Recipe

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Christmas morning is probably the only morning that I’ll prepare a delicious and indulgent breakfast casserole.  I’ll pull bacon and eggs together on special occasions: a niece spending the night, overnight guests visiting and the like, but the rest of the year we eat cereal or just wait for lunch hours to roll around.
This casserole is super sweet and decadent.  The kids loved it.  Christmas is a time for happiness, that’s my only excuse for making this delicious sugar bomb!
I originally found this recipe on the Cooking Channel.

Cinnamon French Toast Bake

Recipe

Chocolate Trifle in a Jar

Yesterday began my month of Christmas baking and cooking!  This is the most wonderful time of the year 🙂  We are all so busy, sometimes it feels good to just stay home and have a day of fun.  And fun for me is spending time in my kitchen.

These little trifles are adorable and portable!  Usually a trifle is in a big glass bowl, a formidable and elegant offering.  These individual trifles are perfect for giving or for a party.

I will give you the recipe that I used for my chocolate cake.  It’s easy, it’s moist…but if you wanna, you can certainly use a devil’s food cake mix.  Entirely your preference!

 

Here’s the recipe I used: One Bowl Chocolate Cake Mix.  It’s very moist and tastes good with nearly any frosting you want to top it with 🙂

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Frosting of your choice
  • Colored sprinkles, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13×9-in. baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients. Stir in eggs, oil and buttermilk. Add water; stir until combined.
  2. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Frost cake. If desired, decorate with sprinkles.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup softened butter until creamy. Beat in 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup baking cocoa, 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 3-4 tablespoons 2% milk to achieve desired consistency.

 

For the trifle itself, I used the recipe I found at Blooming Homestead: Chocolate Trifle

Charlotte · Denver · Destin · Hickory

Best of Restaurants: Cheesy!

Oh, how I adore cheese.  You could melt it on a cardboard pizza top and I’d probably eat it.  These dishes are my favorite cheesy dishes at restaurants I’ve tried.

Pimiento Cheese Spread from Boschamp’s in Destin, FL

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese at Safari Miles in Denver 

Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza at Tony’s in Hickory, NC

Pizza Sub from Penn Station East Coast Subs in Charlotte, NC

Mushroom Gruyere Sandwich from Papi Queso in Charlotte

Shepard’s Pie from Metro Diner in Pineville

Charlotte

Shopping in Charlotte, NC

Charlotte is full of awesome shopping spots.  Here are some of the cooler ones:

Paper Skyscraper

Source: Airbnb

Gift shop with novelty items, baby gifts, paper goods, books and even clothing and accessories.  One of my favorite stores!

330 East Boulevard Charlotte, North Carolina 28203

Kitschy Cool Vintage

This clothing store specializes in vintage fashions from the 40’s to the 80’s.  They also have a nice selection of ugly Christmas Sweaters!
4450 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209

2nd and Charles

Music, Books, Collectibles, gifts and more.  Well laid out and easy to get lost here for a few hours!
5331 S Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28217
Charlotte · Denver

Thanksgiving Dinner Out?

There is a first time for everything!  This year my children are going to the mountains with their dad for Thanksgiving, so the rest of my family decided we didn’t need to cook a huge meal…and we’d treat ourselves to dinner out!

If that’s something that appeals to you, here are some restaurants around Lake Norman and Charlotte that are serving Thanksgiving dinner!

CHARLOTTE

 

Eddie V’s “Even the gravy is served with a side of glamour.  Join us for a traditional holiday dinner with all the trimmings.  And for anyone who chooses to abandon Custom in favor of lobster, our full menu will also be available.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Baby French green beans with sundried tomatoes

Fleming’s “Let us host your three-course Thanksgiving, including your choice of Herb-Roasted Turkey or Petite Filet Mignon.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $45  Child $22
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake

Capital Grill “We’re hosting Thanksgiving for turkey and steak enthusiasts alike.”

  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Slow roasted turkey with brioche stuffing

Chima Steakhouse: “Let us cook for you this Thanksgiving.  Complete Rodizio plus Thanksgiving favorites.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 12-8pm
  • Pricing: Adult $43  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Thanksgiving menu offerings:  Roasted Turkey – cranberry sauce – stuffing – mashed sweet potato – green bean casserole – cornbread

Ri Ra Irish Pub:We are open through the holidays and look forward to welcoming you, your family and friends to the pub to enjoy lots of festive fun. Feast on tasty bites, cozy up with our winter warmer drinks and celebrate the season with us.”

  • Thanksgiving hours 11-10 pm
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • No special Thanksgiving menu posted

JP Charlotte: “Thanksgiving Brunch at the Westin in Charlotte.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10-3pm
  • Pricing: Adult $58  Child $24   Under 5 FREE!
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Bisque

The Palm: “Join Us for Thanksgiving Day!”

  • Pricing: Adult $59  Child $24   
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Charred Brussels Sprouts

New South Kitchen “Traditional Thanksgiving feast complete with all the fixins!!!.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-7pm
  • Pricing: $35 per person
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Deep Fried Turkey

Buca di Beppo “Start a new tradition and leave your Thanksgiving meal to us so you can spend time with the ones you love. We are open for Thanksgiving and invite you to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.”

  • Thanksgiving feast begins at 11 am
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Spicy Italian Sausage Stuffing

Bistro La Bon Never Too Soon To Start Thinking About Our Thanksgiving Smorgasbord

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10-4 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $37 per person  Children 5-10 $16 per person  
  • Reservations: Online Reservations
  • Interesting menu offering: Squash Lasagna

Harper’s:  gather ‘round our southern table”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-4 pm
  • Pricing: Adult $32  Child $15
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: The Best Prime Rib

Macaroni Grill: “Dine in and celebrate at our table. Regular menu will also be available.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-9 pm
  • Pricing: Adult $25  Child $12
  • Reservations: Online Reservations  
  • Interesting menu offering: Traditional Cheesecake with Pumpkin Crème Anglaise

LAKE NORMAN

The Foundry in Denver:  “Giving Thanks at the Foundry”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-2pm
  • Pricing: Adults $39 per person  Children 12 and under $15 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made by calling 704.585.8780
  • Interesting menu offering: Mediterranean Cod Artichokes, Spinach, Lemon Butter Sauce, Capers

Chillfire Grill in Denver:  “Giving Thanks at the Foundry”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 10:30-5 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $29 per person  Children 12 and under $13 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made online: Reservations
  • Interesting menu offering: SMOKED SEAFOOD PLATTER: salmon, NC trout, dill cream cheese, fried capers, red onion, croustade

North Harbor Club (Cornelius) “WE FEATURE A THANKSGIVING THEMED BUFFET CURATED WITH SOME CLASSIC THANKSGIVING FAVORITES ALONG WITH OUR SIGNATURE SIDES.”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-5 pm
  • Pricing: Adults $36 per person  Children 12 and under $16 per person  
  • Reservations: Reservations can be made by calling: CALL 704-896-5559
  • Interesting menu offering: Cajun Seafood Stuffing

Epic Chophouse: “This Thanksgiving, enjoy a grand meal in the company of family and friends at Epic Chophouse. Join us for an incredible Thanksgiving meal featuring fresh fruits and salads, deviled eggs, shrimp and grits and Norwegian salmon fillet. Of course we’ll have traditional favorites like oven roasted turkey, prime rib of beef, Chef’s famous fried chicken and more!”

  • Thanksgiving is served from 11-4pm
  • Pricing: Adult $33  Child $11   Under 4 FREE!
  • Reservations: Can be made by calling 704-230-1720.
  • Interesting menu offering: CRANBERRY AND APPLE ORCHARD SALSA
Recipe

Winter Cookery

Winter.  Ugh.  After Christmas is over, I’m kind of done with it.  Recently we had a snow storm that shut down our Southern city for a few days, so I took that time to cook.  So, not all bad.  I’ve been neglecting that part of my life lately, so was nice to get back to it, even if it was forced.

Snow Cream!

So easy, you don’t need a recipe!  Stick a big bowl outside to collect fresh falling snow.  When full mix with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Scoop into a mason jar and garnish with snow if you want to be bougie.

I find myself really stepping up my pasta game in the winter, since it’s heavier and sticks with you in the frigid 40 degree temps of the Carolina tundra.  I found this recipe while searching for one to take to a friend who was in need of a casserole and a visit.  It was pretty to look at and yummy!

To view the recipe, head over to Very Best Baking

“BEST”-OVER HAM & PESTO PASTA

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box (12 oz.) dry tri-color rotini or spiral shaped pasta (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrot medley
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
  • 2 cups (8-oz. pkg.) shredded Italian cheese blend or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons jarred or refrigerated pesto with basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

INSTRUCTIONS

COOK pasta according to package directions, adding frozen vegetables to boiling pasta water for last 2 minutes of cooking time; drain. Return pasta and vegetables to cooking pot.

MEANWHILE, COMBINE evaporated milk, cheese, pesto and black pepper in medium saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Remove from heat.

POUR cheese sauce over pasta and vegetables. Add ham; stir until combined.

Winter is when I’m ready for carbs.  These potatoes are simply delicious.  Seriously.  Not a lot of ingredients, and the hardest thing is slicing the potatoes thinly, but I have a mandolin so that was just plain fun.

Oh, and I forgot to snap a picture of this when it was done.  Curses!  But here’s the cookbook where I tried the recipe:

Potatoes Dauphinoise

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 medium russet potatoes (2 1/2 lbs)
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Scrub and peel potatoes, then cut them into 1/8 inch thick slices.
  2. Combine potatoes, milk, butter, salt and white pepper in a large saucepan.  Bring to simmer over medium heat.  Add the garlic; partially cover pan and simmer until potatoes are almost tender when tested with point of small sharp knife, about 20 minutes.
  3. Pour potatoes with liquid into a buttered 13×9 inch casserole dish.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake until sauce has thickened and cheese is melted and golden brown, about 35 minutes.