Thursday, November 19, 2015

Southern Dressing Stuffed Zucchini

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I can't wait! I love all the food traditions that my family has served over the years and one of the most beloved is southern style dressing.  We always bake our dressing and serve it along side our juicy turkey then pour over the rich homemade gravy. Well, truth be known, not everybody loves dressing that way and this year we have a guest that's a vegetarian.
A Southern Soul | stuffed zucchini
So, I thought about how I could change up one of my favorite dishes and came up with this ~ dressing stuffed zucchini. I think it combines all the wonderful flavors of traditional dressing with a great veggie!   
A Southern Soul | stuffed zucchini
The only change was the addition of a little parmesan cheese and once baked, my little boats turned out absolutely wonderful.  They are great right out of the oven or at room temperature and I think they'd be great sliced and served as an appetizer.
A Southern Soul
Southern Dressing Stuffed Zucchini
1 small onion - chopped
2 celery stalks - chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups Pepperidge Farms herb stuffing
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup grated Parmesean cheese (reserve 1/4 for topping zucchini)
4 medium zucchini
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a medium size skillet, add butter and olive. Once butter is melted, add onions and celery and cook until onions are clear. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Cut zucchini lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Set aside.
  • Add herb stuffing, stock, salt, pepper, celery salt, thyme and 1/4 cup of cheese to onions and celery. Mix well.
  • Place zucchini on a foil lined baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkle salt in the well of each zucchini and stuff with dressing mixture. Lightly drizzle each zucchini half with olive oil. Bake in oven for 15 - 18 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and place back in oven until cheese is melted. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Holiday Planners

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Ok, I know there are lots of folks out there that just love a good bargain, including me. When that bargain turns out to be free almost free and it turns out to be a big help in life along with looking good then I scream SCORE!! I am a huge fan of planners and have used one for years. I feel like they've saved my life, not literally of course, by pulling me out of some scheduling messes.  Last week I ran across a little something new ~ a holiday planner to help with organizing Thanksgiving, Christmas and the start of the year.
I think this is a brilliant idea since there's so much going on that it's probably best to keep the holiday info all in one place.  There's an added benefit to keeping a holiday planner! After this season is over, I planning on tucking my planner away until 2016 and using all of the information to help me be even more productive next year

Here are the two planners I really like ~

The one I'm using and was a FREE DOWNLOAD is from Living Well Spending Less.  This is a great blog written by Ruth Soukup.  Ruth has a gift for boiling things down into simple ways to stay organized. This planner has Thanksgiving, Christmas, calendars, timelines and gift giving sheets…LOVE!
After downloading the Holiday Planner, I looked around for something to put it in.  I found an unused Martha Stewart folder, grabbed my ring puncher and TA-DA, I was in business. I'm using the clear pockets in the back to hold coupons, big box store info and grocery flyers.  That way I've got everything in one place!
Last but not least, I grabbed my colored pens and a little washi tape. I am just tickled that I ran across this idea. The funny thing is, being organized helps lower my stress level! I'm also really inspired 
since I've got one go-to place for ideas and notes. 

The second planner is from the very talented Christy Jordan of Southern Plate and is a cute, personalized notebook. You could use one you already have and use her format or purchase the Christmas themed one like she has. The link to her site is here ~ Turn Any Notebook into the Ultimate Christmas Planner.

So there you have it friends, a little something to help make your holiday season a little bit merrier.
Bring on the holidays!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sweet Potato Pie

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When you say sweet potatoes in my house, the gang comes running but when you say sweet potato PIE, well, then you get help in the kitchen!  We love these flavor packed potatoes and eat them at least once a week.  With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I'm starting to "test drive" a few recipes just to make sure the flavors are right and this pie has made the cut.
It's rich with the warm spice flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg. It also has a creamy texture that goes perfectly with the buttery crust. The everyday ingredients are probably something you already have in your pantry so grab a helper and start making pie! Enjoy…
Sweet Potato Pie
1 (9-inch) unbaked pastry shell
1 lb. (2 medium)sweet potatoes cooked - I cook mine in the microwave, let cool then scoop out potato pulp
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs - beaten

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In large bowl, mash sweet potatoes with butter.
  • Add condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, mixing well with a whisk or hand mixer.
  • Stir in eggs.
  • Pour into prepared pastry shell.
  • Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  • Pie can be served warm with whipped cream.  
  • Store leftovers in refrigerator. 
  • Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Broccoli Casserole

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Hey friends! It's a soggy Monday here in NC…again, but I promised myself yesterday that no matter what was going on outside, I'd be pumped up and positive when the sun came up.  Maybe it's because November gets us all thinking about Thanksgiving or maybe it's because we've had an extremely busy, unsettling fall around here.  I am so very thankful for all that I've been given, especially my family.  Even though there are times of conflict, confusion and a little uneasiness, we've always managed to come out stronger as a family that always includes more love and respect for each other. Last night I surprised my guys with a big family dinner so that we could spend time sharing and celebrating each other. For me, the dinner table is probably the most important place in the home ~ you laugh, share a meal, maybe shed a tear or two, it's a place of "no guilting," celebrate life's milestones, doing homework, and making memories.
That's exactly what we did last night.  One of the dishes I served was Broccoli Casserole. This dish has about 6 ingredients, is easy to make and has all the flavors that you crave from comfort food.  I'm planning more of these special family dinners in the days to come along with serving up more great food that helps to make special memories.
Broccoli Casserole
6 - 7 cups chopped broccoli
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
dash red pepper flakes
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter - cubed

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup water, cover bowl and steam broccoli for 30 seconds.  Drain.
  • In a small bowl, mix sour cream, cheese, salt, pepper, garlic salt and red pepper. Pour mixture over cooled broccoli and mix well.
  • Coat baking dish with non stick cooking spray and add broccoli. 
  • Mix together breadcrumbs with panko breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle over casserole. Dot with cubes of butter. 
  • Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Italian Sausage Ravioli Bake

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Friends, you know when you have an idea, think it through, execute your plan and things turn out really, really well?  That's what happened yesterday with this recipe and let me be totally honest…I SO NEEDED IT!
A Southern Soul | Ravioli Bake
It had been quite a day with my new fridge blowing up - yet again, my camera on the fritz, I was running all over for my kiddo, sending emails for the upcoming furniture market, and then just the normal household stuff. At the end of it all, I still needed to get dinner on the table. Thankfully, cooking has always calmed me down and helped me relax.
I pulled together my plan for a new dish that included Italian sausage, prepared sauce, ravioli, a surprise cheesy topping then poured a glass of wine and started cooking. My new recipe came together in less than 14 minutes and with a cook time of 20 minutes, I had what I thought was a winner. I was RIGHT! My guys loved it and after a long day of traveling, Mr. A Southern Soul had two big helpings and friends, that makes me very happy. I really hope y'all will get in the kitchen and make this super easy ravioli bake because even if you are not having a crazy day, this is a big dish of love that will make your family happy.
Italian Sausage Ravioli Bake
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove - minced
1 jar prepared marinara sauce
1 large bag prepared cheese ravioli
2 - 21/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium high heat until done.  Drain off fat.
  • Add prepared marinara sauce and stir until combined. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • Cook ravioli per package directions.
  • In an oven proof 11 x 14 baking dish, spread on 1/3 up of sausage mixture. 
  • Layer on cooked ravioli. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over pasta.
  • Spread another layer of sausage sauce over cheese. Place remaining ravioli in a single layer sauce. Ladle on remaining sauce.
  • Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese over dish.
  • In a small bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove foil and continue cooking until ravioli bake is bubbling and slightly brown on top. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Spicy Sausage Dip

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It's officially football season and you know what that means…tailgating, snacks & great food.  Even if you are not a football fan, you will still love this hot sausage dip - it's become an all time favorite at my house!
I'm sure you've made your own version of this easy, flavor packed sausage dip. If you have, great. I'm sharing my version plus a couple of tips on how to prep it and keep it warm while you watch the game.
Cook your sausage when you have time, drain on a paper towel then store in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to use.  WATCH OUT - if you are not careful, others in the house (and you too) will walk by and snatch a piece or two of this awesomeness and you WILL NOT have any left for your dip!
If you're feeding a crowd, just double or triple this recipe.  It's so easy since it only has 3 ingredients.  Dump your cooked sausage into a crock pot set on low, add the brick of cream cheese and container of Ro-tel tomatoes & chilies. Check the cooker every 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the mixture as the cream cheese melts.  Once dip is mixed, keep crock pot on warm setting and serve.
Hot Sausage Dip
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 block cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes and chilies
  • Cook sausage, drain and crumble. Remove any left over sausage drippings from pan.
  • Add cream cheese and tomato with chilies into pan set on medium low heat.  Stir until cream cheese is melted.  Add crumbled sausage and mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with torilla chips.
• If you like your dip hot and spicy, you can add the HOT versions of Ro-tel tomatoes and chilies or hot sausage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Squash and Onions

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If you are a Southerner, like really from the South, you know about squash and onions.  There's always a bounty of beautiful yellow squash in almost everyone's garden and it's kinda the vegetable that just keeps on giving! Growing up we had some sort of squash dish at least twice a week and believe it or not, I never got tired of any of them.  One of my favorites is sautéed squash and onions.  It's a very simple recipe and makes a wonderful side dish for anything you might be serving.
A Southern Soul | Squash and Onions
I love to use a variety called Zephyr. With a combination of yellow and light green, this squash is just downright pretty with a tender, thin skin. All I can say is y'all need to go buy you a big old bunch of squash and cook them up. You'll have the fresh taste of summer ready in no time!
A Southern Soul
Squash and Onions
3 - 4 medium yellow or Zephyr squash - sliced to about 1/8 inch thickness
1/2 sweet onion - thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoon butter
  • Heat olive oil in a medium size sauté pan.  Add onion and cook on medium until soft.
  • Add squash, water, salt and pepper. Stir gently. Continue cooking until squash is tender.
  • Gently add butter and toss to coat squash and onions.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
    • can be served with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or fresh herbs.