Monday, October 31, 2011

Crock Pot Chili

I love this simple and rustic table centerpiece idea!

Crock Pot Chili

This hearty chili blends chunks of real steak, tomato and authentic Southwest chili seasonings.

1 lb. beef boneless round steak, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (OR you may substitute 1 lb. hamburger)
1 lg. onion, chopped (1 C)
2 medium celery stalks, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
2 cans (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
*I add at least 1 C canned tomato juice
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. chili powder (I use the DARK blend)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
several dashes of Tabasco sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese, if desired, for topping

If using ground beef, brown the meat in a large skillet, draining grease.  Then mix all ingredients in a large slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low heat 6-7 hrs., or until beef and vegetables are tender.
Serve with cheese if desired.
Yields 6-8 servings

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snack Shots

     Greetings friends and family!  I'm back from the first two craft bazaars of this season and wanted to share results and photos.

      I have not been on the craft fair or trade show scene since I sold my gift basket and balloon delivery business in 2001. 

     There is a part of me that really missed the interaction with potential customers and the other vendors.  Another part of me had sort of forgotten how much work goes into preparing for these shows.  I have literally been in my kitchen most of October, but I am not complaining.  I do love baking and cooking and it appears that all my efforts were worthwhile.

      Some of you know that I've been searching for suitable employment for 4 years, off and on.  Mostly on.  When I say "suitable", read non retail.  I worked two different retail jobs and my body quickly reminded me that I'm not in the spring chicken category anymore.  Denial set in and I was determined to prove otherwise, but in the end those jobs caused some health issues that a year later I'm still dealing with to a degree.  Finding office work in this economy and again with my age against me hasn't panned out yet.  So I began to think outside the box, so to speak.

      For more years that I want to admit here, I've been praised for my cooking and baking skills.  When I first participated in craft bazaars, I sold my fudge and it always went over very, very well.  As I ventured into the world of event planning and gift baskets et al, fudge making was relegated to only Christmas time.

      As summer ended, and we settled into this new home and city, I decided to sign up for some seasonal bazaars and test how receptive people would be to my fudge as well as some of my other baked sweets.

First booth for this season

 The response has been overwhelmingly positive and I admit I've been both surprised and of course delighted in the encouraging words I've heard this month.  Initially, I'd considered not offering tasting samples but now I cannot fathom the thought. 

One bite is all it takes!

Once folks tasted my baked goods, they were sold!  The banana streusel bread sold out at both events, shocking me.  I am convinced that I could have sold as much as I could have baked.  My first set of (250) business cards are almost gone.  I hope that I make enough good contacts this season to spur orders throughout the coming year and beyond. 

     In the meantime, I'm concentrating on ways to improve.  I want to make my booth(s) more presentable and I just ordered a really cute apron (French themed; so "me") that I intend to wear during shows as a uniform, if you will.  I want to grow my blog as it's advertised on my business cards and can be such a useful tool in marketing and advertising. 

      I only have two more events this season but then who knows.  As a previous business owner, I feel half the battle is finding a marketable product.  Fait accompli.

      On a wing and a prayer......




Friday, October 28, 2011

Amish Friendship Bread variations

Happy Fall, Y'all

     In response to a reader's request, here are some variations I found that can be used once you've made the basic starter recipe.  Have fun trying these out, and if any of you know of other interesting variations, please comment back and share!!

Chocolate Bread: Use the basic mix recipe except use Chocolate Pudding instead of Vanilla.  Make sure to add the 2 tsp cinnamon it really makes the bread taste the best.

Peanut Butter Cup:Using the basic mix recipe, substitute Chocolate pudding instead of Vanilla. Omit the 2 tsp cinnamon in the batter. Add 4 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter to the batter and one bag peanut butter chips.

Cinnamon Struesel:Before starting the Amish bread,  get  pans ready and make the streusel:

 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp. 2/3 C – 1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 C – 1 cup flour cinnamon - as much as you like
Put the ingredients together. (1 C chopped pecans are optional.) This will make approx. 2 cups. If you like a little more, increase the sugar and flour to 1C each.
Make your Amish bread according to directions. Use French Vanilla pudding or Vanilla Pudding. Put approx. 1-1/2 C batter in the bottom of each pan and spread into the corners. (Batter will not be runny - sort of a heavy batter.) Top with 1/2 C streusel, remaining batter and remaining streusel.

Banana Nut Bread:Use the basic mix with 1 cup of walnuts or pecans , 2 large mashed bananas in addition to the box of vanilla pudding.

Lemon Bread:Substitute lemon pudding mix and use 2 tsp lemon extract instead of vanilla, omit the cinnamon and nuts. Try adding poppy seeds for Lemon Poppy Seed Bread!

Butterscotch Bread:
Add 1 large box of butterscotch pudding and 1 1/2 cups of butterscotch chips. Omit cinnamon.
Proceed with recipe.

Apple Cinnamon Bread:Make the streusel 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp. 2/3 C – 1 cup packed brown sugar2/3 C – 1 cup flour cinnamon - as much as you like Put the ingredients together. (1 C chopped pecans are optional.) This will make approx. 2 cups. If you like a little more, increase the sugar and flour to 1C each. Make your Amish bread according to directions. Use Vanilla or French Vanilla pudding. Put approx. 1-1/2 C batter in the bottom of each pan and spread into the corners. (Batter will not be runny - sort of a heavy batter.) Add 1 can apple pie filling evenly throughout the each loaf. Top each loaf with reamaing batter and the Add streusel topping last, bake as directed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This is a WONDERFUL project to do with your kids/grandkids!

I LOVE this idea I just found through Pinterest.  I would love to try this with the grandkids sometime~ though not as a calendar, but just a single piece of artwork.  Your choice.
This is great for daycare teachers too!

~Blowing blessings out to all of you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grand Marnier French Toast

I've received rave reviews whenever I've served this.  I described the dish to my husband and told him how I'd passed the recipe to my niece when she married.  I wonder if it's become a tradition or family favorite in HER home? 
Grand Marnier French Toast

6 eggs
2/3 C orange juice
1/3 C Grand Marnier
1/3 C milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
Finely grated peel of 1 orange
8 (3/4 inch thick) slices French Bread
3-4 Tbsp. butter
Powdered sugar * (Optional, but come on, it's prettier at the end, with it)
Maple Syrup

Beat eggs in large bowl.  Add orange juice, Grand Marnier, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and peel and mix well.  Dip bread into egg mixture, turning to coat all surfaces.  Transfer to baking dish in single layer.  Pour any remaining egg mixture over top; cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally (liquid will be absorbed). 
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bread slices in batches and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.  Cut bread diagonally.  Arrange on platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.  Pass butter and maple syrup.

Potato Casserole

Wendy's Potato Casserole

     I had a request for gluten-free recipes this morning so I thought I'd post this as it was on my list to do at some point anyway.  I must give credit where credit is due, however.  My good friend Wendy Kidder-Frank shared this recipe with me many years ago, when we were neighbors & participated in a cooking co-op.  This quickly became one of my family's favorites & I do hope you all will enjoy it as well.
     This easy casserole would be wonderful to tote along to a potluck or a church get-together or simply to accompany a main dish when having company for dinner. 

5-6 medium baking potatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream (I use the light, and don't feel it changes the flavor in any way)
1 lb. cheddar cheese (NOW do you see WHY I use light sour cream? may be gluten-free, but it's NOT a dieter's dish!)
cornflakes cereal, crushed for topping

Boil potatoes until JUST soft, but crunchy.  Cool completely then shred the potatoes.  Mix cheese, sour cream and soup with potatoes.  Place in greased 9 x 13 x 2" baking dish and bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.  Top with crushed cornflakes and serve.

Dressing for Ceasar Salad

Ceasar Salad Dressing

This is simple, made with ingredients most everyone has on hand and seriously measures up to the best I've found in any restaurant.

***Quite honestly, I usually TRIPLE this recipe; if you have any extra, it does save nicely for a week or more, covered in the refrigerator.

1/2 C mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. EACH grated Parmesan cheese (the fresh kind--not canister) and lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard (I use the spicy brown)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Black pepper

In small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.

Green Chili Rice

Green Chili Rice

Next time you're having Mexican food for dinner, try this as a side may sound "odd", but trust me, it's absolutely delicious and unique.     ~ ~ It's good to be unique!  Either Chicken Quesadillas OR Chicken Soft Tacos would be a good main entree for this side dish.   Look for them under my Main Dishes category.

1 C. Cooked brown OR white rice
1/8 C. melted butter
1 pint sour cream
1/8 c. Milk

Mix all ingredients together in separate bowl.

1- LB. Grated monterey Jack cheese
1 small can chopped green chilies

Layer rice mix, cheese & chilies. Repeat. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Top should be lightly golden brown.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

Thanks to my Facebook friend Sarina Simpson, for providing the recipe for tonight's dinner.  Below is my adaptation of the recipe.  This made enough that the two of us ate it for 3 nights straight and exclaimed each evening that it was STILL good!  A keeper ~

Crockpot Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 whole small onion, chopped
3-4 large green bell peppers, chopped (I did larger chunks, not diced)
1 (32 oz.) carton beef broth
2 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 sm. can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
Shredded cheese *optional, for topping
Cooked rice

In a skillet, cook ground beef and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain grease.

In a crockpot, combine beef broth, cans of tomatoes, the meat mixture and the bell peppers.  Cover and cook on high 3 hrs. or low for 6 hrs. 

Serve over rice.  Yields 4-6 servings

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chicken Tacos

Chicken Tacos

1 1/2 C Chicken Stock
1 1/2 C mild (or whatever suits you) Salsa
2 (8 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 whole-wheat OR Flour tortillas OR cruncy taco shells
2 C. shredded lettuce
1 C diced tomatoes
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream, guacamole (optional)

1)  In a large saucepan, bring stock and salsa to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the chicken and simmer covered, until tender, about 1 1/2 hrs.  Remove from pan and cool.  Reserve cooking liquid.

2)  Shred chicken and put it in a bowl.  Drizzle with enough of the cooking liquid to keep the chicken moist.

3)  Fill flour tortillas or taco shells with chicken and top with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and additional toppings of your choice.

Yield:  4 tacos


Chicken Quesadillas

1/4 C water
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 pkg. Fajitas mix (spice aisle of the grocery)
2 C shredded mixed Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses
3 green onions, thinly sliced
8 large wheat OR Flour tortillas
Salsa, guacamole and sour cream (optional)

Combine water, vinegar oil and fajitas mix in a large plastic baggie or glass dish.  Add chicken to marinade and let stand for at least 5 minutes (I usually marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes). 
Remove chicken from marinade.  Discard marinade.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute chicken until done. 

Put chicken strips in single layer on 4 tortillas.  Sprinkle each with cheese and green onion.  Top with another tortilla and sprinkle with additional cheese and green onion.  Place 2) quesadillas at a time on a large baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and quesadillas are lightly golden. 

Cut into wedges to serve.  Serve with toppings, if desired.  Makes 4 quesadillas

Sloppy Joes, spicy

Spicy Sloppy Joes

1 C chopped onion
1 C finely chopped diced celery (2 large stalks)
1 C finely diced green bell pepper
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 lb. Uncooked ground beef OR Turkey
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. leaf oregano, crumbled
1/2 tsp. leaf basil, crumbled
1/4 tsp. leaf thyme, crumbled
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (16 oz.) can tomato sauce
3/4 C water
*8 hamburger buns, lightly toasted, if you wish------or do as we do in our low carb household; serve this with Frito Scoops. 
LOL!  (I really cannot take credit for this idea as Doug's daughter Mandi passed it along).  Now it's the ONLY way we eat our Spicy Sloppy Joes!

Saute onion, celery and green pepper in oil in large skillet until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute.  Crumble in ground meat; saute until half-cooked, about 2 minutes.  Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil, thyme, salt & pepper.  Cook just until meat is cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and the water.  Bring to boiling over medium heat.  Lower heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes. 
Makes 8 servings

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet & Sour Chicken

1 lb., boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. oil
1 C. green AND red bell pepper strips
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. lite soy sauce
1 (8 oz.) can pineapple chunks, in juice
3 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger (I use like 1/8 tsp., as I don't care for ginger---your choice)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cooked brown OR white rice

Cook and stir chicken in hot oil in large skillet until well browned.  Add peppers; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes.  Mix cornstarch and soy sauce.  Add to pan with pineapple and juice, vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic powder.  Bring to a full boil.  Meanwhile, prepare rice as directed on package.  Serve chicken over rice and with fortune cookies for the ultimate experience!
Makes 4 servings

Company's coming? Paprika Chicken and Sour Cream Gravy

Paprika Chicken with Sour Cream Gravy

1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. EACH salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper
1/4 C butter
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Cream of Chicken soup
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 C sliced green onions
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream (I use the light & it doesn't alter the taste, in my opinion)

Mix flour and seasonings.  Thoroughly coat chicken.

Melt butter in skillet.  Add chicken and cook until browned.

Add soup and sour cream.  Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes or until done.  Stir in green onions, OR just top a serving with some, after you've plated it. 
Serve with mashed potatoes OR rice. 
Yield 4 servings

Marvelous Meatloaf



**This isn't your average's ALL in the topping.  I usually serve meatloaf with the classic sides:  mashed potatoes & gravy & some kind of vegi---in this house it's corn.  Enjoy!


1/4 c/ packed brown sugar
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard (or Yellow mustard)
dash (several, actually) Tabasco
1/4 c. Catsup


1 Pound ground beef
1 lg. egg
2/3 c. Cracker crumbs, crushed
1/2 c. Milk
1/2 c. catsup
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried sage leaves
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In small bowl, mix topping ingredients; set aside.  In a large bowl, mix ground beef, cracker crumbs, milk, catsup, bell pepper, onion and all seasonings.  Do not overmix!  Spoon into either a loaf pan OR do as I do & separate into a large muffin tray (the type that holds 6). Spread topping over top of the loaf or muffin cups.  Bake for 1 hr., or until done.  Let stand for 10-15 minutes before removing from pan and slicing or serving.
Makes 6 servings

Quiche, any time of the day


Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Quiche

5 eggs
1 C heavy cream
6 oz. cooked breakfast sausage, ham OR Bacon
1 C. broccoli florets
1/2 C mushrooms
1/4 C bell pepper
1 C swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 C red onion, chopped *optional
dash nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch pie pan with butter or cooking spray.  Beat eggs in a small bowl with cream and nutmeg.  Stir in meat and cheese.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
Yield 6 servings.
I always serve this with toast, no matter which meal I'm dishing it out for.  But, it would obviously be wonderful with a salad, or cottage cheese on the side.


Slow Cooker Pot Roast


Slow Cooker Pot Roast

3-4 lb. Chuck Roast
4 Medium potatoes, quartered
1 lg. onion, quartered OR sliced, your choice
3-4 lg. carrots, sliced in thick chunks, OR do as I do & use 3/4 small bag petite carrots
6 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved in 1/2 to 1 C water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place vegetables in botttom of crock pot.  Place meat on top.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until tender.  *Optional, when roast is done, you can make a gravy by mixing a smooth paste of 3 tbsp. flour and 1/4 C water and stirring into the crock pot.  Cook on high until gravy is thickened.
Yield:  4 servings

Chicken Stir-Fry


Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (you can use less, I just love garlic)
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges or slivers
1 C petite carrots, cut in halves lengthwise
1 C broccoli florets
1 C sliced fresh mushrooms
1 sm. red OR green bell pepper, sliced
**Right here I'll tell you straight up that I DOUBLE the sauce ingredients on this dish.  We prefer a fair amt. of sauce when it's served over the rice.
1 C chicken broth
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; over medium-high heat, cook the chicken. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.  Add the garlic.

Add onion, carrots, 3/4 c of the broth, the soy sauce and sugar.  Cover and continue to cook, over medium heat, stirring occasionally,  for another 5 minutes or until the carrots start to get a little tender. 

Add broccoli, mushrooms and the bell pepper.  Cover and cook another 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center and vegetables are tender.

Mix cornstarch with the remaining 1/4 c broth; stir into the chicken mixture.  Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is slightly thickened. 
Serve over rice OR noodles
Yields 4-6 servings 

Meatless Manicotti


8 oz. manicotti shells, uncooked
1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
1/2 c. grated fresh parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce, like Prego OR use your own, homemade sauce. 
grated *FRESH* parmesan cheese for topping

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain.  In a medium bowl, blend the ricotta, parmesan cheese and egg.  Stir in parsley, salt & pepper.  Stuff pasta with the cheese mixture.  Arrange in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Pour spaghetti sauce evenly over pasta shells.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.  *I tend to use quite a bit over the top--your choice.  Cover.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until hot, about 35 minutes.
Serves 6-8

Orange Zucchini Bread

This is SO moist, and the hint of orange makes it oh so good.  Try it, I'm sure you'll like it!

Orange Zucchini Bread

1 Pkg. Duncan Hines Orange Supreme Cake Mix ***see tip, below
3 egg whites
3/4 C water
1/3 C oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 C grated zucchini
2 tsp. grated orange peel


1/4 C granulated sugar
2 T orange juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 x 5 loaf pans.
2) For loaves, combine cake mix, egg whites, water, oil and cinnamon in a large bowl. Beat at low speed with electric mixer until moistened. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in zucchini and orange peel. Divide evenly into pans. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Loosen loaves from pans. Invert onto cooling racks. Turn right-side up. Poke holes in tops of warm loaves with toothpick or long-tined fork.
3) For syrup, combine granulated sugar and orange juice in small saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Spoon hot syrup evenly over each loaf. Cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves (24 slices)

TIP: I could not find boxed Orange cake mix in my stores, so substituted the Moist Supreme Golden Butter mix....even Yellow cake mix would work.


Lemon-Blueberry Bars


If you love tart lemon flavored desserts, this one's the best.  Another favorite in my home.

Lemon-Blueberry Bars


1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Lemon Filling:

2 Cups granulated sugar
1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 Cup lemon juice
1 Cup blueberries, rinsed
1/4 Cup confectioners' sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2) Crust: In a medium-sized bowl, stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt. Gradually stir in flour until smooth. Press dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan.
3) Bake crust at 350 for 20 minutes, or until edges are lightlly browned.
4) Lemon filling: In a large bowl, mix granulated sugar and flour. Whisk in eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon rind and juice. Fold in berries. Pour filling over crust.
5) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut into bars.

Summer Berry Pie

THE  perfect dessert for Labor Day (or July 4th, Memorial Day).  Seriously, once you taste it you'll realize it's fabulous ANY time.  And super, super easy.

Now, some tips in case you decide to make it:  if you don't like blueberries, for instance, just use an extra cup of  either the strawberries or the raspberries.  You may also switch up the jello base, using either strawberry OR raspberry, the latter being my personal favorite. 

Oh, and if you don't put Cool Whip (or the like) on it, then it's not "dessert" anymore, it qualifies as a serving of "Fruit" in my world.

One of my family's favorites---I hope it will become a tradition in your home as well!

Summer Berry Pie

3/4 C sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstart
1 1/2 C water
1 pkg (4 serving size) Jell-o (I use either strawberry or raspberry flavor)
1 C EACH fresh blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
1 Graham Cracker Crust (I cheat & buy the lg. one--2 extra serving size)
Cool Whip or Whipped Topping, optional

1)  Mix sugar & cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Gradually stir in water until smooth.  Stirring constantly, cook on medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

2)  Stir in gelatin until completely dissolved.  Cool to room temperature.  Stir in berries.  Pour into crust.

3)  Refrigerate for 3 hrs. or until firm.  Garnish with whipped topping, optional.  Store leftover pie (usually NOT an!) in refrigerator. 
Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chilled Raspberry Soup

I get comments all the time that chilled (fruit) soup is not something most people have ever tasted, let alone prepared.  This recipe, which happens to be a family favorite is EASY.  Not to mention delicious and healthy.  Give it a whirl. 

Chilled Raspberry Soup

1 Bag (20-24 oz.) frozen raspberries, no need to thaw
1 1/4 c. water
1 c  Cran-Raspberry juice
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 carton (8 oz.) raspberry flavored yogurt

In a large saucepan, combine thawed raspberries, water, cran-raspberry juice, sugar, cinnamon and cloves.  Bring just to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat; strain and allow to cool.  Whisk in lemon juice and yogurt.  Refrigerate for several hours (overnight is best). 
Yield:  4-6 servings

Clam Chowder

This chowder is as good as any you'll find at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.  I lived in the Bay area for over 20 years and have adapted my recipe after the best!

Joe's Clam Chowder

1-lb. sm. white Boiling potatoes
1 C. half & half cream
1/2 C heavy whipping cream, in carton
4) 6 oz. cans chopped clams, drained (reserve the juice) ***NOTE:  I usually do 2 cans chopped & 2 cans minced as I prefer a different texture to my chowder
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
black pepper to taste
Pinch of ground thyme

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain.  Mash potatoes SLIGHTLY in same pot.  Meanwhile, scald the half & half and the whipping cream in a small saucepan.  Add potatoes, clams, 3/4 c. of the reserved clam juice, seasoned salt, pepper and thyme.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Makes 4 servings.

Better than a Baked Potato...Soup

Baked Potato Soup

This requires a little bit of prep work.  But it's NOT hard and I'm telling you it is worth the time spent!!  If you love baked potatoes, and you love pototo soup, then you can imagine combining the two makes for a fabulous soup.  This really is, again, another recipe to rival any restaurant's potato soup offering.

5 large baking potatoes
2/3 C butter OR margarine
2/3 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 C milk
1 C (8 oz.) sour cream
1/4 C thinly sliced green onions
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 C (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Bake potatoes in microwave until JUST tender (about 10 minutes, but watch 'em).  Cool potatoes completely then peel and cute into large cubes. 

In a large saucepan, melt butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth.  Gradually add the milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened slightly.

Remove from heat; whisk in sour cream.  Add potatoes.  I garnish with the cheddar cheese, green onions and crumbled bacon.    Yield:  10 servings

Warm up with a bowl of great beef vegi.soup

Old Fashioned Beef Vegetable Soup

I made this soup 2 days ago, and we STILL have enough for tonights' dinner as well.  My kind of cooking!
Naturally, you can halve this recipe if you don't want enough for a small army, OR try freezing some of it for another time.

Beef Stock, canned or carton
2-3 lbs. beef (stew meat) chunks cut into 1 1/2" cubes OR ground hamburger OR ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
celery, 2-3 ribs, chopped
3 Beef Bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" coins or cubed
2 cans EACH:  corn, green beans, peas (any of these are optional or substitute more of one & less of another)
1 can diced tomatoes
salt & pepper
1 clove minced garlic, optional
1 bay leaf

Select a lean cut of meat.  By choosing a pot roast and slicing into cubes yourself, money can be saved over pre-cut stew beef.  Cut and cube beef, chop onions and celery.  You can optionally choose to prepare fresh parsnips and/or turnips at this time, for a heartier vegetable mix.  Add garlic at this point if you choose.

Dredge beef in flour and saute in olive oil until browned, adding garlic during last few minutes of browning. Add stock, bouillon cubes and bay leaf.  Other seasonings may also be added at this time (a pinch of oregano, a dash of garlic or onion powder, salt & pepper, etc.- to taste).  Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Soup may be transferred to a CrockPot at this time.  If so, set to Low, add remaining ingredients at the start and leave to simmer for several hours, until vegetables are tender.

If cooking on the stove (as I do), add all of the fresh & canned  vegetables and diced tomatoes at this time.  Simmer for an hour or two or until vegetables are tender.  Remove bay leaf before serving. 
Yields 6-8 servings

It's Ham & Bean Soup weather here!

Old Fashioned Ham & Bean Soup

1 lb. dried Great Northern (white) beans, rinsed, drained & picked over
2 smoked ham hocks (about 2 lbs. total)  OR *I* use about  a 4-lb. Pork Shoulder Picnic Ham
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot combine beans and cover with water.  Discard any beans that float to the surface.  Bring to a boil; cover.  Continue to boil 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow pot to stand, covered, 1 hour. 

Add ham, onion, garlic; cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 2 hrs.  Add the fresh parsley.  Cover and continue simmering, at least 1 more hour or longer.

Remove ham hocks or shoulder, separate meat from fat and bones.  Dice meat and return to soup.  Discard fat and bones.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Makes 6 hearty servings.

LOVE this idea to decorate cookies!

Found on a friend's Pinterest today.  HAVE to share, as I'm a rubberstamper AND a baker/cook, but it's NEVER occurred to me to combine the two! 

This is a terrific idea for decorating cookies not only for the upcoming holidays, but year round!

Need a haircut or just want something different?

    Since I'm new to this area, and I'm female, finding a new hair stylist is always a challenge.  It makes me nervous to let someone *else* use scissors on my mane, ya know?!  In addition, their price has to be right and I want a rapport that's easy.  Not forced, but at the same time I don't want someone talking my ear off!

    My husband, Doug, highly recommended Perry's Chop Shop in New Castle, IN and now I'm recommending it to those of you who are local.  Perry & his wife, Debbie, run the place and she cuts & styles my hair.  I've had several compliments on my new look (I've been gradually going shorter) and she's maintained the color that people have told me looks so natural on me.  Debbie is very personable---it feels like I've known her forever, yet I've only had 2 appointments so far.

     I love that they regularly attend styling conventions so they stay up to date in the industry.  Recently a  (young) customer had a feather (all the current rage) added to her hair & I thought it was a cool look for only an additional $10, I believe.  They're bringing in some new things for the holiday season which I already know I WANT. 

    Perry's is a very down to earth establishment with a loyal clientele.  Consider giving them a call next time you need the services of a salon or barber shop (there aren't many of those still around!).   I know you won't be disappointed. 
     Perry's Chop Shop 129 s. 21st street, New Castle, IN

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some changes to my blog

    Hey everyone!
    You'll notice some changes to the blog, as I learn new tips and tricks.  You will find some (older) recipes reposted here one at a time, on the main page. I will try and spread this reconstruction out over a few days so readers will also see new stuff if they slightly scroll down the main page.

    I've finally discovered how to link an individual recipe to it's category.  That means that my readers can go to "Breads" for instance, and will see a hyperlink showing the title of a particular recipe.  All one has to do is click on any blue hyperlink that sounds interesting, and it will direct you back to wherever the recipe is posted in it's entirety. 

     This frees up a LOT of room under the individual tabs for recipe categories.  I'm trying to make the site easy for readers to navigate, so I hope you will understand that this is still a learning process for me and that you'll be patient as I work a few kinks out.

     I really feel it's looking quite good so far!

Autumn Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

4 C apples, cored, peeled and cubed
1 C sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmet
1 C butter, divided
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C brown sugar, packed

Place apples in the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9" baking pan.  Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; dot generously with 1/2 c butter.  In a separate bowl, mix flour and brown sugar together; cut in remaining butter until coarse crumbs form.  Sprinkle over fruit; bake in 350 degree oven until golden, about 20 minutes. 
Serves 8.  Or two......just sayin

Great basic cornbread

People are picky about cornbread, and there are SO many ways you can change it up by mixing in optional ingredients.

I'm not really even a cornbread person.  I could take it or leave it.  However, cornbread is a MUST with certain dishes, like ham & beans, which I'm making this week.   Or chili, at least in this house.  Sooo, I've found what I like best is to keep it basic.  Plain.  But NOT dry or crumbly. 

This cornbread tastes EXACTLY like that which they serve @ the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Ft. Wayne, IN every year.  If you don't live in Indiana that probably doesn't mean much to you.  Trust me, it's SO good---they have lines all day long, the entire time the festival runs, for this cornbread.

Country Cornbread

1 C yellow cornmeal
1 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 C buttermilk
1/2 stick (1/4 C) butter, melted and cooled


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  I grease a large loaf pan, but you could put this in a 9" square pan, greased generously. 

In a bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and butter.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined.

Pour into greased pan and bake until the top is pale golden brown and the sides begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.  Let the corn bread cool for 5 minutes; turn it out onto a rack.  We eat it while it's hot, with GOBS of butter.  Hey, I'm just being honest here....

Everything Bread

Everything Bread

This lovely braided loaf involves some time, but it's a tried-and-true favorite to serve with any meal, casual or formal.  I promise it's worth the effort!

1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
3/4 c warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
1 c warm 2% milk (110- 115 degrees)
1/4 c butter, softened
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 to 41/2 c all-purpose flour
1 egg white
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. kosher salt OR coarse sea salt
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. each sesame, caraway (I don't do the caraway---so any of these, actually, are optional) and poppy seeds

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolk, salt and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hr.

Punch dough down.  (Get those frustrations out! lol..)  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough into thirds.  Shape each into a 20-inch rope.  Place ropes on a large greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Combine egg white and water; brush over dough.  Combine the salt, onion and seeds; sprinkle over bread.  Bake at 375 degrees for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. 

Makes 1 loaf (25 slices)

Amish Friendship Bread Starter & Recipe

This is SO much fun to do!  My youngest son, Tyler, absolutely loves this bread.  It's been far too long since I've made it, mainly because I didn't have any friends/family living locally to pass the starter to.  Now it's been on my mind lately and when some time frees up, I plan to start a batch & hopefully can keep it going.

This is going to be a long read, but I hope it brings back some sweet memories for you today as well!

Friendship Bread:  Starter Recipe (Make ONCE)

1 C milk (room temperature)
1 C sugar
1 C regular flour (room temperature)
Note:  Do NOT use self-rising flour!

Mix in a non-metallic bowl - glass or plastic is fine.
Note:  The metal interferes with the chemical reaction that needs to take place.
Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir.  Don't be concerned if you can't get ALL the lumps out.  Try to mix until lumps are pea sized, but with none larger than a grape.

Pour into a gallon sized freezer bag.
Note:  the finished sponge will expand to over 2 to 3 times it's original volume.  Let starter sit in a place away from drafts or hot breezes.

General Starter Tips:

Some people put a sponge in the refrigerator.  Do NOT do this because the cold retards the action and the flavor is not as "full".
*Squeeze the bag to mix the starter daily*

The above is Day 1

Day 2
Squeeze the bag to mix

Day 3
Sqeeze the bag to mix

Day 4
Squeeze the bag to mix

Day 5
Add 1 C flour
1 C sugar
1 C milk
Squeeze the bag to mix

Note:  The sponge will get foamy and frothy.  Don't be alarmed.  This is natural.  The mixture is reacting together and expanding. 
Try to resist the temptation to "tinker" with it!

Day 6
Squeeze bag to mix

Day 7
Sqeeze bag to mix

Day 8
Sqeeze bag to  mix

Day 9
Squeeze bag to mix

Day 10
Add 1 C flour
1 C sugar
1 C milk
Squeeze the bag to mix

Bread Recipe (using completed starter)

To the balance, after separating ( a little over one cup) of the batter, add the following ingredients and mix well.

1 C oil
1/2 C milk
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

In a separate (large) bowl, combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:

2 C flour
1 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 (5.1 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C nuts

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
Mix and pour into two well greased and floured bread pans (I don't flour, I dust w/sugar.  Mmmm)

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hr.

**Here's a link to a post on my blog where I list several variations to this original bread recipe.  Hope you'll try them out and then share your feedback with the rest of us!

Lasagne from South of the Border ~ Mexican Lasagne

    It may sound odd, but I'm telling you this is SO good.  I love dishes like this, that yield a very large quantity, giving you the option of serving for a gathering or putting away leftovers for another day.

    Mexican Lasagne

1 lb. cooked Ground Beef OR Turkey (I've used turkey MANY times through our "vegetarian" yrs., still GOOD)
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans (again, can be vegetarian beans)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
12 uncooked Lasagne noodles
2 1/2 C water
2 1/2 C salsa
1 C sour cream
1/2 bunch finely chopped green onions
1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese (OR, try Pepper Jack for some extra kick!)

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Place 4 uncooked lasagne noodles in bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.  Spread half of the meat mixture over noodles.  TGop with 4 more noodles and remaining meat mixture.  Cover with remaining noodles.  Combine water and salsa; pour over all. 

Cover tightly with foil; bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hrs., or until noodles are tender.  Cover with sour cream, green onions and cheese.  Even extra cheese woulnd't be out of the question.  Bake uncovered until cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).

Serves 12

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baked deep dish Spaghetti

     I'd never had baked spaghetti until last weekend, when we attended a friend's event & someone brought it as a potluck contribution.  I had seconds THAT day, and set out to find a recipe so I could make it at home.  Found one online @, but there were some issues.  To begin with, the first ingredient was not to be found in the grocery store.  So....after careful deliberation, I substituted something else.  Secondly, there weren't ANY spices in the original recipe.  Hello....Italian means spice, in my world. 


 Below is my version. I must say, this would definitely appeal to most kids!  It's topped w/Pepperoni, and what kid doesn't like Pepperoni!?  Doug doesn't...but that's another story.  I ate his.  And mine.  This is also ridiculously simple to make.  I  hope you'll try it and let me know if you have a different version of this dish.  Who knows, maybe I'll incorporate some of your tips into this recipe, making it that much better!

Baked Deep-Dish Spaghetti

1 pkg. Banquet Homestyle Bakes (Pasta & Meatballs in Marinara Sauce version) ***Side note:  I NEVER buy these boxed dinners.  While still not a fan, there IS a time & place for "semi-homemade".  Oh, I also tossed their pasta aside, and used spaghetti versus macaroni or whatever it was
2 cans (15 oz. each) Marinara or Spaghetti sauce w/meat (the above kit includes these 2 cans)
1 can drained mushrooms
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 C chopped onion
1 C chopped bell pepper
**Here's what I added, & I didn't measure...but I'd say around 2 tsp. each:  Basil & Oregano, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. onion powder. 
2 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 pkg. Pepperoni slices

Cook Spaghetti and drain.  Cook hamburger, onion and pepper together and drain.  Add canned Marinara sauce and canned mushrooms from the boxed dinner. 

Simmer 5 minutes.  Mix spaghetti and meat sauce.  Layer 1/2 of the spaghetti mixture, 1/2 of the cheese (include the cheese from the boxed dinner).  Add remaining layer of spaghetti and cheeses.  Top with pepperoni. 

Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts and pepperoni is lightly browned, about 30-45 minutes.
Makes 6-8 servings

Like my new bag? Passing along a great find

The picture doesn't even do it justice..lots of bling! 

        At the craft bazaar I just participated in, I was drawn to a fellow vendor's booth.  He had the neatest jewelry pieces!  I purchased a pair of earrings and one of those large, oversized rings caught my eye.  But I didn't buy it that day.  I thought about it all night & decided the next day that I was going to go ahead and get it.  While I was getting ready to pay for the ring, I completely fell in love with this bag!  I HAD to have it.  If you know me, you'll know that I love all things French.  This purse is SO "me". 

      I've already received one compliment and I know many more will follow over time.  I do not know if
this local company ships, and it looks like they don't have a website yet, but I wanted to pass along their information in case anyone wants to give them a peek:

     Their prices were affordable and like I said, I love the quality and variety of items they sell.  The owner was a super nice guy; I wish them much success in their business!



Great gift idea ~ Orange Cappaccino Caramels


I've made these several times and I'll admit wrapping each one afterwards can be time consuming, but they are SO worth it.  I do want to point out--these are NOT hard caramels, but softer.  They're unique and make excellent Christmas gifts, but I also think caramel is appropriate for all of Fall. 

Orange Cappaccino Caramels

1 C butter
1 (16 oz.) pkg. (2 1/4 C) packed brown sugar
1 (14 oz.) can (1 1/4 C) sweetened condensed sugar
1 C light corn syrup
3 T instant coffee crystals
1/2 to 1 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
1 C chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla

In a heavy 3-qt. saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup, coffee crystals and orange peel.  Carefully clip candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. 

Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, till thermometer registers 248 degrees, which is firm-ball stage.  Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over the entire surgace.  Reaching firm-ball stage should take 15-20 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat; remove candy thermometer from saucepan.  Immediately stir in walnuts and vanilla.  Quickly pour the caramel mixture into a foil-lined and butterred 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan. 

When caramel is firm, use foil to lift it out of pan.  Use a buttered knife to cut candy into 3/4 to 1-inch squares.  Here's the fun part.....Wrap each piece in clear plastic wrap.  Or just pop 'em in your mouth, thus eliminating the packaging part.  LOL! 

Makes about 100 pieces or approximately 3 pounds.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Decorate YOUR cooking appliances!

     I'm super busy in the kitchen again today, preparing to ship some of my products out & also getting tasting samples and product ready to take to a local business.  But......I was just sidetracked by a friend on FaceBook who posted a link I want to share with you all.
     We were talking KitchenAid mixers, and how much we love 'em.....I'm sure putting mine to good use lately.  I may burn out the motor at some point here, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes.  That would actually be a VERY good "problem" to have. 

      Anyway, you MUST check out these decals and the pictures on the site that show how creative you can be with them. 

      While you're looking, be sure to check out all the other things they sell.  Great selection, great prices and great service!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Making every day grand

     I've only got one grandchild of my own, but when I married my husband 4 months ago, I gained a bonus of 5 more grandkids.  Doug's whole family has embraced me so warmly, but the grandchildren really bring a special kind of joy to my life.  I've yearned for this. 

     If you'd been reading this blog and/or my Facebook page(s), then you know that I've been very busy baking in preparation for an event this weekend.  I've spent entire days in the kitchen, cranking out goodies and am completely exhausted, but also excited to see the feedback for my products. 

     This week Grand Parent's Day celebrations for Korey, who's in Kindergarten, and for Julia, who is in 4th grade took place on two separate days.  We're still waiting to hear if and when the schools that Lindsey, Ben & Nick will hold their Grandparent Day events ~ we'll be there!   Moments in life such as these are the ones we never regret showing up for.  I'm so glad I pushed work things around to make the was definitely worth every single minute.

This is Korey's artwork

We learned that Korey's "job" is classroom "Messenger"

Showing off the book Papa bought her from the book fair

Decorating picture frames for Grandparents Day
                                 Finished masterpiece!

    The following day we went to Julia's classroom, which was overflowing with grandparents!  The support in that room was truly lovely to witness.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have their grandparents in close enough proximity to allow for visitations such as this, and even that does not guarantee that one is fully present and engaged. 
     The children "interviewed" us, which was hilarious.  They asked a short series of questions, such as what year we were born.  When I answered 1958, Julia wrote down 1858.  I said, "I'm old, Julia, but not THAT old"!!  We were given a booklet in which the children described a favorite memory between them and their grandparent(s). 

PapaDawg was caught snitching one too many treats, lol!

      It was heartwarming to read her recollection of her first overnight stay in our new home.  I'm looking forward to so many more special times together!

The artwork on the cafeteria walls was amazing!

We got to eat lunch with Julia

Supporting another book fair!

Julia with her Aunt Summer & Grandma Marietta

"The laughter of a child is the light of a house"

Author: African Proverb

     Thank you, Ben & Nick, Lindsey, Julia and Korey for allowing me into your lives and for bringing such joy to mine.  As family dynamics have changed over the generations, I still believe that we all have room in our life for someone to support, love and guide us.  While I'm just a *bonus* grandmother, I  hope these youngsters will always know that I am here for them and they will always have a place in my heart. 


"Those gasps of astonishment, those shrieks of pleasure, those sighs of delight, lost long ago when your children grew wise and wordly ~ are suddenly given back to you by your grandchildren. What seems to be the same small hands clutch yours, dragging you from one excitement to another ~ "Look! Oh, look! come ON!""