You know how certain smells take you back to another time in your life and old memories coming rushing back? Like walking by someone and you smell their perfume or cologne and it reminds you of someone else because it’s the same perfume or cologne they used to wear. Foods also brings back memories. I love recreating my family’s recipes because those foods take me back to my childhood.
Several years ago, I asked my mom to make a family cookbook for me so I could recreate my favorite childhood recipes at home. Family is very important to me and when I cook my family recipes, I feel like my family is close by…even though their over an hour away.
Recently, my mom’s Hornet’s Nest Cake has been on my mind. My mom made this cake almost weekly the summer I turned 11 years old. It was the same summer my grandparents took my cousin, Emily and me to England. We were there for a month. My grandparents wanted all of us grandchildren to go to England so we could see where my grandmother grew up and meet all of our family over there. It was such a special experience and a time I’ll never forget. Luke is about to have a fit to go to England and I’m hoping he and I can go at some point.
That same summer my brother was on a very good baseball team so baseball games went on almost the entire summer because they won tournament after tournament. During that baseball season, my parents became best friends with another couple, Mary Lynn and Johnny who’s son was also on the baseball team and who was also good friends with my brother. After most of the baseball games, Mary Lynn and Johnny and their son would come over to our house. The adults would eat snacks and drink wine (or wine coolers) and Todd and his friends would play ping pong. My mom always wanted to have a dessert to serve so she started making a Hornet’s Nest Cake. It is incredibly easy to make and it’s absolutely delicious.
Mary Lynn and Johnny and their sons also went to Santee with my family that summer. I remember walking out onto the dock one morning when Mr. Johnny was fishing. He went to cast the line and accidentally “hooked” my ear. He was so sweet and so worried about it. It didn’t feel too good but it was actually kind of funny that it happened. To this day though, I stand as far back as I can from people when their fishing because I’d prefer not to get “hooked” again.
Mr. Johnny passed away a couple of weeks ago so I’ve been thinking a lot about that summer which also made me think of my mom’s hornet’s nest cake since I associate that cake with that wonderful summer. That summer is truly one of the happiest summers from my childhood. I think it was a very happy and special summer for all of us.
You just cook some vanilla pudding according to the package instructions. The box says to stir the pudding constantly and you really do have to stir it constantly. I thought I could stop for about 30 seconds to check on dinner (I’m constantly multitasking), and I went back to stir it and it had burnt to the bottom of the cooking pot so don’t stop stirring! Once it’s cooked, let it cool and then stir in a box of yellow cake mix until combined.
Then pour the pudding mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan and pour an entire bag of butterscotch chips on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
Hornet’s Nest Cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 2.75oz. box vanilla pudding
1 11 oz. bag butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pudding according to package instructions (my mom’s uses evaporated milk). Once cooked and cooled, stir the cake mix into the pudding until combined. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with the butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.
Our garden is somehow still producing food. So I decided to make a quick and easy appetizer. I love feta cheese and Jamie likes sundried tomatoes and olives so I combined them all together and made this wonderful treat. The banana peppers are a little hot (spicy) which gives them an excellent flavor.
We didn’t get very many pictures because we couldn’t wait to dive in and try these peppers. Jamie snapped a couple of pictures and decided those would just have to do.
This recipe makes 4 large stuffed banana peppers.
1 half small onion, diced
3 oz feta cheese
1 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes in oil
1 tbsp chopped calamata olives
4 large hot banana peppers
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
In a medium skillet, cook the onion in a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) until tender. Then add sundried tomatoes and chopped olives. Slice the banana peppers as shown and take out the seeds. Add the feta cheese to the onion mixture and let it melt a little. Stuff the peppers and then on a greased baking sheet, bake at 400 for about 12 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
One of my favorite people in this world is getting married. I’m so excited and so happy for her. Ashley and Jesse have been together 10 years and now their getting married!
Ashley is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people you could ever meet. She and I have been best friends since high school so we share a lot of fun and crazy memories. Some of my favorite memories are with Ashley. Unfortunately, I won’t get to be there for her destination wedding in Aruba. I hate to think I won’t be there to be part of her wedding festivities, but some unexpected things came up and Luke and I won’t be able to go.
Friday night, I attended a surprise bridal shower for Ashley. She didn’t have a clue about the shower because she’d told everyone she wanted to keep things simple. I’m so glad I was able to be there for her surprise bridal shower. I’ll never know how everyone was able to keep the bridal shower a secret but somehow everyone did and Ashley was completely surprised. The bridal shower was a lot of fun and it was really great seeing everyone.
These are some old photos I found of Ashley and me…
At our Senior Yearbook Day in high school.
The summer after our freshman year in college.
Our sorority days.
Hanging out at the KA house.
My 21st birthday.
On our Bahamas cruise our junior year of college. I was obviously super excited!
The summer before our senior year of college…at a Kenny Chesney concert.
Before going out our senior year of college.
Ashley, I love you to pieces, and I’m so happy for you and Jesse!
My dad and my brother aren’t chocolate lovers like most people in the family. For their birthdays, they want my Memaw’s caramel cake. It’s not really a caramel cake but that’s what we’ve always called it. It’s actually a yellow cake with homemade caramel icing.
My mom won’t attempt to make the caramel cake because she says she can’t ever get the icing right so she let’s Memaw make their birthday cakes. My Memaw’s caramel cakes always turn out to be delicious!
My dad’s birthday was last week so Luke and I went to Florence for the day on Saturday so we could spend some time with my family and we celebrated my dad’s birthday Saturday evening. As always, we ate Memaw’s caramel cake and vanilla ice cream. YUM!
My sweet mom sent some caramel cake home with us and of course, we devoured it. The other night I ate a slice of caramel cake with a scoop of Talenti’s Southern Butter Pecan Gelato. Oh my, that was too yummy!
Memaw’s Caramel Cake:
1 box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick of butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 can evaporated milk
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Bake the cake mix according to the package instructions and set aside to cool.
2. In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter.
3. Stir the light brown sugar with the melted butter. Continue to stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a boil.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the sifted confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.
6. Let cool before icing your cake.
Have you ever ordered a sampler platter in a restaurant? A sampler platter is the perfect solution when you can’t decide what you want to order. When I was a teenager, I’d almost always order a sampler platter because I wasn’t very adventurous about food back then. My favorite sampler platter consisted of mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, chicken tenders, potato skins and jalapeno poppers. I know that wasn’t the least bit healthy but it was SO GOOD!!!
It’s been years since I’ve eaten a fried mushroom and over the weekend, I had a craving for them. I mentioned fried mushrooms to Luke and he was totally on board with cooking our own fried mushrooms.
They’re actually really easy to make but once you remove them from the hot oil, let them cool for a few minutes. Luke and I immediately dove in and ate some while they were still scorching hot and I don’t recommend that. Like I said, give them a few minutes to cool.
We dipped our fried mushrooms in Ranch and spicy chipotle dressing but you can use whatever dressing you like. Blue cheese or spicy ranch dressing would also be delicious.
10 oz. whole mushrooms
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 – 3 cups vegetable oil
In a medium cooking pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and egg together until combined.
For the large mushrooms, cut them in half so they’re all about the same size.
Once the oil is hot, dip the mushrooms into the milk and egg mixture. Then drop them into the flour mixture to coat.
Using a slotted spoon or a spider skimmer, place the mushrooms into the hot oil. Once the mushrooms turn golden brown in color, use the slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms from the hot oil and place them onto a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil.
Serve with your choice of dressing or dip and enjoy!
This is the first edition of the Throwback Thursday. This dish goes back to Sunday dinners throughout my childhood and even sometimes today. My mom, sister and I would go to church, eat Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house and then we’d spend the afternoon with my grandparents. One of my favorite dinners we’d have were fried pork chops. My Mawmaw always made homemade biscuits to go with the fried pork chops and she’d always ask “do y’all want gravy?” I don’t know why she’d asked because we always said yes.
I prefer bone in pork chops, but I bought the pork chops that were on sale this week.
I got 2 rather large pork chops and cut them in half. Then I put the pork chops in a zip lock bag and beat/thinned out the pork chops with a meat tenderizer. I prefer a thinner chop just to make sure you don’t burn the crust.
4 pork chops (should be about a lb)
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
a pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Vegetable Oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large skillet)
1/4 cup of buttermilk
If pork chops are thick, put them in a large zip lock bag and beat them with a meat tenderizer to thin the chops. Once they’re fairly thin, pour the buttermilk in the bag with the chops. Set aside for 30 min or so.
Coat the bottom of the skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat.
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and the remaining dry ingredients. Pull out the pork chops and coat both sides with flour and place in the skillet. Cook for about 8 minutes (or more depending on the thickness of the pork chop) or until one side is golden brown. Make sure the flour is still on top of the uncooked side of pork as sometimes the flour will somehow come off, so sprinkle some more flour on the pork chop and flip over to cook on the other side. Cook for another 8 minutes or until golden brown and the chops should be cooked through.
Yesterday was our little Izzy’s 4th birthday. I admit I spoil her a little more than I probably should but she is such a blessing to us and she makes Luke and me so happy. She is truly the most lovable, fun and happy dog, and her energetic personality is contagious. On several occasions, Izzy’s groomer has told me that Izzy is the happiest dog she’s ever met.
We got Izzy about 2 months after we put my childhood dog down. Her name was Lady. She was a puppy of another dog I had so Lady became a part of my life the day she was born. She was born the summer I turned 13. I loved that dog so much and the pain I felt when I had to put her down was almost unbearable, but putting her down was the humane thing to do. I had never gone a day without a dog until we put Lady down and I knew I had to get another dog as soon as possible. The house just felt so empty.
Even before Lady passed away, I knew I’d want and need another dog as soon as she was gone. So about a year before Lady’s passing, Luke told me I needed to figure out what kind of dog I wanted so I’d be ready to get another dog quickly. I researched different dogs but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted. I thought about rescuing a dog because I love animals and it breaks my heart to think of the poor dogs out there who need homes.
One night Luke and I were watching the movie “The Proposal” and there was the most adorable white fluffy dog on the movie. As soon as the dog appeared on the screen, Luke and I looked at each other and we both said “that’s the dog”! Then I ask, “But what kind of dog is it?” Luke immediately got on the computer and started to Google it. He found that four dogs were used for the part. Samoyeds and American Eskimo dogs were the breeds used for the part. Then Luke and I started researching the two breeds and decided the American Eskimo dog was the dog for us but we wanted a miniature since the dog would be a house dog.
Over the next several months, I searched online for breeders and I also considered going through the American Eskimo rescue (Heart Bandits). I found breeders in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Arizona but none is South Carolina. Then I just hoped one of the breeders would have a litter of puppies when the time came.
Thankfully, it worked out. Lady passed away on October 11, 2010 and on October 13th, I called one of the breeders in North Carolina and found out one of her dogs had a litter of puppies on October 5th. She said there were 2 females and 3 males. I told her we definitely wanted a female but I also told her I wanted to meet the mom and dad before going through with anything.
On November 6, 2010, Luke and I drove to North Carolina to meet the mom, dad and the 2 female puppies. The mom was so lively and lovable but the dad was a little timid. I fell in love with the mom and her adorable personality, but I was torn between the two puppies.
One puppy was bigger and curious about everything but the other puppy was the runt of the litter and she appeared to be fragile and weak. My instinct said to get the runt because I wanted to take care of it and give it the care it needed, but Luke reminded me of all of the heartbreak and stress I’d been under over the last year with Lady. He told me it was time for me to have a healthy dog that I could enjoy.
While Luke and I were having this discussion, we looked over at the chunky, curious puppy as it was sticking it’s face in a bowl of water and it started blowing bubbles. The puppies weren’t too familiar with water yet because they were still so young. Luke and I started laughing and I knew we needed to get that chunky, curious dog because I thought it would keep us laughing and she definitely does!
On December 3rd, my mom and I drove back to North Carolina to bring Izzy home and our life with Izzy began. We decided to name her Izzy because it’s such a playful, happy name and I imagined her to be a playful, happy dog which she is. Izzy’s full name is Isabelle Snow. Her mom’s name is Snow White and since her personality is so similar to her mom’s, I wanted Izzy to have a part of her mom’s name.
I’m so glad we chose Izzy to be part of our family. She’s the perfect dog for us and she’s everything and more that I’d hoped she’d be.
Izzy and her tiny sister.
Izzy a few days after bringing her home.
Izzy has always had a healthy appetite. I think she was trying to tell me it was time to eat.
Izzy’s first birthday. She hated that birthday hat!
Izzy’s 2nd birthday. She was begging for her birthday present. Seriously, I was holding her birthday toy.
Izzy on my birthday in 2013.
Izzy looking goofy.
Izzy hates rain but she LOVES snow!
She also loves watching dogs on TV!
Izzy’s birthday cake! Yes, I bought her a cake!
Izzy’s birthday present.
HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY IZZY!!!
Have you noticed the pumpkin craze lately? Everywhere I look I see pumpkin flavored or pumpkin scented products. It’s a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin flavored foods and drinks and I also love pumpkin scented candles and such but I actually think it’s a little out of control at the moment. Even though I’m not getting on the crazy obsessed pumpkin bandwagon, I recently made some pumpkin pancakes.
Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast foods. They’re one of my weekend treats. I try to keep them fairly healthy by making them with Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix, and I always use pure maple syrup, preferably organic. I never use those syrups that are loaded with sugar because I don’t think they taste nearly as good as pure maple syrup.
I decided to make pumpkin pancakes because I’ve only eaten them in restaurants and I wanted to see if I could make them at home. I was worried they wouldn’t compare to the restaurant pancakes but I think my recipe turned out yummy. It took me 2 attempts to get the recipe right but that happens sometimes.
I took some of the pancakes to work because I needed some taste testers since Luke doesn’t like pumpkin anything. He won’t assist in the taste testing for any of my pumpkin recipes. I wonder if he would have tried these pancakes if I’d added chocolate chips…nah, I doubt it.
Please forgive me for the pictures. They’re definitely not the best pictures I’ve ever taken. When I snapped these pictures, I was trying to rush out the door to go to work so I didn’t have much time to get a good shot.
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
In a large bowl, whisk the ingredients together until combined. The pumpkin puree makes it a thick pancake batter. Over medium to medium high heat, cook the pancakes on a griddle pan (greased with canola oil) or skillet coated with canola oil. Use a ladle or an ice cream scoop to pour the pancake batter on the griddle pan or skillet. Once the pancakes start to bubble all over the top, flip and cook for another minute or so until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through.
You may have noticed Luke and I haven’t been posting recipes as often as we were. We decided posting 5 days a week was a little too much for us and our schedules. We’d noticed that we weren’t putting as much of ourselves in each post as we had in the beginning because our posts were rushed. In order to get back to where we were, we decided posting 2 to 3 times a week would be better for us.
We’ve also decided to change things up a little. Instead of Thursdays being the Thirsty Thursday theme, Thursdays are now going to be Throwback Thursday. Throwback Thursdays are going to consist of Luke’s and my family recipes. We’re going to share recipes we grew up on. Some weeks the family recipes may be desserts and some weeks it may be entrees.
We do most of our cooking on the weekends because that’s when we have the time to do it. However, this weekend didn’t quite go according to plan so I’m not sure if we’ll be able to start the changes this week but definitely look for it next week.
For Sweet Tooth Tuesday, I’d planned on sharing the brown sugar oatmeal cookie recipe I came up with but I’m going to have to rethink that recipe and make some adjustments because when I pulled them out of the oven, they were completely flat. They’re delicious but not pretty. I’ll work on the recipe this coming weekend and hopefully get it right so I can share that with you next week.
We’re hoping you’ll like the little change we’re making. If you have any suggestions on what themes or recipes you want to see, please feel free to make suggestions! We’d love to get some feedback.
This is a dark chocolate peanut butter cake with homemade hot fudge sauce and peanut glaze drizzled all over, and it’s incredibly easy to make!
I love any dessert that has chocolate and peanut butter! That combination is definitely my weakness. I don’t crave many sweets but chocolate and peanut butter…yes please!
The cake is a dark chocolate fudge cake that’s loaded with peanut butter chips. Since I made the cake using a cake mix, I felt obligated to make something homemade to add to the cake. I thought a peanut butter glaze drizzled over the cake would be perfect but then I decided the peanut butter glaze wasn’t quite enough. I needed more chocolate! So I made a homemade hot fudge sauce too.
Just drizzle the cooled hot fudge sauce and peanut butter drizzle over the cooled cake and it’s ready to serve!
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake:
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bundt pan thoroughly with cooking spray. Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs together. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Pour into the greased bunt pan. Bake per the cake mix instructions (32 – 36 minutes). Set the cake aside to cool completely.
Hot Fudge Sauce:
4 tbsp butter/margarine
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter/margarine. Whisk the unsweetened cocoa in the melted butter/margarine. Once combined, whisk in the half and half. Then add the sugar and continue to whisk until combined. Bring to a boil and whisk to make sure it doesn’t burn. Let it boil for a minute or two until it thickens and continue to whisk. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.
Peanut Butter Glaze:
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 – 3 tbsp milk
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners sugar, peanut butter and melt together until combined.