Tuesday, December 23, 2008

BIG announcement!

To my very few but very dear readers,

For a while now, I've been wanting to change the name of my blog. I've never really been happy with this one and felt it didn't really fit the look or vibe I was going for. So, I've created a BRAND NEW blog and will be posting there from now on. Don't worry, I am also going to copy everything over from Mrs. JY to my new blog.

Here it is!

biscuits & honey


I feel like this new name really sums me up. "Biscuits" for my Southern heritage; and "honey" represents my love of pure, simple ingredients. This name change came mostly out of the realization that I really just wanted to blog about food. Mrs. JY started out as more of a lifestyle blog, but it quickly became apparent to me that most of my entries were about food and cooking.

And, since I don't have tons of readers right now, I thought it a good time to make the jump. I hope that those of you who do read will make the jump with me! The future only promises more tales of culinary delights.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie & Candy Bar Brownies

This is another really easy, quick weeknight meal that I adapted from a recipe of Jenny's from Picky Palate (love Jenny's blog - you should check it out if you haven't already. It's perfect for winter - total comfort food. It's also a great way to use leftover chicken.

Upside Down Chicken Pot Pie
adapted from Picky Palate

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (I recommend Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (you could also use cream of chicken or cream of celery, whatever you have on hand or whatever is your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic & Herb flavor Mrs. Dash (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or more to taste)

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook the chicken breast until done, about 30-45 minutes. After the chicken is done, cube or shred it. Lower the heat to 350 degrees.

While the oven is lowering temperature, gently unfold the puff pastry onto a well floured surface and cut it into 9 equal squares. Place the squares on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

While the puff pastry is baking, prepare the chicken gravy. Pour the soup in a medium saucepan, and add the milk, mixed vegetables, chicken, Mrs. Dash, and seasoned salt to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes or so or until the veggies are tender. You can thin out the sauce with more milk to your desired consistency if you like.

To serve, place 2 puff pastry squares in a bowl and ladle the chicken gravy over it. Enjoy your upside down chicken pot pie!

Next, I have a second super easy dessert recipe for you as a bonus!

This is a great brownie recipe if you need something super quick and easy in pinch. And they look and taste fantastic. No one would ever guess you just doctored up a box mix. Everyone loves these!

Candy Bar Brownies

  • 1 box of your favorite family size brownie mix, for a 9x13" pan, prepared according to the directions on the box
  • 3 large size Hershey's Symphony Bars (I like the ones with toffee and almonds)

First, prepare the brownie mix according to box directions. Pour half of the brownie batter into a 9x13" pan. Top the brownie batter with the candy bars (three of the large ones should just fit into your pan). Then, top with the remaining brownie batter. Bake according to box directions. Enjoy!

Coming Up....

This Saturday, I spent the entire day baking and I gave away my holiday boxes on Sunday! They contained Cookies 'n Cream Fudge, Neiman Marcus Cookies, Christmas Rice Krispie Treats, and Swirled Turtle Brownies! I hope the recipients enjoyed them. I'm going to do a big post and share all of my recipes soon.

Also, I just finished planning our Christmas Eve menu! This year, Mr. JY and I will be having our own party and exchanging gifts on Christmas Eve, and we'll be spending Christmas Day with our parents. I've decided to make Beef Wellington, Brussels Sprouts Gratin, Carrot Souffle, Homemade Yeast Rolls, and Homemade Butter! And individual chocolate souffle cakes for dessert! It's going to be so yummy. So be on the lookout for an upcoming post about that.

Oh! And also, I wanted to tell you, I WON the cubicle decorating contest at my office! I will be posting about that tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Giada and Ina's Macaroni and Cheese

Here's another recipe to tide you over until I get my holiday recipes up. I think I decided today on the main course for Mr. JY and I's Christmas Eve dinner!

This recipe is my own combination of two great macaroni and cheese recipes from Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis, my two favorite Food Network chefs. It's defintely a more "grown up" version. It uses fontina, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses instead of cheddar, and is topped with tomatoes. I love the extra flavor the tomatoes add! Ina's recipe called for gruyere, which I am sure would be fabulous, but at the store I went to gruyere was so expensive it would've cost me $20 for the cheese alone for this recipe, so I used the cheese in Giada's, fontina. I'd never worked with fontina before, and it's creamy and mild. You could, of course, use any cheese you like. I think the first time I made this recipe I just used a shredded Italian cheese blend to save money. Since I was making this for our small group's Christmas dinner, I splurged a little on the cheese.

This macaroni and cheese is best the next day, so its a great make ahead dish. Make it the night before and just warm it in the oven before serving.

Unfortunately, there are no pictures (got in too much of a hurry), but I will be glad to share my recipe with you!

Giada & Ina's Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from two recipes courtesy Ina Garten & Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 12 ounces of your favorite pasta (I used corkscrews)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups grated Fontina cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh parsley)
  • 1 large or 2 small tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

First, spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cook your pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until just al dente, about 6 minutes. Remember it's going in the oven later, so it should still have a bite to it. After the pasta is done cooking, drain well. Do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to your baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter. If it looks a little dry, add a little olive oil. Set aside. Slice the tomato into thin slices and set aside.

Next, top the noodles with the tomatoes, the remaining cheese, then the breadcrumbs. Put into the oven for 30 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are brown and cheese is bubbly. Let it sit on the counter for at least 10 minutes prior to serving.

Hint: If during baking your breadcrumbs become too brown, cover the mac and cheese with foil.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not Yo Mama's Banana Puddin'

Here's a recipe I made a while back to tide you over until my holiday entries. This would be a great, easy recipe to take to your next holiday party.

This is Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Puddin'. I first saw Paula make this on tv a few years ago, and I was appalled. Paula Deen is supposed to be the queen of Southern cuisine, and here she was making a Southern dessert staple -banana pudding - with packaged vanilla pudding mix, shortbread cookies instead of Nilla wafers, and cream cheese? I'd grown up on my Mema's recipe, the traditional one, which contains a homemade custard pudding cooked on the stove. I turned my little nose up at this recipe and refused to make it, until my good friend Sarah (yes, the same Sarah that I baked the chocolate cake for) convinced me otherwise. I decided to give it a shot. And, boy, was Sarah right on! Traditional or not, this stuff is amazingly delicious! Even if you don't care all that much for bananas, you'll love this banana pudding.

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding
recipe courtesy Paula Deen


  • 2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies (you may want to get three, I felt I ran out of cookies)
  • 6 to 8 bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 5oz box instant French vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 140z can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12 oz container Cool Whip, or equal amount homemade whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

It seems as if I am always making entries like this, but I wanted to say that I'm still alive and apologize for not posting in a while! As you all know, December is just a crazy busy month and, honestly, I haven't done much cooking so far! Mostly, I've been whipping up simple, quick dinners for me and Mr. JY and that's about it. Nothing at all blog worthy. Please don't tell the foodie police, but we ate Velveeta Shells and Cheese that I doctored up the other night for dinner!

Also consuming a lot of my free time is my office's cubicle decorating contest. I know, I know. What a nerd I am! I've been decorating mine like a gingerbread house and I'm going all out. I am defintely going to post pictures here when it's done. The judging is next week.

I'm also a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding this Saturday, so I've been preparing for that and I'm totally excited! This is my first time being in a wedding (besides my own).

Stay tuned, though, because I've got some exciting things coming up! First off, I am planning on doing some holiday gift baking next week - so be on the lookout for that. Easy, foolproof, yet impressive recipes! I am planning on doing 2 types of candy, 1 cookie, and maybe a brownie.

Also, at the end of the month I'll be posting about my very first Daring Bakers challenge and boy is it a doozy! But I can't wait to tackle that one.

Also, I've been planning the menu for Mr. JY and I's Christmas Eve dinner. We visit family on Christmas day, but I am doing our own very special dinner just for us. Any ideas for me?

Thanks for reading and I hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Just About Perfect Chocolate Cake

photo courtesy my lovely friend Sarah (yes we have the same name), the birthday girl

I made this classic chocolate cake for my friend Sarah's birthday Saturday (also the day of the Iron Bowl..... ROLL TIDE!). It's from Tyler Florence's cookbook Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen. This was actually the first cake recipe I ever made from scratch when I made it for my dad's birthday a few years ago.

It's a very classic chocolate cake, moist, with a nice, rich chocolate flavor. There is a frosting recipe to go with it, but my attempt fell flat - it came out much too thin to use as a frosting, more like a glaze, and I ended up going with Betty Crocker instead.

The cake recipe, however, is fantastic. For now, it is my go-to chocolate cake recipe. I'd like to try some variations, like maybe using coffee or buttermilk in place of the water in the recipe, but this cake is also delicious just the way it is. I wish I'd taken a picture of the inside; it was light, fluffy, and almost had a reddish tinge to it, like Red Velvet Cake. It's the perfect cake for a birthday or for any time. What's your favorite type of cake to have on your birthday?

Triple Chocolate Threat

adapted from Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen by Tyler Florence

serves 8-12

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Prepare 2 round 9" cake pans by coating the hottom and sides very well with cooking spray and flour (or use Baker's Joy like I did and save yourself a step). Line the pans with parchment paper by tracing around the edge of them and cutting out a circle that will fit perfectly in the bottom of your pan. Then, spray the tops of the parchment. This will ensure your cakes come out.

3) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4) In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate and beat for 3 minutes to incorporate.

5) Beat in each egg on at a time and then add vanilla extract until well blended.

6) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 3 minutes.

7) Gradually add in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the ice water. Beat for 1 minute after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the cake's structure. Mix until the batter is smooth.

8) Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it equally, and smoothing out the top. The pans should be two thirds full.

9) Place the pans on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and/or the cake springs back when touched.

10) Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack until completely cool. This is a very important step! Do not attempt to take the cakes out of the pan while they're still even remotely warm, as you risk this very light cake falling apart.

11) Once cool, turn them out and remove the parchment paper. Frost with your favorite frosting of choice!

I would post Tyler's frosting recipe here, but it didn't turn out well for me and I didn't care for it all that much. I used Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate frosting, but you could use your favorite buttercream recipe or whatever blows your skirt up. I decorated my cake easily by pressing handfuls of mini chocolate chips onto the sides.

Make this for a friend or family member's next birthday.... they'll love you for it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bridal Shower

Okay, so I remember I promised that I would post this glorious and beautiful post filled with pictures and amazing recipes from the bridal shower that I threw this past Saturday.

Unfortunately, I realized I hadn't taken any pictures when the party was over and all of the food was half eaten!

But, I thought I'd post anyway. I really liked my menu and thought it worked out really well for a casual mid afternoon shower. This one was actually an "Around the House" theme, where each guest was assigned a room to buy for. We ate, played a couple of games, and just enjoyed each other's company. It was a great way to spend an afternoon!

Most of my menu comes from chefs from FoodNetwork.com, with one original recipe inspired by a restaurant in Chattanooga, TN.

Bridal Shower Menu

And lastly, here is the one recipe I made up. It's inspired by an amazing sandwich I ate at a restaurant in Chattanooga, TN called River Street Deli. Or River City Deli. Or something like that. I know exactly where it is, though. It's owned by a New Yorker and it's just one of those simple, amazing hole in the wall places. You might think this is an odd combination at first, but its great!

Mini Open Faced Ham, Cheddar, and Green Apple Sandwiches


  • 10 slices of Pepperidge Farm Very Thin white bread
  • 1/4 c. apple butter (approximate)
  • 1 large or 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • 1 package Sargento sliced Medium Cheddar cheese (or any deli sliced cheddar cheese)
  • 1 package good quality deli ham or proscuitto

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the crusts off your bread slices, and then half them. Put all of the bread slices on a cookie sheet, and spray with a little bit of cooking spray. Put them in the oven until just toasted. This took about 5 minutes for me, but check them often. You want them to be barely browned.

Next, core and slice your granny smith apple into very thin slices. I didn't peel mine because I liked the color. I also put mine in a bowl of cold water and lemon juice after slicing so they wouldn't turn brown.

After slicing your apples, you'll want to slice up your cheese into rectangles that fit perfectly on top of your bread slices. Make 20 cheese rectangles and you can nibble on the scraps.

After the cheese is done, you're ready to assemble your appetizer. Spread each bread slice with a thin layer of the apple butter. Top with a slice of cheese, a slice of apple, and then with the ham or proscuitto. I just layed the ham prettily atop the apple, but if you have proscuitto you can wrap it around the sandwich. Just experiment and see what looks good.

Arrange on a tray and wrap with plastic wrap until guests arrive so the cheese won't dry out around the edges. I would make this one the day of so its fresh.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2 Ingredient Brownie Muffins

This week my husband is away on a business trip and he took my camera with him, so again, no pictures. But, I do have a super simple, super easy recipe for you that has just two ingredients! And, its pretty healthy! I served these at a girls night in I was having at my house, and none of the girls could believe how simple and delicious they were. You'd never believe that they have just 2 ingredients, and that one of them is pumpkin.

2 Ingredient Brownie Muffins
from Hungry-Girl.com
  • 1 box your favorite Devil's Food cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Moist Deluxe)
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin (I recommend Libby's brand)


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Combine the cake mix and canned pumpkin in a bowl. It will be relatively thick, but don't be tempted to add water, oil, eggs, or anything else, as it will ruin the mixture. And add fat and calories, and we wouldn't want that, now would we? Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full with the mixture. I think I got 16 muffins out of my batch, but I wasn't really exact with the measurements. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack & enjoy!

1 Muffin, or 3 minis - 181 calories, 3.5g fat, 37g carbs, 2g, fiber, 2g protein - 4 WW points.


  • Instead of Devil's Food cake mix, try using spice cake for yummy, moist pumpkin spice muffins.
  • To add a little bit of decadence to your brownie muffins, stir in chocolate chips or other add ins. I bet peanut butter chips would be good. Of course, this makes them higher in fat and calories. Last night, I stirred in some Nestle chocolate chunks that I had in the pantry.
  • You can also just spread this in an 8x8 baking dish and cut into squares for low fat brownies. A friend of mine made hers this way and they turned out great!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Peach Pie Smoothie

Okay, okay. I know I promised to post more photos here and yet again, I post a tiny stock photo from Food Network's website. But, please, bear with me. I promise one of these days, I'll get my act together.

This Peach Pie Smoothie recipe is really great. It's easy to do, it's tasty, and it's even healthy! Mr. JY is a type 1 diabetic (to learn more, visit www.jdrf.org - it's a great organization), so I'm always on the lookout for easy and healthy recipes. This makes a great breakfast on the go. Sometimes, I'll mix up all the ingredients except the frozen peaches the night before and store it in a container. The next morning, I'll just combine it in a blender with the peaches.

It has no fat, 240 calories. It is a little high in carbs; but, it does have a lot of fruit in it. So, it least it's natural sugars from the fruit and honey. It's also a good source of calcium, fiber, and vitamin C.

However, please don't be mislead by the name of this recipe. It really is a yogurt smoothie with some peaches and spice. It's not going to taste exactly like a slice of decadent peach pie. It's easy to tweak according to your tastes, too. Use vanilla or peach flavored yogurt; add more spices; or more vanilla. Any way you make it, it's healthy and refreshing. Try it for breakfast today!

Peach Pie Smoothie
courtesy of Ellie Kreiger, Food Network

  • 1/2 cup nonfat or 1 percent lowfat milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen unsweetened peaches
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground ginger


Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Per Serving:

Calories 240; Total Fat 0 g; (Sat Fat 0 g, Mono Fat 0 g, Poly Fat 0 g) ; Protein 12 g; Carb 49 g; Fiber 3 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 150 mg

Friday, November 14, 2008

Christmas Etsy Finds

I love, love, love Etsy. I could spend hours and hours browsing the unique handcrafted creations there. It's a also a great source of kitschy vintage items that I love. Today while browsing I found some fantastic Christmas items. Here's a few I'd like to share with you. Maybe it will bring you some holiday inspiration!

1. Classic Christmas Advent Calendar from AllThingsArtsy, $35

How incredibly adorable is this? It's a muffin pan with magnets covering each cup. I was almost afraid to post this one, because I really am thinking of purchasing it myself. Imagine how fun it would be to fill each cup and remove the magnet together with your kids or with your spouse. So fun, and a great way to start a holiday tradition together. I am sure it would be easy to make one of these yourself, but this one is just so cute and it would defintely save you time and effort in finding and pairing all of these adorable things together. I love this!

2. Cream Feather Christmas Tree from brandywine, $12.50

I just love this cream feather Christmas tree from Etsy seller brandywine. I imagine it would be so lovely with vintage broaches clipped on it for a modern, elegant take on a Christmas tree. I love the box with antique ledger paper. This would look lovely on any tabletop, and really compliment a vintage Christmas theme. Check out brandywine's shop for other beautiful vintage-y Christmas items, including some beautiful tag and stocking decorating kits.
3. Vintage Postcard Garland from VintageScraps, $14.00
What a wonderful, simple, and beautiful idea! Vintage postcards strung together to make a unique garland. Check out VintageScraps' shop for more unique uses of vintage papers and other materials.
**EDIT: I am not sure why the alignment of my text and pictures is so wonky, but hopefully I'll get it fixed soon. Please bear with me. Thanks!**

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Preview & An Announcement

Next Saturday, the 22nd, I am hosting a bridal shower at my home and have come up with a menu that I think sounds really good! Let's just say there's a mocktail, cupcakes, and some really yummy appetizers involved. I will also post about the invitations and decor I decide upon as well. So that should be a really fun post! Look for it some time the week of Thanksgiving.

Also, I wanted to announce that I've joined The Daring Bakers! If you're not familiar with The Daring Bakers, basically they're a group of bloggers that do a recipe challenge each month and post about it on the same day. The recipes are usually very challenging and I'm really looking forward to learning new techniques, trying some new things, and sharing my experience with other food bloggers. I know it's going to be a really fun and humbling experience because these bloggers are just amazing! I am hoping that by joining them I will be able to learn and soak up some of their knowledge and expertise.

So, there's a little taste of what's to come on Mrs. JY! I am also thinking of trying out a cookie recipe from Picky Palate this weekend as well. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

{insert pretty food photo here}

I promise one of these days I'll actually learn to take photos of my food. Right now, my camera is hanging out in a box somewhere. Haven't dug it out yet. I'd really like to have fabulous photos and tutorials a la two of my favorite blogs The Pioneer Woman Cooks and The Crepes of Wrath, but for now, I guess this'll have to do.

Last night, I made Strawberry Pretzel Salad to take to my small group. We have dinner together every week, which makes it a good testing ground for recipes. Samantha made a fantastic Santa Fe soup, and at the request of my friend Jana I made her favorite, Strawberry Pretzel Salad.

I really can't think of enough good things to say about SPS. First off, its called a salad, when really, it's a dessert.... it almost tricks you into thinking it just might be healthy. It's really easy to make, its light, its refreshing, and everyone loves it. It's creamy, sweet, tart, and salty all rolled into one. And the longer it sits, the more delicious it gets. In fact, I'd recommend making it the night before you are going to serve it. Or at least the morning of. I really wish I'd done that yesterday instead of making it right before taking it to small group.

This probably won't be the first post you see about strawberry pretzel salad in my blog. That's because I am trying to perfect this recipe to duplicate my favorite SPS from a local restaurant here, Main Street Cafe. And last night's came close, but it wasn't quite there yet. So I gotta keep tweaking and testing..... not that I'm complaining.

Here's the recipe I used, from Cooks.com:

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

2 c. crushed pretzel sticks
3/4 c. melted butter
3 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry banana Jello
2 c. boiling water
2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen strawberries, partially thawed

Mix first three ingredients and press in bottom of a 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees (metal pan) or 325 degrees (glass pan) 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Beat 1 cup sugar and cream cheese. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzels. Mix Jello and water until dissolved. Add strawberries. Stir into Jello, then set aside for 10 minutes. Pour over cheese mixture. Chill.

My notes:

First off, don't know why this recipe calls for strawberry banana Jello, but I just used regular strawberry. Never heard of using strawberry banana, and I don't think I'd want to. But if the idea blows your skirt up, by all means, go for it.

First off, I noticed that I didn't have enough pretzel mixture to cover the bottom of my pan. I don't like to completely pulvarize my pretzels, I leave them pretty chunky, since grinding them into a fine powder makes for a soggy crust and also the pretzel crust is (for some) the most important element of a strawberry pretzel salad. I wanna know they're pretzels. I'd defintely recommend doubling the pretzel mixture ingredients. And maybe adding even more butter after that. My pretzels just didn't wanna stay together; and I want to end up with uniform "slices" of my salad, just like Main Street Cafe's.

The cream cheese filling turned out good, but I added 1 capful (not sure what the exact amount is) of vanilla extract and beat the tar out of the cream cheese and sugar until it was fully combined, light and fluffy. Don't be afraid to beat it for a good 5 minutes, or until it looks good to you. Make sure you fold the Cool Whip in carefully as it can "break" easily. I don't think I need to double this mixture. I think adding 4oz more of cream cheese and maybe a bit more sugar would help it be a little bit thicker, though, and more rich.

The strawberry Jello layer was a small fiasco. The recipe says to let it sit for 10 minutes in the bowl after the addition of the partially thawed strawberries. Well, maybe my strawberries were too cold because it completely gelled in the bowl when I walked away for 10 minutes, resulting in me having to just spoon it atop the cream cheese mixture. Not so pretty, and not the affect I was going for. Also, it seemed to me there was not enough Jello and too many strawberries; I'd recommend using 1 bag of strawberries (either 10oz or 16oz) and maybe 2 boxes of Jello and 4 cups of boiling water.

All in all, this attempt still tasted pretty good. It's hard to mess up! It's a perfect treat for a pot luck, family gathering, or just an anytime dessert. You could probably lighten it up a little by using sugar free Jello, neufchatel cheese in place of cream cheese, Splenda in place of sugar, and fat free or sugar free Cool Whip. Not sure what you'd do about all those pretzels and butter though......

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've Fallen for a Stove

For a long time now, I've been dreaming of what kind of new range I might want for my kitchen. The one in our new house works just fine (or, at least, I think it does...but anything's better than the possessed oven at our apartment), but it's a little outdated. And, since I love to cook, I've always wanted a really nice range.

I've gone back and forth between GE Profile, GE Cafe, or Electrolux.

But now, I think I've found the one that tops them all. The one that is perfect for me. I found it by a mere Google search, and when I did, the heavens opened and angels sang sweet choruses.

Well, not really, but I am now desperately, hopelessly in love with the Elmira Stove Works Northstar Range.


It's a modern range with all the conveniences, but with a vintage 50's look! And they have lots of colors to choose from - your basic white or black, buttercup yellow, red, robin's egg blue.... ah. It's just amazing. Of course, mine would have to be an electric range since we don't have gas in our house, but man are these cute!

Check our their website, its chock full of amazing retro/antique style appliances!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I found this recipe by way of the LiveJournal community bakebakebake. It is courtesy of the community member spracker, so all credit for this absolutely delicious and perfect fall treat goes to her.

I did, however, run into one small problem. No one here had heard of whoopie pies! I had, maybe because I peruse cookbooks and food blogs online for hours at a time, or maybe because I tend to watch exhorbatant amounts of Food Network, but no one at the Halloween party I went to knew what they were and snickered at the name. So, of course, I turned to my trusty friend Wikipedia to find out the origin of the Whoopie Pie.

"A whoopie pie, sometimes alternatively called a gob, black-and-white, or bob is a baked good traditional to the Pennsylvania Dutch culture as well as New England, made of two small, chocolate, disk-shaped cakes with a sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between them. In Western Pennsylvania they are known as "gobs."
They are popular both as a simple dessert or as a snack food. They can be purchased wrapped in plastic at
Amish farmers' markets throughout Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio and are often found in restaurants and gift shops throughout Pennsylvania Dutch Country. They can also be found in most convenience stores and supermarkets throughout New England, most commonly in the states of Maine and Massachusetts, and in some convenience marts and supermarkets in New York as well as in Quincy Market located in Boston, Massachusetts. As one of the most common delicacies of the cuisine, recipes for whoopie pies are almost always included in Pennsylvania Dutch cookbooks. They can be found elsewhere throughout in the United States in various restaurants and bakeries, although uncommon."
- courtesy of wikipedia.com

So, there it is. Now you know. No wonder no one down here in Alabama knew what they were!

And, of course, I have no picture (again) for this recipe. I was in a hurry and had to make them for a Halloween party Mr. JY and I were attending. But I thought they turned out really, really well! The cake was very moist and had just the right amount of spice and pumpkin flavor; and the cream middle was just sweet enough. I think this one will surely be added to my repetoire and be made again!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1/2 15oz can of pumpkin
1/3 C softened unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 package spice cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1/2 C milk
Parchment paper for lining the baking sheet

In a large bowl, beat pumpkin and butter until smooth. Add spice cake mix, eggs, milk, and beat at a low speed until combined for 1 minute. Use a spoon or mini ice cream scoop to ladle batter, about 3 inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 until lightly browned around the edges (about 15 minutes). Cool the cakes on the parchment paper so they do not become sticky.

Middle Filling:
1/2 C softened unsalted butter (you could get away with using less if you must)
8oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 of a 7oz jar marsmallow creme
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. In mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth, add cream cheese and marshmallow creme and continue beating. Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing until smooth. The longer you mix it the more fluffy you will get. I suggest 5 minutes minimum.Spread filling on the flat half of one cake, and top with another cake to make a sandwich. You may end up with extra filling. Just a tip - It's great spread on gingersnaps and banana bread too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spicy Chili with Cornbread Waffles

First off, I've got to apologize for that pathetic little photo up there. The truth is, this recipe didn't last long enough for me to take a picture, so this is Foodnetwork.com's tiny stock photo. I made this last night as a treat for Mr. JY and me. I haven't been cooking much lately since we've been busy, busy bees working on our new house, and Mr. JY had a long meeting yesterday and got home late. I thought he might want some nice comfort food. This recipe was a huge hit. Ladies, if you want your man to fall in love with you all over again, whip up this easy chili and waffles and you'll have him wrapped around your little finger. The chili was spicy but not too spicy; the little bits of corn provided a sweet burst of flavor that echoed the cornbread waffle. The addition of sour cream and cheese made it downright sinful and oh, so comforting after a long autumn work day.

This recipe is from Paula Deen (of course). Anything so sinfully delicious and comforting would be. I don't make her recipes all too often since they are so dangerous, but you could easily slim this down if you wanted to by omitting the waffles (heaven forbid), using fat free or lowfat sour cream to garnish, omitting the cheese.... but why on earth would you want to?

The recipe on Food Network's website is here:


You might notice I changed the name of the recipe on my blog and switched the order around. That's simply because I think the chili is the true star of this recipe and I think it's a little counter-intuitive to list the waffle recipe first. I made the waffles while the chili was simmering, so it makes sense to me to just go ahead and make the chili first, and then make the waffles. But to each her own, I suppose. Paula does, after all, have her own shows, restaurants, and megabucks cooking empire and I just have this little food blog here no one reads, so why would you listen to me?

Anyway, here's the recipe. :)

Paula Deen's Spicy Chili with Cornbread Waffles

Spicy Chili Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground chuck
1 onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans ranch-style beans (Note: I could not find these at Target, so I just used 2 15oz cans of seasoned pinto beans and it turned out just fine.)

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (15-ounce) can niblet corn, drained

1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground chuck, until beef is crumbly. Stir in onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. Yield: 10 to 12 servings

While the chili is simmering, make your waffles. Now, if you don't have a waffle maker, you could certainly just make corn pancakes in a skillet. Or cornbread muffins. But trust me, if you DO own a waffle maker (and this recipe might just be grounds to go out and buy one if you don't) you are gonna want to make these waffles.

Before I list Paula's recipe for the waffles, I have a confession to make........

I cheated.

I used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix to make the waffles. I know, I know. But it really saved me time. And I have an obsession with Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. It makes the best sweet cornbread. Until I taste homemade that's better, I won't back down from that. So, if you need to save some time, use the Jiffy box. It's okay. No one will know. Just follow the directions on the box.

But for you pretentious people that would like to make it homemade, here's the recipe:

Cornmeal Waffles Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.
In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add milk, oil, and eggs; stirring until smooth. Pour batter onto hot waffle iron and bake in batches. Set aside and keep warm.

Serve waffles topped with heaping spoonfuls of Spicy Chili. Garnish with shredded Cheddar, sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro (unless you hate cilantro like I do, then by all means leave it out).

Trust me when I say you have got to try this recipe. As Paula would say, it's truly "out of this world"!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Crepe Cake Revisted

I wanted to post today to make a correction to my former recipe for the luscious delight you see in the picture above. This, my friends, is my quickie version of a crepe cake. I made it last night for my small group, and in doing so realized that the recipe I posted here was a little bit incorrect. So, I thought I'd repost.
Also, I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you how much I truly love this "cake." It is so easy and looks so impressive. Anyone can make this. There's simply no way you can mess it up! It looks like you spent hours on it, when in reality, whipping this baby up took me under 1 hour.
So, without further ado, I give you:
Easy 20 Layer Crepe Cake
Yes, I am changing the name of the recipe. Why? Because I realize that this simple recipe can be used as a base for many, many creations. Just get creative! You can make tons of variations of this cake. We'll talk more about that after the basic recipe.
Basic Recipe:
- 20 basic crepes (I used store bought Melissa's brand, but you could make your own, of course)
Mascarpone Cream
- 2 8oz containers mascarpone cheese
- 1 8oz block cream cheese
- 1 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding mix
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract*
- 3/4 c. milk
- 1/4 c. powdered sugar (or more to taste)
To assemble the cake, all you do is layer it with about 1/8 c. mascarpone cream for each layer(and whatever other ingredients you'd like) and garnish with powdered sugar, fruit, chocolate, whatever blows your skirt up!
Now, for the varations. For the one in the picture, I made it a Chocolate Hazelnut 20 Layer Crepe Cake by spreading every third layer with Nutella (aka the food of the gods). I garnished it with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, whipped cream, and strawberries. Last night, the cake I made for my small group became a Strawberry Chocolate Hazelnut crepe cake because I added sliced strawberries in each Nutella layer.
To make a variation, all you have to do is add things to the cream (like different extracts instead of vanilla, switch out the vanilla pudding for chocolate and add cocoa to make a chocolate cream) and use different ingredients for layering. Here are three variations I came up with on my own. Can you think of any others?
Citrus Crepe Cake: Omit the vanilla and add orange, lemon, or lime extract to taste. You could even add in some zest for extra flavor. Then, layer orange, lemon, or lime curd on every third layer.
Mocha Crepe Cake: Add a bit of cocoa powder, substitute brewed coffee or espresso for the milk, and substitute chocolate pudding mix for the vanilla.
Bananas Foster Crepe Cake: Add a bit of rum or rum extract to the cream, use banana pudding mix instead of the vanilla, and alternate with layers of caramel and bananas. Yum!
As you can see, the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Halloween Costume Woes

Mr. JY and I are having a lot of trouble coming up with a Halloween costume this year. Halloween is one of my most favorite holidays; I have loved it since I was a little girl and usually think about and plan out my costumes months ahead of time, full of anticipation. To a girl like me with a big imagination, Halloween was always the best: forget all of that spooky stuff, you get to dress up in a fantastic costume, hang out with your friends, and collect candy for a night. What could be better?

Not everyone shares my sentiments about Halloween, especially Mr. JY. He sees dressing up as nothing but a hassle. I am sure many men share this opinion. As a child, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8 so it's easy to see why Halloween has never been his favorite. Tons of candy is not very good for a diabetic kid.

However, enivtably, every year we are invited to some sort of Halloween costume party, to my delight and his dismay.

This year, I am totally at a loss to come up with a costume we'd both like to dress up in.

Originally, due to my love of all things vintage and especially the WWII era, I wanted to recreate this:

The famous end of WWII nurse-sailor kiss. However, I don't think Mr. JY is all too thrilled about dressing up in a sailor costume.

Now, I'm leaning towards maybe dressing up as Elvis and Priscilla Presley or Sonny and Cher.

Anyone else have any creative and fun Halloween couples costume ideas? I'm at a loss, here, people.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Sweet 100

I got this list from CakeSpy.com, and they got it from someone else. But I thought it was too fun not to do!

1) Copy this list into your site, including the instructions!
2) Bold all of the sweets you've eaten--or make them a different type color.
3) Cross out any of them that you'd never ever eat. (I'm gonna make mine italic).
4) Consider anything that is not bold or crossed out your "To Do" List. (Maybe I will make some of these on Sunday afternoons when I bake!)

1. Red Velvet Cake
2. Princess Torte
3. Whoopie Pie
4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
5. Beignet
6. Baklava
7. Black and white cookie
8. Seven Layer Bar (also known as the Magic Bar or Hello Dolly bars)
9. Fried Fruit pie (sometimes called hand pies)
10. Kringle
11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
12. Scone with clotted cream
13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
14. Halvah
15. Macarons
16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
17. Bubble tea (with tapioca "pearls")
18. Dixie Cup
19. Rice Krispie treats
20. Alfajores
21. Blondies
22. Croquembouche
23. Girl Scout cookies
24. Moon cake
25. Candy Apple
26. Baked Alaska
27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
28. Nanaimo bar
29. Baba au rhum
30. King Cake
31. Sachertorte
32. Pavlova
33. Tres Leches Cake
34. Trifle
35. Shoofly Pie
36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
Panna Cotta
38. New York Cheesecake
39. Napoleon / mille-fueille
40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cake
41. Anzac biscuits
42. Pizzelle
43. Kolache
44. Buckeyes
45. Malasadas
46. Moon Pie
47. Dutch baby
48. Boston Cream Pie
49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies

50. Pralines
51. Gooey butter cake
52. Rusks
53. Daifuku
54. Green tea cake or cookies
55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
56. Crème brûlée
57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting

59. Jelly Roll
60. Pop Tarts
61. Charlotte Russe
62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
63. Hummingbird Cake
64. Jell-O from a mold
65. Black forest cake
66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
67. Kulfi
68. Linzer torte
69. Churro
70. Stollen
71. Angel Food Cake
72. Mincemeat pie
73. Concha
74. Opera Cake
75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
76. Pain au chocolat
77. A piece of Gingerbread House
78. Cassata
79. Cannoli
80. Rainbow cookies
81. Religieuse
82. Petits fours
83. Chocolate Souffle
84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
85. Rugelach
86. Hamenstashen
87. Homemade marshmallows
88. Rigo Janci
89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
90. Divinity
91. Coke or Cola cake
92. Gateau Basque
93. S'mores
94. Figgy Pudding
95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
96. Joe Froggers
97. Sables
98. Millionaire's Shortbread
99. Animal crackers
100. Basbousa

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An Update on the Life of the JYs and Upcoming Recipes!

Well, it looks like my "Brief Hiatus" hasn't been so brief. Mr. JY and I have been busy, busy, busy, which makes for a boring blog. It's been a challenge just getting dinner on the table in time for us to eat before flying out the door, much less take pictures and blog about it. I have been cooking and baking a lot.

For now, Mr. JY and I have been focused on our new house. We're really excited to be moving in to our first home together (in just a couple of weeks!), putting our stamp on it, and making it truly ours. I have dreams of tile backsplashes, shiny new appliances, and Anthropologie linens dancing in my head.

I will, however, have many new recipes coming up, including:

- A flopped Nutella cookie recipe. It could've been brilliance in the making, but not-so!
- A long awaited review of one of Mr. JY and I's favorite Nashville restaurant discoveries.
- Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding. I still can't believe I'm making this super untraditional, almost sacreligious pudding recipe!
- Mr. JY's Birthday Dinner. Oh man. That should be good!

All coming soon!! Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Easy, No Cook "Cheat" Desserts

Since I've been rather absent lately, I'm going to give you two recipes for the price of one! These are two "cheat" dessert recipes I came up with when I was in a pinch. As I mentioned before, Mr. JY, and I have been really busy lately house hunting and then purchasing our first home, so it's times like these I turn to super easy recipes like these. They are by no means fancy and some foodies might be appalled at them.... but, to me, they were beautiful, impressive, and delicious enough to serve to guests.

Easy Sugar Cookie Fruit Tarts

1 package of a dozen bakery sugar cookies (I got mine from Target)
1 tub of your favorite brand of cream cheese frosting (or, feel free to make your favorite homemade recipe)

An assortment of your favorite fruits


All you've got to do is first wash and slice up your fruit. I used fresh peaches, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. But whatever you like and looks
good in the produce section would work. Just make sure you dry the fruit well before putting it on the cookies later.Next, very liberally ice your cookies with that delicious cream cheese frosting, and decorate your cookies with the fruit any ole way you'd like. And you're done! Put 'em on a pretty plate, and no one will be the wiser. They'll think you've been baking all day. You could also do some pretty neat variations of this recipe with lemon curd or chocolate ganache.... but that's another day and another entry.

Next up, we have.....

20 Layer Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake

20 basic crepes (store bought - I recommend Melissa's brand - or homemade, using your favorite recipe)
1 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
2 - 8 oz containers mascarpone cheese
1 - 3.4 oz vanilla instant pudding mix
3/4 cup milk
1-2 tsp vanilla extract (you could also use almond or orange for a nice variation)
1 container Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
Strawberries, whipped cream, & powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

First, make your vanilla mascarpone cream by mixing up the softened cream cheese, vanilla pudding mix, vanilla extract, milk, and mascarpone cheese in a mixer until well combined. Then, get out your jar of Nutella (can we say... YUM?) and start layering! Slap a crepe down on a pretty dish, and slather on a real good amount of your vanilla mascarpone cream. Top with another crepe, more cream, and then, on your third layer, spread it with a good amount of Nutella. I said a good amount, don't skimp. That stuff is heavenly. Keep repeating with this method, every third layer Nutella, until you have all 20 layers done. I topped mine with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and decorated it with strawberries and whipped cream, but you could do anything that blows your skirt up - drizzle it with chocolate ganache, whatever you like! This dessert looks totally impressive and you can take all the credit.

Brief Hiatus

So, as you can probably tell, I have been on a brief hiatus from updating this blog. I have tons of posts just waiting in my queue to update here! Mr. JY and I have just bought our first home, so that has been taking up pretty much all of our spare time. It was quite the whirlwind, but has been a positive and exiciting experience so far. In the very near future I am looking forward to updating this blog more often and sharing more recipes and stories with you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nom Nom Nashville: Neely's Barbecue

For the Fourth of July this year, my husband whisked me away to one of our favorite destinations, Nashville, TN, where we embarked on many a culinary adventure. And let me tell you, it was fantastic!

First, we ate at Neely's Barbecue. Fellow Food Network geeks might be familiar with Neely's. Pat and Gina Neely have 2 shows on FN, "Down Home with the Neelys" and "Road Tasted with the Neelys". I love watching "Down Home" because they're husband and wife and so cute together. Kind of reminds me of me and my husband. They have two restaurants, one in Memphis (the original) and one in Nashville.

We were greeted by a friendly and pleasant staff. The restaurant itself is pretty large and looks like a typical barbecue restaurant/sports bar. You order your meal first at the counter and seat yourself at one of their high tables with red checkered tablecloths, and then they bring your meal out to you. There is a beverage station fully stocked so you can get your own refills. The menu has all of the classic barbecue restaurant selections, but with a few selections original to Neely's - barbecue nachos and barbecue spaghetti. It was a tough decision on what to order, but we were pretty satisfied with our selections!

My dinner was the barbecue spaghetti plate (pictured at left). I had to go for it because of how original and fun it sounded. And, man was it good! The spaghetti was sweet, smoky, and a bit spicy. The portion was huge and packed with tons of pulled pork. My only concern was the spaghetti noodles were a little overcooked and mushy, but overall I thought it was a great dish. I usually like my pasta al dente, but I can understand that if this had been simmering together in a pot, the noodles might become too tender. The coleslaw was very good as well, and great for cooling off after the spicy barbecue. I was a little surprised the toast came dry with no butter. No butter at a Southern barbecue restaurant! Unheard of!

My husband got this amazingly huge potato topped with that yummy pulled pork swimming in barbecue sauce and served with sour cream, cheese sauce, and cole slaw on the side. The cheese sauce was actually extra, but our server added it to our bill saying that "you just have to have it." Can't argue with that, and you certainly can't argue with cheese sauce. And judging from the one bite I actually got of this potato, it was (as Paula would say) out of this world.

I think we would both agree that we would definitely visit Neely's again. It has a nice, down home atmosphere, the food was excellent, and I loved that they kept to the classic flavors of barbecue while putting their own spin on things. I wish we'd gotten to try some of their desserts, like peach cobbler and sock it to me cake, but we were so full we didn't have room!

Stay tuned for more Nom Nom Nashville posts coming soon....
PS: You can find the Neelys' recipe for their bbq spaghetti here:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inaugural Post

Welcome to my very first post! In this blog I hope to share with you a great many things. New recipes, food and restaurant reviews, wedding inspiration, my vintage obsession, interior decorating, and much, much more. Hopefully I will update often and my posts will be enjoyed by many!