Monday, November 30, 2009

Give me a V! Give me a ICTORY! Give me a 2009 Egg Bowl Champs!!!

The only game that really matters all year long is the one that happens around Thanksgiving. This year's Egg Bowl was one we were dreding at first, but one of THE BEST games I have been to in a while. Why? Because we freakin KILLED "that school up north!"

Now, to give you an idea of where the name came from, when Dan Mullen started out as our head coach last winter, he decided to stop referring to our biggest rival by their name. He just calls them "that school up north." It caught on around here, and even ESPN decided to use the phrase in their wrap up about Saturday's game. I bet that really pissed some Rebels off! Ha! So here's the clip (found curtosy of my grad student). I'm proud to be a Bulldog! GTHTSUP!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cranberry Raisin Bread

Decided to start the Thanksgiving baking a little early this year. I needed something to do while my dad watched bloody, murder shows on TV. (I could go watch TV in the other room by myself, but this is family time...)

So, I was reading a Taste of Home magazine that my mom picked up and stumbled across this bread recipe. I decided it would be a great Thanksgiving morning treat since we usually have to leave early for our Thanksgiving trip to Laurel, and because my parents usually are busy prepping food before we leave.

One new thing I got to experience while making the bread was using a pastry blender (pictured above). I have never used one before, but my mother skilled me in the art of using a pastry blender to cut butter into your batter. It is a very useful tool, and I'll be very happy to accept the gift of my mom's extra pastry blender that she offered.

Anyway, the bread is in the oven right now, and smells fantastic. I'll have to update you later on how it turns out. I sure hope its as yummy as it smells!

Step 1: Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup cold butter (1 stick)
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp. grated orange peel (Which we didn't have, so we didn't use.)
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries (Fresh is best!)
1/2 cup golden raisins (We used regular.)
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, orange juice and peel. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in cranberries and raisins. Transfer to a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.

Step 2: Streusel
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cold butter

Directions: Combine brown sugar and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 3: Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. orange juice

Directions: For glaze, combine confectioners' sugar and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's cooking this Thanksgiving?

Holidays are always a time for me to show off my cooking skills and really wow the friends and family. Or, at least, I attempt to. The cooking is really more for me because I thoroughly enjoy doing it. I always like to try something new, but have to return with a few favorites this year. So, here's what's going down in the Pape kitchen this week:

Returning Classics:

Tamale dressing with fresh cranberry salsa

New Attempt: (I have attempted a cheesecake once, and it failed. But...that was a long time ago when I was in college. I will have some kind of cupcakes as my back-up plan.)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 stick melted margarine
3 tbsp. sugar
1 ½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix margarine, sugar and graham cracker crumbs in bowl. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and 1/2-inch up side of 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 minutes; cool slightly. After removing crust from oven, increase temperature to 400°F.

3 packages fat free cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl until well blended. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until well blended. Stir in small chocolate chips; pour batter into prepared crust. Bake 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 250°F; continue baking 60 minutes or until almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. Refrigerate about 5 hours before serving. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

Snacks and sides:
I'm also providing tamales for our Thanksgiving meal on Friday, as well as some MSU jalapeno cheddar cheese as a pre-lunch snack.

That's my contribution for the year! I'll let you know how the cheesecake turns out!

Happy cooking and happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sheri's List-O-Things to help any single woman embrace 30

Tonight I am hosting a 30th birthday party for my friend, "M," and there are a few necessities I believe every single, 30-year-old gal must have. I'm really just making these up because I know in 7 months I will be celebrating the big 3-0 myself. So, here they are, in no particular order...and I'm sure the list will grow as the day goes along...

1. Chocolate - Doesn't matter how you get it, just get it.
2. Cupcakes and/or cake - Tonight we have vanilla with vanilla icing. "M" is not very adventurous with her foods. Probably wouldn't like my crazy cupcake ideas. However, because of her request my house smells of vanilla cupcakes. It is delicious!
3. Mexican food - Nothing like something spicy to get you in the mood! (There will be no "getting in the mood" tonight though. Just us girls.)
4. A stripper - Which I did not hire. But it would have been funny!
5. A really good moisturiser - You gotta be careful of wrinkles.
6. Hair dye - To cover up all the gray. Though, I started graying at age 19, and I've been dying my hair since age 16, so nothing new for me.
7. Tequila - Whether in the form of shots or in a mixed drink, its a must. (Honestly though, I'm a red wine girl. The margaritas are all for "M.")
8. A really nice, expensive handbag and/or pair of shoes - By the time we're 30, most of us have enough money to buy one really nice accessory. Reminds me...I should go shopping.
9. More tequila - After all...we ARE still single and we DO live in the South and we ARE turning 30. If you are an old maid at 24, then you are a REALLY old maid at 30! Tequila is the best anti-depressant ever! : )
10. Great girlfriends to say how young and vibrant you look and to say that 30 is no big deal.

And finally....having a really hot man in uniform hang around your house is never a bad thing. Maybe I'll accidentally set something on fire tonight and get the firemen to come to the party!

Here's to 30!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dessert Decisions

As you know, from reading this blog, I love to cook. Holidays are especially my favorite because I get to be fun and creative with my recipes. Desserts are some of my favorites, and if the family would leave it up to me completely, I could create and entire spread of things I want to try out. People should really invite me to more holiday parties just so I get to play guinea pig with my new recipes.

So, I had Thanksgiving all figured out. I was going to make a pumpkin chocolate chip cheesecake and an assorted cookie tray which includes: double chocolate chocolate chip cookes, pumpkin cookies, and cranberry walnut white chocolate cookies. But then I was looking up cupcake photos for a work project today and discovered lemon meringue cupcakes.


And now I'm torn...because I could imagine making these with red velvet cupcakes, my famous chocolate coconut cupcakes (I am the only one who calls them famous, but they are a crowd favorite), and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Oh the possibilities!

I have no idea what to do! Maybe I can save the cupcake idea for Christmas. Maybe that's smart. But I want to try the lemon meringue ones NOW!!! Maybe I should make some and bring them to work....Hmmmm....

Thoughts? Feelings? Suggestions? HELP ME DECIDE!!!

Happy cooking!

Cookie Swap...

I want to host a cookie swap in December. Has anyone ever done this? Any fun ideas to share????

Monday, November 16, 2009

Extra! Extra! READ all about it!

Its been a while since I updated my reading list. I have finished several titles since this was posted, and am on a current non-stop, a book a week (almost) frenzy. I don't spend much time reading, but do like to indulge in story time about an hour before bed each night.

Update/Opinion on Finished Books

1. Swapping Lives by Jane Green - Liked it. I like most everything by Jane Green though. She writes British chick lit, and I'm a fan of sappy stories. Swapping Lives is about two women who think the grass is greener on the other side, and embark on a quest to discover, or rediscover, who they really are. I can relate to that because I seem to always be searching for the next step. It was a cute novel, without being too sappy and lovey. Great beach/plane read.

2. Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger - I actually listened to the book on tape during my summer travels. This book was okay, but to me, a lot like "The Devil Wears Prada." Same premise of a girl trying to make her way with a tough job, and then giving it up at the end. It was just okay....I'm not going to give this a rave review, but it wasn't just horrible like....

3. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin - Why was this horrible? Because the heroin in the story is completely disillusioned. She spends the almost the entire time blaming her husband for ruining their marriage because he wants to have a baby and she doesn't. But...she's the one who walked out and left him. And her best friend is just encouraging her anger and resentment the whole time. Seriously? This is why women get a bad rap for being crazy! I didn't like the main character of this book at all....and I didn't like the book.

4. Miss Julia Strikes Back by Ann B. Ross - I bought this book at Walgreens on my way to the airport leaving Idaho. I should have gone with the other choice I found because I didn't even finish this book. It was THAT annoying to me. The main character, Miss Julie, is a busy older lady that was just annoying to me. And when they introduced a lazy, drunk fat detective into it, I just had to put it down. Did not like it at all.

5. The Penny by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford - This is a Christian lit book that I typically stay away from, but gave it a chance. It took me a very long time to read this book because some of the content was emotionally exhausting. The main character struggles through finding salvation and self worth, and is a victim of physical and sexual abuse. The book was good, and I enjoyed the story of grace and salvation, but dealing with the abuse was hard. I used to volunteer and later work at a shelter that hid abused women and children. I have seen what this does to a person first hand, and it is very difficult. That was the most emotionally taxing job I have ever had. And though they didn't go into detail and describe all that Jenny, the main character, went through, it still brought images of beautiful children that I saw scarred by anger, hatred, and sin. I would recommend this from the stand point of it showing God's grace and the progression of sanctification, but, like I said, it was a hard read emotionally. I cried several times, and I typically like to read happy books before bed.

6. Second Chance by Jane Green - This is the 3rd or 4th Jane Green book I have read, and again, I liked it, even though it was a bit different than the others. This one was kinda sad at times too because it dealt with grief and the aftermath of losing someone you love. But it also dealt with a group of friends coming back together and rediscovering their bond after many years of being separated. There is one character that they concentrate on more than the others, but it is really a story about multiple characters and how their lives intertwine. It was a fast read, and a great one for beach, plane, or before bed.

Books in the que:

1. The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum - I have about two nights left with this one. Its a story about a 29 year old single girl living in NYC and trying to figure out life. You would think I could relate to the character! ; ) She's a bit harder than me, though, and has a few more walls built up. What I will say is that they use the "f" word A LOT in this book, which bothers me. Because when you read it, it gets stuck in your head. Also, I can tell the author of this novel is not a very happy person. But, I'm enjoying the book so far.

2. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella - Just watched the movie last night and can't wait to get into the series of books!

3. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophea Kinsella

4. Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella

5. Sleeping Arrangements by Madeleine Wickham (The Shopaholic writer under a different name.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BBQ Bonanza - Pulled Pork Sammies

I'm always trying to come up with new recipes to try for my family when they come up for football games. This week I was craving bbq, so I decided to try making it from home for the first time. It ended up being really simple, cheap and a definite crowd pleaser. I took the long route with cooking it, though, and let the meat slow cook over night in the crock pot. But, it can be done faster if you desire. However, I think patience paid off with this dish!

1 pork tenderloin
1 bottle of bbq sauce (Or 1 1/2...Pick your favorite flavor)
Optional: onion and bell pepper
hamburger buns (I used wheat.)
Yield: 1 lb. pork tenderloin made about 10 small sandwiches

Place pork tenderloin in crock pot. Cover with half of your BBQ sauce. (Or full bottle depending on how much liquid you need.) Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Remove bbq from crock pot and place on plate or in a baking dish. Take two forks and begin to shred the tenderloin. Now you can either return the shredded pork to the crock pot and the bbq sauce that is in there, or you can pour that sauce or new sauce on the pork in a baking dish.

I cooked my tenderloin all night long, and then put it in the fridge until lunch time. I pulled it out of the fridge and heated it with more bbq sauce in the oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes. Depending on when you are cooking/serving, you can decide on what method works best for you.

Side note: I think it would be really delicious to add chopped bell pepper and onion to this recipe. I intended to do that, but forgot. I am definitely trying that next time.

After your bbq is finished cooking, then just slap it on a bun and you're done. The meat takes a while to cook, but its very low maintenance. Like i said, I cooked it overnight, so I just popped it in the crock pot and went to bed. Its a very low maintenance meal.

Side Suggestions: I made some homemade coleslaw and baked french fries. It would be great with potato salad or just some chips. Also, I provided mustard, sliced onion and jalapenos to dress the sandwiches. Quite yummy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Que sera....quesadilla

Yesterday I tweeted that I was going to try out an alternate version of a recipe that was in one of Rachael Ray's recent magazines. I love reading her magazine and figuring out my own take on her dishes. She included a recipe called Quesadilla Casserole that sounded pretty AMAZING, so I finally gave it a whirl last night.

I took the basic ingredients and the method and created my own version. If you are vegetarian, you can stick to Rachael's version. However, I was craving a little beef last night. (*gasp*....I rarely eat beef, I know. But ground turkey just wasn't going to cut it for me last night.) Anyway....I also had half a bell pepper left over from Sunday night's fajita fiesta, so I just decided to follow Rachael's steps, but incorporate my own ingredients. Here we go:


1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey
4 oz. can of green chiles
1 can drained black beans
1 cup frozen corn
shredded cheese
5 tortillas (I used fajita size? The medium ones between the small taco and large burrito kind.)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat with onions, bell pepper and olive oil in skillet. Flavor meat with chile powder and ground cumin to taste. (Or taco season if you have one of those packets. I just use my own ingredients.) If needed, drain off any excess liquid/fat after meat is cooked. Add green chiles, corn and black beans to meat and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Place one tortilla shell in bottom of pie plate or other round oven pan. Spread thin layer of meat mixture over tortilla and sprinkle shredded cheese over layer. Add another tortilla shell and repeat layers unti you run out of meat. For the top layer, you can use either meat or a tortilla. I used a tortilla.
  • Heat in oven for about 20 minutes. If top tortilla starts getting too brown, cover with foil. Remove from oven and slice and serve like pie pieces. Top with sour cream, salsa, jalepenos, or whatever you desire!

In the end, this was a pretty great dish! I'm sure Rachael's version is just as good, if not better than mine, but mine was pretty darn good! As far as my side suggestions, this is a pretty harty meal on its own, so I didn't have any sides. But...I did snack on tortilla chips while I was cooking, so I would suggest serving with chips and salsa!

Happy cooking!!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My foray into doing yardwork after dark.

So, I let this daylight savings time/falling back deal sneak up on me. I didn't know it was this weekend until someone reminded me on Saturday. Before I knew it, we were back to it being completely dark at 5:30 p.m. That's only 30 minutes after I supposedly get off work, and really, I usually don't get home until nearly 6 each night.

Well, this creates a problem when you let your weekends get overbooked, and you live alone, and you have lots of yard work to do. There's really no time after work to get things done outside, and Lord knows I am not one to get up even a minute before I have to in the morning. So, today I rushed out of the office at 4:45, got to Lowe's, bought a rake, and was home, changed, and outside by 5:15. Not leaving me much time, but enough where I thought I could get a good start on my leaf cleaning up duty.

After I got my 6 piles in the front yard somewhat neatly stacked, it was getting too dark to see. I had my porch, garage, and outside lights on, but it really doesn't illuminate anything but the front of the house. And since we don't street lights in my neighborhood (and everyone disconnects their gas lamps because its too expensive to run), I decided to do things the Mississippi way. (I do live here after all....)

So, what do Mississippians do when its dark and they need light? We turn our cars around and point the headlights in whatever general direction we need! I may have grown up in a city, but I spent plenty of time parked in the middle of a pasture in my younger days. (Wait, that somehow sounds shenanigans. I promise.)

I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy. I mean, its not like I drive some big pick-up truck. I drive a silver Infiniti QX-56. Not exactly your pasture kind of vehicle...Its kinda prissy if you think about it. (Very soccer mom-ish.) worked. I had enough light to transfer my piles into leaf bags. And now my yard isn't covered in a quilt of dead tree matter, which should make things easier for the lawn guy tomorrow.

Anyway, I have never done yard work in the dark before. I'm really not a fan of it, and you can't really do much more than what I accomplished tonight. I probably wouldn't plant or weed my flowerbeds in the dark, but, for what needed to be done, the headlight yard excursion was productive. Now off to bake some salmon.....Living alone is fun!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Never underestimate the bottom-of-the-barrel food!

Sometimes I think my best dishes are the ones where I have to get really creative. I once made a calzone with random leftovers that needed to be cooked or thrown out. I also put an exotic spin on mac-n-cheese with the limited ingredients I had at the time. And on SEVERAL occasions I have made up different pasta dishes because of a lack of choices in my house.

Tonight was one of those times when I was just running out of options. I have been putting off a trip to the grocery because I like to cook what I have before making a big run for food. Tonight things were looking pretty sad. But, on a whim, I decided to go Chinese with my limited resources. The EXTREMELY delicious meal! Here's how it went:

Last minute stir fry

1 small chicken breast
1-1.5 cups of mixed vegetables (the leftovers I had in the fridge were corn, carrots & asparagus)
1 pack of Uncle Ben's Ready Rice - Jasmine
lite soy sauce
salt & pepper

Chop chicken breast in small pieces. Cook halfway through in about 1 tablespoon of EVOO. Add desired amount of soy sauce. (At first, probably about 1.5 tablespoons.) Cook chicken thoroughly. Add vegetables and more soy sauce. (If vegetables are frozen, you will probably want to add them earlier or cook separately. Mine were leftovers in the fridge.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. For the rice, the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice is microwaved for 90 seconds. Pretty easy! Empty rice on plate and top with stir fry.

Side Suggestion: I had two small egg rolls in the freezer that I baked. You don't necessarily have to have a side with this though.


This dish was simple, fast, and really delicious. The only seasoning it had was lite soy sauce, with a little salt and pepper. And though I didn't have traditional stir fry vegetables, what was left in my fridge worked very well. It never hurts to experiment every once in a while. You never know what you are going to end up with! Could be the best thing you ever made!

Happy cooking!