Friday, December 12, 2014

Party Cheese Ball

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Let's just get right to things…its' party time!  For me this means hosting a few get togethers, attending some fun parties and being prepared for the unexpected.  So, with so much going on, I always have a few things in my fridge/freezer and pantry to make sure things run smoothly.
My party cheese ball is one of those go-to helpers that make my life easy.  This recipe is great for any holiday party and is perfect as a hostess gift when you add a box of artisan crackers.  Like I said friends, it's party time and I want to make life as stress free as possible…

Party Cheese Ball
2 8-oz blocks cream cheese - room temperature
2 cans crushed pineapple - drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped pecans
  • In a food processor, blend cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add pineapple, cheddar cheese, blue cheese, Worcestershire, chives and seasonings.  Pulse until blended.  Remove knife from processor bowl and place mixture in refrigerator until firm.
  • Divide cheese mixture into 4 equal portions.  Roll into a balls then in chopped pecans and place on plastic wrap.  Tighten wrap around each cheese ball. 
  • Store in fridge if serving within 24 hours.  Can be frozen and thawed 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cauliflower Puree

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Over the years, I've been know to sneak different vegetables into some of my family's favorite dishes.  Sometimes it's worked and sometimes, not so much.  My goal has always been that I want the guys to try different different dishes and flavors because you never know what you might end of liking.  Even though I don't really have a picky eater, there are "issues" like - Mr. I don't like the texture of that or the King of No thanks, I'm good. So, now you understand why there are times when I use covert methods to introduce new flavors!
When I decided to come up with a recipe for cauliflower, mashed potatoes came to mind.  Using most of my standard ingredients for mashed potatoes, I just changed out cauliflower for the spuds and added a little parmesan cheese.  I served this creamy, light puree with Salisbury steak & gravy.
That night, there was very little dinner conversation but there was lots of scraping of utensils, umms, ahhs and at the end of the meal, clean plates.
Let me just say…success feels so good!
Cauliflower Puree
1 head of cauliflower - about 4 cups, cored and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Place cauliflower in a medium size pot and cover with water.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Cook until fork tender but not mushy.
  • Drain cauliflower and place in blender or food processor.
  • Add chicken stock, butter, milk garlic powder salt and pepper. Blend until almost smooth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
  • Add sour cream and parmesan cheese and blend until smooth.
  • Heat thoroughly and serve with chicken, beef or sautéed vegetables.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

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When it comes to the holidays, there are a few treats that have become family favorites.  This chocolate bark is on the list and I make it for my crew to enjoy and to give out as a small gift to friends.

For me, there are two special things that I love about this recipe - one is that it's made with Matzos crackers which are so easy to work with and make the bottom layer light and crisp.  Second is that you can change up the toppings to celebrate whatever season or event you are celebrating.  I happily confess that I love that crispy cracker layered with buttery toffee and covered with dark chocolate…then when you add a few sprinkles of crunchy, well…you've got the start of something special and I believe a new family tradition.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark
1 box of unsalted Matzoh
1 cup of butter - 2 sticks
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup of chocolate chips - chopped (you can use dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
3/4 crushed peppermint candy

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line one baking sheet with foil making sure to cover bottom completely.
  • Top foil with parchment paper.
  • Place Matzoh crackers on baking sheet making sure to cover fully, breaking crackers into smaller portions to make a complete rectangle.
  • Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium size pot, over med-high heat. Bring to a low boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Pour butter mixture over crackers and smooth out until covered.
  • Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Check after 6 minutes and continue to cook until golden brown being careful not to burn.
  • Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate over the butter/brown sugar mixture and let melt 2 - 3 minutes.
  • Using a rubber or metal spatula, spread chocolate over bark.
  • Sprinkle with crushed candy.
  • Place in fridge for 30 minutes to chill so that bark will set.
  • Break into small pieces to serve.  Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

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If you all are like me, you enjoy finding new and creative ideas on Pinterest.  Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't but hold on…I found a little something that works beautifully - a slow cooker method for apple butter. First off, it's so easy because the hardest part of this recipe is getting the apples peeled and cored.  Next, just mix up your ingredients and set the timer.
This morning when the family woke up, the whole house smelled amazing!  We love apple butter on toast, with sweet potato chips and this year will be giving a little jar to friends for Christmas.  Give this one a try friends, you'll be happy you did.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
3 pounds of apples (I used a mixture of granny smith, macintosh & gala)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
  • Wash, peel, core and chop apples.
  • Coat inside of slow cooker with butter and place apples inside.
  • Sprinkle brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt over apples.  Gently stir to mix.  Pour water over mixture.
  • Place lid on slow cooker, set to low for 8 hours.
  • After cooking time, remove lid and let cool for 30 minutes.  Using an immersion blender (regular blender on pulse or potato masher will also work) blend apples until smooth.
  • With lid off of crock pot, continue to cook apple butter for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until thickened.
  • Let cool & store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ham Potato & Cheese Pizza

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One of the holiday traditions in our family is my glazed ham.  The guys demand ask for it at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter plus some special days in-between.  Of course, I'm always happy to comply with their request.  This year was no different.  On Thanksgiving we enjoyed my delicious ham along with turkey and other dishes.
At the end of meal, there were a few leftovers, which I happen to love.  After a few yummy ham sandwiches, I decided we needed a little something different so I got my creative juices flowing and came up with this pizza.  It combines some of my favorite ingredients - pork, potatoes and cheese.  This new creation did not disappoint!  Everyone loved it and it's now in the Southern Soul recipe book.  Leftovers never tasted so good…
Ham Potato & Cheese Pizza
1 ball of pizza dough - homemade or store bought
olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded mozzerella
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 medium potatoes - thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 to 2 cups chopped ham
Parmesan cheese
Minced chives
  • Heat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet and roll out dough to fit pan.
  • Lightly drizzle dough with olive oil.  Sprinkle with thyme, basil and garlic powder.
  • Sprinkle on about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and half of cheddar.
  • Pat sliced potatoes dry with a paper towel and layer onto pizza. Lightly sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  • Evenly crumble ham and remaining cheese on top of potatoes.
  • Lower oven temperature to 450 and cook pizza for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is crisp.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Grate on fresh Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with chives.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

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Wishing everyone a happy, joyful day filled with all your favorite things.  I am so very grateful for the old and new friends that I've made through A Southern Soul.  You all have show me lots of love and kindness.
Today I am counting my blessings…

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Last Minute Thanksgiving Help

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Here we are friends - THANKSGIVING has arrived!  I am excited and ready.
My family gathers at my sisters house and we made our plan over 2 weeks ago about who would bring which dish and what time the big event would start.  I hope you all have your plan in place for a successful, happy day whether you are cooking or not.  Here's just a few helpful tips in case you are not sure about setting the table, serving a buffet or cooking the big bird.  Sending you love, positive thoughts & prayers for a wonderful Wednesday and a very Happy Thanksgiving.
How to set your dinner table and a little help with dining ~

The best way to organize your food for a buffet ~

Simple beautiful decorations that you can find in your own yard or the grocery store ~

Last but not least ~
  • If you are cooking a turkey, MAKE SURE you have meat thermometer and that the internal temperature of the turkey reads at 160 degrees.  Insert the probe into the thigh making sure not to touch the bone.  FYI, you can buy an inexpensive thermometer in the grocery store.
  • Always, always make extra gravy!  It goes quickly and is not something you want to run out of.  Don't worry if you have some left over, it keeps in the fridge for up to 2 days.
  • Have everyone take a great photo…then, PUT THE PHONES AWAY!
  • Fluff your house, put on a pretty blouse, a little lipstick and a big smile.  Hug your family and friends.  Share what you are thankful for and make some new memories.  Most of all, relax and enjoy…