Category: Dinner

Cranberry Jello Salad

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I love old recipes. They are not only a window to the past, but a way to stay connected to the people you love. And for me? It’s the most important way of communicating. It’s my love language. My maternal Grandmother used to make a recipe similar to this one at Thanksgiving each year. She’s still with us, but it’s getting harder and harder to cook each year. I think she’d be happy that this recipe is being preserved, even if I’ve tweaked it a bit! 🙂

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First of all, can we talk about how it’s called a “salad”? That cracks me up! I think they were called such because a lot of gelatins from years past had savory foods stuck in them. But this one? This one is glorious. It’s sweet. But, not overly so. It’s ruby red color shines like a gem, like shiny red balls on the tree, like Rudolph’s nose in the night. It’s covered in a delicious creamy topping, like a snowy cap. I meannnnn. It’s so good. It’s got cranberries, raspberry, pineapple, nuts, cream cheese.

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It’s a breeze to make. There’s more downtime than active time. This pairs well with both a holiday turkey and ham, and you can take my actual word with that! This also makes a fine dessert. And breakfast. Or snack.

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Blessings!

Kristin

Print Recipe
Cranberry Jello Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. In a medium glass bowl, mix the Jello and 1 cup boiling water together. Stir for about 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold cranberry juice, pineapple and cranberry sauce. Add the pecans. Mix well and pour into the pan. (I actually added the pecans next, and only to half the pan, because my boys do not like nuts) Cover with plastic. Refrigerate until firm. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. When the Jello mixture is firm, spread the cream cheese mix on top. Sprinkle a few pecans on top.
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Halloween Party Kid Food – BONE Appetit!

Are YOU having a Halloween party? Do you still need some food ideas? Boo, do I have some for you! Read below…if you dare…..mwahahahaha!

About a month ago, I received a call from a sweet friend of my boys (who also pretty much has me done in for, precious as she is!). She told me she was throwing a Halloween party and wanted me to be her “Chef”. How amazing is that!? She poured her heart into this party, planning every last detail – the decorations, the games, etc. She even had my husband, who is a DJ, provide the music. This was a party for the ages!

So, as the Chef, I pulled together some menu ideas with her wonderful Mama, and our planner approved them ( 😛 ). Each of the other invitees offered to make the items on our list.  And here they are, in all their Halloweeny glory!

 

Horrors d’oeuvres Time:

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To make this, you simply carve a pie pumpkin to look as if it’s barfed/vommied/puked…the nastier, the better! Put your dip (guacamole worked best for us because…guacamole) in front of it’s gaping barfy mouth.

 

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These are Bugles! And how cute is this sign? A lot of thought was put into that sign.

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This “Pumpkin Poo” went over well with the kids! Also, how can you go wrong with cheese balls? Every party needs cheese balls.

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This sweet and fruity Jack O’Lantern was gobbled down in no time! It’s made with orange segments and grapes. You can use blueberries in place of the grapes or do a mixture of the two.

Dinner Time:

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These Mummy Dogs are so easy to make, and leave quite a spooky impression! All you need is hot dogs and crescent rolls. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Dry hot dogs with paper towels. Cut or rip the crescent rolls into strips. Wrap the strips around the hot dogs in a random pattern. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake until the crescent rolls have become golden brown (as per the package).

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For these cutie Jack O’Lanterns, you’ll need clear plastic cups, a Sharpie, macaroni and cheese, and some celery. Draw the faces on the cups before filling with the macaroni. Once you have added the macaroni, place a small piece of celery in, as the pumpkin stalk.

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These Bat Nuggets are sure to scare! Bake your chicken nuggets, add tortilla chip wings, ketchup eyes, and make sure you eat them before they fly away! Bats fly quickly and erratically, you know.

Dessert Time:

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Nothing will gross you out and make your kids laugh more than these graham cracker bandaids!! All that you’ll need are graham crackers, icing, and red gel. **Yeesh!**

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Our ghostess with the mostess put these donut monsters together, right down to the eyes and teeth! Super scary!

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These were my contribution – Trick or Treat Brownies and Meringue “Ghosties”. For the brownies, you’ll need one box of brownie mix, a bunch of candy (I used Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and M&M’s), and candy eyeballs. Prepare the brownie mix and pour into a 13×9 prepared pan. Chop up the candy (not the M&M’s) and sprinkle randomly. Bake as directed. I found that my candy sank a bit as the brownies baked, so I chopped up some more and squished it into the freshly baked brownies. Do the same with more M&M’s and the eyeballs. Let cool and cut into squares.

For the Meringue Ghosties, I used the following recipe.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/meringue-ghosts

I used a food-safe paintbrush and hand painted the eyes and mouths, using black gel coloring.

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This party was so much fun, thanks to the wonderful party planning and effort put forth by our cutie gHost! I hope your Halloween parties are as much fun and that you can use some of these ideas!

Happy Halloween!

Kristin

Traditional Meatloaf Meatballs

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“Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf….” I can’t bring myself to say the next line! I LOVE meatloaf!!! I always have! Maybe it’s the southern girl in me or the cold meatloaf sandwiches that will inevitably happen the next day (white bread, mayo, lettuce, maybe cheese, mayo tomato, depends on my mood). Meatloaf is so good! Is it a bit dated? Sure. But, hey, so am I. I still think Mitsubishi Eclipses are cool and I still wear Dr. Marten mary janes.

I’d like to think I’ve given the ol’ meatloaf a little facelift, even if I’m still wearing Blossom dresses and cutoff jorts from Goodwill.

Take that as you will.

These little yum yums cook up much more quickly than that huge loaf (how that is even appealing, I do not know. but it is) does and are much more cute. Also a plus to me. The glaze is so delicious. Like, so so good. These reminded me of the meatloaf I used to order at the Black Eyed Pea restaurant (anyone remember that restaurant? it was major) back in the day. I told you I liked meatloaf. So much so that I used to order it at a restaurant. I’m weird like that.

So, if you are weird like me (and big ups, if you are), give these little baby sort of beauties a try. They really are delicious. And pretty healthy. And gluten free. I’ve sold you on them as much as I can. The ball is in your court.

I’m going to go watch Bob Ross now. Bye.

Kristin

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Print Recipe
Traditional Meatloaf Meatballs
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the first 7 ingredients together (ground turkey to sofrito). Roll the meat mixture into uniform sized balls and place onto the baking sheet. Mix the remaining ingredients together and spoon over the meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 - 25 minutes.
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Cooking with my Kids: “Pilgrim” Meatballs With Cranberries

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My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, hands down. Any chance I get, I’ll find a way to  Thanksgiving-ize something. I came up with this recipe a few years ago and it’s been a favorite. I’ve since made it gluten free and simplified it for my little (big) sous chef.

These turkey meatballs are the very essence of Thanksgiving – tender sagey turkey, studded with tart cranberries. I served them (obvi) over mashed sweet potatoes and with  sweet corn.

Pilgrim Meatballs with Cranberries

1 lb ground turkey

1 egg, beaten

2/3 C corn flake crumbs

1/3 C chicken stock

Handful of dried cranberries (I used Trader Joe’s orange flavored ones and I soaked them in cooking white wine/sherry)

1/2 t sage

S&P to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with tin foil and Pam. Mix all the ingredients, except for ground turkey. Once fully combined, add the ground turkey. Form into balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Gobble Gobble!

Kristin

Cooking with my Kids: Easy Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

As of late, my oldest, who will be six in a few short months (cue tears), has been very interested in helping me cook. He pulls his little IKEA chair up to the countertop while I’m prepping for each meal. It’s terribly cute. We’ve been checking out kid-friendly cookbooks from the library and he’s been helping me come up with meal ideas.

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It’s these moments, where we talk over saucepans of oatmeal, and over racks of herbs and spices, that we bond over life, and that we share the same language of love – for each other and for food.

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So, I am starting a new series on this blog about kid-friendly recipes that are easy for the little hands. These recipes will be simple, but delicious.

Easy Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Serves 4, with leftovers

One whole fryer chicken

Olive oil

Lemon juice

S&P

Carrots

Onions

Potatoes

Rosemary

Preheat the oven to 425F. Place tin foil down in a roasting pan. Spray the pan with Pam. Place the whole chicken in the pan (make sure you take out all the innards and that the chicken is patted dry). Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place the plan into the oven to roast.

Chop up the vegetables and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and rosemary. You can place the around your chicken, but I did them separately, so that they wouldn’t get too dark in the oven. I placed them in the oven about 25 minutes after the chicken. Bake the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for about 7 – 10 minutes before slicing. Pour the juices into a saucepan and add a tablespoon of cornstarch. Whisk to make gravy.

Enjoy!!

Kristin

Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole (and another squirrel themed lunch)

It is THAT time of year again! I adore Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Not just for the food, although that’s a huge part of it. I love the tradition, the memories I have of Thanksgivings past, the new memories made with family, the way people become so introspective about thankfulness. I love the traditional food that I make each year, and the new recipes I come up with. I love the crafts. I love every part of it. It makes me happy.

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I always seem to make mini Thanksgiving meals in the weeks prior to the Big Day, in hungry anticipation. Last week, I made a turkey and cranberry meatloaf which I paired with my traditional macaroni and cheese casserole, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole (#casseroleallthethings). This week, I paired a new sweet potato casserole with a honey and dijon mustard glazed ham. And this SPC was SO dang good, that I just had to share the recipe with you. It also happens to be dairy and gluten free, which for my family, is a bonus!

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It’s creamy on the inside, studded with little jewels of dried fruit, and topped with two kinds of marshmallow, which have been toasted just the perfect amount.

**Caveat** This recipe has raisins in it. I know for a fact that many people do not like raisins. I don’t care for them in cookies. They ruin cookies for me. But in this? They added a chewy, lovely texture.

Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

Recipe serves 2 adults and 2 kids, with leftovers

3 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 T melted coconut oil

splash of coconut milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

3/4 C dried cranberries

2/3 C golden raisins

1/2 small jar marshmallow fluff

1/2 bag of mini marshmallows

Boil the peeled and chopped sweet potatoes until they are tender. Using a hand mixer, blend together the next three ingredients, until creamy and smooth. Fold in the dried fruit. Pour into a greased pan (I used a 9×9) and bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes. Melt the marshmallow fluff in the microwave. Pull the casserole out and spread the fluff over the top. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows over that and place back in the oven, with the broiler on high. Make sure not to burn the marshmallows, but see that they get nice and brown!

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It is dang good. ENJOY!

Also. I made yet another squirrel themed lunch. This is my last week of fall and Thanksgiving themed lunches, so I am doing repeats allll day.

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I made squirrel shaped sunbutter and grape jelly sandwiches. I cut acorn shapes out of fruit leather for the little tree rats to snack on. I also packed goldfish crackers, dried cranberries, more dried fruit, colby jack cheese (Bigs), a mandarin orange (Bigs), green grapes (Smalls), and a Linzer cookie for each.

Peace ‘n’ Blessins’,

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken and Peaches

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I am finally getting back into my “good” dinner cooking groove. If only I can get the rest of my life groove back, I’ll be set! But alas, that is not the case at this time. Maybe once we are settled into our new school routine. But dinner was a success, and some days, that’s all I can ask for. That and leaving the house with all my children and necessities.

I digress.

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Back to dinner. I had purchased a few BOGO packs of big chicken breasts at Publix and had to come up with something creative to with them. And since it IS still peach season (#vivasummer), I decided to grill both.

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It was one of my better decisions that day.

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken and Peaches

3 large chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

S&P

2 T honey

1 1/2 T dijon Mustard

splash red wine vinegar

olive oil

2 large peaches

Make the honey mustard mixture by combining the honey, dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until combined.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Salt and pepper the chicken. Swirl some olive oil around a grill plan that is preheating over medium high heat. Grill the chicken for about 4 -5 minutes per side. Place on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes. During this time, brush the honey mustard mixture on the chicken a few times.

Add another swirl of olive oil to the grill pan. Slice the peaches and grill in the pan.

I served this with brown rice and steamed broccoli. It was fabulous.

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I’ll be dreaming of this when I make a crap dinner…probably tomorrow. #itiswhatitis #cantwinthemall

Enjoy!

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Smoky Pork Chops with Apple Glaze

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I don’t typically love to make pork chops at home. They always end up dry. As a bone. And gray. But not this time! They came out perfectly juicy. I seasoned them with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, and made an apple glaze for the top. They were delicious.

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I served them with homemade mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

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Everyone loved this meal (a miracle unto itself)!

Smoky Pork Chops with Apple Glaze

Serves: two adults, two kids

3 bone-in pork chops

S&P

Smoked Paprika

Olive oil

Apple juice (I used two lower-sugar apple juice cartons)

Preheat the oven to 300F. Pour the cartons of apple juice into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. This will reduce and become the glaze.

Add some olive oil to a grill pan, that’s been preheated over medium high head. Sprinkle S&P and smoked paprika onto the pork chops (I rubbed the spices into the meat) and place them on the grill pan. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet (or place grill pan) and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, to finish cooking.

Top with the apple glaze and serve.

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Enjoy!

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Hot Chicken Salad

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I am a southern girl. I’ve got sweet tea running through my veins. I’m pretty sure I’ve also got fried chicken and greens in place of some other vital organs (clearly, vestigial). I spent every Thanksgiving of my youth in South Georgia, where I learned a lot about southern cooking, baking, and good ol’ southern hospitality from my darling Grandma and Granddaddy. The other side of my family resides in North Florida, which may as well be South Georgia, if their food and accents have anything to do with it. My precious Grandmother (she chose that name for us grandkids to call her because she didn’t want to sound “old” 😀 ) also had an abundance of southern recipes for me to learn – Perfect Macaroni and Cheese, Cranberry Cream Cheese Salad… Needless to say, it’s in my blood. It might just be my blood. And I’m so glad. Southern food makes me ridiculously and deliriously happy (see: food related memories).

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Exhibit A: Actual casserole from potluck

My family went to a church potluck a few weeks back and I couldn’t think of anything other than a southern casserole to take. That’s what I always looked forward to at my Sunday church potlucks, growing up. I’d beeline straight for those casseroles. Those were (and are) always the best. I know not everyone is on the Casserole Train (choo choooo), but I am the Conductor, and I’m am hoping they’ll change their mind after trying this recipe.

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I got this Hot Chicken Salad recipe from my Mom, who got it from my Grandmother. My Mom told me that this was one of my Grandmother’s go-to recipes for her Ladies Luncheons. I love picturing my beautiful Grandmother in the 1940’s, with her beautifully made up face and coiffed hair, in one of her fancy dresses, and serving up this delicious casserole to her gal pals.

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This casserole is filled with tender chicken, crunchy celery and bell peppers, salty potato chips, melty cheese, toasty almonds. I meannnnnnn… I have seen this recipe with mushrooms and water chestnuts (blech!), but I love sticking to what my Grandmother did. It’s a link between me and her past. I did make a few changes, but it didn’t alter the integrity of the original recipe.

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Hot Chicken Salad

1 pkg. dressing (some of you may call this “stuffing”)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I cooked them in my crockpot and shredded them)

Chicken broth

2 C chopped celery

1/2 t salt

2 T grated onion (I chopped mine and added a bit more)

1/2 C green bell pepper

1 C mayonnaise

2 T lemon juice

dash Worcestershire sauce

1/2 C shredded sharp cheddar

3 C crushed potato chips

1/2 C toasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 325F. Put the dressing into a bowl and add enough broth to moisten it all the way through. Combine all the ingredients from dressing to Worcestershire sauce together and place in greased 9×13 pan. Top with the cheddar, potato chips, and almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes. Leftovers are even better!

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This is best enjoyed with a Mason jar full of sweet tea. And probably some kind of cobbler, fresh out of the oven, or freshly churned peach ice cream for dessert. Just a friendly suggestion. 😀

Enjoy y’all!

Kristin

Dinner Tonight: Individual Barbecue Meatloaves

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I have got another dinner idea for you that is both easy and filling – Individual Barbecue Meatloaf. It cooks more quickly than the traditionally sized meatloaf and it is also cuter. Yes, I do think meatloaf can be cute. Almost anything is, when it’s personal-pan sized. And on that note, almost any sized item can be personal-pan, if you try hard enough. I was able to put this meal together in about 30 minutes, from start to finish.

Individual Barbecue Meatloaves

1 lb ground chicken

1 egg, beaten

1 packet of dried mushroom gravy mix (try to find GF if needed)

1/2 C breadcrumbs (I used a mix of 4C GF breadcrumbs and crushed Corn Flakes)

Pepper

BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Cola-Q that one of my besties left at my house after a cookout – thank you!)

Preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with Pam. Mix together the mushroom gravy packet, breadcrumbs, and pepper. In a large bowl, mix ground chicken, beaten egg, and breadcrumb mixture. Form into 1/3 lb. loaves. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. brush BBQ sauce on the loaves and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

I served it with brown rice (which I boiled with chicken stock) and a summer fruit salad.

Enjoy!

Kristin