Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sweet Cornbread Muffins

You have to have cornbread to go with Ham and Bean Soup or even Chili and I really like the sweeter versions better than the traditional cornbread you eat in the south. I didn't even like cornbread until I had these. These are pretty sweet and I usually cut back a little on the sugar and sometimes I add a little bit of maple flavoring too.
If you don't want to take the time to make the muffins just pour it into a 9 x 13 pan.

Sweet Cornbread Muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sugar ( I like to use half white / half brown) Note: These are plenty sweet. You can reduce the amount of sugar if you like.
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
Combine first 5 ingredients. Beat together egg yolks, milk, butter and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients. Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into rest of ingredients. Pour into greased 9 x 13" pan or muffin pans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Bake muffins approx 20 minutes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

Cold weather has arrived and it's soup favorite winter food. There's nothing that beats the winter chill like a steaming bowl of soup.

I made this in the crockpot before I went to work so I just dumped everything in at once, but if I was at home I would add the celery and carrots later.

I will try to post my cornbread recipe sometime this week too.

Ham and Bean Soup

1 lb package dried northern beans
Ham Bone or about 1 lb diced ham if you don't have a ham bone.
6 cups water
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and check beans for any debris. Put in a crockpot along with the water, ham bone, onions and seasoning.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until beans are tender. Add more water if needed.
Add celery and carrots during the last 3 or 4 hours.
Remove ham bone and pull off the meat. Add the meat to crockpot.
Serve with Cornbread

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

Here is a dessert that's easy to make and yummy enough to serve company for Thanksgiving.
I found a whole box of cake mix to be a bit much for the topping, so the next time I'm going to try about 3/4 box. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.

Pumpkin Crunch Dessert

1 box yellow cake mix
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 12oz can evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 sticks melted butter
 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9x13 pan.
Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Pour into greased pan.
Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture and top with pecans. Drizzle melted butter over pecans.
Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Linking to StoneGable and Mealtime Monday

Friday, November 16, 2012

Inspiring Christmas Tablescapes

My sister invited me to her church's Christmas Inspiration where ladies of the church get out all their pretty  dishes and create holiday tablescapes. Each table is uniquely decorated by different women with their own dishes and ideas.
Other ladies cooked and baked up some of their favorite holiday recipes and had samples for everyone to taste. YUM!!
 What a wonderful event to start off the Christmas Season!

One of three tables my sister decorated.

A Thanksgiving tablescape.

Everything on this table came from the dollar store with the exception of the silverware.

Some ornaments, greenery and pinecones on a charger plate. So easy even I could do that.
 I think.

 LOVE this fireplace mantle. I saw a Noel similar to this on pinterest I'd like to make. Neat idea using a wreath for the O.

It's so much fun to see what each table will be. A lot of thought and detail go into each one.

You can use about any color scheme and make it look Christmasy. It's not just red, green and white anymore. 
 I love the warmth of chocolate browns!

Love the beach feel in this beautiful tablescape. My sister is the Martha Stewart of the family!

I'm doing something similar to this on my dining table this year.

 Name tag holders. They are little cubes of styrofoam covered with snow. So cute!

Isn't this the coolest thing. Peppermint candy melted to make a serving tray! Who knew?

Ice balls and greenery in a bird bath. Just fill a balloon with water and freeze.

If you have old books laying around you can repurpose them into bows, flowers, ornaments or wreaths. You can use sheet music, old maps and magazines etc. These are the craze right now.

 I wish I would have had time to take pictures of all the tips and DIY projects they had on display. I liked this tip on storing ornaments........
and this cute stocking stuffer!!

I hope you found some ideas you can use during the holiday season!
Be Blessed!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley is located in a remote but picturesque valley in the southeast corner of the Smoky Mountains. Cataloochee was first settled in the 1830s and at one time was home to 1,200 residents and 200 buildings. Today only a few buildings remain from that early settlement and this peaceful valley has become a great place to view wildlife.

 Especially Elk.

 And that is why we are willing to make the long trip on a narrow, winding, dusty, gravel road over the mountain into this isolated valley.

Will Messer Barn

Because of it's remoteness, Cataloochee doesn't receive near the visitors as Cades Cove, but the number of visitors has risen the last 10 years due to the release of elk in this area. Elk once roamed  these mountains but were eliminated because of over-hunting and loss of habitat.
Reintroduction began in 2001 when 25 elk were released here in Cataloochee and another 27 in 2002. The release was considered an experiment in the beginning but has now been deemed a success. At this point the herd has increased to approximately 140.  

 The best time to view the elk is early morning or late afternoon when they start coming out of the woods into the fields to graze.

In September and October the bulls are coming into rut and this is a great time to hear them bugle.

Elk males bugle and use aggressive behaviour to establish dominance over other males in order to attract females. Their calls can be heard from a mile away.

While most elk tend to stay in the area they are born, a few have wandered over the mountain and have been seen in the Cherokee and Big Cove areas.

A few females grazed just several yards from where we were observing at the side of the road completely unfazed from all the attention they were getting. It is illegal for humans to approach elk but I guess they can approach us. I would have been out of there in a hurry if a bull came that close!
One year we observed a smaller bull approach the harem of a much larger bull and got chased off by the dominant bull. The smaller one turned and ran directly into the crowd of people standing by the road. It would have been funny watching all the photographers with their camera equipment scatter if it wouldn't have been so dangerous. These are wild animals and we are in their home so give them plenty of space.

(We did get a good laugh out of that though.)

Beech Grove School

Palmer Chapel

Caldwell House

Log bridge to the Caldwell House

I have so much gratitude and respect to the Great Smoky Mountains for preserving places like Cataloochee and Cades Cove and reintroducing wildlife. A few other successful introductions have been River Otters and Peregrine Falcons.  One that failed was Red Wolf released in Cades Cove, mostly due to competition from coyotes.
If you love history, nature and animals make sure you don't miss Cataloochee Valley.
I get such a feeling of reverence and awe when I take in the sights and sounds of these long ago places.