexpected lapse in judgment. It involved read beads...and red heard me! Super Hunk even grimaced at its unveiling. That's when you know things have gone awry.

Never wasteful, I hung my showgirl holiday wreath on the door and anxiously awaited Dec. 26th when I could put it out of its "las-vegas-off-the-strip" misery.

A year has passed and I have refrained from drinking the same kool-aid. What was I thinking?

I pulled the poor, tattered specimen out of storage and disassembled it...bead by bead. Whoosh, it was so liberating!

With a fresh canvas (and a "stay-away-from-red-tulle" lesson learned), Little Man and I set out on a nature walk to gather supplies.

This is what we created.

Here is the poor soul I initially purchased for 50 cents at Goodwill, brought it home and dressed it up as...well, you know. It will now turn from trashy caterpillar to elegant butterfly.

I even repurposed the tacks...the sad, rusty tacks longing to hold something lovely.

We gathered the fallen leaves, with a lovely brown hue, and I clipped a few green leaves. Grouping three leaves, placed in various directions, insert tack to hold in place. Work in the same direction for the entire wreath or it will look like my hair in the morning...a rockstar mess.

Just keep tacking, and tacking.

When you make your way all the way around on the front side, go back and fill in with a few leaves. It's better to be too theory on eating as well.

When you've completed the front side, prop wreath up so you can work on outer edge (yes, I used a brick...don't judge). Hello, pretty pecan leaf!

Next step is to complete the inner edge. I leaned mine against a flower pot as I was working on the patio. The straw wreath would've wreaked havoc on my house.

Tada, all sides (except back because it's hanging on the door) are done. Not bad!

These are the seed pods a magnolia tree drops and a little boy finds fascinating. A nice little extra for our wreath. Don't you agree?

Tada! Easy breezy and completely repurposed. Now for the ribbon and we're done.

There you go, a beautiful metamorphosis!

Wednesday, November 5

I Didn't See

I was recently forwarded a post from a blog, describing a family's loss of a son and their journey as missionaries in Mexico. The intention was to remind all of us, in the midst of life's unfair circumstances, what is most important.

The timing, as God always does, was perfect.

The day before God spoke to my inbox was one of tantrums and total chaos. The kind where you visualize your happy place (which usually includes a solitary life of bubble baths, pedicures, and big fluffy beds without cookie crumbs) to prevent yourself from completely losing it.

As I read this family's story, I began to weep. Not only for their stomach-wrenching, heartbreaking loss but for what I felt God was saying to me.

"I gave him to you...and yet you don't see him."

I consider myself a great Mom. Raising this boy is my full-time job. I feed him, nurture him, teach him, explore with him...and at that moment, God opened my eyes to see him...really see him.

As most Moms do, I fill my days with tasks and schedules. I pick up, wipe up, and hurry up. All the while, my son skips along beside me with his favorite car in hand. He's the most wonderful little human being, with the most infectious little smile.

Handsome, playful, adventurous, observant, cautious, caring...this is what I saw. Then God spoke, and along with all the other wonderful qualities, this is what I now see.

He was created to bring people to Jesus.

Yes, he'll learn his ABC's but will he learn to cry when others cry? He'll find his favorite sport but will he learn to serve with a servant's heart? He'll grow to be big and strong but will he kneel when all others stand? Will he learn his light is meant to drown out darkness? I was created to bring him to Jesus.

The busyness of life redirected my focus. Things that don't matter forced me to see my son differently. Today, I see him the way God sees him..."I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”

Monday, November 3

Pumpkin Spice Reese's Bites

Our door-to-door Halloween traffic was minimal this year and that big bowl of leftover gold is bound to be my demise.

What's a chocoholic to do? You guessed it, repurpose and distribute to all skinny family and friends.

Shhhhhhh...don't judge me! Miserable, tight pants love company. Isn't that how the saying goes?

These little yummies are definitely worth it!

1 package pumpkin spice cookie mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
3 tablespoons water
6 Reese's peanut butter cups (or pumpkins, in this case), chopped

Ration candy bars for future "I need chocolate days" and set six aside to chop. 

Once chopped, exercise all available willpower and refrain from grabbing the closest spoon.

I'm adding "oil cutting board" to tomorrow's task list!
Prepare cookie mix by adding melted butter, egg, and water. Gently fold in chopped Reese's until combined.

Place one tablespoon of mix in greased mini-muffin tin. Bake in 375 degree oven for 11 minutes. Let cool and remove by using spoon and placing on cooling rack.

Scooch on in the kitchen and bake a quick batch to see them for yourself. I'm off to wash a pan, I was a little overzealous with the cooking spray!