Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A look back at 2008....

I pray that everyone had a very blessed Christmas this year. Can you believe 2008 is almost over? It is hard to believe that we are about to begin a new year...a year of "change" for most people. Since starting this blog on June 15, 2008 I have had the best time posting recipes, reading comments, and most of all reading other people's blogs! I have absolutely no idea how many people read my blog, but I appreciate you taking the time to. :)

Over the past year, a lot of things have happened in my life (mostly unrelated to food!). Here is just a snapshot of things that have occurred:

*Horribly sick on New Year's Eve, 2008 (stayed in friends' bathroom until 3 am) - a foreshadow of what was yet to come
*Another "episode" of the horrible sickness in February
*A third episode in March - thus sending me to a Gastroenterologist
*Colonoscopy (my first and hopefully last!!)
*Admitted to the hospital where I spent 8 days
*Gallbladder surgery (man am I glad to get rid of that thing!)
*April - recovery the entire month (off from work)
*May - Getting back into the swing of things, traded 2002 Grand Prix for 2007 Sonata (yay!)
*June - "Stay-cation" in Louisville, KY (due to earlier health problems and finances)
*July - our 6 year anniversary and my birthday!!!
*August - mini-vacation to Gatlinburg, TN
*August 26 - found out I am PREGNANT!!
*September - Hurricane Ike blows through Louisville, KY
*October - trip to Huber's (including one of the BEST caramel apples I've ever had!)
*November - in-laws come to Louisville for Thanksgiving (I cooked!), traded 05 Chevy Colorado for 07 Mitsubishi Galant ($200 cheaper payment per month!)
*December - found out Baby Lowe is a BOY! Went to both families for Christmas, celebrated the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Well there you have it - just a few things that happened in the life of the Lowes in 2008 (there was plenty more, but these are just a few of the highlights).

Now for a recipe. Since New Year's Day will arrive tomorrow, and we all have heard the superstitions of eating black-eyed peas, cabbage, and other foods for "good luck", here is a recipe that I am sure you will enjoy. It has nothing to do with cabbage or black-eyed peas, and it may or may not bring you luck....but what is luck anyway?

Hot Chicken Dip

4-5 chicken breasts, shredded
1 8-oz. block of cream cheese
1 bottle of ranch dressing
1 block or 1 package of monterey jack cheese, shredded
can of Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with chilis)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into casserole dish or baking dish. Bake at 35o for 10 minutes, or until everything is melted together. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Stay tuned -- there is lots to come in the new year for Bites With Brandi...including some neat giveaways!! Details soon....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas treats...

my daddy gave to me.....Yep, today's post is one of my dad's recipes, and it is made in the microwave!

Dad's Divinity

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Butter a 8-inch baking dish, set aside. In a 2-quart microwave-safe glass measuring cup with handle, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Stir well until sugar dissolves. Microwave on HIGH for another 5-6 minutes or until mixture reaches 260 degrees (check temp with a candy thermometer).

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites untiol stiff peaks form. While beating at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Continue beating until mixture loses its gloss, about 10-12 minutes. Blend in vanilla, stir in walnuts and quickly press mixture into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Let stand until firm then cut into squares. Makes 1 1/2 pounds.

May each of you and your families have a very blessed Christmas and New Year!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Now for the 11th day of Christmas treats...

These are so easy -- I made a batch in no time. A perfect snack too!

White Chocolate Pretzels

1 bag mini pretzels
1 bag white chocolate chips (I use Hershey's)
Paraffin (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

Melt white chocolate chips in a double broiler on the stove. Mix in about 2 tablespoons of paraffin if desired. Stir until all chips/paraffin are melted and smooth. Dip pretzels in white chocolate and place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with red and green sprinkles, or other sprinkles. Let cool until set. Makes a whole bag of pretzels (however big of a bag you have).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before I post the 11th day of Christmas treats....

I have just got to show you something!!

.........Introducing BAKERELLA!!!

One of my favorite food blogs is Bakerella. She is soooo talented! She is known for her cupcakes and her cupcake pops, as well as her red velvet cake balls. I try to read her blog at least once every day. She was even a guest on Martha Stewart's show! I wish I could be as talented as she is....

Anyway, you have to check out her blog post for today on Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes. These are SO NEAT!! And check out what she uses for the globe part. Awesome!!

If you have never seen her blog, trust me it will become one of your favorites. Have fun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 9th and 10th days....

On the 9th (and 10th) days of Christmas treats, my true love baked for me...... Christmas Pancakes with Maple Cranberry Syrup!!

Christmas Morning Pancakes (ideas/recipes from Chef Pam Price)

I like to add cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg to my favorite store bought boxed pancake mix then pack it into a mason jar with the recipe for Christmas Morning Pancakes. Sometimes I add a package of country ham, apples and festive holiday cloth napkins.

Recipe for Christmas Pancakes:
Mix pancake batter using water and enough pancake mixture to form a smooth batter the consistency of sour cream. Peel two apples, core and slice into very thin slices. Place griddle or pan on medium heat for two minutes. Place one teaspoon real butter in the pan swirling to cover the surface. Add 6 apple slices in a circle shape. Pour batter over the apples. Lower the heat slightly and cook until bubbles come to the top and the edges appear dry. Flip and cook the other side. Remove to heated platter and keep warm . Repeat to make as many pancakes as desired. Serve with maple cranberry syrup and sliced fried country ham.

Maple Cranberry Syrup (also from Chef Pam)

1-cup maple syrup
½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a one-quart saucepan, combine the syrup and cranberry sauce. Heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberry sauce is melted. Stir in the walnuts. Pour into a small decorative jar. Give instructions on a recipe card to serve warm. Store covered in the refrigerator up to four weeks.

*This would also be a great gift for an anniversary, birthday, or hostess gift.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 6th, 7th, and 8th days of Christmas treats....

Okay, I guess I shouldn't make a promise I cannot keep. I promised that I would not fail to post each day's Christmas treats...but indeed I have failed. Therefore I am making it up today with 3 Christmas treats! I hope you enjoy them.

Oreo Truffles
1 package Oreos, crushed until very fine (I use a food processor)
2 pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. white chocolate bark, melted

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in crushed Oreos until mixed well. Roll into balls. Place on wax paper and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and dip in melted bark. Makes 75 truffles. (These are to die for!!)

Oatmeal Scotchies (this recipe is from my friend Tricia)

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11 oz. pkg) Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Flavored Morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies; 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. (Makes about 4 dozen cookies)

Easy Hot Fudge Ice Cream Sauce (a recipe from Chef Pam Price)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium to low heat until melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Pour into decorative jars and store in the refrigerator up to one week.

Gift Idea: Tie a nice ribbon around the jar top and dangle jingle bells from the ends. Pack in a nice bag with a new ice cream scoop, ice cream themed paper napkins, or a set of colorful dessert/ice cream bowls.

More to come in the next few days!! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

5 GOLD-EN ...........wreaths??

Okay, so the wreaths are not really golden, unless you don't add the food coloring. :) These are so festive for Christmas! You can use crisp rice cereal, but this recipe calls for good ole' corn flakes. They are so pretty and great to give as gifts. Plus, you only need 5 ingredients!! Check out the recipe (and I apologize for the measurements - I just usually eyeball everything):

Corn Flake Wreaths

1 bag mini-marshmallows
1/2 stick butter
A couple of drops of green food coloring
1/2 box of cornflakes (about 5 cups, or more if batter is too sticky)
Red hots candies or red M&Ms

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add marshmallows and stir until marshmallows are melted. Add in green food coloring until well blended. Remove from heat. Fold in cornflakes until coated. Drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper and form into wreaths. While still warm, place a few red hots or M&Ms onto wreaths (for holly berries). Cool in fridge for about an hour. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas treats....

I have to be honest and say that I have never made Gingerbread Men. Nope, haven't tried my hand at these cute little spicy fellas. I have made Gingerbread, though. I have some great quality sorghum that I use in my gingerbread that comes from a little place in Jeffersonville, KY called Townsend's Sorghum. I highly recommend their sorghum as it is the best I have tasted! And, if you have never had sorghum molasses, you do not know what you are missing. :)

This is a recipe from my friend Kim. She is an excellent baker and practically bakes every day! Her blog is full of recipes and restaurant reviews. This is one of her cookie recipes, although my favorite cookies of hers are her Soft Jumbo Peanut Butter Cookies and her Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here you go:

Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the above dry ingredients.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup molasses (unsulphured - the normal kind you can find in the syrup aisle)

Cream butter and sugar, add egg. Stir in molasses. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Spray cookie sheets or use parchment paper. Bake for 9 minutes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the 3rd day of Christmas treats, tell me what can it be??

So sorry I failed to post yesterday's Christmas treat! I promise not to let it happen again. :)

Today's Christmas treat is one of my all-time favorite goodies, especially at Christmas-time. They are so yummy, so easy to make, and fun! The only thing that is a little time-consuming is rolling the mixture into balls (but that is the fun part). :)

Peanut Butter Balls

2 sticks butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2 boxes powdered sugar
1 jar creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter
Chocolate for dipping **

Mix butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and penaut butter together until the mixture forms a dough. Roll into little balls about 1 inch in size. Dip balls in chocolate (dark, milk, or white) and place on wax or parchment paper to cool. Enjoy! Makes about 75 balls.

**You can also melt a little bit of paraffin wax into your chocolate for a glossy finish on your peanut butter balls.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 2 of "The 12 Days of Christmas Treats"

For today's treat, I thought I would post something a little different than your usual Christmas cookie or candy. This recipe is from one of my long-time best friends, Melissa. I am hooked on this mix!! Try it for yourself:

Yum-Yum Candied Mix

5 cups Rice Chex cereal
5 cups Corn Chex cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
4 cups oats and honey granola
1 box Honey Teddy Grahams (about 3 cups)
4 cups pecan pieces (or whole pecans)
1 package of dried cranberries

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
¾ cup light corn syrup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. Combine the first 7 ingredients in large sprayed roasting pan; set aside. Combine butter and remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour mixture over the combine cereals, tossing to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Pour onto wax paper to cool, gently separating with a spoon. Store in airtight container.

This is better than any granola I have had, or almost any other snack mix (there a few that rank pretty high on my list). Plus it is so easy!! Even kids can help you with this treat, just make sure they stay away from the hot sugar mixture (of course).

This mix would be a great gift for co-workers, teachers, and friends. Just put a scoop into a Christmas cellophane bag (like those treat bags you find at the dollar store), tie it with a pretty ribbon, and attach a little card and there you go -- instant Christmas gift!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 12 Days of Chrismas Treats....Day 1

In honor of Christmas and the official start of the "baking season", I thought I would do a series of posts on yummy Christmas treats -- 12 days of them!

The one I have chosen for today is super, super easy and very festive. The main thing to remember when making this treat is to use a good quality white chocolate, NOT vanilla bark. I would recommend Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips or another good quality white chocolate chip. Here is the recipe:

Peppermint Bark

2 packages white chocolate chips
1 box candy canes (either these or these)

Pour both packages of chips into a glass mixing bowl. Melt using double-broiler method (or microwave) until chips are completely melted and smooth.

Meanwhile, unwrap each candy cane and place in a sturdy, plastic zip-top bag. Crush with rolling pin or meat mallot until there are no more large pieces (some chunky pieces are okay, do not crush them too fine).

Pour candy cane pieces into melted white chocolate (reserve a couple of tablespoons full). Stir until well blended. Pour onto cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper. Spread evenly over the sheet. Put in fridge to cool and harden.

Once hardened, break into pieces - big, medium, small. Enjoy!!

*Option: you can add peppermint extract/flavoring to the bark if you would like, but it is kind of overpowering.

Stay tuned to Day 2 of The 12 Days of Christmas Treats!! Who knows what yummy goodness will come up next..... :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Tribute.....

This is a tribute to all of those pregnant women out there, or women who plan to become pregnant (don't worry, your time is coming!).

First of all, let me say that my husband and I are thrilled with this blessing from God. We have been married for 6 years and have been "trying" off and on for about 4 years. Nothing wrong with either of us -- it was just God's Timing. We have prayed for this baby for so long and He heard our prayers and answered them. :)

So, since I discovered I was "with child" several months ago (I'm 20 weeks along), I thought about all of the yummy foods I would have the chance to eat. You know, those foods that are forbidden in Weight Watchers. I haven't really had any weird cravings yet, just mainly ice cream and french fries. However, I recently discovered (while my family was in over Thanksgiving) Dill Pickle popcorn from The Popcorn Station. Yes, you read right -- DILL PICKLE popcorn! This place is amazing!! They have 25 different flavors of popcorn from savory to sweet. My husband got the chocolate peanut butter flavor (it's yummy too!). Other flavors include honey barbecue, nacho cheese, strawberries and creme, double butterscotch, and Kentucky honey with pecans.

Some other foods I have been interested in lately are:
*Totinos Pizzas
*White Chocolate covered Oreos
*Onion Rings
*Broccoli-cheese casserole
*Sweet potato casserole
*Cranberry ginger ale
*anything chocolate

What are some of your cravings? Anything unusual? I would love to hear about them!

By the way........................we are having a BOY!!!! :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Have I ever told you....

how much I love these??? And at only $1.50 each (Walmart) they are the best little thing around. Just microwave and go....to your quiet, serene place where only chocolate takes you..... :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shrimp Stroganoff Casserole -- Please vote!!

My friend Lori over at My Wooden Spoon is one of the finalists in the Kraft Velveeta Casserole Challenge. The recipe she submitted is her Shrimp Stroganoff Casserole which looks so yummy! I cannot wait to try it. Please check out her recipe and vote for her here. If Lori gets the most votes she will win some cool prizes! Plus, she is giving some of her own prizes away on her blog. Happy voting!!

P.S. The ingredients she used were bought for $20 or less and her casserole will feed at least 8 people!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dessert or Side Dish?

This has got to be one of my favorite things to have on my plate at Thanksgiving (or anytime for that matter!). It is so easy to make, and the fresh sweet potatoes make it taste so much better than if you use the canned ones. But would you classify this as a side dish or a dessert? It is very sweet, yet it is a potato. Hmmm...let me know your thoughts on this one!

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 stick butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil sweet potatoes, drain and mash. Mix next 7 ingredients together with potatoes. Pour into buttered casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans together and crumble over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Easy" Recipes...Low Maintenance, Budget-Friendly

Have you noticed that a lot of my recipes have the word "easy" in them? The reason is that I do not have time to make these fancy-shmancy recipes like they show on the Food Network. I mean, Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals is supposed to be about easy meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. But most of these meals are very high maintenance and would cost a fortune! For example, one of her meals was this:

*Broccoli Rabe With Lemon And Garlic
*Gemelli With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
*Broiled Lamb Chops With Balsamic Reduction
*Creme De Menthe Parfaits

Now, I don't know about you, but this does not sound like my idea of a 30 minute meal (and not my kind of taste either). When I think of 30 minute meals, I think of spaghetti and meat sauce, garlic bread, and a salad...and maybe brownies for dessert (or some other easy meal of that nature). Oh well, just call me old-fashioned. :)

Well, here is another easy recipe for you. This time it is for breakfast. Hope you enjoy!! (This one is so easy, you don't even need an oven!!) :)

Caramel Nut Sticky Buns

3 T. butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 T. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
⅓ cup chopped pecans
1 10 oz. can refrigerated biscuits

In an 8-inch round dish combine butter, sugar, water and cinnamon. Microwave on HIGH for one minute. Stir in pecans. Separate biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. Place biscuits in sugar mixture, stirring to coat each piece. Push biscuits toward outer edges of dish and place a small glass or custard cup in center of dish. Microwave on HIGH for 2½ to 3 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes. Invert on plate or serving dish. Pull apart and serve warm.
Yields: 3-5 servings

Friday, October 31, 2008

If I were "Trick-Or-Treating" today....

I would want these to be in my sack:

Hey, you can't blame a pregnant girl for trying!! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another easy recipe for Thanksgiving

I give credit to Campbell's for this recipe (from their website), but I did change a few things to make it my own. :)

Green Bean Casserole

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans (about 3 cans, drained)
1 1/3 cups French fried onions (or more if desired)

Mix soup, milk, worcestershire sauce, black pepper, beans, and 2/3 cup onions in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake for 5 additional minutes.

TIP: Use 1 large bag frozen green beans, 3 cans green beans or about 1 1/2 lb. fresh green beans for this recipe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The first recipe in the Easy Thanksgiving Series

Cornbread Dressing

1 large skillet of cornbread
3 or 4 biscuits
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
Sage - Lots!!
Chicken broth (or turkey broth from the turkey)

Crumble the cornbread into fine crumbs. Pinch apart the biscuits (or put in a food processor) into small pieces. Add celery and onions and toss together. Sprinkle sage all over, a little at a time. Pour turkey/chicken broth over mixture a little at a time and mix well, folding all the ingredients together. Keep adding sage to your taste and enough broth to make a moist (but not to liquidy) mixture. You can eat it just like this or you can bake it for about 25 minutes on 350 degrees.

Makes about 10-12 servings or one 9x13 casserole dish.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Easy Thanksgiving Dinner

On Monday evening, I hosted a cooking class for my Fellowship Group. Our group consists of ladies who are either Seminary students or Seminary wives of Billy Graham School students. We usually meet once a month and eat and have an activity, whether it be making jewelry to give to a local women's resource center or in this case a cooking class. Whatever it is, we always have a great time of fellowship and prayer.

On this particular occasion, we decided to have a "cooking class" since a lot of the girls love to cook but rarely have time to make a nice sit-down dinner. So, I chose some very simple recipes and we had an "Easy Thanksgiving Dinner" that each of us could easily prepare for our own families. Plus we got to eat what we made! How much better can you get?

So, I know you are wondering what we had for Thanksgiving Dinner. Brace yourself, and get a napkin because your mouth just might start watering!! Okay, here goes:

*Green Bean Casserole
*Sweet Potato Casserole
*Cranberry Sauce
*Pecan Pie
*Apple Crumble

I told you to get that napkin! As soon as I round up all of my recipes I am going to post them so that you, too, can make an "Easy Thanksgiving Dinner" for your family this year! :) Stay tuned!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Village Restaurant in Liberty, KY

A couple of Sundays ago we ventured away from our roots at Highland Park First Baptist Church to travel to Liberty, Kentucky so Jason could preach at Poplar Grove Baptist Church. Poplar Grove is a small, quaint, country church where you feel nothing but welcome, warm, and loved. We had a beautiful country drive - albeit some curvy roads - and arrived at our destination just in time for Sunday School.

After Sunday School, we made our way into the homey little sanctuary to hear a Gideon speaker and to hear Jason preach. After hearing an awesome sermon and getting lots of hugs, thank yous and handshakes, one of the deacons invited us out to lunch with him and his wife. We graciously accepted.

We found ourselves following the couple through the beautiful countryside and amongst the vivid colored trees to the little town of Liberty. We ended up at this little local restaurant right in the heart of downtown Liberty (which is a population of about 50, I think) called The Village. This is a well-known establishment by the locals.

As soon as you walk through the door the aroma of fried chicken hits you in the face. You immediately get in line at the buffet (where they serve you), choose your dessert first (if you choose to have one), salad next, main course (meat), veggies, and roll or cornbread. On this particular day there was fried chicken, roast beef w/gravy, and stuffed pork tenderloin. The sides were fried apples (plain or cinnamon), mashed potatoes, creamstyle corn, green beans, mixed veggies, and carrotts. Jason had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans of course (the meal of champions for him). I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried cinnamon apples, and a roll....oh, and a piece of butterscotch pie too. :)

If you could get past the cigarette smoke wavering in the dining room, the place was cozy and welcoming; the food was delicious and "country cookin"; and the fellowship with this wonderful couple was so relaxing. I cannot wait until we visit again!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Caramel Apple from Huber's and Pumpkins from a Roadside Stand...

This pretty much sums up our Saturday. Jason and I made plans to have a "date day" on Saturday and thought what better thing to do than make the trek up to Joe Huber's Farm in Starlight, Indiana. We had only been there once (back last Jan/Feb) and remembered how great the food was, "country cookin", and how there was hardly anyone there. Well....

Since it was the first weekend in October, it was peak season at Huber's. Little did we know that it would be so crowded!! And I am talking....CROWDED!! There were so many families there that they opened both fields for parking. We, fortunately, got a parking spot in the actual parking lot of the restaurant. We hopped out of the car and made our way into the restaurant, knowing just what we wanted to order (the last time we were here we got the Huber's Country Platter special for $15.99 and split it).

Now we had anticipated a wait...but not a 2 1/2 hour wait! We arrived at a little after 12:00 pm and were told that the next available time would not be until 2:30 p.m.!! Quite a long time to wait for some chicken and ham! Luckily she told us about the Buffet Style dinner in the Country Picnic building and said there was no wait at all down there. So off we went to the big white barn, and did have to wait for about 10 minutes outside.

So here we are about to go into the barn when I noticed the white posterboard with black magic marker wording that listed the menu....and the price: $15.99......PER PERSON!!! Now I don't know about you, but I am one of those people they call a "penny pincher", "cheap-skate", "el cheap-o"....whatever you want to call me....I try to save money whenever I can. This----was----ridiculous.

A) It was a buffet. B) It was the same exact meal we got last time for $15.99 and split it. C) The food was not that hot, not that great, and the "fried biscuits" were balls of cold dough. Needless to say we were VERY disappointed. And, to make matters worse, (not really worse, but just to add drama), the tables were long tables with about 8-10 chairs each so there were no "couple tables" or single tables available. Not that this was a huge matter since we found a table to ourselves. But....halfway into our meal a family came and sat at our table. Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well, this was the family that "invaded us" as my husband puts it.

So anyway, to make a long story short, we did not have a good experience at the Country Picnic building.

"But what about the caramel apple?" you ask. Well, that caramel apple was the highlight of our trip. After dinner we took some pictures around the farm, and some pics of the mums and pumpkins. Then we made our way into the Farm Market to see if we could find a caramel apple at a reasonable price. We found a line for caramel apples and, to my surprise, they were only $1.99 each, or 3 for $4.99! What a steal! Thank you, Lord, for providing something delicious and inexpensive to make our trip worthwhile. The lady behind the counter was hand dipping the huge granny smith apples in a huge coffee-can looking container full of hot caramel. They smelled wonderful! I got one with nuts to go, and happily left the market satisfied with my "inexpensive" purchase.

By this time we had had enough of Huber's and the jam-packed crowds that were lurking around. So we decided it was time to head home. We had remembered a little roadside pumpkin stand in the parking lot of a Christian church on our way to the farm. The pumpkins were beautiful, and very reasonable. (The reason we did not get pumpkins at Huber's? You have to pay by weight)

We stopped at the little stand and were warmly greeted by the "pumpkin people" there. They had every size of pumpkin you could think of. The huge ones were only $5, followed by step-down sizes and prices. We ended up purchasing a medium-sized one for $2, two small ones (a little smaller than a volleyball) for $1 each, and three "baby pumpkins" or gourds for $1. Thank you again, Lord, for providing inexpensive pumpkins for us to enjoy. These pumpkins are beautiful!! I put the big one outside, the two smaller ones inside for decoration, and the three baby ones on the kitchen table.

Despite our bitterness about paying $34 for a not-so-great lunch, the caramel apple and pumpkins made up for it. However, I do think it will be a while before we go back. Until then, please enjoy these pictures my wonderful husband took! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Perfect "Fall Snack"...



Which tastes like a

Thursday, September 25, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things....

I have to fill you in on a little "swap" I participated in recently. It was a "blog swap" -- yep, a blog swap! I know what you're thinking....what in the world?? Let me tell you, it was so much fun! Here is what the swap was about:

My friend, Allison, has a blog called The Pink Potpourri. Well, Allison decided to host a blog swap on her blog in which her readers were given a "buddy" to swap with. In order to participate in the swap, each person had to have either a blog or a website. Once you received your buddy you were to send that person a few of your favorite things, and vice versa. It gave the readers a chance to make a new "buddy" if you will, get a fun package in the mail, and learn just how much we had in common with each other. It is kind of like having a "pen pal" only instead of sending a letter we sent cool stuff. :)

My swap buddy is Jennifer (Jenna, Jenn). Check out her blog here! She is 30, lives in Paducah, and just recently got married! Woohoo, Jenn! :) She also loves to cook and loves trying new recipes (sound familiar?), and she is a receptionist at a church (ahem, secretary at a Seminary here...). So, needless to say we have a LOT in common!

Okay, now for the fun stuff. Here are some pictures of what my awesome swap buddy sent me!!

Oh my gosh!! I can't wait to open it!!

Hmmm...wonder what's in here???

Yumm-O! Haha, I love Rachael Ray's mag. :) YAY!! And I even got 2!!

Ooohhh...more goodies!! I just love church cookbooks!

Have you ever heard of Wind & Willow mixes? They are absolutely wonderful!! (I actually sent a box to Jenn as well -- how funny!)

And last but not least, one of my favorite fall scents -- Mulled Cider!

Doesn't having a swap buddy sound like fun! You'll have to check out Jenn's blog to see what I sent her. :) So what do you think? I may just start a "swap" of my own on this blog....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Pumpkin Time!!

That's right! Tis the season for the pumpkin! Pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cake, pumpkin roll, pumpkin dip....the "pumpkin possibilities" are endless.

Until recently, I was not a big lover of the large orange-fleshed squash. But then I found a wonderful recipe for Pumpkin Muffins (which I actually turned into a cake) in my Amish cookbook. The recipe sounded so easy I just had to try it.

Now don't think that I am one of those people who purchases a pumpkin, cleans out the seeds, scoops out the flesh, and uses it to make these wonderful concoctions...oh no...I am a "go to the grocery and stock up on canned pumpkin" kind of gal. Why in the world would someone go through the trouble of cleaning out all of those "guts" from the pumpkin when you can pay $1.50 (at most) for a large can of the yummy good-for-you orange stuff?? And with fall right around the corner, those cans just come in too handy. :)

So, I really want to do some experimenting with pumpkin recipes this fall. Right now, my specialty is Pumpkin Cake with cream cheese frosting. I don't care too much for Pumpkin Pie-- don't know why. I LOVE pumpkin roll -- and my sister makes the best. I have tried pumpkin dip with graham cracker sticks and it isn't too bad. Oh, and pumpkin bread is another favorite of mine. What are your favorites? Do you have any pumpkin recipes you'd like to share? I'd love to try them!!

In the meantime, enjoy this pumpkin recipe from that Amish cookbook I was telling you about.

Pumpkin Cake (or Muffins, if you prefer)

1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 20 oz. can pumpkin

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or spray a 9x13 inch cake pan. Mix all ingredients together (except for frosting ingredients). Pour into pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool.

For frosting, combine all ingredients and blend well on high speed. Frost cake gently (frosting will be very thick). Cut cake and enjoy!

*I like to keep this cake in the fridge due to the cream cheese and butter in the frosting.
*You can use a can of cream cheese frosting...but believe me...this homemade frosting is what makes the cake!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The easiest pie you'll ever make!

So, this was my first attempt at a Peanut Butter Pie. My mother-in-law told me what ingredients to get on Friday at the grocery but I was supposed to call her back to get the recipe on Sunday (the day before I was to make the pie). Unfortunately, it got too late on Sunday before I realized I needed the recipe and did not want to call at such a late hour.

Solution: I grabbed my cookbook from our former church (First Baptist Church of Pikeville, KY) in hopes that a similar recipe was hiding within the depths of the book.

Problem solved!!

Here is the recipe for the easiest, most scrumptious, richest peanut butter pie you'll ever make (in my opinion!):

Peanut Butter Pie

1 eight-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or more, if you choose)
2 cups whipped topping
1 graham cracker crust

Mix all ingredients together except for crust. Pour into graham cracker crust, spreading evenly. Top with remaining whipped topping (if you use a tub of
Cool Whip, you will have about a cup left), also spreading evenly. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts or walnuts. Let set in fridge about an hour before serving. Makes about 10 servings (you want to cut it in small pieces because it is so rich!). Enjoy!!

**Hint: You can also substitute low-fat ingredients to make it semi-healthier. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The last of the mini-vacation...finally

So, since the Apple Barn was so filling and we ate such a late lunch, we decided to eat a late-somewhat light-dinner. We ended up at The Diner in Sevierville, which we found out is actually Christian-owned. The food was great and the place was super clean! I had an authentic cherry coke, bbq sandwich and fries and Jason had a cheeseburger (of course!) fries and a diet coke. What a great experience we had, even at 10:00 at night!! :)

The Log Cabin Pancake House = The best pancake/breakfast place I have ever eaten at (I have never had breakfast at the Apple Barn, so this is a safe statement). Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so I cannot show you my yummy breakfast in all its glory. Here is the description, though:
*Cherry Supreme Special: a tart cherry compote rolled inside three thin pancakes and topped with more cherries, whipped topping, and powdered sugar. Served with sausage links.

Jason had the

*Log Cabin Cornmeal Pancakes: tender golden cornmeal cakes topped with whipped margarine and served with honey or hot syrup.

Both were yummy! (you know I just had to try Jason's too!) :) We were stuffed upon leaving the pancake house, so we headed into Gatlinburg to "walk off" some of our many-consumed calories. While in Gatlinburg we toured the Guinness World Records Museum and the Hollywood Wax Museum, and played a game of indoor "blacklight" mini-golf.

After a fun-filled, exhausting "last" day in the Smokies, we decided to top off our trip with a nice dinner. Since we hadn't really splurged on meals the entire trip, we thought we deserved a treat. So, we headed over to the Pottery House Restaurant (the "grill" part of The Old Mill Restaurant).

We had smelled the wonderful aroma of a big slab of meat grilling to a juicy perfection the day before when we were visiting the "strip" of little shops next to the Old Mill and desperately coveted the rich meaty goodness of one of these steaks. We checked out the menu and decided to head on in. I asked Dena, our waitress, if it was too early to order a steak (it was 2:00 pm and dinner was not served until 4:00 pm), and she said "I'll see what I can do." Needless to say she must have a good rep with the cooks because here she came with a Dinner menu for us! She explained that the baked potatoes were not ready yet so we had our choice of two sides instead of one....plus she fixed us each an amazing salad and brought out hot, fresh bread! Here is Dena:

Isn't she precious?? She was so sweet and a GREAT waitress -- one of the best we have had in a looooonnnggg time. She went out of her way to make sure we had an awesome experience...and it was just that. Take a look at our "special meal":

Hers -- Pottery House Sirloin: 10 oz. Black Angus Sirloin lightly marinated in our own seasoning blend then grilled to order.

His -- Old Mill Sirloin Steak: 10 oz. Black Angus Sirloin grilled to order or blackened.

Each meal was served with a Pottery house salad, baked or sweet potato, and fresh hot rolls. I had mac-n-cheese and mashed potatoes and Jason had steak fries and coleslaw. Let me tell you....that was one of (if not THE) best steaks I have ever had in my life. It was so juicy and tender and marinated just right. You could practically cut it with a fork! We were definitely satisfied and full!

But not too full.... We just had to stop by the Old Mill Candy Kitchen for a Caramel Apple to go...

Heaven...pure Heaven. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Apple Barn (Day 2 of mini-vacation, continued)

As I said in my last post, this post is dedicated to the Apple Barn (Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, to be exact) and the rest of our mini-vacation. Now you have to understand, when you go to this restaurant you had better be hungry. The meal you will receive has 5 courses! (If you go for lunch it is only 4, but still!!) Plus, this restaurant beats the Cracker Barrel, hands down! Check out their menu.

So, Jason and I decided to have a late lunch at the Apple Barn (as I said in the previous post). This is a tradition of ours (in fact, this is the ONLY thing I wanted for my birthday this year). Not only is there a country-style restaurant here, there is also a Applewood Farmhouse Grill which has a slightly different menu than the restaurant. There is also an Apple Barn and Cider Mill, candy factory, The Creamery, The Winery, and even a lodge. At the Creamery you can get a hot caramel apple dumpling with homemade ice cream...what more could you ask for??

Jason and I were in the mood for some real country cookin, so we both ordered the Roast Turkey and Dressing. Jason had green beans and I had mac-n-cheese.

Okay, it's picture time!! I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them...and eating the food!

Here I am pondering the menu...

The 1st two courses: Apple Fritters w/homemade Apple Butter, Applewood Julep

The 3rd course: Homemade Vegetable Soup

The Family-Style Mashed Potatoes

The Main Course plus one side and a biscuit

How awesome does that look? Trust me, none of it made its way into a "take-home" box. Now since we went for lunch, we did not get a dessert with our meal (you do at dinner-time). That's okay though. We did not leave there hungry!! Here's proof:

So, if you are in the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, you just have to stop by the Apple Barn. But if not, you can still order their famous apple butter and fritter mix from their online store. We snatched up a bag of the fritter mix as a souvenir. :)