Monday, November 21, 2011

A week full of Yummies!

This week we will all slow down to be thankful for all of the blessings in our lives...our families, friends, homes, jobs, and so many other wonderful things that we often take for granted.  Personally, I feel that Jason and I have been blessed beyond measure this year. God has opened up doors we didn't even know were there, and we have began a new journey together in a new town.  It's so crazy to think that this is already our second holiday season as husband and wife. Time has definitely flown by! 

We already kicked of Thanksgiving a little early this year and had round 1 with Jason's family on Saturday (round 2 is Thursday of course!).  I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes to help give some of you a few ideas of what to make.  Get ready...this is going to be a long post, but maybe this will be a little "food for thought" (corny I know...)

Lets get serious....first things first....what's the most important part of thanksgiving dinner?  Turkey? Dressing? Sweet potatoes?  


So that is why I am sharing my world famous... (okay maybe just famous in the surrounding towns... or at least at our family functions :)  .....Italian Cream Cake.  It's simply amazing and completely from scratch.  I would be lying  if I said this was easy to make. It's not too hard, but just takes some concentration! I thought the first time I made it I could disregard the part about dividing out the eggs and separating the wet & dry ingredients, but DON' turns out much better if you follow instructions.  I found this recipe and tweaked it slightly and have gotten it down perfect. Try it once and you'll want to make this for every church function, birthday, and family get together you have all year!

Britta's Italian Cream Cake


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 5 whole Eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 cup Coconut
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon Sugar
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 small spoonful sour cream (if you have any, if not, leave out)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 packages (8 Oz) Cream Cheese
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 package 2 Lb Powdered Sugar
  • 1 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 cup Sweetened, Flaked Coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 or 3 9-inch round cake pans.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and coconut.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Add in Cinnamon sugar and sour cream.  Mix until just combined, then fold in egg whites.

Pour evenly into the prepared pans, then sprinkle the top of each pan with 1 (at least) tablespoon sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

For Cream Cheese Icing:
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in chopped walnuts and sugared coconut. Spread between layers and serve.

I forgot to take pics of the next few recipes, but these are some other favorites around our house.   The next two recipes are dedicated to both of my grandmothers.  Both of these dishes were staples at all of our family get togethers.  Although the Mac-n-Cheese recipe is not the exact one my mammaw Mary made, it's pretty close and reminds me of her. The sweet potato recipe is my Mammaw White's that she used each time she cooked at Thanksgiving. It's super easy and it is the recipe that made me appreciate a sweet potato.

Mammaw Mary's Mac-N-Cheese

16 ounces elbow macaroni or small shell pasta
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
20 cranks of black pepper (or 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
12 ounces (3 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
Additional cheddar, parmesan, or bread crumbs** for topping
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In a large sauce pan, combine cayenne, garlic, crushed mustard, black pepper, and butter over medium heat. When butter starts to sizzle, add the flour and stir until mixed and bubbly.
3. Add 2 cups of the milk and whisk with the butter mixture over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Whisk constantly to avoid lumps or scorching.
4. Turn off heat and whisk in remaining 1 cup of milk and the cup of cream, along with the parsley and salt.
5. Crack eggs into a separate mixing bowl and whisk briskly, until they are no longer very "stringy". Whisking constantly, pour a half cup of the hot creamy sauce in with the eggs. Continue whisking and adding sauce to the eggs, until you've added about 2 cups of the sauce in with the eggs. Then pour the eggs into the saucepan with the rest of the sauce, whisking to incorporate.
6. Pour the sauce over the pasta in the large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in shredded cheeses. Spread into a lightly greased baking dish.
This recipe makes a very full 9x13-inch dish, so you can also divide it between a couple dishes for a thinner layer (I like to do a 9x13 dish and an 8x8 dish).
7. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, or bread crumbs. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Mildred's Sweet Potato Casserole

3 Cups cooked sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup white sugar
1 stick of butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together and put in a 9 x13 greased pan.  Sprinkle top with extra sugar.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter melted
chopped pecans to taste (I use about 2 cups)

Sprinkle on top of potatoe mixture.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

And finally...there is no sweet or special story behind this dish except that I kind of made it up last year and is FANTASTIC.  I made two big casserole dishes full last year for Jason's thanksgiving at his parents and there was none left.  However...I warn you that if you make this dish and consume it for your own tasting, your pants will not fit in the morning. Just a fair warning.

Absolutely Amazing Potatoes

2 lbs of potatoes (about 5-6 large potatoes)
1 stick of butter melted (sometimes I add more...just see what you like)
Seasoned salt (tonys)
16 oz sour cream
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
8 oz Cheddar cheese
1 package of bacon cooked & crumbled
1/2 bunch of green onions (to taste)

Peel and cut up raw potatoes and place into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Dash a little bit of olive oil on top. Next, pour melted butter on top of potatoes and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Then, remove from oven and check potatoes with a fork.

Mix sour cream and dry ranch in a bowl.  Dollip over potatoes.  Then sprinkle with cheese, bacon, and green onions.

Place back into the oven until cheese melts and begins to bubble.

If you are still reading this incredibly long blog post, bless your heart! Hope your family enjoys these recipes. I love finding recipes online and I thought I would share some of our favorites to inspire your Holiday cooking!  I hope all of you have a very safe & wonderful holiday with your family. 

Jason is telling me to get off the computer to come rub his back & neck while he watches football (he's had a long day of teacher's inservice learning about economics-Poor thing!), so duty calls......just another night around the Clark house, but I'm so thankful for it!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lazy weekend & Yummy Soup Recipe

We have had a pretty lazy weekend so far full of house cleaning, TV, cooking, & playing with Wiley. Mom came down since all the guys are at the deer camp and we spend the day running around Magnolia shopping and spending the day together.  Since Jason has been hunting today and will most likely go tomorrow, that of course means another day of lazy time for me & wiley. :)

Which brings me to our puppy update.....

 For all of you that know our sweet little dog Wiley, you know how mischievous he can be.  For those of you who don't, do not be fooled by his sweet little face!

We recued him last March and ever since we have loved having him as part of our family, especially since Bear passed away, he has definitely filled that place in our lives.

He knows how to really make a mess. The people that owned our house before us also had an outside dog who loved to dig & bury.  Wiley has made it his personal life mission to un-dig everything that the previous pup had hidden. 
 Of these things he has dug up a tennis racket, 4 footballs, 23 tennis balls, 5 golf balls, 6 dr. pepper cans, 3 trash bags, a silver car bumper, a hand saw, a shovel, a baby doll, and several other un-identified objects-and yes, I said a BUMPER! 

He tends to find the toys and destroy what he can and scatter around the yard. I've picked up 3, 30-gallon trash bags full of Wiley's "treasures" that he has found. He has almost dug up every inch of our flower beds in the back yard.  Hopefully we won't have any other surprises from him and he will start behaving himself since it's almost Christmas time and Santa might have to put him on the naughty list!

Look at that sweet face...

Wiley the cow dog! He always has a way with the ladies...they look for him every time we walk the farm road & fight each other to kiss him! It's so adorable!

Just laying by the back door enjoying spending the day with mom.

I did accomplish a few things besides just playing with Wiley & shopping with mom. I discovered a wonderful & amazing thing...

 Okay ...if you like McCalisters and you like soup, I've got the recipe for you.  Jason & I love McCalister's & I always get their torilla soup every time I go there. I like it a lot better than the broth versions because it is cheesy.  So, today I thought I would try to copy-cat it & I hit the nail right on the head! It's almost identical. 


You can add corn or beans to this as you like, but I wanted mine to be just like theirs, so I didn't add anything extra.

 Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 Rotisserie Chicken cut up
1/2-1 whole onion
1 can rotel
1 small can green chilis
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese (or nacho cheese) soup
2 cups chicken broth
(pinch of cayenne if you want a little extra kick, taste first!)

1. Cut up chicken & add to crock pot.
2.Saute onion in a little olive oil until tender & toss in.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on high for about 3 hours or low around 4-6.
4. Serve with Tortilla chips, Cheese, Cilantro, & Sour Cream


In between Holidays...

Halloween is over and I'm a little behind with my update.  We really enjoyed getting to spend our first Halloween in our new house.  Our neighborhood is full of kids and we had LOTS of trick or treaters (I think we went through about 10 huge bags of candy!). Remember last year when I said it was Jason's first time carving a pumpkin? Well we had another pumpkin "carve off" and as you can see we've gotten a little better each year! Maybe next year we will attempt one of the fancy stencil pumpkins.  Here's a flashback to last years pumpkin carving...

Here is Jason's Pumpkin from this year. He decided to make a BAT on his, even though I said it looks like a dragon! lol

And here is mine. I went for a funky pumkin with a star & moon for the eyes.

Here they are together glowing in our kitchen.

One of the biggest hits of the night were my Popcorn Scary Hands! They were so easy to make and very inexpensive. My mom actually used to make them for all of our Halloween parties at school growing up and they had such sentimental value-plus who couldn't resist popcorn & candy corn?!  I had good intentions to make candied apples for our friends' kids, but never quite fit it in with all of the other excitement! Here is a quick overview of how I made them...

What you need:
1 package of Candy Corn
Clear plastic gloves (no powder & very thin)
1 box popcorn
twist ties or ribbon
Spider rings for fingers

Pop the popcorn & place in a bowl.  Take a glove and add candy corn into the fingers with the tip of the corn facing outward like a finger nail.  Then, take the popcorn & stuff the glove.  This can take a while so allow yourself plenty of time for this project!  After the hand is stuffed with popcorn, tie off the top. Then add a cute little spider ring to finish the look.

Just becase it says "fat free food" on the bag, doesn't mean this treat is good for you! haha!

Creepy hands crawling their way into the bowl!

The finished product.

 Now on to the next  holiday of Thanksgiving! I'll be posting my favorite thanksgiving dishes & recipes for each soon!  Yesterday we did our annual Friday trip to Little Rock and went to Holiday House & Silks-a-Bloom.  Now I'm all geared up for Christmas. I even got a new tree this year & I can't WAIT to start decorating my new house for the Holidays.  More to come on that later....