We're still more than a week away from Thanksgiving and I know that there is a certain percentage of you out there who's homes are already completely decorated for Christmas. I see all of you early Christmas decorators out there. Sharing pictures of your perfectly festive living rooms adorned with the most adorably decorated Christmas tree on social media for all of your friends to drool over. I'm not here to criticize. In face, I admire your zest for holiday decorations and I'm inspired by your eagerness to extend the season as long as possible. 🎄
I'm a little envious because I would be right there with you if it weren't for the fact that we celebrate an early December birthday in this house. Any Sagittairus knows that December birthdays tend to get overshadowed by holiday festivities. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of the greatest birth ever and get consumed with preparations. Consequently, we're left depleted and exhausted of adequate time and energy to devote to our loved ones who also celebrate December birthdays.
I've always tried to make a point of making a distinction between Christmas and December birthdays even though there are times when I fail miserably. As a general rule, in this house - we don't hang a wreath on the door or decorate a tree until AFTER we blow out the candles on the December birthday cake. 🎂
I've never wrapped December birthday presents in Christmas paper but I'm not as good at making a distinction between birthday and holiday desserts. I've been known to cut leftover gingerbread dough into cupcake shapes. 😂 Not proud of it - but you do what you gotta do. Am I right?
These turtle bars are a dessert that would be great for Thanksgiving, Christmas OR a birthday. (Or any other holiday for that matter.) Chocolate, caramel, pecans - oh my. These turtle bars are epic. Oh and a single candle can turn one of these decadent gooey bars into a festive birthday treat.
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons butter, melted
13.4 ounce can dulce de leche
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
8 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt (optional)
Use the foil sling to remove the bars from the pan.
Cut into squares.
There are over 430 Waffle House restaurants in Georgia. Chances are that if you live in this wonderful state, you reside within 10 miles of at least 2 different Waffle House locations and probably at least one within walking distance. If you're not a Georgia resident but you've ever had the privilege of driving through our beautiful state, there's no doubt you took notice of our state restaurant. 😂 You won't have to drive far from an exit off of any major highway to satisfy your most imminent waffle emergency.
According to their website, Waffle House serves 341 strips of bacon, 238 orders of hash browns, 127 cups of coffee and 145 waffles -- EVERY MINUTE!!! That is a LOT of waffles. When I first moved to Georgia, I thought that everyone went to this popular establishment for the waffles. Turns out, people flock to this chain restaurant because it's open 24 hours a day - 365 days a year, it's relatively cheap and it serves greasy spoon comfort food.
What I find fascinating about this iconic restaurant, is that no matter what time of day I pass by any given location, there are cars in the parking lot and people sitting at the counter with steaming cups of hot coffee. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I've been in a Waffle House at 3:00 in the morning and there were plenty of other hungry diners happily enjoying a meal alongside me.
This is not going to be a popular opinion but I'm not actually a big fan of the waffles at Waffle House. My very favorite waffles are the still the ones that I make in my own kitchen. They're light, fluffy and delicious and even though they may be not be as popular as the Waffle House waffle, I think they're far better. And as it turns out - my kitchen is open 24/7 too. 💁🏻♀️
1 3/4 cups whole milk
8 Tablespoons butter
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon vanilla
In the morning, pour batter into a hot waffle iron.
Serve with fruit and powdered sugar (Amy style) or drizzle with maple syrup.
Weekends were made for waffles. With a little planning and prep work the night before, you can have fresh homemade waffles in under 15 minutes. That might actually be faster than I can get to a Waffle House and order a waffle. 🤷🏻♀️
I'm a self proclaimed over planner and the holidays are my Mt. McKinley. If you're a plan-a-holic like me - you know exactly what I'm talking about. November and December is when we thrive and shine. There's so much to plan and schedule and arrange and organize over the holidays - is better than going to Disneyland. (almost) 😂
Take Thanksgiving, for example, I don't feel like I'm adequately prepared to tackle this meal until I've got a detailed menu and itemized grocery list on the front of my frig. When I say "detailed" I mean extreme detail. I list beverages that will be served before, during and after the meal. I list all foods by course and I even specify the kind of butter that I'll be serving. (Any doubt that I'm a type A personality?) Every detail of the meal is planned and timed with military precision. I even draft a schedule for my oven so that everything gets baked, warmed and toasted at precisely the right moment so that it's all served at the proper temperature.
Any other over-planners out there who scrutinize their Thanksgiving menu as if it were a winning lottery ticket? The traditional Thanksgiving menu seems like a no brainer and I know that some of you are wondering - what's left to plan? Turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberries, pie - done. (In case you didn't know, I'm kind of expert at taking the simplest tasks and making them exceedingly more difficult.😂) I contemplate the most trivial things like what kind of bread to serve and what kind of wine would best compliment my salad dressing.
Of course, I put as much thought into the desserts that I serve at the end of the Thanksgiving meal that I do into the dinner. I like to stick to traditional pies like pumpkin, apple or pecan and then add some non-traditional desserts like cheesecake, cupcakes or fruit tarts. This year, I'm throwing a Chocolate Pecan Pie into the mix. I feel like this pie walks the line between traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving pies. Hoping it is received well.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoon butter, cold
6 Tablespoons ice water
5 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Serve whipped cream with pie. The bourbon vanilla whipped cream is absolutely amazing on this pie so by all means - don't skimp on the cream.
Pecan pie freezes really well and this pie is no exception. I've got one of these tucked away in my freezer for Thanksgiving Day and I couldn't be more excited about that. Now I've just got to keep myself from eating it in the next two weeks. 😬
Remember that time when our Thanksgiving dinner got so big that our table literally snaked through the dining room, across the foyer and into the living room? Oh, yea. That was last years Thanksgiving dinner in our house. 😂 By the way - if you were one of our guests last year for Thanksgiving, in case I forgot to say it, thank you for being so understanding of our unconventional dinner seating and crowded space.
Big Thanksgiving dinners are awesome and we would like to invite EVERYONE to come and enjoy this special meal with us but unfortunately, unlike our hearts, our home only has room for a limited number of people. I'm still trying to come up with creative ways to include more people in our Thanksgiving meal. What do you think about a front yard, sit on picnic blankets and eat on paper plates kind of Thanksgiving?
Regardless of how many people attend Thanksgiving dinner at my house, whether it's 4 or 24, I do a lot of the prep work ahead of time so I can reduce the amount of cooking that I have to do on Thanksgiving day. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, soups, homemade applesauce and stuffing are all great make ahead (and freezable) side dishes.
There are as many varieties of sweet potato casserole as there are personalities around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Some like it sweet and covered in toasted, melty marshmallows, others like it more savory and topped with a crunchy streusel. As for me, I like a combination of both. I like my sweet potatoes on the sweet side but I also like it topped with streusel. Best of both worlds.
Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
4 pounds sweet potatoes
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
Bake 25 minutes. Let cool 25 minutes before serving.
Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? If you've got questions - I've got answers (and google). 😂 Send me your Thanksgiving questions and I'll do my best to help you out. I don't have your grandma's secret pecan pie recipe but I do have one of my own that I think you'll like. 😉
Did you know that there are rules to cooking rice? Not set in stone rules with potentially catastrophic consequences like disobeying the rules of the road. 🛑More like guidelines to follow to ensure that your rice is the most tasty and delicious that it can possibly be. Fortunately, the rules for making great rice are relatively easy to learn and to follow - and you don't need a license to do it.
These are my simple rules to follow when cooking rice:
1. Always toast your rice in a skillet with a little bit of oil prior to adding other liquids.
2. After adding liquid, bring the rice to a full boil before reducing the heat.
3. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and DO NOT OPEN IT - no matter how good it smells while it's cooking.
4. When the cooking time is up, leave the lid on the pan for 5 full minutes.
5. After removing the lid, let the rice rest for 20 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
These rules for rice can be applied to almost any long grain rice recipe. (The exception would be sushi rice or arborio rice used in risotto which come with their own set of cooking rules.) I've used this method for so long now that it's just become part of my rice routine. Using these little tricks ensures that my rice dishes are truly special.
Rice is a staple to Mexican food. It's almost absurd to think of eating a burrito or an enchilada without a side of rice and beans. It just wouldn't be right. Like going to a Mexican restaurant and NOT eating a basket of salty corn chips and salsa. That would be crazy.
Fortunately, making great, fluffy rice to accompany all of your Mexican meals at home is easier than you might think. AND if you follow my rice rules, you're almost guaranteed to have the most delicious, flavorful rice you've ever tasted.
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 tomato, quartered
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
1 garlic clove, chopped
1-1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
This is a very basic Mexican rice recipe. There are a lot of things that you can add to add some more flair and finesse. As for me, I like to add a squeeze a lime and a half teaspoon of cumin to my Mexican rice. I want to know what you add to your rice though. Avocado, rice, taco seasoning, onion, salsa? What have you tried?
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