Monthly Archives: November 2012

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin. It’s not just for pie anymore. Or November for that matter!

waffle header

(Yes. Yes I did have two waffles. And bacon as a matter of fact. Who’s asking?)

dry with measures

To be festive, I made these on Thanksgiving morning but I wont be holding them hostage to the holiday season. Oh no, these babies are going to be year round.


I think there are two kinds of people in this word: waffle people and pancake people.

wet and dry

Whenever I used to frequent the Waffle House in my younger days a waffle was always a part of  the smorgasbord  that they laid out in front of me.

waffle maker

Don’t get me wrong, I like pancakes but I am definitely on TEAM WAFFLE! The way the iron pressed craters hold onto the syrup gets me every time.

waffle in iron

Enough with the mushy waffle loving.

waffle with sugar

Adding powdered sugar and real maple syrup are the last hurdles between me and that waffle.




1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pinch salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon  white sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 2/3 cups milk

4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions and directions:

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well. Gently fold pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Mix together but do no over mix.

Cook according to your waffle iron directions.

I make these in my round waffle iron on medium and it uses about 1/3 cup batter per waffle.


Germantown Cafe-Review

An amateur food blogger I know had a birthday recently. She chose to go to Germantown Cafe for a night off for dinner, which is becoming sort of a birthday trend for her.

Shout out to Scorpio’s everywhere!


Located on the edge of the Germantown neighborhood in north Nashville,  the restaurant has a great relaxed vibe and I feel right at home when I go there. The menus and the floor are made of cork and they always have fresh flowers.

A second shoutout  (two in one post!) to Andrew. One of the informative and accommodating members of the Germantown staff.

I’m going to step out on a blog limb and call it a Nashville staple. There, I said it.

(Please excuse the quality of pictures-the lighting sets the mood and after all I am taking pictures with a phone!)

They have a standard menu that changes up a little from day to day, but there are many menu items that you can count on time after time.

Word on the street is that they will be adding new menu items after Thanksgiving as well as a happy hour menu.



My favorite appetizer is the escargot and my favorite entree is the Coconut Curry Salmon.


(Southwest Strudel)

They also have a fun strudel, think phyllo dough  filled with ________ and shaped like an egg roll  The strudel filling changes from day to day.

crab cakes

(Crab cakes)

The pasta also changes daily (my favorite is mushroom cream with linguine) and they also have a special or two.


(House Salad)

Each entree comes with a house salad. Their blue cheese vinaigrette is tangy and delicious.



If you haven’t been there you should try it. I am not going to pretend that it is the trendiest or most experimental restaurant that I have ever been to but it is romantic, has a fabulous view and they serve consistently great food.  Consistency is an award winner in my book.

They also serve a fantastic brunch! At dinner they serve the fluffiest melt in your mouth rolls and I can never eat less than two. At brunch though….they roll them in cinnamon and sugar and serve them with strawberry butter. To die for.

Go for dinner, go for brunch-Just go!

8 apples for you Germantown!

Make Your Own Calzone and Marinara

Don’t take it! Make it!

We are pizza lovers at our house but some times we like to mix it up. Most of the pizzas we make don’t have a red sauce they have things like BBQ Sauce or Buffalo Sauce or no sauce at all.  I don’t put marinara inside the calzone but rather on the side for dipping.

mushroomsYou could choose any of your favorite pizza toppings to stuff inside.

toppings up close

We chose fresh grated mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms and salami.

Use a homemade pizza dough or get your favorite dough from the grocery.

calzone rolled up

The extra dough around the edges that you roll up and pinch is yummy too.

Back in college we ordered calzones all the time from a place called Imans. The calzones were greasy and packed full of your choice of toppings and were sure to cure any self inflicted ailments as a result of the night before.

While I am not sure these calzones have any magical powers they were very good. They weren’t at all greasy either like the old cure all from back in the day. I only ate half of mine and saved the rest for lunch the next day.


I made my own marinara but you could certainly buy store bought if that makes it easier for you.

calzone on rack

(If possible, place a cooling rack (or a small rack from an appliance like a toaster oven) on top of an cookie sheet for the last 5 minutes of baking. This helps the heat to get under the calzone so that if you have any excess water from veggies or cheese, your calzone won’t be soggy. )

calzone whole

The outside turned out salty and crispy.

inside cheesy

While the indside was warm and melty.

calzone header

Instead of grabbing one from your local takeout make this instead!


makes 2 large calzones

to make calzones: 


1 pound pizza dough (tip: set pizza dough out 1-2 hours before using for best results)

6 slices genoa salami

4 ounces fresh mushrooms

4 ounces grated fresh mozzerlla

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

6 twists freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 375.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and saute mushrooms until most of their water has evaporated. About 7 minutes. Set aside.

Roll up salami slices together and slice 4 sections to make ribbons.

Onto a lightly floured surface, cut pizza dough in half and roll out into two large circles. Layer 1/4 of cheese on one end of each circle of dough. Next, layer salami on top of cheese, then 1/2 of sauteed mushrooms on top of each. Top mushrooms with remaining cheese. Then sprinkle half of oregano onto each. (This part seems confusing so here is the picture again 🙂 )

calzone rolled out

Fold the dough in half, covering the toppings to make a semi circle. Crimp the dough to seal it off and keep all the toppings tucked safely inside.

Bake for 15 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.

While calzones are baking, make marinara.

to make marinara: 


1-16 ounce can tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

10 grinds fresh pepper or 1 tsp pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Instructions and directions: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Let simmer 10-15 minutes.

Remove calzones from oven and place calzones on a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. Sprinkle calzones with parmesan and a few twists each of pepper. Bake for 5 additional minutes. Broil for one minute if desired to get crunchy on top.

Serve with a side of marinara.

Thanksgiving Weekend and Mac & Cheese Recipe

I hope that if you had a long weekend you enjoyed it thoroughly.


Pumpkin waffles got Thursday off to a great start. Recipe to post soon.

For the festivities that afternoon, I made Mac and Cheese-see recipe below.

Here are some pictures of our Thanksgiving Dinner. Since no one was hell bent on the usual, we had traditional mixed with non traditional.


We had lamb chops instead of ham or turkey.


Salad. Random and delicious.




Celery stuffed with whipped onion cream cheese. Strange family tradition.


Dressing. Super traditional.

thanks plate

We also had cranberry sauce and homemade rolls. Yum.

sticky buns

Leftover dough from my mother’s homemade rolls produced these. They might have been my favorite thing from the whole weekend. She could sell these. They are that good.

The rest of the weekend consisted of breaking out the holiday decor.


The holiday aprons made an appearance.  Yes, I wear aprons.


Testing lights and fluffing trees.


Ornaments everywhere! We are total colored-lights-on-the-tree kind of people. White lights outdoors. How about you?


Self portrait.

I am not too sentimental but my favorite time of year is here and I adore it.

This is not my favorite mac and cheese recipe but it is everyone else’s favorite. I don’t argue with the masses.

mac after corner

It isn’t complicated so put it in your arsenal.

mac noodle

You start out with the elbow mac. I like Barilla because the noodles are textured. I feel like it makes it cling to the cheese. It is probably just my imagination.

mac milk

You shake the flour with the milk and spices to help thicken things up.

mac boil

While the mac is boiling you can grate the cheese.

mac breadcrumbs

The breadcrumbs give the mac a nice crust.

mac before

2 tablespoons of divided butter helps everything melt together without being oily.

mac after up close



2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles

2 cups milk (i used 1%)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

10 grinds of fresh pepper

12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese (1 1/2 blocks) grated (will be about 3 cups after grated)

1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles according to package directions- al dente.  Drain and set aside

Place milk, flour, garlic powder, pepper and salt in a “shakable”  jar. Shake for 1 minute.

Stir together flour mixture, 2 cups cheese, and noodles.

Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese, breadcrumbs and 8 pats of butter.

Bake  for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Loaded Potato Soup but Lighter!

Since it is getting dark so early now and consequently colder, I have really been in the mood for soups and stews. I like to have a big pot of something on the stove as often as possible.

soup up shot

I have always been a fan of potato soup but not a fan of the butter and cream it took to make it. This is a lighter version of the old classic, made with 1% milk.

Raw potato

potatoes on sheet

I use roasted potatoes,  which is different but I think they have more flavor than boiled potatoes.

soup mason jar

The flour being shaken with the milk and then being boiled helps thicken the soup.

soup up close

Cheese, bacon and green onions help keep the soup tasting indulgent.



4  medium (1 pound)  red potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 teaspoons

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 1/4 cups  lower-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups 1% milk, divided

1/4 cup  sour cream

1 teaspoon salt, divided

20 twists freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire

1/4 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce

4 bacon slices, cooked

2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)

2 thinly sliced green onions

Instructions and Directions: 

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut potatoes in 1/2 inch cubes. (I left the skin on) In a bowl toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 10 twists of pepper. On a parchment lined baking sheet, cook for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven and mash cooked potatoes with potato masher.

When potatoes are halfway done cooking, heat the two teaspoons of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add broth, Worcestershire, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 10 twists of pepper . Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk and shake in a mason jar,  add to pan with remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil and stir constantly. Cook 1 minute. Soup will have thickened. Stir in potato mash. Remove from heat and mix in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir potatoes into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and crumbled bacon. Add more hot sauce, if you like!

Adapted from Cooking Light

House Made Steak Fajita Marinade

fajita rolled

Let’s hear it once again for Mexican food!

We visited one of our favorite Mexican restaurants just last week and by Monday I was already in the mood for an at home Fiesta!  So I curved my craving with Steak Fajitas! I have been making these delicious carne asada filled tortillas since long ago, when I got the recipe, from a really sweet lady.

fajita meat

(There is no way to make this look pretty)

This marinade is so much less salty and more flavorful than the powder in the packet and you probably already have most of the ingredients at home.  I know you hear marinade and think “time” . No worries, it only needs to sit for 30 minutes! While that’s setting up you have time to get everything else ready.

The secret ingredient is orange juice. Weird right? I mean, lime you might expect but orange? Whatever works.

fajita veggies

I use yellow onion and green bell pepper but you could use different colored bells and mushrooms too if your taste buds like those.

fajita pan

I prefer only to dress them up with sour cream and cheese but you could certainly add your favorite toppings too. That’s ANOTHER great thing about Mexican food: rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pico, guacamole, avacado-this list goes on and on. There are so many ways to change it up!

fajita above

If I liked Tequila and could stomach margaritas I would really be on to something.   I’m going to have to acquire  a taste for them both. (updated in 2018: love margaritas.)

Goals people. We all have them.

fajita footer


Makes 4-6 large fajitas


1/4 cup orange juice (i use the juice of 1 large orange because we don’t drink o.j.,  but you can certainly used bottled)

1/4 cup white vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced ( or 1 tsp garlic powder)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon lawry’s seasoning salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound sirloin steak (my butcher is so nice and shaves the sirloin at the store!)

1 bell pepper, sliced in think strips

1 large or 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

large wheat flour tortillas

shredded cheese

sour cream

toppings of your choice

Instructions and directions: 

In a container with a secure top or a large ziploc bag, combine organge juice, vinegar, garlic, seasoning salt, oregano, cumin powder and cayenne. Stir or shake to coat. Leave in fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and add onion and bell pepper until they have softened to desired tenderness. I cooked mine for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

Drain meat and discard marinade. In the same skillet that you cooked the onion, cook the steak  for 5-6 minutes or until steak is no longer pink.  Return vegetables to the pan and heat through.

Spoon steak and vegetables onto warmed tortilla shells and top with sour cream and cheese. Garnish with pico de gallo and avocado if desired.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel Topping


Do you have plans for tomorrow morning? No? Oh good, then you can make these muffins!


Get out the beaters!

all the bowls

Assemble: filling, dry ingredients, wet ingredients and topping.

unbaked layers

Layer in muffin tins.

unbaked with struesel

Top with streusel. Bake and wait impatiently 🙂


makes 24 muffins


8 ounces cream cheese

3 eggs, divided

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups flour, divided

1/4 cups pecans, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 can pumpkin

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions and directions: 

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat two 12-cup standard muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix the cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup flour, pecans, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the remaining sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining cinnamon in a large bowl.

Lightly beat the remaining eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, pour the pumpkin mixture into the well, and mix with a fork just until moistened.

Evenly divide half of the batter among the muffin cups.

Place two teaspoonfuls of cream cheese filling in the center of each cup and fill with the remaining batter.

Sprinkle some of the pecan mixture over the top of each muffin.

Bake until golden and a tester, inserted into the muffin center, comes out clean — 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Adapted from Country Living

Thanksgiving Grilled Cheese

thanks header

thanks·giv·ing/ˌTHaNGksˈgiviNG/: a prelude to the Christmas season

Seriously. I love Christmas.

Eating a Thanksgiving meal once is really all I can wrap my mind around. If you are the same way, here is a recipe that will help you use up that extra turkey while adding the new flavors of grilled cheese and bacon. BACON!

Thanks Ingred

 Take all of these guys and get ready to assemble.

Thanks bread

Get your bread buttered!

Thanks topless

Place it in the skillet

Thanks in pan

Get it toasty brown.

thanks finished

It’s just a fancy grilled cheese people. Sure to cure any Thanksgiving over spirited indulgences or a great snack when you return from Black Friday madness.


8 slices farmhouse, ciabatta or white mountain bread

1/2 pound turkey (leftover from the big day or from the deli)

4 slices of fontina or havarti cheese

6 slices of crispy bacon

1/2 cup cranberry dressing

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

freshly grated pepper

sea salt

Instructions and directions: 

Heat a large skillet or grill pan to medium heat.

Meanwhile butter 1 side of each piece of bread and sprinkle a little sea salt on each piece if desired. On a paper towel or cutting board turn 4 pieces of the bread face down so that the buttered side is touching the paper towel. Spread 1/4 of dijon and mayo on each of the 4 pieces of bread. Spread 2 tablespoons of cranberry dressing on top of the dijon/mayo. Layer turkey, then bacon, then cheese and a few twists of pepper. Place open faced sandwich in skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Top with the non buttered side of the 2nd piece of bread so that the butter is facing up. When bread touching pan begins to brown (2-3 minutes) flip and brown the other buttered piece.  At this point you should smush the sandwich for best results.

Spinach Stuffed Shells with Bechamel and Marinara

shells up close 1

Do you ever run across a meal that you love so much and you can’t wait to eat the next day because you know it will just get better in the fridge over night?

Yes,  I am a pasta addict but I am not sure anyone on the earth could hate this meal.

shells line up close

              I should have titled it  “Un-hate-able stuffed pasta” That has a nice ring to it.

There are a several steps to this recipe but none are too complicated and it comes together faster than you would think.

shells cooks corner

If you are feeling antsy about all steps make sure you have everything you need in your corner before you get started.

Shells Raw Pasta

First you just cook the shells according to package instructions.

Shells Spinach Wring out

Your wring out spinach by defrosting and twisting in a kitchen towel.

Shells Stuffing

Create the stuffing. Stuffing the shells is fun too!

shells bechamel

There are two sauces on these shells. One is a quick homemade marinara and one is a creamy bechamel.  Two sauces you ask? Why yes. One for pretty color and the acidity of tomatoes and one for the velvety smooth meltiness that only a cream sauce can give to a pasta.

Shells with Sauce 1

Then you drizzle on the marinara.  As you can see, it makes a lot. Approximately 30 shells.

gage kitchen

Although this guy may have gotten a few of the shells before they were stuffed…..because he waited patiently.  He loves pasta too. He get it from his mama.

Shells with bechamel

Followed by the bechamel.

shells mozzarella

And followed up again by mozzarella cheese.

Bake it and prepare yourselves. This is good stuff.

Shells done in pan


a hungry apple original 

serves 6


12 oz box of jumbo pasta shells

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated (1-8 ounce block for total recipe,  4 for filling and 4 for topping)

parmesan cheese, grated

for marinara sauce:

1-14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

1-8 ounce can tomato sauce

1 cup water with 1 beef bouillon cube (if cooking for a vegetarian, substitute 1 cup vegetable broth)

2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

10 grinds fresh pepper or 1 tsp pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

for shell stuffing:

2 lb container ricotta cheese (i used part skim but you could use whole if you like)

4 more ounces mozzarella cheese, grated

1-10 ounce frozen package of spinach, thawed and wrung of excess water

1 egg

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

10 grinds fresh pepper

for bechamel: 

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Freshly ground black pepper

generous grating  of nutmeg or pinch nutmeg powder

2 cups milk (i used 1%)

Instructions and directions:

Cook pasta shells al dente in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile combine all marinara ingredients into a medium saucepan and let simmer on low.

In a large bowl, combine stuffing ingredients.

In a large casserole dish (9×13) or two small (8×8) sprayed with cooking spray, make a thin layer coating the bottom of the dish with marinara sauce. Stuff each shell with approximately 2-3 heaping tablespoons of filling and line in dish or dishes. When all shells are stuffed and lined, top with remaining marinara.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter for bechamel. When butter is melted whisk in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add in milk and whisk constantly until smooth. Add pepper (about 5 grinds) and nutmeg. Whisk for 5 minutes until sauce has thickened.

Pour sauce over shells and marinara sauce.  Top with remaining 4 ounces mozzarella.

Bake on 350 for 25 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.

Curry Chicken

curry chicken all

If you’ve never tried Thai  food before then this is a great recipe to start with.

curry chicken alone

It has great groupings of fantastic ingredients without having overpowering flavors that you aren’t used to.

Curry Chicken

(this is how i pound out chicken-cutting board, plastic wrap, 1 cup measuring spoon)

I don’t know about you but when I am trying a new type of food for the first time, the menu at the restaurant can be pretty intimidating.

Curry Sauce

This recipe involves making a sauce in a blender so it isn’t intimidating at all.

Curry chicken pan

One of my favorite things about food is how everyday flavors that we think nothing about can come together to be extraordinary.  To me, Thai and Indian food are probably some of the most representative types of food for these wonderful combinations.

Curry Veg

I served it with roasted squash and zucchini, because they are so savory (just thinly slice 2 squash and 2 zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on parchment lined baking sheet for 25-30 minutes. I like mine a little crunchy on the edges).

curry sauce pan

Naan bread made sure I had something to sop up this wonderful sauce.

curry ready to eat

*The recipe calls for peanut butter but since I lose the ability to swallow my own saliva and because my breathing becomes labored when I consume peanuts, I decided to use almond butter.


4 chicken breast cutlets (or two chicken breasts filleted in half)

2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of smooth almond butter (use peanut if you like-but don’t invite me*)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon red Thai curry paste-I used A Taste of Thai brand

1 teaspoon Siracha (if you like some extra spice)

3 tablespoons chicken broth

fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened lite coconut milk

4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

(For rice you will need 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup brown jasmine rice)

(For veggies you will need 2 squash, 2 zucchini, olive oil, salt and pepper)

Instructions and directions: 

Pound out chicken to get all pieces to the same thickness.

Mince the ginger and garlic.  In food processor combine ginger, garlic, almond butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, curry paste, siracha, and chicken stock.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Season chicken with salt and fresh black pepper, then add chicken to pan and saute over medium heat about until chicken breasts are nicely browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes on first side  and 2-3 minutes on second side.

Set chicken aside onto a plate and cover with foil. Reduce heat to low and add 1 cup coconut milk.  Scrape off browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then stir in  paste mixture and heat through, about 2-3 minutes.

Add chicken and any juices that have accumulated on the plate and cook another minute or two.

For rice: cook brown Jasmine rice (or rice of your choice) in chicken broth according to package directions.

Serve chicken over rice and top with cilantro.