Nothing Fancy, Just Good Food

Month: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Hey ya’ll! It’s that time of year again! Time for turkeys, dressing, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, pecan pies, and shopping. Oh, and family too. 🙂 And football…. and hunting… and the list goes on and on and on and on. Around our house, Thanksgiving is a little different. My dad usually is out of town. I know… when is he home?!? He and a friend own a ranch in Southwest Texas and every year, his business partner brings his family out to the ranch. My dad takes them hunting and hires someone to cook for them and I usually send a little something for them as well. We usually either celebrate the weekend before or the weekend after with my dad and the day of with whoever wants to come. And we always have too much food but that’s pretty much par for the course at our house!

This time of year is always difficult for us though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful time of year. It’s cold, there’s plenty of hunting to do, plenty of football to watch, lots of yummy food, Christmas is around the corner. But, it was my Mamaw and Papaw’s favorite time of year too and we always miss them so much. Mamaw’s favorite thing to do was go to the Bellringer sale on Black Friday. And Papaw would gorge himself on food and football until time for bed. My mom and my mamaw would stay up until midnight cooking and then wake up at 8 and start again. Now, my mom makes the dressing while I make pretty much everything else and she cleans up after me. Haha, she’s gonna kill me for saying that. It’s not that she doesn’t help. Believe me she does. I’m just a tornado in the kitchen. I run around mixing and chopping, pouring and measuring, stirring and shoving things in the oven. Mama comes in behind me adjusting temperatures (which drives me crazy and used to drive her crazy when Mamaw did it), wiping countertops, throwing stuff away, and mixing up the most amazing dressing that you have ever put in your mouth. We’re always about an hour late with lunch, we eat in about 15 minutes, then are too full and too tired to clean up until about 8 p.m. My mom usually starts decorating for Christmas while I put my feet up and take a Tylenol! And before you ask… No, I never help my mom with the Christmas decorations. I value my life and my time too much 🙂 she likes everything a certain way and I know that it would end up taking more time for me to help her than it would save her! So, what do ya’ll do on Thanksgiving?

Since it’s not Thanksgiving just yet, I don’t have any pictures for ya’ll but I do have some great recipes. Our typical Thanksgiving meal consists of the classics. Turkey, Ham, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie, caramel pie, and pecan pie. I know, Hello Starchy Goodness! Since we cook a lot of these things for Thanksgiving & Christmas, I’m only going to give ya’ll some of the recipes. I’ll give ya’ll the rest for Christmas! I’m going to give you the super, duper simple recipe for my mom’s Turkey. The best cornbread dressing in the world, creamy and cheesy macaroni and cheese, and a yummy caramel pie. Go get those fat pants on! You’ll probably need them after this meal 🙂 First things first, we’ll start with the dressing. The dressing probably takes the longest time to make but it’s definitely worth every stinkin’ minute of it! First, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to put celery in it. I don’t mind the celery but my mom HATES it. So, she never puts it in there. If you want to put it in there it’ll be perfectly fine… Also, you need to decide on how much you’re going to need. We always make a TON! But, I’ll give you the smaller version. Start with your cornbread. I’ll give ya’ll the link for that recipe here too. Now, my mom likes to use the broth from the turkey to make it nice and moist. She also shreds some turkey up in it. If you want to make it the night before and you don’t have the turkey ready you can boil some bone in chicken with a little butter and salt. Pull some of the chicken off the bone and use the broth that you’ve created. Something really important to keep in mind is that this is not an exact science. The dressing is going to be good no matter what but a lot of this is based on preference. Anyway, back to the recipe. Here it is!

Mama’s Cornbread Dressing:

2 pans of Papaw’s cornbread– this recipe is for one pan, my mom usually doubles it and adds one onion and one can of corn to this recipe for dressing,

1 medium onion (2 if you don’t add it to your cornbread),

3 green onions,

1 can cream of chicken soup,

1 can cream of celery soup,

3/4 cup shredded turkey or chicken,

2 raw eggs (you can boil these too),

1 stick butter,

a couple dashes of salt,

Lots of broth and ground black pepper.

Start by making your cornbread. Let it cool while your chopping your onions, green onions, shredding chicken or turkey, and boiling your eggs if you want to boil them. Also, chop your celery if you want it. 2 or 3 stalks should do it. Once your cornbread is done, dump it into a big bowl and let it cool. Once it’s cooled, crumble it all up. Add the onions, green onions, cream of chicken, cream of celery, eggs, turkey, pepper, salt, and butter. It’s going to be hard to stir so while you’re adding all of that stuff, add the broth, a little at a time until it’s easy to stir. It needs to be about the same consistency as pancake batter. You don’t want it too soupy but if it’s too dry it won’t be good either. Keep in mind that when you put it in the oven it’ll be thin like pancake batter; but, when you pull it out it’ll be stiff like a cake. That broth will keep it moist but a lot of it soaks into the bread. You’ll bake it at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. This is really versatile. You can use regular bread if you want but there’s just nothing like cornbread dressing! You can also add cheese or use a cornbread mix. You can use a rotisserie chicken and canned broth. Hard boiled eggs, raw eggs, cream of mushroom soup, less broth, more broth, sausage instead of turkey or chicken, mushrooms. The possibilities are endless! It’s pretty hard to screw this up! It’s pretty darn delicious and you’ll think me for it sometime! 🙂

Next up is the turkey. We like to put our turkey in the oven right before bed and let it cook until over night. This allows us time to carve it and get some little pieces and that broth for our dressing. It also frees up our oven for later! Now, raw turkey is pretty much disgusting. There’s no way around saying that. Putting your hand inside a dead, naked, raw, and slimy bird and pulling out it’s gizzards is absolutely the least fun of the whole Thanksgiving cooking experience. So let’s just get that out in the open right now. That being said, it’s also one of the easiest things you’ll make too. My mom will tell you that simpler is better. She doesn’t like the thing I’m about to tell you to do to this bird. She hates it in fact, but I think it makes it juicier. Which is difficult, turkey is very lean. You have to add a good bit of fat to it so it’s not too dry. I like to inject mine with Tony Chachere’s Injectable Butter. There are some flavors that are specifically for turkey and chicken but I just use the original. Mama says that I should just put butter under the skin of the turkey and on the outside. Anyways, this is how I like it!

Roasted Turkey:

1 large, raw, nasty Turkey 🙂

1 stick of butter,

1 jar of Tony’s injectable butter,

Salt, pepper, garlic powder.

Let the Turkey thaw for a couple days if its frozen. Cut the packaging off and wash it under warm water. Stick your hand all up in there (cringe) and pull out the gizzard bag. Throw that disgusting little bag away as quickly as possible. Let the stick of butter get really soft. Once it’s softened, rub the butter all over the outside and under the skin flap on the breast of the turkey. Take the needle off the injector, shake the butter, and fill the needle. Inject it strategically all over the turkey except for in the legs and wings. When you feel like there’s enough inside the turkey, pour the rest over the outside of the turkey. Now sprinkle generously with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Roast according to directions on the packaging. It’s really easy even if it is quite disgusting. I like fried turkey too but these men around here won’t do it and I’m too busy in the kitchen to do it myself. Believe me, I would if I had time! I guess we need to have a talk with these lazy men around here! Mmmhmm Chance Hall…. 🙂 Haha, seriously though, Chance does smoke turkey sometimes and when he does that we usually just make a turkey breast in the crockpot for the dressing.

Macaroni and Cheese. Oh Macaroni and Cheese. The most delicious food ever invented. Creamy and cheesy and yummy. One of my favorite comfort foods. I used to love boxed macaroni. I loved the Velveeta Shells. And then, I ran out of the boxed stuff when I needed it the most. So, I invented this recipe and the rest is history. I like lots of cheese. Creamy velveeta mixed with cream cheese and sharp cheddar. MMMMMM!! Fabulous! I also do this in my Dutch oven, but you can do it in the crock pot or just in a regular casserole dish. But, the most important thing is the noodles. You can do whatever you want! You can have bow tie noodles, shells, egg noodles, rotini, penne… whatever you like! Also, it’s very important that your noodles taste good. The base of macaroni and cheese is the macaroni after all. So I flavor my water with… what else? Garlic salt… it’s seeping out of my pores by now, I’m sure!

Creamy, Dutch Oven Macaroni & Cheese

1 pkg. large elbow macaroni noodles,

1/4 cup butter,

8 oz. cream cheese,

15 oz. Velveeta,

2 cups sharp cheddar,

1/2 cup heavy cream,

1/2 tsp garlic salt,

Ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Boil the noodles with the garlic salt and butter. While they’re boiling, cut the cheese up into cubes and put the heavy cream in a sauce pan with the Velveeta, cream cheese, and cheddar. Allow the cheese to melt and season with salt and pepper. Drain the noodles and add the cheese mixture to them. Since I make mine in my Dutch oven, I usually just put the lid on at this point, turn the heat to low, and keep a close eye on it until I’m ready to serve. You can sprinkle some more cheese on top, put it in the oven, sprinkle some bread crumbs over it, add cottage cheese. Add bacon… the epitome of goodness in this world! Go crazy! But honestly… how much better can mac and cheese be? It’s sure hard to screw it up!

Next up… Caramel Pie! It’s very easy and it’s very simple. I make a graham cracker crust from scratch but you don’t have to do that. It simple but I dress it up and it’s always an argument over who gets the first and last piece. There are variations on this recipe all over the place but this is the simplest and fastest

Caramel Pie:

1 Graham Cracker crust,

1 can sweetened condensed milk,

1 cup heavy whipping cream,

1 cup sugar,

1 cup chopped pecans,

1/4 cup butter,

a dash of salt.

First, put the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a boiler and cover it with water. Turn it on high and allow it to boil for two and a half hours, keep an eye on it and continue putting water in the boiler as it evaporates.  While that’s happening, make the crust from the link above… or from this link. Whip the heavy cream and sugar until it reaches a stiff peak. It’s best to use an electric or stand up mixer for this. Chop the pecans and lay them on a baking sheet.  Put small pats of butter in different places on the pecans. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes. Once the sweetened condensed milk is done boiling, allow the cans to cool. Open the cans and you have made CARAMEL!! You’re welcome! 🙂 Pour the caramel into the shell. Make sure the caramel is completely cooled. Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle the toasted pecans over it. You can also top with some melted chocolate or chocolate chips. Even white chocolate. Or some regular sweetened condensed milk. Super easy and that is the best way to go for these big Thanksgiving meals!

I guess that’s all I have for ya’ll today! Hope you enjoy! If ya’ll have any questions feel free to ask! Make sure you hug your loved ones a little tighter, watch the football game a little longer, thank God for the little things, and eat a bunch of good food!! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


I’m Back!!

I’m baaaaackkk… I know I’ve been gone for such a long time! I’m so sorry! I know it’s a sorry excuse but I been busy folks! As the holidays get closer and the weather gets colder, I’ve been busier! We had a real estate convention, several birthdays, the Parade of Homes, all sorts of people looking for new family homes just coming out of the woodworks, and Halloween! Not only that but there’s been FOOTBALL! Oh the football! For any college football fans out there y’all know this has been a season of upsets and at the very top of those upsets, my Bulldogs are sitting pretty at #1! And I’m not going to lie… I loved every minute of it… Now, I’m writing this as I’m riding down the Interstate on the way to Nebraska with my dad. We’re going huntin y’all! I’m so excited… This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons and I’m in hog heaven for now! After a busy week, making sure my clients are happy, my dogs are taken care of, my clothes are warm enough and clean enough to go on this trip, we’re on our way!

My moms birthday is Saturday and last night I made her favorite meal! Chicken tortellini with garlic bread and her favorite strawberry cake! So I’ll be giving y’all that recipe. I’ll also be giving y’all the recipe for some awesome Baked Ziti and a homemade Chicken Pot Pie that was DE-LISH! These are pretty easy recipes and I took some shortcuts on them that you don’t have to take. I’ll explain later! For right now, I’ll tell you about my mama. My best friend and my biggest supporter! Last week my brother called me, worried, from Disneyland with his family. He told me that he and my dad had this trip planned to Nebraska and now he didn’t think he should go. He said that with the trip to Disneyland and work being so busy for him, that he should stay at home to take care of business. My immediate response was “It’s Mamas birthday… I shouldn’t go” the next was “Dang it! Every time y’all plan these trips I can’t go!” I was upset but I didn’t want to leave mama on her birthday. I knew it would upset her if I wasn’t there and she was already upset my dad wouldn’t be there. A couple days later she brought it up and I told her the same thing. And she of course said that it was fine and I could go… She said that she didn’t want me to miss out and I resisted… at first. Finally though I decided that if she was okay with it I may as well go. Right? Why let a trip go to waste and I mean I may not ever get the opportunity to go again and I’ve always wanted to go! So after a long conversation and a lot of consideration I decided to come! I immediately went online and ordered a new coat, gloves, and socks… It’s gonna be SNOWING here people!!! I’m so pumped! And since I was missing such a big day for my mom I decided we should celebrate her birthday early… Hence last night’s dinner. My moms birthday falls at the worse time of the year… I feel awful for her, really I do… Rifle season is always starting up and there’s always a hunting trip. In some families and for some people, maybe even some of you, this is no excuse… In my family it’s kind of the norm. My dad some how is always gone on a hunting trip on her birthday… A couple years ago it was Canada, another year it was Texas, another it was Nebraska again, one year it was Africa… I’m gonna have to have a talk with that man! Hopefully next year he’ll be at home! It’s also a terrible time of year because my mom loves fresh fruits and veggies and her FAVORITE cake is a strawberry cake that I make with fresh strawberries. Ironically, the best cake I’ve ever made, is from a box! You don’t have to use a box, if you have a different recipe you can use that. But, you have to add a couple of essentials! Since it is winter, I bought strawberries from the Kroger produce section; however, you can use frozen if you want. This is what you’ll need.

Strawberry Cake:

1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake mix,

3 eggs,

1/3 cup of oil,

1 cup water,

4 oz. strawberry cream cheese,

1 cup sliced strawberries,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Mix the ingredients according to the directions on the package. Add the cream cheese & strawberries. You may need to add a little extra water if the batter looks too thick. I normally would have baked this in two round cake pans; but, since those somehow disappeared from my kitchen, I had to use a bundt pan. Butter the pan really well and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. I know that seems like a long time, keep an eye on it, it may vary depending on your oven or the type of pan you’re using.

strawberry cake

Strawberry Icing:

2 pkg. cream cheese,

2 cups confectioners sugar,

1/2 cup granulated sugar,

1 tsp. vanilla,

1 cup strawberries, sliced,

1/2 pkg. strawberry jello mix.

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Place the sliced strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle the 1/2 cup of sugar over the top of them. Cover and let them sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Once the cream cheese is softened, add it to a mixer with the vanilla, jello, and confectioners sugar. It’s not going to seem like there is enough water in it to make the icing; once you add the strawberries this will not be a problem. You see, as those strawberries sit in the sugar, the moisture is pulled off of them and this delicious juice is created. That juice is the reason that this icing is runny. But, it’s so delicious that I can’t change the recipe. So, after you get all the other ingredients well incorporated, add those strawberries, with the juice, a little at a time. I always save a little bit to put on top of the cake.

strawberries w sugar strawberry icing

Once everything is nice and creamy and icing-y, pour the icing on the cake or spread it on there if it’s thick enough.

strawberry caked iced

It’s not perfect and could be done much prettier but my mama liked it! I hope ya’ll do to! 🙂

So, it’s getting cold again and what is better after a long, cold day than a nice hot chicken pot pie fresh from the oven? It’s just comfort food at it’s finest! I make mine several different ways and on the day I made this, I was in a hurry and very short on time. So, I did the unthinkable… I used a STORE BOUGHT CRUST!! Ugh! The horror! Haha… I bought a Pillsbury Crescent roll seamless crust and it was easy, delicious, and I don’t even feel guilty about it so NAH! 🙂 There are a million ways to make pot pie. You can even use a rotisserie chicken. Or biscuit dough. But, this is how I do it!

Chicken Pot Pie:

3 chicken breasts, (your choice),

1 can chicken broth,

1 can cream of chicken soup,

5 carrots,

1 bag frozen peas,

2 medium red potatoes,

1 medium onion,

2 Pillsbury dough sheets,

3 tbsp. flour,

Garlic salt, Tony Chachere’s, Ground Black Pepper.

Boil the chicken. Chop and dice the carrots, potatoes, and onion. Add the chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, carrots, potatoes, onion, and peas into a boiler and bring to a boil. Add your seasonings and the flour. You want those vegetables to cook a little. Once it’s nice and thick, add the chicken. Grease a casserole dish well and lay out one of the dough sheets. Top with the chicken mixture and add the other dough sheet.

chicken pot pie 2 chicken pot pie 3

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Until the dough is nice and crumbly. You can also brush some melted butter on the outside of the dough about 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

chicken pot pie 4

You can see where someone had to take a little taste before I took my picture… It may or may not have been someone who is writing this post… Don’t judge me 🙂 This is so delicious and its a great comfort food and it seriously takes no time at all to make! I usually serve this with salad or some crescent rolls and creamed corn. Yum!

The other day, I was watching the Pioneer Woman and she had this amazing recipe for Baked Ziti and salad. I couldn’t get it out of my mind so after I got done with my weekend work, I rushed to the grocery and got to work. I didn’t have her recipe so I just did it from what I could remember and it turned out pretty good! I also couldn’t find Ziti noodles so I used Penne. You can pretty much use any kind of noodles for this. Even lasagna. After all, Baked Ziti is a lot like lasagna. You could even buy the cheese stuffed tortellini and ravioli from the cold section and use that. So this is my Baked Penne….

Baked Ziti/Penne:

1 jar spaghetti sauce,

12 oz. tomato paste,

1 medium onion,

1 green bell pepper,

3 garlic cloves,

1 lb. hamburger meat,

1 lb. Italian sausage,

15 oz. ricotta cheese,

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded,

1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded,

1 pkg. ziti or penne noodles,

Garlic salt, oregano, basil, red pepper, parsley.

Chop the onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves. Place the spaghetti sauce and tomato paste in a boiler, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, and seasoniongs to the sauce. Allow it to simmer while you brown the hamburger meat and Italian sausage. Boil the noodles and drain. Now, combine the meat, sauce, noodles, and ricotta cheese. Pour into a baking dish and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Again, I serve this with salad and garlic bread. Soooo delicious and much faster than lasagna!

Man! All this travel and all this talk about food…. I’m STARVING! We’re almost to the lodge and I’m ready for a snack! Hope to see ya’ll soon! I’m sure I will considering the Holidays are coming up and I have a TON of holiday recipes to share with ya’ll! I know I know… ya’ll miss me and need me to be more present in your life…. I shall try! Wish me luck! I see a big whitetail in my future! Or El Jeffe Grande as my dad says!! Brrrr…. I hope my stand has a heater!





© 2022 Not-So-Gourmet

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑