Friday, December 23, 2011

Parmesan Puffs

Parmesan Puffs with Marinara
Betty Crocker's picture!

Seriously!  Look at those gems!

They're perfectly delicious!

If you want a great little treat, whether for a get-together or for your family, here's an easy to fix and tasty treat!

I found the recipeon the Betty Crocker website, whipped it up, baked it and took my first bite in less than 30 minutes!

Parmesan Puffs

1/2 cup milk                             
1/4 cup butter                                                                          
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup marinar sauce, heated

Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease cookie sheet.

Heat milk and butter to boiling in 1 1/2-quart saucepan. Stir in flour; reduce heat to low. Stir vigorously about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in cheese. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet.

Bake about 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping.

Makes 30 appetizers


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Warm Reuben Dip

Warm Reuben Spread recipe
Kraft's picture

We had company the other evening and I wanted to serve an appetizer -- but something just a bit different; something out of the ordinary.

Something we had never had before!

(I love doing that!  Trying new recipes on company!)

This recipe popped up in my e-mail and since my entire family loves Reuben sandwiches, I decided we'd give it a try!

I've made it twice this week . . .and I might make it again this weekend!

It's so easy!  I made a few minor adjustments -- the following is the original recipe.  I'll give my changes below the recipe.

Warm Reuben Dip
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup KRAFT Thousand Island Dressing
1/4 lb. sliced deli corned beef, chopped (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup well-drained Sauerkraut
1 pkg. (8 oz.) KRAFT Big Slice Swiss Cheese Slices, chopped
TRISCUIT Deli-Style Rye Crackers


Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix cream cheese and dressing in medium bowl; stir in all remaining ingredients except crackers.    

Spread into a 9-inch pie plate or shallow dish.    

Bake 20 min. or until heated through. Serve warm with crackers.    


1- 8oz package of cream cheese
1/3 cup 1,000 Island dressing
1/4 lb. turkey pastrami, cut on a #12 thickness from the deli, chopped fine
2 cups shredded swiss cheese, divided.  1 1/2 cups mixed into the mixture, the remaining 1/2 cup sprinkled on top before baking
Rye crackers, pita chips, or rye deli bread (the small square bread found in the deli section!)

The first time I baked it.  I prefer it that way because I like the brown-toasty color of it from baking it.  The second time, I warmed it in the crock pot.  The benefit of this way is that it stays warm throughout the evening; a real bonus!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I'm not a tree-hugger or anything like that.

I'm not all into natural, or organic, or tofu, or anything that's remotely weird.

But I do think that when you can make your own stuff, it's just better.

I'm not talking mayonnaise, bath soap, or yogurt.

I'm just talking "normal" basics!

Like granola.

Most things, when you make them from scratch, not only is it tastier, but it's cheaper.

Granola is one of those things that, once you make, you'll never want to buy it again!  For one thing, you'll be eating it for a long time!  One batch will make a substantial amount!

I made a very simple granola the other day.  Both of the cherubs have eaten it every day since!  They enjoy topping their yogurt with the crunch goodness.  I find myself having a scoop for a small snack during the afternoon.  It's just sweet enough to satisfy, without being an overload.

You'll like this recipe because it's very forgiving and it's very adaptable. 


4 cups of old fashioned oats (NOT quick or 1-minute cooking)
1 1/2 cups wheat germ (I used flax seed)
1/2 cup brown sugar
cinnamon to taste (I use a lot of cinnamon because my cherubs really dig it!)
dried fruit; apricots, chopped, craisins, raisins, cherries, blueberries, apples, etc.
chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place oats, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon, fruits and nuts in a large bowl.

Mix oil, honey, and vanilla together.  Pour over the granola and keep tossing until it is entirely coated.  This does take a bit, and it does eventually happen!  I use my hands to get a thorough tossing.

Pour granola onto a jelly roll pan, or the largest pan you have, that's been sprayed with Pam.  Bake for 1-1/2 hours, stirring often so that it won't burn.

Cool and enjoy!

This is great warm! 

*If you want to add chocolate chips, do so after the granola has been cooked and cooled.

**This time around, I used only 1/4 a cup of oil, I used butter rum extract from King Arthur rather than vanilla, and I left out the nuts and chocolate chips.  It all seemed fine to me!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hands Down Easy Craft Project

 Hands down up, this is an easy Christmas
project to do with your kiddos!

We were at a fantastic school when the cherubs
were . . .little cherubs!
The teachers were always creative in the gifts
they had the children make for the parents!

(We're at a great school now, too, but my cherubs
are too old to be making cutesy Christmas gifts for
me and the Mr.!  But I wish they weren't . . .because I'd
still like those gifts a whole lot!)

The above hand towel was from our boy cherub
in 2006.
I love this hand towel.

Every year, I'm so excited to get it out and look
at those sweet little hands!
Aren't they cute?
He was 8 years old.
He was in the 3rd grade when he made it.

The above hand towel was from our girl cherub
in 2010.
I love this hand towel.
Every year, I'm so excited to get it out and look
at those sweet little hands!
Aren't they cute?
She was 8 years old.
She was in the 3rd grade when she made it.
But we were not at the same school when my girl
cherub made this towel.
We made this hand towel at home . . .all by ourselves!
I want you to have a kitchen towel
with sweet little hands too!

Here's what you need:

a clean white kitchen hand towel
(the thin kind work really well)
acrylic paint in red, green, and yellow
star cut out of sponge
a sponge brush
piece of cardboard
clothes pins

Wash the towel and iron.

Stretch the towel over the piece of cardboard, using the clothes pins,
so that paint doesn't seep through the towel onto your
kitchen table -- leaving a small "remnant" of the project,
forever outlined on your wood table.

Place a thin coat of green paint on your child's hand
and press firmly down onto the kitchen towel.
Re-touch the paint after each hand print.
Press firmly down and lift straight up off of the towel.
That is very important!

Rinse and dry hand well.
Place a thin coat of red paint on a finger tip
and allow the child to "decorate" the tree.
If you're a little obsessive, you will tell the child
EXACTLY where to place the dots . . .
by taking the child's finger and physically pressing the print
onto the towel.
If you're not controling  obsessive, you'll allow the child to do
whatever he wishes . . .and it will STILL look wonderful!
Repeat with the yellow paint.

Rinse and dry hands.

Dip the star into the yellow paint and
place on top of the tree.
Allow the towel to dry completely,
usually 24 hours.

Enjoy forever and ever,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

BBQ Pot Pie with Cheese Grits Crust

BBQ Pot Pie is hard to photograph!
I'm trying to show you the thick layer of cheese grits, piled high
on the saucy meat mixture!
Is it working?

I don't know about you, but when I cook a brisket for my family, it seems like we eat it forever! 

I'm good about freezing the leftovers -- but I think it multiplies when it's all bundled up in that ziplock bag in the freezer!

We like brisket, don't get me wrong -- but sometimes it's nice to have a change of pace, even with bbq!

I first tried this recipe in 2003 and we really liked it!

I don't make it much, because truthfully, I forget about it.

But this week, I remembered and I made it and we like it . . . again!

My girl cherub, who said she didn't like cheese grits was the first to ask for it in her lunch for the next day!

Speaking of lunch.  Let me tell you a funny story.

My cherubs usually take leftovers in their lunch a good majority of the time.

I don't know why.

Oh, yes I do.

I'm not a huge fan of leftovers, so if I can pawn them off on the cherubs, in the name of being a "good mom," that just means I don't have to eat them again, and again, and again.

But the other reason, and a very valid one is this:  Can you imagine taking a sandwich for 180 days a year for 12 years?  That's over 2,000 sandwiches!

Me either.

So I think variety in the lunch box is good.

My boy cherub was eating lunch the other day and it happened to be just plain bbq brisket.  I don't remember what else I dumped in his box, but the brisket is what caught the eye of another boy at the table.  Here's the conversation:
  • "Hey, whatta ya eating?"
  • "Brisket."
  • "I wanna know, why can't you just eat crap like the rest of us!"
That totally cracked my cherub up!  He came home and told me and said,
"Mom, I didn't think it was right for me to tell him this is all we had left at the house and that my mom needed to go to the store really bad!"

What does that story have to do with this recipe?  Nothing, really! 

Here's the recipe:

BBQ Pot Pie with Cheese Grits Crust

1 large sweet onion, diced
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups thick barbecue sauce
1 pound shredded barbecued meat*

Sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Gradually stir in barbecue sauce; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until mixture is hot.
Stir in meat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Spoon Cheese Grits Crust Batter evenly over hot barbecue mixture.
Bake at 425° for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and set.

*I use leftover brisket, but you could use pork, if desired.

2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Bring water and milk to boil in a large saucepan; add grits, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper; remove from heat.

Stir about one-fourth of grits mixture gradually into beaten eggs; add to remaining grits mixture, stirring constantly.

Spoon hot grits mixture evenly over hot Barbecue Pot Pie mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.

Taken from:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


During Thanksgiving, we saw all of our cousins! 

These are the grandkids on my side of the family.  There's 8 years
between my youngest cherub and "the baby!"  Oh boy!  Do we have
fun with him!

These are the grandkids on the Mr.'s side of the family.  There are 7 cousins and they are all within 5 years of each other!

The boys are sitting from oldest to youngest.

This is my cherub's only girl cousin! 
Don't misunderstand, they can give those boys a run for their money!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Easy "Canned" Soup

The other night, the cherubs and I returned home from being out of town.

We were in need of a quick meal, as we had to meet the Mr. at a Christmas program at church.

I opened the cabinet doors and starred .  .  .
 . . .we've all been there!  It's miserable!

You stand there wondering, "What can I possibly make with this?"

I looked again and saw a can of fat-free refried beans.

Then it hit me!

Soup!  I've used refried beans in a soup before -- so this time, I'll make a few little changes and it will be all new!

My cherubs liked it -- even took it in their school lunch the next day! 

Easy "Canned" Soup

1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1-2 TBSP oil
2 cans refried beans
1 can rotel, drained
1 can chicken broth

crushed chips
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped onion

In a large sauce pan, heat oil.  Add onion and sautee.  Add in garlic, and heat just a bit to release flavor.

Add beans, drained rotel, spices, and broth.  Stir until well mixed; heating thoroughly.

Ladel soup into a bowl and garnish with chips, cheese, and additional onion.

Serves 6ish!

**The amounts are only suggestions.  If you prefer thicker soup, use less broth.  Want thinner soup . . . more broth!  Don't like onions -- leave them out.  Want it spicer -- add more chili powder.  You don't have garlic -- fine, use garlic powder. 

You get the drill -- have fun trying something new!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peanut Brittle!

A long time ago, there was a lady who made peanut brittle.

It was her "Seasonal Job!"

Once her kids were out of school and she had done it as long as she wanted,
she made her last box of peanut brittle and handed the wooden spoon to me!

Now it's my "seasonal job!"  I've already been perched at my stove this week, stirring and smelling and waiting for the hot syrup to "spin a thread." 

Once it does . . . .

we end up with a table full of thin, golden brittle that has just the right amount of peanuts!

 Box and after box line our kitchen table, ready to be delivered!  The cherubs used to help me get the boxes ready for the brittle.
It's amazing, though, this year they're both so busy with school??!!?! 
However, neither one of them seem to be busy when it's time for a "quality control check!"

Look at that super-yummy, incredibly thin and perfect piece of brittle!

If you're in my area, it's not to late to order peanut brittle!  To order, you can reply to the comment section (or e-mail or call if you have my info!).  I'll be stirring the brittle pot until I run out of peanuts!

If you're up for making your own brittle, here's the recipe.

Peanut Brittle

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups raw spanish peanuts
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 TBSP butter
additional butter

In a large, heavy sauce pan, place the sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat.  Cook until the mixture "spins a thread."  Anything less than this stage give you a very sticky candy. 

Stir in the peanuts and cook until the mixture has a deep caramel color.  Stir continually so that the mixture doesn't burn.  If you are not careful, you will end up with "burnt sugar" with peanuts which has a very bitter taste.

Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla and stir quickly until the butter is completely melted.

Quickly stir in the baking soda until well incorporated.  Allow the mixture to rise in the pan.

Pour the hot mixture onto a large, well buttered board.  As the mixture cools, pull the edges.  If you pull too soon, it won't work.  If you don't pull soon enough, you'll end up with a thick brittle.  This part of the recipe is a "knack" thing! 

Allow to cool completely before storing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Table

For my birthday this year, my mom gave me this beautiful sign.

A friend that she works with made it!
It's on an old cabinet door -- it weights a ton!

I was so excited for the holiday season to come around so that I could put
it on my dining room tablescape!

That's why we have a dining room table -- to decorate, not to eat at!
Matter of fact, sad truth is, we haven't sat at this table in 2 years!


Look at all the stuff on the table -- it'd be such a hassle to move!
So instead, we just decorate it every season and look at it!

I just LOVE this sign and knowing me I'll be using it in different ways all throughout
the year -- not just at Christmas!

My great grandmother simply loved birds, especially cardinals.
I remember as a young girl, going to her house and in her backyard were
lots and lots of bird feeders and we'd watch the cardinals peck away at the food.

My grandmother has been in heaven for nearly 25 years, and I think of Grandmother often,
but never is there a time that I see a cardinalthat I don't think of how wonderful she was!

In honor of Grandmother, I have several cardinals that I put out during the winter months
and thanks to her, I have "be-u-te-ful" winter cardinal dishes too!

I also love my nativity.  My mom and dad gave this nativity to me for our first Christmas
that the Mr. and I were married.

I usually separate out the pieces, because I'm weird that way.
This year, I decided to use only the Shepherd boy and some of the cows.

I really like the Shepherd boy. 
He's one of my favorites.

Back to the piece that caused me to post today --
the Christmas door.

Denise makes these signs.
She's very creative!
You can look at her creative and amazing blog
 .  . . and if you're wanting your very own
special cabinet door, you can order from her!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Candied Bacon

Candied Bacon Bites

It sounds strange, I know. 

But keep an open mind and give it a try before you rule it out!


Some call it "Pig Candy," others call it "Sugared Bacon," but most call it "Candied Bacon."

It's versatile, I think.

"I think" is what I've been doing while I am making this appetizer.

"I think" is what you do when you are cooking 11 pounds of Candied Bacon!

I am cooking enough "Candied Bacon Bites" so that 300 women sample this treat at a holiday event tomorrow night!

"I think" candied bacon will be good:
  • crumbled into a salad
  • a twist for a BLT
  • a toast point with a small scoop of pimento cheese and a garnish of candied bacon
  • cream cheese with a bit of blue cheese mixed in, spread on a cracker with a bite of bacon on top
  • on a turkey, Swiss cheese, and candied bacon sandwich
  • a cream cheese, candied bacon, and apple dip.  I don't know how to make that yet, but I think I might just work on a concoction
 . . . that's all I can say for now, there's bacon in the oven!

Just remember this, when being creative -- "sweet and salty!"  That will help you think outside the box!

Candied Bacon

1 pound thick sliced bacon
Brown sugar
Cayenne or black pepper, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with heavy duty foil and place a cookie cooling rack inside the pan.

Pour a generous amount of brown sugar into a pie plate.  Put just a sprinkle of cayenne or black pepper into the sugar and stir around.

Dredge the bacon in the sugar and pack in onto the bacon.

Place the bacon on the cookie rack and bake until crisp, being careful to not let it burn; 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven.

Remove from the cooling rack and place on a clean cooling rack to cool.

Serve in your own creative style -- or by itself.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Library Brunch Casserole

Image of basket of eggs used from the internet

The other day I walked into the library at school and they were having a breakfast birthday party for the librarian.

It was a very cute idea -- there was coffee, a breakfast casserole and a donut birthday cake! 

I resisted everything at the moment . . .


A friend of mine told me, after the party, that the breakfast casserole was absolutely yummy and I needed to take a bite.

So I did.

I don't like hurting people's feelings!

She was right -- it was so yummy!

So I asked the girl who made it for the recipe.

And you know what?

She doesn't like hurting people's feelings either!

She gave me the recipe!

Yeah, her!

She said it's from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook.  Those are usually good cookbooks, if you haven't heard of them before.  I know the name of the casserole has got be be something different -- but I don't remember, so I renamed it!

Speaking of Gooseberry Patch, here is the website where they post a recipe each week!


Library Brunch Casserole 
4 cups croutons (she used "bacon" flavor croutons, found at Wal-Mart)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs, beaten
4 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp mustard
1 tbs dried, minced onion
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Spread croutons in the bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Set aside.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper, mustard and onion; pour over cheese. Sprinkle bacon
on top; bake at 325 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until set. Serves 8

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 145:7

"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wildrice Harvest Salad

Not long ago I was doing a lunch for a group of ladies and I wanted to serve a cranberry wild rice side dish.

I was researching how to keep rice warm and discovered that it's not really safe to keep rice warm!

Warm rice encourages bacterial growth.

I know -- try not to think about all the times you've eaten "kept warm" rice.  Proof that it was OK is that you're still living -- but I didn't want to be responsible for ladies getting sick!

So I changed the plan and made a cold wild rice salad.

I've never eaten anything like it before and I was kind of creating as I was going.

It actually turned out to be a nice side dish with the chicken.

Later that evening, I even topped a spinach salad with a scoop of the wild rice salad and drizzle poppyseed dressing over it. 

I surprised myself there too!  I liked the way the rice changed the texture of the salad!

Wild Rice  Harvest Salad

1 box of wild rice (no seasoning packet needed)
craisins, to desired taste
1 crisp apple, chopped (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Fuji)
1 can mandarin oranges, "rough drained"
3 TBSP Olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Cook rice until tender.  Drain any remaining water from the pan.

While the rice is cooking, mix the olive oil, lemon juice and honey together.  Depending on the amount of rice you are making, or your own taste preference,you may want to double this recipe.  I was making a large amount and I did the recipe times 4.

While the rice is still warm, add in the desired amount of craisins.  The craisins will plump out from the heat of the rice. 

Refrigerate the prepared rice until ready to serve.  I made the rice and craisins the day before.  Before serving, add the chopped apple and the oranges.  I did a "rough drain" meaning that I wanted some of the juice from the oranges in the rice for added flavor and moisture.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Choice Chicken Casserole

The other day I cooked lunch for a meeting of a small group of women.

When I do this, I usually go with my "stand-bys."  Those tried and true recipes that are easy to prepare and taste great!

But this time, I went out on a limb and made a new casserole . . . and a new side . . . it was a whole new day!

Actually, I'm not afraid to try a new recipe on unsuspecting guests -- it's a great way to see if it's a hit or not!  If you think about it -- when you're having company over, just about anything you make for them is "new."  So whether it's tried and true to you -- it makes no difference to them! 

This casserole, when I was making it, I kept thinking, "ummm, I don't know.  I'm not so sure this is going to be good."  It's a Paula Deen recipe, and normally those are great.  Granted, I often make minor adjustments to them after the first time I cook them, but over-all, they're trustworthy.

But I wasn't so sure with this one . . .

'Til the next day -- when I actually heated the casserole up and served it.

It was great!  I thought it tasted good . .. but the true affirmation that it was a keeper . . .

when women go back to seconds, you know it's good!

I had a bit of left-overs that night and that's what I fed my cherubs.  They scarfed it up!  My boy cherub was inhaling when he said, "Mom, is there enough for me to have this for lunch tomorrow?"
Here's what I like about this casserole -- you have a choice!

That's right, a choice!  You can decide to make it with broccoli OR spinach!  That's kind of exciting, don't you think?  This time around, I did the spinach . .. but next time!  Next time, I'm throwing in the broccoli!

"Choice chicken casserole" isn't the real name -- I took the liberty to re-name it! 

Choice Chicken Casserole

2 10 oz packages of  EITHER frozen spinach or broccoli  (remember, it's a choice!)
6 chicken breasts, cooked, boned, and shredded or chopped

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder (I omitted, I didn't have this spice)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Defrost the veggie of your choice.  Drain and squeeze the excess moisture very well.  Place in a large bowl.  Add the cooked chicken.

In a large bowl combine the soup, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and curry powder, if you have it, and the chicken broth.  Stir well and pour the sauce over the veggie and chicken mixture.  Mix well.

Spray a large casserole dish with Pam.  Pour mixture into pan, or divide into two 8X8 pans.

Combine Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.  Sprinkle mixture on top of the casserole(s). 

Bake for 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

This casserole can easily be frozen!

Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bread Winner!

I've said it before . . .

I am not ashamed . . .

L.O.V.E bread!

I love to make bread -- but that's not the only way to have "good" bread!  You can find some great breads at a local bakery or the deli section of your grocery store . . .

or in the freezer section!

That's right!  The freezer section!

I love these rolls:
You can bake them off and serve them hot, which, by the way, melts your butter just perfectly!  Or, if you need to, you can thaw them out in the bag and dump them into your serving bowl and serve them room temperature.

Which is exactly what I did today!

They are great!  They're moist.  They're tasty. 

And the best part of all -- they're easy!

Right now, I've got 2 thawing out and I'm going to make my cherubs little grilled chicken sliders for their lunch tomorrow! 

That's lunch-box envy, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creamy Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

My family knows that it's time for me to go to the store when we start having "made up meals!"

We're to that point again this month!

It comes around so often!

I had to take my boy cherub to an activity -- but before we left, he ran back in the house.  When he got back in the car he said,  "Dad's gone.  Where is he?"

"Oh, he ran to the store for me."

"Yeah!"  My boy cherub said!

"Oh!  Don't get too excited, he had to get stuff for me to take to lunch tomorrow!"

So, that was my first clue that we're needing stuff -- the boy cherub is noticing!

The second clue is tonight, we're getting a "made up meal."  But using our trusty rating system at dinner, I decided this was worthy to post -- in case you're needing a "made up meal" too this week!

This recipe will drive some of you crazy!  I just started mixing things in, without measuring, going by looks and taste.  You'll have to do the same!  I'll give you a "guess" of how much I used, but remember, it's only a gauge!  Always start with less and add more if necessary -- that's kind of how I do anyway!

Creamy Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

1/2 container of cream cheese spread, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped purple onion
1/3 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup finely chopped cooked ham (or chicken)
4 Hawaiian deli rolls

Combine cream cheese, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and chopped ham in a bowl and mix well.

Place 1/4 of spread on bottom of Hawaiian deli roll and spread to the edges.  Toast the bottoms (with the mixture) and tops of the rolls until golden. 

Serve warm with a side of fruit and some chips. 

Now, my girl cherub, while munching on her new sandwich, said, "Mom, this would be good as a hot dip, with pita chips or something like that!"

There ya go, sometimes a "made up meal" just hits the spot!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing

I heart cranberries!

I've already bought my first three pound bag of cranberries of the season!  It's so exciting!
I've already thought of the many "cranberry" things to make -- and wondered about new recipes!
This is a new recipe.  I'm taking a salad to lunch tomorrow with new friends and wanted something that wasn't expected -- what better than a tart dressing on beautiful spinach greens! 

I'm already excited!

The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of cranberries.  Really!?!?!  Only 1/4 of a cup -- you could hardly taste that!  So, I went a little wild and added more! 
The recipe also called for 1 cup of oil -- but I wanted to add cranberry juice -- one for a little extra punch of tartness and also for color.  So, I reduced the oil significantly and added the juice.  I'm pleased with the changes.  But if you want to fiddle with the recipe -- go ahead, it won't hurt my feelings!

Remember, this has cranberries in it -- so it has a bit of a bite to it -- which I love this Fall season!

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed (original recipe is only 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1-3 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup vegetable oil (original recipe is 1 cup)
1/4 cup cranberry juice (original recipe doesn't include this ingredient)

Puree cranberries in processor until smooth. Add vinegar, onion, sugar and mustard and process until well blended. With processor running, gradually add oil and juice and process until well blended. Transfer to serving container. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deborah's Hot Chicken Salad

Image taken from Taste of Home

A very long time ago, when we were celebrating the arrival of our youngest cherub, I had this hot chicken salad for the very first time at our baby shower!

I love this recipe!  I love the unique taste that the onion juice gives.  I also like that it's "big" enough for a man!  It doesn't look like "sissy salad on a croisant!"  It makes alot, so if your feeding a hungry crowd, it's a no-brainer!  But, if you just want an easy lunch for your family, it can easily be halved.

With the holidays just around the corner . . .and the hassle  hustle of company coming and going, this just might be a life-saver for you!

Deborah's Hot Chicken Salad

8 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. salt
4 cups mayonnaise
5 cups diced celery
3 8oz cans water chestnuts, chopped
1 TBSP onion juice (found on the spice aisle; this is the "secret" ingredient!)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups crushed potato chips

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, EXCEPT for the cheese and chips.  Pour into 2 greased 9 X 13 casserole dishes.  Sprinkle the tops of each casserole with the cheese and chips.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until hot,  at 375 degrees.

Serves 30 for a ladies luncheon.

This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated before baking.  Just don't add the cheese and chips until ready to bake.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Poppyseed Cake

This thick batter turns out to be one delicious cake!


This is a recipe from my mother-in-law.

When the Mr. and I got married . . .
a long time ago . . .
my mom gathered family favorite recipes
from both sides of the families and
put together a cookbook for me!

It's one of my favorite go-to cookbooks
because it has all of the delicious recipes
from our family and friends!

This cake is one of the Mr's favorite!

Poppyseed Cake

1 yellow cake mix
3/4 cup of oil
2 TBSP poppyseeds
1/2 cup of sugar
1 8oz container sour cream
4 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray bundt pan with pam
and sprinkle with sugar, shaking out excess.

Mix  all of the ingredients together, until well incorporated.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake
passes the toothpick test!

Cool for 15 minutes and then release from pan.
Cool completely on rack.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pineapple Pickles

Image taken from the internet

Once a month, different ladies from our church  host all of the minister's wives for a luncheon in their home.  It's a treat and I look forward to it every month.  The ladies who host us treat us to such generous kindness and incredible food.  Because our church staff is so large, sometimes this is the only time some of the wives get to see each other! 

The other day we had our luncheon for November.  As always, the food was delicious!  This particular day, though, I had something that I had never heard of  . . .pineapple pickles!

I put a small spoonful on my plate, next to the chicken.  After one bite I knew I hadn't gotten enough!  It was delicious!  I think this would be good with poultry, ham, grilled shrimp or salmon, or pork loin.  It would be a nice addition to a holiday meal as well!

Pineapple Pickles
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons diced red jalapeno
2 tablespoons diced white onion
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cup chopped pineapple, without juice (can use canned, drain extremely well)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place oil in saute pan and heat.  Add jalapeno and union and saute until tender.  Add all other ingredients into the pan and heat for 3 minutes.  Cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

Who doesn't love caramel popcorn?

Not the gross kind -- that's just kind of all brown color with no flavor?

I'm talking the caramel corn that's perfectly, buttery-vanillay-crunchy popcorn!

The kind that you pour the melted caramel mix over the popcorn, toss to coat, and pop it in the oven on a low temperature to bring out the crunch AND the color!

The kind that you say, "Oh, I'll have just a bit . . . and a bit again . . .and a bit again!"

That's this popcorn recipe!

Caramel Popcorn

2 bags microwaved popcorn, popped and kernels removed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla (or Vanilla Nut OR Buttered Rum from King Arthur!)
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place popped corn in a large pan, such as a roasting pan.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Stir together sugar, butter, syrup, and salt in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. 

Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and baking soda.  Stir until well combined. 

Pour caramel evenly over the popcorn and stir the popcorn around until well coated.  Place coated popcorn on the lined cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Spread on wax paper to cool.  Break into clumps and place in airtight container.


chocolate almond bark, melted

Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of pecan or almonds or peanuts to the popped corn

Proceed as directed:  AFTER IT'S COOLED AND BROKEN INTO CLUMPS,  drizzle the melted chocolate almond bark over the popcorn.  Allow the chocolate to set up before placing in a container.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


My cherub and his friend, Coleman.
My cherub went to the Fall festival
as a middle schooler . .  . creative!
Our little friend went as a "plain cowboy."
"Plain Cowboy" is 5 years old!

There you go!
My cherub and her friend;
"plain cowboy's" big sister!

My cherub has worn this skeleton outfit since
she made it in kindergarten!
I'm going to say that this was the last
year of sporting it out in public!

Her friend was "Princess Elizabeth."
Elizabeth isn't her name  . . .but she
said if she were a Princess, then she'd
be "Elizabeth!" 

After the Fall Festival at church
we came home and changed into different
costumes and went trick-or-treating
in the neighborhood!

Someone asked my cherub if she
was a housewife!
"No, I'm a girl who just got up!"

Walking down the sidewalk, my cherub
said, "I don't even know what a housewife is!"

My cherub stuffed his check full of
sunflower seeds . . .see?

You may wonder why we change clothes?
Because this momma has carried
pieces of "must have" costumes
around one-to-many Fall Festivals
in my lifetime. 

My rule is this:
"if you won't wear it, I won't carry it."
So for many years now, my cherubs have
just worn something fun and easy to
romp around on those bounce houses.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Our own waffles, but the idea came from the blog
"Random thoughts of a Super Mom."
This is what happens when the Mr. looks at blogs!

He gets ideas!

Ideas that he thinks would be fun to do . . .
but then needs my help to do!

Friday, the Mr. saw this on a blog and said,
"That'd be fun to do for the cherubs for breakfast tomorrow!"

Saturday morning breakfast is "His" thing.
Has been since we've had cherubs.

So, on Saturday, I'm trying to look real busy being "comfy" when I hear him say,
"I'm going to need your help!"

Here's where it started:
  • He had no waffle mix; so I had to search for a waffle recipe.  Found one!
  • He didn't really know how to add "my" food colorings to the batter; so I did that too.  Looks pretty close to the real color!
  • He didn't know what he was going to put the different waffle color mixes in so that he could pour the different colors; so I grabbed 2 of my favorite squeeze bottles, with different size tips, so it would make the "pouring" easier!
  • He didn't know where the waffle iron was; so I got on my hands and knees and went to the very back of the cabinet and grabbed the iron.  I also plugged it in to get it warm and I showed him how to liberally coat the iron so the waffles wouldn't stick.

The result:
  • He made great looking candy corn waffles for me and the cherubs Saturday morning . . .along with bacon that he cooked!
The lesson learned:
  • I'm going to keep him away from reading other blogs!

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla nut flavoring from King Arthur)

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.

In a smaller bowl, blend the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla together until eggs are well incorporated.

Slowly add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring well.

Heat waffle iron and cook until waffles are golden brown.

Serve with syrup or your favorite waffle toppings.

This recipe made 8 waffles.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zucchini Soup

WAY back in 2002 we had a tasting party at church. 

If I had more time, I'd explain the tasting party -- but to put it in simple terms; do you know the free samples given at Sam's or Costco on a Saturday? 

Well, it was like that --- but with about 500 women -- all tasting fantastic homemade food on a Thursday evening!  Then, after a wonderful program we were given a cookbook of all the delicious recipes!

Need I say more?

One of the recipes that night, way back when, was from Robyn.  This soup, if I remember correctly, was one that her grandmother used to make!

While I haven't made it this year, just yet, I do think I have a real craving for it!
Which leads me to think that you just might have the same craving!

It's delicious!

Zucchini Soup

6 chicken bouillon cubes
5 zucchini, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cups water
2 carrots, grated
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened and cubed

In a large sauce pan, place the bouillon cubes, zucchini, onion, and carrots.  Bring to a boil and cook about 5 minutes or until veggies are tender.  Stir in the softened and cubed cream cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.

Using an immersion blender, puree veggies to desired consistency. 

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caramel Apples

I love caramel apples.

The big, gourmet ones!

The ones that sit on display, begging you to indulge!

When we're on vacation, that's a temptation I'll succumb too!

There's a little shop in Santa Fe that have the best gourmet caramel apples.

But I don't live in Santa Fe!

Making my own is my task today!

Because Fall is coming . . .

it's been here once or twice, already . . .

and gone . . .

and now it's coming again!

In honor of Fall, I whipped up one, lonely, delicious, caramel apple treat!

I'm kind of picky when it comes to caramel apples.

I like real caramel apples.

Where the caramel is thick and sticks to the apple . . .and my teeth, occasionally!

I like the apples with a little extra splash of chocolate and rolled in something delicious and sprinkled with something fun and drizzled with a bit more goodness!

So tonight, I didn't do all of that -- it's just me, after all!  And you too, but you won't know about it until the apple is gone, then it doesn't really matter.

Tonight is simple!

A thick caramel
covered by a layer of chocolate (I use the chocolate almond bark)
rolled in toffee pieces

I can't wait!

Simple Caramel for Apples:

1 package wrapped caramels, unwrapped OR the caramel bits
2 TBSP milk or water

Place caramel in a pan, over low heat, with the liquid of your choice and stir until melted. 

Amy's Caramel for Apples:
(Amy's is an on-line ordering company:  They're amazing!)

Amounts will vary based on serving sizes.
(Makes about 12 servings)

16oz package dark brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 - 14oz can of unsweetened milk
2/3 cup of dark corn syrup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp dark molasses
1/4 tsp of salt

Put all of the ingredients together and evenly mix and heat until the sugar dissolves and the caramel drips with a creamy buttery appeal. Once completed, dip/roll your own caramel apple varieties!

Whichever caramel you use, the technique is the same:

Dry apples
Popsicle sticks or chop sticks, stuck in the top of the apple

Dip the apple in the caramel and swirl around until well coated.
Place on a silpat or wax paper and allow the caramel to set up a bit.

Melt the chocolate almond bark, melting discs, or chocolate chips.
Quickly, but thoroughly, dip the caramel apple into the chocolate, covering as much of the caramel as your heart desires. 

I desired all of it to be covered!

Quickly roll your chocolate covered caramel apple in anything you wish.

I wished for toffee bits.

Allow the apple to set up completely before you enjoy!