Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Scenes from a Thanksgiving Eve: Pies and Cornbread Dressing

I wanted to share a few more recipes from my kitchen today.  The first is an amazing cornbread and cranberry dressing.  If you aren't sure if you want to make your Grandmother's dressing tomorrow, this recipe will make everyone happy you skipped your old stand-by.  Earnie made great dressing, but she didn't have it written down.  Just a little of this and a little of that.  Every year I am always on the hunt for a new dressing recipe.

This recipe comes from Valerie Bertinelli. She has a fab Saturday morning cooking show on the Food Network where she was promoting her dressing recipe on a Thanksgiving episode. 

I changed up the recipe slightly.  First, I bought two packages of pre-made cornbread from the Albertson's bakery.  I cut the cornbread into cubes and spread them out onto a cookie sheet into a preheated 350 degree oven to crisp up (kind of like croutons).  I tossed them every 5 minutes and toasted them in the oven for about 25 minutes.  I let them set on the counter to cool while I prepared all the ingredients.  The recipe calls for toasted walnuts which I chose to leave out.  I am not a "nut in my food" girl, so while I am sure including nuts offers a toasty crunch, I chose to omit them.

This is the sausage, onion, celery, cranberries and the seasonings cooking on the stove.  You mix this in with the cornbread, chicken broth and a beaten egg.  I put it into the refrigerator and I will bake it tomorrow.

Next, I made a Chocolate Chess Pie.  I mean, the Pilgrims were all set on Pecan and Pumpkin pies, but I like chocolate.  Warning:  Look away if you are hard-core with homemade crust.  I am about to show you pre-made pie crust. 

 Pillsbury has perfected a recipe for pie crust that tastes just as good as homemade especially if the thought of making crust stresses you out.  It comes with two crusts in a box.  If you're a beginner with the pie crust thing, here's my attempt to show you how easy it is to use.  I forgot to snap a pic of me rolling the crust out.  I placed two pieces of waxed paper on the counter, sprinkled with flour.  Then take your rolling pin and roll out the crust slightly bigger than your pie plate so you have dough that hangs over the sides.  If you don't roll your crust out a bit, it will be too small for your pie plate and you won't get the effect of a crimped crust along the edge.

 Press the dough down into the plate on the bottom and along the sides.
 Fold the dough under all the way around the rim of the pie plate.

 Then crimp the edges using your thumb and index finger.

 Here's your finished pie crust.

I also made Jane McGarry's Skillet Pecan Pie.  It turned out so pretty and would be the perfect dessert to take to a pot luck party.  This is the pie going into the oven...

 And here it is after its three hour tour of my oven.

Later this evening I am making a macaroni and cheese and in the morning the last thing will be mashed potatoes and a corn casserole.  My sister-in-law is bringing Earnie's Sweet Potato Delight and green bean casserole.  And, we have Jane's cranberry sauce, too.   I have no idea how six people will eat all of this food along with a 13-pound turkey but Miss Bee requested it.  I have to-go containers ready to send leftovers home with guests.  As we speak she is pressuring me to make a pumpkin pie, even though we have a sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue all ready to go from Lucy's Sweet Pies (I'll show you a picture of it later).

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yummy Pumpkin Scones

Every once in a while I come across a great recipe on Pinterest.  This recipe for Pumpkin Scones is a copycat from the Starbucks version. The original recipe is from Cooking Classy. I've got tons of great recipes pinned for Breads and Muffins.

These scones are perfect to have Thanksgiving morning because they aren't heavy and give you just enough something sweet with your coffee so you don't ruin your appetite for all the Thanksgiving food you've worked hard to prepare.  Now, the thing to remember about scones is that they are really best eaten the same day you prepare them.


Pumpkin Scones {Starbucks Copycat}
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 8 scones
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree, chilled (don't chill in can)
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp half and half
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp half and half, then more as needed
  • Pumpkin Icing
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp half and half

  • For the scones:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended (if you don't have a food processor you can whisk by hand in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry cutter). Add butter and pulse mixture several times to cut butter into mixture (large pieces of butter should no longer be visible). Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in center.
  • In a bowl whisk together chilled pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and honey. Pour mixture into well in flour/butter mixture. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon to incorporate, then knead in bowl (or on work surface) by hand several times to bring mixture together. Dust a work surface with flour then invert dough onto surface. Pat and shape dough into an even 8-inch round. Using a large knife, slice into 8 equal wedges (dust knife with flour as needed while cutting, it will be fairly sticky).
  • Transfer scones to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 Tbsp half and half then bake in preheated oven 13 - 15 minutes until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes (no longer) before spreading with glaze.
  • For the glaze:
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar and half and half, adding more half and half as needed to reach desired consistency (it should be fairly thick not runny). Spoon and spread mixture scones to evenly coat tops (use all of it). Let glaze set at room temperature.
  • For the pumpkin glaze:
  • In a mixing bowl (I just used the one from the glaze above without cleaning out) whisk together powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and half and half. Transfer mixture to a small Ziploc bag, seal bag, cut a small tip from corner and drizzle mixture over tops of scones. Allow icing to set. Best served day prepared.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Friday, November 20, 2015

Container Store Wraps it Up!

I made a stop into the Container Store this morning and I couldn't believe all the choices of gift wrapping, tags, tissue and baking containers.  I mean I loved the Container Store before today, but seriously, well they have outdone themselves.  I have found my dream job when I retire.  I may die there.

When I was little, before the "bow and go" bags, Earnie would set up a gift wrap station in the guest bedroom with rolls of wrapping paper, boxes, tissue, scissors, tape, ribbon and bows.  I was in charge of wrapping each family member's gift.  She would pay me 25 cents for each package, however the rule was each one had to be different.  Earnie was also a magician at recycling old Christmas cards and she would have me make them into gift tags.  I would pretend I worked in a department store and make customer tickets for the packages and sometimes I would have to tell them we had a backlog of packages to wrap so it might be a while.  Even then I was awesome at customer service.

Back to the container store.  Here is why I want to work there someday:  They have a gift wrap party and a team of employees wrap all the gift boxes for the display.  I know!  The employees told me they play Christmas tunes after the store closes and wrap boxes until 3 a.m.!  I know!

Here's my snaps of just a smidge of the pretty papers...

I loved this series because the colors are muted, soft and icy like snow.  I especially liked the aqua rolls of paper because they had a nice texture.  Most of the papers could be used for any gift, not just Christmas.

This set was so retro and all the colors I remember Earnie using on our snow-flocked trees -- hot pink, lime green and red.  I bought a roll of the striped paper with the coordinating hot pink taffeta wired ribbon.

Chalkboards are all the rage and Container Store was on trend with chalkboard bags, boxes, tags and rolls of ribbon.  I bought a spool of the wide chalkboard and burlap ribbon to hang a boxwood wreath on my door.  You could personalize each package by writing the person's name with a fun message.

Okay, this looked like real Birch wood.  I think I may use this to line the back of bookcases or just  keep it so I can look at it. It would make a great wrap for the men in your family, or for a woodland theme.

The Container is having a Pop! Star promotion -- for everyone $100 purchase you receive a $20 credit to use during the month of December.  That's an incentive to stock up on all your gift wrapping needs.

That's a wrap!  Have a fab Friday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ideas You Will Fall for this Thanksgiving

I have a vintage dresser in the entry way designated as my seasonal welcome into the home.  When I purchased this rotating card holder from Mary and Martha I had an idea on how I would use it. Perfect for Christmas cards, vintage postcards, artwork, photos, fun notes maybe for a birthday, and quotes, it has 16 clips and the top says, "Lord, let your constant love surround us." 
I love it because it reminds me of those spinning things restaurants used to have when you placed a ticket on it and the waitress would say "order up!"   I decided it would be perfect to post photos of people I am thankful for and notes of thanks.

The notes are compliments of Jones Design Company which is linked up to my Pinterest printables board.  I ran them off on card stock, cut them and put them into a dish next to the card holder.  Family members and guests that stop by can write their thankful message, then clip it on the tree.

This is an old photo of my sister and brothers on the front porch of the home we grew up in.  I think I might have just come home from the hospital.  And, you can see I wrote on the card "I am thankful for my family."

The personalized leaf is also on my Pinterest board.  I ran the leaves off on card stock and went along the edges with a gold leaf paint pen.
I punched a hole in the leaf with a tiny hole-punch, then tied the leaf with gold ribbon onto a sweet, little white pumpkin.  I purchased a bag of ten pumpkins for about $5 at my local Albertson's grocery store.  They make precious, personalized place card holders for your Thanksgiving table.  Plus, you can send them home with your guests as a party favor. 

Mary and Martha has several other beautiful home decor and kitchen items I have purchased over the past year.  This pizza board was the base for the pecan pie we made on Good Morning Texas.
Use it as a serving tray for lots of things, not just pizza.

And lastly, I stocked up on all these "hospitality on the go" disposable baking sets.  Perfect for casseroles, muffins, soups and other goodies to take to friends and neighbors.  There are several colors and patterns to choose from.

My friend Stacey, who is a consultant with Mary and Martha, is offering my readers 10% off their purchase.  Visit Mary and Martha for a direct link to place an order.  If you have questions you can contact Stacey directly at  You have until November 25 to take advantage of this sweet deal.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas Cinema -- A Review of Love the Coopers and Two Faves


Tagged as "The Perfect Gift for the Entire Family." Well, they should take all their wrapped gifts back and exchange them for counseling.  I'm sad (spoiler alert).  I really wanted to like this year's holiday movie Love the Coopers...but I didn't.  It was really depressing.  I thought it was going to be similar to Christmas with the Kranks.  The movie had its funny moments, mostly with Rags the dog eating the mashed potatoes or passing Christmas dinner gas afterward.  The story made me cry in several scenes, but it ended on a high note with everyone forgiving each other.  The movie didn't leave me wanting to string Christmas tree lights and make cocoa.  It made me want to take a nap because I was exhausted from all the arguing.  What it did do was make me appreciate my family and that we genuinely like each other.

So, on that note, let's focus on two movies that I LOVE! 
First, Elf.

Best character, in my opinion, that Will Ferrell has ever played.  He makes the movie.  So many classic lines from this movie.
  "Smiling's my favorite"
I love the movie so much, I made up my own trivia questions.  You can probably find similar quizzes on the web, but if you'd like a copy of mine, leave a comment.  We played it at my office party one year.

Second favorite Christmas movie...
Chances are less likely you've seen Christmas in Connecticut.  It came on yesterday on A&E and while I was napping I got all cozy listening to it in the back of my dreams.  It's the story of a woman who writes for a women's magazine about her domestic bliss (ala Martha Stewart) on her farm in Connecticut.  Only it's not true.  She lives in New York in a walk up apartment and doesn't cook, much less milk a cow.  It's the story of how she tries to pull the wool over everyone's eyes when her boss comes to visit for Christmas Eve.

Don't you decorate the tree while in your fur and hubby playing carols on the piano?  I'm a sucker for vintage.  I dream of curtains like hers and tinsel on the tree.  What's your favorite Christmas flick?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Best of Earnie: Susan Boyle and Brunswick Stew

This is a post from November 2012...part of my "Best of Earnie" series..

We like to come up with all sorts of engaging activites for our residents at Windwood Trail Haus.  Earnie's homework, and activity in the Day Room on Monday, was making her famous Brunswick Stew. 

When I was growing up Mother made this all the time.  It never occurred to me that when I be-bopped into her room Sunday night to give Earnie her little last call cookie that she would look at me blankly when I suggested she make it for Monday's dinner.  She said it had been so long since she made it she wasn't sure what the ingredients were.  Actually, I don't recall her making it since she and Daddy came to live with us back in 2007.

Earnie has a stock pile of recipes in a box.  All kinds, mostly ones she has cut out from the paper over the years.  I suggested she take a look see in her box of recipes and maybe that might trigger it for her.  Good brain work going on here, I was thinking.  She found the recipe, although I am not sure it's the actual one she used to prepare.  But, it's pretty close.

Apparently, Earnie stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for the recipe.  Meanwhile, she was doing something to her computer.  It was about that time that I was woken up from a sound sleep hearing the musical stylings of Susan Boyle down in Earnie's room.  I had all four cats on top of me and even they were jolted from sleep.  They flew off the bed, while I sat straight up thinking maybe I had died in the night and this was the introductory song they sing as you enter the gates of heaven.  I'm sure my hair looked a fright, too.   I didn't see Jesus anywhere, so I figured I was still alive.  After about 3 minutes of this musical snack, I got out of bed thinking, "I know Earnie has hearing loss, but geesh, this is loud."  I started to make my way out of the room and she must have figured out how to turn it off.  When I left for work, I left her this note:

Back to the stew...We had hot, steaming bowls of this last night for dinner with Miss Bee's cornbread.  The cool front had blown in so it was a perfect night for Earnie's stew.  Susan Boyle didn't make an encore performance last night so it was a good night's sleep for everyone.

Friday, November 13, 2015

That time Jane McGarry and I made a Pie...


This past Wednesday, I had a crazy, fun experience cooking Thanksgiving sides in my kitchen with Jane McGarry, co-host of WFAA's Good Morning Texas.  My bestie came up from Austin to capture it from the sidelines with Mr. Bee.  It really was the best day ever!  Here is the low down on how we taped the segment for Jane's Skillet Pecan Pie - I will post part two on Jane's Cranberry Sauce another day.

Last week:

Jane posted this message on her FB page...

This was my reply...

I follow Jane on Instagram and I remembered she has beautiful cheetah print carpet in her house.  Animal print is my best friend and I thought I should toss that fun fact we share in common into my response.  I guess it worked...and the fact that this picture is on my FB page when they probably screened me to see if I was a whacko.

So, she could take a gamble that I was going to be fun, or a hot mess.


Got the message from Jane that I had been selected for their Kitchen Invasion segment featuring two of Jane's "blast from the past" Thanksgiving recipes.


Producer calls me and says they will arrive on Wednesday morning to shoot live for the show.  I wasn't panicked at all, because Sunday night I had cleaned the house.  I was more concerned about what I was going to wear...and it had to involve animal print.  I called my fab friend Jess (who is also my personal trainer/life coach/stylist) and she ran over with her 3-month old for a look-see through my closet.  We came up with animal print pants, a tunic, and shooties.  Before I went to bed, I penned a fun message about what Jane was going to cook on my menu board.  I thought it would be a nice, personal touch for her to see.


About 45 minutes before Jane's arrival, I whipped up a batch of mulled apple cider so the house would smell like fall.  Jane arrived at 8:15 a.m. all pretty and perfect in a red dress and heals, holding a trifle dish of cranberry sauce and a giant iron skillet of pecan pie.  While we waited for the photographer, Jane went through what we were going to do and in what order...

Then the photographer, Laura, arrived.  She wanted to photograph the pie and cranberry sauce Jane brought.  I asked if they wanted me to put props on the table to stylize the food.  "Sure, do you have anything?"  Still thinking I was the party girl in the photo, they had no idea that I have a party pantry -- now was my time to shine!  I yelled at bestie to grab the pumpkins and candles, I got the flowers and chalkboard, a wooden bread board from the pantry, plates and cloth napkins from the cabinet and made a Pottery-Barn-ish set in 10 seconds flat...

At 9 a.m., the magic happened.  It was the quickest 30 minutes of my life.  We did the cranberry sauce first, then the next segment was the pie.  Jane let me contribute a few of my tips on how to season a cast iron skillet and using Pillsbury pie crust for baking.  I'm pretty sure I won't win any Cowboy's tickets since I admitted on camera I'm not a fan.  The best part was Jane saying she followed my blog and had no idea I was the author of Buzzinthehive!

This is us grating lemon zest.  I impressed her with my knowledge of not zesting too hard so you don't grate the white, bitter part of the peel.  I may not know much, but zesting is one of my skill sets.

Then, we finished with a shot of us playing Scrabble. In this picture I look all composed and having fun.  In real life, this was how I was feeling...
Mary Katherine Gallagher

I think they were filming this Scrabble scene for a teaser for another show.  I asked if I could pour a few mugs of cider for the table shot to make it look all-homey.   I cautioned Jane not to drink it because it was really a prop and I hadn't strained the mulling spices.  Next thing I know, Jane was drinking it!  I calmly yelled "Jane, don't drink the punch, you'll choke on cloves."  She said it was delicious and she was fine.  Then, we bonded over how to make it, what she'd be doing for Thanksgiving and I made sure to point out my animal print pants.

Before she left we snapped a few more pics...

We helped Jane and the photographer out to their cars, hugged good bye and promised to do it again.  I ran in the house and jumped up and down with glee.  It was so fun!  Jane couldn't have been nicer.  She was elegant and calm and made me feel so at ease.  It really was like cooking in the kitchen with a friend.  Truly.

We finished the morning eating the pieces of pecan pie she left us to try and watched the show on DVR.

The pie was delicious.  The pecans had caramelized and were crunchy and the pie crust was crispy.  I liked it because the pecans weren't chewy or overwhelming.  We topped the slices with Bluebell vanilla ice cream.

As we were cleaning up the kitchen, we saw Jane's cup of cider.  Mr. Bee was about to wash it and bestie and I yelled "don't touch it!"  We read each other's minds and snapped a pic of her lipstick on the rim.

I know it's creepy and I don't care!  When are you going to have someone as special as Jane in your house again!  If George Clooney kissed you, you wouldn't wash your cheek for a year.

Be sure to check out the Skillet Pecan Pie recipe.  It's definitely worth making and I hope you add it to your Thanksgiving table.