An Easy Snow Day Recipe

Make these quick pizza rolls, and get back to playing in the snow:)

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What is all this cold stuff?

Quite a few years ago, my family started the tradition of eating Pizza Roll-ups on snow days.

Snow days are a precious time in Memphis. They’re fickle at best and very rarely happen. Actually, the higher the forecasted chance of frozen precipitation, the less likely it will actually fall from the sky. Honestly, you’re more likely to see a polar bear within the city limits…since there is actually a polar bear at the zoo. However, on the few days a year when we wake up to backyards blanketed in two inches of white, we Memphians are prepared for the unexpected.

At the first whisper of snow, the whole town breaks into a palpable panic. The commute home takes twice as long, and every parking space at Kroger instantly fills. Since all Southerners know their cities don’t own snow plows, the fear of being trapped at home or work without food seems real. *Actually, we even apply this understanding to legitimately snow covered lands. I’ll never forget my family worrying by the windows one night watching snow fall in Aspen. We wondered how we would get to the airport the next day only to be astounded when a snow machine had cleared the driveway before sunrise. *

We also know that this frozen world never lasts long. Sometimes all accumulation melts by noon, so anyone wanting to sled has to start early and not waste time slipping and sliding on uncleared streets. This fleeting wonderland also doesn’t leave much time for cooking or eating a meal, which is why Pizza Roll-ups are the perfect solution.    The comfort food combo of pizza and crescent rolls couldn’t be any cheaper, easier to prepare, or yummier…how could anyone turn down this cozy snow day fuel?  Also, cleanup is a breeze, so even grownups can get outside for a snowball fight!

Memphians, if you’re already on your way to Kroger to stock up on milk and bread for the snowpocalypse, I would totally recommend adding the ingredients for snow day Pizza Rolls, too! For you non-Memphians, I’m sure Pizza Roll-ups taste great in any climate!

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The Only Ingredients You’ll Need


Recipe for Pizza Roll-ups

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 1 bag of mozzarella cheese sticks. Cut a few cheese sticks into inch long pieces. Cut these pieces lengthwise
  • 1 box of pepperoni
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

Directions

  • Preheat oven to temperature on crescent roll tube.
  • Roll out crescent roll triangles on an ungreased cookie sheet. You may need two cookie sheets.
  • Place two or three pepperoni on the widest part of the crescent roll triangle.
  • Place one cheese stick piece on top of pepperoni (see below).

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  • Roll the crescent roll triangle into a crescent roll shape like usual, making sure to keep pepperoni and cheese inside.
  • Place rolled up mini pizzas into the oven, and bake according to crescent roll tube instructions.
  • While the mini pizzas are baking, warm marinara in a sauce pan.
  • Serve cooked pizza roll-ups with warmed marinara as a dipping sauce.
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Finished Deliciousness

Enjoy, and stay warm!

Erica

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Back to the Snow!

A Little More Please!

More sweet potatoes, more family, and more Thanksgiving is always better.

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A Timeworn and Beloved Recipe

I’m pretty sure I’m totally capable of making sweet potato caserol on my own. Of course, I don’t know for sure because my mom has always helped me.

One of my family’s top two favorite Thanksgiving dishes (tied with my dad’s cornbread dressing) is Mom’s Senator Russel’s Sweet Potato Soufflé. Ok, so in reality, any idea of who Senator Russel was has been lost to time, and from my understanding, the finished side doesn’t fit the definition of a soufflé, but oh my goodness, all cares about the name are completely forgotten as soon as the smells of roasted pecans and sweet potatoes start wafting out of the oven. The second the casserole dish is taken out of the oven, it takes a lot of will power not to dive in before anyone else knows it’s cooked.

The magnetic deliciousness of this dish is why my extended family (and now some lucky friends with the recipe) jump at the chance to bring it to any holiday gathering possible. It’s been to every work and friends’ Thanksgiving in memory, and I’m pretty sure I even brought it to a baby shower a few years ago. You can never ever have too much sweet potato soufflé! Which brings me to another point.

You also can’t seem to have enough help making these sweet potatoes either.

Each time someone offers to bring Senator Russel’s potatoes, my mom starts looking visibly anxious. I’ve come to find out this is because she’s just adding this newest offer to the list of at least five other times the dish will be made the week before Thanksgiving, and it’s implied that she will personally help make it each time. To be clear, I never ask for her help, but it always seems to arrive. Sometimes, the sweet potatoes are even pre-baking in the oven before I can personally get to Kroger to buy the ingredients. Just as arriving at dinners with a warm bowl of bright orange sweet potatoes and crusty sugared pecans has become a tradition, knowing my mom will tell me when I’ve mashed the potatoes enough or even taking the spoon from my hand to show me a “better” way to stir together the crisp topping has become completely expected.

When I first started making this dish, I found the extra help just a smidge annoying. Did my mom think I wasn’t a good cook? Why wouldn’t she just cook something else when I could handle this? I wondered. However, after a few years of this supervision, I realized even though I could make the dish by myself, I didn’t really want to. I think the rest of my family has learned the same thing, too. Every time we cook sweet potato soufflé, there’s  a Hallmark movie in the background, and at some point, my mom and I will both get tickled when pecans start flying out of the mixing bowl as someone stirs too vigorously. With so much help in the kitchen, the festivities begin before the dinner even starts, and the dish has always turned out perfect with extra eyes on the recipe.

So, my recommendation is to use this dish as an excuse to have yet another festive meal, and as a way to make memories with loved ones in the kitchen.

The Recipe:

Filling

  • 4 cups baked sweet potatoes (4 medium sweet potatoes)- lightly mashed
  • 1 cup regular, granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten

Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup softened margarine

Preheat oven to 350.

For the filling, add all filling ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Stir till combined. Empty this mixture into an oven safe casserole dish.

For the topping, add all topping ingredients to a smaller mixing bowl. My mother uses two butter knives to cut the margarine into the other ingredients with a crisscrossing motion. I have achieved the same results just staring with a spoon when she isn’t looking. The stirring method is personal choice. Once the topping is combined, sprinkle (don’t press) the crumbly mixture on top of the sweet potato mixture in the casserole dish.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, but serve while warm.

*The recipe can be mixed and added to the casserole dish and kept in the refrigerator overnight to be baked the next day.

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Before…
After!

Enjoy!

A Cake Pattern…or Recipe for Party Success 

Confession: my name is Erica Marchbanks, and I’m moderately addicted to patterns.  I love bright, cheerful, repeated designs. The more pattern, the better! My mom thinks it’s precious, my sister thinks I need help, but I just think about Lilly Pulitzer…and sometimes Vera Bradley…which sometimes gets me in trouble.

To be specific about my love of pattern, blue & yellow based motifs are pretty great, green & pink are even better, but I’m a major sucker for any shade of blue & red/coral images splashed across whatever product you may be selling. For instance, I’ve gone so far as to call Lilly’s She She Shells “my pattern.”

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Photo credit: The Juice Stand Blog

So, it’s no surprise I was quite smitten with Vera Bradley’s Marina Paisley a few years ago. I looked at the magazine, spied that pattern, and marched myself straight into the Saddle Creek Vera store, determined to purchase something great.  This would all be well & good if I had chosen something even slightly useful…but alas, that was not true.

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I bought a recipe holder. Ok, well, maybe it would be useful for other people, but at the time my cooking skills were sub par, and I didn’t have five special, go-to recipes to my name. What was I to do? My recipe holder was so beautiful. I had chosen one where my favorite part of the pattern was front and center (a vital part of shopping for the pattern lover). It was clearly the best, not overly expensive object in the store. It was looking great in its new home. I had to keep it. I just decided it would have to look nice empty. So I called my grandmother, a fellow pattern lover, to tell her all about my new recipe book.

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It was just the phone call I needed (how do grandmothers always know what to do?). Along with patterns, my grandmom shares my love of chocolate. She offered me her favorite Kahlua cake recipe to add to my new organizer and told me she would love a piece of cake if I wanted to try the recipe that night.  I tried the recipe, & to my surprise, it really was easy and delicious!   I brought my grandmother half the cake, and carried some to a friend’s birthday party.  Everyone asked how to make this dessert. I was on a roll! The first recipe in the booklet was now my go-to recipe! I couldn’t thank my grandmom enough!

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Over the last few years, I have brought this cake to many events, & with different garnishes, it has fit every occasion! Somehow, following my seemingly silly interests melded with a little grandmotherly magic and mixed into a cake for any party.

So without further ado….

Here’s the recipe for

My Grandmother’s (Very Easy) Kahlua Cake:

Ingredients:                                                                                                                        

(Remember, it’s tasty. I didn’t say healthy.)

 1 box               Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake mix                                                                

1 small box   Jello brand instant chocolate pudding mix                                                      

2 cups             Sour Cream                                                                                                                

4                       Eggs

3/4 cups        Vegetable Oil

1/2 cups        Kahlua

6 oz                  Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

 

Directions:

 Mix everything except chocolate chips. 

Mix in chocolate chips. 

Pour into a greased bunt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

 

Decorate for the occasion if you want to….mine isn’t that beautiful, but looks aren’t everything…it’s perfect as it is.

Cake…just don’t take it to a party I’m going to…unless you want double the Kahlua cake!

Enjoy,                                                                                                                   

Erica