Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mac and Cheese Smack Down

I ran across two mac & cheese recipes recently that I really wanted to try. We decided to make them both this week as sort of a “smack down” to see which we preferred.

SouthernLivingTuesday evening, we dined on King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese from January 2012’s Southern Living (featured on the cover). I loved that it incorporated green bell peppers, spices, and tomatoes and was served right from the cast iron skillet. I did not love the suggested ingredient of “packaged pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed” so I instead simply substituted cheddar cheese.

Thursday, I made Pioneer Woman’s Mac and Cheese, which I read about on Monograms & Manicure’s post in October. Though definitely not a dish for those counting calories, this recipe did have much more wholesome, natural ingredients.

The verdict? They were both amazing! It really depends on your mood. If you want a classic mac and cheese from the most basic of ingredients, Pioneer Woman wins, hands-down. However, if you want a little protein and a spicy kick, King Ranch Chicken was most satisfying, especially after substituting for real cheese.

This evening, hubby and I are staying in – a break from Colorado’s historic hotels where we’ve spent the past few New Years’. I’m making Sara Foster’s deviled ham from Christmas leftovers, we’re popping open a lovely grower champagne recommended by the gentleman at our wine shop, and having a “picnic” in front of the fireplace.

Wishing all of you a safe and happy New Year! See you in 2012.

Ready for Christmas Eve!

We spent the day cleaning and running last minute errands. After hours of scrubbing, dusting, and polishing, however, came my favorite part of getting ready for entertaining where I arranged flowers, set the table, made the centerpiece, etc.

Sticking with my blue and white theme from Thanksgiving, the centerpiece is a silver platter with blue tulle, white roses & juniper in blue bud vases or silver shot glasses, blue/white/silver ornaments, and my three sterling silver snowflakes.

centerpiece

We moved my newly painted desk into the main room to serve as a cocktail table.

buffet

I am so thankful this year for good health, a wonderful husband, my career, friends & family, and my home!

table

This is probably my last post before Christmas. Wishing everyone a joyous holiday!

Holiday Punch

One of the non-alcoholic treats that I will be adding to my Christmas Eve menu is a holiday punch, made from a “secret” recipe that I’ve had for thirty years.

muppet cookbook

Published by Hallmark in 1981, The Muppet’s Picnic Cookbook has child-friendly recipes along with silly anecdotes ala Muppets. One of my favorite recipes is Miss Piggy’s Precious Pink Punch. This punch was my primary contribution to countless wedding showers, baby showers, and parties as I was growing up.

punch recipe

This year, I will be serving it from our new punch bowl set.

punch bowl

I’ve shared the recipe below. I love that it doesn’t have any additional sugar.

4 cups cranberry juice

2 cups pineapple juice

1 cup lemon juice

7 cups ginger ale

Garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint

A birthday wish and more

First – a very Happy Birthday to my Mother who turns 60 today. One of my very first cooking coaches (among many other things), I still think of her fried green tomatoes and various ham recipes at nearly every meal.

We are just about ready for Christmas! Our apartment is decorated rather minimally (I really do have a thing for Charlie Brown Christmas trees), but hopefully in good taste.

Southern Living‘s article on wreaths caused me to run out and buy a boxwood and a magnolia for the front door.

boxwood magnolia

My Charlie Brown trees are throughout the apartment…

decor1 decor2

This is the centerpiece for now unless something else inspires me. The branches were free from the scrap pile at Home Depot. The snowflakes are Gorham from 1971 and 1972.

centerpiece

And the stockings are hung by the faux fireplace with care. We actually have all of the family’s names on them, but I Photoshopped them out for discretion’s sake.

stockings

And Miss Marty is staying warm except on rare visits outside in the snow…

pawprints

Looking forward to a snowy, happy holiday season!