Saturday, December 28, 2013

Barbeque Meatball Sliders

Meatball sliders are a huge hit in my family. I often take them to church functions, where they are always well-received. I usually make Italian style sliders, but a few weeks ago I decided to switch it up for our church business meeting. I didn't stick around for the meeting, but my Hubbie and Dad loved them. My Dad is a pretty picky eater, so it makes me happy when he enjoys my food. These are quick to put together, made with frozen meatballs. You could certainly use your own homemade meatballs, or make my delicious Meatballs. These would be a great addition to any finger food buffet or Super Bowl Party.


24 Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
36 frozen Meatballs
1 cup of your favorite Barbeque Sauce
24 Pickle Chips
6 Slices of Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the frozen meatballs in a large, microwave-safe glass dish. Heat on high until warmed through, about 5-7 minutes. Stop and stir the meatballs about 3 minutes in.
While the meatballs are heating, separate the dinner rolls and slice in half. Place the bottom halves on a baking sheet. Remove the meatballs from the microwave, toss with the barbeque sauce. Slice the meatballs in half. Place 3 halves on each bottom half. 1 meatball just isn't enough for this size roll, and 2 unsliced meatballs creates too much of a mess. Cut each cheese slice into 4 pieces. Top each slider with a cheese slice and a pickle chip. Put the top half of the rolls on. Place in the oven untilt eh cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Stack on a platter and serve.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Egg in the Hole

I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas! Here is an easy and scrumptious breakfast to enjoy. If you still have out-of-town guests, pull out that griddle and make this one-dish breakfast.

Growning up, I had a baby-sitter who often made these for us for breakfast, she called them Chicken in a Basket. I always loved them. My Hubbie and son love these for breakfast. My Hubbie remebers his Mom making these when he was a child, instead of cutting the hole with a biscuit cutter, like I do, his Mom let him bit the middle out. I may let my son try that when he's older. He's only 2, and a carb lover, I don't think he'd be happy about having to hand a piece of bread back. This is a very simple breakfast to make, and if you have a large griddle, you can make several at a time.

Ingredients: I usually make two for my Hubbie and one each for my son and I.

4 slices of bread
4 eggs
4 TBS Butter
salt and Pepper

Preheat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Butter both sides of each slice of bread. Use a biscuit cutter to cut a hole in the center. Don't discard the removed bread. You'll be toasting that up too, it's my favorite part.

Toast the bread and the removed portions on the griddle until medium brown and crunchy, flip. Place a small amount of butter in the open hole of each slice of bread, crack 1 egg into each hole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and cook until the whites are just set for a runny yolk. If you like a firmer yolk, cook a minute longer. Remove from the heat, use the reserved piece to pierce the yolk, and enjoy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chai Spiced Citrus Tea

I made a pot of this for us to sip while watching Christmas movies a few nights ago. I had intended to made a recipe I had been given for old fashioned Russian Tea, not the instant powdered stuff, but a recipe that sounded absolutely lovely. However, I was out of oranges, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks, and I didn't want ground up spiced floating in the tea, so I improvised and came up with my own recipe with what I had on hand. My Mother-In-Law gave me a tin of delicious loose-leaf Chai Tea last time she visited, it was awesome in this recipe.

6 Cups of Boiling Water
3 Black Tea Bags
3 TBS Loose Leaf Chai Tea, or 3 Tea Chai Tea Bags
1 Cup of Water
1/4 Cup of White Sugar
the Juice of 4 Tangerines (you could use oranges)

Steep the black and chai teas in the 6 cups of boiling water for 8-10 minutes. While steeping, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove the tea leaves and tea bags, pour the sugar water into the tea, add the tangerine juice. Stir and enjoy.

We really enjoyed this tea. My Hubbie has requested a steady supply in the house until Spring.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pecan Clusters

These Pecan Clusters are so easy to make. With only 3 ingredients, they are truly more than the sum of their parts. Everyone in my family enjoys these, even my two year old. They're a delightful addition to any gathering, or as a treat for a super sweet Hubbie. Don't skip the toasting step, it's mostly hands off and it really brings out the flavor of the pecans.


3 cups of Pecan Halves
3 TBS of Butter, I use salted
12 oz Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 300 °. Scatter the pecans on a baking sheet. Dot with the butter. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Line a baking sheet or large cutting board with waxed paper. Place the chocolate in a large microwave safe glass bowl, microwave on high for 1 minute, stir. Continue microwaving at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until melted. Stir in the pecans. Drop by the spoonfuls onto the waxed paper. Allow them to set and enjoy.

How gorgeous are toasted pecans?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reindeer Crunch Snack Mix

I made up this snack mix to enjoy while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for Family Night. We all agreed it was a hit, and I plan to make it for our Christmas Eve get-together. Santa Claus comes through our neighborhood on a firetruck. It is a tradition we had in my neighborhood growing up, and one I am glad I can continue with my son.

This snack mix is sweet, salty, crunchy, fruity, chocolaty, you know, delicious. You can buy a bag of caramel corn instead of making your own, but I think it tastes way better this way. Also, I have fond memories of making caramel corn with my Mom as a child, and it makes me feel nostalgic to make my own. I use the Karo recipe, just like my Mom did, it's fool-proof. I'll include it in the ingredients and instructions, but here is a link Karo Syrup - Classic Caramel Corn


For the Caramel Corn:

8 cups of popped popcorn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Corn Syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter OR margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

For the Snack Mix:

1 Recipe Caramel Corn
2 cups of small Pretzels
1 cup of toasted Pecans
2 cups of Mini Marshmallows
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of chocolate Chips
1 large paper grocery bag


For the Caramel Corn:
Spray a large shallow roasting pan with cooking spray. Add popcorn and place in preheated 250°F oven while preparing caramel.
Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.

Boil 5 minutes WITHOUT STIRRING. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.(Mixture will foam)

Pour syrup mixture over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Cool; break apart. Reserve foil-lined baking sheets for the next step.

To Make the Snack Mix:

Place the cooled caramel corn, pretzels, pecans, marshmallows, and cranberries into the paper grocery bag. Shake to combine. Spread mixture out on the reserved baking sheets.

Place chocolate chips into a microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, return to microwave and cook on high for 30 second intervals until melted. This usually takes me 1.5 - 2 minutes depending on how cold it is. However, it is very important to stir it every 30 seconds, and stop heating it as soon as it is melted.

Use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate over the snack mix. You can let it cool, then break it up. Or you can place the snakc mix back into the bag as soon as you drizzle it with chocolate and shake shake shake to get the chocolate more evenly distributed, which is what I did.

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Hot Chocolate

I made this white hot chocolate as a treat for my family's Frosty the Snowman theme night. It was delicious. I had some leftover that I re-heated the next day. It made a perfect accompaniment to my Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Both of these should defintely make an appearance at your holiday table or cookie swap.

White Hot Chocolate

4 cups of whole Milk
8 oz White Chocolate Chips, I used Ghirardelli brand.
1 tsp Vanilla Extract,
Optional Topping Ideas: Whipped cream, marshmallows, crushed candy canes, cinnamon

Heat milk and white chocolate chips in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Ladel into mugs, add desired toppings, and enjoy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Movie Theme Nights: Frosty The Snowman

Sorry for the terrible pictures, all of them were taken with my iPhone. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this time of year. Christmas is such a special time of year for me. I have wonderful memories of family get-togethers, baking cookies and making fudge with my Mom, seeing Santa Claus on the Fire Truck every Christmas Eve, dancing the 12 Days of Christmas. My family had a lot of traditions growing up, these are just a few. I'm continuing several of them with my son, and adding some of our own.

One thing we started this year and we plan to continue is a Christmas movie theme night. Last Saturday was our first time, and we did Frosty the Snowman. My Hubbie got me a box set of animated Christmas classics last year, so that is what I will be using while my son is young. He LOVED Frosty. We started the day with Snowman shaped pancakes, which I didn't get pictures of, basically 3 different sized pancakes, cooked close together so they combined. Then we decorated them with chocolate chips. It was fun. That evening we had snowman-shaped white pizza for dinner and we enjoyed white hot chocolate during the movie. It was a lovely time, and all of us enjoyed it. It wasn't anything fancy, since I pulled most of it together last-minute with things I already had on hand. My snowman pizza is rather plain compared to those on Pinterest, but it was delicious.

I did get this picture on my cellphone of my son decorating a pancake for Daddy.

For the Snowman Pancakes I used my fabulous Cake Flour Pancakes recipe.

For the Snowman Pizza:
I used half of the dough my recipe makes to make this snowman. It was barely enough for 3 people. I'd suggest making two or more if you have a larger family, or serve a soup or salad with it.

Per Snowman:
1/2 recipe of my Pizza Dough
1 cup of ricotta cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced, or grated
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
Parmesan (optional)
black olives

Preheat the oven to 400.
Roll about 2/3 of the dough out into a 10 inch round
Roll the remaining dough into a 6 inch round.
Place them on a baking sheet so the bottom of the smaller round is touching the top of the larger round.
Mix the ricotta and garlic together, spread onto both rounds, leaving about 1/2 an inch of border. Top with mozzarella, I didn't measure, but I used quite a bit. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if you like. Slice olives in half and use them to create eyes, mouth and buttons. Bake 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. Check at 12 minutes, and then every couple minutes after that.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mom's Recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my Mom's recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It makes the most perfect chocolate chip cookies in the world. I do not like crispy or crunchy chocolate chip cookies. These are moist and soft and just delicious. It is based off of a recipe that used to be on the back of Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding, but she has changed ingredient quantities and perfected it. I tried the original recipe once, the cookies didn't hold a candle to these ones. I've never met anyone who didn't love these cookies. She makes them for church functions almost every month, they are always gone, and people are constantly asking for the recipe. I love them so much, I had her make them as the favors for my wedding and I put them down in little gift boxes and tied them with ribbon. I prefer them without walnuts, but most people love the addition of walnuts, so I included them in the recipe. My Mom only makes one pan without walnuts, for my sister and I to share, the rest get the nuts. Excuse the terrible iPhone pictures. I didn't have my camera with me and I knew there wouldn't be any leftover for me to take home and photograph.


  • 3-½ cups Flour
  • 1-½ teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1-½ cup Butter
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 box Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix, 3.5 Oz
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla
  • 3 whole Eggs
  • 3 cups Chocolate Chips
  • 2 cups Chopped Walnuts (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350.
    Mix flour and baking soda together set aside.
    Mix butter, brown sugar, pudding, sugar, vanilla and eggs until smooth.
    Slowly add flour mixture until well blended.
    Add chocolate chips and walnuts.
    Spoon dough into cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes (cookies will be soft). Cool on wire rack.

    Very important: the cookies will not look browned, you don't want them to. We found that baking for 10 minutes, checking, and then baking for 1 more minute makes them turn out perfectly. When I set a timer for 11 minutes, they were too done. Weird, I know.

     Make these for your family today. They would also be perfect for a Christmas party (or ANY party). My Mom has actually made the dough, put it in a container, and taken it to people around Christmas time, so they can bake cookies at their leisure.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    Natural Oven Cleaning

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I've only cleaned my oven a few times this year. It had been in need of it for a couple of weeks, and I kept putting it off. Then, last week I had no choice but to prepare Thanksgiving side dishes in it and in the process I made even more of a mess.

    So, yesterday I searched Pinterest for DIY natural, yet heavy duty, oven cleaners. I found several recipes, most very similar to what I normally use, which is a combination of Dawn Dish Soap, Baking Soda, and water. I slather it on, let it sit, then spray it with vinegar and scrub clean. It generally works very well, but my oven was REALLY bad. I found a tip that said to use salt and dish soap. So, I combined my usual recipe and the salt to make a new one. It worked really well, it didn't get everything, but my oven had some pretty badly burned on spots. I think Sweet Potato Casserole was the culprit. Burned on sugar is the worst!

    If your oven isn't absolutely horrible, I think this recipe will work quite well. I will probably end up using the self-cleaning function on mine. I jsut hate doing it because it aggravates my lungs. It's the same reason why I don't use oven cleaner. It works really well, but two years ago I accidentally burned my lungs with chemicals while cleaning, and ever since then I have been super sensitive to cleaners.


    1/4 cup baking soda
    2 TBS salt
    1 TBS dish soap
    enough warm water to make a thick paste

    This is my oven before, plese don't judge me. Use a rag to apply cleaner all oven the inside of your oven, laying it on fairly thickly oven the worst spots. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, spray with vinegar, and use a gentle nylon scrubber to clean up. Use a rag and plenty of water to remove all traces of the cleaner. This is after.

    If anyone has any suggestions on how to remove those last bits, I'd love to hear them. I've thought about trying the Norwex cleaning paste, as I've heard good things, but I've yet to actually look into it.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Sour Cream Biscuits

    I've seen several recipes floating around the internet for biscutis using sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream. I already have a biscuit recipe that I adore; but since I had scant amounts of all three of those ingredients in the fridge, I figured I'd use them to make some biscuits. They had excellent flavor and were very tender.

    2 cups of AP flour
    3 TBS Corn Starch
    3 TBS Baking Poder
    1 tsp Salt
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    4 oz cream cheese
    1/3 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup cream
    2 TBS melted butter

    Preheat oven to 350. Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and stir with a whisk to combine. Mix the cream cheese and sour cream, and 1/4 cup of the cream together, add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, adding more cream as needed for the dough to come toghether. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutters or a glass. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.

     These were delicious topped with scrambled eggs with green chiles.

    We also LOVED them topped with my homemade Apple Butter!

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Roasted Turkey

    This turkey is easy and comes out deliciously moist and succulent. Start it today and have it ready to go in the oven Thursday morning.

    1 turkey
    Kosher Salt
    2 tsp Seasoning Salt

    1 stick Softened Butter
    Optional: 1 TBS Finely chopped herbs such as sage, thyme, marjoram, etc. You could also add lemon zest or minced garlic, if you won't be using the dripping to make gravy, or if you don't mind the flavors in the gravy. I wouldn't mind a hint of garlic in the gravy, but I don't think I would enjoy the lemon.

    Remove giblets and neck bone, set aside. Rinse the turkey inside and out and dry with paper towels. Set it in a roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet. Loosen the skin on the turkey and sprinkle the meat and inside cavity with 2 teaspoons of seasoning salt. Sprinkle kosher salt on the outside of the turkey. Cover the roasting pan with a large bag such as an oven bag or large shopping bag. Place it in the fridge.

    The night before you will be serving the turkey remove the bag, and allow the turkey to sit uncovered in the fridge. Just move produce away from it. This will help to dry out the skin, which will make it nice and crisp.

    An hour and a half hours before your turkey needs to be in the oven, remove it from the refrigerator. Rinse it with cold water to remove some of the salt, and dry it with paper towels. Place it in a roasting pan and allow it to sit at room temperature, so the skin wont burn before the meat is warm enough.

    At this time or right before going into the oven, mix the butter and the herbs, if you are using them. Rub half the mixture all over the turkey, and up under the skin. I use a combination of sage and thyme and it is delicious.

    Preheat the oven to 425. Place the turkey in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes.

    Baste with the pan juices and a little of the remaining butter/herb mixture.
    Turn the temperature down to 325 and roast until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.

    Baste with the pan juices every 30 minutes. The last 45 minutes, baste every 15 minutes with the butter mixture and pan juices.
    Cooking time after the initial high heat roast took about 2.5 hours for my turkey, but please gauge doneness by the temperature, not the time.

     Seriously, how gorgeous is this turkey?

    Let it rest, tesnted with foil for at least 30 minutes before carving.

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Cabbage Rolls

    These are so delicious and perfect for a chilly evening. This is the kind of meal my Mom would say "sticks to your ribs". Cabbage Rolls are simple food. They're made from easily found ingredients, and they're inexpensive. They do require a little bit of work, but it's actually not much. My favorite Cabbage Rolls are the Romanian kind, which are made with sour cabbage, but it is difficult to find anything that "exotic" in my small town. I plan to try to locate sour cabbage, or make my own so that I can make them and share them here. I also plan on making German Cabbage Rolls this winter and sharing them here.

    1 head of Cabbage
    3 TBS Salt

    1 cup uncooked White Rice
    1 lb Ground Beef (or turkey, pork, veal, etc)
    1/2 an Onion, diced small
    1 Carrot, grated
    1 Garlic clove, grated or minced tiny
    3 dashes of ground Cloves
    1 TBS Paprika
    1/2 tsp Salt
    1 tsp Pepper

    1 28 oz can of tomato sauce
    1 TBS Paprika
    1 tsp Pepper
    1 small can of Sauerkraut

    Rinse cabbage and remove 4 outermost layers, set aside. Chop off the stem of the cabbage, and use a knife to remove the core. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, return to a boil, add cabbage. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook 10-15 minutes, until the leaves begin to separate.

    While the cabbage is boiling, prepare the filling, chop the onion and garlic pretty small, so the filling isn't chunky. You want it to be homogenous. Just combine all of the ingrentients in a large bowl. I use my hands. If you're averse to touching raw meat, you can do it the hard way and, use a spoon.

    When the cabbage is nice and tender, remove it from the water and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, carefully remove the leaves. I've found that using a pair of kitchen shears to cut the stem of the leaf helps to remove them without breaking them. ------------------->

    Now, get yourself set up somewhere comfortable. I actually sit at my kitchen table to roll the cabbage rolls, since I usually make more than one batch. I know a lot of people have trouble folding the cabbage so the rolls don't fall apart, so I prepared a little photo tutorial. Please excuse my grody nail polish.

    Hold the leaf in one hand and add a spoonful of filling to the center. Fold the bottom up, fold the side over, then fold the other side over, nice and snug but not too tight, since the rice will exand during cooking. Repeat. I get about 20 rolls from 1 head of lettuce and this amount of filling. If Ihave leftover filling, I just add it to th sauce. The rolls will be different sizes since the leaves get smaller as you work your way inward. It's no big deal. Look at all of these beautiful cabbage rolls, time to get them cooking!

    Tear the outer layers that you set aside earlier into pieces. Put them in the bottom of the pot and cover with the sauerkraut. Put half of the cabbage rolls on top of the sauerfraut. Top that with half of the sauce. Add remaining cabbage rolls, top with the rest of the sauce. Add water until you see it on the sides of the rolls. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for two hours. I like to physically turn the pot a quarter turn every 20 minutes, so the cabbage leaves on the bottom don't burn. Make sure the liquid remains simmering, add more if it evaporates. After two hours, check for tenderness and enjoy.

     Cabbage rolls really don't have much going for them in the looks department, so it's a darn good thing they taste so good. They are hard to photograph in a flattering light, but don't let that keep you from trying them.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Chicken and Brown Rice Soup

    It got chilly here this past week! I roasted a chicken earlier in the week, and I had some leftovers, so I used them to make a delicious soup to warm us up. It did the trick. My son and I had been sick for a few days, and chicken soup is so good when you're sick. My Hubbie is not usually a fan of brothy soups, but he loved this. Also, this soup is a nice option to serve if you or someone you're feeding is ding the gluten-free thing. You can also substitute leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for the chicken to use up some leftovers.


    8 cups of chicken stock (I used homemade, and you can find my recipe here)
    1 cup of uncooked brown rice
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated on a microplane
    2 carrots, sliced into coins
    3 stalks of celery, chopped
    2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 tsp pepper
    Salt, to taste. If you're using canned broth or bouillon cubes, you won't need to add much, if any. Since my homemade stock doesn't contain salt, I added nearly 2 teaspoons.
    Optional: 1/4 cup chopped parsley

    Bring the stock and bay leaves to a low boil in a large pot, add brown rice and continue to simmer. I like to get this going and then start chopping the veggies. Once the veggies are chopped, add them to the pot, and return to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for 20 minutes. After minutes, add the chicken and simmer 10 minutes. Check the carrots and rice to ensure that they are tender. Add seasonings and optional parsley, tasting as you go to make sure it is seasoned enough.

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes

    I prepared these to go with a roasted chicken for dinner the other night, it was already dark, and the lighting in my kitchen is not good, so please excuse the funky pictures.
    I've been trying to develop side dishes for Thanksgiving that are just a little bit different. I like to take a classic dish or ingredient and give it a little twist. I make a mean sweet potato casserole, but I prefer to enjoy them adorned with savory seasonings. My husband is not a big fan of sweet potatoes, but he gobbled these up and asked for more. They were so simple to make, and delicious. I plan on bringing them to my family's Thanksgiving dinner as a lighter option. (I'll also make a traditional sweet potato casserole, of course).

    2 Sweet Potatoes, chopped
    1 Onion, diced
    1 TBS Olive Oil
    1 TBS Chili Powder
    1 tsp Salt
    1/2 tsp gound Cumin
    1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper, only if you like spicy food

    Preheat oven to 400. Combine chopped sweet potato and diced onion in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices. Toss to combine. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes. Flip them about halfway through cooking.

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    The Best Marriage Advice I've Ever Received

    People love to give marriage advice, don't they? We've heard it all before. "Don't go to bed angry", "Always be the first one to say sorry". There's several pearls of wisdom floating around that may or may not be helpful. I'm going to share a piece of truly sage advice that I often think of in the midst of a rough day or season in my marriage. I can't say that I've always followed it, but I can say that when I decide to hold my tongue, or repay hurt with grace and kindness, it makes dealing with the situation a whole lot easier. It keeps me from making it worse, and it speaks more to my husband than an hour of angry yelling ever could.

    The best marriage advice I've ever received came from my Father-In-Law, before we were ever married. My In-Laws will be celebrating 34 years of marriage in a couple of weeks, and they still like each other quite a bit, so I think he's pretty qualified to offer advice. He told us "I've learned that I can't control the way Mom treats me or talks to me, all I can control is how I respond and how I treat her". Though I've never seen them fight, I know they must have disagreements, so I assume this has worked well for him.

    I can think of so man times in my marriage when showing this grace would have been so helpful. I can think of so many hurtful things I have said that could have been avoided by holding my tongue or thinking for a minute to find a way to voice my grievance without shouting, or using hurtful words. This applies to all relationships, but I think it is exceptionally important in marriage.

    I would like to challenge everyone who reads this to try it with their spouse the next time they have a disagreement or your spouse does something that hurts you. Show grace when they mess up. It won't be easy, and it is not a fix-all, but I have experienced the blessings it can bring.

    Please note, I am NOT advocating that anyone who is being abused in ANY way not seek help or remove themselves from the situation. If you or your children are being abused in ANY way it is not ok, please seek help. It is available.

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Stabilized Whipped Cream

    This was the first time I had made the stabilized whipped cream, so I wasn't sure how it would work or if it would make it taste different. I am happy to say it worked great and there was no difference in flavor. I intended to take pictures of it, but I dropped the dish of whipped cream I had set aside before I could. However, I did have a slice of pie left over, and 24 hours later, my dollop was still perfectly shaped, there was no weeping or melting of the cream, and it still tasted great.

    The season of pie is upon us! I adore pie, this time of year, pumpkin is my favorite. I recently posted a recipe for a delicious Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, which I think should be on every Thanksgiving table this year. No custard based pie is complete without whipped cream, and let's face it, even fruit pies are only enhanced by its presence. I'll be the first to admit that I will shamelessly top my pie with the stuff from the can, if that's all that is available. I just think homemade is sooo much better, and it is sooo simple to make. Also, you can customize it. You can add various extracts or even booze to create a custom whipped cream to compliment your dish.

    Most of my desserts are made for church potlucks, and my whipped might be used to top desserts other than the one I brought, so I usually just stick to adding a little vanilla, since its flavor won't adversely affect any dessert. Also, our potlucks are after church service is over, so in that in addition to our 30 minute commute, means my whipped cream is sitting for at least 3 hours, and that's if I make it immediately before leaving my house. Sure, whipped cream that has lost a little of its volume still tastes good, but I wanted it to still look good. I searched the internet and found several methods, but this one seemed to be the most popular, so I tried it. Most of the methods didn't contain recipes for the whipped cream itself, so I'll include my recipe and the method.

    I sweeten my whipped cream, but I've noticed a lot of people don't, so feel free to leave the sugar out if that's your thing. Just warn me before I eat it. When we traveled to Germany in 10h grade, my friend and I went to Starbucks and ordered our usual drinks with extra whipped cream, we were unpleasantly surprised to discover it was unsweetened.

    This recipe yields about 2 cups of whipped cream.


    1 cup of heavy cream, very cold
    4 TBS powdered sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    The above ingredients are for the whipped cream, and are all you need if you don't want to stabilize it.
    1 tsp unflavored plain gelatin powder
    1TBS water

    Pace your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 5 minutes prior to making your whipped cream. 
    I make whipped cream in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It can be done with a hand mixer or even a whisk and some elbow grease, if you're into that sort of thing

    Place gelatin powder in a small microwavable bowl, add water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds and allow to come to room temperature, about 5 minutes.

    Mix the cream, sugar, and vanilla together and pour into the chilled mixing bowl. Whip on medium speed until soft peaks form, this takes about 2-3 minutes in the KA on speed 4. If you are adding the stabilizer, turn the speed down to 2 and slowly drizzle in the gelatin mixture, then kick it back up to 4 for a minute or two until you have medium-stiff peaks. If you are just making plain whipped cream, don't turn it down, just let it go on 4 until you have stiff peaks.


    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Orzo in Asiago Cream Sauce

    I made this for lunch, and it was delicious. If I were serving it for dinner or for company I would add things like sauteed mushrooms, pancetta/ham/bacon, caramelized onion, and a crumb topping. This is a great base recipe that I will definitely use to create more elaborate dishes in the future. You can use any type of pasta you like, I had orzo and lasagna noodles on hand, so I went with orzo. Farfalle (bow ties) would be my first choice.

    1 lb dry Pasta, prepared al dente.
    1/2 TBS Olive Oil
    1 Garlic clove
    2 tsp Italian herbs
    1 1/2 cups Cream
    1/2 tsp Black Pepper
    1/8 tsp Nutmeg
    1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
    Salt to taste

    Optional Baked Topping:
    1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    1/4 Cup shredded Asiago cheese

    Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, chop of grate garlic on zester and add to oil. When the garlic in fragrant, add the herbs. When the garlic is lightly golden, add the cream. Heat through and add the pepper and nutmeg. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Asiago cheese. Taste and add salt accordingly. Serve as is or put it in a casserole dish, combine the Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, sprinkle over the pasta, and pop under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. (Am I the only one who picture Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias during the Cuppa Cuppa Cake scene when I read the words "golden brown and bubbly"?) Enjoy! I served mine over steamed broccoli in an attempt to feel better about eating pasta, cream, and cheese for lunch.

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie

    I love Pumpkin Pie! I made one a few years ago following the recipe on the Libby's can, and it was good, but it wasn't as good as Costco's, so I never made one again. I've seen a couple of recipes floating around for Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie, but all of them called for evaporated milk, and I wanted to try something completely from scratch. I kept the recipes in mind, and last Friday when I decided to make homemade apple butter for the first time, I decided I would make an Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie for a church potluck on Sunday. I thought about making the pumpkin puree myself, since it is so easy, but I couldn't find any decent pie pumpkins. So, I used a can. It's even easier, and their is less water content than if you make it yourself, so it takes some of the guesswork out of the process. No worrying about a pie that won't set, or soggy crust. I got a lot of compliments on this pie. We did have 2 pieces left over, and they were even better the next day. I think this pie would make an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving table. It's also easy enough to be a special treat weeknight Fall dessert for your family.

    1 - 9 inch pie crust
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1 TBS cornstarch
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/8 tsp cloves
    1 cup of canned pumpkin
    1 cup of apple butter
    1/4 cup of brown sugar
    3/4 cup of milk
    2 whole eggs
    1 egg yolk

    Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the pie crust dough into your pie dish and prick several holes with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes. This is called blind baking and it helps to keep the crust from getting soggy. Remove the crust from the oven.

    To make the filling, place the white sugar, cornstarch, and spices in a large bowl, stir to combine. When making liquid fillings like this, combining the spices with the sugar before adding the wet ingredients helps ensure that the pieces get dispersed throughout and that they don't clump together.

    Add the the pumpkin and apple butter to the sugar and spice mixture, stir to combine. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk into the milk. Add this to the rest of the filling and stir until smooth. The extra egg yolk helps keep the filling from cracking.

    Pour the filling into the pie crust. Place the pie onto a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Though I've never had it happen with a pumpkin pie, pie fillings can sometimes bubble up and over, and I hate cleaning my oven, it's much easier to clean a baking sheet.

    Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes. The filling should be set and no longer jiggly in the middle. Let it cool on the counter for an hour or so, and then place it in the fridge to cool completely. No pumpkin pie is complete without some whipped cream!

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    Back From a Break

    I've hardly blogged at all the last 3 months or so. Life has been busy, I've been feeling inadequate, so many things going on. I love blogging, I love to cook and share my recipes and ideas with the world. I find it therapeutic. You see, acts of service is my love language, and cooking is one of the main "services" I like to show my love for my family through. I'm disappointed I let negative feelings keep me from sharing my recieps here for the last few months, because I have discovered and prepared so many delicious meals during this time.
    So, I'm back from my break, ready to share my recipes, but I also feel that God is leading me to share other things. My story, His work in my life, encouragement for other women. So, I will be sharing more personal posts in the future. I am nervous, because so much of my past is not anything to be proud of, but it speaks to God's amazing grace and forgiveness. If I can help or inspire even one other woman, the temporary uncomfortable feeling will be worth it.

    God Bless,


    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Chicken & Vegetable Soup

    It is officially FALL! It is my favorite season. Really I love October - December for the weather and all of the festivities and family togetherness. Being outside is actually bearable here in the Fall. Alabama summers are miserable. The humidity kills this California Girl.

    I had every intention of making this soup on Sunday, the first day of fall and making cookies to kick off the season. However, as we were standing in the kitchen discussing what kind of cookies we should make, I noticed one of our upper cabinets was nearly falling off the wall. We rushed to clear it out, and it was a race because it was getting worse by the second. It turns out the builders missed the stud on one side when they were screwing it in. So, we spent the evening at the hardware store and repairing and rehanging the cabinet. We had microwave dinner from the frozen aisle of the store. Not my idea of delicious.

    However, this stew most definitely IS my idea of delicious.Chock full of veggies and chicken. It warms the soul. I had been feeling a little sick for a few days and this definitely helped. 

    Chicken Stew

    4 celery ribs, chopped
    5 carrots, sliced into coins
    1 yellow onion, diced
    2 cloves of garlic, chopped
    2 red potatoes, diced
    1 cup frozen peas
    6 cups of chicken broth. (Here is my recipe for  Homemade Chicken Stock)
    1 bay leaf
    Salt and pepper
    Optional seasonings, I tend to season differently every time, depending on my mood or what I have. Some of my favorites include:
    Rosemary, thyme, sage, red pepper flakes, dill

    1lb chicken meat

    2 TBS oil or fat

    Place veggies, bay leaf, desired seasonings, and broth in crockpot. Turn to high.
    Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Brown chicken in oil. Add to crockpot. Cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW all day. Remove chicken, chop or shred the meat. Add to stew, check for seasoning, 
    and serve.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    Screamin' Chicken aka Sriracha Chicken

    My husband and I adore Sriracha sauce, only, he doesn't call it that. One of his best friends is Thai, and of course, they always have Sriracha in their house, but my husband could never remember the name, he just remembered that the bottle had a roster on it and the sauce was fairly spicy. Long story short, he calls it Screamin' Chicken Sauce. Whatever you call it, it is delicious, and I love to put it on everything eggs to rice or noodles, I love it in chicken soup.

    I had seen a few recipes for Sriracha Chicken on Pinterest. I fully intended to follow one of them, but my toddler started throwing a tantrum as I began to prepare the marinade, so I didn't open the recipe up. I thought I remembered it. When I checked it after the chicken was already marinading, I realized I had followed maybe 2 of the directions, and added ingredients that were not listed. I'd inadvertently created my own Sriracha Chicken recipe. After tasting it, I do not regret a thing. This chicken is delicious and flavorful without being overly spicy. I didn't want to make it too spicy for my 2 year old. This leaves a little heat on the lips, but is still ok for him. Although, he seems to have a higher heat tolerance than most children.

    I made this for dinner on a Wednesday, when I talked to my sister on Thursday, it was still on my mind. She asked for the recipe and made it that night. Friday morning she told me she and her husband both LOVED it.


    1 lb bone in chicken pieces. Leg quarters or thighs are my favorite.
    2 limes, juiced
    3 TBS soy sauce
    1 TBS oil
    1 TBS Sriracha
    1 onion, sliced
    Parsley, optional, for garnish

    Combine marinade ingredients in a large container or bag, add chicken and onions. Marinade 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 350, on stove heat 2 TBS of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin side down and let it crisp up for about 3-5 minutes, flip and cook another 3 minutes.

    I think your stainless steel skillets are oven safe, if not, put the chicken in a baking dish, pour marinade and onions over it, and bake 20 minutes. Garnish with parsley if you want. I served it with broccoli and turmeric rice. It would also be awesome with roast veggies.

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Crock Pot Beef Dip Sandwiches

    The first time I made this was for my son's birthday party at the beginning of August. My entire family loves my Mom's beef dip sandwiches, so I decided to put my own spin on them and create my own recipe. They turned out really good. I used a Crock Pot for this to cut down on my kitchen time on party day, but it could be simmered or baked for a few hours if you don't have a crock pot, or don't feel like using one. My Crock Pot was tied up that day making baked potatoes, so I borrowed my Mom's. Her's is one of those newer ones where the crock can be used on the stove top. I LOVE it! I did everything in one pan, it was so easy. If mine weren't also brand new, I'd go get myself one just like hers.


    3 lb Chuck Roast
    1 TBS Olive Oil
    1 Sweet Onion, diced
    4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
    1 TBS Dried Rosemary
    1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
    1 cup Beef Broth
    1 cup dry Red Wine
    Salt and Pepper

    Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet, dutch oven, or your fancy stovetop-safe crock. Season beef roast with salt and plenty of pepper. Sear roast on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Try to let it develop a nice crust. Add everything to your crock pot and set it on low for 8 hours.
    Serve on buttered, toasted hoagie rolls with the juices for dipping. Enjoy.

    This recipe was linked up at the Weekend Potluck hosted by The Country Cook. Check it out for more recipes and inspiration!

    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    Mom's Recipes: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

    This is one of the few meals that everyone in my family agrees on. My sisters can be picky eaters, but they will both eat multiple servings of this. My Mom often makes it when we are all coming over because it is quick, easy, and absolutely delicious. She layers everything instead of rolling the individual enchiladas because it is much faster and you get a lot more in one dish this way. Sometimes, I roll mine if I feel like it. If you layer, you can have it prepped and in the oven in 10 minutes. After her Chocolate Chip Cookies, this is her most requested dish to bring to potlucks.


    24 Corn Tortillas
    Rotisserie Chicken (she buys them at Costco on the weekends and debones them then so weeknight meal prep is quick)
    1 large can mild Las Palmas Red Enchilada Sauce (brand is important here)
    1 large onion, chopped
    Shredded Cheddar Cheese. (My Mom uses at least 4 cups in the recipe, if not more. She doesn't measure)

    Remove chicken from bones. Discard skin and bones or save to make home-made chicken stock. Pre-heat oven to 350. If preparing all at once, spray a 3qt casserole dish with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, combine, chicken, onion, about 2 cups of cheese and a ladelful of enchilada sauce.
    Slice tortillas in half. Place a ladelful of enchilada sauce in bottom of casserole dish and spread around. Cover bottom of dish with tortillas. Spoon some of the chicken mixture on top. Repeat steps ending with a layer of cheese. I like to add a few extra ladels of sauce when I make them. She doesn't use the full can, which is why hers stay neater, like in the picture. It's all a matter of preference. Don't skimp on the cheese. Bake for 35-45 minutes. We like the cheese nice and brown n bubbly.

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Cinnamon Rolls

    Cinnamon Rolls are a favorite in our house. It is our tradition to eat them early on Christmas morning with Cocoa while we open our gifts before we head to my parents' house. I also like to bring them as a snack for thekids in our Sunday School class. Since I've been married, I have tried several different recipes. For this recipe, I have combined things I like from several different recipes to develop my own. Typically, I like a thick cream cheese frosting on my cinnamon rolls, but lately I've been making a glaze. To my surprise, I like it just as well as with the frosting. I will include recipes for both, since I would never dream of serving a cinnamon roll to my Daddy without a thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top.

    2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (1 envelope)
    ¾ cup of Whole Milk
    ¼ cup of Granulated Sugar
    ¼ cup of War Water
    1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1 Egg
    1 tsp of Salt
    ¼ cup of Unsalted Butter, melted
    3 3/4 cups of All Purpose Flour

    1/4 cup Cornstarch
    ¼ cup of Melted Butte

    ***If you don't have cornstarch, omit it and bump the flour up to an even 4 cups. The cornstarch helps produce a sofer dough***

    1/3 cup of Butter, softened
    ¾ cup of Brown Sugar
    ¼ cup of White Sugar

    1 TBS of Flour
    2 Tbsp of Ground Cinnamon

    1 cup of Powdered Sugar
    1/4 of Heavy Cream
    1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1-2 TBS of Milk to thin to runny consistency

    1/4 cup of Butter, softened
    4oz of Cream Cheese, softened
    1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1 1/4 cups of Powdered Sugar
    2 TBS of Milk, warmed

    In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 1 tsp of the granulated sugar, sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

    2) In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar and melted butter. Sift the flour and cornstarch together. Add 2 cups of the flour mixture, water and yeast mixture, and vanilla, mix until its all incorporated and slowly add the remaining flour. Turn the speed up to medium and let it knead for about 7 minutes or until you have a smooth dough.

    3) Oil a large bowl and set aside. Take the dough out of the mixer and form a ball. Place it in the oiled bowl and oil the top of the dough with a little more oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot to rise for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. ***I like to preheat my oven to the lowest setting when I first sart the dough, then I turn it off as soon as it is heated. Then I let the dough rise in the oven. It usually takes about an hour with this method.***

    4) In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, flour and cinnamon for the filling, set aside.

    5) When doubled in size, punch the dough down and roll it out onto a floured surface into a 15x9” rectangle. Spread the soft butter over the top and sprinkle evenly over the sugar and cinnamon mixture.Staring from one of the long ends, tightly roll the dough jelly roll style. Cut into 16 even slices and place them cut side down in a well buttered 9x13 baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let put them back into a warm spot to rise for another hour. ***Since it is important that the rolls be of even size, so they all bake evenly, I cut the rolled dough in half, then those sections in half, and so on until I have 16 pieces.

    6) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

    7) Brush the rolls with melted butter, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    8) Allow the rolls to cool while you mix up the glaze (or frosting). For the glaze, just whisk everything together and pour it over the rolls. When I make the frosting, I use a handmixer to cream the buttr and cream cheese, then slowly add the powdered sugar.