Brown Sugar Acorn Squash

I love all kinds of squash but this lately has become a favorite. Great side dish to any meal. In my opinion, it could be a a dessert. Yes, it’s that good. This would replace sweet potatoes on my table every time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the acorn squash. Carefully cut the squash in half. Use a sharp chefs knife to cut your squash. Easiest way is to the squash in the indentation line. Scoop out seeds and place in a casserole dish.

Ingredients:

Acorn squash

1 Tablespoon butter for each squash cavity

Brown sugar* enough to fill and pack squash cavity

Put butter in squash cavity. Pack with brown sugar. Bake for one hour. Let rest a few minutes before handling. Eat and enjoy!

You can place the squash next to each other for stability.

*I did use brown sugar Splenda once and it was also delicious.

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Sautéed Green Beans With Mushrooms

Green beans are my favorite vegetable. They always have been. This side dish is easy, comes together quickly and is a great side dish to any meal. The flavor is incredible and low carb friendly.

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed

1 pound of sliced mushrooms

2 shallots, grated*

4 pieces of bacon

6 Tablespoons butter, divided

8 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon in a sauté pan. Remove bacon and set aside. Melt 4 Tablespoons butter in bacon grease. Add mushrooms and shallots. Sauté until tender. In a dutch oven, place green beans and boil until done. If you prefer your green beans al dente with a slight crunch, boil 4 minutes and drain and return to Dutch oven. If you prefer your beans more tender, boil a few minutes more. Add mushrooms, bacon and shallots and all of the butter and bacon grease in the pan. Add in Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce, last 2 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on low for fifteen minutes. Discard bacon if desired and serve immediately. Enjoy!

*I used a microplane to grate the shallots but a box grater will work just fine.

Copycat Chicken Salad Chick Grape Salad

To be perfectly honest, I have never heard of or tried grape salad until recently. I thought perhaps it might be a Southern recipe but as I was doing my research, come to find out it originated in Minnesota. When it comes to copycat recipes, my recipe may not be the exact recipe or ingredients but the taste is the same. I first tried this grape salad at a new restaurant near me, Chicken Salad Chick. The restaurant is not new, just the location near me is new. So far the chains are only located in the South. I love this grape salad. I am hooked. Now you can make this salad at home even if you do not have a Chicken Salad Chick near you.

Ingredients:

8 oz softened cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

⅓ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 pounds (10 cups) seedless grapes (red and green all sizes are fine, I used both red and green like the restaurant)

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, or more if desired

Lightly cover top with brown sugar

Whip the cream cheese until fluffy. Add sour cream, brown sugar and vanilla combine together. In a large bowl place 10 cups of red and green grapes. Stir in cream cheese mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, add the toppings. The chick tops with brown sugar only if you need to be nut free. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy!

Other options:

Fat free or reduced fat sour cream and cream cheese can be used. I personally would use full fat but that’s me.

I did use Splenda Brown Sugar instead of regular brown sugar. I could not tell the difference.

Confetti Macaroni Salad

I call this confetti because there is yellow, green, red and orange ingredients in the salad. The dressing is unique because it’s one part mayonnaise and one part sour cream. Please feel free to add hard boiled eggs and/or olives to this salad if that is your preference. This will brighten up your summer BBQ’s and family gatherings.

Ingredients:

16 Oz elbow macaroni

4 ounces chopped pimentos, drained

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 3/4 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise**

1 1/2 cups sour cream**

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook macaroni to package directions. Remember to make your pasta water salty like the sea. Drain cooked pasta and cool it off with cold water. Add pimentos, yellow pepper, celery, onion and grated cheese. Stir to combine all ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise and sour cream together. Season dressing (mayonnaise and sour cream) with salt and pepper.

** Everyone likes a different amount of dressing on salads. If you feel like this is not enough, it’s one part mayonnaise and one part sour cream.

Southern Macaroni and Cheese

My Dad found a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese in Southern Living Magazine. He asked me if I would make it for him. This is very creamy and cheesy, just the way I love macaroni and cheese. I realized at the grocery store I was going to have to modify this recipe because they did not have the tools and equipment to make it just like the original recipe. For example, no way to grate cheese and my grocery store did not sell a grater. So here is my version, a modified version.

Ingredients:

1 box (16 ounces) large elbow macaroni remember to make your water salty like the sea

6 Tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup of grated sweet onion

2 teaspoons of dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or more for heat

6 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour

3 1/2 cups whole milk

1 3/4 heavy cream

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, divided

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, divided

Preheat heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pasta al dente according to directions on the box. Spray 13 x 9 pan with nonstick spray.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and flour. Cook 2 minutes until golden. Slowly whisk in milk and cream. Bring to a boil and whisk occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and whisk occasionally until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire Sauce. Add 1 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir until melted. Add in pasta and combine. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover the top with remaining cheeses. Place baking rack about 6 inches away from broiler. Put macaroni and cheese under broiler for about 2 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit about 10 minutes after it’s removed from the broiler. Yields 10 generous servings. I paired my macaroni and cheese with a Caesar Salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Southern Living Magazine.

Peachy Caprese Salad


I love Caprese Salad and I never thought I could improve on the original recipe of fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. I think I just did. Sweet Georgia peaches is a new twist on an old classic. 


Ingredients:

Fresh Peaches

Fresh Basil Leaves

Fresh sliced mozzarella 

Balsamic glaze (can be found at the grocery store where vinegar is sold)

Slice peaches in medium to thick slices. Alternate peach slices, mozzarella and basil. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the salad and dig in. I could eat this everyday. 

Mom’s Orange Jello Salad

I grew up eating this jello salad as a child in the late 1960’s.  My Mom made this salad a lot. This is definitely a 60’s retro recipe.  Back in the day, meals, especially holiday meals had jello salads on the table.  I usually do not like fruit in jello but since it’s crushed pineapple and mandarin oranges, I do make the exception here. You will find this orange jello salad tangy, light and refreshing. Enjoy this blast from the past.


Ingredients:
1 box of orange jello (6 ounces), you can substitute sugar free if you wish just use 6 ounces of dry jello

6 ounces of frozen orange juice concentrate, I could not find a 6 ounce can, they were all 12 ounces so, measure out 3/4 cup.  Make juice with the leftovers or put back into the freezer for the next jello salad

1 can of crushed pineapple (20 ounces), do not drain

2 cans of mandarin oranges (15 ounces), drained

Whip cream, optional
Pour dry jello in a 13 x 9 pan. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. I used a Pyrex measuring cup and microwaved it for about 3 minutes. Pour boiling water in jello pan and whisk until dissolved. Add your frozen orange juice concentrate.  I cut it up so it would dissolve faster. Next mix in your crushed pineapple, whisking to blend and lastly add the mandarin oranges.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. This makes a great addition to any family meal as a side dish or even as a light dessert.