Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 accomplished!

My list of promises for 2008 has been a success!

I can honestly say I have accomplished them all... Ok, Maybe not the hershey's kiss everyday~ but I did have a kiss nearly every day.

* Give Yoga a try
* Start cranking the pasta machine
* Learn Italian
* Have a glass of wine in front of a Tuscan sunset
* Eat shrimp and grits in Savannah
* Increase my flavanoids in one hershey's kiss a day
* Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
* Get that new cookbook finished
* Always have a bag when the donation truck comes through the neighborhood.
* turn 50 gracefully

Now I am working on my list for 2009... tough decisions!
The success is all about the perfect to-do list.

Do y'all have your lists ready?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Centerpiece of the month~ December

This month the centerpieces are all about Christmas! We have a beautiful and amazing mix.

Pat at BackPorchMusings used both silver and gold to decorate her Christmas table.
This Southern Lady decorated her kitchen with a happy snowman
Nikki Crumpet was creative with her Christmas shrubbery. Despite what her husband said, I thought it was great Janie, who is Southern Lagniappe, used cars of candy in the center of her table. I wonder if this lasted through the holiday season with little ones around?
Mimi's Garden moved out of the garden for this tabletop decoration of glitter and bling.
Southern Hospitality is always posting some beautiful table decorations. This is one of my favorites... simple centerpieces that they did for the lunch at the Lovelady Center in Birmingham. After all~ that is really what Christmas is all about.
Just a Beach Kat posted her centerpiece just for me! This picture doesn't do it justice, you'll just have to go to the beach and check it out.
Kari & Kijsa set their table with paperwhites~ can't you just smell them from here?
The White Bench was set for the holidays with a beautiful display of vintage glass and plates. Monica used the things that she has treasured for years.
TasTe wiTh The EyeS posted a beautifully simple display of elegant angels.

Fine, Fancy, or Fun~ they are all festive!

Y'all enjoy~

Sunday, December 28, 2008

For a Souper New Year~

This was Shannon's week to pick her favorite soup for our Sunday Slow Soupers. I think we twisted her arm a bit when she picked this one. It is perfect for the week of New Years.

Luck and money all in one big pot!

Hoppin' John Soup
1 onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2-3 cups diced ham
8 cups chicken stock
2 16 oz packages frozen black-eyed peas
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bunch fresh collard greens, chopped (about 2 cups when measured after chopping, but next time I would use more)
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
Optional: ham flavor base if needed, see note at end of the recipe

In large frying pan, saute onion and celery in olive oil about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes more, then add ham and saute over very low heat 10 minutes. (Don't skip this step, which concentrates the ham flavor into the vegetables.)
Transfer mixture to large soup pot, add chicken stock, black eyed peas, and ham rinds if available, and cook at very low simmer for one hour.After soup has cooked one hour, taste for flavoring. Add more water and ham flavor base if needed. (It will depend on your ham, but I usually add a tiny bit. I added about 2 cups more water to the soup at this point.) Add chopped collard greens, stir into soup and simmer one hour more, or until black-eyed peas are quite soft. When black-eyed peas are as soft as you want them, remove pieces of ham rind, then use an immersion blender, food processor, or hand masher to partially process about half the soup. You want a mixture of broken and unbroken black-eyes peas, with some thickening of the soup from the pureeing process. Be careful not to over process. Add red pepper flakes and vinegar and simmer 10 minutes more. Serve hot.
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from The Gourmet Cookbook.)

The recipe says that the red pepper flakes are optional... mine weren't optional! In fact I added tobasco in the end. A wedge of buttermilk cornbread finished off the meal. There will be plenty of leftovers for the week.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Photo Hunt ~ Squeaky

The photo hunt for this week is 'squeaky'.

One day... won't he be proud!
War Eagle Y'all!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Y'all!

I hope you were off of Santa's Naughty List this year.
Enjoy a blessed day with your family and friends.
Merry Christmas Y'all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cranberries are Christmas

I have been saving up for my cornbread dressing. I have this zip loc bag I throw my leftover cornbread in. I usually have more than plenty for a big dish of southern cornbread dressing dressing.

This dressing will be perfect with our cranberried turkey breast. We'll also be having a huge ham and sweet potatoes for Christmas dinner.I made this little turkey breast ahead of time so that I'd be able to post it... and so I'd have some leftovers for turkey salad.

Cranberried Breast of Turkey
1 cup whole cranberries
2 big bunches sage
ground salt and pepper
1/4 cup WhistleStop Marinade
1 cup orange juice
white wine (optional)

Marinate the turkey breast in WhistleStop Marinade for 2 hours in the fridge. Place the roast and marinade in a 8x8 baking dish. Cover the breast generously with cranberries and fresh sage. Cover and bake until the center reaches 165. Remove the foil and baste. Cook the remaining few minutes uncovered to brown. Poultry should be 170 when it is done.
Once the turkey is done allow it to sit while you make a cranberry reduction. Add cranberries and juices from the pan to a skillet. Add 1 cup orange juice and some white wine. Cook at a hard boil until the sauce becomes thickened. Serve with a drizzle over the turkey.
Merry Christmas y'all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hot and Spicy Brie

Television has ruined us...

When we were having friends over and I said I was serving hot and spicy brie, Bill's thoughts immediately went to the desperate housewife. Sorry Bubba~ out of luck!
This brie is a whole lot easier to handle.

Hot and Spicy Brie
1 round brie
1 jar red pepper jelly
1 cup fresh cranberries

Trim the edges off of the brie and place in a pie plate. In the center spread the jar of pepper jelly. Top with cranberries. Bake in the oven at 300 until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers.

It makes a beautiful festive holiday appetizer~ and couldn't be any easier. Don't tell anyone else in the neighborhood.
Y'all enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

family photos~

For the past 28 years we have had a family Christmas photo for our Christmas card. I know that family, friends, and those people I haven't seen in 28 years but have kept up with, have looked forward to my annual holiday update.

There have been some good years... and some not so good years. But~ there was one thing that is consistent... we were together, we were smiling, and the picture that was in the card was always best of ME.

This year the simple family photo has become impossible. Brooke has up and moved to Charlotte, Rob is in his 3rd year of the 6 year art degree, and I have started to look like a chubby Bridget Jones.

So~ I created my own happy holiday photo.
My goal for 2009? All I want is one smiling family photo.
Merry Christmas y'all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pumpkin in a soup

Our Sunday Slow Souper's soup (say that 3 times!) for this week is Pumpkin soup. Perfect for Christmas!

In the south we tend to think of pumpkin as sweet... as in pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin butter. This soup shows off the savory side of pumpkin. Imagine that... a vegetable that tastes like a vegetable.
I resisted the urge to throw in some karo syrup!

Pumpkin Soup with Cheddar & Parmesan
8 Servings
8 bacon slices, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 cups (or more) chicken broth
2 16-ounce cans solid pack pumpkin
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 cup half & half
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute bacon in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat until brown, about 8 minutes. Pour off drippings. Add oil to same Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and saute until vegetables begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Stir in 8 cups stock, pumpkin and thyme. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to Dutch oven. Mix in half and half and nutmeg. Stir in additional stock if soup is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Top each serving with a mixture of cheddar and Parmesan cheese and serve.
Bon Appetit, December 1994
Christmas Past Meets Christmas Present
I took this soup to work for our Christmas party and everyone enjoyed it. It has gotten mixed reviews from the other Slow Soupers. I added more thyme and nutmeg than the recipe called for and used some leftover pancetta rather than bacon.
Bill didn't like it as much as pumpkin pie... but it's a keeper!

Merry Christmas y'all,

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Photo Hunt ~ wide

The photo hunt for this week is 'wide'.

I couldn't think of a thing... then I remembered.
Look Up!
The oculus at the Pantheon is an awesome example of wide. It is a 29 foot opening in the dome of the Pantheon. This is one of my favorite spots in all of Rome.

Ciao y'all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Looking for a quick gift?

If you are looking for a quick gift that everyone will love, try making a batch of Hot Buttered Rum Mix. It is kept in the freezer and lasts forever.

For those of you who are calorie counters... come back tomorrow. Y'all may as well just skip this post all together.

Hot Buttered Rum Mix
4 sticks butter
1# brown sugar
1# confectioners sugar
1 quart vanilla ice cream
1 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Melt the butter in a large pot with the sugars. Stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the ice cream. Stir until well blended. Add spices. Pour into gift sized containers (I use small plastic containers that can be kept in the freezer) Tie with a pretty ribbon and add instructions.

The instructions would read...
Add 1-2 scoop of mix with 1 oz rum to your favorite mug. Fill with hot water. Top with whipped cream and y'all enjoy!

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the season

This is the season for connecting with good friends and shopping... both are fun to do in Homewood.

I met up with a couple of local bloggers for a special holiday lunch. It doesn't seem to matter if you live down the street or across the country, we are connected through our blogs.
Sit down at a table together and we can chatter away~ it is like we are in each other's kitchens every day.
Rhoda and Leigh joined me at Nabeel's for a fun lunch and a little shopping after in downtown Homewood. We didn't buy much~ I did get some decorating ideas from Rhoda :-)

Speaking of shopping~
This is a special shop in Auburn. When we are in town we always have to stop in at The Flower Store. They have the most beautiful displays and the most unique gifts.
I love the aqua colored glass.
We didn't find anything that was good deal~ I guess my mind has been warped by TJ Maxx and Homegoods! I've got most of my gift getting done.
My favorite ad for the holidays has been... 'there is more about values than the price'.

Merry Christmas y'all!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gingerbread at holiday time

I've decided to give the gingerbread men a break this year. In the past, I have posted my recipe for gingerbread men. I still wanted a bite of gingerbread...without having to chase little gingerbread men around the kitchen.

The flavor of gingerbread... in a muffin!
Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3/4 water
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup fresh cranberries
Pre-heat oven to 350°

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Mix egg, water, yogurt, molasses and oil. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in diced cranberries. Bake in muffin tins for 18-20 minutes.

These muffins are perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee, use a splash of egg nog in place of cream. Just right for a holiday treat. I adapted this recipe from Healthy Cooking Magazine.
For a more decadent treat, try the Chocolate Ginger Chunk Cookies. My favorite!!

Y'all enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome Y'all!

For everyone visiting from Boo Mama's Christmas Tour Of Homes, come on in. I'm just so glad y'all are here. I've been baking all morning.There are cookies for everyone!The tree's are decorated.Y'all have a cup of coffee and sit a spell before you move on to the next home on the tour.Fancy won't even know you were here!
Merry Christmas y'all!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Italian Wedding Soup

This was Terry's week to choose a soup for our Sunday Slow Soupers. She picked an Italian Wedding Soup~ no surprise from our Teaberry, it is made with turkey meatballs and lots of veggies and spice. It is a great meal for a cold evening.

Next time I make it, I will double the meatballs and freeze half for another soup. I had a 'helper' in the kitchen and lost half my meatballs to him.

Italian Wedding Soup
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1# ground turkey (or ground meat of choice)
2 Tbs olive oil
spices: 3/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp salt
Mix everything together, and roll into tiny 1″ balls. Saute in the olive oil until lightly browned on the outside. Set aside and protect from scavengers.

1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves minced garlic
3 diced strips of turkey bacon (or regular bacon)
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs Marsala wine
2 quarts of chicken stock
1 cup orzo
1 Tbs dried oregano
4 fresh leaves of basil, chopped
3 cups of arugula
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano for garnish
Saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in large soup pot for 5 - 6 minutes. Add the turkey bacon and the balsamic vinegar, and let all the flavors mix and blend. Add the Marsala and let this cook down a little. When it is almost evaporated, add the chicken stock, orzo, meatballs, and oregano. Simmer this for about 15 minutes, til the orzo is soft. Add the arugula right at the end.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Photo Hunt ~ favorite

This week's photo hunt is 'favorite'.

It is time to show a few of my favorite things.


The Beach
Just the thought makes me smile.

So, what are y'alls favorite things?
Related Posts with Thumbnails