Braised chicken and fennel

We used the YouTube above for technique, subbed fennel for the chicory and left out the wine and garlic.

This was an amazing dinner. We buy chicken breasts on sale at Fresh Market on Tuesdays for $2.99 a pound. One half a breast fed us both well. The fennel cost $3.29. Less than $5 for dinner for two and it was incredibly rich, tasty and satisfying.

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Grandpa’s Famous Meatloaf

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for some time. George made this up and Connor (our oldest grandson) loved it so much he named it “Grandpa’s Famous Meatloaf”. That name stuck and all the grandchildren who had it loved it.

The secret is to make sure they don’t see him making it as he sneaks in some veggies. Amber texted him tonight asking for the recipe so he finally wrote it out. His words follow:

I usually put this together without a recipe, the general idea is to add hamburger or other ground meat – ground turkey, chicken, etc. (I prefer beef) with bread crumbs and eggs as the binder.  I add shredded onion, carrot and zucchini for moisture.  Season with ketchup, salt and pepper.  Form the mixture into a loaf and place in a baking dish (not a flat baking pan) and bake at 375 for ~30 mins.  Time will depend on how big, or thick the meatloaf is.  Make sure it reaches a safe temperature for the meat that was used.  While the meatloaf is baking, make a glaze of ketchup, yellow mustard and brown sugar and set aside.  When the meatloaf has browned and starting to form a crust, cover the top of the meatloaf with the glaze and place back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
Ratios :
1 lb Ground Beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 medium zucchini
1/3 cup ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
2 parts ketchup
1/3 part yellow mustard (not dry mustard)
1 part brown sugar
The fun thing about this dish is you can adjust it with the add-ins that you like, mushrooms, peppers, cheese, etc.
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Christmas Tree Cake (Nigella’s Spruced Up Vanilla Christmas Cake)

Nigella's Spruced Up Christmas Cake

We first made this Christmas, 2010 and it was perfect. So dressy but so easy. It has a great flavor (much like pound cake). Since then, it has become a tradition for Banks and Warner to make it “snow” by sifting confectioner’s sugar over the trees of the cake.


  • 2 sticks (16 tbs.) soft butter, plus one more for greasing (or use nonstick cooking spray)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbs. confectioners’ sugar

How to make it

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and put cookie sheet in at same time. Butter or spray regular or fir-tree-shaped Bundt pan thoroughly.
  2. Put all ingredients except confectioners’ sugar in food processor and blend, or mix by hand or in freestanding mixer as follows: Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, whisking in each with 1 tbs. flour. Fold in rest of flour and baking soda. Add yogurt and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour mixture into greased pan and spread evenly.
  4. Place pan on preheated cookie sheet in oven and bake 45 to 60 minutes, until cake rises and is golden. After 45 minutes, insert cake tester into center of cake; if it comes out clean, cake is done. Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes.
  5. Gently pull away edges of cake from pan with your fingers, then turn out cake.
  6. Let cool, then dust with confectioners’ sugar pushed through a sifter. Serves 12.
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Banana walnut muffins

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/8 cup agave
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon acv
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mash banana. Add eggs and vanilla agave baing soda, vinegar, butter
stir in almond flour, add walnuts.
Spoon in buttered muffin pan.

Bake at 350?? We made these and they were good. I wish we had taken better notes.

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Homemade popcorn

Matthew was amazed at this.

Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a heavy lidded pan. Heat oil on medium high and add a few kernals. When they pop the oil is ready.  Add kernals until a single layer forms. Cover the pan and stay right with it shaking the pan often.

The corn is done when the popping stalls to just one or two every few seconds. Be careful that it doesn’t burn. You may need to lower the heat to medium.

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Pie Crust



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup ice water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Roll dough out to fit a 9 inch pie plate. Place crust in pie plate. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate.

I use this for the top crust of homemade chicken pot pie. I baked the pies for about 25 minutes at 350.

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George’s Blue Cheese Dressing

He made this a lot when we lived on Brown Street.

He crumbled some blue cheese in a bowl, added a bit of mayo and then stirred together. He would add milk a bit at a time until he thinned it to the right consistency.

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Dump the following into a food processer or Vitamix blender:

  • 1 large can of tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • a medium yellow onion, rough chopped into big chunks
  • fresh cilantro (wash it well before throwing it in)
  • jalepeno pepper (I start with a half and taste it before deciding if I need to add more)
  • salt (more than you’d think)

Pulse it in the food processor or use the lowest speed on the Vitamix. The vegetables will be chunky (maybe I should have named the recipe pico but we always called it salsa).





combine with gauac, pile on greens, sprinkle with lime and kosher salt

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Classic potato salad

Grandma (my mom) always made it this way. It was the recipe often published in a Miracle Whip ad when she lived on Scottsdale Drive in west Knoxville. Back then, Family Circle magazine was popular and those ads appeared in ladies’ magazines such as that one.

I clipped the recipe from an ad and it is in a recipe binder we kept in our pantry. I always think of her and how she served it with her BBQ chicken when I see it. George got to have that chicken and we both loved it.

Great American Potato Salad

  • 1 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 4 cups cubed cooked potato
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Stir together and chill.

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Overnight salad

OvernightSaladJoann Looper’s recipe; this is really good. We’ve had it at family dinners with my siblings and it’s the one thing I’v made where they asked for the recipe. If that wasn’t enough, this is made the night before and just chills in the fridge until it’s time to serve.

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lb bacon cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise

First chop cauliflower, lettuce and onion. Mix together.. Add mayonnaise to top of mixture but don’t mix. Sprinkle the cheese on top and then the bacon. Again – don’t mix. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover tightly and chill overnight. Mix when ready to serve. Serves 18-20 people.

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