28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Necklace Winners


Happy Thanksgiving, folks!  I am so very thankful for so many things this year.  I've got my lovely family, my friends, my pretty terrific job, my pretty terrific blog and the totally terrific folks who read it, my health, etc, etc, etc.....  I could go on like this for days.  I had a lovely lunch today with a bit of the family and am having another on Saturday with a large chunk of family.  A great time was had by all (except for the results of the Packers game....ugh.)  The food was amazing.  It's a good thing I wore the elastic waist pants today.

I will be back in full force on Monday and will be posting some of the Thanksgiving recipes and goodies and shifting into Christmas high gear.  You might need to brace yourself if the sugar coma-snack food overdose I have in mind comes to fruition (insert evil laugh here).

I am also here to announce the winners of the whisk necklaces.  The winners are Juliet Bell Richey and Kitty McArthur.  Please email at littlerockbaker@gmail.com or message me your addresses and I will get your prizes on their way to you.  Congrats and thanks to everyone for you support!  Happy holidays!

26 November 2013

Cranberry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies


 
 
I didn't mean to kinda, sorta disappear.  Especially with the biggest food holiday of all directly on top of us.  I have been cooking quite a lot despite my blogging silence.  My camera broke.  I was already debating asking for a new one for Christmas, but I guess it had other ideas.  The purchasing of a new camera is not the smallest undertaking in the best of circumstances, but this purchase was more difficult than it needed to be.  The first camera we bought was defective and only took almost entirely black photographs.  The second refused to reveal any fine detail, despite reviews to the contrary.  The third time's the charm, right?  I hope so.
 
So, I have been cooking quite a bit, but I haven't been able to photograph anything.  A blog without photos isn't terrifically appealing.  At least that's my opinion.  I'm still figuring out the whole food photography thing, but I know that any pictures are better than none at all.  I made my cookies for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and sent those out.  I did manage to get pictures of those the morning before the camera went kaput.  I also made a Sweet Potato Impossible Pie with Pecans and Brown Sugar.  It went bad before I could get a functional camera.  You'll just have to take my word for it that the pie was absolutely scrumptious.
 
 
I also made these cookies.  I just managed to get a new camera for these.  I hoarded the last three cookies just for picture taking.  My husband turned into a great cookie snatcher while these were around.  Somehow they all seemed to magically disappear whenever I wasn't looking.  The big secret for this is the awesome peanut butter blend I found at the grocery store last week.  It's by Planters.  It's called Cranberry Crunch.  It's just crunchy peanut butter with chopped, dried cranberries mixed in.  The berries are subtle, but most definitely there.  Oh, and anything involving oatmeal or peanut butter...I am so totally all over it.  These are definitely my new favorite cookie.
 

22 November 2013

It's A Giveaway!!!


Look!  It's a giveaway!  And just in time for the holidays, too!  You wanna win this necklace?  It's got a cute little wire whisk pendant made by yours truly.  I have to give my friend Sarah the credit for this idea, though.  She made me a pendant very much like this one for my birthday a few years ago and I love it so much I decided to make it myself and spread the necklace love around.  Sarah is totally the lady Macgyver of all things handmade and crafty.  She's also handy with power tools.  Those are two of the reasons I love her.


Okay, so here's what you've gotta do to win the necklace.  Leave a comment at the bottom of this post, on the Southern Sweets and Eats Facebook page (link here),  or send me a tweet (@SouthSweetsEats).  Tell me what your favorite holiday treat is.  That's all you have to do.  I'm gonna pick two (or maybe three) winners.  Be sure there's a way for me to contact you if you comment on the post.  If I can't contact you, there's no way for to send you things.  I'm planning to pick the winners on Thanksgiving, so get your comments in and tell your friends to get in on the action, too.

 
And, on a completely non food related note.  I'm the proudest momma in the whole wide world today.  My kiddo won the 1st grade spelling bee today!  He gets to be in the school-wide spelling bee later in the year.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Totally love this guy!


20 November 2013

My Best Holiday Treats


I really didn't do this post out of a need for shameless self-promotion.  I swear.  I've been super duper busy for the past couple of weeks.  I've mainly been getting everything together for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  Yea!!!  I shipped out my cookies today, so things can start getting back to normal around here soon.  And, yes, I will be sharing the recipe with you.  It just won't be until December.  That's part of the rules of the cookie swap.

I've got an idea for a little giveaway brewing and hopefully will post it for you later this week.  Keep watching for it.  In the meantime, and since it's the time of year for making an obscene amount of treats, I thought I would look back through my archives and give you my favorite treats for the holidays.  My criteria for picking these was achieving maximum deliciousness with minimal effort.  If you try 'em, let me know.  I'd like to know if you agree.

 
http://southernsweetsandeats.blogspot.com/2012/11/no-bake-gingerbread-balls.html
 
 
http://southernsweetsandeats.blogspot.com/2012/10/super-super-easy-fudge-two-ways.html
 
 
 

14 November 2013

Peppermint Divinity

 
 
It's beginning to look a lot like....well, you know.  Since I work retail, my holiday season really started about a month and a half ago.   Now, though it seems like everyone is getting in the swing of things.  There are decorations all over the stores and recipes all over blogs and Pinterest.  I'm getting worse and worse at planning ahead every year, so I'm a little surprised at myself for actually making a holiday-like dessert before the middle of December.  I'm kinda proud of myself.
 
I passed by these Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips at the grocery store and I had to get them.  The regular chocolate/green mint stuff Andes mints are one of my favorite candies.  I have to cut myself off when they are in the room.  Heck, if they're in the same zip code I have to show some measure of restraint.  They are one of my weaknesses.  I'm a little weird about peppermint, though.  I don't like it when it's crunchy.  I love Junior Mints, peppermint patties, tea, ice cream, truffles, taffy....  Not a big fan of candy canes, though.  I have no idea why.
 

11 November 2013

Pimiento Cheese Cornbread


I love me some cornbread.  It's a staple of the Southern diet and definitely a staple at my house both as a kid and now.  We had a cornbread festival here in town last weekend complete with a cornbread competition.  I didn't get to go because I had to work, but I was inspired to make my own cornbread and attend in spirit at least.  In conjunction with the festival I heard a semi-heated debate on the radio over sweet versus savory cornbread, a.k.a. the great cornbread debate.

I personally prefer a sweeter version even if it's served in a savory setting.  I think a sweeter cornbread just enhances the natural sweetness of the corn.  One member of my family makes theirs from scratch but doesn't add even a pinch of sugar.  I find it almost impossible to swallow.  The bread is good in every respect -- texture, lightness, etc....  It's just not right, though. 

My momma, being a good Southern cook in almost every way, always made her cornbread from scratch, too.  Even doing it all the right way in a cast iron pan and heating the pan before adding the batter to get the crispy crust on the bottom (which is totally the best part).  We usually ate it with chili or chicken and dumplings.  It doesn't get much more Southern than that.  I take cues from my mom in that I usually serve my cornbread with those same dishes.  I don't make mine from scratch, though (my cue to hang my head in shame).  I use Jiffy mix.  It's really good cornbread.  It's fluffy, light, sweet, and never fails.

Even if I do use Jiffy mix as my base I do almost always add stuff to the mix to make it my own.  I'll add some corn kernels, cheese, bacon, bacon fat, and/or green chile.  I also slather the top with an excessive amount of butter and a little sprinkle of salt as soon as it comes out of the oven.  That's another trick for extra yumminess.  I figured if all those other things work so well, then pimiento cheese would be super perfect.  It is.  It's perfect.  The extra generous dose of black pepper didn't hurt either. 

All praise the glory of cornbread!

06 November 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Monkey Bread


This monkey bread is ridiculous.  Completely ridiculous.  I know that the name is overly long, but I did shorten it a little.  The whole name is Pineapple Upside Down Cake Cream Cheese Stuffed Monkey Bread.  One of my little irritations about a lot of recipes I see floating around these days is that they seem to be a little over the top.  Over the top as in let's see how much stuff I can cram into this cake pan/pie plate/cookie and have it still sort of make sense.  I've reverted back to some sort of minimalism in reaction to all the craziness.  Well, I had reverted.  This monkey bread is a completely and unapologetically excessive.  I make no apologies.  It's also completely and unapologetically rich, sweet, sticky, gooey, cream cheesy, and delicious.

I got the idea from Pillsbury.  They sent me an email a couple of weeks ago with a recipe for cream cheese stuffed monkey bread.  It sounded delicious.  I'm down for adding cream cheese to pretty much anything.  It also uses crescent dough instead of biscuits.  Since the biscuits are usually why I don't care for monkey bread all that much I was also totally down with that revision.  I don't know why, but the standard brown sugar and cinnamon coating concoction just wasn't doing it for me.  It just had to be...more.  So, I mixed my own little fancy, schmancy pineapple/brown sugar coating.  It's magical.  I wanna give myself a high five.  I done good.

I started working on ideas for the holiday goodie this week.  I make desserts and/or appetizers for three different Thanksgiving dinners.  I also do a big spread on Christmas Day.  Our day starts with breakfast and the whole spread stays out all day for snacking.  It's a little work to come up with yumminess that will survive the entire day on the dining room table.  Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.


03 November 2013

Tostones with Cuban Dip


We have a semi-new Asian supermarket/restaurant here in town, Mr. Chen's, and it is totally awesome.  My mom and I went and ate lunch there last week.  I had some totally unbelievable stir fried shrimp rice noodles.  I have been furiously craving more since then.  The best part about going to eat at Mr. Chen's is getting to go shopping afterward.  It's got a pretty awesome selection with lots of fresh seafood and produce.  One time they even had an 18 pound lobster.....Just try to imagine how huge it was.  I wish I had gotten a picture.  Anyhoo....  I got some lovely green plantains on my shopping trip with the intention of going home and making tostones.

the smoked paprika is just so pretty
plantain chunks after the first fry
Tostones are twice fried plaintains.  You can make them either by flattening out thick slices of plantains or you can just start with really thin slices.  I prefer the smooshed down slices since they are more plantain-y.  The thin slices end up more like chips.  You can take your pick.  They are a staple dish in most of the Caribbean countries.  Some places serve them with a mojo, or garlic sauce. 

My first exposure to tostones was at this little hole in the wall, absolutely amazing Cuban restaurant in Miami.  It was the first time I had ever had tostones and I totally fell in love.  I fell in love with all the Cuban food, not just the tostones.  The black beans, fried pork chunks, yellow rice......  Okay, now I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

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