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Go upscale with family favorites

April 11, 2017
Amy Phelps , MOV Parent

Hostess of, a website with recipes, party-planning tips and lifestyle advice, recently released her first cookbook with "Upscale Downhome" by Rachel Hollis (Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Griffin, $19.99.)

With recipes that are familiar and comforting, dressed up a little, this isn't just great food for parties, it's good for dinner with the family.

The recipes are divided into the chapters Snacks, Dips, Casseroles, Slow Cooker, Potluck, Leftovers, Somethin' Sweet and Sips.

Snacks is a chapter that's good for when you're hanging out at home and want something to eat. There's recipes like Broccoli Cheddar Garlic Pull-Apart Bread, French Onion Soup Bites and Sticky Ham and Cheese.

Dips are exactly what it is says, and provides things like Loaded Baked Potato Dip, Bean and Cheese Dip and Pepperoni Pizza Dip.

Casseroles include great main dish recipes for the whole family, like Balsamic Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf, Green Chicken Enchiladas and Supreme Pizza Pasta Bake.

Slow Cooker recipes involve my favorite cooking implement, and include recipes for Apple Juice and Jalapeno Pork, BBQ Rootbeer Chicken and Balsamic Pot Roast.

Potluck has recipes to bring to a party, like Chinese Chicken Salad, Ambrosia and Fruit Salad with Raspberry Dressing.

Leftovers has recipes to make AFTER making a recipe in the book. For example, make Cheesy Crispy Wontons out of any of the dips, or Pot Roast Hand Pies with the leftovers from Balsamic Pot Roast.

Somethin' Sweet includes recipes for desserts like Jell-o Pretzel Salad, No-Bake Cheesecakes in a Jar and Cookie Pudding Pie.

Sips include drink recipes like Grandma's Sweet Tea, Orange Sherbet Church Punch and English Wassail.

My family tried several different recipes from this cookbook and loved all of them. Every time I made a new recipe I was asked, "Where did you get this? That cookbook?" It was a hit.

The first night, I made Pigs in a Blanket and Loaded Baked Potato Salad. The pigs use smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces, and then wrapped in puff pastry. Everyone was unsure about the puff pastry and wanted to know why I wasn't using crescent rolls from the can. A honey mustard dipping sauce was also made, but you can honestly just buy the ready-made kind at the store. The potato salad used baby Yukon gold potatoes, bacon and cheese, along with a mayonnaise base. Both of these didn't take long to make (you can technically make the potato salad the night before) and the results were everyone loved it and asked when we were having it again. My husband said he could eat the whole potato salad container it was that good. No one questioned the puff pastry again. The second time I made it, I used smoked turkey sausage, and everyone enjoyed it, and regular baking potatoes instead of the baby potatoes, and it was still all eaten.

My family also likes breakfast for dinner, so I made Breakfast Monkey Bread.

This involves a lot of prep work and dishes. You make scrambled eggs, tater tots and then stuff biscuits with an egg-potato-cheese mixture, then top with butter and bake in the oven. This involves a lot of stuffing, rolling into balls and placing. To serve alongside it is a homemade sausage gravy.

Now here is the problem - getting it to cook all the way through. Anytime you use canned biscuits/crescent rolls/whatever and cook something inside it, it seems like the inside never cooks all the way through and is a bit doughy, or more than a bit doughy. The outside was getting nice and brown, the inside layers weren't cooking. I was annoyed. My stepdaughter pulled the doughy parts off to eat specifically because she liked them. Everyone loved it and wanted it again. I want to figure out how to cook it properly because somewhere I went wrong, or its the nature of the beast. No one other than me cared.



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