Wednesday, November 23, 2011

~ Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers ~

I'd like to take time to thank all my readers & everyone who's encouraged me this year while I built this blog.  I have put my heart and soul into this and I have so much gratitude for those of you who have followed the journey. 
I send my blessings for a bountiful and beautiful Thanksgiving to you and yours.  

As I spend my day in the kitchen preparing some dishes ahead, I thought I'd share what the menu is at my home tomorrow.  I am hosting and this is what I'm serving up:

Sage and herb stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Relish
Baked Beans
Layered Salad
Deviled Eggs
Macaroni & cheese for the grandkids
Hot Rolls
Apple Streusel Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie

What's on YOUR menu?  I'm always interested in what other people's traditional foods are for the holidays.  I welcome you to share here.  What's cooking?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seasons of my life

 **The following is my guest post as it appeared

      Hello, I am Shelly, author of

    I've been asked to post here today as a guest.  I am known for my cooking and baking and finally decided to blog about my love of food, family and fun in general.  I share recipes on my site as well as snippets and snapshots into my everyday life. 

    Fall has arrived and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  The changing of the seasons is synonomous with my life and, as I find myself reflecting on the past, I'm walking into the future with joyful anticipation. 

    To sum things up, I have to go back and share a little history.  This is my 3rd marriage and we are newlyweds.  Doug is retired and has grown children and a total of 5 grandchildren.  I have 2 boys (both in college) from my first marriage which lasted 20 years.  In between these two marriages, I had a short union of two years that was very stressful and unhappy because we were not able to blend our families. 

     I am as family oriented as they come, so finding myself in a position where I wasn't liked and not supported by my husband was very hard on me, to say the least.  In fact, when my oldest son was a youngster, I recall him referring to me as "a home-made mom" to one of his friends.  That was his term for a stay at home mom who served a homemade meal most every night as our entire family gathered around the kitchen table.  It still warms my heart when I think of that comment.  I consider it a compliment and a real blessing that I was afforded the ability to provide that kind of family environment for my boys. 

     Thanksgiving was always a very traditional time for our young family.  There were only two occasions I can recall when I did not prepare and/or host the holiday meal.  Once my mother decided we should go out to a restaurant and I left that experience vowing that would never again be an option.  One of the perks of cooking all that food at home is that you have enough leftovers to last several days, and I missed those!  The first Thanksgiving after my first husband and I divorced was beyond difficult.  The boys and I would rather have skipped the entire day, but we were invited to celebrate with extended family.  Their intentions were the best; they certainly didn't want us to be alone on such a day, but the boys and I couldn't deny that the fit was all wrong.  Another vow was made that thereafter, no matter what, I would cook Thanksgiving dinner at our own home.

     My second husband and I decided to host Thanksgiving dinner for 28 members of (mostly his) family in the new home I'd built just after we married.  The thrill I'd felt about entertaining the large group on such a momentous occasion was short-lived, however.  After the meal and clean up, his teen daughter lashed out at me in front of a few remaining guests, and to make a long story short, the blended family I'd envisioned never jelled.  After months of counseling, I separated from Ron and spent the next Thanksgiving solo.  My oldest had moved out years ago and my youngest spent the holiday out of state, with his father.  I did not cook; I'm pretty sure I sulked.

     Fast forward to last year, when my youngest son graduated from High School and then promptly moved out to join his brother in California, where they both attend college.  I live in Indiana, which simply seems too far away. This Christmas season, my 19 year old will visit for the first time since he made me an empty nester.  I cannot tell you how much I'm anticipating spending time with him. 

     My current husband entered my life just at the same point in time that my son, Tyler, was moving on.  It was a seamless transition, looking back.  Much like gazing out a window one winter day at a landscape filled with trees stripped of their leaves, then at next glance you delight in the spring buds of regrowth. 

    Thanksgiving of 2010, I cooked a holiday meal for just Doug and myself. The absence of both my sons was palpable, but nevertheless I was grateful that I had someone special to share the day with.  Since my marriage in May, 2011, there's a renewed sense of joy that comes from being part of a family again.  Naturally this wasn't the future I'd envisioned all those years ago when I imagined my sons growing up, leaving the nest and starting their own lives.  To be frank, I assumed their father and I would grow old together and the boys would live somewhere in close proximity, thus allowing us to visit and spend special occasions together.  Things don't always work out the way we'd planned nor can we predict the future.  I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.  We may not understand it at the time, but there is usually a silver lining if we look.

     I'll still be missing my boys every day and especially at our Thanksgiving table this year but we've invited Doug's children and grandchildren to join us.  As my bond with each of his grandchildren grows, a glance into their faces or an impromptu hug and sweet kiss on the cheek transport me right back to the days of my own childrens' youth.

     There's a song that's always spoken to my heart called "Landslide", and part of the lyrics are, "....can I sail through the changing ocean tides, can I handle the seasons of my life?"  As I head into Thanksgiving this year, I find myself reflecting on how apropos that tune is.  The singer goes on to say, "Well, I've been afraid of changing, 'cause I built my life around you.  But time makes you bolder.  Children get older.  I'm getting older too". 

     As I count my blessings this year, I'm extremely grateful to Doug's family for so warmly accepting me and for the gift of these beautiful bonus grandkids.  The joy that they bring makes this new season of my life wonderous. 


A link to my article as a guest on another's blog today!

Please click on the direct link below to read my article and visit Jen's page while you are there. 
Happy Thankgiving to all of our readers!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

From Rachel Ray...Pecan Pie Popcorn

I had some free time last night to begin reading my newest edition of EveryDay with Rachel Ray.  This recipe sounded SO good that I wanted to share with those of you who may not read her magazine.  Also, as I was reading, I kept thinking this would be wonderful packaged up and given as gifts for teachers, neighbors, the bus driver, etc.  Another idea would be to include this treat as part of a gift basket with the theme of "A night in" or something along those lines---include some DVD's or board games that your recipient(s) would love as well as other snacks and hot cocoa mix, a snuggle throw....I could go on, but use YOUR imagination and have fun with it!

Pecan Pie Popcorn

1/2 C maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. salt
7 cups popped pocorn
3/4 C chopped pecans

In pan, cook syrup and sugar over medium heat, whisking, 5 minutes.  Whisk in butter and salt until thickened, 5 minutes.  Mix popcorn, nuts and maple butter on parchment lined sheet.  Spread evenly; bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes. 
Serves 8 (really???  Not in THIS house!)

I'm bananas over you!

Who needs post-it notes?  I left this for my hubby yesterday ~

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leftover turkey? Here's a soup recipe I always make

Again, it's just not the holidays in my home if, after about 2-3 days of turkey leftovers including all the sides & desserts, I make up a huge pot of this soup.  So delicious and also good for you!

Turkey Noodle Soup

1/3 C butter
1 C thinly sliced celery
1/2 C chopped onion
*Optional:  add in a couple of carrots, cut into chunks
8 C ready-to-serve chicken broth (ummm, yeah, I cheat and it STILL tastes very good!)
1 pkg. (16 oz.) Reames Frozen Egg noodles (It HAS to be REAMES--they are as good as homemade)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 C cubed cooked turkey
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. sage, optional

Heat butter in skillet until melted.  Add celery and onion; cook about 3-5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Add broth; bring to a boil.  Stir in noodles, salt and pepper.  Simmer, uncovered, 35 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in turkey and parsley; heat through.
Makes 8 servings.

Holiday Sweet Potatoes

Here's my recipe for sweet potatoes or yams, whatever your family calls them.  I don't care for them, but I have served this at many Thanksgiving dinners through the years and have received many compliments on it so I hope it's a winner at your table as well!  **Oh, and by the way....I love this idea I found on Pinterest, for baking and serving the sweet potatoes in hollowed out orange halves ~ would be so beautiful on a serving dish.

Holiday Sweet Potatoes

3 lg. sweet potatoes or yams
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks
1 sm. orange, sliced
1/2 medium sized lemon, sliced
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C raisins
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 C pecans, chopped
1/2 C miniature marshmallows

In large saucepan, boil the sweet potatoes.  Drain; cool slightly before peeling and cutting into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Meanwhile, drain and discard all but 1/2 cup juice from pineapple.  In another saucepan heat remaining ingredients to boiling.  Reduce heat to low; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.  Discard orange and lemon slices.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish and arrange sweet potato slices.  Pour spice sauce over all; top with marshmallows.  Bake 20-25 minutes until marshmallows are melted and turn golden brown and mixcture is hot and bubbly.
Makes 10 servings.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I love this on so many levels

    Found this on another's blog and once again I want to share such a creative use for something most everyone has on hand. 

    I love this on so many levels!  This is terrific for leftover scraps of scrapbooking paper as well as a wonderful, craft to do with your children or grandkids.  Read her descriptions of daily ways to show gratitude and use those as a starting point, then come up with what suits your family.  This can also be used at Christmas of course.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Walnut Coffee Cake

Such a creative centerpiece using a bundt pan, which most cooks have!

A wonderfully moist, comforting cake, splendid with a cup of coffee.  I've typically made this most years for Christmas, but I need to remind myself it's good anytime!! The center is filled with two layers of ground walnuts flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.

Walnut Coffee Cake 


1 1/2 C (6 oz.) walnut pieces
1/2 C packed light-brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. heavy cream


2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp. butter
1 C granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 C sour cream

1)  Hand process all filling ingredients until walnuts are ground course.  (you may use a food processor, but I just chop the walnuts up by hand, like I said)
2)  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease ad lightly flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
3)  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy.  Gradually beat in sugar, then vanilla.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  With mixer on low speed add flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
4)  Spread one-third of the batter in prepared pan.  Sprinkle with half of the filling and spread with half of the remaining batter.  Sprinkle with remaining filling and spread with remaining batter.
5)  Bake 55-60 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched and a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
6)  Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.  Invert onto serving plate and cool about 15 minutes more.  Serve warm.
Makes 12 servings

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A blast from the past---this recipe made the newspaper

Side note:  TERRIFIC idea for decorating Thanksgiving tables

Tucked away in my recipe binder is this clipping from the San Jose Mercury Newspaper, July 29, 1987.

In the Reader's Exchange, someone had written in to request if any readers could submit her husband's favorite childhood dessert, red velvet cake.  The paper said they received dozens of replies and several versions, but MINE was printed.  How cool is that!? 

Here is what I wrote when I sent my recipe in:  "I couldn't resist looking through my old cookbooks for this...I am originally from Indiana and this was also MY favorite cake.  My mother made it frequently for birthdays, even changed the color for St. Patrick's Day (as this is my younger sister's b-day).  I sure hope it brings back wonderful memories for Cynthia's husband."

Without further adieu, here is my mother's recipe:

Red Velvet Cake

1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C shortening
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cocoa
2 C flour
1 C buttermilk
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add eggs and beat in food coloring, vanilla and salt.  Sift cocoa and flour.  Alternately, add flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with flour.  Mix vinegar and soda and fold into the batter.  Bake in two greased, floured layer pans 30 minutes in 350-degree oven.  Cool; spread frosting of your choice between layers and over entire cake.  Refrigerate.

An alternative to Yams/Sweet Potatoes

I found this in our local (Wed.) paper and wanted to share it because I think it would be a wonderful alternative side dish for those, like me, who don't care for yams or sweet potatoes--whatever they are referred to in YOUR neck of the woods!

Walnut Squash

*Recipe calls for 3 (12 oz.) pkg's. frozen winter squash, thawed---but I'd personally use FRESH.  As always, your choice!
1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. dark-brown sugar
2 eggs
5 Tbsp. softened butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 C milk (may be low-fat)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C chopped walnuts (OR Pecans would be an excellent choice too!)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  Beat together squash, 1/4 cut brown sugar and eggs.
3.  In a saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp. butter.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Whisk in milk, salt and cinnamon..
4.  Beat milk into squash; transfer to baking dish.
5.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Stir together 2 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and the nuts.  Sprinkle on squash.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes. 
Serves 8

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oreo Fudge now available

Not my own picture-but a VERY good representation of how mine looks

My second new flavor this week!  I don't plan to expand into lots of different fudge flavors, because I prefer things "traditional", if you will.  Having said that, I did have a customer request the Oreo fudge so I tried it today and it's GOOD.  It will be added to the price sheet here on my blog.

In addition to the new White Chocolate Fudge, I hope to offer a Peanut butter and Chocolate mixed batch---sort of like Reese's Peanut Butter cups.  That will be available at my next show, which is 11/19.

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish

I don't care for cranberries, but I make this every year for the holidays & people rave about it.  It's not too early to start thinking about YOUR Thanksgiving dinner menu.  Let me know if you try this and how you like it.  I love feedback!

3/4 C orange juice
1/2 to 2/3 C sugar
1/4 tso. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 (12 oz.) pkg. cranberries

In a medium saucepan combine juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Add cranberries and raisins.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.   Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or till cranberries pop.  Remove from heat.  Stir in pecans.  Transfer to a serving bowl.  Cover and chill thoroughly till serving time. 
Makes 8 (1/3 c) servings

Love blooms EVERY day

Hubby surprised me with these today!

Positivity Pointer

~ Prepare your day like you would prepare a cake.  Start with a smile, a spoonful of love, a cupful of enthusiasm and a heaping teaspoon of happy thoughts!
A winning recipe for a delicious day~

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Terrific use for leftover holiday candy

These hot chocolate stir-sticks are a great way to use up leftover holiday candy OR make them and give as gifts.
Simply dip marshmallows in chocolate and coat with your favorite hot cocoa topping for an inexpensive, easy christmas gift that tastes great too. 

Wallies info.

     Since I've had so many comments regarding the wallies, I'm going to post a direct link here.  Seems many have never heard of them.  I've used wallies at another house, years ago, in my kitchen, and people would assume I'd hand stenciled the grape clusters on my walls!   Give them a click---they offer many designs at affordable prices.

Have a collection of buttons?

Here is a VERY cool gift idea from  You'll find other inspiring things to do with buttons on their site.  Think outside the box, using different color and/or themes!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Click on the NEW button to the lower right

It looks like the above and will take you to another blogger's great list of 150 stocking stuffer ideas!! I thought I'd share this info. with everyone, since it is getting to be that time of year and my youngest son asked me today what's on MY list.

Vanilla Fudge available now!

After experimenting, I'm happy to say White Chocolate Fudge, with walnuts or plain is now available for sale.  It's been added to my Price Sheet, here on the blog.  Same price.

Next up this week to try:  Oreo cookies & cream......price may be adjusted upwards, though, as it costs more to make.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My neighbor's home featured in today's newspaper! Have a look....

We have THE nicest neighbors anyone could ask for.  I knew one of the editors from our local paper was going to do an article on their home and I've been anxiously awaiting the results of that visit.  I'm sharing the link here but honestly, the pictures don't even do it justice.  She is SO creative and her cross stitched pictures are framed in every room of the house.  Her stitchery is the most amazing I've ever seen-anywhere.  It's just a glimpse, but I'm so happy to share this vision of loveliness we live next to.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Today's house project

I love Wallies.  I finally had the time today to finish decorating my laundry room and there were enough wallies left over to add some pizzazz to hubby's bathroom. 

I love how big my laundry room is!

Doug's bathroom wall needed *something*

Hubby's bathroom

The above three pics are of my (Master) bathroom.  I've used Wallies around the top as a border and purchased the distressed green cabinet at Hobby Lobby on clearance.  I absolutely love the way this bathroom turned out!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bourbon BBQ Chicken

This is just. too. simple.  Here's a recipe that you'll use all year long; switch it up by serving it with different side dishes each time you make it.  I've made this many, many times throughout the years.

Bourbon Barbeque Chicken

1 lb. Chicken breasts
1 bottle (14 oz.) Hickory Smoked Barbeque Sauce
3 Tbsp. worcestershire saucve
2 Tbsp. Bourbon
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Arrange chicken pieces in square baking dish.  In mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients.  Pour over the chicken.  Cover and marinade at least 2 hrs. or refrigerate overnite (MY preferred method), turning at least once.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bakes, uncovered, basting every 15 minutes, till chicken is tender and no longer pink inside.

Nacho stuffed pasta shells

Nacho Stuffed Pasta Shells
Pasta with a twist!  This is yet another really simple, great dish that you can serve your family or company.

Box jumbo pasta shells, uncooked
1 lb. ground beef OR turkey
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans (may be vegetarian beans, your choice)
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 C picante sauce
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
Salsa, optional
Sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  In large skillet brown meat; drain well.  Add taco seasoning and 1 C water; simmer 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened.  Stir in beans, chilies and cheese; cook until smooth. 

Fill each pasta shell with 2 tablespoons meat mixture.  In small bowl, combine picante and tomato sauces. 

Spread 1/2 of sauce mixture over bottom of 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray.  Place shells side by side on top of sauce; pour remaining sauce evenly over shells.  Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.

Sprinkle with green onions.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Serve with salsa and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
Yields 8 servings