Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mississippi Spice Muffins for Busy Mornings!

Our family has always felt that it was important to eat together as a family as often as possible.  During the school week, this meant breakfast and supper.  During the weekend, it meant all three meals.  Mealtime is such a wonderful time to talk to your children and share their experiences of the day.  It also provides you an additional time to pray together as a family.  Many teachable moments occur during our family mealtimes.  I should emphasize that our mealtimes are spent at the table, not in front of the television. 
Breakfast can be very hectic, so when my boys were little, I came up with a simple method to reduce any fussing about what we were going to eat.  They always knew that Monday was Muffin Monday, Tuesday was Toast Tuesday (cinnamon toast, cheese toast, peanut butter toast), Wednesday was Waffle Wednesday, Thursday was Thirsty Thursday (nutrient packet fruit smoothies) and Friday was Free Friday (anything goes!). Weekends were also considered "free" and we often sat down to larger breakfasts. I must add that each day was not complete without fruit and milk.  A friend of mine once asked how I got up and made muffins from scratch each Monday.  I always prepared the ingredients the night before, so a simple mixing and baking was all that was necessary.

I thought I would share one of our family's Muffin Monday favorites with you.  It is a terrific recipe for anytime of the year, but the spices make it a wonderful choice for a crisp fall day.

Presenting the starting line-up:
1 cup soft butter                                                                   1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sugar                                                                         1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs                                                                                   2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups applesauce (preferably unsweetened)                          4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon                                                1 cup nuts, chopped
2 teaspoons ground allspice                                                    Powdered Sugar
(Camera cast an unusual whitish color on top of the applesauce.  Please note, this is not fungus!!)
Okay, I know that I am new to blogging, but do the "cooking bloggers" possess three arms?  I just can't take a decent picture while stirring in ingredients.   I would probably share more recipes if I had three arms!  Here it goes anyway!  

Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time.  Mix in applesauce and spices.  This is a forgiving recipe and I didn't have cloves, so left them out this time.  Sift together salt, soda, and flour.  Add to applesauce mixture and beat well.  Stir in nuts. You will end up with a lovely caramel colored batter!
Bake the muffins right away or refrigerate until ready to bake.  I did the latter, so the batter holds the shape of the scoop. 
Bake in lightly greased muffin pan or in muffin cups at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. If the batter has been refrigerated, bake for 15-18 minutes.   While the muffins are cooking, enjoy the wonderful "fall" aroma being emitted from your oven.  Apples, cinnamon, and cloves always remind me of the cool, crisp, leaf raking weather of fall.  Let cool on a wire rack.
 Sift powdered sugar on top before serving.   Don't they look like snow capped mountains! 
The batter will keep in the refrigerator for awhile.   The original recipe states that the batter will keep "indefinitely", but I wouldn't do that for several reasons.  Number one, we eat them too quickly.  Number two, yuck!  I just can't imagine opening up a container of batter that I had made months ago and baking a batch of muffins.  Just doesn't seem healthy!

I found this much loved recipe in a Southern Sideboards cookbook given to me as a wedding gift 29 years ago!  It is a great cookbook!  I use it often.  If your local bookstore does not carry this cookbook, it can be found at the following link:
MS Junior League Southern Sideboard Cookbook
I end by saying that if you decide to use my Monday-Friday breakfast method, don't forget to add in dried cereal somewhere in the line-up. To this day, my boys will not eat dried cereal! They will eat any type of cooked cereal such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, and even my two childhood favorites, Ralston and Malt-O-Meal, but cold cereal...forget about it! Do you think this will be a topic of conversation with their future wives?!

I will be linking this week to these terrific blogs:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ronald McDonald House and Recipes: A Winning Combo!

I have collected recipes and recipe books for as long as I can remember.  Some of my most treasured recipes include my grandmother's hand written sour cream pound cake recipe dotted with batter and spattered with dots of vanilla.  It has a place of honor in my recipe notebook which contains some of my family's favorite recipes.  When we built our home, I had a set of bookshelves built in the kitchen to hold my collection of recipe books as well as a collection of milk glass.  I love to cook while looking at some of my favorite things around me.

Last night, I went to Dillards to do a little shopping.  As I checked out I noticed the annual Southern Living Cooking for Christmas cookbook at each register.  Only $10.00!  I snatched one up and added it to my items.  I love Southern Living cookbooks with their beautiful pictures and mouth watering recipes.  A bonus of this cookbook is that Dillards has once again teamed up with Southern Living to support the Ronald McDonald House.  McDonalds does three things really fries...and most importantly, their development and support of Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.  Ronald McDonald House charities offer families a home away from home while the family is dealing with a sick child.  RMH believes that families should not worry about where they will lay their heads at night or where their next meal will come from while taking care of a sick child, often far from home.  They have helped families with ill children for the past 38 years.  What a blessing for families dealing with a child's medical crisis.

Let me share their new collaboration with you.  The cover is just a hint at what yumminess awaits inside!
(Southern Living)
Let's make some plans for your Thanksgiving dinner!  Southern Living offers a delightful Waldorf salad with a savory blue cheesecake on top.  Blue cheese lovers unite!
(Southern Living)
I love veggies!  This simple presentation of root vegetables with a yummy balsamic reduction sauce looks terrific!
(Southern Living)
What about brussel sprouts?  I know some of you may not be fans; however, a plate full of roasted brussel sprouts can't be beat!  Trust me!
(Southern Living)
Of course, what Thanksgiving table would be complete without a southern favorite...sweet potato casserole?  Here Southern Living offers a classic version.
(Southern Living)
This potato gratin looks divine.  It has a rosemary crust with thin slices of potato in a delicious Gruyere cream sauce.  What hostess wouldn't be proud to serve this on her buffet table?
(Southern Living)
The cookbook offers several recipes for roasted turkey, wonderful hams, and pork roasts, but let's skip the main dish and head to desserts!  All I can say is YUM!  Toasted coconut sour cream cake!!
(Southern Living)
Since I live in Mississippi, I could not leave out Mississippi Mud cookies!
(Southern Living)
Or for the peppermint lovers out there, a Peppermint Frappe.  I think I would save this for a Christmas treat.  It looks so refreshing!
(Southern Living)
The cookbook also offers a vast selection of appetizers.  One I found interesting was Turnip Green dip. I think I may have to try this one!
(Southern Living)
What about decorating?  Southern Living is known for sharing with its readers a wide variety of decorating techniques.  The 2012 book is no exception.  It contains terrific ideas for Thanksgiving as well as exceptional Christmas decorating themes.  This simple floral display in a smooth pumpkin would be lovely on a buffet table.
(Southern Living)
I also like this informal tablescape, not too complicated or fussy, but beautiful just the same.
(Southern Living)
I hope that I have tempted you to head out and purchase a few cookbooks to share with your family and friends.  It is packed with 280 pages of deliciousness!  However, the most important factor is that "each purchase will help families of seriously ill children to have a comfortable haven near their child."(Southern Living and Oxmoor House) If you would like to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House charity, the following link is offered.

I am also linking to these terrific blogs:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cruisin' The Coast!

I have been stuck on pumpkins lately, so I thought I would surprise you with an entirely different post. I adore anything vintage and vintage cars are no exception.  It reminds me of a gentler time when life was slower and a Sunday drive in the country was a weekly family event.  For the residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this week is officially known as “Cruisin’ the Coast”.  Cruisin' is celebrating its “Sweet Sixteen” party this year!  If there are vintage car loving  males in your family, then this blog post is for them.  Really!! Go round them up, offer them a milkshake or a bottle of pop and play some 50’s music while they enjoy the show! 

You may be asking, what is Cruisin’ the Coast?  The official website for CTC describes it as America's Largest Block Party.  Sounds like fun! Here is what CTC organizers have to say:  Cruisin' The Coast® began in 1996 as a festival to celebrate antique, classic and hot rod vehicles, nostalgic music and related events.  374 vehicles registered that first year and in 2011 we had 5,484 registered vehicles.  Car enthusiasts from over 39 states and Canada drive to the Mississippi Gulf Coast once a year to showcase their rides and to cruise our beautiful 26-mile stretch of beachside highway with designated stops in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, D'Iberville, Gulfport, and Ocean Springs.   Each venue is set up as a mini festival with a stage for live bands, reserved parking for registered cruisers, spectator parking, and vendors for food and event merchandise.  Our week long event includes cruise-ins, a VA Hospital Cruise, car auction, swap meet, car corral, and a parade. Spectators are welcome and will find that our cruisers love to talk "old cars."

Our church, First Baptist Biloxi, has been hosting a Cruisin’ event for the past several years.  We provide a yummy selection of free food from red beans and rice to hamburgers and hotdogs, a fabulous 50’s band, and a safe place for cruisers to show off their cars and fellowship with others. Our Boy Scout troop helps out with setting up, traffic control, and whatever else is needed.  My plan was to do my official Boy Scout duties and then take off with my trusty camera, pen and paper so that I could share a few stories with you. However, I was stuck at home with a migraine, so my husband helped me out by snapping these shots.  He is sweet like that!  Let's see what he came home with...

Isn't this red car terrific?  I love the lines of vintage cars.  I am not sure of the make and model of this one, but I can say that it is a beauty!
How about this classic?  I wonder what stories this car could tell?
Here is a shot of the Do Wops!  These are employees of the Peoples Bank in Biloxi.  Wish you could hear them!  They can belt out some of your favorite 50's sounds and do so every year for this event.  The Do Wops provide entertainment for all!  
 I am not sure if this was the original color, but what a burst of sunshine!
How about this purple truck?  I don't think Grandpa would be hauling hay in this truck, but it sure is a head turner now.

Or this one? Who wouldn't love cruising along our twenty-six miles of shoreline with the top down! I would love to own a classic convertible!  In fact during this week, many cars are bought and sold.
Love this one!  Can you see the grey one beside it?  I'm thinking gangster movies!
Looks like everyone is having fun!  

My friend Vicki and her husband Dino own a classic Porsche.  They sent me these pictures to add to my post.  These were taken in downtown Ocean Springs, MS. Most cities on the coast host a Cruisin' event.  I love the yellow convertible!
They don't make the inside of cars like this anymore.  Do you remember the hand crank window?
Can you tell I love the color red?  Ocean Springs has lovely oak lined streets. A perfect spot for a drive or to catch a glimpse of a favorite vehicle from the past.

Why don’t you make plans to visit us next year?  The Mississippi Gulf Coast offers friendly people, fabulous food, terrific October weather, historic homes, a rich history, and breathtaking scenery.  Why not tour the entire state while you are here?   If you are a blogger, I know you are inspired by wonderful writers.  Mississippi is also known for its prolific writers...William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennesse Williams, Shelby Foote, John Grisham, and Willie Morris,  just to name a few.   Come and spend a few days or better yet a week with us! I believe you will find Mississippi a charming place to visit.  For more information about this fabulous event, check out the official website at the link listed below

I am also linking to these terrific blogs!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Favorite Thing Saturday...Pumpkins!

I just love fall and everything about it.  Pumpkins, winter squash, beautiful fall foliage, candy corn mixed with peanuts, homemade apple pies, spice scented candles,  caramel apples, mulled cider, crisp mornings, pumpkins...wait, I think I said that already.  Yes, I do love pumpkins!  I didn't realize the enormous variety of pumpkins and squash until I visited a few pumpkin farms last year in Virginia.  Since a trip to Virginia is not in the works, a visit to Courtney Farms Market in Ocean Springs, MS did the trick.  How about this precious topiary of pumpkins and squash? I love the way they placed several varieties on top of each other and used moss and grapevine as filler.  Just beautiful!
Before leaving Courtney Farms, I had a cart full of pumpkins and squash!  I couldn't resist the unusual varieties such as the Cinderella pumpkin pictured below.  I love the shape and color. Imagine a good fairy waving her wand and turning one of these pumpkins into a beautiful carriage! I also bought a variety known as a Fairytale pumpkin to join the group. 
(Blue Bird Market)
Another variety of winter squash that caught my eye is known as Turban Squash.  Courtney Farms topped their topiary with this unique variety. The underside looks like a normal pumpkin, but then this unusual "turban type" growth appears on the topside.  Aren't they unique?
(Key Ingredient)

While I was at Courtney Farms, I also purchased a few smaller pumpkins and squash to fill a glass vase on the dining room table.  Each one has a wonderful name...Baby Boo Pumpkins, Tiger Pumpkins, Carnival Squash and Wee Bee Little Pumpkins. I love this simple display!
If you are looking for inspiration, this months Southern Living has terrific ideas for decorating with pumpkins and mums! I like the haphazard placement of the pumpkins on the steps.  Not too formal, but every bit welcoming.
My larger pumpkins are sitting patiently on the front porch awaiting a few final decorative touches before I can share them with you.  As the song goes, "These are just a few of my favorite things"!  What are your favorite things?  Linking today with

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Delightful Decoupage Pumpkin Project!

I love my latest project and thought I would share it with you!  This is such an easy project and may bring back memories from childhood.  Do you remember decoupaging?  I did a few class projects involving "gluing" strips of torn paper onto objects.  It was always messy, but fun.

How about a little decoupage history?  I didn't know this, but there is documentation of the decoupage technique prior to the 12th century. Artisans were known to apply up to 40 layers of varnish creating a smooth, inlayed look.  Even though this technique has been around for ages, my inspiration for this project came from the October 2011 issue of Country Living...and didn't take 40 layers of varnish!
Items needed for this project include:
1- Craft store pumpkin, medium size
1- Bottle of  Mod Podge ( aka modern day decoupage in a jar)
1- sponge brush
3- sheets of scrapbook paper
1- Pair of disposable gloves (optional)
For my first pumpkin, I selected an orange patterned scrapbook paper that was more expensive than some of the others, so it was fairly thick.  I began cutting wavy strips between 1 inch to 2 inches in width.  After laying everything out, I applied Mod Podge with a foam brush to the back of a paper strip as well as on  the pumpkin. 
Next, position the paper strip and then repeat the steps until the entire pumpkin is covered.   Use your fingers to press the paper onto the pumpkin, sealing edges with the pressure of your fingertips.
Lastly, I applied a couple of layers of Mod Podge to the entire pumpkin and let it dry overnight.  After topping it with a raffia bow, it is ready to add a cheerful bit of color to our home.
I also used a smaller pumpkin and made this black and white beauty.  The scrapbook paper used for this project was thinner and I found that it was much easier to apply to the pumpkin.
TIP:  I didn't use gloves and found that Mod Podge, even after repeated hand washing tended to stick to my nails.  However, I always look on the bright side and believe I have invented the "Mod Podge Manicure", sure to be a hit at your local nail salon!  In other words, you may want to use gloves!

I will be linking to these terrific blogs!
Linking To: