Wednesday, December 30, 2015

grandma puryear's punch

I believe, with all my heart, this recipe is worth a close up and personal picture.  I wanted to make sure you could see all of the goodness that goes into this small, yet powerful, cup.  Just look at it... isn't it beautiful?  It's perfectly blended, with a little slush, a little fizz and a whole lotta "shut-the-front-door" flavor.

My fascination with this drink all started about 20 years ago when I attended my first Christmas with John's family.  His grandmother had set up a table to hold what I would come to understand is the crown jewel of her food and beverage options, and there was a line to get to it.  No joke.  It was a little bit like a mad rush to snag a ladle full, but I didn't understand the why behind the mass appeal until I had it myself.

I'll never forget it.

To say I love this stuff is a grave understatement.  Although it takes a bit of planning, due to the necessary freeze time, it is so, so worth it.  And if you decide to take it to an upcoming New Year's Eve party, as I've done multiple times, you - without a doubt - will be a rock star.

Just a few ingredients and an overnight freeze, folks.  Come on... It's time to get the party started!

Grandma Puryear's Punch

makes 50 cups
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 46-oz can orange juice
  • 1 46-oz can pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 0.6-oz package Jello (we use strawberry)
  • 2 liters ginger ale
1. Bring sugar and water to boil.  Remove from heat.

2. Add orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice and Jello.  Stir until mixed and Jello is dissolved.

3. Freeze in containers overnight.  One to two hours before serving, remove from freezer.

4. Add ginger ale at time of serving and let sit a few minutes.  Use ladle and scrape to produce slush to add in with ladled liquid.  

Recipe from Grandma Puryear.


Friday, December 25, 2015

a Christmas feast for the birds and a recipe for Heaven

There is no way to know what it's like until you've been through it.  Grief is not for the faint of heart.

I feel like the last seven months have been a blur since having lost my grandfather.  He was a million things to so many.  A husband.  A war hero.  A father.  A brother.  An entrepreneur.  A son. A Godly man like no one else I know.  He was one of my best friends and he was really like my second dad.

Until I was nearly in high school, we shared a home with Popie and Ma, and what we shared was different than what grandchildren who periodically see their grandparents share.  As far as I can remember, we have shared everything about life - tears, meals, lots of laughter and hugs... He meant the world to me, and I'm not quite sure what to do without him.

Our family is still reeling from the loss.  Ma is lost without her husband of nearly 69 years.  Mom is overwhelmed with sadness of not having her dad with her.  My father is deeply affected by the loss of his best friend of 43 years.  As those who have grieved loved ones know, all of the "firsts" are painful and confusing.  No one knows the "right" thing to do during holidays or birthdays. What to say, how to act, how to celebrate...  We have leaned heavily on God's direction over the last several weeks.

Today, as we tried to carry on our usual traditions of the Christmas season, we began the day, with Popie, visiting his grave.  We celebrated him and his love of birds by putting out a Christmas feast for them in his honor.  Watching our boys hang strings of fresh cranberries and a birdseed bell in the tree by his plot was both fitting and emotional... sweet, yet surreal.  I watched and took pictures, knowing what we were doing and why, and yet as drove back to my parents' house and walked in to begin opening gifts, I thought for sure Popie would walk in the room at any moment or that I would hear his voice down the hall.  If only I could hear his voice, one more time.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Popie is full of joy, singing with the angels in that beautiful bass that I so dearly loved to hear.  He is rejoicing and living the reward that he chose to claim years ago.  He knew the recipe for Heaven and followed it without fail.

Love the Lord with all your heart.  Love others as yourself.  Worship in truth.  Walk humbly and love mercy.  Live at peace with everyone.  Sacrifice.  

These are but a few things I watched Popie live out, daily, for 90 years.  It's why letting go is so hard. Others were drawn to him, because Popies like mine are just few and far between.

Yes, I am sad.  The sadness is huge and overwhelming at times.  But I am also full of joy, because my name is written in Heaven, just like Popie's.  I know I will be with him again, and I know that day will be glorious.  Jesus came to this earth, in the flesh, and became the one, true sacrifice, to bring us this hope.  This life is not all there is.  The story does not end here.  Popie's story is eternal, and ~ praise God ~ ours can be too. All things are ready, dear friends; come to the feast.  

Oh... and the seat next to Popie?  It's taken

Merry Christmas to all,



Monday, December 21, 2015

aunt brenda's cranberry jello salad

I'm sure your family get-togethers are just like ours.  There are just certain dishes everyone looks forward to and certain assignments individual family members are expected to fill, without being asked.  Great Aunt Louise's Deviled Eggs, Ma's Springerles, Mamaw's Dressing, and one of my all-time favorites, Aunt Brenda's Cranberry Jello Salad.  Friends near and far... I could eat my weight in this stuff.  It is so, so delicious and versatile.  I love it on a Heavenly Yeast Roll, alongside ham, right next to Turkey Pot Pie, you name it.  It is tangy, crunchy, just-enough sweet... it's perfect, and it would be beautiful in a mold.

And speaking of Springerles, last night marked the official beginning of Christmas, because I broke out the special rolling pin and made a few dozen of 'em.  Christmas really isn't Christmas until the slight smell of Anise is drifting about.  The boys had gone to a friend's all day, so they didn't know until we arrived home from evening church that I had cooked them, as well as three batches of Heavenly Yeast Rolls and Dad's 60th birthday cake - it's a beaut... Dark Chocolate Chocolate Cake!  I cannot WAIT to slice into it, grab a picture and feature it here.  At any rate, the boys were pretty excited to smell the chaos.

I'm telling you, rolling out cookies, having a fire, the TV tuned to Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas, and the boys wrapping gifts - all in the same room - was a delightful mess.  It really was.  Thank you, God, for such moments!

Aunt Brenda's Cranberry Jello Salad

  • 2 cans whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 3oz cherry Jello
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 stalk diced celery
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  • full amount of water called for to dissolve one jello
1. Dissolve jello in water and stir in remaining ingredients.

2. Cover and cool in refrigerator until set. 

Recipe from Aunt Brenda.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

southern pecan praline brownies

It's a race to the end, isn't it folks?  Wow!  How does everything go by so fast and furiously?  We leave in less than 24 hours for Indiana, and the boys are chomping at the bits to get on the road. We're racing to get the last gifts bought, the final clothes packed and the house in some semblance of order, so that when we walk back in, in a week, it'll feel somewhat calm.  I still have a few individuals on the list for whom I'll bake, including my father, who celebrates his 60th birthday today. A dark chocolate cake is on the docket; let's cross fingers it turns out.  He's always my guinea pig… love him!

I am really excited to share this new recipe with you.  I ran across it a week ago today after having found it on the back of the Domino brown sugar bag.  We had our annual bake-a-thon and Christmas party with our youth group last Saturday, where we successfully baked 117 loaves of pumpkin bread as a "thank you" to our church congregation and went through a few Domino brown sugar bags.  The assembly line was a success and seven hours later, we were bagging and tying the last loaf.  We passed them out on Sunday morning, and people raved.  So fun!

Sunday evening we hosted a church small group at our home.  This recipe came to my rescue as I tried to find one that would not require me to make yet another trip to the grocery store all while offering something a little different.  Although, while watching this bake, I thought it might be an epic disaster (it really bubbles up), to my pleasant surprise, these were absolutely delicious!  I didn't change the ingredients, other than slightly increasing the salt (Kosher recommended) and toasting the pecans, which wasn't suggested in the original recipe.  I did alter the directions some, which I thought improved the "brownies" the second time I made them later in the week for a school function.   

If all goes as planned, I'd like to think I can share a couple more recipes with you this week, including my favorite cranberry salad.  I know you'd love it on your Christmas table (or Easter table, or Sunday afternoon dinner table… ).  I'll put it on any table, any day.  It's just that good!

Let me know if you give this recipe a try and what you think.  It's nothing short of a Southern, toffee, buttery bite of Heaven! 

Southern Pecan Praline Brownies

makes one 9x13 pan
printable version
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 1/4 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • confectioner's sugar (optional)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13x9 inch pan.  

2.  In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly.  

3.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly - about 5 minutes.  Stir about 1 tablespoon hot mixture into slightly beaten eggs to temper.  Pour eggs back into pan, stirring constantly.  Eggs might start to scramble, so stir constantly and be aware.  Add vanilla and stir.  

4.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to wet ingredients.  Stir until just combined, then stir in toasted pecans. 

5.  Pour into prepared baking dish.  Bake 30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of the pan.  Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar if desired.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Domino Sugar.   

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

lazy daisy turkey potpie

I am such a fan of leftovers.  Are you?  I can’t imagine any working mom not loving them.  I mean, seriously.  A ready-to-go meal with little to no prep?  Who cares about fresh on these nutty crazy nights leading us up to Christmas day, which, by the way, will be here before you know it.  If I can pull something out of the fridge and have it on the table in less than 30, I say, “Yes, please!”

Speaking of leftovers, the Thanksgiving ones have to be my favorite.  The flavors of that sweet holiday are so special to this time of year - cranberries, dressing, a wonderfully seasoned slice or two of turkey, all laced with a tinge of sage… wow.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll eat it as long as it lasts.  

And speaking of turkey, I gathered some leftovers this past weekend and turned it into a potpie.  We enjoyed it immensely and the flavor was fantastic!  I love to serve any poultry pie with cranberry sauce.  By the way, I can’t wait to share my new one with you.  Will be sure to do so soon, in case you want to add it to your Christmas table!

Lazy Daisy Turkey Potpie

makes one 9x13 casserole
printable version
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned peas
  • 3 tbsp turkey broth solids plus 1 tbsp butter or 4 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp flour
  • ¾ cup turkey or chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp sage
  • 4 cups turkey, preferably white and dark meat, chopped
  • Pie crust, enough for four (two top and two bottom)

1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.       In a large saucepan, combine potatoes, carrot, celery, and onion.  Cover with water and 
       boil until tender. 

3.       Meanwhile, in small saucepan, melt turkey solids/butter.  Add flour, while stirring, until 
       smooth.  Slowly add broth and whisk until smooth and thickened.

4.       Add milk, bringing to a simmer.  Reduce heat and continue stirring until thickened and 
       coating back of spoon.

5.       Season with salt, pepper, thyme and sage. 

6.       Drain vegetables and pour into large bowl.  Add roux mixture and turkey. Stir to combine.

7.       Line bottom and sides of buttered casserole dish with pie crust dough.  Pour mixture into 
       pan.  Cover top of mixture with remaining crust, rolling excess towards the inside of the 
       casserole to seal.  Press lightly with tines of fork.  Cut slits on top for steam to escape.

8.       Bake for one hour, or until bubbly.