Hey Ya’ll! What a week this has turned out to be! Since we last spoke, I’ve learned to make my own spaghetti sauce, “catered” a party, and I’m helping with food for a Bridal Shower tomorrow. Plus I’ve gotten a contract accepted, scheduled a Home Inspection, got a couple of new clients, and I’m meeting a satisfied customer at his new house tomorrow to show his family! Oh, the life of a busy Real Estate bee! I’m exhausted! I’ve even been tempted to try to train my dogs to rub my feet! 😉 Unfortunately, my puppy dogs probably won’t be getting anywhere near my barking feet anytime soon…. unless it’s to bite them of course! Speaking of biting, I FINALLY, learned to make my own spaghetti sauce. I’m not going to say it bites, flavor wise, I got it just right; however, there were a few things I could have and should have done differently. I was in a hurry because I went to Yazoo City with my mom. She has a new listing out there and didn’t want to drive by herself. Plus my car was in the shop and I couldn’t stand the thought of sitting at home all day! It drives me crazy! So we finally got home around 6 after listing a cute, cute, cute Rambler style house and I was tired, but I was determined to make spaghetti, so I set to it! I like to think Caroline Manzo would be proud! 🙂

Hindsight being 20/20, I would have put some of the tomatoes into a blender, considering I used the canned tomatoes that I put up a couple of weeks ago. Since I’m all about confessions, here’s a big one for  ya’ll. I HATE tomatoes. Can’t stand them… the thought of raw tomato makes me gag! Most of the people in my family could pick up a tomato, slice off a piece, sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, and gobble it up like it was going out of style. Me? The minute I see the seed and slime I get nauseated! So for me, this was a big deal. To you, it may not be. I like most products that are made with tomatoes though. I love spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, marinara, salsa, barbeque sauce, and ketchup. Although, I’m allergic to ketchup and don’t eat it very much. I also used a few canned tomatoes from the store. Reason being, I didn’t want to use all my canned tomatoes that I canned before it was even winter! Plus, they do have a different texture and flavor and I knew texture would be important. I just used what I had in the pantry since I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store; so, I’m going to tell ya’ll how I made it first. For those of you who like it chunky, try it out! For those of you who don’t like it chunky, I’m posting what I’m going to do next time as well. Hopefully, next time will be next week, I’ll keep updating the recipe until I get it perfect but this is where it stands right now!

Calah’s Chunky Spaghetti Sauce:

2 pints canned tomatoes, (click the name to see the recipe),

2 cans crushed tomatoes, (I used Red Gold brand),

2 cans tomato puree,

1 medium onion,

3 cloves garlic,

1 green bell pepper,

2 tbsp. parsley flakes, (fresh or dried),

2 tsp. Italian seasoning,

1 tbsp. salt,

1 tsp. onion powder,

1 tsp. garlic powder,

1.5 lbs. ground round.

Empty all the tomatoes into a large boiler or Dutch Oven, (you know which one I used! 😉 ) Chop the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. You have two choices with this. You can sauté these veggies in olive oil until translucent or you can plop them right into the sauce. If you choose to sauté, you will have to put the oil in the sauce with the veggies in order to get all the flavor; therefore, if you don’t like these greasy, don’t do it this way. Either way, the onions, garlic, and bell pepper need to be put in the tomatoes along with parsley, Italian seasoning, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Allow that to simmer on low, adding half a can or 4 ounces of water if you think it seems too thick. Brown the hamburger meat, drain it, and add this to the sauce.

spaghetti homemade sauce

Now all that is left to do is allow the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes and spoon over a bed of buttery spaghetti noodles. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally delicious and the flavor was completely out of this world. However, I would have blended ALL the tomatoes up a little before boiling them. Just to smooth it out and get those big chunks of tomato out. I also would have added a little pesto to it; mainly because I love the flavor and depth that pesto gives to spaghetti sauce. I probably also would have bought some fresh basil and oregano. I also would have left the hamburger meat out of the final product and canned some of it. I have a ton left over, but it wasn’t perfect so, no reason to be worried over it now! It was delicious either way and you can definitely tell by my huge bowl.

Now, ya’ll are probably wondering why I labeled this blog post “Party Down South… Ladies Edition!” It’s because my mom is hosting a huge housewarming party for some clients and good friends of hers tonight; tomorrow night, my best friend is hosting a bridal shower for a friend of ours at her house. Being the awesome daughter, amazing friend, and humble (can’t you tell?) amateur chef that I am, I offered to help out. Little did I know, that for my mom I would end up making way more than I expected! But that’s okay! I love to do it! The menu’s and themes for both parties are kind of similar so I’m pitching in with Mamaw’s Swedish meatballs, Firecrackers, Sorta Niemen Marcus Dip, Sausage Crescents, Corn Dip, Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Bars, Blazing Saddles Ranch Dip, and Velveeta with Hamburger and Sausage. Mama got everything but the Velveeta and Ashley just wanted the Velveeta and Swedish Meatballs. I’m going over early to help her set up and we’re making a melon boat together. What’s a Southern shower of any kind without a melon boat?!? Normally, we would be doing a punch of some kind, pimento and cheese sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, and petit fours, but since I’m only bring part of it, I’ll have to share those recipes in a post all about SHOWERS! And I’m sure we’ll have a shower in the upcoming months to warrant it since Lauren (my sister in law) is pregnant. I won’t be posting ALL these recipes today, but I will be posting about the Niemen Marcus Dip, Firecrackers, and the Meatballs. After all, I can’t give away all my secrets at once! 🙂 But don’t worry, they’ll all be coming your way soon enough! Plus, even though I didn’t make it, I’m going to post my very special and very favorite recipe for my Mamaw’s favorite punch!

Being a Southern woman, we’re used to doing the same thing for the parties and get togethers. Depending on the theme of course. For my mom’s housewarming party, appetizers were better. There was going to be a good bit of drinking and the people attending are big on football, so I thought that these recipe’s would give them ideas for their upcoming tailgating parties. I don’t know about ya’ll but the idea of football quickly approaching makes me giddy. I love the fall and I love football. In fact, I’m hosting my Bunco group this month and the theme will be tailgating. Anyway, I thought that these dips and appetizers would be a little new, a little different, yet not so different that no one wants to try it. If you’re from the South, or have ever been to any kind of Bridal or Baby Shower in the South, you know what to expect: fruit tray with yogurt dip, veggie tray with ranch dip, cocktail wienies with barbeque sauce, mini quiches, some sort of small sandwich that is usually on a croissant, a cheese ball, petit fours or cake, punch, and lemonade. Sometimes, you’ll see sausage balls or chocolate covered strawberries, occasionally a Mimosa or Bloody Mary, but pretty much, this is it! This is what being a good Southern hostess is about. How many little sandwiches and cocktail wienies you can get done before the shower without half of them being cold! This is what we’re about around these parts and this is how we do it!

Swedish Meatballs:

2 bags of frozen, yes frozen, Swedish meatballs,

2 small bottles store brand steak sauce, you can use A-1 but I usually just use the store brand, if you use A-1 it may only take one bottle,

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar,

Put everything in the crockpot and turn it on low for 8 hours OR put everything in a large boiler with the top on, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for about two hours. I serve them by the bowl full but most folks would just stick a toothpick in them and call it a day! The next recipe is for something called Niemen Marcus dip… sorta… You see, I’ve seen pictures of this recipe for years, and for some reason I always thought it was made with broccoli and a dry ranch dressing mix. I went on a Bachelorette weekend and we did a small shower for the bride’s closest friends while we were there. I offered to make the dish, but I couldn’t get my phone to pull up the recipe. We all know how this story ends. I make it up, it turns out good, now I don’t know what to call it! So I’m stickin’ with Calah’s Niemen Marcus dip until something more creative comes to mind!

Calah’s Niemen Marcus dip:

2 heads of broccoli or one bag of broccoli florets,

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese,

1 bunch green onions,

3 oz. real bacon bits or 4 strips bacon, fried and crumbled,

1 cup slivered almonds,

2 1/2 cups good quality mayonnaise,

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix,

1 tsp. garlic salt.

Chop the broccoli florets finely, you don’t want the stalks. Chop up the green onion and mix with broccoli. Then mix in the cheese, bacon, almonds, Ranch, and garlic. Once all of that is mixed well, add the mayonnaise. Make sure it’s all evenly incorporated and refrigerate until time to serve! I serve with Ritz crackers.

neimen marcus dip 2 neimen marcus dip 3

Firecrackers have a million different names, one in particular that is right on the tip of my tongue, but I just can’t seem to remember it. It’s something like Redneck Crackers or Hillbilly Crack. I don’t know, all I know is that they are good and they are easy!! It’s only 5 ingredients, you don’t have to bake it, you only have to wash one dish. It makes a good bit; however, they will be gone before you know it! This is all you’ll need!

Firecrackers:

1 box Saltine crackers,

1 1/3 cup canola oil,

1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix,

2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper,

1 tsp. garlic salt.

Okay, are ya’ll ready for the easiest recipe ever?? Take the last four ingredients and mix them together in a small bowl. Put two sleeves of crackers in a gallon zip lock bag, two sleeves in another gallon zip lock bag. Now here’s the really, REALLY hard part… pour half the oil mixture in one bag, the other half goes in, you guessed it, the other bag. Then you shake both the bags up until the oil is coating all the crackers. Don’t shake it too much because you don’t want the crackers to crumble! Let it sit for about two or three hours, allowing all that oil to soak in. I know you think that there is no way all that oil is going to soak into those crackers. Well, you’re sadly mistaken! And when you taste these crackers in all their oily, spicy, ranchy goodness…. Sigh you’ll be in love! Some people use crushed red pepper flakes, but I couldn’t find them when I got ready to make these, so I just used crushed red pepper and it turned out really well. These are great at Christmas time when you have people coming over or when you want to give out homemade gifts. They’re so easy and cheap to make and all you would need is a little Chinese take out box or cookie tin with a bow to give these as an awesome happy for co-workers, kids teachers, or clients. If you’re from Brandon, Mississippi they sell the mixture for you to make these at Apple Annie’s and some other boutiques but this is much cheaper, especially if you’re making more than one batch!

firecrackers firecracker

My Mamaw was the classic Southern lady. She knew how to sew, arrange flowers, cook, and plan any kind of party from a wedding reception to a baby shower without batting an eye lash. Back when it was safe to live in Jackson, she lived off of Diane Drive, near McDowell Road. She worked at Busy Bee Florist for years and years and then at Lady Bug Florist until she retired. She made connections with everyone that came into the flower shop and ended up helping a lot of people plan their wedding receptions and showers. Over the years, she developed a lot of recipes for these situations and she was always looking through Bell’s Best cookbook, Southern Living magazine, and our church cookbook. Recently, I got her recipe box out and started trying to type some of them up. Her handwriting was awful so it was difficult and some of the recipes and magazine clippings dated back to the ’60s. In fact, I found a check stub of my Papaw’s from when he worked for the Pepsi company in 1965. I can’t remember how much it said he made that year to date, but it was dated in November and the amount was ridiculously small. Like maybe $8,000 and back then, they were living fairly comfortably on that. They owned a house with at least 2,000 square feet in a nice area of town and had my dad and a baby on the way. I know that I’m completely off topic, but it amazes me how so much back then is worth so little now. Anyway, whenever Mamaw threw a party, you could guarantee that there would be two things on the menu: Mexican Wedding Cookies and Bridal Punch. Now, I just recently found the recipe for the wedding cookies and like myself, she would play around with recipes until they suited her; therefore, I’m not giving ya’ll that recipe just yet. But, I will be giving ya’ll her famous Bridal Punch. It’s really easy and really delicious. It only takes a second to put together and just another second to disappear!!

Mamaw’s Bridal Punch:

2 2 liters of ginger ale, chilled,

2 2 liters of 7 UP, chilled,

1 gallon Lime Sherbet,

6 Lemons, sliced,

2 large cans pineapple juice, chilled

Mix juice and 7 UP, chill. When ready to serve, add sherbet and one bottle of ginger ale at a time. Add sliced lemons, sqeezing a couple into the mixture before serving.

Well, I sure hope these recipes help you for your next shower or gathering. I’m excited for tomorrow but for now, I need some sleep! I hope ya’ll will excuse the lack of pictures in this post! I just didn’t have time to make any really good ones! Ya’ll have a fabulous weekend!!