Nana’s Cookies

Nanas_cookies-14

My parents came to visit last month and I was able to kill two birds with one stone, um, I mean, cookie.  I got to make our traditional family cookie with my mom AND participate with said cookie in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

cookie swap packaging prep

cookie swap packaging prep

A Christmas family tradition of ours is to make “Nana’s Cookies”, also known as “Ice Box”, “Little Horns,” or “Kolaché” cookies.  These cookies are a two-day labor of love process and one batch can make up to 180+ cookies!  In early December, my mom usually has my brother Bob, my sister-in-law Jodi and some of the granddaughters over to her house and they make Nana’s cookies assembly line style.  I have missed this tradition, as I am normally not home in Michigan mid-December for the cookie-making party.  This year, however, mom was in Tennessee for Thanksgiving, so we made them together!

the mother recipe...

the mother recipe…

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Cranberry Sauce!

dribble overtop your turkey and then you won't have to give up valuable space on your plate!

dribble overtop your turkey and then you won’t have to give up valuable space on your plate!

Ok, so cranberry sauce… Growing up, I never touched it, as it was totally just some wobbly jello-y looking thing that slithered out of a can.  I didn’t bother with it because it took up valuable real estate that could be used for more stuffing on my Thanksgiving plate.  I recently found this recipe on-line for the sweetest cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat.  These bursting berries are mixed with enough sugar for sweetness, orange juice for tartness, and warm spices like nutmeg and cinnamon to bring home the holiday season.  I’ve found I like just a wee bit dribbled overtop my golden browned turkey breast slices.  The Hubs is a dark meat leg man, but I go for the breast!

so pretty, so festive!

so pretty, so festive!

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Connie’s Amazing Pork Sausage Stuffing

 

Hi Mom!

This is how my mom looks after a day of stem-christies on the slopes.  #flawless

Turkey is great; gravy, brussels, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole – all great.  But the stuffing?  I swear I could just eat 2 plates of mom’s stuffing and nothing else on Thanksgiving and call it good.  My mom makes the best effing stuffing on the planet.  She only makes it once a year on Thanksgiving because it’s so deliciously sinful.  It all starts where many awesome recipes begin, with pork fat.  For those confused about the difference between stuffing and dressing; stuffing goes into the bird and dressing is made outside of the bird.  My mom is a bird-stuffer so this recipe is for stuffing.  I’m sure you could put it in a casserole dish and maybe pour some butter overtop and bake it covered at 350 for 20-30 minutes or so if you need it t0 be crispy, but this stuffing is meant to be flavored by the fat of turkey drippings melded with pork sausage.  She makes the stuffing the night before and then stuffs it into the bird the following morning before roasting.  Her turkey is always perfect and the stuffing always moist and flavorful (thanks again turkey drippings, pork fat and chicken stock).  My only advice if you go the stuff-the-bird route is: make sure the stuffing is ALSO brought to room temperature before you pack your bird with it.

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Sorghum Cider Punch

boozy punch for the ladies

boozy punch for the ladies!

This weekend good friends helped to throw my Nashville baby shower for me.  It was so nice to be surrounded by such thoughtful, lovely ladies!  I thought I’d share some photos along with the sorghum cider punch recipe in which I didn’t imbibe but happily made for others to enjoy!  The Hubs swore an expletive when he tried the punch, and since he’s my ultimate recipe sound board, I’d say it was pretty @$&* good.  Packed with warm cinnamon, cider and sorghum flavors, this chilled punch is perfect for your fall Thanksgiving festivities.  Two highlights of the shower were Donut Den’s croissant-donuts (“cronut” is copywrited) and Mod’s Jackson Pollock inspired onesie she painted from craft corner.

mmmmm gahhhhh glazed croissants...

mmmmm gahhhhh glazed croissants…

Baby P.Par for sure will not be a conformist!

Baby P.Par for sure will be a non-conformist!

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Buttery Pretzel Bites

note: the pretzels were delish but cheese dip was NOT a success.

note: the pretzels were delish but cheese dip was NOT a success.

Is it just me, or is everyone in a bigger rush than ever this year?  It seemed like we hadn’t even turned the Halloween corner into November and I was getting Christmas catalogues and seeing lawns already decorated with Rudolph and Santa.  I went to the mall at the beginning of this month and it was INSANE, like, frenzied with early holiday gift shoppers.  Everyone’s in a big ass rush this time of year; apparently even my doctor is in a rush.  I was told by her last week, depending on my health, that my baby will probably deliver anywhere from three to five weeks early (remember, I’m considered an advanced age preggo).  It was like a preverbal slap in the face – I thought I had ALLLLLLL this time to still prepare for Baby P’s arrival.  I mean, three months is a long time to prepare, but cut that down to two months, a mere eight weeks, possibly even only SEVEN weeks?  After the numbness of her verbal slap wore off, I frantically began checking on-line for the parenting classes and hospital maternity ward tour availability that my doc had told me to look into at the end of my seventh month (a week from now).  I mean, I haven’t changed a diaper since my niece Nicole was a baby and she’s turning 30 next month if that tells you anything.  ALL the parenting classes were full, not just full through November, but full through the end of January.  What about daycare?  I have to go back to work 90 days after he’s born and every single daycare place has a waiting list that is years (plural, as in multiple yearS) long.  Next I discovered the rocking chair I wanted is three to four months for delivery!  My goodness, had I failed already?  I couldn’t even sign up for the parenting class in time!   Where’s our kid going to sleep, in a drawer (?), because we surely hadn’t yet bought a bassinet.  Cripes, I just found out a few days ago that cribs do not come with mattresses.  You can’t even take your baby home from the hospital unless you have a car seat!  Thankfully, my husband saw my wild-eyed onset of a full body panic attack, told me to breathe, gave me a hug, and went with me that very instant to purchase the car seat and bassinet.  We finally picked up the (backordered – of course) bassinet today and set it up in our sun-filled bedroom.  I know this probably sounds silly but I felt such a sense of calming relief.  He has a place to sleep, it’s beautiful and looks comfortable and is portable so I can wheel him around the house from bedroom to kitchen to office if necessary.  A space in a really good daycare opened up yesterday and I managed to secure it!  I made plans to attend parenting classes at a different hospital and got a spot through a doula’s tour of the maternity ward.  I think everything is going to be ok.  I feel like I accomplished a lot in baby world this week, and deserve a baby pat on the back.

can you hear angels singing?

can you hear angels singing?

Speaking of The Mall, is it as hard for you as it is for me to pass the buttery pretzel place and not buy them?  Especially pregnant; me want crusty, doughy, buttery, salty pretzels!  I was surprised how easy these suckers were to make.  And the taste?  One bite and I blurted out Holy $@!&!! so loudly that the Hubs called down from his office upstairs to ask if everything was ok.  OMG so good and they taste just like the ones in the mall.  If you own a bread maker, I suspect they will be even easier for you to make and you should follow this recipe.  If you do not have a bread maker but own a stand mixer with a dough hook, please follow the below recipe.  If you only have your hands, I hope you are rested up because you’ll need your strength to knead all this business together. Continue reading

Saveur’s December Cover: Apple Pandowdy

skillet apple pie!

it’s skillet apple pie, y’all!

This is a wonderful recipe to bring to Thanksgiving.  It’s great because it will stay warm for an hour after you remove it from the oven!  Apple Pandowdy, what a silly name, eh?  I had to look up what the hell a pandowdy was, and frankly I think this old timey dessert was definitely before my time and also out of my region.  Wiki states pandowdy hails from the New England states and our Canadian neighbors to the North.  Pandowdy supposedly gets it’s name from the noise the dough makes while it’s baking.  I didn’t hear any dough noises, but I sure did grunt a lot while lifting this heavy cast iron pan in and out of the oven!  This recipe is from Saveur and it seems the trend is still all old things are new again, so pandowdy it is!

note the melty ice cream rivers...

note the melty ice cream rivers…

People, if someone makes this recipe for you, it means they really, really LOVE you.  I mean, peeling, coring and chopping 12 apples made my hands cramp!  My preggo swollen feet were pretty tired when all was said and done.  However, it’s totally worth it, especially because I made it in celebration for my own veteran today, my special guy, my smarty pants, my cooking inspiration, the love of my life; my hubs.  He said it was @#&*!@! amazing and especially liked that the apples were soft yet solid and not sour.  He also noted: the crust squares were buttery, flaky and are melt-in-your-mouth-delicious!  I served it to him warm with vanilla ice cream, then watched as the vanilla melted little tributaries of cream into the apple juices.  YUM. Continue reading

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

scary pumpkin seeds!

scary pumpkin seeds!

Ask my husband and he’ll disappointedly tell you I am NOT a fan of Halloween.  He LOVES Halloween.  He came home from school today and immediately put on his halloween skeleton shirt.  I blame my mother for my dislike of all things Halloweenish.  I do not like the scary movies, haunted houses, face-painting, and creepy teens too old to beg for candy wearing scary murderers masks with regular clothes!  I’m sorry teenagers, but it’s not a costume if you wear mask with jeans and a sweatshirt!  My mom still doesn’t like all that stuff either and I guess she passed it on down to me.  I can remember the pressure of finding that “perfect costume” as a kid and then pleading my mom not to paint up my face.  I was a painfully shy kid and running to stranger’s doors and asking for candy; it simply went against all the principles I’d been following since birth!  But I did it for the candy and the sugar rush.  Had there been no sweet reward, I probably would have passed on Halloween altogether.  I am sure, come next October, I will be embracing Halloween with newfound zest, dressing my little tot in whatever adorable costume is currently the hottest on pinterest (adorable cowardly lion onesie, anyone?).

note Tari's parka beneath her Superman costume.  No doubt it was snowing outside.

Halloween 1980: note Tari’s parka beneath her Superman costume. No doubt it was snowing and miserable outside.

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Grilled Potatoes with Mustard-Garlic Dressing

these are the jazziest roasted potatoes you'll ever eat!

these are the jazziest roasted potatoes you’ll ever eat!

The in-laws visited last weekend so to celebrate we decided to grill a serious steak and potato meal for Sunday Supper.  Everyone agreed the potatoes were to die for, so much so, that they almost stole the steak show.  These tubers taste zingy, tart, tangy and salty. The skins are split and cracked on the outside, anew reveal fork-tender potato on the inside.  The whole mustard seeds pop in your mouth with each bite.  This potato recipe could very well replace french fries for me.  And that’s saying something.  YUM.

hi mama!

hi mama!

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Skillet Lasagna

YUMMMMMM

YUMMMMMM

Italian, Italian, Italian, it’s all I’m pregnantly, I mean presently, craving at the moment.  I want noodles with tomato sauce and CHEESE, cheese, and more cheese.  Not just any old crappy cheese either, it’s got to be fresh mozzarella!  I stumbled across a few different recipes for skillet lasagna and thought, “lasagna from start to finish, in less than 40 minutes?  SIGN ME UP!”.  As fast as you can chop an onion and sauté your choice of ground meat, you are almost ready to eat lasagna, it’s that simple and quick.

the usual Italian suspects

the usual Italian suspects, are you seeing a trend here?

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BA’s September Cover: Grandma’s Pizza!

it was worth the waiting!

it was worth the waiting!

Bon Appétit’s September cover recipe is homemade pizza with “grandma style pizza crust”.  I don’t know about your grandma, but my Slovak Nana never made pizza dough.  Pierogis, halupki, layered jello, and a mean pot roast, yes.  Pizza dough, no.  I think what constitutes this pizza dough as “grandma style” is the fact that you have to be patient, like a grandma, and wait a seemingly endless 24 hours for it to cold-ferment and rise in the fridge, then another 40-60 minutes for it to be stretchable and rise again in the pan, and finally 20 minutes of bake time in the oven.  Once it’s finished, however?  It’s damn good pizza.  A healthy layer of olive oil on the sheet pan lends a golden buttery brown crunch on the sides and bottom, and the crust with nooks and crannies is like a springy sponge.  We liked it.  A lot.

beautiful, right?

beautiful, right?

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