Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category


Pineapple Cheese Ball

  • 2- 8oz packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1- 8oz can crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons finely grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon Lowry’s seasoned salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl whip cream cheese until smooth.

Add the drained pineapple, chopped green pepper, grated onion.  Mix until blended.  Then add the seasoned salt.

Form 1 large, or 2 smaller balls with this mixture. (I like to wrap the mixture in wax paper to form a ball). Then roll the cream cheese ball in the chopped pecans to evenly coat.  Wrap completed cheese ball(s) in wax paper and refrigerate until firm (2-4 hours).  Serve with Wheat Thins.  We rarely have any of this cheese ball left over.  However, it is best when consumed within a day or two.


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Black Eyed Peas- N- Pork  

Our gang here at TaraCooks.com would like to wish all of you a very Happy New YearMay God bless your lives with health, happiness, and His spirit today and throughout 2009! 

Here’s how to get all the New Year’s traditions in one main dish.  It contains those “lucky” black eyed peas.  Pork and cabbage go in the mix that so many folks here in the south serve with the peas.  This recipe is a complete experiment for me, and one I created after consulting with my life long friend Amanda.   

Brown 1 pound ground pork in large iron skillet over medium heat. (There was practically NO grease that cooked out of the pork. I was surprised). 


  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped medium sweet onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage (I used slaw mix, without the dressing) 

Cook chopped veggies with ground pork until onions are translucent. 

Then add:

  • ½ cup Minute Rice
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can drained black eyed peas
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

Simmer until rice is done and liquid chicken broth is absorbed. 

Serve in large cabbage leaves. 

Although I served this dish in the cabbage leaves, you could simply serve from the iron skillet for simplicity’s sake.  Amanda made a similar dish with potatoes and carrots in place of the slaw mix and rice.  She was able to roll spoonfuls of her mix into cabbage leaves, secure with a toothpick, and bake with some canned tomatoes as topping.  We both could imagine some country ham pieces accenting this dish too!  Any how, I had fun creating a new dish, and consulting with an old friend.  I was also pleased with the taste.  And I’m no longer a virgin ground pork chef!

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How to Brine a Turkey 

This is my first year to brine a turkey.  I used the largest pot I have – it probably holds at least 3 gallons of water.  You can buy the brining bags at the grocery during the holiday season.  Since I think it’s ridiculous to pay the price Kroger was asking for theirs, I simply let my turkey soak in that huge pot that I used to make the brine.  

In huge pot add: turkey-brine-2

  • 2 gallons water (I filtered mine – but I’m an O/C type)
  • Zest of one orange + slices of remaining orange
  • Zest of one lemon + slices of remaining lemon
  • 1 package fresh rosemary (from Kroger produce section)
  • 1 package fresh thyme (from Kroger produce section)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple cut and diced
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups of salt
  • Toss in a few peppercorns if you have them
  • 4-5 bay leaves 

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to brine (I’m always in a hurry and added some ice to the brine).

To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove gross bags, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag OR a very large pot. Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.

When you brine your turkey, the drippings are quite salty. For this reason, it is VERY important that you use a no-sodium (or low-sodium) chicken broth when you make the turkey gravy.

Many frozen turkeys are injected with a sodium solution—it’s best NOT to brine these turkeys! Brining fresh turkeys for best results

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Mother-In-Law’s Boiled Custard 

What’s the difference between egg nog and boiled custard??  I’ve often thought of egg nog as a northern drink, and of boiled custard being the southern choice.  I’ve been told that egg nog is the “spirited” drink.  After researching this topic I’ve found that both these holiday drinks are frequently spiked. 

Here’s what Yahoo Answers has to say about the difference between egg nog and boiled custard- for what it’s worth:

Traditionally egg nog is raw and not cooked at all! Custard also has a thicker consistency and the eggs have been tempered and slightly cooked. Traditional egg nog is very fluffy due to the beaten egg whites and the folding of cream. So to sum it up-the differences are texture and one is not cooked and the other is. Plus one will get you drunk faster. 

I’d also like to set the record straight – my mother-in-law never spiked her boiled custard! Also, I don’t really care for boiled custard at all.  I have bad memories of bad custard days of my youth – custard too thick to choke down, full of lumps and bumps.  However, if I’d been started young on my mother-in-law’s custard – I think I could have been won over to this southern tradition.  Hers is the best I’ve ever tasted – not too sweet, not too thick, and never, ever lumpy.  Finally the taste of orange tickles the tongue, complimenting the sweetness.  Are you ready to make some real stuff?? 

You will need: 

  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Rind of one orange
  • Double boiler
  • Whipped cream
  • Nutmeg or Cinnamon 

In large bowl combine milk and sugar, whisking to blend.

In small bowl, beat 3 eggs until fluffy.  Strain beaten eggs in a mesh strainer, set aside. 

Heat water in bottom pan to a double boiler until it begins to boil.  Then put the milk and sugar mixture into the top pan of the double boiler.  Stir frequently until milk mixture is pretty warm – but not boiling.  Then add the strained eggs to the heated milk and sugar.  Add the rind of one orange.  Continue stirring until mixture begins to thicken slightly.  When mixture coats a silver spoon – remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Add a dash of salt to the boiled custard.  Taste the custard.  Remove the orange rind. When boiled custard has cooled, place in refrigerator.  Serve chilled in pretty glass.  Garnish with whipped cream, and nutmeg or cinnamon.

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Christmas Country Breakfast Pie 

1 deep dish pie crust – unbaked 

Place the following in unbaked pie crustbreakfast-pie

  • 1 pound pork sausage – crumbled, browned, and drained
  • ¼ cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped red pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup light cream 

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and set.


Hashbrown Casserole

Place in a 9×13 greased baking dish:

  • 1 bag Ore Ida frozen shredded hash brown potatoes hashbrown-casserole

In large bowl mix:

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • ½ stick melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons minced dried onion flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese 

Pour liquid/cheese mixture over hash browns.  Stir slightly.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake about 45 minutes, or until top of casserole is golden brown. 

This make a lot and can be easily divided and placed into 2 9×9 dishes.  One can be frozen and thawed later for cooking.

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If you don’t have time to make Better Cinnamon Rolls, this recipe is the next best thing to serve on Christmas morning.  I got this recipe a long time ago from my dear friend Betsy.  Hi Betsy!  Although there are no pictures to post yet, I wanted to give the recipe so you could get all the ingredients when you make that last grocery store run.  Sometimes the Cook N Serve Butterscotch Jello Pudding is hard to find close to Christmas. 

1 pkg. frozen dough balls (15 count)sticky-buns-before-cooking
1 pkg, butterscotch pudding, NOT instant
1 stick real butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
On Christmas Eve:
Butter a bundt pan
Layer One: Sprinkle cinnamon in bottom of pan
Layer Two: Add chopped pecans
Layer Three: Add Dough Balls
Layer Four: Sprinkle dry pudding mix over dough
Layer Five: Melt butter and sugar. Pour over top.
Let prepared dough set out all night uncovered. Christmas morning bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, placing a plate or round serving platter on top of bundt pan.  Flip pan to release sticky buns. Caution – it’s hot and sticky.  Serve while warm.  Faint and repeat.

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Red Velvet Cake

I used mostly organic ingredients in this cake.  I found some plant based red food coloring at Whole foods.  However, the label said the color might change when heated.  I added a bit of regular red food coloring to give the cake some color.  Feel free to use as many organic ingredients as you can find.  Although I am avoiding wheat, I did use organic all purpose flour.

In large bowl cream:

  • 2 sticks soft butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg.

In separate bowl, combine:red-velvet-ingr

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa

Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with 1 cup buttermilk.

Next add:

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons red food coloring

Blend well.  Divide batter among 3 9” round greased and floured cake pans.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cool then frost.


  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 stick soft butter
  • 1 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup coconut optional

In large bowl of mixer combine powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Frost top of first layer, then add another layer, and frost top of second layer.  Repeat if using 3 cake pans with the final layer.  Frost sides of cake.  Garnish with flaked coconut if desired.

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