Hot Chocolate for the Holidays

Don’t just make this stuff – make it as fast as you can gather the ingredients. I have to get this stuff out of my house as fast as I can as this stuff is so good you will find yourself eating this out of the jar!
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix. That is all.
When I came across this recipe, and I don’t even remember where I found this one at, I had to try it.
Addictive. Delicious. A tad bit salty. A bit caramel flavor. And tiny, tiny, bits of ground up chocolate bars that melt into that cup of deliciousness. Have I sold you yet? Make it. That’s all I can say.

this will be the best drink of the Season. Top with some homemade (yes, i said homemade) marshmallows and what a treat.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Mix
2 1/2 cups white sugar (you use this to make your caramel – read and forge ahead! it’s worth it)
3 Tbs. vanilla
1 cup dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder (do like me and use Ghiradelli Sweet Ground Chocolate Cocoa that comes in a bag – you won’t be sorry for this)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs. coarse sea salt
7-10 oz. of chocolate bars – mix them up – I used a 4 oz. Hershey’s milk chocolate bar and a 4 oz. Ghiradelli bitter-sweet chocolate bar because that’s what I had on hand (you have these on hand all the time, too, don’t you?!)

Now – the fun part!
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, foil or a Silpat and set aside. Put the 2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar in a saucepan with a heavy bottom or a skillet. Cook the sugar over medium-high heat until it starts melting. I stirred it during this time constantly to speed up the melting process and to keep it from burning. Don’t worry if it looks like it is clumping, as it will all melt together into a beautiful dark amber, caramel color. As soon as it all melts together, to that color, turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla but be careful as it will sizzle and swell up a bit – don’t let it pop on your hand – burn city! Pour onto the prepared lined cookie sheet and allow to cool and harden. After an hour or so, (mine only took about 30 minutes) you can take the handle of a knife and bang it lightly to break it up into smaller pieces. Place these pieces into a food processor or blender (I used my food processor) and pulverize them into a powder. Add all the other ingredients and process until thoroughly mixed. Add the chocolate bars (I chopped mine up somewhat before adding) and pulse to chop them up pretty fine (some tiny pieces of chocolate is fine). That’s it. Serve by mixing 2 to 3 Tbsp (depends on your tastes) with hot water or hot milk (yummy!) and enjoy.

Just look at those tiny bits of chocolate in that spoon.
Let me tell you, I repeat, that this stuff is so good you will find yourself eating this stuff out of the jar! I hope you will try this and it becomes a favorite in your house.


Black Friday winners

Since I have a busy day today I wanted to post the winners quickly so I didn’t leave you in limbo….

and since I usually give these away in order that I posted, here they are…

# 23 Betty Bozeman wins the Blueberry 6 qt casserole/Dutch oven

#6 Lynnie wins the Teal casserole/Dutch oven

# 21 Brooke Mills wins the green casserole/Dutch oven

Congratulations to all and I will get in touch with all of you to get these to you!

and look for the BEST recipe for the BEST hot chocolate you have ever had tomorrow!  Happy Monday!

It’s Black Friday Y’all!

At least it is here….so get ready for a “Black Friday Giveaway” and look – you don’t even have to fight the crowds!

Look at this color…..Blueberry


and this one….Teal


and how about this…Green – I call it Granny Smith Apple Green!


I couldn’t resist these colors and when I saw these Martha Stewart 6 quart round  cast iron enameled dutch ovens, I just , well, I just couldn’t pass these up.   Braise, saute, brown, make soups, just go to town in cooking in these!   Remember to always use your wooden utensils on enameled cookware and don’t wash in the dishwasher (cast iron underneath!) but don’t worry, as these clean up beautifully.  I love mine and use it continuously.   My saying…you can’t have too many dutch ovens.  And never in too many colors.

Want to win one on my Black Friday specials for the Holidays?   Just leave a comment and tell me what your weekend plans are.   Have a football game to go to?   Chilling at the house?   Doing last minute cleaning?  What about a bit of Christmas Shopping?   Good Luck and have a wonderful weekend!   Three winners will be announced Monday.

Eat it for Breakfast or Supper

I made this for supper last week –

bkfst casserole

and it was so good!   This is a great casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, or for supper, like us.  And you can make this as hot or as mild as you want. Vary the flavors  with your version.

Jalapeno Popper Egg Casserole

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

5 eggs

1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used Paula Deen’s Seasoned salt but you can use any favorite of yours)

(I also used a bit of pepper and a pinch of cayenne cause I like a bit more heat in mine)

1 cup shredded cheese (You can use any variety you like)

1 cup cooked, chopped bacon (I used turkey bacon cause I don’t eat no other kind)

2 tablespoons cream cheese (again, I used the 1/3 less fat but use the regular if you want)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, seasoned salt (and any other seasonings you may use), cheese and bacon.   Pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Pull off little pieces of the cream cheese and place them around on top of the egg mixture.   Then place the jalapeno slices around on top.

Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until just set.  The cooking time will vary depending on what type of baking dish you put yours in.  My cooking dish above took about 27 minutes to set in the middle.

This could be made with a Mexican blend cheese, other spices- go wild with this one.   The cream cheese and jalapeno slices did give it that “jalapeno popper” feel to it!

We served ours with a side of Steamed broccoli, and we cheated on our cheese sauce – get the Queso Blanco Cheese Dip on the chip aisle of the grocery store (we got medium heat) and heat this stuff up in the microwave – man what a great cheese sauce for steamed broccoli.  And besides, a little dollop is always good on your scrambled eggs!  It paired well with our egg casserole, and we got our greens to boot.

Have a great week, y’all!

drum roll……

I’m an airhead…..I will admit.   I didn’t take pictures of the draw so I will go into length on how I would select a winner since we had replys for (1) those who selected the knife, (2) those who selected the spoons and (3) those who would take either/or.   It’s a wild card game, here folks!  And one you probably could care less about the methodology – you just want to know who was drawn!  Anyway, I like you to know all is on the up and up!

I made three lists – one for those who selected the knife, one for those who selected the spoons, and one who selected either.

Then selected two winners.

First winner drawn:

#5- John – he is on the “measuring spoons list” – so congrats John – i do believe you said you would give these to your wife!  Make sure you do! Santa is watching, you know!

so far so good!

The next winner that drew was –

#15 – Sarah – she was on the knife list – so – she also commented, I believe she will give it to “Jonathan” — so let’s see if both of these do what they said they were going to do!

Congratulations to both of the winners.

Stay tuned – Thanksgiving is just around the corner! And there’s another wonderful Holiday just after that.  teeheehee

Have a wonderful football-filled weekend, folks.

Hunting and cooking go together, yes they do!

I know there are those of us (which includes me) that do not eat the fruits of the labor of our hunter husbands/sons/brothers/cousins/friends/ and those we don’t even know.  But brother, if you are a hunter, you love to hunt.  And if you love to hunt, hunting season is upon us, ladies!   So get ready to lose your man to the woods.

I have a quick little give-a-way that will please both hunter and cook.

For the hunter, I have a SOG Folding Knife Fielder –

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The fielder knife is one that can be used as an everyday carry or in the wild.  it has a SOG sharp blade, classic hardwood handle, high luster bolsters (whatever the heck that is) and low carry pocket clip (I do know what a pocket clip is!).  And if your menfolk are anything like my menfolk, any knife is a good knife!  My men peeps love collecting knives.

And for the cook, I found these measuring spoons -not just any old measuring spoon, ladies!

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These are solid beechwood, etched design, won’t fade and hand washing is definitely recommended on this item (sorry, but most any wooded spoon/product should be hand washed..(GAA!  I hope you aren’t putting your wooden spoons you cook with in the dishwasher!  Whew,  I didn’t think so!) Aren’t they just the cutest things??!!   I have several sets of measuring spoons, and believe me, when I am cooking/baking, I usually have two or three sets out and am using all of them – I mean, who wants to put a tablespoon you just used for a wet ingredient in a dry ingredient and get the dry ingredient all wet??  Geez!   Anyhooo…. I definitely probably have the most items to wash after baking/cooking than anyone!

If you want a chance to win one of these, just leave me a comment saying you would rather have either the knife for your hubby/brother, or yourself etc., or you want to choose the measuring spoons.   I will draw a winner for each product on Friday.  Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Jambalaya without rice?

We watch the amount of carbs we eat.  We love jambalaya.  So how do we make that wonderful concoction and serve it without a mound of rice in the middle?   Easy!   Make it with less broth!  I made a big ole recipe of Jambalaya this weekend and it was so good!   We served it with a big ole side of fresh Turnip Greens and we had a feast.

Yes, while we would have loved a big scoop of rice in the middle, hubby is really trying to keep his A1C down.  His doctor will be so proud of him!   And you know what?  With so much flavor in the dish, we really didn’t miss it.  I just didn’t put as much of the chicken stock in so there was not as much “liquid broth” – but still the rich flavor.  So give it a try sometime if you are counting carbs!
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Jambalaya – my way (original stuff will be put out to the side in case you want to add the rice)

1 Tbsp olive oil (can use butter if you prefer or half and half)

1/2 of a large onion, diced

1 pound andouille smoked sausage, sliced

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed (optional but I used it cause I don’t eat the sausage)

3 whole carrots, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced (feel free to use 4 cloves if you like more garlic flavor)

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning (optional)

1 whole bell pepper, diced

1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with juce

1 tbsp tomato paste (or 1 1/2 tbsp if you are serving with rice)

1 cup chicken stock or fat free broth (2 cups chicken stock if you are adding rice)

1 tsp hot sauce or to taste

(1 1/3 cups basmati or long grain brown rice if you plan on using the 2 cups stock and adding rice to the dish)

1 pound medium shrimp

1.  In a large pan with a lid, put in olive oil (or butter) over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes.   Add sausage and brown sausage.  If using the chicken, remove the sausage/onion and add the chicken breast and brown until almost done.  Then add back the sausage/onion.

2.  Add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, italian seasoning, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, creole seasoning and stir until well combined.

3.  Add bell bell pepper, diced tomatoes with juce, tomato paste, hot sauce (and rice if using it) and chicken stock and  mix well.  Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cover and  cook for 45 minutes if using brown rice and 20 minutes if using white rice, or until rice is tender. If not using rice, no need to cover.  Just stir and cook until veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

4.  Add shrimp and stir well. Cook an additional 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.

This dish was so good.   And the greens along side, man!  We feasted!   Try it.   One tip:  Have everything diced/sliced prior to starting.  The recipe goes really quick by doing this.

Leftover tomato paste from that little can?   Scoop out tablespoon sized portions on a small plate of aluminum foil.  Plop into the freezer for about an hour or two and then place in zip lock bag and freeze.   Portions already there to thicken soups!  And no waste!

Have a great week everyone!

Grated Orange Peel

If you live near Montgomery/Wetumpka/Prattville/Tallassee/Eclectic, Alabama you should visit Oakview Grainery off Redland Road, which runs off Highway 231, North.  You know just where it is, right???

Anyhoo…… they have some pretty good stuff… In the summer their butter lettuce is the bomb.   So is anything else they grow.  You can pick your own blueberries or strawberries when in season …. or not.  They pick for you for a bit more per basket.

But what they also have are those wonderful stone-ground grits.  And what else they have are the best mixed oatmeal you will ever get.   Now it takes a bit longer to cook (8-10 minutes) but it is well worth it.

So this morning, hubby and I had some of Oakview Grainery Oatmeal.    To jazz them up a bit i threw in a bit of half and half (mine was fat free) to make them oh so creamy.  I put in a tsp of butter (had to make sure I had my daily allowance of fat) and to sweeten them a bit I used the Splenda brown sugar.   Hubby loves his raisins so I threw in a couple of tablespoons of those, too.

But don’t miss this part.   This took them to the next level.  I had an orange I planned on slicing for our morning fruit – before slicing, I zested the orange and threw the zest in to the oatmeal…..OH MY…. I shall never eat oatmeal without it again.   Just the zest of one orange took it to another level and one I do not want to be without again!   I’m tell you, folks, try it.  You don’t know what you are missing.   Hubby loved it.  And about the only thing he loves is raisins!  But he really liked this.

Orange zest – the next best thing to pecan pie!   Happy Wednesday!

Winner, Winner, Pickle Winner!

OK – congrats is in order to the three winners of the “Pickles” – I know they are going to love them and use the heck out of them……(drum roll please)

Winner # 1 –   Joy – comment #12  who wins the Bread and Butter Pickle in Cocoa

joy one

Winner # 2 – Cassie Appleton – who wins the Dill Pickle in Red Floral (#2 winner was the #2 posting comment! HA)

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And # 3 winner is – Kevin -comment # 7 and he wins the Gherkin Pickle made especially for the guys – how appropriate was that for the to select a male!

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Congrats again and I will get with all of you to get your Pickles to you!

Happy Tuesday everyone.