Candied Pretzels

Posted by mrssmythe on November 24, 2015 in Cooking |


Pepper was back in the kitchen this weekend, this time making a snack that all of us had a hard time resisting – candied pretzels!

(What is it about candied pretzels? I think it’s the sweet/salty mix. Whatever it is, they’re tasty!)

For this project, Pepper didn’t use a recipe (though I’m sure there are plenty out there). She simply went to the craft store and picked up a sack of Wilton Candy Melts. (You can find these at Michael’s, JoAnns, and Walmart). Then, using the microwave, she melted them down and started dipping.


While the candy mixture was still wet, she added sprinkles.


And that was it. In no time at all, the candy was set, and the pretzels were ready to eat. Super easy.


(Super cute, too!)

We used some of what she made as snacks at Ginger’s birthday party this weekend. The rest went to us. They didn’t last long.

Pepper thinks these could easily be changed up for different holidays and occasions. You could do a dark chocolate pretzel for a more sophisticated look, or go with Christmas colors and sprinkles for the holidays. Whichever you choose, it’s an easy project that even kids can manage.

We’ll definitely be making these again.

From the dining room table, getting ready to brine the turkey,

Mrs. Smythe



Late-Blooming Larkspur

Posted by mrssmythe on November 23, 2015 in Garden |


I can’t explain it. We’ve had multiple freezes. Everything else has pretty much surrendered. Even the chrysanthemums are fading. But, the larkspur? The larkspur just keeps putting out buds.

My guess is that it’s in a protected pocket – an area that receives lots of sun and stays somehow warmer than the rest of the yard. Maybe being near the road helps. Or, maybe it’s just one determined little plant. In any case, I’m impressed.

Tonight will be the real test, though. We’re supposed to get down to 19 degrees – our coldest night so far.

Hang on, little larkspur, hang on!

From the dining room table, needing to go through the refrigerator to clear space for the coming Feast,

Mrs. Smythe



Manny and the Pillows

Posted by mrssmythe on November 20, 2015 in Critters |

In an effort to keep the living room presentable, I buy quilts and use them as slip covers. They’re easy to wash, and it’s fun to change things up from time to time.

Our latest model is a nice Christmas-y plaid that I found at Homegoods. It came in a bedroom set with two pillow covers and two throw pillows. We haven’t had throw pillows since the dogs destroyed the last pair a year ago.

Anyway, I brought everything home the other day and spread out the quilt. The first to express approval was Manny.


Manny thinks the sofa is his dog bed and any improvements we make to it are all right with him.

Manny especially liked the new pillows.


There was a white faux fur one in the mix, and that one was his favorite, but I had to move it out of his reach because he was getting it dirty. It’s “spot clean only”, and I knew that if I let him lay on it, it wouldn’t last a week.

I moved it to the rocking chair with the other “spot clean only” pillow. Manny’s too big to fit in the rocking chair, but I think he’d try if he could…just to be with that pillow.


From the dining room table, wondering why it was I thought letting the dogs on the sofa was a good idea in the first place…,

Mrs. Smythe


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Mashed Potatoes with Greens

Posted by mrssmythe on November 18, 2015 in Mrs. Smythe |

When I first saw Southern Living‘s recipe for “Mashed Potatoes with Greens” I thought I’d skip it. Everything else in their Make-Ahead Thanksgiving menu looked fine, but potatoes with greens? That sounded weird. I was puzzled why anyone would feel the need to add anything to mashed potatoes. CPT America was in agreement. We grew up in Idaho. We feel strongly about potatoes.

But, at the last minute, I decided that if I was going to do this whole make-ahead thing right, I should probably give the potatoes a chance. And so, today, I went to the grocery store and picked up kale – something I’d never bought (or eaten) before.

Six cups worth.


Having never cooked with kale, either, I was understandably surprised when all six cups cooked down to something that looked like this:


What in the world had I done wrong?

Actually, nothing. Or so said a friend who happened to call just as I lifted the lid on the greens. (I may have sounded a bit panicky on the phone). Thank goodness she called!

Anyway, everything else about the recipe was pretty straight forward. Boil the potatoes, mash the potatoes, add the butter and the milk. But this recipe also called for cream cheese, green onions, and…kale, which I left for last. And, when I finally did add the kale, I added it with reluctance, certain that I was about to ruin a perfectly good batch of mashed potatoes.

However, that was not the case.


These potatoes were good! In fact, I think this has been my favorite recipe so far. I’m so glad I didn’t give it a pass like I’d planned.

CPT America also approved – though in his opinion, the kale added more color than flavor. And the girls were surprisingly receptive, though I noticed they sort of ate around the kale toward the end. (They’re still a bit suspicious of anything green and leafy).

But don’t listen to them – listen to me. Make these potatoes!

And, one more note. The preparation of these potatoes means I am now finally on schedule for this whole make-ahead Thanksgiving thing. I don’t have to do anything else until Monday…except maybe buy some more casserole dishes because I’m swiftly running out.

From the dining room table, wondering what other yummy recipes are out there for kale,

Mrs. Smythe

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Grandmother Carter’s Cornbread Dressing

Posted by mrssmythe on November 17, 2015 in Celebrations, Cooking |

I was back in the kitchen again this afternoon for another round of prep in my Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Feast. If you’ve been following this exciting saga, you already know that I’m using recipes found in the November 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. You can find the entire game plan HERE.

Today, I worked on “Grandmother Carter’s Cornbread Dressing“, which, according to the schedule, was supposed to be completed sometime in the first week of November. I’m still running a bit behind. But never fear! One more side dish and I’ll be caught up. It can be done.

If I were to name this recipe, I would call it “Twice-Baked Cornbread Stuffing” or something like that. It felt a bit like making twice-baked potatoes – just with bread instead of spuds.

First step – a pan of cornbread.


…which, once cooled, was crumbled.


It was a lot of cornbread. In fact, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the enormous quantity of stuffing this recipe makes. 20-24 servings! That’s two 9×13 pans’ worth. I had to use my largest stock pot to mix everything.


The entire time, I kept thinking I ought to be halving the recipe or something, but I didn’t want to throw off the results, so I just soldiered on, in the end deciding to freeze half the recipe for Thanksgiving and bake up the other half for this evening’s dinner.

And the result?

Pretty darn good.


CPT America really liked this stuffing. He went back for seconds.

I liked the this stuffing, too. In fact, it was probably one of the better stuffings I’ve ever tried. I liked the texture and the fact that it incorporated both cornbread and rice. Pretty decent stuff.

The children, however, did not like the stuffing – but then they never like stuffing, so I wouldn’t let their opinion sway you.

In the end, I’d say that if you need a lot of moist, tasty stuffing this year and don’t mind going to a bit of extra effort making it, this might be just the recipe for you.

In the meantime, I’ll be eating stuffing leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week, hoping all the while that I won’t be thoroughly tired of the stuff by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

From the dining room table, getting ready to tackle the potatoes next,

Mrs. Smythe

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