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I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I really love Thanksgiving and think it is such a needed holiday. Everyone needs to be reminded of all they have to be thankful for and I’m happy that Thanksgiving gives us a chance to focus on our blessings from God.

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Isn’t that table gorgeous? I love it! My dad just put it into the kitchen of my childhood home and it is over 100 years old! It is the old meeting table of our local Moose lodge that my great-grandpa Wallace was a part of. I love the imperfection and character of it.

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As I get older, it seems our Thanksgiving traditions seem to flux and change with different family needs. I really love tradition though, so I’m happy that it seems I’m still able to cherish traditions while also making way for new ones as well.

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My younger sisters, my husband and I made Thanksgiving for our family. I love cooking and we had a great time getting everything together. We made most of the traditional Thanksgiving foods, but the majority of everything we made was gluten-free. Mashed potatoes, homemade turkey gravy, baked sweet potatoes, roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese, caramelized broccoli with garlic, GF cornbread, baked ham, deep fried turkey, sweet tea, and my Mamaw’s apple salad. Kelsey and Jill also made crescent rolls, apple dumplings, and pies that weren’t gluten-free. I was traveling there the day before or else I would have made GF pies (I just didn’t eat any, I ate apple salad for dessert instead).

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My younger sisters and I with my grandpa (above) and my dad (below).

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It was also nice to get to visit and chat with one of my best friends, Tonya, and her mom while I was in town.

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I also made a leftover turkey pot-pie complete with a homemade GF pie crust, rolled out with a can of tomatoes. I also got to visit Fergus, my little sister, Jill’s, goat, who has packed on a little winter weight since I saw him this summer.

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That weekend we also had a wedding celebration to help out with and attend for Drew’s brother, Wes, and his wife, Trang.

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Drew made (and hauled all the way from New Orleans) two different home-brewed beers and a homemade Root Beer.

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It was  a lovely and fun evening with friends and family under glowing twinkly lights.

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Since we live in New Orleans, ten hours away from the rest of our families, it is always such cherished time when we are back in our familiar hometown, back in the country where you can see all the stars at night. I’m so thankful for my family and I’m so happy I got to spend much-needed time with them. I only wish it was longer! Christmas will be here soon though!

How was your Thanksgiving?

This is one of our favorite dinners actually. It is a recipe that both Drew and I really love (which is pretty rare, since usually we both have very different favorite foods). I really love that is is both delicious and also a relatively well balanced meal. It is a good way to get a lot of veggies into one dish. I posted a picture of this on Instagram & Facebook and several people asked for the recipe, so here it is:

Chicken & Vegetable Fried Rice

serves about 4 people as an entree

ingredients:

-1 cup uncooked white rice (makes about 2 cups cooked)
-Water, for cooking rice
-2 Chicken Breasts, cut into small cubes
-6 cups uncooked fresh vegetables, cut into small pieces (they cook down quite a bit) I usually use onion, green bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, celery, and whatever else I already have in the fridge.
-6 Tablespoons butter* (see note below)
-2 eggs
-soy sauce
-teriyaki sauce
-ground powdered ginger

*The butter really adds a wonderful flavor to this recipe, so don’t substitute it with olive or other cooking oil. I use stainless steel pans that have a tendency to stick more than nonstick-coated pans would. This is the amount I usually have to use for this recipe to keep things from sticking. If you have nonstick pans, you might try using a little less butter and add more if needed.

directions:

1. Cook rice. I use a rice maker, that way it can cook all on its own while I’m preparing everything else. If you don’t have one, just cook rice on stove according to package directions.
2. In wok (or other large skillet), melt 3 Tablespoons butter. Once melted, add chicken and cook until done.
3. Once chicken is done, transfer it to bowl.
4. Place remaining 3 Tablespoons butter into wok/skillet and add veggies. Cook until soft. I usually put the lid on my wok and let them steam for a little bit.
5. Once veggies are done, scoot them over to the side, making a space on the bottom of your wok/skillet. Crack in 2 eggs, scramble, and cook until done.
6. Once eggs are done, mix eggs and veggies together, add chicken and cooked white rice. Stir.
7. In a liquid measuring cup, add soy sauce until just under the 1/3 cup line. Add in teriyaki sauce until just over 1/3 cup line. Add a pinch of ground powdered ginger and stir together.
8. Add sauce to rest of ingredients in wok/skillet and stir until all combined.

Enjoy!

This is my favorite potato soup recipe — one my mom used to make all the time when I was a kid. It has an excellent buttery, creamy flavor, lots of big potato chunks, and the consistency is nice — not as thick and gravy-like as some other recipes I’ve tried. It is really easy to make and it is really great leftover!

Creamy Potato Soup

ingredients:

-6-8 large potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold, but any kind will work)
-1 onion
-water
-1 stick of butter
-1 small can of evaporated milk
-salt & pepper to taste

directions:

1. Cut up potatoes into small chunks and place in large saucepan/soup pot.
2. Cut up onion and add to pot with potatoes.
3. Fill pot with water until water line is an inch or so above potatoes/onion.
4. Cut half a stick of butter into chunks and place in pot. Add salt and pepper.
5. Place the lid on the pot and cook on the stove until potatoes are tender.
6. Add other half a stick of butter and small can of evaporated milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve with grated cheddar cheese (and bacon), if you wish!

Enjoy!

P.S. If you would like your soup to be a little thicker and have smaller bits of potato, you can take a potato masher and mash down into the soup a couple times, breaking down some of the potatoes to thicken the broth. Just be careful that you don’t turn the soup into mashed potatoes!

My husband’s mom and dad have been in New Orleans visiting us for the past week. We’ve been busy doing all kinds of things around the city and traveling to other places close-by (we took a day trip to Grand Isle and spent the 4th of July on the beach in Gulf Shores). Today was my mother-in-law’s birthday and also their last day here before they head home in the morning, so Drew and I decided that we would make them dinner and bake his mom a birthday cake.

I actually had never baked a cake from scratch before. I’ve always wanted to, but just never really had the chance. I’m not a huge cake baker (I’m more of a cookie and other dessert person– cake isn’t my dessert of choice). It is usually just Drew and I here, so baking an entire cake on any normal day would mean that the two of us have an entire cake to eat. I don’t like wasting food, so I usually stick to baking cookies, that way we can only cook how many we will eat then, and then freeze the rest to bake later. (I have helped my mom bake many cakes before though!)

So, I did some searching online to find the best cake recipe that sounded like something Susie would like. As soon as I stumbled across this cake with “praline” in the title, I knew I had found the right one. How perfect to make a chocolate praline cake for her birthday being celebrated in New Orleans?! (Which is famous for its pralines, in case you didn’t know.)

This cake turned out amazing. It was delicious! So very rich and the praline topping was fantastic! Susie said it tasted like a candy bar! I will definitely be making this cake again. New birthday cake tradition, perhaps?

Chocolate Praline Cake

original recipe from here.

ingredients:

1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 can (14 ounces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Chopped Pecans
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa
2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 cup hot Water
1/2 cup Fudge Topping
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, melted
Chocolate Icing

Directions:

To make the cake:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans and fit a circle of parchment paper large enough to cover 1 inch up the side of each cake pan.
2. Heat the butter, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
3. Divide the sugar mixture between the prepared pans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup pecans over sugar mixture and set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, combine together the flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. In a smaller bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and hot water.
6. Mix wet ingredients into dry with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
7. Pour the batter into the cake pans — over sugar mixture — and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake center comes out clean — 35 to 40 minutes.
8. Cool cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn cakes out onto a cooling rack. Remove the paper and cool completely.

To assemble the cake:
1. Place bottom cake layer on plate or cake stand with the praline sugar mixture side facing up.
2. Spread the fudge topping over the praline sugar mixture side of bottom cake layer.
3. Place the second layer over the first and drizzle the top with the melted chocolate and the remaining 1/4 cup pecans.
4. Frost the cake sides with your favorite chocolate icing.

Enjoy!

P.S. — The chocolate cake this recipe makes is really excellent. I’ll definitely be using this recipe as my go-to chocolate cake recipe for when I’m making just a plain chocolate cake as well! :)

When I was 14, I moved to St. Louis, MO for the summer to live with my older sister and be a nanny to my baby niece, Evie. Often on Saturday mornings, we would get up and go walk around and get fresh produce from the Soulard farmers market. I have many fond memories of that summer, farmers market included.

Just a couple weekends ago, Drew and I tried out the Saturday farmers market in New Orleans. I had wanted to go for a while, we just hadn’t because it is downtown, not close to our house, and only open for a couple hours on Saturday morning. Saturday morning is Drew’s day to sleep in and then get fresh croissants from the Patisserie upon waking at 2 in the afternoon. ;) It was much smaller than I expected (not anything like I remember from St. Louis), but it was definitely worth waking up earlier for.

We ended up with a bouquet of fresh cut zinnias, creole tomatoes, fresh peaches, blueberries and several pots of fresh herbs to plant in our windowbox. Everything we bought was delicious. It so makes me miss living in the country and having a garden! For the city, it’s the next best thing.

With all the fresh blueberries we have, I’ve made blueberry walnut muffins with fresh lemon zest several times the last two weeks! So delicious! This muffin recipe is really great. My mom always uses this recipe too and it can easily be adapted for whatever kind of muffins you want to make.

blueberry walnut muffins with fresh lemon zest (or whatever kind you want to make)

ingredients:

-1 3/4 cup flour
-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup oil
-1 beaten egg

for blueberry/walnut/lemon:
-3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I like nuts, so I usually use closer to 1 cup)
-fresh zest from 1 lemon (or less, according to taste)

for banana/nut:
-reduce milk above to 1/2 cup
-3/4 cup mashed bananas
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (again I use more like 1 cup)

for cinnamon/peach:
-3/4 cup diced peaches
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)

directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups.
2. Mix dry ingredients together.
3. Mix wet ingredients together in separate bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients into dry and add in fruit/nut mix-ins. Stir just until moistened. Batter should be lumpy.
**Important–do not overmix your muffin dough or your muffins won’t be as fluffy and will have a tougher texture.
5. Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Enjoy!

P.S. Don’t those peaches look fabulous in that yellow bowl? I love that bright sunny pop of yellow in the kitchen! That bowl, along with the rest of its set in different colors, was a wedding gift from my friend, Jessica. Love them! :)

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