Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day full of food, family and fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Another thing going onto our Thanksgiving table this year is a chocolate pecan pie. I made this for the first time last year and could not believe how easy and how good it is. It comes from the Food Network and was on a Kentucky Derby episode of Cooking Live. I've never heard of this show, but they sure did make some good pie! The photo above is not mine, but I dislike making something I've never seen before so I posted a picture I found that looks close to mine. Enjoy!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

4 oz. of semi sweet chocolate (can use chips)
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecan halves (you can use walnuts)
1 pie crust, 9 inch, homemade or frozen (thawed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler (or a bowl over a small amount of boiling water), melt the chocolate and butter. Let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add the chocolate mixture, mixing as you go. Mix in pecans.

Set pie shell on a heavy duty baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack. Top with whipped cream.

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving"
-Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 23, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg Spoonbread

In this Thanksgiving week, I wanted to post a recipe I would be making for the meal on Thursday. Although this is not my photo above, the picture is pretty close to how my spoonbread turns out. I love topping mine with a bit of honey.
The recipe I use is from Christiana Campbell's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. If you ever get a chance to eat there or in any of the taverns in the Colonial area, it's wonderful!

Colonial Williamsburg Spoonbread

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten well
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In the bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and sugar. With an electric mixer on medium to low speed, add the boiling water and butter and mix for about 5 minutes.
Add the milk and beaten eggs and mix for another 5 minutes. Allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes.
Turn the mixer on low and add the baking powder and mix until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into a buttered skillet or 2-quart casserole and bake for 30 to 45 minute an the center has set.

Serves about 6 to 8.

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude."
-E.P. Powell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- Things I Want To Make For Thanksgiving

It's almost here! I can't believe Thanksgiving is this time next week. I swear I could get whiplash for as fast as time goes anymore. Since we are hosting dinner this year, I've been thinking of what to have for our meal. Not only do I love making this list, I feel so blessed to be able to make it.

1. A really big Turkey- we were able to score a 20 pound Honeysuckle turkey this year at Walmart for 60 cents a pound. Lots left over for turkey sandwiches and soup!

2. Cranberry sauce- the canned kind. I don't like whole cranberries in my cranberry sauce so I just buy it instead of making it. Good to layer on those turkey sandwiches.

3. Grandma's Stuffing - my husband's grandmother used to make this wonderful stuffing with lots of butter, cubed French bread, celery, and ground pork. Since she didn't leave a recipe when she passed on, he tries every year to get it just right. Each year, the stuffing is a bit more delicious.

4. Mashed potatoes- I usually leave this up to my husband to make. He creates the most creamy, tasty mashed potatoes.

5. Sweet potato casserole- this is more my department. I bake, mash and top this dish with everything rich and sweet! Lots of cream and lots of sugar. Yum!

6. Green Beans- this is usually my mother in law's contribution. She likes making them with fresh beans and seasoned with bacon.

7. Drinks- doesn't sound exciting but I like getting sparkling grape juice for the kids (they feel so grown up!), and making punch along with our usual sweet tea and soda selections.

8. Biscuits- homemade buttermilk biscuits go so well with everything on the table!

9. Spoon bread- I think it adds a colonial feeling to Thanksgiving.

10. Relish tray- pretty obvious, but I miss it if it's not there on the table.

11. Sweet potato pie- I have an old recipe I use that is framed on the wall of my kitchen. That way, I never lose it!

12. Pecan Pie- Of course! Some years it's just regular pecan pie and some years I change it. Last year it was chocolate!

13. Pumpkin pie- It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Snowbird Trail Bars

This past Saturday, I could not get rid of my craving for something chocolate. I looked through almost every recipe I have and nothing seemed to pop out. But when I looked through my Best of the Best from North Carolina cookbook, these bars looked like they would hit the spot. The recipe says they are popular with hikers in the North Carolina mountains. The bars are dense and packed with ingredients to give you energy. I altered the ingredients some to make them to my liking, but anyway you chose to make them, they are good!

Snowbird Trail Bars

1 cup butter (I used Smart Balance butter sticks)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 bag chocolate chunks or semi sweet morsels
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup coconut (optional)

Cream the butter and sugars together. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add to the butter mixture. Mix well. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, nuts and coconut. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and press the cookie mixture down into the pan, spreading until even.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 9, 2009

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

Have you ever cut a recipe out and swore you were going to make it that week, only to forget? For a couple of years? I did that with this recipe. I originally found it on a Libby's pumpkin can about 2 years ago. Going through my clipped recipes last week, I found it. Perfect timing! Soft, sweet and slightly spicy these cookies remind me of a pumpkin pie, only in cookie form. My daughter and I made these on Saturday and they are already gone!

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Powdered Sugar Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Beat until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix until moist. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Smooth the tops of the cookies.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Top with glaze.


2 cups sifted powered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well. Add food coloring as desired or leave as is. Ice cookies.

"Men are like pumpkins. It seems like all the good ones are either taken or they've had everything scraped out of their heads with a spoon."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Thirteen- The Good And Bad Of Being A Therapist

Being a therapist is an interesting profession. I've had good experiences, bad experiences and some truly amazing things happen to me as a result of what I do for a living. Here are some things that are common for a therapist to deal with:

1. Helping people- ok, this is a very general statement. But it is rewarding to go to work knowing that someone, somewhere could benefit and change based on something you say to them. You feel like you can make a difference in the world, even if it's small. And the people that come to you and say you've really helped them, there is just no feeling like that in the world.

2. Co-workers- I've worked with some pretty terrific people who I could talk to about anything and were just fun to be with and I've also worked with people that I was sure should be in a institution somewhere. People become therapists for very different reasons, and not all of them good.

3. Having a private practice is hard- while I was in school, I dreamed of having my own thriving practice. When I finally did have my own practice, I found out it's more about filling out paperwork and advertising for clients than it is helping anyone.

4. The pay sucks- I was quite unprepared for how bad the salaries in my field really are. Put it this way, most professions have starting salaries twice what I was making with two degrees and 15 years experience. You really do become a therapist out of the goodness of your heart.

5. The benefits are very good- vacation time, sick time and medical benefits were always better than in the business world. It made up for the bad pay, somewhat anyway.

6. You have to keep up with your education- I am no longer in the field but I still have to have 100 credits to keep my license. And the cost comes out of my own pocket.

7. Social Workers get all the credit- in most states, social workers and nurses get most of the jobs out there, particularly in hospitals. Those are the better paying jobs too. Though social workers study mostly social systems and not counseling, they still score the majority of counseling jobs. And I can't tell you how many jobs I've tried to apply for that require a nursing degree. Yet, nurses often have fewer than three classes in psychology. The same goes for regular doctors. It's a very weird system.

8. Lots and lots of education- in order to get at least a decent job, I had to get a Master's degree in my field. Plus I have a national certification and a state license. Does that mean more pay? Are you kidding?! What it does mean is that I can get a better job in my field and I know what the heck I'm doing when I help a client, which is the most important thing.

9. It's often very lonely- I think most counselors and therapists struggle with self doubt and loneliness about their profession. It is hard to go into a room, sit with someone who is suicidal, depressed and/or has been abused and not feel overwhelmed at times by all that pain. Other therapists can help you, but since you have to keep everything confidential, you can only share so much. And it's a major no-no to go home and talk with family or friends about what you hear.

10. Stress- Most people out there walk around with so much held inside that when it comes out in a therapy session, it can be very intense. Hearing all the pain and suffering of clients all day can make you start to feel that the whole world is doomed and nothing good ever happens. That is when you know you need an outlet. And as a group, we are not good at being selfish and taking time to repair ourselves. It's a constant struggle to remember to take care of your own needs too.

11. Can you read my mind?- that is one of the funniest responses I get when some people learn that I'm a therapist. I can't help but laugh. No, I can't read minds. I slept through that course in school.

12. But I can read body language- maybe this is what people mean when they ask about reading minds. Some therapists are good at this and some aren't. I do it because it comes natural to me. In public, I usually register the information in my brain then don't give it much attention. Otherwise, I'd be responding to everything everyone does around me and that would get old very quick.

13. Being a therapist is a 24 hour a day job- I feel like I have a scanner in my brain sometimes, but it's hard for me to not tune into people's feelings. I don't analyze everything going on around me, but I do pay attention more than most people. I guess it's like a cop would feel, always being aware of people breaking laws. But it does become tough when I can see certain behaviors that other people don't catch. I try not to read into what I see, but it's like turning off hunger or the need to sleep, I just can't ignore it. It is a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Recently, my daughter asked me to make muffins. I'm not a big muffin fan, but I had some blueberries to use up so I went searching for a good recipe. I came across a recipe at one of my favorite blogs, Smells Like Home. I altered it a bit to fit what I had in the pantry and came up with some very good, very healthy muffins. My husband ended up eating about 5 of them!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (can use whole wheat)
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cases or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen muffins

“Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would parobably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.”
-Oscar Wilde 'The Importance of Being Earnest'