Sunday, December 28, 2008

Smokie Bites

These Smokie Bites are a quick and easy appetizer. Try making them for your next football game!

Smokie Bites

1 pkg (16 oz) Little Smokies
1 lb pkg of bacon
1 cup brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut each slice of bacon in three pieces. You can cut the entire package at one time. Wrap each smokie in a piece of bacon. Place in 9x12 baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bacon is crisp.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Skillet Sausage Cassoulet

A real cassoulet involves chicken, white wine and baking. I like this skillet version made with smoked polish sausage. It's quick, easy and great on a cold winter night. You can use different types of beans or even add chicken. Top your dish with crumbled bacon, shredded cheese and prepare to enjoy!

Skillet Sausage Cassoulet

1 pound smoked polish sausage, sliced thinly
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with basil & oregeno
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bacon bits & cheddar cheese for topping, if desired

In large skillet over medium heat, cook onions & sausage until onions are tender. Add remaining ingredients & continue cooking another 5-7 minutes stirring occasionally. When serving, top with bacon bits and cheddar cheese if desired.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Celebrate New Year's Day with Hoppin' John

Tradition says this recipe is a must for New Year's Day because it will bring you luck, money and health in the coming year.

Hoppin' John

2 cans (16 oz) black-eyed peas
2 cups rice, cooked
2 cans (16 oz) chopped collard greens
6 slices hog jowl cut in small pieces
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so. Serve with cornbread. If you can't find sliced hog jowl, you can use a small piece of salt pork or ham hock.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, no one was baking, not even me! Okay, so I'm not so good at poems, but I am taking a couple of days off from cooking! Our Christmas Tradition has always been to have a Christmas breakfast instead of a dinner. Country ham, biscuits, red-eye gravy, eggs, and Holiday Potato Casserole. So, there is not much cooking to be done tonight. Of course, Santa's cookies are ready and waiting!Whatever your tradition may be, I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap—
When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So, up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys—and St. Nicholas too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack;
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little month was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump—a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Author - Clement Moore

Saturday, December 20, 2008

German-Style Slaw

I love this slaw. It's easy to make, tastes great and only gets better the next day!

German-Style Slaw

2 packages of shredded cabbage (16 oz packages)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
3/4 cup canola oil

Place cabbage into a large plastic or glass bowl. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Add oil. Return to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Pour dressing over cabbage; toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Cookies - No-Bake Cashew Drops

If you like cashews, you'll fall in love with this easy candy.

No-Bake Cashew Drops


1 pkg chocolate almond bark (16 oz)
1/2 cup ground graham cracker crumbs
1 can (16 oz) cashew halves
1 cup coconut
1 cup miniature marshmallows

Melt chocolate according to package directions. Mix all ingredients into chocolate and stir well. Drop by tablespoon onto wax paper and let cool. Makes about 3-4 dozen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

I like using little smokies in this breakfast casserole, but you could also use ground sausage or link sausage.

Breakfast Sausage Casserole
1 pkg of little smokies, sliced (16 oz package)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cups skim milk
3/4 cup Bisquick baking mix
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray small casserole dish with non-stick spray. Brown little smokies and onions over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. When onions are tender, remove and place mixture in bottom of casserole dish. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Bisquick until smooth. Pour over sausage mixture. Top with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cool Kitchen Gadget - Grill Charms

Most of my friends know that I had a couple of food allergy episodes this Summer. Thankfully, my allergies are mild and easily managed. But, it really did start me thinking about what foods I eat and how they are prepared. These days, whether you are cooking for your family or for a crowd, it can get pretty complicated when dealing with different tastes, allergies or health issues. I'm sure you've been there too. Did I put salt on that steak? Is that chicken breast the one with no garlic powder? Well I found a new product to eliminate all that guess work. Grill Charms are made from stainless steel and you place them in your food before you start grilling. They have a serrated stem that will hold them in place when you are flipping your food while grilling. You can mark you food according to how it is to be cooked - well done, medium rare, etc. or how spicy you want it seasoned. More information on Grill Charms can be found at their website - Grill Charms. Simple Cookery followers get a special discount code for Grill Charms. For $5 off, put "grilling" in the coupon code when ordering. There is still time for Christmas Eve delivery if you order by December 20th.
Grill Charms is a registered trademark and used with permission. For product and trademark information, please visit their website at .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Cookies - Snow Drops

Everyone will think you slaved for hours on this delicious drop candy.

Snow Drops

1 pkg white chocolate (or vanilla) almond bark (1 lb 8 oz)

1 cup coconut - toasted

1 jar (8 oz) macadamia nuts - chopped

1 cup miniature marshmallows

Melt white chocolate according to package directions. Mix all ingredients into white chocolate and stir well. Drop by tablespoon onto wax paper and let cool. Makes about 3-4 dozen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Potato Casserole

This easy breakfast casserole has become a Christmas Day tradition for me. I adapted this recipe from the traditional hash brown casserole. You can easily make it ahead of time. Just layer all the ingredients together, cover and keep in your freezer until ready to use. If you have never tried Jimmy Dean's Breakfast Skillets, they are wonderful. They contain ham, bacon or sausage with potatoes, red & green peppers and onions. They are located in freezer section of your grocery store and make a perfect recipe starter.

Holiday Potato Casserole

Jimmy Dean Breakfast Skillets-Sausage-1/2 pkg-about 2 cups
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Skillets-Ham-1/2 pkg - about 2 cups
1/2 cup Hormel bacon bits
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup French's French Fried Onions

Pre-heat oven to 375. Coat inside of 9-inch square casserole dish with non-stick spray. Whisk together milk, soup, sour cream and black pepper. Layer Sausage mixture in casserole dish. Cover with 1/2 soup mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 of bacon bits. Cover with 1/2 cheddar cheese. Layer Ham mixture on top of this. Cover with remaining soup mixture. Sprinkle with remaining bacon bits. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Top with French's onions and bake an additional 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

If you decide to make this ahead of time or to freeze, don't add the onions to the top of your casserole. Also, put your frozen or cold casserole dish into a cold oven and increase your cooking time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Cookies - Chocolate Raisin Almond Drops

These look and taste like you spent hours making them. It actually only takes a few minutes. You can mix and match ingredients. I started making these by using the leftover ingredients from making candy. After a while, friends started asking for the leftovers. Mixing the chocolate chips with the almond bark gives the chocolate a richer taste. And, the candy is not as hard as it would be using almond bark alone.

Chocolate Raisin Almond Drops


1 pkg chocolate almond bark (1 lb 8 oz)

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup raisins

1 cup coconut

1 cup almond slivers

Melt almond bark according to package directions. Mix in chocolate chips and stir until melted. Stir in raisins, coconut, and almonds. Mix well and drop by teaspoonful onto wax paper. Let cool to harden. Makes approximately 4 dozen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christimas Cookies - Holiday Truffles

These are so rich, but so good! Try using a different extract flavor or frosting flavor to make this recipe your own.

Holiday Truffles

1 (12 oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 can Chocolate Fudge for Chocolate Supreme frosting
1 cup coconut, nuts, candy sprinkles

Melt chocolate chips in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in orange extract and frosting; blend well. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm. Scoop mixture into one-inch balls and roll in coconut, nuts, or candy sprinkles. Mixture will be sticky so use butter or cooking spray on your hands when forming the balls. Store in air-tight containe in refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 dozen.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Cookies - Pumpkin Cookies

I love this recipe. The batter gets really hard to stir as all the ingredients are added, but it is definitely worth it! If you don't like nuts, raisins, or cranberries, feel free to substitute the dried fruit of your choice. I like to make these into muffins. Simply put the dough into muffin tins and increase your cooking time to about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 can (16 oz) Pure Pumpkin (not pie mix)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 container cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture a little at a time and mix well. Stir in nuts, chocolate chips, raisins and cranberries. Drop 1/4 cup dough onto greased baking sheet and spread into 3-inch circle.

bake for 14-16 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate with icing. Makes about 2 dozen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Cookies - No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

You absolutely must remember to lick the bowl when making these No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies! I like to use rolled oats, but you can also use quick-cooking oats. Nuts are optional! Fudge rules apply to this recipe, so don't make it on a rainy day.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies


1 stick butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats (uncooked)

Mix sugar and cocoa together so that no lumps of cocoa remain. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat. Add evaporated milk. Stir in sugar mixture. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Add peanut butter and vanilla, stir and pour over uncooked oats. Mix thoroughly and drop by teaspoon full on wax paper.