Our Top Ten Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, The Ellen Clark Team thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite holiday recipes. Some are healthy, some are fun, and some are simply delicious.

Country-Kitchen-Pineapple-Casserole_Large600_ID-1046840.jpg

  1. Pineapple Casserole

This is a tried and true Southern favorite. Although its ingredients sound like a weird mix, Pineapple Casserole is too good to be true and pairs perfectly with ham or turkey.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 (20 oz) cans pineapple chunks, drained, and 6 tablespoons pineapple juice reserved
  • 1 cup buttery crackers, made into crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease a medium-size casserole dish with butter.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Gradually stir in the cheese. Add the drained pineapple chunks, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  • In another medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, melted butter, and reserved pineapple juice, stirring with a rubber spatula until evenly blended. Spread crumb mixture on top of pineapple mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Bourbon-Sweet-Potato-Casserole-with-Sweet-n-Savory-Bacon-Pecans-61

  1. Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet and savory dish is a creative spin on a traditional sweet potato casserole and is sure to please.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon optional
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour use gluten-free if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecans roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup salted butter melted
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, slice them in half and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, make the topping. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Next, add the brown sugar, flour, pecans, butter, cayenne, sage and rosemary (if using) to a bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the fried bacon.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Peel the skins away from the flesh of the sweet potato and add the sweet potato to a mixing bowl. Mash well. Mix in the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, milk, butter, eggs and bourbon until fully combined.
  • Pour the sweet potatoes into a greased casserole dish (I used an oval). Spread the pecan topping over top of the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pecans are golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

macandchees

  1. Poole’s Diner Mac and Cheese

This recipe is the most popular dish served at Poole’s Downtown Diner in Raleigh, NC. The restaurant typically serves 15,000 orders of this a year, so you know they are doing something right. Although it is great any time of year, it is certainly the perfect side for your holiday turkey.

What you’ll need:

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 ounces dry elbow macaroni (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon neutral vegetable oil
  • 2 ounces grana padano, shredded
  • 2 ounces Jarlsberg, shredded
  • 6 ounces white cheddar, shredded
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  • In a medium saucepan, bring 2 quarts water and 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt to a boil. Add the macaroni and return to a boil; once boiling, cook until barely al dente (about 5 minutes), then drain the pasta well. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and mix in the oil to keep the noodles from sticking. Let cool completely. You should have about 3 cups.
  • Set a rack in the oven about 4 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Combine the grana padano, Jarlsberg, and white cheddar in a large bowl; reserve 60 percent of the cheese for the top.
  • In a large deep saucepan, bring the cream and 1 teaspoon sea salt to a boil. Let simmer for about 2 minutes. The cream will foam up and then subside to a simmer. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, about 90 seconds. The cream will start to thicken just slightly and coat the noodles. Start adding 40 percent of the cheese in small handfuls, stirring and waiting for each addition to melt and incorporate into the sauce before adding more. Transfer the contents of the pan to a 2 ½-quart skillet or baking dish, mound the reserved cheese over the top, and place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, rotating throughout, until the cheese melts and caramelizes into a golden-brown crust.
  • Watch it carefully, as every broiler is different. Remove the gratin from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

sausage-crescent-cheese-balls-hero

  1. Sausage Crescent Cheese Balls

These are an idea from Pillsbury that are perfect for grab and go appetizers and a staple in the home of our office assistant during the holidays. We bet you can’t have just one.

What you’ll need:

  • 1lb bulk spicy sausage
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix sausage, cheese and rosemary; mix well using hands or spoon.
  • Unroll crescent dough on work surface; coat each side of dough with 1 tablespoon flour. Using pizza cutter or knife, cut dough into about 1/4-inch pieces. Mix crescent dough pieces into the bowl of sausage mixture in small amounts until well blended.
  • Shape mixture into 42 (1 1/4-inch) balls. Place in pan. Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown.

carrots

  1. Roasted Carrots with Pistachios 

Take ordinary carrots and give them a WOW FACTOR. This simple dish is made to impress!

What you’ll need:

  • 6 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch long pieces
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup full-fat ricotta cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons roughly chopped pistachios

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 450°F. In a casserole dish, combine the cut carrots, cubed butter, maple syrup, cider, and vinegar. Toss to combine, then sprinkle with the fresh thyme and salt. Roast until tender and golden, for about 30 minutes.
  • When ready, spoon dollops of ricotta over the carrots, then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

cornpudding

  1. Grandma’s Corn Pudding

This dish is the definition of comfort food. Corn pudding is a staple in the south for Thanksgiving.

What you’ll need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn
  • 2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
  • In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn. Blend well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake for 1 hour.

butternutsq

  1. Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is another great appetizer for everyone to enjoy while waiting for the turkey to be ready.

What you’ll need:

  • One 2- to 3-pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Cut squash into 1-inch chunks.
  • In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot.
  • Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

MLA101092TURKEY

  1. Martha Stewart’s Perfect Turkey

Martha Stewart’s recipe for turkey has been voted the best over and over again, so it definitely is worth trying out.  Note that with this recipe the turkey is brined for 24 hours, so leave plenty of time for preparation.  If you don’t brine yours, skip the first two steps.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, giblets and neck reserved for gravy
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chestnut Stuffing
  • Crab apples, fresh rosemary sprigs, and fresh sage, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  • Put salt, sugar, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and 10 cups water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat; let brine cool completely.
  • Add turkey, breast first, to the brine. Cover; refrigerate 24 hours. Remove from brine; pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium bowl. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway down sides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.
  • Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Loosely fill body and neck cavities with stuffing. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flap under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over with softened butter; season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into a bowl. Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in the oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2 1/2 hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly. If making gravy, add giblets and neck to pan 1 1/2 hours after reducing temperature; roast 30 minutes, and reserve.
  • Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan. Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees and stuffing reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter. Set pan with drippings aside for gravy. Let turkey stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

pumpkin pie

  1. Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Squares

If you or your relatives have dietary restrictions sometimes finding a dessert to meet everyone’s needs feels impossible. No worries though, this recipe has you covered. These pie squares are the perfect portion and delish!

What you’ll need:

For the crust-

  • 2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs (see note)
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut nectar syrup (or brown rice syrup)

For the pumpkin filling:

  • 1 (14-ounce/400 mL) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (use only the white cream portion, see note)
  • 5 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch fine grain sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8-inch square pan. Line the pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way. Spray the first piece of parchment paper with non-stick oil so the second piece sticks nicely and doesn’t fall over.
  • Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham crumbs, melted coconut oil, and sweetener until the crumbs are thoroughly coated in the mixture. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Starting from the middle, press the crumbs into the pan firmly and evenly. You really want to press hard so the crust sticks together nicely. Use a pastry roller to roll the crust and compact it even more. Using your fingers, press the edges until even.
  • Pre-bake the crust, uncovered, for 10 minutes at 350F.
  • Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the arrowroot powder and maple syrup until no clumps remain. Add this and all of the other filling ingredients into a food processor and process until completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. When the crust has come out of the oven, immediately pour this filling on top of the baked crust and smooth out as evenly as possible with a spatula.
  • Bake, uncovered, for around 41-43 minutes at 350F until the filling has darkened slightly and it’s semi-firm to the touch (although the filling will still be very soft and sticky!). Place on a cooling rack for about 60 minutes and then into the fridge to set overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Freezer lover’s note: The freezer will expedite this process.
  • Slice into squares and serve with a dollop of coconut whipped cream on top and a dusting of cinnamon and chopped pecans.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge or freeze for later.

chocochesspie

  1. Chocolate Chess Pie

This rich, dark, and delicious chocolate chess pie is a true Southern classic. This version is made with a small amount of flour, along with unsweetened chocolate and eggs.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 (9-inch) pie shell
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Heat the oven to 375 F
  • Line the unbaked pie shell with foil or parchment paper and add pie weights or dried beans to about two-thirds full. Place the pie shell in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and the foil or parchment paper. Return the pie shell to the oven for about 5 minutes, or just until it begins to show a little color. Remove the pie shell to a rack and set aside.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
  • Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the butter and chocolate; stir until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan.
  • To the melted chocolate and butter mixture add the sugar, flour, salt, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula a few times.
  • Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell.
  • Bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set. If the pie appears to be browning too much, place a pie shield or foil ring over the edge of the pie crust.
  • The filling will be puffed up, but it will flatten as it cools.
  • Remove the pie to a rack to cool completely.
  • Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Please try these recipes out and share your opinions. Also feel free to share pictures and dishes that make your Thanksgiving such a special day. We are extremely thankful for all of our readers and the clients that we have had the pleasure of working with over the years. Happy Thanksgiving from the entire Ellen Clark Team to you and yours!

 

25 Funniest Town Names In America

With daylight savings time ending and the weather getting colder this week, we figured all our readers could use a good laugh to warm up. In that spirit, The Ellen Clark Team compiled a list of our favorite 25 funny town and city names in the US. We have included a little history of their origins and we hope you enjoy. Try not to laugh too hard!

01-accident

1. Accident, Maryland

Rumor has it that in the late 1700’s two land surveyors (William Deakins, Jr and Brook Beall) both staked claim to the same piece of land in Maryland. This was of course “by accident”, and Deakins ended up letting Beall claim the land as he had discovered it first.

01-birdinhand

2. Bird In Hand, Pennsylvania 

This towns name came from an inn that was established in 1734 and the sign that was put out front following a conversation between two land surveyors.  While working on the pike between Lancaster and Philadelphia, the two discussed if they should travel to Lancaster to spend the night or stay at the inn where they were already located. One responded with the analogy ” A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, which was later depicted and put on the inn’s sign out front.

01-boring-sl

3. Boring, Oregon

Boring was named after one of its very first residents, William Harrison Boring. It started off as a railroad and timber town. Boring has two sister cities. One in Bland, Australia. The other is located in Dull, Scotland

01-brilliant

4. Brilliant, Alabama 

Brilliant’s name stems from The Brilliant Coal Company. The town was originally named Boston (for Boston, Massachusetts), and was actually located adjacent to the town where coal was mined by Brilliant. This mining caused a surge in employment and population while the coal company was in business. However, when the company shut down there was a drastic decline in residents. In order to increase population, in 1957, Governor James E. Folsom signed a law changing the name of Boston to Brilliant, and Brilliant absorbed the town of Boston expanding town lines and raising the occupants to 1000.

01-chicken

5. Chicken, Alaska

Chicken surprisingly is not named after the animal. This town was the second incorporated city in the state in the 1890’s and is rooted in gold mining culture. Gold is still mined there today in fact. The name comes from ironically not being able to spell the originally chosen name. The first settlers of Chicken had decided to name the town Ptarmigan (Alaska’s state bird), as that is what they survived on during their first winter there. Shortly after realizing that Ptarmigan was hard to spell, the name was changed to Chicken.

01-embarass

6. Embarrass, Minnesota 

This townships name comes from the Embarrass River named by the French who originally traveled along it. The French word  “embarras” means “an obstacle or difficult situation”.  When the French originally traveled the river, they had struggles navigating their canoes down it, hence the name.

01-experiment

7. Experiment, GA

Experiment was named after the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Georgia. It should be highlighted that this town is extremely affordable to live in with its median home value being $75,000.

01-frankenstein

8. Frankenstein, Missouri

Frankenstein is an unincorporated community located in Osage County. It was named after Gottfried Franken who donated land to the community in 1890 for a church to be built. Nothing spooky and no mad scientists here!

01-fries

9. Fries, Virginia

The town of Fries was named after Colonel Francis Henry Fries, a North Carolina cotton mill owner.  Fries is located along the New River in Grayson County and was the former home of the Washington Mill. Fries had bought up land in the area and commissioned the building of a hydroelectric dam, the Washington cotton mill, and a company owned town.

01-hazard

10. Hazard, Kentucky

Hazard is named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a naval hero from the Battle of 1812 on Lake Erie. It was initially named Perry Courthouse but was incorporated as Hazard in 1884.

01-hell

11. Hell, Michigan

This towns name is unique indeed. Hell was named in 1841 by George Reeves who ran a gristmill and distillery along Hell Creek. It is rumored that the creeks name came from the first German travelers in the area. When they exited their stagecoach they exclaimed “So Shon Hell!” meaning ” So Beautifully Bright!” It is also rumored that Hell Creek came from the “hell-ish” conditions that the first explorers endured in the area.

01-looneyville

12. Looneyville, West Virginia

Looneyville sits along Flat Creek of the Pocatalico River. It was named after a pioneer settler named Robert Looney in 1870. There is also a Looneyville, Texas which was named after John Looney who opened a store there.

1-96southcarolina

13. Ninety Six, South Carolina

Ninety Six is another US town with colonial roots. It’s initial trader residents named the town in the early 1700’s after they mistakenly believed that it was 96 miles from the Cherokee village of Keowee. Other South Carolina towns were also named based on their distance from Keowee.

01-noname

14. No Name, Colorado

This town definitely reigns as having the most unusual name in the nation. This towns name came to be purely based on its location. When Interstate 70 was constructed it was noticed upon completion that several regions and exits did not have names. A department of transportation employee wrote ” No Name” for exit 119 and the name stuck. In fact, over time state officials tried to give the region a real name, but locals were very much against it and it remains “No Name” to this day.

01-nothing

15. Nothing, Arizona

Nothing is a ghost town in the desert. It was named by 4 friends in 1977 (rumored to be drinking) that opened a gas station and store and called it Nothing. It ended up not being very successful as it was in the middle of nowhere and the town was abandoned by 2005. People have attempted to revive the town with little success.

01-sandwich

16. Sandwich, Massachusetts

Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod and was incorporated in 1639. Settlers named the town after a seaport called Sandwich in Kent England.

01-santaclauseindiana

17. Santa Claus, Indiana

The town of Santa clause was originally going to be Sante Fe, Indiana. However, because another Indiana town had already incorporated that name it was decided in 1895 that Santa Claus would be the name. It is home to the nations first theme park “Santa Clause Land” in addition to other holiday-inspired attractions. It really is Christmas all year long here.

sweet lps

18. Sweet Lips, Tennessee 

This Tennessee town was named after the water in its creek. It is believed that the first settlers, civil war soldiers, claimed the water from the creek tasted sweeter than any other water.

01-tightwad

19. Tightwad, Missouri

The town, once called Edgewood, was named after an old story of a local postman and farmer. The postman had asked a farmer to set aside a watermelon for him to pick up after his route that day. However, when he returned the melon had been sold to another customer who offered 50 cents more. The postman exclaimed he was a “tightwad” and apparently did so every day thereafter inspiring the town name.

01-twoegg

20. Two Egg, Florida

Two Egg’s name stems from two young boys bartering for needed supplies during the depression era.  The story goes that the two boys went into a local store and asked the owner if they could trade “two eggs” for sugar. The store owner, frustrated with the times, replied: ” This is nothing but a two egg town!”. Another customer who was a traveler overheard the conversation and shared the story of people in this town trading for “two eggs” worth of goods. The name caught on, and in the 1940’s the town of Allison was re-named Two Egg.

unalaska

21. Unalaska, Alaska

This town (and island) was named by its natives. Originally the Unangan or Aleut people called the area “Ounalashka”. However, due to continuous misspelling and mispronunciation over the years, the United States Board of Geographical Board decided to simplify the name to Unalaska.  The area also goes by the name Dutch Harbor.

01-whatcheer

22. What Cheer, Iowa

What Cheer’s name comes from the ancient English phrase ” What cheer with you”. Although the town was originally founded in 1865 under the name Petersburg, for its founder Peter Britton, the name was rejected by the post office. In lieu of its original name, Joseph Andrews, a Civil War veteran, suggested What Cheer and the town was renamed in 1879.

01-why

23. Why, Arizona

Why was named for its major intersection of State Routes 85 and 86 being in the shape of a Y. When the town was named, state law required all cities to have at least three letters in their name, so instead of simply calling the town “Y”, they decided to call it “Why”. Cause why not?

01-whynot

24. Whynot, North Carolina

Speaking of why not… Whynot, North Carolina’s name came from its residents arguing at a community meeting over what to name the town. Apparently, the meeting went on for a long time with people going back and forth “Why not call it ‘this’ ” and “Why not call it ‘that’ “. Eventually, a farmer stood up and asked: “Why not call it ‘Why Not’ and then we can go home?” The residents liked this idea and the name stuck. It was originally Why Not, but over time shortened to one word.

01-worms

25. Worms, Kentucky

Worms, Kentucky was not named after the creepy crawly insect that loves dirt. In fact, this town was named after the city of Worms, Germany or “Vorms” which was the nickname of a famous Roman Emperor.

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Home Maintenance Guide

Fall is the perfect time to ensure your home in winter ready and to finish up any big projects while enjoying the more temperate weather.  Below is a list of things to do or check on and suggestions to make your fall maintenance routine a walk in the park.

gutters

  1. Gutters: clean your gutters or have them professionally cleaned. In addition, cover them with mesh guards to keep additional debris from returning. Make sure your gutters are flowing freely.

weatherstripping

2. Weather Stripping: Weather stripping helps with energy efficiency by reducing drafts. Check weatherstripping around windows and doors. If your home has older weatherstripping it may be time to replace.

trim

3. Caulking: Check for damaged caulk around windows and doors. Also, check where electrical wires from the exterior of the house come in. If caulk is weathered, it is a great time to go over these areas to ensure you keep unwelcome pests and critters out and keep your heat in.Damaged-Roof-Shingles-1200x801

4. The Roof: Check the roof for cracks, loose shingles, and wind damage. Use binoculars if necessary. Wintery weather along with the humidity of summer wreaks havoc on roofs and it is better to deal with any repairs needed during the fall than during the middle of a winter storm.

faucets

5. Outside Faucets: Close and shut off outside faucets. If there is no shut off valve it is a wise choice to purchase faucet covers which will protect them from freezing temperatures. Make sure to drain the line. Also turn off any in-ground irrigation systems and drain those lines as well.

furnace

6. Furnace: Clean or change your furnace filter. A clogged filter will affect the ability to keep your home comfortable and will increase your utility bill. You can vacuum a disposable or foam filter. If the filter is metal, remove first and wash with water before drying to re-insert. Make sure to have your furnace checked once a year. You should do this sooner though if it is making strange sounds, or doesn’t seem to be working efficiently. This could be due to damaged belts, a faulty thermostat, or misadjusted furnace.

fireplace

7. Fireplace: Check your fireplace flue for any damage and hazards like creosote (a flammable by-product of burning wood). You should have a chimney sweep inspect and clean professionally if deposits are over 1/8 inch thick. You can check yourself by shining a flashlight of the flue. The flue should have a tight seal with closed. You should also check for blockages within the flue such as bird nests. A chimney cap can prevent blockages from happening. In addition to checking the flue, you should also inspect the damper. Make sure it opens and closes properly. Also, check that the there are no loose/broken joints around the flue.

woodburningstove

8. Wood burning stove: If you have a wood burning stove, you should inspect the stovepipes and check for any cracks that could leak fumes into your home. Also, check for loose joints and clean/replace as needed.

9. Exterior: You should make sure all walkways, driveways, and steps for cracks that are more than 1/8 of an inch wide. If so, reseal as necessary and if they are uneven level for safety purposes. Trim back large branches and bushes to prepare for winter. It is also a great time to clean up any patio furniture before storing away.

10. Interior: Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries annually. Also, make sure there is one on each floor including the basement. It is always good to go over fire escape plans with the family once a year as well. While inspecting your smoke detectors it is wise to ensure your fire extinguishers are still functional and that the lock pin is intact and that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Remember that extinguishers that are 6 years or older should be replaced.

We hope this checklist will be useful for fall maintenance around your home. Happy Fall from the Ellen Clark Team!

Back To School 2017: Recipes

With students in the central Virginia area going back to school in the next two weeks, there is no better time than now to share our favorite lunch ideas for the kids. These are the go-to’s for making lunch packing a breeze and can be done in advance saving you time in the morning. If you have any recipes you’d like to share we’d love to hear all about them. Please reach out to us here, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes                                   Pumpkin-Macaroni-Cheese-Muffins

What You’ll Need:

1/2 lb uncooked elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup milk

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

  • Heat oven to 425°F. Place foil muffin liner in each of 12 regular-size muffin cups. Spray liners with cooking spray. Cook macaroni as directed on package; drain, and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add flour, salt, and pepper; cook and beat with whisk 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Slowly beat in milk. Heat just to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Stir in macaroni. Divide mixture evenly among cups.
  • In medium microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 2 tablespoons butter uncovered on High 60 to 90 seconds or until melted. Stir in breadcrumbs and parsley. Spoon on top of mixture in cups. Gently press.
  • Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until bread crumb mixture is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving
  • You can add any meat or vegetables that you’d like to give these baked macaroni and cheese cupcakes an extra punch!

*Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker

* Makes 12 servings

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sushi Rolls

peanutbutter

What You’ll Need:

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons jam or jelly

2 slices bread

  • Remove crusts from bread. With a rolling pin or large soup can, completely flatten bread.
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of fruit spread on each slice of bread.
  • Roll each slice into a tight spiral. Cut each spiral into 4 pieces.

*Recipe courtesy of Food.com

* Makes 1 serving

 

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

corndogs

What You’ll Need:

1 ear yellow corn

One 8.5-ounce box corn muffin mix

1 large egg

1/3 cup whole milk

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar

4 hot dogs, each cut into six 1-inch pieces

Oil, for greasing the muffin tin

Ketchup, mustard, and relish, for serving

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Remove the kernels from the ear of corn by slicing off the end of the ear to create a flat surface and then slicing down the cob from top to bottom. Put the kernels into a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the corn muffin mix, egg, and milk. Stir to combine (the batter will be lumpy). Add the corn kernels and Cheddar, stirring once again to fully incorporate. Allow the batter to sit for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Grease a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Pour 1 tablespoon batter into each mini muffin cup. Place a single hot dog piece in the center of each cup standing straight up. Bake until cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to rest in the pan before unmolding.

*Recipe courtesy of CookingChannelTv.com

* Makes 24 servings

 

Pizza Quesadillas

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What You’ll Need:

2 -8 inches flour tortillas (small size to fit in lunchbox)

3 tablespoons spaghetti sauce or 3 tablespoons pizza sauce

1⁄4 cup shredded cheese (I like Monterey Jack, but use what you like)

8 slices pepperoni

  • Spray the bottom of a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and preheat.
  • When the pan is fairly hot place 1 Flour Tortilla in the pan.
  • Fairly quickly spread on a few tablespoons of sauce.
  • Then add a layer of Pepperoni (and anything else you like).
  • Then top with shredded cheese.
  • Top it off with the 2nd Flour Tortilla.
  • Just like any other quesadilla or grilled cheese let it brown then flip it over. If all of the cooking sprays was absorbed you can spray on a little more, but you usually don’t need to.
  • After both sides are browned and the insides are hot and melted take the “pizzas” out to cool.
  • Once cooled slice in 1/4 like a pizza and wrap snugly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

*Recipe courtesy of Food.com

* Makes 1 serving

 

We hope your children have an amazing first day back to school and that they have the opportunity to try all of these delicious lunch options we’ve compiled. The Ellen Clark Team wishes your kids and you the best back to school season yet!

Simple Staging Tips

For those selling their home, staging can make the difference between a home sitting on the market for months on end or flying off the market in a matter of days. A survey was done by Coldwell Banker Real Estate found that homes that had been staged spent half the time on the market compared to those that were not. In addition, the staged homes sold for more than 6% above asking price. Staging also makes online photos stand out more and an NAR survey found that 90% of home buyers search online first.  The Ellen Clark Team has put together some helpful pointers for staging your home to make the process easier.

Interior:

  • Remove any excess furniture and rearrange/move furniture that could be better suited for other rooms. You want to ensure that the potential buyer can see their self and their things in the space. Create a natural flow for each room. For example, living room furniture should be set up for conversation and entertainment.
  • Re-paint in neutral colors.
  • Add lamps, rugs, and mirrors to update rooms and make them appear larger.
  • Replace outdated or worn hardware throughout the house including light switch plates, cabinet handles, faucets, the toilet seat, etc. These little details make all the difference!
  • Add houseplants/flowers to create focal points in rooms.
  • Remove personal photos and de-clutter all areas of the home. Pay particular attention to counter-tops.
  • Remove excess clothing from closets. You want to highlight the space and have it not appear smaller by over-crowding. Also, make sure all hangers are faced in the same direction.
  • Simple things like new hand towels and decor in the bathroom can make a huge impact. Choose colors that pop and match.
  • If your bedspread is outdated or does not compliment the theme of the room, consider investing in a new bed set. Try to choose accessories and bedding that are gender neutral.
  • Add area rugs as needed and make sure wood floors are clean. If the home has carpet it is advised to have it professionally cleaned or redone depending on its condition from wear and tear. Consider having wood floors refinished if they are in bad shape.
  • Clean! Windows, stainless steel, under the sink, you name it! If your home is sparkly and fresh people will be more apt to put in their offer. Make sure you get all the grime that accrues over time in the kitchen and bathrooms. These are areas people are sure to notice.  A little trick for eliminating odors: put a lemon half in the garbage disposal. This will release a natural fresh clean aroma.
  • After windows are clean, open up blinds/curtains to allow natural light in and show off the view of your home.
  • Organize cabinets/cupboards. Pack up all dishware except one matching set, same goes for glassware and stemware. This will create more space.
  • Repair any squeaky doors or cabinets. WD-40 is your friend.
  • Think about adding dimmers for lighting. This is a small addition, but people love these in living, family, and dining rooms.

Exterior

  • Check the gutters and roof for dry rot and moss. Clean the gutters.
  • Repair roofing, siding, and windows as needed. This not only improves the visual aesthetic of the home but also has avoided any devaluing of the home during the inspection.
  • Power wash the exterior including the deck, sidewalk, and vinyl siding. These can look brand new afterward but be careful as if not done properly can remove paint.
  • Patch up the driveway and concrete walkways.
  • Repaint the front door, fence, and any other wood features outside that could use a fresh coat.
  • Mow the lawn and re-seed/add sod if needed.
  • Cut back overgrown shrubs and trees. Remove dead debris. Clean up flower beds and add new flowers if needed.
  • Add potted plants to walkway or front porch of the home.
  • Update exterior hardware including door handles, the mailbox, and the house numbers. These are low-cost updates that can really make your home stand out.
  • Accessorize the exterior. Add a seating area to the front porch or a new doormat. You could also hang a seasonal wreath on your freshly painted door.
  • Keep porch light on at night in case potential buyers drive by during the evening hours.

We hope these tips will be helpful in the selling process of your home. If you do not have time for DIY staging you can also consult a local staging professional. Remember, details make all the difference in getting the most return on your investments and ensuring your home sells quickly. Contact Patricia Clark with the Ellen Clark Team if you are looking to list or buy a home TODAY! 804-387-2976/ patricia@ellenclark.com

Newly Listed: Triple Crown Cape Cod

http://see.tourvahomes.com/public/vtour/display/815828?idx=1

7302 Belmont Stakes Drive is located in the Triple Crown neighborhood of Midlothian, Virginia. This charming two story home was built in 1991 and has so much to offer! It is located on .68 acres and has 1,556 square feet. It is in the Chesterfield County School District( Albert Smith Elementary, Bailey Bridge Middle, and Manchester High) and is located close to shopping, restaurants, Powhite Parkway, and 288.

The home features a beautiful country front porch. The family room has a cathedral ceiling with skylights and a gas fireplace. The kitchen, which has been renovated, has granite counter tops, a deep under mount sink, refinished cabinets, subway tile backsplash, new hardware/fixtures/lighting, new flooring, newer appliances, and a pantry. There is a large eat-in area with sliding glass doors that open up to the deck which overlooks the backyard and white vinyl privacy fence. The bedrooms have ceiling fans and newer Pergo flooring. There are 3 bedrooms, one first floor master, and one second floor master.  There is a large loft that overlooks the family room that could be a great study or playroom. The bathrooms have been renovated with ceramic tile flooring, newer lighting/fixtures/hardware. There is a new water heater, newer roof (2013), and newer windows (2015). The home is situated in a cul-de-sac and has attached and detached storage sheds.

With the location of this home and all it has to offer for $204,500, 7302 Belmont Stakes Drive is sure to move quickly. If interested in learning more about this property or to schedule a showing contact Patricia Clark of the Ellen Clark Team TODAY!

By Phone: 804-387-2976

By Email: patricia@ellenclark.com

 

Newly Listed in Deer Run

http://see.tourvahomes.com/public/vtour/display/811341?idx=1

13642 Decidedly Court is located in the Deer Run neighborhood of Midlothian, Virginia. This neighborhood is conveniently located just minutes from local shopping, restaurants, and highways ( 288, Powhite Parkway, 150, and 95). It is in a great area, close to parks and attractions such as Pocahontas State Park and the Richmond Metropolitan Zoo. It is a short drive to the city of Richmond (great for those who work in the business district), Short Pump, and Stony Point. This home falls in the prestigious Chesterfield County School System: Alberta Smith Elementary, Bailey Bridge Middle, and Manchester High.

This home features 1,656 square feet and sits on .64 acres. It has a large family room with a rustic wood burning fireplace. It also has beautiful garden doors that open to the over-sized deck which overlooks the spacious and private fenced-in back yard. There is a formal dining room which could also be used as an office or a playroom, great for those who work from home or those with children. The beautiful kitchen features a large eat-in area, pantry, stainless steel appliances, tile back-splash and walks out to the laundry/mud room that has a separate side entrance to the home. The large master bedroom has a huge walk-in closet and private bathroom. This property also features attached and detached storage sheds. This home has low maintenance vinyl siding, a 30-year dimensional roof, paved driveway, and sits in a peaceful cul-de-sac.

With three bedrooms and 2 and a half bathrooms, this is the home of your dreams! The asking price is only $215,000. This lovely home won’t be around for long so contact Patricia Clark with the Ellen Clark Team to schedule a showing TODAY!

By Phone: (804) 387-2976

By Email: patricia@ellenclark.com