Sunday, December 14, 2014

Favorite Family Desserts, for Christmas and Other Occasions

Welcome!

Most of the year, Greg and I stick to a pretty healthy diet, but on special occasions such as Christmas Day, we indulge in desserts and other sweets.  It's just part of our tradition, as it is for most people around the holidays.

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
-Jim Davis


This year, we'll celebrate Christmas at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  So far, we've just been asked to bring dessert, so I've been trying to come up with something that would be easy to carry a long distance, and would also be easy to make.  (I love those five and six-ingredient cookbooks!   I'm always so busy, that those are usually all I have time to make, plus, I'm not a very patient person when it comes to cooking!)

One thing to fix that came to mind was the really delicious "Mississippi Mud Brownies" that Greg's cousin's wife, Peggy, had at a recent get-together.  I didn't get the recipe from her, but I looked for it online.  My favorite one that I found is using Duncan Hines brownie mix because it's faster than from scratch, and both Mama and I have always liked the quality of the Duncan Hines products.

Of course, I could take carrot cake for the Christmas meal, because another sister-in-law who really likes my carrot cake, requested that I bring it to another upcoming family gathering sometime in the winter next year.  It was a recipe that calls for cream cheese icing.  I got the recipe when I was a teenager from my Aunt Frances who was a home economics teacher.

"Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."
-Erma Bombeck

My grandmother, Mema, (my father's mother) was a really good cook.  I most fondly remember her shortbread sugar cookies that she'd put in her cookie jar which was always overflowing with cookies, especially for us grandchildren.  I don't have her recipe for these, but I suspect that most of the recipe came for her creative imagination.  (She was a talented artist, as well.)  (My mother also credits her for teaching her how to cook.)

"Cookies are made of butter and love."
-Norwegian Proverb


A Real Treasure at Our House, Mema's Cookie Jar

A favorite dessert of our family, for any time of the year, is one of Mama's recipes that is featured in the "Tennessee Cook Book" which I mentioned on an earlier blog post.  (See the 11/9/14 blog post.)  It's a yummy peach cobbler.

I recently had a request for another of Mama's recipes, so here it is:

Peach Cobbler

3 cups sliced peaches
1 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. butter
Dough for pie crust
Cream
Sugar (to sprinkle)

   In a bowl, combine peaches, applesauce, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice; layer in the bottom of a 10 x 8 glass baking dish.  Dot butter over the top.  Roll pie crust dough out to size of baking dish and arrange over top of peach mixture.  Brush the top of the crust with a small amount of  cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.

Enjoy!

For those of you who are on special diets, of course, you can adjust the above recipe or any recipes I mentioned on this post according to your needs.  The Internet is full of recipes for any needs, and you can get cookbooks like the one I have, "Sweet and Sugarfree" by Karen Barkie (if it's still in print) that's "An All-Natural, Fruit-Sweetened Dessert Cookbook."

I'm still pondering what dessert to take for the Christmas Day celebration, but for now I'm enjoying looking through cookbooks, newspaper clippings, and hand-written recipes while trying to make my decision, because so many of these recipes from years past bring back some very fond memories.

For more pictures of food and other things, as well, check out our iStock photos:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought: "Sugar and spice make Christmas nice."-wrapcandy.com
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky







Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Pre-Christmas Celebration

Welcome!

Just yesterday, Greg and I met some of our family in Nashville for a wonderful pre-Christmas celebration.  We had lunch at the four-star Capitol Grille at The Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.


Downtown Nashville

This exquisite hotel was all dressed up in its Christmas finery.  It was, in fact, awe-inspiring.  It made me want to run home and decorate, but it would be hard to come up to the splendor of this place.



After dining on a delicious lunch and soaking up the opulent atmosphere of the hotel, we went on to another superlative experience, the annual Nashville Ballet's performance of "Nashville's Nutcracker" to see our little niece who was talented enough to be one of the dancers with this stellar dance company.  The lovely, familiar "Nutcracker" music was provided by no less than the Nashville Symphony.


The Nutcracker


Our Little Niece, After Her Performance with the Nashville Ballet

I'm about to run out of superlatives to describe this fantastic day.

I guess I'll just end this post with the words of someone else:

"Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall,
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas."
-William Robert Spencer

Here are our photographs on iStock:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought:  Happy pre-Christmas preparations and celebrations!
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Next Blog Post, Next Sunday

Welcome!

This is such a busy time for everybody (and I'm no exception).  I just wanted you to know that due to a large jewelry/magnet/paper weight Appalachian Mountain coal order, I'm going to be busier than usual the next few days, so I need to postpone my usual Sunday blog post until next Sunday.



My Coal Display in a Shop

In the meantime, have a great week, and we'll connect again next Sunday. In the meantime, check out some of my past posts that you think might interest you.

Also, here are our latest photos on iStock:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Thanks for visiting!  Becky

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Being Thankful

Welcome!


"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice."
-Meister Eckhart

The holidays are the perfect time to evaluate things, and to be thankful for all of the many blessings in our lives.

In addition to my daily "thankful journal," I try to make a list around Thanksgiving of all of the things for which I am thankful, for the year thus far.  By doing this, it's truly amazing to see what wonderful lives we really have without consciously realizing it.

On my list, which I'm just starting, is that I'm so thankful for my loved ones, my blog post readers...and the list will go on and on!

For what are you thankful this holiday season?

Helpful (thankful) hint: Rhonda Byrne has the right idea in her powerful, life-changing book "The Magic" which is all about the "power of gratitude."

Thanksgiving poem:

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
-Grandpa Jones

May you have a blessed and very happy Thanksgiving!

Please check out our latest iStock photos:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought: The attitude of gratitude attracts even more to be grateful about!
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Circa Grill in Thompson's Station

Welcome!


A couple we know told us about a wonderful little gem of a restaurant (in the small town of Thompson's Station, Tennessee, with a population of around 2,600), Circa Grill.  Although it's not the type of restaurant we typically visit (We usually go for down home Southern country cooking, nothing fancy.), we were pleasantly surprised.

Circa Grill is an American Modern restaurant with Cajun/Creole food.  Although it's upscale, it's also cozy and casual at the same time.  The rural setting makes it even more unique.

During the warmer months, you can dine outside on the front porch.


However, since the temperature was around 45-degrees, we decided that indoors was a much better option!

We still had a good view of the scenery across the street which even included a caboose and pretty farmland.


The decor is stylish and vintage-



There is even a bar for those so inclined-


The food is Southern, gourmet, and delicious!

"...So many times we settle for routine dishes...try new cuisines."
Mario Batali

Greg thoroughly enjoyed the "BBQ Cheddar Burger" with "hand cut fries," because this menu selection encompassed all three of his favorite foods which are barbecue, cheeseburgers, and potatoes!


I decided to be a good little girl and eat salad, so I opted for the "Curried Pecan & Pear Salad" (not pictured) which I thought was beyond gourmet!

Our compliments to the chef, Lance Holcomb!

Our server Jo was was helpful and personable.

We were really impressed with our visit, and look forward to their Sunday brunch sometime.  We heard their biscuits were especially tasty!

F.Y.I.
Circa Grill
1549 Thompson's Station Road West,
Thompson's Station, TN 37179
615-614-2079
www.circagrill.com

Check out our latest photos on iStock:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought: "...You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes."-Amy Tan
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Original Southern Appalachian Mountain Recipes and a Tennessee Cookbook

Since the holidays are fast upon us, we naturally are reminded about all of the delicious food of the season.


I  started thinking about the wonderful dishes my mother used to prepare for us when I was growing up.  Mama was a very creative cook; she made up several of her recipes which, thankfully, she passed on to me right before I got married.  Greg and I have really appreciated and enjoyed them throughout the years.


"Kissin' don't last, cookin' do."
-As seen on kitchen plaques, etc.

In fact, several years ago, I saw an ad that was asking for original recipes to put in a Tennessee cookbook when I immediately thought of Mama's tasty gems.  I selected a few, sent them in, and they were accepted.  They are a part of the "Tennessee Cook Book," published by "Golden West Publishers."  You can still buy it on www.barnesandnoble.com for under $9.00, plus shipping when you type in "Tennessee Cook Book," "Golden West Publishers" on the Barnes & Noble web site.  I have given several of these as gifts for birthdays, weddings, and Christmas.

Three of Mama's recipes are in this cookbook, listed under "Becky Arnott" in the index.  Also included are Dolly Parton's "Dollywood's Fried Green Tomatoes" and a recipe for using Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey called "Tipsy Sweet Potatoes."

I thought that on this blog post, I'd share a couple of Mama's simple, original recipes (her version of old-time favorites) that are not in the cookbook.

Here they are:

"Baked Whole Apples"*
(Can be used as a dessert)

1+ baking apples                                      Nutmeg
Brown sugar                                             Butter
A little lemon juice

   Wash and core apples.  Add brown sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, and butter to taste.  Bake one hour at 375 degrees in a metal pan or at 350 degrees in a Pyrex dish.  (Add a little water in the bottom of your pan before baking to keep you apples moist.)

"Potato Cakes"*
(This is a great recipe using leftover mashed potatoes.)

1 egg                                                           Milk (op.)
2 dashes salt                                               White flour (op.)
Mashed potatoes                                        2-3 tablespoons cooking oil    
Chopped onion (op.)                                 (Add more oil, as needed.)

  Add egg and salt to mashed potatoes.  Some onion may also be added.  (A little milk may be added if the mixture is too stiff, or some flour may be added if it is not stiff enough.)  Put 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil in a skillet and heat on medium to medium high until oil sizzles when a drop of batter is placed into the skillet (Be careful not to get burned!).  Place 1-3 tablespoons of the mixture into the skillet and fry in the oil until brown on both sides.  (Warning: Watch carefully that the cakes do not burn!  Adjust heat, as needed.)  As you know, practice makes perfect.

(*Disclaimer: I hope these turn out great for you, but I'm not responsible for any harm that may come from using these recipes.)

(I'm trying to use all organic/non GMO ingredients in anything I prepare now.) 

Enjoy!

Here are our latest photos on iStock:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought: "Happiness is a lovely meal, lovingly prepared."-Becky Arnott
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky


Sunday, November 2, 2014

From Negative to Positive

Welcome!


At the risk of sounding negative (on this positive blog post and blog!), I guess you've noticed that there's a lot of negativity in the world, but that doesn't mean it has to be part of your reality!  No matter where you are, you can live a positive life.

My life has not always been so positive.  It's something I've had to cultivate, to try to find the positive in any situation.  I've lived a somewhat unconventional life, and some people have a hard time accepting that, because they want you to conform to the norm, to be like everyone else, to live a cookie-cutter-type of life.  However, when you do that, you're not being true to yourself; you're not being who you really are.

"Life is short; break the rules."
-"Inspiring and Positive Quotes"

I'd like to share with you some random ideas that have helped me be more positive, no matter what is going on in my life:

-Every morning, when I wake up, I say positive affirmations, etc. to start my day off right, such as, "I'm looking forward to this being a fabulous day!"
("One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day."-"Inspiring and Positive Quotes")
-Change your negative thoughts into positive ones.  Instead of thinking what could go wrong, think of what could go right!
-Try to quit reading something negative into something that may not be negative.  For example, instead of thinking that someone didn't respond to your phone call because they hate you, you might discover that something was just wrong with their phone!  (That really happened to someone I know.)
-Overcome any negativity by doing something fun.  Take a cue from children who really seem to spontaneously enjoy life.  Halloween night, before giving out treats, I suddenly decided to dress in costume which is something I hadn't done in a while.  My doing that seemed to make Halloween  more fun for the trick-or-treaters and their parents, as well as for me.
-Instead of thinking you have a crummy life, make a list of all the things for which you're thankful.
-Being out in nature helps Greg and me have happier lives.
-Also, although we have a television, we watch only a few shows that are positive, and that means we never watch the news!
-Read positive things in books, periodicals, and on the Internet.  Also, positive videos are great!
-Be around positive people, for people who are negative toward you can only drag you down.
("Strong people don't put others down...They lift them up."-Michael P. Watson)
-Also good: smiling, laughing, singing, meditating, working on a hobby, etc.  The list of fun, positive things to do is endless.  What's on your list?

Hopefully, if your world has been looking like the picture at the beginning of this blog post (Notice that it is not all dark and bleak!), you can change it to a new picture like the one below-


Check out our latest photos on iStock:
http://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/rebecca-arnott#10f6e9a3

Positive thought: "If you can change your mind, you can change your life."-William James
Thanks for visiting!  Until next Sunday, Becky