Warmer Weather Means Cookouts with Friends

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope you are having a lovely Sunday morning.  It has been gorgeous here this weekend with the weather finally reaching the 60’s and hopefully 70’s today!  LJ and my weekend has been packed with cookouts and friends.  Yesterday we went to a housewarming cookout at our old neighbor’s house in Leesburg, Va.  Their new home is absolutely gorgeous!

Of course I couldn’t show up to the cookout empty handed, so I started digging through my recipe box and decided on hash brown casserole.  This is a popular side dish that can be found at all family gatherings usually made by our aunt Susan.  She definitely makes it the best!

hashbrown casserole 001

What you’ll need:

1 pkt Hash browns (from the frozen section, I think mine was 2 pounds?)

1 pint sour cream (or plain nonfat greek yogurt if you want to cut some calories–taste just as good!)

1 cup cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion diced

1 can cream of celery soup

1/2 cup butter

1 cup corn flakes (I think I ended up adding a tad more.  You just need enough to cover the casserole)

Print Recipe

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Dice the onion and place in a large bowl.  Add all other ingredients except the cornflakes and butter.

hashbrown casserole 003

This is why you need a LARGE bowl.  It’s a lot of stuff to mix together.  Mix until the hash browns are coated evenly.

hashbrown casserole 005

Transfer the mixture to a greased Pyrex glass dish.  Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

hashbrown casserole 007

Just before the 40 minutes are up, melt your butter and mix it with the corn flakes.  Remove the casserole from the oven and spread corn flake mixture on top.  Bake for another 20 minutes.

hashbrown casserole 010

hashbrown casserole 011

Remove from the oven and let it cool before serving.  It was definitely a huge hit at the cookout!  We are off to our second cook out of the weekend. What fun things to do you have going on this weekend??

Mindie, Ryanne, and Nicole

Mindy, Ryanne, and Nicole


Day #3 Peanut Butter Temptations

Santa 1991

There is nothing more tempting than peanut butter and chocolate. TOGETHER.   So today I am sharing with you another one of our 5 favorite holiday treats.  This is definitely one for my husband’s favorites.  He begs me to make these even if its not Christmas time!

For the Peanut Butter Temptations You’ll Need:

Print Recipe Here

1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)Ingredients

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 bag of miniature peanut butter cup candies

1 3/4 inch muffin pans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the peanut butter and softened butter together, gradually adding the sugar.  Beat the mixture well until it is light and fluffy.


adding sugar

Once the mixture is light and fluffy, add the egg and vanilla, beating well.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, mixing well.

adding vanilla

adding flour

mixing well

Once the dough is mixed well, place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.  In the mean-time spray your mini-cupcake pan with cooking spray.  Once the dough has finished chilling form into 1-inch balls.  Place balls in greased muffin pan.

1-inch dough

dough ready to bake

Place pans in the oven and bake for 12 minutes.  While the cookies are baking, count how many peanut butter cups you need (24 in my case), and remove them from the wrapper and set aside.  It is important to have these ready because you will need them as soon as the cookies are finished baking!

Reese Cups

Once the cookies are finished, remove from the oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup evenly into hot crust.

pressing down

finished cookies

Let cookies cool in the pan.   Then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.  Repeat until all of the dough is gone.  Arrange cookies on a dish to serve.


If you are looking for something salty to pair with this tempting treat…check out Megan’s homemade chex mix!

Pumpkin Bars

I couldn’t believe walking through the grocery store today that the day after Halloween there are already tons of Christmas displays! Whatever happened to Thanksgiving and enjoying the rest of Fall before we jump into Winter?  Well today I wanted to share a favorite Fall recipe that I love to make for tailgating, Fall pot-lucks, and of course Thanksgiving.  I’m actually making it for my friend Rachel‘s baby shower (a special request from her)!  It’s easy and a different take on traditional pumpkin pie.  This is a somewhat skinnier version, but some things like butter you just can’t cut out of this recipe and get the same results!

Here’s what you’ll need…

Print Recipe Here

1 1/4 cup of flour (I used whole wheat)

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup cold butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/3 cup almonds (you can also use crushed walnuts or chopped pecans)

3/4 cup egg beaters or egg whites

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin

1 8 oz. package of reduced fat cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

To start, pre-heat the oven to 350 F and grease a 13 x 9″ baking dish.

Measure out the flour.

and 3/4 cups of the brown sugar in a medium bowl… I might have gone a little over!

Cut your stick and a half of butter into chunks like so…

then put them in with the flour mixture.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture using  pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Then add in the 1 cup of oats and 1/3 cup of almonds to the flour mixture

I usually add 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice to this mixture as well, but that’s up to you.

Pour all of the flour mixture EXCEPT about 3/4 cup into the baking pan and press to cover evenly to make the crust.

Bake the crust for 15 minutes or until golden.

While the crust is baking, beat the cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin with a mixer for about 2 minutes.

Pour over the crust once it has finished baking.

Make sure it’s evenly spread…

Then sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top and bake for 25 to 27 minutes and cool completely.

Cut into bars and serve!  Store remaining bars in the refrigerator or freezer!

What’s your favorite Fall treat?

Ginnie’s Fresh Apple Cake

I hope this post finds all of you safe from the heavy rains and wind of tropical storm Sandy!

I’ve just returned from a much needed break and Honeymoon in sunny Barbados. If you haven’t been there, I highly suggest you go. The beaches are gorgeous, the people are super friendly, and the local food is amazing!

Although it was a little depressing leaving the beach and coming back to cooler weather, I was excited to be back for one of my favorite seasons…..FALL! I love this time of year, as the weather cools down and the trees begin to change color. I buy everything pumpkin flavored, and — Ah yes, the sweet smell of Ginnie’s Apple Cake in my kitchen. As we’ve mentioned before, Ginnie was an amaaaazing baker and this is one of our family’s most prized recipes. While I thought I might face most certain death for sharing this recipe from my family, it was my mom’s idea! It’s definitely our “go to” recipe once it’s apple season.

While this recipe was developed long before the times of “skinny recipes,” when big hips were hot, I will include the Original Recipe, oil and all (I’m surprised it doesn’t call for Crisco like all of Ginnie’s other recipes) for y’all out there who just don’t care! I will be showing how to make a lighter version below!

What you’ll need for Ginne’s Fresh Apple Cake:

Print Skinny Recipe Here


1 greased bundt cake pan

1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

6 apples (or 3 cups diced depending on apple size)

Dry Ingredients:

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

3 eggs (you can also use egg beaters or egg whites)

1 cup oil (Megan likes to use apple sauce instead, I use plain or vanilla greek yogurt to add extra protein)

2 tsp vanilla

The type of apple you use is up to you. I use Honey Crisp. My mom likes to use Golden Delicious. Whatever you choose, make sure it is a baking apple.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Start with peeling and dicing your apples until you have about 3 cups. I only used five apples because mine were fairly large.

**Note: It makes clean-up much easier if you have a vacuum nearby to pick up any stray apple pieces

Once you are finished dicing your apples, mix all of your dry ingredients (flour, soda, cinnamon, salt) in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then add sugar, oil (or applesauce/greek yogurt), and vanilla.

Mix fruit and nuts with dry ingredients. Mix until apple slices are completely covered in flour mixture.

Add egg mixture to the apples and dry ingredients. Mix by hand.

Pour batter into bundt or tube pan (greased).

Bake at 325 degrees for 1.5 hours. Once you remove from the oven, let the cake cool in the pan.

After it has completely cooled, flip the pan over and place the cake on a plate or cake stand. We hope y’all enjoy this recipe as much as we do…Enjoy!

Corn Puddin’

Last weekend my friend Amanda and I drove up north to Philadelphia, PA, to visit our friend Mallory.  Both Mallory and Amanda are two of my bridesmaids and good friends from graduate school.  It was my first time in Philly and I loved it!  Our trip was filled with American history, delicious food, and fun!  Our last stop before leaving the city on Sunday was Mallory’s local farmer’s market.  I was excited to see what Philly had to offer (I can never pass up the opportunity to check out a farmer’s market).  It certainly did impress with gorgeous displays of fresh fruits and vegetables. I ended up going a little overboard with my purchases…but as you can see below…..everything looked so delicious!

I bought tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, lettuce, onions, and corn, which got me excited about making corn pudding.  Corn pudding is a dish that both my maternal (Daga) and paternal (GG) grandmothers would make.  It is a necessary side-dish at Thanksgiving, cookouts and  family get-together’s.

Although both of my grandmothers made corn pudding, a recipe from my paternal grandmother Frances Floyd (aka GG) steals the cake.   After growing up on her delicious meals, I was shocked to find out  during a recent visit with GG’s nephew (Aldwin Hight), that during my grandparents engagement, GG was often worried she would not learn to be a good enough cook for her young groom (my grandfather).   I’d say my grandfather Pop got lucky….cooking should have been the least of her worries!

For Corn Pudding you’ll need:

Print Corn Puddin’ Recipe

4 ears fresh sweet corn

3 heaping tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 eggs (well beaten)

1 1/2 cups milk (skim)

4 tablespoons melted butter

First, start by shucking all of your corn and rinsing.  Fill a large pot (large enough to fit 4 ears of corn) with water and bring to a boil.  Once the water starts to boil, add your corn.  I cooked mine for about 8 minutes.

Once your corn is cooked, remove immediately from the pot and place it on a plate to cool.  Once corn is cool enough, begin slicing off the cob.  You will need about 2 cups of kernels.  Set corn aside and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a glass or ceramic casserole dish.

Pour your 2 cups of kernels into a bowl.  Mix together the sugar, corn, and flour until the kernels are evenly coated (this prevents the corn from floating on top once the liquid is added).

Set the dry mixture aside.  Beat 2 eggs in a separate bowl.  Add the melted butter to the eggs, beating well.

Gradually add milk to the mixture, continuing to mix well.

Add the egg mixture to the corn.  Mix together evenly, then pour mixture  into greased casserole dish.

Place in the oven  and bake for 45 minutes on 350 degrees until golden brown.  Let the dish cool slightly before serving (allow time for dish to “set”).  Enjoy!

Print Corn Puddin’ Recipe

Salsa Time!

One of my favorite vegetables (or fruit some would argue) is the tomato. Now if you had asked me how I liked tomatoes about 20 years ago, I would’ve said they were the grossest thing on earth.  From the time I was a little girl my great-grandmother “Ginnie” and grandmother “DaGa”, as well as my mom took on a mission to make me and my sister like tomatoes.  To them it was almost unAmerican and very unSouthern-like to despise tomatoes as much as we did.  They tried sprinkling a little sugar on them (um gross!!!), hiding them in dishes, and practically bribing us to eat them. My mom always says “you have to try something 13 times before you can say you really don’t like it.”  I’m not sure if that’s what eventually worked for me, but now I love them.  Unfortunately my husband hates them just as much as the 8 year-old me, which makes me sad sometimes about how much he is missing out on my yummy tomato dishes.

The other day at the farmer’s market I saw rows and rows of plump tomatoes and it gave me the urge to make some fresh salsa.  As I strolled through the farmers booths, I remembered helping my grandmothers plant their tomatoes in their backyard gardens.  Sometimes we had so many tomatoes we would run out of widow sills in the kitchen to line them with!!  One of our family’s favorite uses for these garden-fresh tomatoes was homemade salsa.  Here’s a slight adaptation from that salsa recipe that my mom taught me back in the day…

For the Fresh Summer Salsa (try saying that 3 times fast!) recipe you will need the following:

Print Fresh Summer Salsa Recipe

  • 3 medium sized tomatoes
  • fresh cilantro (I got a big bunch at the farmer’s market for only 1$!!)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups of sweet frozen corn (or you can use fresh)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper

What I love about this recipe is that I pretty much change it up based on what’s available and what I’m in the mood for.  If I’m not really in a “spicy kind of mood”  I will leave out the jalapeno pepper, or if I don’t have fresh cilantro I just use dried.

First thing you do is chop the vegetables.  This might intimidate some people who don’t have good chopping skills, but practice makes perfect.  Just make sure you have a nice sharp knife, otherwise you’re going to make your tomatoes squishy…and nobody likes squishy tomatoes.

I usually start with the onion largely because if you start with the tomatoes your cutting board is going to be all juicy and watery…

Just dice it on up!  You don’t want the onion pieces to be too big.

Then I usually go to the garlic.  If you don’t have a fancy garlic press just 1) smash it with the flat side of your knife, 2) peel the papery skin off, and…

Chop it up finely!

Now it’s time to tackle the jalapeno…  I’m not going to lie, I HATE touching jalapenos after I accidentally touched my eye after chopping them… smart move, but someone always has to learn the hard way.

Add in the amount of jalapeno according to your own preference.  Now if I was making this salsa only for my husband or dad who think eating a jalapeno is a walk in the park I would probably put the whole thing in, chopped up, including seeds.  For those of us who like a little kick but don’t want to be sucking down 5 gallons of water after a bite, I added in 1/2 of the jalapeno minus the seeds.  Or if you’re one of those sensitive people who don’t like spice in your life leave it out completely!

Now on to the beautiful farmer’s market tomatoes! I used three medium, but you can also use 2 large.  Dice them however you like, I usually score mine like the above picture and cut horizontally.

After they are all diced up they should look like this.

Put all of the chopped ingredients so far into a bowl…

Drain and rinse the can of black beans.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the sweet corn (defrost if using frozen).

Add to the bowl with the other ingredients and stir!

Next, add in the 2 teaspoons of lime juice.

Then salt and pepper to taste…

Chop up some fresh cilantro, approximately 1/2 cup.

Then stir it in with the rest of the salsa.

Print Fresh Summer Salsa Recipe

Ta da! You’ve made some amazingly simple and Fresh Summer Salsa!  I like to enjoy mine with organic blue corn tortilla chips and a corona light!