Sunday, November 29, 2009

Scalloped Corn

Scalloped Corn is my all time favorite Thanksgiving dish. My mom has made it every Thanksgiving and at my request for special dinners as long as I can remember. Since Mom came to my house this Thanksgiving there was no doubt Scalloped Corn would be on the menu.

This dish is a bit complicated and you have to keep an eye on it when it's on the stove, but if you enjoy corn, and who doesn't?? I encourage you to give this colorful, creamy veggie casserole a try. I am confident that it will be on your next Thanksgiving table if you do!

Scalloped Corn


1 can of of whole kernel corn drained
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1 tablespoons of butter or margarine
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Pepper to taste
3/4 cup of milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup cracker crumbs or bread crumbs
1 tablespoon of melted butter or margarine


Heat oven to 350. Using a medium size pot, and stir onion and green pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter until onion is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine flour and spices, then stir into onion and green pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is bubbly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in corn and egg, which had been mixed together first. Pour into an ungreased 1 quart casserole dish.

Combine cracker or bread crumbs and the 1 tablespoon of melted butter; sprinkle evenly over corn mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 t 35 minutes.

**We always double this mixture because it will go fast!!**

Pecan Pie

After deliberating between Pumpkin and Pecan Pie, I opted to bake a Pecan Pie for our Thanksgiving Dessert. This recipe comes from my Mom's Betty Crocker Cookbook, which by the way is from the 1970s. It uses very few ingredients and is so easy. Once you buy the ingredients, you will have enough to make at least 3 pies. Love that! I was under the impression that pecan pie was very labor intensive but didn't know that all you do is mix everything together and the pecans just rise to the top naturally.

You will notice that one of the pictures shows the pie covered in tin foil. This is a tip my Mom told me about that ensures the edges of your crust do not burn. You keep the foil on for the first 20 minutes, then take it off and let the pie bake for 20 more minutes. As you can see, the end result was scrumptious perfection!! It's rich, crunchy, and melts in your mouth.

Pecan Pie


1 9 inch pie crust (I have yet to make my own pie crust, so just used a store bought one!)
3 eggs
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup dark or light corn syrup
1 cup pecan halves or broken pieces


Heat oven to 375. Place crust in pie pan. (A tip is to use a glass pie pan, it cooks more evenly!!) Beat eggs, sugar, salt, butter, and syrup with electric beater. Stir in nuts. Pour into pie pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set.

Old Fashioned Stuffing

This year was my first time to host Thanksgiving Dinner. Thankfully my mother and father flew down just in time for my mom to help me and guide me through making some of our family's favorite and traditional Thanksgiving dishes. I have never tried to make stuffing, and had heard that it is easier to cook it separate from the turkey, but with Mom's direction and little will power, I put my stuffing inside our turkey. I am glad I did because it was soooo moist and the juice from the turkey made it so much more delicious.

I realize there are a ton of variations for stuffing, but this is the recipe we used. I added in the Parmesan Cheese because it was suggested on the Stuffing package and loved how it added a slight cheesy flavor to the stuffing. Also the turkey sausage helped make the stuffing more moist and it was a great addition, also not on the original recipe.

Ashley and Mom's Old Fashioned Stuffing

1 1/2 cups chopped celery (3 stalks)
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/ cup butter
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 package Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing Cubes
4 pieces of Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage, chopped into bite size pieces
1 to 1 1/4 cup chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese


In a large skillet cook celery, onion, and mushrooms in hot butter until tender but not brown. Add in the turkey sausage for one minute, enough to heat through. Remove from heat. Stir in sage and pepper. Place stuffing cubes in a large bowl and add the onions and celery. Drizzle with enough chicken broth to moisten, tossing lightly to combine. Stir in Parmesan Cheese.

Place stuffing in a 2 quart casserole dish and back uncovered in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until heated through.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

I love using fresh herbs. They really amp up the flavors in a meal. Fresh rosemary brings this recipe to life. I'm proud to say this is an Ashley Original!

My husband and watch the show "Top Chef" religiously, so while eating this meal together I asked him what he thought Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi would say if they judged my dish. He said something along the lines of, "The ingredients are simple but this dish is what cooking should be, fresh, flavorful, and from the heart." What a guy I have, huh?? :)

Ashley's Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes


10 or so red skinned potatoes, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
Chicken of your choosing - I used five chicken legs, with the skin on...but you could use chicken breasts, thighs, or even a whole chicken!
Olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary - chopped
5 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 tables spoons of lemon juice or a fresh lemon
1/2 tablespoon of oregano
Salt and Pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top, enough to coat the potatoes.
Add in half of the rosemary, garlic, oregano, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste - don't be shy on the salt!! Salt those babies up!!
Toss with your hands to coat the potatoes and place in a large pan.

Place the chicken in the bowl and coat with olive oil, and the remainder of the rosemary, garlic, oregano, 1 more tablespoon of lemon juice and rub with salt and pepper. Place in pan with the potatoes.

Cook for about 1 1/2 hours (depending on how crispy you want your food), turning the chicken and stirring the potatoes half way through.

I served these with Green Beans Almondine...delicious!

Although I'm not quite sure I'm ready for Top Chef (okay, I'm ABSOLUTELY not ready) I will definitely be making this flavorful, easy recipe again!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables. I like to roast them in a pan and eat them with butter, salt, and pepper. Delicious! I decided to make soup because due to the lovely Nor'easter, the weather down here in Virginia has been nasty and cold - soup weather!!

This recipe is Martha Stewart's. It's simple, easy, and requires very few ingredients. I'm no Martha, but I can make her soup and it's really great!! The onion taste is strong, it's a nice consistency, and best of all, its a comforting, belly warming soup.

Martha Stewart's Pureed Butternut Squash Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion. Season with salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add squash, broth, and enough water (4 to 5 cups) to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
Using a blender or an immersion blender, puree broth and vegetables until smooth. If using a blender, work in batches and fill only halfway, allowing heat to escape: Remove cap from hole in lid, cover lid firmly with a dish towel, and blend. Transfer to a clean pot as you work. Adjust soups consistency with a little water if necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

Note: I added about 1/2 a cup of fat free half and half to make the soup a little creamier. I also garnished it with a dollop of soup cream. If you like your squash sweeter, I recommend adding brown sugar to taste.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aunt Marlene's Broccoli Casserole

The women in my family are all incredible cooks. My Grandma Hutchinson was an expert baker. She would make homemade pies, completely from scratch, cookies, and Grandma made my favorite birthday dessert, a fluffy strawberry concoction that I still to this day have cravings for. Maybe I'll make it for a later post.

My Grandma Walters always made her recipes from memory. Her mind is like a recipe box, which tended to frustrate the rest of us when we would ask her to share her recipes, as she would say, oh it's a dash of this, a handful of that... We finally got her to share some of her recipes with us in actual measurements a couple of years ago when we put together a Walters family cookbook.

This recipe comes from the Walters Cookbook. It's a recipe from my Aunt Marlene, who like the other women in my family, is a wonderful cook. Aunt Marlene's recipes are more on the healthy side than anyone else's, which I love! She uses low fat items and you'd never know the difference. Since I grew up with a Diabetic father, we only had low fat items in our house, so Aunt Marlene's recipes are right up my alley, as I TRY to cook substituting healthier items.

This recipe is a casserole that Aunt Marlene would bring to family get togethers and pot lucks. I absolutely love it because it has healthy vegetables but is creamy and flavorful. I always took a big helping of this casserole, and you will too!! It makes a big pan, so is perfect for a family or group dinner.

A confession about the word casserole: it sort of turns me off. I am not sure if it a generational thing or because my (wonderful, beautiful, loving) mother made sooooo many casseroles for us when I was a child. "Casserole" makes me think of a 50s housewife wearing a cotton dress and apron, smiling as she pulls a casserole (comprised of who knows what) from the oven. This is a misconception that I need to get over!! Especially because casseroles are usually very delicious and easy and great for feeding large crowds or families. It's my issue, and I am working on it!! Would it be okay though, if I call this Aunt Marlene's Broccoli Goodness instead?? Just kidding.

The recipe is as follows. I made a few modifications noted underneath:

  • 1 1/2 bag of frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix (approximately 20 - 24 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (low fat)
  • 1 can creamed of mushroom soup
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
Cook the veggies in the microwave until done and drain. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and gently fold in veggie mix. Pour into greased 13 X 9 inch casserole pan. Sprinkle the top with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix. Dot the top with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until bubbly.

Note: I used fresh broccoli and cauliflower and definitely recommend that. I just put the veggies in a dish with water and cooked them in the microwave for about 6 minutes each. I also used bread crumbs instead of the stuffing mix because I didn't have stuffing mix and am not a big fan of stuffing mix anyway. I also grated fresh Parmesan cheese on the top because we happened to have some and ooooooh it was so cheesy! I am actually eating the leftovers right this very moment and my mouth and belly are very happy! Yours will be too when you give this recipe a try.

Special thanks to Aunt Marlene and the women in my life (Grandmas, Aunts, and most of all Mom). You have all inspired me to learn to cook since I was a little girl, and each of you have always shown me that cooking is love, family, and special times to be shared and enjoyed. I love you all!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Crisp

Since it is fall and I received an abundance of apples in our latest Farmer's Market bag (Eric and I paid for 12 weeks of fruits and veggies at our local Farmer's Market and pick up a full bag of produce every week), I decided to try another Apple Crisp recipe.

Apple Crisp is one of my favorite desserts. My mom makes an incredible apple crisp and I've really missed it since moving to Virginia. I decided that this year it was time to make my own.
The first time I tried to make Apple Crisp was just a few weeks ago and I wasn't very happy with it. It tasted great, but didn't look very good, and was not even close to Mom's apple crisp.

This time, I tried a different recipe that I found on Food Network. It's made by The Neely's but I modified it, since they say to divide it up into several small ramekins. I used a 9 X 13 cake pan, but would suggest a 9 x 9 pan because the filling is not as thick as I would have liked it.

This apple crisp is certainly delicious and looks better than my first attempt, but I have to admit - it's still not as as good as my Mom's. The topping my Mom makes is fantastic, thick and crispy...there's just no comparison.

Here's the recipe. Don't get me wrong, it's good, it's just not Mom's!



  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped small
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Filling:

  • Mix all the ingredients together. Place into 7 to 8-ounce ramekins or 9 X 9 pan.

For topping:

Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.
Bake  for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Must Try BBQ Short Ribs

Margaret and Chuck, our amazing sister and brother-in-law came to visit us this weekend. I wanted to make something that I have tried before, so the first thing that I thought of was this Short Rib recipe. Eric and I made it this summer and it was surprising easy and very delicious. Actually, it's one of our favorite meals we've created together.

Unfortunately, I cannot take credit for this recipe, because it is Bobby Flay's. Those of you who are Food Network fans, like myself, know that Bobby Flay does not mess around with meat. This recipe is no exception. The flavors are fresh and exciting. Even as you put together the marinade you will be delighted with the flavors. The sesame oil adds such a rich dimension to the marinade and the fresh ginger makes such a difference. The green onions and sesame seeds add a yummy crunch.

I highly recommend this recipe, especially for a special night. I say special because the ingredients are on the expensive side. It's completely worth it though and I promise your guests will rave about this recipe.

Bobby Flay's BBQ Short Ribs


  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions (green and white parts, mixed), plus more green tips for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 6 pounds short ribs, cut into thin pieces, about 2 1/2 inches long


Grind the sesame seeds in a coffee grinder until fine. Place the ground sesame seeds in a medium bowl and add the garlic, soy, sherry, honey, sesame oil, water, ginger, scallions, and red chili flakes; stir until thoroughly combined. Place the ribs in a large baking dish, pour the marinade over, and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove the ribs from the marinade and grill on both sides until golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat of the grill, close the cover, and grill until tender, about 15 minutes longer. Remove to a platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.
**Note: The first time we made this recipe I used the full tablespoon of chili flakes and it was way too HOT for me. So this time I only used half a tablespoon. It still had a nice kick, but didn't cause me to down a gallon of water after a couple bites.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Killer Kale

Tonight was the first time I have ever tried a recipe with kale. I decided to try a recipe my friend and previous hair dresser Sarah Seibert shared with me. Thanks Sarah!!

First of all, I was amazed at how simple the recipe was. All you need is kale, olive oil, and Kosher or sea salt. I used sea salt because, admittedly, I'm a bargain shopper and it was about five dollars cheaper than Kosher salt. I may have to splurge one day on the Kosher salt. If you have tried Kosher and would like to share with me the difference, or help me understand why to use it, I would love your feedback.

Back to the kale! When I got the kale, I was less than impressed with it's appearance. It reminded me of the garnish used to fill in the space on a salad bar. (I am all too familiar with salad bar garnishes, as I was once the salad bar girl at Cork and Cleaver Restaurant in Kalamazoo, Michigan. True, sad, story!) The bottom line is that kale is not pretty and after it goes in the oven, it looks even worse.

Despite my skepticism in the way it looked, I was eager to try this recipe because I have heard how good kale is for you and I wanted to give it a chance. Wikipedia shared with me that kale, "is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory. Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin (this apparently lowers the risk of cataracts)." In addition, Sarah shared that her kids love kale and I've read on some websites that some kids even think it tastes like potato chips. I was can something that looks so healthy (and decorative) taste like junk food?? I had to give the recipe a whirl!

Here's it is:

Preheat the oven at 350 and place a wire rack or baking sheet on the lower shelf of the oven.
Toss 6 cups of fresh kale (torn into bite size pieces with stems taken off) with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Lay the kale out on the baking sheet or rack in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Toss or turn the kale over and bake for 8 more minutes. The kale should be crispy to the touch, not wilted or soft.

What I found interesting was that the kale was supposed to brown and essentially look burnt and ugly. But the taste....oooooh the taste!! The kids were right! It does taste very similar to potato chips - very delicate and flaky veggie chips!! Another person described it as salty kale "air" and I think that is very appropriate too - it's light, salty, airy, and cabbage-y tasting, which makes sense, because kale is related to cabbage.My verdict is in on kale, it's killer! I kept going back to eat some more. It's so light that it melts in your mouth, but is crispy and crunchy at the same time. Yummy!! This is not something I'd serve to people who are not vegetable lovers or adventurous eaters, but I really liked it and think this recipe is a keeper. Thanks, Sarah!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bok Choy Stir Fry

Tonight, after Eric & I created our first fabulous stir fry, I was inspired to start this blog as a place where I can save recipes, post pictures, and share with friends and family all my adventures in cooking. Over the 16 months that Eric and I have been married I have tried countless new recipes - most of them good enough to make again, but unfortunately, I cannot remember them all. So this will be where I can keep the recipes. I hope you enjoy reading my cooking blogs and I hope you will share your ideas and comments with me.

Buon Appetito!!

Eric and & Ashley's Bok Choy Stir Fry

Bok Choy, a Chinese vegetable loaded with Vitamin A, C and calcium, is the star in this stir fry. It motivated us to create our first stir fry, as we received some fresh bok choy in our weekly Farmer's Market bag yesterday. After looking at several different stir fry recipes on the internet, we grabbed some veggies out of our crisper and went to work.

2 cups chopped bok choy
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 container sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons garlic

1lb chicken breasts sliced into bite-size peices
several tablespoons of sesame oil
container of stir fry sauce (next time we'll make our own!!)

Minute rice - while the chicken and veggies are being stir-fried, microwave rice.

Marinate the chicken in the stir fry sauce for at least 30 minutes while chopping veggies.

Spread three or so tablespoons of sesame oil in large heated skillet and add chicken. Eric also put some garlic in the pan with the chicken. Allow chicken to cook throughly on both sides. Take chicken out of pan and set aside. Rest, chicken, rest.

Add about 3 more tablespoons of sesame oil and spread around skillet. Pour in all the chopped veggies and cover with stir fry sauce. Allow veggies to simmer and soften. Put chicken back into skillet to warm and mix with veggies. Pour on top of rice.

**After eating this stir-fry, we are not sold on bok choy!! I'm not sure I'd go out and buy it in the future, but it was fun to try a recipe with it. It reminded me of celery, but a little more watery. Next time we'd also use fresh ginger, garlic, and soy sauce to create our own sauce.


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