Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Spiced Buttercream and Autumn Memories

One of the thrills of Autumn is the spicy aromas that fill so many kitchens. Heady scents of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger make our senses come alive! Autumn's bounty of pumpkins give us endless possibilities for scrumptious dishes and desserts that remind of us Autumns passed, holidays celebrated and people with whom we experienced wonderful fellowship. I used to love it when my mother made her famous pumpkin pies...and treasured the rare occasions when she made gingerbread. I can smell the intoxicating aromas in my mind and see my mother in the kitchen, even though she left us this past April.

In honor and celebration of Autumn and the wonderful woman, mother and cook who was my mother, I have combined two flavors which I associate with them both. Enjoy the beautiful glory of Autumn and treasure your mother if you still have her with you...if not, treasure the memories of her!

Pumpkin Gingerbread

1/2 c. white sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 egg 1 c. Grandma's Molasses (original, unsulphured)
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp.salt
1 c. hot water
1/2 c. pumpkin (canned purée, NOT pumpkin pie mix!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water, then the pumpkin. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

Spiced Buttercream

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter (1/2 c.), softened
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 1-lb. box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream softened cream cheese and butter until well-blended. Slowly add powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and blend well. If mixture thickens too much or you accidentally put in to much powdered sugar, correct to desired consistency with the addition of a little milk. You want it to be thick but not extremely thick - you should be able to make a "dollop" out of a spoonful that "plops" easily. Put a dollop on top of a cut piece of pumpkin gingerbread and serve! After serving, put in airtight container and keep refrigerated.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Molasses Crinkle Cookies...and Save the Elephants!

Did you know that elephants love molasses? Well, I must be part elephant because I have adored molasses as far back as I can remember! I use molasses in recipes every chance I get. This recipe goes back so far, I'm not sure of its origin. It first appeared in print (that I know of) in the 1956 Betty Crocker Cookbook. But, "she" didn't invent it! When Mrs. Fred Fredell of St. Paul, Minnesota, served these delightful cookies, someone affiliated with The Washburn Crosby Company (home of "Betty Crocker") begged for the recipe. It was added to the cookbook and countless homes have enjoyed the cookies since. The reason I didn't say "Betty Crocker" asked for the recipe is that, well I'm about to...well, maybe...burst a bubble because there is not, nor was there ever, a "Betty Crocker." The Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis, one of the six big milling companies that merged into General Mills in 1928, received thousands of requests each year in the late 1910s and early 1920s for answers to baking questions. In 1921, managers decided that it would be more intimate to sign the responses personally; they combined the last name of a retired company executive, William Crocker, with the first name, Betty, which was thought of as warm and friendly. The signature came from a secretary, who won a contest among female employees. The same signature still appears on Betty Crocker products today!*

Here is the recipe for those deliciously thick, chewy cookies with the cracked, sugary tops. Oh, and back to the elephants. I always use Grandma's Molasses because it is so very good AND because they support The Elephant Sanctuary in my homestate of Tennessee! B&G Foods donates a year's supply of their Grandma's Molasses to The Elephant Sanctuary each year! They use the tasty molasses to get the elephants to take their medicines and dietary supplements, plus it's a great source of iron, calcium and potassium!

Molasses Crinkle Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 c. Grandma's Molasses
2 1/4 c. plain flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
Small amount of brown or white sugar...your preference!


Cream together shortening, brown sugar, egg and molasses. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill dough. Heat oven to 375°. Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts; dip tops of balls in sugar. Place, sugared side up, on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle cookies with three or four drops of water each for crinkled tops. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Note: I tend to underbake my cookies by a minute or so...ALL my cookies. Since they continue to bake on the sheet once you take them out of the oven, by taking them out a bit sooner than the recipe calls for, I end up with never-dried-out, never overbaked cookies that everyone loves!

The Perfect Omelet in 40 Seconds...and He Should Know!

Several years ago, I had the privilege of working as assistant/sous chef to a wonderful man from New York City. He had come to Nashville to be a guest on "Talk of the Town", Nashville Channel 5's Top-Rated TV Talk Show. Mr. Howard Helmer is the Guinness World Records World's Fastest Omelet Maker! He is a darling man and a HOOT to hang out with...and he KNOWS how to make an omelet. I got to spend a lot of time with him before "showtime" and he marveled at the "supermarket" telling me how he had to go to individual markets in NYC to get groceries...the fish market, the butcher, the deli, the bakery, the greengrocer for produce and the grocery store for canned items. He was in awe of the supermarket! We road all over Nashville (with me driving and him hanging on for dear life. I guess driving on the freeway is a little different from the subway)...and I learned to make the perfect omelet from the BEST! So, trust me when I tell you this omelet is perfectly yummy, easy and fast...I mean 40-seconds-FAST! Fill it with your choice of goodies, like cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, ham, well, you get the idea...the choices are endless and only restricted by your personal preferences or the preferences of your guests!

For your entertainment and information, I have attached a YouTube "How-To" from Mr. Helmer and, yes, he really IS that much fun!

For one omelet you will need:

2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter or 1 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
10-inch omelet or sauté pan
Mixing bowl
Soup ladle
Your choice of fillings, but at the very least some fantastic cheese (I adore the Mexican Four-Cheese blend...the cheese melts so perfectly and the flavor, divine!)


Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and add water. Beat until well-blended, but not necessarily until eggs are frothy. Place your 10-inch omelette pan on Medium-High heat and get the pan VERY hot. Put butter in the pan (or oil, if you are using that instead) and melt it without browning it. Now, pay attention, because things will move quickly from here! Pour the mixture into the hot pan by using a standard-size soup ladle. You will immediately see big bubbles form in the egg mixture...that is the steam created by the water and it makes the eggs fluffy! Moving quickly, place your spatula (top side down) on the outer edge of the omelet, dig in and drag mixture to the middle, filling the empty space with liquid egg mixture. Do this step rapidly from all directions until all the egg mixture has made contact with the bottom of the pan; you may need to rotate or swirl the pan. Cook until the egg is no longer runny, but is still glossy and moist on the top. Most people make the mistake of cooking the eggs until the top is dry. If you do that, you have already ruined your eggs. At the point that the top is glossy and moist, start filling your omelet with your choice of ingredients on the left side only (or on the right side, if you are left-handed.) Fold the empty half of the omelet over the side which is filled. Pick up your serving plate and flip the sauté pan over and the omelet onto the plate. You will have a beautiful, perfect 40 seconds!

If you are making omelets for a crowd, just use two eggs and two Tbsp. of water for each person and beat the egg mixture in a large container. A standard soup ladle holds four ounces of liquid...exactly the amount of two eggs and two Tbsp. of great is THAT?!?! If you don't have a ladle, use a 1/2 cup liquid measure for one portion!

Watch Howard Helmer Make an Omelet...FAST!

Visit Howard Helmer's Website...Click Here!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Baked Spaghetti Casserole and The Comfort of Food

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
Recipe card design created with Smilebox

"Food should not only nourish and satisfy, it should reach that place in your soul where comfort and belongingness and love reside. My mother taught me that...not so much by what she said, but by what she did, what she cooked and how she infused it with love." ~~ Melissa K Hand, "Hand in the Kitchen"

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable." ~~ Ina Garten, "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook"

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amazingly Easy, So Delicious Coconut Pie

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize your own free digital recipe page

This AMAZING recipe is courtesy of Christy Jordan at Southern Plate. Don't forget to get your copy of Christy's new's a must-have for every Southern cook and for those who love Southern food! Give one as a gift and make another cook happy! Go on over to for more great recipes and wonderful stories from Christy or click on the red Southern Plate link in the first line of this post!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sacred Breakfast Bites & Golden Friends

Did the name of that recipe catch your attention? It did MINE when I first saw it. Why the name? Because the bites are divine, little bits of heaven. I got this recipe from Cindy Roe Young, an old friend (in terms of knowing her a long time...since Junior High School, so you're not "old" Cindy, because you are the same age as me!) :D

Today's recipe celebrates the joy of wonderful food and the treasure of friendship!

"Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold!"

"A friend loves at all times, And a brother [sister] is born for adversity."
~~Proverbs 17:17

1 pound good quality sausage
2 cans Pillsbury regular size crescent rolls ( you may rather use the large size rolls, in which case you will not need but one can)
8 ounces cream cheese

Preheat oven according to crescent roll directions.
Crumble and brown the sausage in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
When well-browned, drain well and return to stove.
Reduce heat to low and add the cream cheese, stirring until it is thoroughly mixed with the sausage.
Remove from heat.
Open the crescent rolls and separate them. You may lay them on the baking sheet you will bake them on or use waxed paper for this step.
Place a tablespoon of the meat and cheese mixture near the wide end of the roll, roll and seal.
Place onto ungreased baking sheet.
Bake according to package directions, about 8 minutes until golden brown.

Variation on the Assembly: Here is another option for assembling the bites! Roll the entire sheet of each can of crescent rolls out without separating them; press the dotted seams together to form one big sheet of dough; spread half the sausage mixture on each sheet, leaving a little space at the edges of dough; roll up jelly-roll-style. Take some UNFLAVORED dental floss, put it under the roll about 1 1/2 - 2 inches from end, crisscross the dental floss on top of the dough and pull in opposite directions, causing the dental floss to cut neatly through the will have a perfect pinwheel! Repeat until all the filled dough is cut into pinwheels; bake as directed on roll package. You will want to lightly grease the baking sheet for this variation, as some of the cream cheese will bake out, making it a little more difficult to remove from pan.
IF you have any of these sacred little morsels left, just warm them in the oven in aluminum foil! They warm up beautifully!

Variation on Filling: 2 4-oz. packages smoked sockeye salmon + some fresh dill weed - you will not need to precook the salmon; cut or chop it into very small pieces and add it, along with the dill weed, to the cream cheese; proceed with recipe as stated above.

Note: The variations on the ingredients used for the filling are endless! Try chopped pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers or any other ingredients that make your breakfast bites heavenly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hit Songwriter and Hit Radio Host join forces with New Cookbook and Southern Soundtrack

Listen to "Sweet Tea" by Kim McLean

Devon O'Day, career radio host/songwriter has written a cookbook called "My Southern Food" accompanied by Sweet Tea: A Southern Soundtrack by Award Winning Songwriter Kim McLean. Career Country Air Personality-Songwriter, Devon O’Day heads to the Southern kitchen with her new collection of mouthwatering recipes in My Southern Food, hitting store shelves October 2010 (Thomas Nelson Publishers). Since music and food are a great combination, award-winning songwriter Kim McLean (Beautiful Goodbye, All About Us, Ain’t No Glory, Angels and Eagles, Count Your Blessing, Elisabeth, Go Tell) has been commissioned to compose the perfect soundtrack for a Southern meal, of which the debut title cut, Sweet Tea heads to country radio September 13 via CDX, Airplay Direct, Mark Trail Sampler, and Radio Submit among other direct channels with a radio tour. The Sweet Tea-My Southern Food Tour will cover the southeast U.S. beginning with the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN Oct. 8, 9, and 10 as well as the Kentucky Book Fair Nov 13. Tour stops will include radio and TV, along with major bookstores, gift outlets, and key southern eateries like Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse in Monteagle, TN Oct. 23rd. Instead of traditional book signings, O’Day and McLean have created a unique book/music presentation called a book SINGing, combining anecdotes, humor, and music. “It’s an event for a retail venue. Today’s consumer doesn’t want to be sold to, they want to be given something – entertainment, and then they support the artist/authors who’ve given to them. A free show that’s fun for the whole family is a great way to give. There are some corporate entities that are tying in to create even more giveaways like dinners and overnight stays at southern tourist spots. The whole tour is as much about promoting the warmth of the South and her culture as it is about selling books. It’s like going home, sharing good food and music with people,” says O’Day.
Article by FPR

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Little Dresses For Africa

Little Dresses For Africa is a non-profit Christian organization that provides relief to the children of Africa. Simple dresses are made out of pillowcases and distributed to the orphanages, churches and schools in Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy! When I learned of this wonderful organization, I just HAD to be a part of it! I am making little dresses out of pillowcases, and trimming them in ribbons and embellishments to make each special and unique...just like the child who will receive it! Click on the link to "Little Dresses for Africa" to read more about this organization and its work. Many of these little girls own one tattered little dress, so a new dress is a prized possession. To donate toward the purchase of pillowcases, fabric, trim and cost of shipping of these little dresses (and boys shorts, which they call "britches"), go to the "Donate" button at the top of the page here at Hand in the Kitchen and make a contribution. All proceeds go toward the purchase of necessary items to make the clothing and to ship the articles to these precious children. Won't you help make a little girl's (or little boy's) day brighter and let them know that they are loved by others and by Our Heavenly Father?
Visit Website for Little Dresses for Africa

Hamburger Corn Bake

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
This recipe card design personalized with Smilebox

This recipe goes waaaay back. I have been making it for family and friends for over half my life. Its simple ingredients and goodness make it a winner, tried and true!

Two Great New Cookbooks From Two Great Southern Friends!

I am privileged and proud to know two lovely ladies who have recently published fantastic cookbooks...and I have my copy of each! If you love wonderful, tummy-and-heart-warming Southern dishes, you will LOVE these cookbooks! All recipes use basic ingredients and easy techniques and are presented in lovely, inviting formats and include personal "food for thought" and memories...what else would you expect from two Southern belles? Go get a copy of each NOW (and buy one for another Southern belle who loves to cook!) Stop by your local bookstore or go to and get Christy Jordan's Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family and Devon O'Day's My Southern Food: A Celebration of the Flavors of the South!

Chili Gravy

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox

Personalize your own free recipe page

A big THANKS goes to my friend Karen Lawson of Texas for this great recipe. The traditional recipe calls for lard, but you can substitute vegetable oil. This awesome chili gravy is great on enchiladas and a variety of Mexican/TexMex foods!

10-Minute Never-Fail Peanut Brittle...From Your Microwave!

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
This free recipe page personalized with Smilebox

For years, I have made peanut brittle in the microwave, and I've been told that it's as good (some say better, but I will leave you to decide) as a certain well-known commercial brand, who shall remain nameless. When my children were little, I would make batches to give, as an expression of gratitude at Christmas, to the crossing guard at their schools, the mailman and other special people who provided great service throughout the year. I have yet to find a person who does not love to get a gift from the kitchen...there is just something special about a gift that someone has taken time to make. I know I love to get those types of gifts! Peanut brittle is yummy, easy and fun to make in your microwave, with little cleanup! What could be better?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fun Food Fact of the Day

Did you know?

Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa invented the first loaf-at-a-time bread slicing machine. A prototype that he built in 1912 was destroyed by fire and it was not until 1928 that Rohwedder had a fully-functioning machine ready. The first commercial use of the machine was by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, which produced its first slices on July 6, 1928. Their product Kleen Maid Sliced Bread was a success. It was such a revolutionary idea that it later influenced the saying that something (insert item) "is the best thing since sliced bread!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Click to play this Smilebox recipe
Create your own recipe - Powered by Smilebox
This printable recipe card created with Smilebox

This recipe is my husband, Buddy's, all-time favorite casserole recipe. Do you know how much he loves it? He requested it for his birthday instead of birthday cake! Happy Birthday, Dear Husband. I love you! (His birthday is in four days...October 18th!)


Welcome to the Hand in the Kitchen Blog! Take a look around, stay awhile, listen to some fun food songs, leave a comment and take a recipe with you! I'm so glad you are here!