Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Potluck #146

Happy Friday! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My husband made his annual fried turkey. It turned out beautiful! Are any of y'all heading out to do some Black Friday shopping? I am not a good shopper in crowds at all so I think we'll skip the madness and just catch some Cyber Monday deals. I'm hoping we can catch the new Penguins of Madagascar movie. That's my kind of black Friday!
Hopefully you aren't completely sick of seeing food because we have some really amazing recipes at Weekend Potluck today!! If you aren't in a food mood yet, be sure to pin them for later!

The recipe with the most clicks was...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Side Dishes & Desserts

Hi everyone! It's Holly again from Life In The Lofthouse. Are you all ready for Thanksgiving? I can't believe it's almost here! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I'm one of those crazy people that cannot decorate for Christmas until I've had my turkey dinner with my loved ones. We all have so much to be thankful for, so I really love cherishing this holiday with my family, and being grateful for all that we have. :)
Okay, so enough of the mushy stuff. Let's talk food! There are so many amazing recipes to be made (and eaten!) at Thanksgiving. I think the side dishes and desserts are just as important as the turkey. Below, Brandie and I are sharing our most-loved and favorite side dish recipes and desserts to give you some inspiration and new ideas for this Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekend Potluck #145

We are so excited to announce a new hostess for Weekend Potluck! Mary from Sweet Little Bluebird has joined the Weekend Potluck. Our sweet Tonya from 4 Little Fergusons will be hosting for the last time on December 19th. So I hope you'll go over and tell her thank you for all her years with us and wish her all the best in her new ventures! With our new teammate, we are unveiling a new Weekend Potluck banner!!  What do ya think? All of us at Weekend Potluck would like to wish you a very happy, blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving! 

The recipe with the most clicks was...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Online Cooking School - In Session!

I am so excited to be sharing this with you today! I'm excited because I have personally tried this and I think it is an amazing and affordable way to learn how to cook and bake so many different styles of cooking and recipes. It also is a great way to learn the basics as well as more challenging cooking techniques. It is the Taste of Home Online Cooking School.
Y'all, this would be an awesome gift to yourself or to someone you love who loves to cook or who is learning to cook. It is super affordable and it is so comprehensive. If you are a visual learner (like I am) then this is for you! Plus, I can show you how to try it for a seriously reduced discount just for Country Cook readers (keep reading!)
So, let me show you how much you get with purchasing a class. First, you can stop and start this class and come back to it a million times if you want. Once you purchase a complete class, that includes about 5 to 6 recipes and videos for around the cost of $14.95, it is yours to keep forever and ever. There is even a free course right now if you want to take a peak for Big, Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Each course comes with several recipes. For this example I chose the Comfort Food Classics course to try. It has recipes for Stovetop Mac and Cheese (shown below), Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cake, Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs. The Slow Cooker Favorites class is next on my list!

I took some screen shots of this particular course. The example below is for the Stovetop Mac and Cheese which I ended up trying and we all loved! First of all, they take you through all the ingredients you will need. They are all laid out for you and you can click on those little asterisks to learn a little more about certain ingredients.
Then you are shown all the equipment that you will need to make each particular recipe. Again, this course will go as fast or as slow as you want it to go. You can pause or fast forward to any part of the course that you want.
And, if you want a paper copy of the the recipes, all you have to do is hit that print recipe button on the screen and you'll get a hardcopy of the recipe. If you don't want to print - no problem! You can cook this recipe straight from your tablet or laptop and pause it as you go along. That's why I loved this course. It really caters to all types of learning enjoyment.
Once you get through those pages, it's time to start the video. Again, you could skip all of the above and just head straight to the video if you want. Remember, you can start stop and watch this to your heart's content! The Taste of Home Culinary Specialists will walk you through each recipe, step by step, and explaining not only how to make each recipe but also the different basic cooking techniques. So simple and easy to understand!
Now, for the fun part, your exclusive discount code for being a Country Cook faithful reader. Sign up today for one of these Online Cooking School Courses and you will get $10 off any course of your choosing!! Just enter the code: TENOFF when you sign up (it only takes seconds!) So right now, that would make a course only $4.95. Less than $5 for you to try this out! That is so worth it and I just know that you will get hooked once you give it a try. I know I am!
With courses like Everyday Healthy Cooking, Weeknight Dinners in 30 minutes or Less, Holidays Made Easy (coming soon!), All About Breads and Rolls, Canning & Preserving, Kitchen 101, Ultimate Chilis and Soups, and an Everyday Gluten Free course is also coming soon!, you will find a course that suites your tastes. I think, no matter how experienced a cook you are, we are always learning. And I love that no matter how much I know about cooking and baking, there is always something new out there for me to learn and try.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Don't forget to use your exclusive code: TENOFF

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Taste of Home. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Weekend Potluck #144

The recipe with the most clicks was...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apple Surprise Cake

Who else is gearing up for the holiday season? Man oh man, I just love this time of year. Now that we are finally in a house of our own (and not renting), I am really excited to decorate my house this year. I've always decorated but it just seems special to me that after 17 years of marriage and many military moves, we are finally settled in a home that we own. And I think that's worth decking the halls for! 
I love when my friends stop by when they have some time. This is the time of year you like to have people come on in, sit down, get warm, have some coffee or tea and chat the day away. Now, I'm not always on top of my grocery shopping but I still like to have a little something for my friends to nibble on when they come over. So, this brings me to my point: a well-stocked pantry! 
I'm actually getting a little better at this and figuring out what are good items to always have on hand. With pantry items, you don't have to worry about refrigeration or panicking over too-soon expiration dates. I keep a number of canned goods on hand like soups, pickles, spaghetti sauce and canned vegetables. And there are other staples like rice, pasta and dried beans. Of course, I gotta have my sweet stuff like jams, jellies, canned pie fillings, cake and muffin mixes. 
Let me tell ya, you can do a lot with those little mixes with very little effort. I'm going to show you a super easy recipe that you can whip up without running to the grocery store but will still wow your guests. Just keep some of these Martha White muffin mixes as part of your pantry items and you'll be set! Or heck, just whip up some muffins with them! Warm muffins right out of the oven, mmmm there's nothing like it. Plus, it makes your house smell so amazing and inviting as they bake in the oven. Oh, and right now Martha White has introduced two new flavors, Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice. Oh my gracious, just wait till you start whipping up the batter, it smells SO good! My family can't get enough of them. So let's get to this super simple cake and you'll see what the "surprise" is. Trust me, folks will be drooling when you cut into this!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Weekend Potluck #143

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Monday, November 3, 2014

Easy Apple Crisp

I used to dream that I was an effortless cook and baker. In that dream I always wore an apron, I was organized and had all my ingredients ready and out on the counter before I started to make anything. I had all the appropriate baking utensils and everything came off without a hitch. Yeah, that was the dream I had in my younger days but these days, I've come to terms that I am typically a "fly by the seat of my pants" baker. I'm not that organized before baking and cooking. I usually have all the ingredients and when I don't, I try to figure out something else. I always forget to put on an apron (or remember too late!) and end up with splatters of food on my clothes. There is usually a cat or kid running around in my kitchen begging for food and constantly threatening to trip me up as I do my cooking dance. Flour always ends up on the floor, in every nook and cranny and almost always up my nose. And it seems my food knows this about me because it does it's best to contribute to the fun. Juices and gravy bubble up out of baking dishes and splatter on the bottom of my oven. Bacon splatters as I fry it into delicious crispiness. Sauce bubbles up out of a pot. What can I say? I've been around long enough to learn a whole host of tips and tricks to avoid certain messes or cool little kitchen tools that can be used. I mean, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to those tips and tricks. But like many things on Pinterest, it's me dreaming that I am perfectly together and organized. A girl can dream, right?
But in my real world, messes happen. I cook and bake and have a good time with it. And it's not just me. My whole family is pretty darn good in the mess department too. Don't get me started on the grease that pops all over the place when my husband makes his favorite fried baloney sandwiches. It happens. So instead of losing my mind fussing over every little mess or trying to prevent every little mess...I just let it go. {Cue the song from 'Frozen' now}
This "letting go" is especially helpful during the holidays. Food, people, and dishes errywhere! Messes are just part of the experience in my way of thinking. Plus, I like to think one of my strengths is putting folks to work to clean up. You eat. You clean. That's how we roll. And it helps me enjoy the holidays because I'm not sweating the small stuff. I have a can of Easy-Off Oven Cleaner on hand and then put my hubby (and anyone else within reaching distance) to work. Bless him.
One of my messy (BUT CRAZY GOOD) and favorite recipes to make during this time of year is Apple Crisp. I love it with a passion, y'all! This one is a bit different from your usual apple crisp. There is no oatmeal in this one. Mainly because my husband isn't a fan of the brown sugar/oatmeal topping so I had to figure something else out. And you know what? I ended up loving it better this way! And it is so easy to remember the ingredients.
But crisps sometimes have a tendency to occasionally bubble over and splat to the bottom of my oven. It's totally worth it though. Don't fear the cleanup! Seriously. Once your oven is cool, spray the Easy-Off Fume Free onto the oven mess (my favorite is the Fume Free kind because it can be used for everyday cleaning and smells lemon-y clean) and boom!, cleanup is done with a quickness! For really tough stains, just spray it on, close the door and leave it on overnight then wipe it down in the morning.
Now let's get to this Apple Crisp and I'll share with you my messiness! I can make this dessert without a recipe now. It can be made with just about any pie filling.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Weekend Potluck #142

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Friday, October 24, 2014

Weekend Potluck #141

The recipe with the most clicks was ~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Comforts From Home

I am so proud to be teaming up with Marie Callendar's today to share something close to my heart. Supporting our troops! Being the wife, daughter, granddaughter and sister to servicemembers, I am honored to share this project to give a little something back to the men and women who do so much for us. My husband, Gene, was probably gone from us more than he was home during his time in the military. He sure did look forward to the care packages we would put together for him. He would get so excited just to have something familiar from home. And you know what? That never changes. No matter how advanced in technology we get to keep connected, we always want that little tangible thing that reminds us that home is still there and someone cares. And now, in this small way - you can show you care too.
We all know that home is more than a place. It's hugs and laughter and comfort. It's loving memories and yummy favorites on the dinner table. Life can often take our loved ones far from home and away from all of the comforts and happiness it brings. That's why Marie Callendar's created the Comforts From Home Project—a program dedicated to bringing the heartwarming feelings, flavors, and favorites of home to those who miss it most.

This fall, Marie Callender's will launch the Comforts From Home Project by bringing the comforts of home to those who protect America's homes every day: the brave men and women of the U.S. Military.

Every time you enter a code from a specially marked package of Marie Callender's meals or desserts, Marie Callender's will make a donation to USO2GO, a USO program that brings electronics, sports gear, books, games, and more to troops stationed in remote locations.