Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pita's Please

I love pita chips -- they're so crunchy and yummy and there's really nothing to them -- but they're so stinkin' good!  They are especially good with hummus that's been drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with the fresh ground citrus pepper blend stuff that we have stuffed in the pantry!  Also, I get to be alone when I eat pita chips!  My kids can't STAND the sound of the constant crunch of them and they always say, "Mom, we'll be back around when you're done with those things!"  It's been days since I've seen them . . .and I have more bags of these things than they can imagine!  HA!

But, as much as I love pita chips, I saw a recipe for "homemade" pitas and thought I'd give it a try and share it with you!  How bad can it be . . .and if we don't like them, then we won't make them again, will we?

Seasoned and Baked Pita Chips

3 pita rounds (I use whole wheat)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 TBSP Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt

Split pita rounds in half, horizontally (doesn't that make sense?!).  Cut each 1/2 into 8 wedges.  Mix oil and remaining ingredients together and brush over each wedge, on the rough side.  (I don't know why -- it's what the directions said to do!).  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet or silpat (my favorite) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisped.

Move to cooling rack and let cool completely.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buttermilk Syrup

OH MY WORD!  This stuff is pure sin!  I'm not wasting time to write about it . . . all I'm saying is, "You have GOT to try this!"  I'm sure it's good on waffles, pancakes, ice cream, and french toast.  Maybe on cooked apples or sauteed pears.  But let me just tell you, it's FABULOUS right off of the spoon! 

Buttermilk Syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil - except for the vanilla extract. Allow to boil gently for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the vanilla.

Serve warm over pancakes and waffles.

If it lasts overnight in your house -- you should store it in the refrigerator. I just popped it in the microwave for 20 seconds, stirred it and microwaved for another 20 seconds.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Graham Cracker Toffee

At the holiday time, I always like baking.  Sometimes I make the "old stand-bys" and other times I try a new recipe that is sure to become a family favorite.  Today I was searching for a recipe when I ran across this old childhood treat that I remember my mom making.  This is a great recipe if you are wanting a candy but you're too afraid to give a "real recipe" a try! 

Graham Cracker Toffee
chocolate graham toffee bark
1/2 pound (two sticks) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 box (about) graham crackers (not crumbs)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, almonds, walnuts, or  macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly-roll pan with non-stick foil. Arrange whole graham crackers (12 crackers or so) to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham crackers. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts, pressing down gently into the chocolate.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Peel foil from chilled bark. Break into irregular pieces.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I've been baking up a storm . . . make that a snow storm!  Unfortunately, none of it is for my family!  Well, maybe that is a fortunate thing; but none-the-less!  My kids are happy when a sugar cookie breaks, that means they get a sample!

I have several sugar cookie recipes that I like, but 2 are my favorite!  I will share one with you now.  It stirs together in a food processor!  How easy is that!  From there you can roll out and cut or if you prefer to do a "drop and bake" that's good too!

Don't be afraid of sugar cookies -- especially the decorated kind!  Go simple and smear some canned frosting on the top and sprinkle some colored sugar or shake some non-pariels over the frosting.  If time allows and you're a little adventurous -- whip up some royal icing or glaze and let your cookie become your art canvas.  I have found that it doesn't really matter what it looks like; people just love a decorated sugar cookie!

Vanilla Sugar Cookie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firm butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla

Put the flour and butter in the food processor and whiz until the mixture is like fine bread crumbs.

Add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Whiz until a smooth dough forms.  You may think this won't happen -- just keep going and before you know it, you'll be done!

Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

**Chocolate sugar cookie:  reduce flour to 2 1/4 cups flour and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baked Oreo Brownies

Oh yeah -- I know what came to your mind right away!  Oreos!  Oh sure!  I wouldn't have thought that either, but I'm telling you, it's a possibility!

The other day I had to make a treat to send with Jackson to school for a special lunch.  While on the phone in the middle of Wal-mart (oh yes, I'm now one of "those" people), Kilie gives me this super simple recipe that she had been told about!  So as any good mother does, I put the package of cookies back on the shelf and tell her to repeat the ingredients again and I fly down the aisle, telling people under my breath to get out of the way -- I've got a new recipe to make and it's not even written down on paper! 

These little gems are worth having around for a quick treat of unexpected guests . . .or even expected ones!

Baked Oreos
Go to fullsize image
1 package (9X13 size) brownie mix
Ingredients to make those sweet little things
1 package oreos -- plain, colored center, double stuff -- whatever you like

Mix the brownies according to package directions.  Spray your muffin pans with pam.  Dip your little round oreos in the batter and plop into a pan.

Bake about 10-12 minutes -- but don't over do it!  Nobody likes an over-baked brownie, whether it has an oreo in it or not! 

Let it cool just a bit and run a sharp knife around the edge.  Let cool 10-15 minutes and plop out on a cooling rack.  Dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with warmed vanilla frosting, or leave it plain.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cake

It's debatable . . .either we are easily pleased or this is a great chocolate chip cake!  I took dinner to some friends this evening and this was the dessert I made.  It makes a 9 X 13, or a 2-layer cake.  I baked for a 2-layer cake . . .giving them one and we kept the other.  I was also short on time so instead of the frosting I'm listing, I ran to the store for a can of vanilla frosting and added a bit of real vanilla to it for "help" and called it good!

View ImageChocolate Chip Cake

1 chocolate cake mix (I used triple chocolate)
1 package (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding
1 1/4 cup milk (can substitute water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix cake mix and next 5 ingredients together; mixing well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour into whatever pan you're using and use the back of the cake mix as your baking time.

Frost when cooled with the vanilla frosting (which we liked the white/chocolate combo) or this frosting that's poured on while the cake is still warm!

Chocolate Frosting

1 stick butter
3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
4 TBSP milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Place butter, cocoa, milk in a pan.  Cook over medium heat until butter has melted and mixture comes to a boil, 2 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla and the powdered sugar (a bit at a time) until the frosting is smooth.  Pour the frosting over the top of the cooling cake.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chillin' While We're Grillin'

I don't mean "chillin'" in the cool way -- I mean, it's a bit cool outside.  I have to say I always love the grill!  I think bone-in grilled chicken is my most favorite!  We had friends over this weekend and Greg was the grill master!  Try this -- you won't be disappointed!  There are four things you need . . .no, five!
  1. a grill
  2. bone-in, skin on chicken breast
  3. Dale's marinade
  4. chicken meat thermometer
  5. somebody to do the grillin'
Now before you panic about the chicken skin . . . it's only there to help keep the chicken moist!  You don't have to eat it -- unless you're from Arkansas!  (Isn't that right, Ed!)  The thermometer can be a meat thermometer, just make sure you see 170 (165 degrees is minimum and 180 is maximum for chicken).

Here's the deal:

  • Marinate your chicken in enough Dale's to cover the chicken.  Go for at least 24 hours . . .or more!  If you're a little skeptical, do your normal 2-3 hours, but longer is better!  Remember my mom's saying, "More is More!" 
  • Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the largest breast, not touching a bone
  • Preheat your grill
  • Find somebody to do the cooking, since it's a bit chilly outside
  • Cook it to perfection (170-175).
  • Let it rest before you skin the thing and dig in!

Remember to cook more than you'll need . . .these are perfect for leftovers; stuffed in a quesadilla, over some pasta, along side rice, or tossed on some salad!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Cobbler

During this time of the year . . . or really anytime, a quick and easy dessert is always nice to have "in your back pocket" so that with unexpected gatherings or a night in with just your family,a homemade dessert is always a treat!  You probably have these ingredients at home already! 

Easy Cobbler

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in an 8X8 pan

Mix in a bowl

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup milk

and pour over the melted butter, but don't stir!


3 cups frozen berries or frozen fruit of any kind
*1/2-1 cup sugar sprinkled on top

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until it is bubbly and it "looks done!"

Cool a bit and serve warm.

** I only add an additional 1/4 cup of sugar.  But you do what your family prefers.  I think anything more than 1/2 a cup is too sweet; but it probably depends on how sweet you already are!  HA!

Ben's mom sent me a note:  she made this with fresh apples, added a bit of sugar and cinnamon and said it was "yummy!"  There you go . . . a satisfied cook!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Tablescape

The "Peace" is a wall plaque, and "Hope"
is an ornament
My mom says, "More is More!"  That's why I like her to help me decorate!  She takes my little stuff and makes it look good!

It might surprise you  -- but my decorating taste is bigger than my budget!  I love the "magazine look" but have more of a "wal-mart ability!"  That's where my mom comes in . . . she has a good eye to put things together in groups and make it look all homey and fluffy!

This year she helped me decorate my dining room.  I love what she did with all of my "little" things!  She kept saying, "do you have a little winter bird?"  So, I'd get a bird for her to tuck here and there . . .but she must of thought I had "winter bird preserve" in my closet because she was a little surprised when I ran out of birds! 

I show you these few pictures to encourage you to try something new with your decorating -- and to group a bunch of stuff together to make a dramatic impact!  Mixing styles and textures and thinking "out of the box" creates interest!

Thanks mom for helping me decorate with the the look I love!

Add a bit of greenery to the lamp post and "throw" in some beads

Part of my nativity . . .just displayed a little differently

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kute Koozies

My friend, Kilie, and I enjoyed doing craft projects together.  Last year, we came up with this idea to do as a little Christmas treat; we were really planning ahead -- and so proud of ourselves . . . and then, she moved!  So!  I sat at the table today, by myself, working on this idea!  I'm not sure if it's as cute as what she did in Tennessee!  Either way, if you're needing an easy teacher gift, a party favor, or a simple "winter day" project with your cherubs, here is one that throws together in a snap and won't break the bank!

Kute Koozies!

1 koozie of your choice
12" of trim (spider, fringe, pom-poms, whatever you like)
Tacky glue
Embellishments (if desired)

Measure around the koozie and cut your trim to fit, over-lapping just a bit.  Put a little tacky glue on and inch the trim around  . . . repeating this step until you have wrapped completely around the koozie.

If putting on an initial, jewels, etc . . .use a bit more tacky glue and strategically place where it looks good (or to cover up a little "oops!").

Let dry over night.

If giving as a teacher gift, stuff with their favorite canned beverage and deliver!   . . .UMMM!  If you are a teacher of a McNeece kid, well, "Merry Christmas!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Bundle . . .of Green Beans!

My family loves green beans and the basic kind are our veggie staple.  However, recently I made Green Bean Bundles and they were nice for something different!  While there is a little prep time involved, it's not difficult and does seem to communicate, "Look!  I did something a little special!"  Now, will your family rise up and call you blessed?  Probably not -- but oh well, dinner will look great and taste even better!

Green Bean Bundles

1 package bacon
3 cans "whole" green beans

8 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place bacon on a large cookie sheet, lined with foil.  Bake until partially cooked. Drain, cut each piece in half, and set aside.

Open the green beans and drain well.  Take a bundle of green beans (6-8; using "good" pieces) and wrap them with a 1/2 piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick if necessary. Place the bundles in a shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, butter, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the sauce over the bundles and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20-30 minutes or until the bacon is done.

Makes about 14-16 bundles. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Little Pumpkin Cookies

We got home from my mom's and we're meeting my cute 6 month old nephew tonight for dinner . . .ok, his parents are coming too!  I'm taking a dessert, and although I had planned on taking a pumpkin crisp, this afternoon that didn't sound like something I wanted to mess with!  Do you ever get in one of "those" moods?  My mom told me about a pumpkin cookie that tastes VERY close to the pumpkin cookie at City Bites . . .well, that's all she had to say!  We simply L.O.V.E those pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting!  While these cookies don't have cream cheese frosting -- they do have cream cheese in the cookie mix . . .so however you get in the cream cheese, it doesn't matter!  These whip up in a flash and I baked them with my large 1/4 cup scoop and baked them for 15 minutes.  It was just perfect!  With a little sprinkle of cinnamon on top of the frosting -- they're good to gobble!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cookies with Frosting

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
2 cups chopped pecans (if desired)

**this recipe for frosting isn't enough to frost the cookies the way I wanted to do so -- either go easy on the frosting or make additional frosting!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Quick Cranberry Salad

Today I joined Greg at Primetime, a monthly Senior Adult event at church.  We heard a great speaker and enjoyed a pot-luck lunch.  The weather is cool outside and all of the yummy sides hit the spot as we go into the holiday season!

One of my many choices was a cranberry salad.  I do love cranberry salad (or sauce or relish), and I particularly love the homemade kind.  I made a great pick today!  The cranberries were yummy with just a touch of orange and spice!  Matter of fact, it was so delicious, I stood out by the "pot-luck table" WAITING for the rightful owner of the dish to claim it so that I could brag on it and ask for the recipe!  Don't you know, after a small wait, her she came . . . and I got the coveted recipe!  I didn't ask if I could share it -- actually, I forgot!  But I don't think she'll mind!

Cranberry Orange Salad

1 container of cranberry orange salad from the deli of
Tom Thumb grocery store

Open container and dump into a pretty serving bowl.  Serve chilled.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Yum Yum" Candy is Yummy!

Oh, this is bad!  I was flipping through some old recipes when I found this yummy recipe for "Yum Yum Candy."  I first tasted this several years ago when Linda B. brought it to the Couples Retreat we used to go to at Lake Texhoma!  This stuff is addicting!  It makes quite a bit . . .so call a friend over and share the recipe -- you'll not only have fun making it with a friend, but you'll be glad you did when you go to put your jeans on!

Yum Yum Candy
3 lbs. almond bark (1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate)
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
3 cups dry roasted peanuts
4 1/2 cups rice krispies
1/2 a bag (or so) of mini marshmallows

Melt the almond bark and stir in the peanut butter.  Add marshmallows and cereal and stir well.  Add peanuts and mix.  Drop on wax paper to cool -- be sure to lick your fingers!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coffee Caramel Cupcakes

Who would have ever thought that a cupcake would rise to stardom!  I mean, really!  Now the cupcake is so vogue -- it's appearing center stage at weddings and galas and parties and premiers!  All that to say -- I love cupcakes!  However, with all of the cupcake stores that have popped up, I have yet to find one that I really like.  I've tried several -- but never return for a second purchase . . .until last week!  Right there, in Times Square, I spotted it -- "Crumbs!"  After looking at the beautiful delights -- I indulged in the Chocolate Pecan Pie Cupcake (can there be such a thing?)!  I was SO sorry that I shared with Greg!  But don't worry -- the next night we just "happened" to go back . . .I mean to pass it and we meandered in to indulge in our own!  Greg feasted on the "Half baked" and I tried "Carmel Apple."   We were not disappointed! 

So what do I do when I return home; set out to create some yummy cupcakes!  Getting the right recipe AND the right decorating are hard to do -- but I'm working on it!  I wanted to share with you the recipe I've tried, with a few minor changes, and perhaps it will inspire you to try something new!

Coffee Caramel Cupcake

1 French vanilla cake mix
1 small package French vanilla instant pudding
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all of that together and pour into your lined cupcake pan (you can do the regular size or for a real treat, use a 6 count jumbo pan -- they make for a "gourmet" sized cake).

Bake for 18-28 minutes, depending on the size of your cupcake.

Let cool.

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 TBSP butter, softened
2 TBSP strong coffee (or substitute milk if you don't prefer coffee)
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Mix cream cheese, butter, and liquids until well mixed.  Slowly add in powdered sugar until well incorporated.


1 can La Lechera, "Dulce del Leche" (by Nestle, on the Ethnic aisle)

Scoop out a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake and fill each center with the warmed La Lechera.  I warmed the filling in a bowl and put in a piping bag and squeezed in the center.  You can do the same with a ziplock bag and snipping of a small amount of the corner.

Frost the cupcake and roll in heath bits and drizzle with a bit more of the caramel filling on top.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Aut"yum" Pies

Not too long ago, I headed over to Paula's house for a women's night out with other ladies from my Bible Fellowship class.  The whole point of the evening was to let the men take care of the children while we learned new and easy Fall entertaining ideas.  It was a great evening and Paula does a wonderful job of "fast and festive."  That night, she showed us an easy "hand pie" that I want to pass along to you.  But, when I tried it today, I decided that I'd try something new!  I'll share that with you too!

Aut"yum" Pies

1 package refrigerated pie crust
filling; such as
  • mini chocolate chips
  • carmel bits (the new unwrapped, ready-to-use carmel)
  • pumpkin pie filling
  • really, anything that can go in an unbaked pie crust; it just needs to be heated and not cooked
1 egg, mixed well with a bit of water for you egg wash

Unroll the pie crust and cut out in shapes with your cookie cutters, making sure to have an even number of shapes. 

Drop a small amount of filling in the middle of one of the shapes.  Brush the edges with egg wash and top with the matching shape and gently press together, as though you were crimping a pie crust.

Brush top with the egg wash for a nice color and if desired, sprinkle colored sugars on top. 

Bake at 425 in over for 10 minutes or until golden brown and pie crust is cooked thoroughly.

Now -- I tried a new venture and I painted the top crust of each mini pie with food coloring; like you'd find from Wilton or from a baking goods store.  Since I did sunflowers for this trial, it was very easy:  a brown center and golden petals.  I let it dry before assembling the mini pies; following the same steps as above.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Italian Bread Pizza

For dinner in a hurry that is sure to be a pleaser, this is for you! 

Italian Bread Pizza

1 pound mild Italian sausage**
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1 Italian bread loaf, or your favorite French bread
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Remove sausage casings and cook sausage until it crumbles and is cooked thoroughly.  Add onion and garlic (if necessary, add 1 TBSP of the olive oil).  Cook about 5 minutes or until onions are tender; careful not to burn the garlic.  Remove from heat and stir in pizza sauce and Italian seasoning. 

Cut bread in half, lengthwise, scooping out center of bread but leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Fill each bread half with half of the meat mixture, topped with 1/2 of the cheeses on each.  Drizzle pizzas evenly with remaining 1 TBSP olive oil, if desired. 

Bake at 425 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

**If you don't have Italian sausage, substitute hamburger meat or Canadian bacon, or another meat of your choice.

Serve with a Greek salad (Romain lettuce, Kalamata olives, sliced purple onion, Greek dressing) and enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Phirst with Phyllo Dough

I've had the phyllo dough in my freeze . . . then in my refrigerator . . .then back into the freezer . . . and finally, on this last thaw, I decided I had to conquer my fear of phyllo dough!  I searched the recipes and decided I definitely wanted something sweet! This was my attempt . . .and I must say, I'll give phyllo dough another try!  The "phirst" attempt was much better than expected -- it can only get better with practice!


2 tablespoons butter
2 cups (2 medium) apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 pound fresh cranberries
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup dried cherries or raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon

10 sheets Athens® Fillo Dough (9”x14”), thawed
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup almonds, ground
cinnamon and sugar mixture

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add apples, cranberries and sugar. Cook about 5 minutes or until the cranberries burst. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the dried fruit and cinnamon. Let the filling cool.

Cover work surface with waxed paper. Layer 10 phyllo sheets on the waxed paper, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon ground almonds over each sheet as you layer them. Spread filling down the length of the top phyllo sheet, leaving a 2” border. Roll up from the long edge. Do not roll tightly, or strudel may split. Tuck or fold the edges at the ends.

Place strudel seam-down on baking sheet and brush with butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Score top into 6 equal sections. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm (when it's best) or at room temperature.

**I used 1 very large honeycrisp apple.  Because it's a very sweet apple, I cut the sugar to only 1/4 cup.  I used the dried cherries for the tartness rather than raisins and I did not put the cinnamon in the fruit because I sprinkled it on top.  The cooked fruit mixture had a bit more liquid in it than I preferred, so I added about 1 TBSP tapioca to thicken the mixture.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Leftover Salad

We're at that precarious time of the month . . . where I really need to go to the store, but I'm really not wanting to go to the store!  Since I do once a month shopping, I work hard to plan a menu;  incorporating leftovers and large quantity purchasing.  But here we are . . .at the end of the month AND the food!  This is where "instinct" kicks in and we get creative dinners!

Not too long ago we grilled lime marinated chicken and served with Spanish rice and black beans.  It was just so yummy!  Remember, when we grill I always cook a bit extra of the meat.  So today we have left over chicken, cut-up fruit, and some tasty white cheese.  I decided that a "chicken and fruit salad" will be dinner. 

Chicken and Fruit Salad

Left over grilled chicken, chopped
Fruit, chopped (I have apples, strawberries, grapes, and mandarin oranges)
Walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (only if you have them)
White cheese, cubed (mild in flavor and only if you have it)

Combine in a bowl (so that you can see how pretty it all looks) and serve with a poppy seed dressing and maybe a muffin.

Poppy seed Dressing

1/4 cup of milk
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2 TBSP poppy seeds
2 TBSP vinegar

Place in bowl and mix well.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mom's Chicken and Dumplin's

I grew up with my mom making chicken and dumplin's.  I absolutely LOVE this comfort food and it is always my "birthday request!"  This recipe was from my great grandmother, Pearl; matter of fact, the real recipe name is "Pearl's Dumplin's."  I only put the chicken in it because it makes it healthier!  These dumplin's are stick-to-your-ribs kind of good!  They're heavy!  If you like a light, fluffy, biscuit dumplin -- well, I'm sorry!  This dumplin' will keep your wallpaper up when it starts to peel!  If you're going to make a bowl, give me a call and I'll be over by dinner time!

Pearl's Chicken and Dumplin's

1 chicken, boiled, cooled and deboned

Reserve the broth from boiling the chicken and keep warm. 

Add 1 can cream of chicken soup
If you need more broth, add canned chicken stock

In a large bowl mix:

2 cups flour
4 TBSP oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Add enough hot water to make a stiff dough.  Roll on a floured surface and cut into pieces (small pieces, but not tiny!).

Bring broth to a boil.  Drop dumplin's into boiling broth; cover and cook about 10 minutes, or until done**.  Add the cut up chicken meat and heat thoroughly.

**I have to try it to know if it's done -- do whatever test works best for you!

The last time I made these, I tried freezing the left-overs.  There was a tiny compromise to the dish, but not enough to worry about -- it didn't stop us from having it for dinner!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just for Ben

There is a little boy in MadisonGrace's class that I just love!  His name is Ben G.  The other day while I was at school, Ben told me that his mom liked my "website" and that he loved my chicken and noodles!  While on the field trip, we each ate our picnic lunch.  Ben was curious as to what I had for lunch. He told me it looked "delicious!"  When I told him that it was chocolate graham crackers with peanut butter, he said, "OH!  My mom would LOVE that recipe!"  I didn't bother to tell Ben that we had absolutely nothing in our cabinets and this was a make-do kind of lunch!

So!  In honor of Ben . . .and his mother, here is the recipe!

Graham Cracker Sandwich

2 whole sheets of graham crackers; chocolate, honey, cinnamon, or low fat
Peanut Butter

Smear desired amount of peanut butter on one whole graham cracker, top with the remaining cracker.  Enjoy!  Packs well in a ziplock bag and travels well!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stuffed Chicken

Oh, I could put a recipe on here for stuffed chicken . . . but really!  We'd all just look at the recipe and say, "I'm not doin' that!"  But let me tell you about a place where you can GET stuffed chickens and they are great! 

My friend, Kilie, whom I met when we moved to Dallas, introduced me to these things!  She is from East Texas and she got me h.o.o.k.e.d!  Whenever she went back to see her mom, I'd have her bring me several chickens so that I'd have them in my freezer.  They're great for company or for your very own!  Now that Kilie lives in Tennessee, I don't have a "chicken runner" anymore . . .so if any of you get a wild idea to drive to Longview; give me a call and I'll go with you!  I only have one chicken left in the freezer!

The website is  They have several things they're proud of; but I think the bonless stuffed chickens are the main thing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pumpkin Crisp

I just love Fall! The crisp mornings and the beautiful afternoons -- there isn't much that's better than that!  It's also great to pull out those Fall recipes and enjoy some yummy morsels!

My sweet Jackson loves pumpkin . . .always has!  Today he'll be thrilled when he comes home from school and discovers 2 loaves of pumpkin bread, 6 "giant" pumpkin muffins and a pumpkin crisp cake!  That's the recipe I'm sharing today!  This is easy like a dump cake but oh, so much more delicious!

Pumpkin Crisp
1 - 15oz can of pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 box white or yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix the first 5 ingredients together.  Pour into a lightly greased 9X13 pan.  Sprinkle cake mix evenly over mixture; sprinkle pecans evenly over dry mix and drizzle butter over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.  If making your own whipped cream (which is the VERY best!), add a bit of nutmeg in the cream as you whip for a yummy twist!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Green Bean Chicken Casserole

I'll go ahead and say it for you . . .this doesn't sound so great!  But I'm tellin' ya, it's just yummy!  Just ask my kids!  And I'll warn you . . .it doesn't look so hot either!  But serve it in individual ramekins and it looks a bit more appealing.  And you know, anything in a ramekin is just more fun to eat!

I first tried a casserole similar to this from my friend, Kilie.  Her recipe is a bit different, I think, but either way they both freeze just beautifully!


Green Bean Chicken Casserole

1 package long grain wild rice, prepared according to directions
4 cups cubed chicken, cooked
2 cans green beans, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Colby cheese
French Fried Onions

** can add a can of chopped water chestnuts, well drained

To the prepared rice add everything EXCEPT for the cheese and fried onions.  Dump everything into your 9 X 13 pan (or don't forget about those little ramekins).  Sprinkle with the cheese and freeze.

Thaw.  Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Sprinkle the fried onions on top the last 5 minutes. 

If you're skipping the freezer part.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake about 30 minutes.  Add the fried onions the last 5 minutes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Nachos . . .Thanks, Trudy!

The other day, while reading my friends blog, I saw her recipe for "apple nachos."  It sounded so yummy and so easy.  Since it's Fall, officially, I knew that I would "need" to make them . . .and it is ultra convenient that I already had all the ingredients at home! 

Tonight, since the kids were home and Greg was gone, I whipped this up.  Now, it wasn't in lieu of dinner, but it should have been!  I only made 1/4 of the recipe and I cheated on some of the ingredients only for convenience sake!  I'll share that at the end, but for now, here's the real deal, ala, Trudy!

Apple Nachos
36 caramels
1 TBSP water
30 large marshmallows
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 medium tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 TBSP Halloween sprinkles

In a microwave safe bowl, melt caramels with the water; stir until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle with caramel; top with marshmallow mixture . Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Serve immediately.  Serves ?  (Maybe only 1!)

Now, here's my alterations:

1 large apple (honeycrisp, of course! and I left the peel on)
pre-packaged caramel (the one in the little container).  Just heated up a small bit until I could pour it
about 10 marshmallows
1 TBSP or less of butter (melted the m'mallows & butter in a microwave safe bowl, stopping often to stir)
about 1 TBSP of chocolate chips
and a sprinkle of dry roasted peanuts.  Peanuts aren't a favorite of the kids .  . . and I would have rather had chopped pecans, but was too lazy to get them out of the freezer!

This amount was PLENTY for the 3 of us.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banana Cake . . .Just for Jackson

This is how a 12 year old puts candles on his cake!

Jackson turned 12 just a couple of weeks ago and it's a big deal at our house to have your favorite "birthday dinner."  Whatever you want you get!  This year, Jackson asked for my very favorite meal!  He requested chicken 'n dumplin's, green beans, fruit salad, and banana cake!  I was happy to make him happy!

This recipe is from Falls Creek -- when Jackson was a little bitty boy, he and I would go to Falls Creek during the Summer to work in Children's Park.  Mr. Don, who is responsible for food service at the camp, would send Jackson an extra piece of cake to take with him for later. 
 Before we left camp one year, we asked for the recipe.

Falls Creek Banana Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup crisco
4 eggs
4 ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream sugar and crisco -- add remaining ingredients.  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan or 3 round pans.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8oz cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla

Cream cream cheese and butter, gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with the vanilla.  Mix well.  Spread on cooled cake.  This particular recipe doesn't make enough to frost the sides of a 3 tier cake (which is ok with us).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monster Reuben!

On our recent Disney trip, Jackson experienced a Reuben sandwich . . .and he was hooked!  The next day, when he ordered his own and his sister took a bite . . .she was hooked!  The third day, they shared a sandwich.  This only could mean one thing; I would make Reuben sandwiches for dinner when we got home!

I want to share with you our recipe, complete with homemade 1,000 Island dressing.  I don't really care for 1,000 Island dressing so if I'm going to eat it, I at least want it to be worth eating and the store bought stuff isn't really "it" for me.

1,000 Island Dressing

1 cup mayo
1/4 - 1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup dill relish
2 TBSP finely chopped onion
1 hard boiled egg, chopped (I prefer it small chop)
Couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Mix well and refrigerate.

Reuben Sandwiches

Gooey, yummy Swiss cheese!
Dark Rye bread
1,000 Island Dressing
Pastrami (I used turkey pastrami)
Swiss Cheese, grated
Sauerkraut, WELL drained

Butter 1 side of bread with butter.  Lay in pan.  Spread a bit of the dressing on the "clean" side of the bread, top with pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese.  Spread a bit more dressing on another piece of bread and place it face down on the cheese.  Smear a bit more butter on the top of the bread and grill 'til toasty and the cheese is melted.

Begin draining the sauerkraut as early in the day as your stomach can handle!  I opened it and let it drain for about 6 hours.  You want it to be "dry" when you put it on your sandwich.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chick, Chick, Chicken!

For most of us, the thought of a WHOLE chicken is a little overwhelming!  We've become spoiled to boneless/skinless chicken breasts!  I want to encourage you to try a whole chicken!  You may be wondering what you're going to do with the WHOLE thing!  Well, you're going to use it!  Personally, I prefer roasting over boiling.  There are several reasons why:
  1. It's more moist
  2. It's more flavorful
  3. It's easier
When I roast chicken I always do at least 2 at a time and if I'm really ambitious, I'll do 4.  The recipe is simple.

Oven Roasted Chicken

2 whole chicken, thawed
olive oil

This is at the most basic.  Thaw the chickens in the refrigerator.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Before removing chickens from the refrigerator line a large cookie sheet with foil; make sure the pan has a lip on it, otherwise you're going to have a mess!  Place a cookie cooling rack on top of the foil.  Now, remove the chicken from the package, drain them, pull out any parts that are tucked into the cavity, and rinse well with water.  Pat dry.  Pour a bit of olive oil on the chickens and rub around.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking.  Place chickens on cookie sheet and place in oven on middle rack.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until done.  Cool completely.

Once the chicken is cooled, remove skin and de-bone.  Place meat in desired proportions in zip-lock bags and freeze until ready to use.   This is GREAT for casseroles, soups/stews, mixed salads, etc.

Perfectly roasted chicken

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Good Things Come in 3's!

I have been cleaning out my spiral scratch pad -- all those little things that are necessary but not meant to be kept forever!  I found 3 recipes that my family likes and I want to pass them along so that I can throw these papers away!

You'll be sad to see there are no pictures of these delicious dishes.  But trust me!  They're yummy!

Santa Fe Chicken

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. chopped cooked chicken
2, 15-oz cans black beans, drained
24 oz jar thick salsa
1 cup taco sauce
8 corn tortillas
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cojack cheese

Cook onions and garlic in oil.  Add the cooked chicken, salsa and stir well.  (I call this the "chicken mix")  In a 9 X 9 pan, layer taco sauce, 4 corn tortillas, and 1/2 of the chicken mix.  Dollop with some sour cream and 1/2 the cheese.   Repeat the layers, ending with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot. 

If freezing, defrost first before baking.

Chicken Bundles

8 oz cream cheese, room temp.
4 TBSP butter, divided
2 TBSP minced onion
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups cubed chicken, cooked
2 cans crescent rolls

Blend cream cheese, 2 TBSP butter, onion, milk, S&P and chicken together.  Unroll crescent rolls, seperating into triangles.  Fill each triangle with about 1/3 a cup of chicken mixture and bundle up.  Brush tops of rolls with remaining butter. 

Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes or freeze.  Once ready to use pop into the 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Italian Chicken Rolls

8 chicken breasts
8 pieces of ham
8 slices provolone cheese
2/3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup milk

Flatten chicken.  Place 1 ham and 1 cheese slice on chicken and roll up.  tuck ends and secure with a tooth pick. 

In a shallow small bowl add crumbs, cheese and parsley.  Place the milk in a seperate shallow, small bowl.  Dip the chicken in the milk then roll in the crumbs.

Wrap in plastic wrap.  Freeze.  Thaw in refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, spritz with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

If you want to use immediately, skip the plastic wrap step.  Simply spritz with cooking spray and bake.

Serve with pasta and a red sauce.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fruit Tea and Amarta Tea

I absolutely love tea . . . just about any type of tea, except for herbal teas.  I know, I know -- I don't know why -- that's just the way I am!  I have several teas that I just love but this one, called Fruit Tea, is my all-time absolute favorite!  Matter of fact, I have devoured the entire gallon of tea, by myself, in one day!  Honest!  Does it count that I was pregnant?  Maybe, but regardless --it's delicious!

Fruit Tea

7 regular sized tea bags or 4 of the "giant" ones
1 qt. water
1 cup sugar
12 oz frozen lemonade, thawed
6 oz frozen orange juice, thawed
9 cups water

Boil 1 qt. water and steep tea bags.  Add the sugar to the hot water too so that the sugar dissolves well.  Add the juice and lemonade and the remaining water.  Stir well before serving over ice.

Another yummy tea is one that Brenda E. makes, called Amareta Tea.  She made it for my brother and sister-in-law's wedding. 

Amareta Tea

3 TBSP instant tea
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 - 12oz frozen lemonade, thawed
1 TBSP almond extract
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 1/2 quarts water

Dissolve the tea in the 2 1/2 quarts water.  Dissolve the sugar in the 2 cups boiling water.  Combine the two in a large container and add the lemonade and extracts.  Stir well and refrigerate.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Mexican Vanilla Quest

I can't remember which happened first; if Jack and Marsha brought back this incredible vanilla or if I asked them to bring me back a bottle of vanilla.  Either way, I ended up with this giant bottle of clear vanilla and it didn't take long that when I knew they were headed to Mexico I always asked them to stock me up!  Now that my supplier and I don't live close to one another, I've had to try to find it myself!  The quest has been long and disappointing!  I've looked in more Mexican markets than I care to realize, I've looked in up-scale kitchen stores, and I've asked friends!  WHOA!  I finally found Amy; she knew exactly what I was talking about -- it was her favorite too!  The Danncy Clear Mexican Vanilla is perfect -- not only is the vanilla great, but it also has just a smidge of  a cinnamon undertone and it is wonderful in everything you can think of!  Even during the heat of summer I like to put a teensy, teensy drop of the vanilla in my ice cold water for a little change of taste!

Finding it in stores is impossible.  So, if you are making a trip to Mexico you need to be sure to drop a bottle or two of this in your bag to bring home.  The only thing you'll be sorry about is that you didn't bring more!  But, if a Mexican get-a-way isn't in your future, gather up some friends and order some Danncy Clear Vanilla.  (Last time I ordered, I could do single bottles.  When I did a quick glance it appears as thought you can only order a case of 12.) 

Nothing fancy about Danncy!  It looks like a water bottle!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peanut Butter and Brownie Bar

Go!  Go right now and make sure you've got all the ingredients to make this.  I'm serious -- get up, go check, because after you read this, you're going to want to make this, and you're going to say, "Ummm!  This is GOOD!" (just like my Madison Grace did!).

Peanut Butter Brownies with Reese's Frosting

3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour


1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used 1 cup)
1/3 cup peanut butter

Cream the peanut butter, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla together.  Mix in baking powder and soda, salt and flour until well blended but do not over mix.

Pour into a 9 X 9 greased pan.  Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until done.

Let cool a bit.  While cooling, make the frosting.  Melt the chocolate chips, stir in the peanut butter until smooth and pour over brownies.  You can wait until they're cool to cut them -- but why!!  These are delicious warm!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ice Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream!

A few years ago, my friend Sheri Babb asked me to work at Falls Creek in Children's Park.  For dinner, different churches would "adopt" us and feed us our evening meal.  The "city" churches would feed us things like hot dogs, chicken fingers and Sam's brownies.  The "country" churches would feed us homegrown cantelopes, grandma's chicken spaghetti and homemade ice cream!

This ice cream was from one of those "country" church dinners!  It was so very hot this particular week and First Baptist Church, Hammon, OK treated us like family!  There were several flavors of ice cream AND cobbler to choose that night, but I went with the "Frozen Passion!"  Maybe I was really missing Greg or maybe it was just the flavor that hit the spot.  Either way, this ice cream has always been so tasty to me!  It's easy and low-fat!

Frozen Passion

2 cans Eagle Brand Milk
1 medium sized can crushed pineapple
1 2-liter orange soda pop

Chill all ingredients.  Stir the condensed milk and pineapple together and place in ice cream freezer.  SLOWLY (to keep the fizz down) add the orange pop to fill the freezer.  Freeze as normal.

I have a 2 qt. fast freeze so I froze mine in 2 small batches and it worked beautifully!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

I'm just being honest . . . I really don't care for store bought salad dressings.  Oh, there is one brand from the store that I enjoy, but over-all, my preference is homemade.  Making salad dressings are one of the easiest and quickest things to make -- and extremely forgiving! 

This is a new recipe I tried tonight for dinner.

Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
4 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP dijon mustard
2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and chill.  Yields 1 cup.

The darling bottle is done by a friend of mine, Cora.  She sells all kinds of painted glass ware!  Her contact information is:  -- you, too, can enjoy some Glitzy Glass by Cora!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Grape Salad

My mom made this salad for some shindig that we did at her house some time ago and recently I shared this recipe with a friend of mine who was needing a salad to take to a luncheon.  This is an easy, taste good salad that everyone raves about!  If you make and take . . .you better have the recipe with you too!

Grape Salad

8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the above ingredients together until well blended.

4 lbs. seedless grapes (red and green)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Place a layer of grapes in your bowl.  Dollop some of the cream cheese mixture around (don't worry about spreading it out), sprinkle a bit of the brown sugar on top and some of the pecans.  Repeat layers, ending with the cream cheese mixture with the brown sugar and nuts on top.

Refrigerate well (over night works great!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cake Balls!

I'm sure by now you've had the delicious sweet treat called "Cake Balls."  In Oklahoma they've been referred to as "Angel Bites" or "Cake Bites."  Whatever you call them, they're just good!

As always, this is a recipe that you can alter to your taste.  If you have time, play around and get the concoction that tastes best to you! 

Cake Balls
1 cake mix, baked according to directions
1 container ready-made frosting
1 package almond bark (white or chocolate)

After baking the cake, crumble the warm cake into a large bowl.  Add the container of frosting and stir thorougly.  This will make a "goup" of sort!  Use a small cookie scoop and start making the cake balls.  Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator then freeze for 2 or more hours. 

Melt bark according to package directions.

Dip frozen cake balls into melted coating.  Roll in nuts, sprinkles, candies or decorate with additional melted almond bark in contrasting color if desired.  Allow to set up on wax paper. 

Flavor Options:

Birthday cake:  french vanilla cake, cream cheese frosting and chocolate coating.
Red Velvet cake:  chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting and white coating.
Triple Chcolate:  chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and chocolate coating.
W.W.W:  french vanilla cake, vanilla frosting white coating.
German Chocolate cake:  chocolate cake, coconut  and pecan frosting and chocolate coating.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry cake:  strawberry cake, cream cheese frosting and chocolate coating.
Carrot Cake:  Carrot cake, cream cheese frosting and white coating.