Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Wish

A friend of mine sent this picture of home (WV), and I couldn't resist putting it on the post as I wish all of my family, friends and blog buddies a very Happy Christmas! I will be enjoying my family and the holidays and wish the same for all of you.


Hot Mulled Cider-Time to Relax!

My brother, Greg, has a Christmas Pot Luck Party every year. Everyone brings a dish and he furnishes some of his homemade goodies and punch. Unfortunately, I've only gotten to enjoy this get-together a couple of times because of distance and circumstances. I know that one of his parties that I enjoyed had a punch bowl full of a warm cinnamon apple drink that Greg called, "wassail".

I looked through my books and Holiday Scrapbook, but the closest that I came to wassail was this recipe for cider that you fix in the crock pot. I thought, now that we're only 2 days away from Christmas, it would be a good recipe to share. It's time to relax in front of the fire (or just at the kitchen table) with a warm mug of cider and reflect on the year while we count our blessings! Love you, Greg.

Hot Mulled Cider

1 tsp whole cloves
1/4 C brown sugar
One 3" long cinnamon stick
1 orange, sliced

Tie cloves in cheesecloth or put in a tea strainer. Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cover; cook on low for 3-6 hrs.

Another option:
1 gal. cider
2 lt. ginger ale
4 oz. Red Hot Candies

Cook in crock on low for 3-6 hrs.

I'll be at these swaps:


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fudge: Traditional Way-Easy Way!

Fudge is my favorite Christmas sweet! Iced sugar cookies are a close second, but how could any confection made with a pound of butter not be the "Queen of Sweets"?!

My Mom sent me a recipe when the boys were little that is such a fast way to make fudge, that there's no excuse not to. It's become such a safety net recipe during rushed holidays that it has an honored spot in my Holiday Scrapbook. It's an old clipping that she converted into a microwave version with her gracefully handwritten side-notes. "Marcia, I used white chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave oven. -Mom M." If you like, you can substitute chocolate or peanut butter chips to make two more varieties of Mom's speedy fudge. It is simply a great fudge recipe!

Another high point of the Christmas dessert table was my Aunt Vivian's fudge. She gives complete credit to someone named Parks, but in our family, it will forever be "Aunt Vivian's White Fudge". It is a creamy white fudge that's loaded with nuts. The down side is that it's finicky. It has to be made on a dry day (little humidity) and the beating time, "is a Bear!" She said to put 2 1/2-3 hrs. as the prep time. I've made this fudge, and she's not kidding! She told me, over the phone last night, that she's worn out three electric hand mixers, making this fudge; I recommend Black Walnuts if you're in for the work that it takes to make this delicious fudge!

Fudge: Traditional Way

Aunt Vivian's White Christmas Fudge

1 bottle clear Karo Syrup
5 3/4 C sugar
1 lb. unsalted butter
1 large can Pet Evaporated Milk
1 lb. chopped nuts

Put all ingredients except the nuts in a heavy pan. Cook, stirring frequently, to soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer until it starts to gather around the beaters. Mix in chopped nuts and pour into greased pans. Let it set up; cut into squares. Prep time: 2 1/2-3 hrs.

Fudge: Easy Way!

Mom's Lightening Fast Microwave Fudge

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
4 C confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz. white chocolate (Mom melts white chocolate chips in the microwave)
3/4 C chopped pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. In a double boiler, melt chocolate (microwave for faster results). Fold into cream cheese mixture with pecans. Spread into 8-in. baking pan. Chill until ready to serve. Cut into squares. Yield: about 48 pieces.

I will be at these swaps:

RFW KellytheKitchenKop

Monday, December 21, 2009

"This is the Week!" Menu Plan

It's here! The week of Christmas, or better known as, "countdown week" for most moms! Time to start thawing large menu items from the freezer; sitting in the closet and counting the number of gifts for each person (and what might still be needed); checking for batteries for the camera and new unopened items that will require them; and wrapping, baking, hunting addresses down in order to mail stray Christmas cards... and anything and everything else that's not complete! Christmas is Friday! Put a smile on and enjoy it, though, because it won't come around for another whole year (some say, "That's a blessing!")

Here's my menu for the week:

Monday, Dec. 21

Bisquick Chicken and Dumplings
green beans

Tuesday, Dec. 22

Cornbread muffins

Wednesday, Dec. 23

Corn Chowder (Mary Engelbreit Cookbook)
Crackers/Cheese ball

Thursday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve)

Steaks on grill/shrimp
baked potato bar
punch and cookies

Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)

French Toast
Fresh fruit

Baked Ham
Homemade Cheese Potatoes
Corn/Brussels Sprouts
Sweet Potatoes
Hot rolls
Iced tea
Red Velvet Cake

Saturday, Dec. 26

Irish Oatmeal (crock pot)

Pot Roast w/ vegetables (crock pot)
French garlic bread

Sunday, Dec. 27

Lunch: Homemade pizzas

Dinner: Leftover Buffet

* Don't miss tomorrow's post! Fudge: Traditional Way (My Aunt Vivian's Park's Fudge!)-Easy Way! (My Mom's Lightening Fast Microwave Fudge!)*

I'll be at Orgjunkie today for MPM!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aldi's Home for the Holidays Cook Book

For those of you who might not have an Aldi's grocery store in your area, it is a store that specializes in private label groceries that are of good quality, but lower in price. There is also less overhead, because the customer brings her own bags and loads the groceries herself, kind of like a "grocery warehouse". I used to shop at Aldi's about once every month when we lived in WV because there was one close-by. This holiday cook book that I'm reviewing today was offered by Aldi's one year between Thanksgiving and Christmas; you know me...I'm a easy-sell when it comes to cook books!

This book turned out to be one of my favorites because of its simplicity and full-color photos of the recipes. There are only 91 pages of recipes-all baked goods and holiday desserts. As you open each beautiful 2-page spread, the left-hand page is the recipe, and the right-hand page is the full-color photo of the finished product. Told you! Simple formula, but very well-done. The recipes themselves are the stars of the book; each one is great from the Mexican Wedding Cookies (La Mas Rica) to the Coconut, Cherry and White Chocolate Bars. I chose a recipe for a holiday quick bread for our sample recipe. Its publication date is 2005 by Publications International and the ISBN is 1-4127-2271-3. It also gives a website for Aldi's:

page 50 Friendly Farms Cherry Eggnog Quick Bread
(makes 3 mini loaves)

2 1/2 C Grandma's Best all-purpose flour
3/4 C Sweet Harvest granulated sugar
1 TBSP Baker's Corner baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 C Friendly Farms dairy eggnog
1/2 C (1 stick) Happy Farms butter, melted and cooled
2 GoldHen eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp Spice Club pure vanilla
1/2 C chopped Southern Grove pecans
1/2 C coarsely-chopped candied red cherries

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 5 1/2x3" mini loaf pans w/ Ariel No-Stick Cooking Spray.

-Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg in a large bowl. Combine eggnog, butter, eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl; stir until well-blended. Add eggnog mixture to flour mixture. Mix just until all ingredients are moistened. Stir in pecans and cherries. Spoon into prepared pans.

-Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks. Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.

I will be at these swaps today:


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookies: Traditional Way-Easy Way!

Both of these cookie recipes are winners! Both come from a neighborhood cookie swap that was an annual event on Sherwood Circle. My past neighbors and I would get together and have a great time over punch and coffee the week before Christmas. All that you needed for admission to this "bash" were several dozen homemade cookies and copies of the recipe to pass out.

Santa's Whiskers (Traditional Cookie)
Jennifer Ferguson (fellow-mommy from the neighborhood play group)

1 C butter or margarine, softened
1 C sugar
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 C flour
3/4 C chopped red and green candied cherries
1/2 C chopped pecans
3/4 C flaked coconut

Cream butter; gradually add sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla; beating until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients except coconut. Shape into 2 cylinders (8x2"), roll each in coconut. Cover and chill 3 to 4 hours; cut into 1/4" slices. Place on ungreased cookie sheets; bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool an wire racks. Yield: about 4 1/2 dozen.

Potato Chip Cookies (Easy Cookie!)
Karen Spradlin (neighbor across the street)

4 sticks butter (or 2 sticks butter/2 sticks margarine)
1 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 C flour
1 C crushed potato chips

Cream butter and sugar; add vanilla and flour. Mix well and add potato chips. Drop on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks.

I will be at these recipe swaps today:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easy Meatball Stew!

Here's a quick fix to the question, "What's for dinner? I really need some of these kinds of recipes during the month of December! And, another great aspect of this recipe is that it contains an ingredient that most cooks already have in their freezers around the holidays-frozen meatballs!

Meatball Stew
Iris Schultz, Miamisburg, Ohio (Old Taste of Home Magazine)

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 pkg. (16 oz.) fresh baby carrots, quartered
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced
1 pkg. (12 oz.)frozen cooked meatballs
1 can (10 1/2 oz.) beef gravy
1 C water
1 envelope onion soup mix
2 tsp beef bouillon granules

Place the potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and meatballs in a 5 qt. slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over meatball mixture. Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or until vegetables are crisp tender. Makes 6 servings.

I will be at:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chocolate-Pecan Turtles: Traditional Way-Easy Way!

My mom is a fan of Turtle Candy. Each year someone in the family usually springs for a box of the gooey pecan treats to hide under the tree for her. After all, who can resist the combination of pecans, caramel and chocolate?! Mom is always willing to share, therefore, her offspring grew up loving turtle confections, too. Today, I'd like to share both my more time-consuming version, as well as my spare-of-the-moment-type turtle recipes. Turtle candies look great on a cookie tray or in gift boxes, but beware, they won't last long!

Caramel-Pecan Snappers
(Hershey Ad)

3/4 C sugar
1/4 C shortening
1/4 C butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 C Gold Medal Flour
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C chopped pecans
36 caramels, unwrapped
2 TBSP milk
1 C Hershey's Chocolate Chips (6 oz.), melted

-Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and egg. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

-Shape dough into 1" balls. On ungreased cookie sheets place balls 3" apart. With greased bottom of glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls slightly. Press 1 tsp pecans into each cookie.

-Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

-In small microwavable bowl, microwave caramels and milk on High for 2 to3 minutes, stirring every minute until smooth. Spoon caramel over cookies; top with melted chocolate. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

TO MELT CHOCOLATE: Use small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until melted. Or microwave chocolate chips in a small microwavable bowl on High 1 to 2 minutes, stir until smooth.

Turtles-The East Way!
(Old Taste of Home Magazine)

1 pkg. 14 oz. caramels, unwrapped
1/4 C butter, cubed
2 TBSP water
5 C mini pretzel twists
1 jar (18 oz.) chunky peanut butter
26 oz. milk chocolate candy coating (Almond Bark, or melted chocolate chips with a little paraffin will work, too)
1/2 C chopped pecans

-In a microwave-safe bowl, melt caramels with butter and water; stir until smooth. Spread one side of each pretzel twist with 1 tsp peanut butter; top with 1/2 tsp caramel mixture. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until set.

-In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate coating. Using a small fork, dip each pretzel into chocolate coating until completely covered; shake off excess. Place on waxed paper. Sprinkle tops with chopped pecans. Let stand until set. Store in air tight container in a cool, dry place. Yield: 8 1/2 dozen

I will be at these recipe swaps today:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week

Monday, Dec. 14
Spicy Sausage and Rice
Caesar Salad

Tuesday, Dec. 15
Tuna Casserole
Sweet Potato Bake

Wednesday, Dec. 16
Potato Soup
Grilled cheese sandwiches on wheat
Apple pie-after church

Thursday, Dec. 17
Chicken and Dumplings-guys
Green Bean Casserole

Friday, Dec. 18
Spaghetti w/ sauce in crock pot (meatballs)-guys
garlic toast

Saturday, Dec. 19

Buffalo Chicken-guys
Cocktail wieners-crock pot
veg. tray and dip
Pizza Bites

Sunday, Dec. 20
Pot Roast with vegetables
hot rolls

Leftover Buffet

I will be joining Orgjunkie for MPM today!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mary Engelbreit's 'Tis The Season Holiday Cookbook

Our cookbook for review today is a Christmas treat. Mary Engelbreit is a favorite writer and artist of my friend, Julie. Engelbreit is well-known for her whimsical art full of charm and vibrant colors. She is a self-proclaimed, "Queen of the Kitchen" even though she admits that her husband, Phil, is the chef in their house. This holiday cookbook has all of the sweetness and pop that you would expect of "Queen Mary".

If you don't cook much, but you enjoy Engelbreit's art, this would still be a great addition to your book shelf. If you do love to cook, you're in luck! This book, published in 2000 by Andrews McMeel Publishing is full of great recipes. Surprisingly, it isn't all about the cookies and fudge! There are actually more recipes for your dinner table during the holidays than there are recipes for sweets. This will be especially good news for those of you who have sugar restrictions. All of us have to continue to put meals on the table every evening, even amidst the hustle and bustle of shopping, school plays and other social events. Our sample recipe for today is a great "hurry-up and get back-out-the-door night" recipe for Corn Chowder. Oh, the ISBN, for those of you who might want to hunt this one down, is 0-7407-0586-5.

Page 28 Corn Chowder

5 slices bacon, cut cross-wise into 1/4" strips
1 large onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, cleaned and diced
1 poblano pepper, cleaned and minced (Opt.)
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, to taste, minced
4 C chicken stock or two 14 1/2 oz. cans low-sodium chicken broth plus 1/3 C water
1 lb. Yukon Gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
3 C fresh or thawed frozen corn
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly-ground pepper, or to taste
3/4 C heavy cream
3 TBSP finely-chopped fresh cilantro

-In Dutch oven or large heavy pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, leaving about 1 TBSP of bacon drippings in pot (pour off excess.)

-Add peppers and onions to the pot, stirring frequently, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add stock and potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the corn and cook until the potatoes are tender but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes.

-Reduce the heat to low. Transfer about 1/2 C of the corn and potatoes, along with about 1/2 C of the broth, to a blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to the pot and stir until well-blended. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the cream and reserved crisp bacon. Heat the soup through (do not let boil). Stir in the cilantro and serve.

I will be at these recipe swaps today"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cheese Ball: The Traditional Way-The Easy Way!

When you get together with friends over the holidays, nothing goes better with punch or Coke with Lime (my favorite drink on the planet!) than a good cheese ball. Sometimes you have the time to make an old-fashioned creamy cheese ball like my mom's Beef and Horseradish Cheese Ball, and sometimes you don't. A cheese spread with some fancy crackers around it will do, it just has to taste great and nobody will care if it's in a ball-shape! Here are a couple of cheese-based goodies for your Christmas party-take your pick!

My Mom's Beef and Horseradish Cheese Ball-The Traditional Way

1 jar of Dried Chipped Beef, diced
3 large packages of cream cheese
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (I like a little more)
1 small onion, diced fine
Approx. 4 TBSP horseradish

Mix all ingredients together with half of the diced chipped beef. Roll into a ball. Garnish by rolling it in the rest of the diced beef and topping with a well-drained maraschino cherry. Serve with Toasteds or your favorite cracker.

Cheese Spread-The Easy Way!

1 large package of cream cheese
1 jar of raspberry chipotle salsa, hot pepper mustard or you own favorite salsa

Put cheese on platter and allow to come to room temp; just get the chill off. Pour salsa over top and put crackers around it.

I will be at these swaps:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Punch: Traditional Way-Easy Way!

Here's a couple of my favorite punch recipes. On the one, there are instructions to make a floating ice ring; it is worth the effort! That ice mold makes any punch look beautiful!

Make-Ahead Punch for 50-The Traditional Way

Two 3 oz. pkg. of Jello (desired color)
2 C hot water
2 C sugar
2 C water
2 qt. pineapple juice
2 C Real Lemon Juice Concentrate
1 oz. almond extract
3 qt. ginger ale or Sprite

Mix together Jello and hot water. Add sugar and 2 more cups of water (not hot); mix, adding pineapple juice, Real Lemon, and almond extract. Mix and freeze in 1/2 gallon milk cartons or plastic jugs.

Take out of freezer about 2 hrs. before serving, depending on the weather (temperature). Add ginger ale or Sprite. Serves 50.

Christmas Punch-The Easy Way!

5 C pineapple juice
1 bottle (24 oz.) sparkling apple juice

Chill punch ingredients; combine in punch bowl. Float molded ice ring in punch when ready to serve.

Ice Mold:
1 can (20 oz.) undrained pineapple chunks
1 orange, sliced and quartered
1 pint strawberries
mint sprigs

Combine undrained pineapple, fruit and mint in a 6-cup mold (Bundt pan will do). Add enough water or juice to fill. Freeze until solid. When ready to use, release ice from mold gently by dipping bottom of mold in warm water.

I will be at these swaps today:


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies: The Traditional Way-The Easy Way!

Have you started your cookie baking, yet? If you have, you're ahead of me! We've been busy with other things around completing the Christmas cards and getting decorations from the attic. We have yet to get the tree up! Maybe this weekend. In earlier times, it was a tradition in some parts of Europe to put the tree up and decorate it on Christmas eve (don't think I want to wait that long!)

The recipes that I'm anxious to share today are two versions of peanut butter cookies that I use for holidays. The first one is an old-fashioned, peanutty cookie with criss-cross design on top, just like grandma's and the second is a quicker version.

I made the quicker version for Ben's pre-school Christmas party years ago. I pressed the dough into elongated triangles. After they baked, and while they were still hot, I pressed mini twisted pretzels at the two corners of the triangle for antlers, and added two chocolate chips for eyes. A red gumdrop, in the third corner of the triangle, made a nose and... Rudolph appeared! Some of his little classmates were so thrilled with their cookie, that they wanted to carry it home to, "show Mommy" instead of eating it! You could make these Rudolph Cookies with any cookie dough that you like, but I think peanut butter is a little more substantial, and holds together better.

Peanut Butter Cookie-The Traditional Way

2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C margarine
1 C peanut butter
1 C sugar
1 C firmly-packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat margarine and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until well-blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture and combine. Chill dough. Shape into 1" balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets 2" apart. Flatten with floured fork, making criss-cross pattern. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 min. or until lightly-browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes 6 dozen.

Peanut Butter Cookies-The Easy Way!

1 C peanut butter
1 C sugar
1 egg

Combine ingredients; mix well. Shape into 1" balls and flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 min. (be careful not to overbake!) Makes 3 dozen.

I will be at BlessedwithGrace and and TimeOutTuesdays today for the swaps.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday Menu-Week of Dec. 7

Thank a WWII Vet for your freedom!

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants in this weekend's Wichita Mountain Classic. The young people who show those beautiful animals have a real grasp of the concepts of responsibility, determination, and what it means to have goals. A big "Thank You" to the wonderful volunteers and sponsors who make the show possible every year!

We enjoyed a very busy weekend. Between the Wichita Mountain Classic and St. Barbara's Ball, we didn't slow down much! We wrapped-up the weekend on Sunday evening by relaxing and reacquainting ourselves with our family over pizza (yes, we happily broke from the "leftover buffet" tradition this week). Now, I have to get back to my usual Monday list of projects with some holiday items thrown into the list (I'm proud to say that I'm almost done with the Christmas cards!)

Monday, Dec. 7

BBQ Chicken Breasts
Macaroni and Cheese
Caesar Salad
Glazed Lemon Cake

Tuesday, Dec. 8

Fiesta Meatloaf
Scalloped Potatoes
Green beans

Wednesday, Dec. 9

Ham and Pinto Beans
Corn Bread
(Crescent Dogs)

Thursday, Dec. 10

Blueberry Pancakes
Turkey bacon

Friday, Dec. 11

Garlic toast

Saturday, Dec. 12

Grilled Pork chops
baked potatoes
Broccoli and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken (for guys)
carrots/celery sticks w/dip

Sunday, Dec. 13

Chicken and Noodles
mashed potatoes
Spinach Casserole

Leftover Buffet

I will be at Orgjunkie for MPM today.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Cookie Book

At the Pine Grove congregation where we attended in WV, our boys had a pair of "substitute grandparents" named Mickey and Lee; just one set of many doting "church grandparents" in that group!

Although there was an age discrepancy, Mickey and I were buddies in our cooking pursuits. We were very unevenly-matched; she was much more skilled at cooking and baking. This was a woman who made homemade Angel Food Cakes for church luncheons! One year, she surprised me with The Pillsbury Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook. It meant even more to me when I realized that she had saved up and used-up all of her Pillsbury UPC points that year to get it for me. What a sweet friend!

When Mickey learned that we would be moving out-of-state, her response was to pass to me some of her very sentimental possessions-two of her favorite cookbooks; one was "Mammaw" Larck's cookbook (that I've mentioned before) and this cookie book. The Cookie Cookbook was a gift from a friend who worked with her husband, Lee. Before he retired, Lee was a teamster. He drove large trucks for many years. One of his delivery stops was to K-Mart where he befriended a man named Sam Wood. At Christmastime, Sam would send along a gift to Mickey every year (she didn't say, but I'm sure that she was good to him with her baked goods all year; she was like that to everyone!) Our "Old Cookbook" today is one of those Christmas gifts from years ago that Sam sent to Mickey.

This book, written by Deloris Kitchel Clem, was published in 1966 by Castle Books. Just as its title implies, it is a straight forward book that doesn't waste time on stories or even pictures! There are only a couple of black and white photos of the cookies. However, what it lacks in embellishment it makes up for in good ol' cookies that you might remember Mom or Grandma baking in Christmases past. There is a recipe for every type of cookie; rolled, filled, drop, pressed, molded and formed! There are even some old German recipes for traditional holiday cookies from the author's grandmother's collection. The sample recipe that I've chosen is from page 268, because I plan to get out my cookie press and make come cookies that I remember from past holidays. Good luck finding this one!

Pg. 268 Holiday Press Cookies

2 C cake flour, sifted
3/4 C butter, soft
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, unbeaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
candied cherries

Measure sifted cake flour and sift. Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolk to creamed mixture; beat well. Add sifted flour, a small amount at a time, to creamed mixture; mix thoroughly after each addition. Blend vanilla into dough.

Chill dough. Press chilled dough through cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate cookies with candied cherries, multi-colored sprinkles, silver dragees or nuts. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes. Makes 6 doz. cookies.

I will be at these swaps today:


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip; Traditional Way-Easy Way

On a personal note: A big salute and Thank You! to Mr. Kenneth Gregory who attends church with me. He makes the greatest Green Tomato Salsa that I have ever eaten. Christmas came early when he brought us a jar last night!!

Speaking of Hot!, my boys all like Buffalo Chicken Wings, so this is very popular when I make it. I took this to two Christmas parties last year and it was a hit at both! Both versions are very good, but one's a little easier.

Buffalo Chicken Dip-The Traditional Way

Boil 2 chicken breasts; cool and shred the meat. Set aside.

2 pkg. cream cheese
12 oz. bottle of Kraft Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
3 oz. of hot sauce (original recipe calls for 6 oz. but that was too hot)
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Spread mixture of cream cheese, blue cheese dressing and hot sauce into greased 13x9 dish (I use a quiche dish). Layer shredded chicken on top, and put shredded cheddar over all. Bake 25 min. at 350 degrees. Serve with tortilla chips.

Hot Wing Dip-The Easy Way!
Braum's Holiday Recipe Pamphlet from '07

8 oz. Braum's Cream Cheese, softened
12 oz. Frank's Red Hot Sauce (I cut this waaaay down!)
20 oz. canned chicken, drained well
16 oz. Ranch Dressing

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Pour into 9x13 greased dish and microwave until hot! Serve with chips or crackers (I like it on celery!)

I'll be at LifeasMom and JoyofDesserts for the recipe swaps today.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge; The Traditional Way-The Easy Way!

In my scrapbook of holiday recipes, this is the traditional version of peanut butter fudge that I use. It is my son, Blake's favorite and that is, of course, noted along with, "sent to Japan '07 and '08".

Peanut Butter Fudge-The Traditional Way
Della Armstrong, Pine Grove Church of Christ

4 C sugar
1 can evaporated milk
2 sticks butter

-Cook over medium heat. Boil to soft ball stage (about 20 min.)

-Remove from heat. Add:
1 C peanut butter
One 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream

-Mix until desired consistency, with mixer. Pour into buttered 9"x13" pan.

-Add one 12 oz. package of chocolate chips in place of peanut butter for chocolate fudge.

Peanut Butter Fudge-The Easy Way
(Very rich)

-1 regular-sized jar of peanut butter
microwave in glass bowl until pourable consistency(about 1 1/2 min.)

-Stir in 1 can of sour cream or vanilla flavored frosting and mix until blended.

-Microwave 1 1/2 minutes and pour into buttered glass baking dish.

I will be at these swaps today:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas the Traditional Way-Christmas the Easy Way!

I'm so excited that the month of December is here! I can now start my new topic featuring recipes that I've made the traditional way (there will be some old collectible recipes, here), and the short-cut, easy recipes that will get you through the holidays while "saving face" if you're short on time.

My two oldest boys are 21 months apart, and were both really babies at the same time (lots of money on diapers at that time!) Then, when they were both in elementary school, we had another baby, so I found myself as homeroom mother to two classes, while toting the youngest along with me. I'm sure that you've all had similar situations where a part of your life is unusually busy, but you maintain... until the holidays come along and throw you into a tail-spin! During these hectic patches, we've got to rely on some quick recipes and time-saving ideas.

I have made the traditional versions of these recipes, and now, I'm back to a more even pace and can make them, again. But, I still love the short-cut recipes that I found during that wonderful,messy, busy time in my life (they are as much a part of my Holiday Recipe Scrapbook as the recipes from the moms, grandmas and aunts in our family.)

Today's recipe to kick off 'Traditional Way-Easy Way' will be for Divinity, or what used to be called, "Sea Foam". My sister, Becky, loves this kind of candy, and I think of her every Christmas when I make it.

The traditional recipe comes from an old Schreiber Thermometer pamphlet from the late 1920's.

Divinity or Sea Foam-The Traditional Way
(using a candy thermometer)

2 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C corn syrup
1/2 C water
2 whites of eggs

Beat whites of 2 eggs stiff and set aside. Cook sugar, syrup and water to 230 degrees. Pour 1/2 of this into the whites of eggs (beaten stiff), and mix well. Cook the balance to 250 degrees. Then pour it into other half and beat until creamy and white. Pour into buttered dishes or drop from spoon.

Easy Divinity-The Easy Way
(Betty Crocker recipe)

1 package of Betty Crocker Fluffy White Frosting Mix (dry powdered kind)
1/3 C light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C boiling water
4 C powdered sugar
1 C chopped nuts (I like pecans for this)

-Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil. Beat dry frosting mix, corn syrup, vanilla and boiling water in small bowl on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed about 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.

-Transfer to large bowl. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed. Stir in chopped nuts. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes; remove from oven.

-Let stand about 4 hours or until candies feel firm. Turn candies aver, and allow to dry at least 12 hours. Store in air-tight container. Makes 5 to 6 dozen candies.
(Imagine how easy these would be if you have to have 6 dozen of something for a cookie swap! Been there-done that!)

I'll be at these recipe swaps today:


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monday Menu and a Fun Holiday Idea to Share

Christmas came early for WVU fans...Pitt Panthers wrapped-up in a bow!!

It's "Monday Menu Planning Time"; that time every Sunday when I look through the refrigerators, pantry shelves and freezers, then glance at my calendar to see what the coming week looks like. As you can tell, it's a ritual based more on leftovers, and what I have in the pantry and freezer, than anything else. I'm pretty well stocked-up right now because of the grocery sales before Thanksgiving.

I must add, that I have found that the day after Thanksgiving is an excellent time to get bargains on markdowns on fresh produce and other items associated with the holiday meal. I was out hunting Christmas gift bargains on "Black Friday" when, purely by chance, I went by a bin of yams that had been marked-down to 25 cents per pound! I was then on a mission to check all other produce that had a "Thanksgiving Connection"! I got a 3-pack of Romaine lettuce, marked at two packages for 3 dollars (it had been 2 dollars a package on Tuesday, because I had purchased some). I got a bag of Clementine oranges that had been 4 dollars, marked-down to $1.25. Gala apples had been reduced to 1 dollar a pound. And, although I didn't get any of them, the in-store bakery had its pumpkin pies on clearance for 3 dollars a piece (and they freeze well). I'm going to keep this in mind next year at this same time!

Aside from hunting bargains for Christmas gifts, I've come up with a fun theme for my blog for the month of December. It's called "Christmas the Traditional Way-Christmas the Easy Way!" I will be sharing some super easy ideas for the holiday rush. For example, I will give my very traditional recipe for Divinity (for you "Martha S.-Types" out there, and you know who you are!), and then I'll give my Marcia D.-Type, hurried and harried, holiday quickie recipe for No Fail Divinity (in which you use a box of fluffy vanilla frosting mix, but hey, it's delicious, and no one has to know.) Stick with me; we'll make it through our holiday to-do lists together!

Enough chit-chat. Here's my menu plan for the week:

Monday, Nov. 30

Beef BBQ (leftover roast beef)
Coleslaw/Broccoli Salad
chips(leftover dip)

Tuesday, Dec. 1

Corned beef and steamed cabbage
mashed potatoes

Wednesday, Dec 2.

Homemade Potato Soup
Tuna on toasted flat bread w/tomato and Romaine

Thursday, Dec 3.

Chicken Caesar Salad
Toasted French garlic loaf

Friday, Dec 4.

Shrimp Prima Vera
Wheat rolls
7-Layer Salad

Saturday, Dec 5.

Cream of Wheat/Cocoa Wheat

Take-out Pizza (for guys)-St. Barbara's Ball
Veg. plate

Sunday, Dec. 6

Fiesta Meatloaf
Parsley Potatoes
Glazed Carrots
Broccoli and cheese sauce

Leftover Buffet!

I will be joining MPM at Orgjunkie .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ahhhh! I've Been Black Friday Shopping!

I hope that you are all enjoying a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday weekend! As for me...I've been partaking in the chaos that is, "Black Friday"! If you enjoy hunting down some bargains, you've got to go wade through the crowds on the day after stuffing yourself with's an American tradition! And then, later, you get to relish the thought that you survived the Christmas shopping madness and that you are now safely home. Awaiting you are turkey leftovers and WVU basketball on TV...awww, bliss!

I'll be back here on Monday with my menu plan for the week and a new idea that I have for the month of December, something that I think you will enjoy! See you Monday!

I'll be linking to these sites today:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving !

My friend, Reda, gave me this a long time ago and I've always liked it. Thought I would share it with you for Thanksgiving Day. This recipe is very flexible, of course, as far as the number of people and pets are concerned, but the love and caring are not optional!

Recipe for a Happy Family

1 husband
1 wife
1 home
3 C love, packed
1 pkg. work
1 pkg. play, together
1 TBSP patience (approximate)
1 TBSP understanding
1 TBSP forgiveness
1 C kisses
Generous portion of prayer

Mix thoroughly and sprinkle with awareness. Bake in moderate oven of everyday life, using grudges and past unpleasantness as fuel. Cool; turn out onto a platter of cheerfulness. Garnish with tears and laughter. In large helpings, serve God, Country and Community.

Wishing each of you love and family togetherness this Thanksgiving!

I will be at LifeasMom for her recipe swap today.

Mashed Potatoes in Your Crock Pot

If you're like me, when you're facing the prospect of timing the holiday meal, you need all the items that have to be hot and cooked at the same time spread out to free up your oven space. I put the big turkey in my roaster and microwave the corn. I use Sister Schuberts Brown and Serve Rolls and pies are baked a day ahead. Today, I'm sharing a way to make your mashed potatoes in the crock pot; another space-saving trick! (A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!)

Mashed Potatoes in the Crock Pot

9 large potatoes (5 lbs.) peeled
Two 3 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 C fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. salt
pinch of garlic salt
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of pepper
1/4 C chives (opt.)
2 TBSP butter, softened

Boil potatoes on stove until tender. Drain and mash until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Beat until light and fluffy. Cool. Cover and place in refrigerator.
Next day or later: Pour potatoes into greased crock. Cook on Low for 2-3 hours.

Great recipe for holiday or Sunday dinner after church!

I will be joining these recipe swaps today:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aunt Monica's Cranberry Jello Salad

This is my favorite recipe for Cranberry Salad at Thanksgiving. My husband's Aunt Monica used to bring it down to his family's home and it was such a great dish that it became a tradition. I think that it's more dessert than salad, with the chopped nuts and whipped topping! Even the kids like this one because it has jello and crushed pineapple in it!

Aunt Monica's Cranberry Jello Salad
Monica Ghent, Charleston, West Virginia

2 small packages lemon Jello (I like strawberry Jello better)
3 C boiling water
Cool; just as it begins to gel, add:

2 C fresh cranberries (Ground in processor, or chopped fine)
2 C crushed pineapple, drained well
2 C sugar (you can cut this down some or use Splenda)
1 C crushed nuts (can use walnuts or pecans)
1 C chopped fresh orange (or mandarin oranges, chopped)

Chill for several hours. Very pretty cut into squares and topped with Cool Whip.

I'll be at BlessedwithGrace, TheGypsy'sCorner and Raising4GodlyMen today.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Menu

Today's cleaning day, tomorrow will be the day to buy last-minute fresh grocery items and Wednesday will be the prep and pie-baking day! My menu will reflect the pace of our week. Hope that you all enjoy a fun-filled holiday week!

Monday, Nov. 23

Baked white fish w/ Old Bay Seasoning
Lemon Pepper Squash
Brussels Sprouts
Parsley Red Potatoes

Tuesday, Nov. 24

BBQ chicken
Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, Nov. 25

Chili w/ shredded cheddar

Thursday, Nov. 26

Roasted Turkey w/ stuffing
mashed potatoes
Sweet Potatoes w/ Praline Topping-Blake
Aunt Monica's Cranberry Salad-Me
Green Bean Casserole-Justin
Mom's Candied Dills
Hot rolls
Pumpkin Pie/Apple Pie/Fresh Lemon Glazed Cake(Dana)

Friday, Nov. 27

Pot Roast w/ Vegetables
7-Layer Salad
French Bread

Saturday, Nov. 28

Homemade Pizzas
Vegetable tray and Dip
(Watch Natn'l Lampoon's Christmas Vacation!)

Sunday, Nov. 29

Leftover Turkey Buffet!

I'll be joining MPM at Orgjunkie today.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BHG's All-Time Favorite Pies Cookbook

I have to admit that my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the "go-withs" or side dishes. Although my mom has always made a "mean pecan pie" (except for the year that I came home from college to find that she'd tried a new recipe that included...PEANUTS! This is a word to the wise: Never, no never, be tempted to mess with holiday tradition while your kids are still around...because, they will never let you live it down (sorry, Mom! I guess I've ruined any chance of your mailing me a slice of pie!)

With the exception of Pecan Pie, I look forward to homemade stuffing and Aunt Monica's Cranberry Salad the most. For most of the men in our family, I think dessert is the Thanksgiving focal point, other than the "football marathon" of course! You could have a turkey that's just "passable" and mashed potatoes from a box, but don't skimp on the grand finale. You have to have great dessert, and on this very American, very traditional holiday, that means PIE!

With the pie-baking task coming up next week, I thought I would review one of my cookbooks that is all about pie making. This week's book off my shelf is Better Homes and Garden's All Time Favorite Pies Cookbook, and it includes 169 recipes for pies of every kind. Even though this book was published in 1978, my copy is a "yard sale find" that is in perfect condition. It was published by Meredith Corporation and its ISBN is 0-696-00455-0.

The colorful cover of this hardback cookbook says it all! There are five different slices of pie and they all look delicious! The easy-to-follow black and white illustrations and boxes in the margins to provide, "Pie-Making Tips", would make it a perfect baking book for a new cook, or someone who's facing her first Thanksgiving as the cook/hostess. Being the hostess for this holiday meal can seem like a daunting project if you've never roasted a turkey or served several people at once. So, like I said, the meal can be less-than-perfect if you have a "bang up finish"! This guide to great pies could be very valuable in this case.

The progression of recipes in the book seems logical to me; fruit pies come first, and then cream pies, custard pies, refrigerated pies, ice cream pies, and finally, a section called, "Pie Crusts and Toppers." The color pictures of the finished pies are mouth-watering! The little fruit-filled tarts and the fluffy coconut cream pie pictures make me want to get out my pans and get started!

For our sample recipe, I chose an easy one that sounds delicious...and makes its own crust!

p. 54 Miracle Custard Pie

2 C milk
4 eggs
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C butter or margarine, cut-up
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flaked coconut
Ground nutmeg

In blender container combine milk, eggs, sugar, flour, cut-up butter, vanilla and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover; blend about 10 seconds or until well-mixed (do not overblend). Stir in coconut. Pour egg mixture into greased 9" pie plate. Sprinkle a little nutmeg atop filling. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until knife inserted off-center comes out clean. (As pie bakes, it forms its own soft crust.) Cool pie on rack; chill thoroughly before serving. Cover; chill to store.

I will be at these recipe swaps today:


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tea Cakes (Old Sugar Cookie Recipe)

The following is a great little recipe I've had in my files for years. This is an old recipe for cookies that is from so long ago that they're called, "Tea Cakes". I've noted on the card that the woman from Georgia who submitted the recipe said that it was a cookie that her grandmother always baked.

Tea Cakes
Annie Bell Light, Norcross, Ga.

1 heaping tsp baking soda
1 C buttermilk
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Add salt, sugar, eggs, shortening, vanilla and enough flour to make a medium-fine dough (not sticky).
-Using a big spoon, mix all ingredients well. Separate dough and work a little at a time on well-floured cloth. Roll to 1/4 of an inch and cut into shapes.
-Bake on greased sheets. When cakes look a crispy, medium brown, take them out of oven.
-Dump them on a clean cloth and grease cookie sheet while it's hot for another batch. 2 dozen

I'll be at LifeasMom and JoyofDesserts for their swaps!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken Breasts Supreme

Very busy day, yesterday! I've got a great crock pot recipe to share with you today. I think this is similar to the Alice Springs Chicken at of my very favorites!

Chicken Breasts Supreme

2 slices of bacon
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 jar sliced mushrooms (4.5 oz.)
One 10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
3 oz. sliced Swiss cheese
1 TBSP chopped chives
3 C frozen broccoli florets

-Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove and drain; reserve drippings.
-Add chicken to bacon drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly-browned, turning once.
-Put in crock pot; top with mushrooms. In same skillet, mix in soup and pour over mushrooms. Cook 3 to 4 hours. Top with cheese slices; sprinkle with chives. Crumble bacon over cheese. Cover; cook on high for another 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, microwave broccoli on high for 6 to 8 min. (or cook on stove); arrange around chicken breasts.

I will be at these swaps today:


Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Twas the Week Before Thanksgiving" Menu

I'm having trouble with the realization that we're in the midst of November, already! It's time to start working on the Christmas card list and cleaning out the fridges for the extra space that will be needed for "Tom"...Tom Turkey, that is!

As a child, I remember my Mom soaking our turkey in the bath tub to be sure it was thoroughly thawed, because it was too big to fit in the kitchen sink. When I was growing up, there were years when we would have a houseful of people for Thanksgiving meal and Mom would be cooking a huge bird. One year, if I'm remembering it right, we had 21 people.

I always volunteered to toast the bread for stuffing; my brother, Greg always helped move chairs and tables into place, and my sister, Becky, and I enjoyed the wash 'n dry duties at the end ; we were our Mom's "dishwasher"! Dad was the foreman/taste tester (and on Thanksgiving Day, he was the "director" who tried to make sure that Mom kept on schedule by saying, "What time do you think we'll be ready?" "When do you want everyone to come to the table, Shirley?") As you can imagine, Mom was the menu-planner and cook (with the patience of Job!)

I talked with them on the phone today, and Mom said that they're having Thanksgiving at their house this year; wish I could be there for that, but I'll have to settle for talking to everyone over the phone or the Internet. Some of my favorite holiday photos are of my Mom and Dad holding the turkey platter at the head of the table. What a great family holiday!

Here's my menu plan for this week that will help use-up and clean out!

Monday, Nov. 16

Onion Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Pepper Squash

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Steak Fajitas
sliced pears and apples

Wednesday, Nov. 18

Homemade Vegetable/Chicken Noodle soups
grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday, Nov. 19

French Toast
Turkey bacon
Fruit Salad

Friday, Nov. 20

Tuna Casserole

Saturday, Nov. 21

Irish Oatmeal

Fiesta Meatloaf
Baked potatoes
green beans


Chicken and Rice
Iced Tea

Leftover Buffet

I will be at orgjunkie today for MPM!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kids' Cookbook Goes Step-By-Step

A big thumbs-up to the Better Homes and Gardens Step-By-Step Kids' Cookbook! I always enjoyed cooking with my boys as they were growing up, and we seemed to have more time to cook together during the holidays and summer vacation time. If you have little chefs at your house, this book is a necessity.

I love the step-by-step progression of each recipe and the full-color pictures of the steps for those of us who are visual-learners. The clever photos show munchkin-sized hands preparing the recipes that have both kid and adult appeal. For example, the colorful recipes include Lemon Berry Freezer Pie, No-Cook Noodles Lasagna and Cheesy Vegetable Bake...just to name a few!

Attention has been given to the types of foods that kids will really want to eat and ease of preparation, broken down into easy-to-follow steps. This cookbook is a wonderful idea for your future "Emeril" or "Rachel Ray"! It was published in1984 by Meredith Corporation and it's ISBN is 0-696-01325-8. Sorry, you can't have mine; "Chef Ben" wrote his name in it when he was 5!

I will be at these swaps today:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Very Old Recipe for Cornbread Stuffing and Roast Turkey

This is a Thanksgiving recipe from a very old newspaper article that I found in a personal recipe collection from an Estate Auction. I thought you might enjoy it.
At the top of the clipping, the cook had written, "the one I always use!"

Roast Turkey

Place stuffed turkey on a rack with a shallow pan, and cover with a cloth soaked in melted fat. Occasionally moisten cloth with fat during roasting. Roast at 325 degrees from 4 1/2 hrs. for a 10 lb. turkey to 6 hrs. for a 15 lb. turkey. Test for doneness by moving a drumstick up and down; when the turkey is done, the drumstick will move readily. For easier carving, allow turkey to stand for 30 to 40 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Corn Bread Stuffing

1 C dark or golden seedless raisins
1 1/2 C thinly-sliced celery
12 C soft white bread crumbs
16 C corn bread crumbs
1 C coarsley-chopped salted, toasted almonds
1/2 C chopped parsley
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 C butter, melted
2/3 C turkey broth
1/2 C finely-minced onion
4 eggs, beaten

-Rinse and drain raisins. Combine with celery. both types of bread crumbs, almonds and parsley. Sprinkle with a mixture of the poultry seasoning, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
-Add broth and onion to melted butter; add butter mixture and eggs to crumb mixture, mixing lightly.
-Spoon lightly into turkey; or shape into stuffing balls, (my mother-in-law does this, and if you like some crunchy top on your stuffing, this is the way to go!) place on greased baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

I will be at these swaps today:


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Veteran's Day Tale

There are times in my life that I hope to always remember, this is the story of one of those times:

My son, Justin, at 16, had a very wise American History teacher who made each student interview a veteran and write a paper about it. Although his PaPaw Davis had served in the Navy during WWII, Justin, because of proximity and time constraints, chose to interview an elderly man at our church named Wade Kelly.

The evening for the interview came. Justin had prepared several questions scribbled on notebook paper, and had his little recorder for a back-up. My other son, Blake, who was 15 at the time, decided to go along with us. As we went to the door of the Kellys' we were greeted by Wade's wife, Ruth. She was a very pleasant, lady-like person with an easy laugh. She offered us a cold drink, and shooed-away the family dog.

Mr. Wade, as the folks at church called him, was a strong, silent, Clint Eastwood-type cowboy of a man. He was in his early 80's and still worked outside and took care of his horses every day. In fact, the story got around church once that Ruth had to make Wade go to the emergency room because he came in from working and his ear was cut almost in two and he was bleeding down his shirt. He had been putting up a barbed wire fence and didn't want to stop until he finished the job! Besides, he really didn't think that it, "needed looked-at". He was tall and thin and looked like someone who's body was solid as a rock from years of pure work. When he smiled, though, his intimidating persona melted to reveal a gentleman who loved his wife, all children and his that order.

As Wade talked to my two boys, the beginning of the conversation seemed to be difficult on his side of it. Like I said, he wasn't very talkative to begin with, but this seemed like a subject that he really wasn't comfortable covering with us, even though he had agreed to the interview. He started slowly by saying that he and his brother had signed-up to serve when he was 17 and his brother was 18. It was the Depression and there were no jobs, so lots of young men enlisted; it was the thing to do!

Then the conversation took a turn...Wade said, "I was home on leave from Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, and of course, I was called back right away!" He didn't talk about the time right after he was called back, just that he and his brother were in undisclosed locations in the Pacific and their mother was very worried. Wade finally got word to her that he was alright, but could not say where he was. Sadly, he couldn't tell her if his brother was OK, because he didn't know, himself. (Both he and his brother made it home safely after the war.)

Wade did add that when he was fighting "on the ground" they would dig trenches where they would spend the very long nights guarding against the enemy. Wade said that they were so close to enemy lines that, 'you couldn't light a cigarette or even cough.' These young soldiers tied a rope around each others' waists so they could tug on it to keep each other awake without speaking or making a noise. These boys, who were my boys' ages, did this all night, fearful of being killed or taken prisoner. He grinned and said, "I was always glad to see daylight come!"

Another part of the interview revealed that his initial job was to care for Army pack mules in the hull of a ship headed overseas. He said he guessed they wanted him for this task because, being a farm boy, he was experienced with working with horses and other animals. He grinned as he told the boys that it was a nasty, smelly job.

He started to warm-up to the undivided attention in the room. His stories were fascinating. As he went into their bedroom to retrieve an old shoebox full of fringed black and white photos of him and his buddies during wartime, (a bunch of skinny wide-eyed youngsters leaning against military equipment, just goofing-off during free time, arms around each others' shoulders, or surrounded by smiling, foreign children) I looked over at Ruth. She was beaming with pride. "Has Wade ever shared these stories with your children and grandchildren?" I asked? "No" she said. "In fact, when Saving Private Ryan came out in the theaters, we wanted to take him to see it, and he refused to go. He's never spoken about his experiences with anyone, except me, until now. It's so good for him."

When he re-entered the room, he smiled as he sat on the couch between my two sons and showed them pictures, memories, parts of his life. It was a moment that I will never forget. Happy Veteran's Day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Breadsticks

This weekend we attended an "Arts For All" fund-raising event. Every year, the combined efforts of the arts community in Lawton create a fun-filled evening centered around a theme to raise money for the arts in our community. This year's theme was, "Lost Treasure of the Arts." It's an evening of live music, heavy appetizers, and both a live and silent auction for donated pieces of art and other goodies. I've gotten some unique gifts ahead for the holidays this way!

This year the heavy appetizer selection was very good. Two of my favorites were the Coconut Macaroons Covered in Chocolate, on the dessert table, and the Bacon-Wrapped Bread Sticks on the savory snack table. I have a recipe for a similar bread stick that I've had for a few years; I got it from my friend, Wendy, who belonged to a Ladies' Study Group in which I participated. She brought these great bread sticks when it was her turn to hostess the meeting. Although the bread sticks at the event for the Arts were made of a soft, homemade bread, I think Wendy's recipe is easier and tastier-because of the crunch! I thought I would share it today-you know that the holidays are coming, and you're going to need some sure-bet appetizers that are a hit!

Bacon-Wrapped Bread Sticks
Wendy Lindly

24 (4 1/2") hard sesame seed bread sticks
12 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap bacon around bread sticks. Lay on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bacon's done. Remove from oven and cool to handle. Roll in cheese mixture and put on serving plate.

I will be at these swaps today:


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu for the Week

I was traveling some last week and posted this blog using a laptop that I'm not as used-to as my trusty old computer in my office/storage closet at home. Ahhh, it's good to be home and blogging in my little cubbyhole, again! Hope you had a fun-filled weekend. Hubby and I enjoyed an evening out with friends at the Annual Arts for All Fundraiser Saturday. It was held at Cameron University this year, and as usual, the folks who planned it did an excellent job; it's always an exciting event.

I'm hoping to get caught up this week on some things that got behind while I was will be busy, but I'm sure that if I stick to my to-do list, I'll get to everything. I am so glad that you cannot see my kitchen's planning looks like Mount Scott out at the Wichita Mountains. There are both stacks of papers and cookbooks that I bought recently, along with coupons to clip, school papers and recipes to file and to try-out. It is just a piled-up mess that needs attention; yes, it will be on the top of one of the to-do lists! Here's my menu plan for the week:

Monday, Nov. 9

Baked Steak and Gravy
mashed potatoes
glazed carrots
(leftover Johnny Hoosier Cake from the weekend)

Tuesday, Nov. 10

Roasted Chicken Salad (w/boiled egg)
Hot bread

Wednesday, Nov. 11

Beef and Noodles
Spinach Casserole

Thursday, Nov. 12

Baked Fish
Broccoli Au Gratin

Friday, Nov. 13

Pasta Fagoli

Saturday, Nov. 14

Irish Oatmeal

Sunday, Nov. 15

Homemade Pizzas
veg. plate

Leftover Buffet!

I will be joining Orgjunkie today for MPM

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Madison County Cookbook

Before I start my review today, I wish to send my heart-felt condolences to all those who lost family members, friends, or loved ones at Fort Hood, yesterday; our prayers are with the wounded victims and their families. The military community is a very caring, close-knit group; I've had the privilege to witness the closeness, first-hand, in our community of Lawton-Fort Sill; in fact, we have friends from Fort Sill who are now stationed at Fort Hood. Folks in the military move often; it's the nature of the job. Unfortunately, this senseless act of violence will touch people, both military and civilian, all over our country and the world. Please support our military and their families!

I have a super cookbook recommendation today. I'm sorry to say that this source of down-home cooking and delightful stories has been on my shelf for years and I haven't been using it. I probably found it with a pile of other books at a yard sale or auction, gave it a "leaf-through" and put it on the shelf for later. Well, I'm glad that "later" has arrived! I have the Carol Publishing Group Edition from 1998, but think that its original copyright is 1994. The ISBN is 0-8065-1733-6.

This very sweet book is a collection of family-style recipes compiled by the members of St. Joseph's Church of Winterset, Iowa. Winterset had a "claim to fame" before the successful book and movie came out called, "The Bridges of Madison County"; it is the hometown of famous American icon, John Wayne!

The citizens of Winterset describe themselves as a, "small community where good, old-fashioned values still prevail." The personal stories and recollections of church-related events and family holidays and celebrations add a charm to the book that reminded me of the writings of Jan Karon's series of books about small town America.

Aside from the ease of reading that I enjoyed, this is a wonderful cookbook simply on the merit of the recipes. I found, literally, something on every two-page spread that I would fix...and my family would eat!

Of the many cookbooks that I've reviewed on this Old Cookbook Review, this is on my Top 10 List. If you start the hunting process now you might be able to find one for yourself and your best friend/favorite relative in time for Christmas!

Yesterday's recipe for Low Cal Chex Party Mix came from this book on page 44. Here's our sample recipe for the book review; it's found on page 157.

Margaret Tiernan's Cherry Bon-Bons

24 maraschino cherries (drained and save the juice)
1/2 C soft butter
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 TBSP Half & Half
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered sugar and cherry glaze (recipe below)

Beat butter until creamy and add 3/4 C sugar, beating well. Stir in flour, salt, Half&Half and vanilla. Shape into balls. Press around 1 cherry, covering completely, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 min. Transfer to wire rack and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and then drizzle with glaze.


2 TBSP melted butter
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 C cherry juice

Combine these ingredients, adding food coloring, if desired. Place glaze in small, plastic bag, snip off corner, and gently squeeze over cookies.

I will be at these swaps today:


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Low-Cal Chex Party Mix

Oh, no! Holiday snacking season is almost here! I love the holidays in a Big Way. I almost can't wait to get out the decorations; leaf through my Family Holiday Scrapbook of Recipes; send cards to folks we love; start baking and putting up the tree (in fact, while traveling, I found a Christmas music station on the radio and have been listening to carols, already!).

However, one of the aspects of the coming holidays that I dread is the temptation and guilt of the goodies that haunt me. As soon as Halloween is over, the "ghosts of holiday goodies yet-to-come" start nagging me. "Don't forget, Marcia, that even though there is fudge in the house, you should stay away from it as often as possible." "Marcia, you know that Chex Mix is NOT a health food, even though it contains whole-wheat Chex; don't deceive yourself." "Any food item that contains a stick of butter, although wonderfully delicious, cannot be good for you!" The voices persist through the Thanksgiving-Christmas food free-for-all. Even if you don't bake and cook, (but I do...I really love to!) during this season, people will tote these goodies to you! There are trays of cookies at the office, church and family get-togethers and childrens' school parties to survive; it's like a "gourmet land mine"!

I think one solution to this challenging time of year is to provide some healthier treats to throw into the lineup...'cause I am not getting rid of Aunt Vivian's Parks Fudge recipe or going "cold turkey" from the goodies! After all, it's ...."the Most wonderful time of the year..." Oh, don't get me started with the Christmas carols!

Here's a healthier version of that addictive Chex Party Mix!

Low-Cal Chex Party Mix

3 C Rice Chex
3 C Wheat Chex
3 C Corn Chex
3 C Bran Chex
1 C unsalted nuts
1/4 C margarine (Health Smart)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP water
3/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix cereals and nuts in a large bowl. Melt margarine. Add Worcestershire sauce, water and seasonings to margarine. Pour margarine mixture over cereals and nuts, mixing well. Bake on cookie sheets in oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 min. Each 1/2 C serving has 87 calories (Woo-Hoo!)

This recipe is from Sue Stuchel from Winterset, Iowa, who contributed it to The Madison County Cookbook, which I will be reviewing tomorrow; don't miss it!

I will be joining LifeasMom today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked Potatoes in the Crock Pot

I love it when I come home after morning church service on Sunday to have any part of the meal already prepared and ready to go. Here's one of my plans for make-ahead potatoes.

Wash and thoroughly scrub nice-sized Idaho potatoes. Pat dry with a paper towel and pierce each with a fork. Wrap individual potatoes in foil and layer on top of each other in the crock pot. Put lid on and cook on the High setting. If they're unusually large potatoes or just not done enough when you're ready, stick them in the microwave (without the foil) for a minute to desired doneness. (My friend, Genie, oils the outsides and sprinkles them with coarse salt to finish them up in a hot oven! MMM...just like "Steakhouse Restaurant-style" potatoes! If you're in a great hurry, or everyone's just starving...use up chopped broccoli, bacon bits, ham, sour cream, chopped green onions, or whatever's in your fridge and make a potato bar!

I'll be at DiningwithDebbie today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Chicken Feed"-A Frugal Snack!

Now that the Halloween festivities for this year are history, the stores have trick-or-treat candy at 50% off. That's great news if you want to make one of my favorite snacks. This is called, "Chicken Feed" because it has candy corn in it. At first look, most people think it seems like an unusual pairing to put candy corn and salted peanuts together. I thought this the first time I saw it.
I found this recipe one lucky October when I accompanied Ben, our youngest son, to a library Halloween party when he was 5. He was dressed as one of the 101 Dalmatians, courtesy of "Aunt" Julie. As he sipped on fruit punch and nibbled his cookie, the librarian passed out this candy snack that she called, "Chicken Feed". At the time, I thought, "that looks like a weird concoction", but took a sample to be polite. That combo of salty, crunchy and sweet is a winner! You have to try it. Get Brach's Candy Corn (this year we found out that we like this made with Brach's Caramel Candy Corn, too)and a can of Planter's Salted Cocktail Peanuts. Mix one part candy to one part peanuts; stir gently and you're all set!

"Chicken Feed"

1 part Brach's Candy Corn or Brach's Caramel Candy Corn
1 part Planter's Salted Cocktail Peanuts

Mix gently and store in air-tight can or container.

I'll be at these swaps:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu for the Week

My week's off to a busy start; here's my plan to keep us fed. Happy November!

Monday, Nov. 2 (Ambucs are selling pancakes all day!; great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!)

Shrimp Prima Vera
Caesar Salad
garlic bread

Tuesday, Nov. 3

jello w/Mandarin oranges

Wednesday, Nov. 4

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Ham and Cheese sandwiches on Foreman

Thursday, Nov. 5

Tuna Casserole
Chinese Coleslaw

Friday, Nov. 6

Pork Chops with stuffing and gravy
green beans

Saturday, Nov. 7 (Arts for All)

Cinnamon French Toast
Turkey bacon

Take-out pizza for guys

I will be joining MPM at OrgJunkie today!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bon Apetit's Too Busy to Cook?

I started my morning by learning to use my GPS in the car to track down an estate sale. Fortunately, I found two cookbooks at the sale that I'll review later; one about the cooking of historic Williamsburg, and one about the history of American cooking. Surprisingly, one of the cookbooks offered at the sale this morning was a copy of the same cookbook that I had read this week and am reviewing today-so I know that it's out there if you just hunt for it!

The subject of today's Old Cookbook Review is Bon Apetit's Too Busy To Cook? published in 1981 by The Knapp Press. Its ISBN is 0-89535-049-1. I really like the way this book is organized; very practical for the busy cook. There is not alot of text to bog you down. There is a brief introduction to each section of the book. For instance, it begins with appetizers and gives the reader tips on presentation and advice in mixing colors, textures and flavors to appeal to a wide array of tastes. After the introduction, the recipes follow in a continuous block-type format. There are several color photos and microwave recipes included.

This is an easy-to-follow cookbook for someone who likes to cook, but doesn't have extra time to spare. This "old cookbook" has a great selection of recipes to choose from, and I think it is well-worth the hunt!

Our sample recipe is for a quick version of spinach dip that doesn't require Knorr's Vegetable Dry Mix (which is something I don't usually stock in my pantry).

P. 2 Spinach Dip

One 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
1/2 C mayo
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of dried dill, optional
One 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
Assorted vegetables, cut-up or cubed pumpernickel bread (scooped from bread bowl)

Combine cream cheese and sour cream and blend well. Stir in mayo and soup mix. Add seasonings. Gently stir in spinach. Serve with vegetables, crackers or in a bread bowl with cubed bread.

I will be at these swaps today:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Frugal Household Tips

As I was looking through all of my clippings, I realized how many involve tips on saving time and money. These bits of homemaking wisdom may be on frayed index cards and pieces of yellowed newspaper, but they've stood the test of time and most housekeeping problems don't change much over time (dogs from the 1800's brought fleas into the house just as dogs can bring fleas into the house today!) I hope that you find these tips to be useful; please comment if you have some to share.

Don't toss out potato peelings. Let them dry, then burn them in your fireplace. This keeps the flue and chimney clean.
-Mrs. P.B. Brothers
Richmond, Virginia

When storing evaporated canned milk, shake the cans vigorously once a month, turning them upside-down before returning them to the shelf. By doing this, you will prevent the contents from becoming lumpy.
-Joy E. Lamb
Lockport, Ill.

Put a layer of marshmallows in the bottom of a pumpkin pie, then add the filling. You will have a nice topping as the marshmallow rises to the top during baking.

3 TBSP of bleach in bathwater kills chiggers.

To kill fleas in carpet, mix 1 TBSP salt into 1 quart of warm water and spray on the carpet. Repeat in 3 to 5 days.
-Hazel Bowen
Address unknown

NOTE: Just saw this at the end of Oprah's show today!

Go to to print off an in-store coupon that's good today and tomorrow (Fri. Oct 30) until closing to get 50 % off of your purchase of anything at any Payless store in the country (some other areas are listed on the site, as well for my international readers)!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicken Divan in the Crock Pot

Here's my contribution for our crock pot recipes on Wednesday. I won't chat much today; got to make salad for the Ladies' Class luncheon! Have a great Wednesday.

Chicken Divan

2 to 3 C cubed, cooked chicken
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 C mayo
3 TBSP flour
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen broccoli spears, thawed and cut into 1" pieces
1/2 tsp curry powder (Middle Son will like this!)
1 TBSP lemon juice
Hot, buttered noodles

In medium bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients except the noodles. Pour into lightly-greased crock pot. Cover and cook on Low setting for 7 to 9 hours (or High setting for 2 to 3 hours). Serve over the noodles. Can substitute turkey for the chicken (I'm thinking this is a "keeper" for Thanksgiving leftovers). Serves 4 to 6.

I'll be joining DiningwithDebbie for Crock Pot Wednesdays.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Marcia's Trick-or-Treat Night Chili

Saturday will be Trick-or-Treat night here in our area. Even though we no longer have children in the age group that troops around the neighborhood, I still look forward to the event. I really enjoy seeing neighborhood kids dressed up in costumes, and decorating my front door for the little guests; one of our favorite traditions is pumpkin carving. Hubby carves the circle in the bottom of each pumpkin for the candles and helps scrap out the "guts" and I help pin on the patterns. Our boys have become really great carvers over the years. Some memorable carvings have been Batman, Star Wars figures, cats and ghosts. As soon as the creations are complete, we turn off the lights and take a picture of them all lined up and glowing.

Another tradition that I have had over the years is to fix chili dogs for dinner on Trick-or-Treat night. Why? Because the chili is in the crock pot and then I just put the hot dogs in there, too. I throw packages of buns, paper plates and a bag of chips on the counter, and have a vegetable tray ready in the fridge.

This hotdog serve-yourself menu means that you and the kids can eat quickly before you head out the door. If friends show up with their little ones, you can invite them in for a bite (hot dogs and chili are ready anytime because they can be kept on the crock pot's Warm setting even when you're out running your children around the subdivision. Trick-or-Treat night is notorious for rushing parents from work to parenting duties with no dinner! If one parent makes it home late for the beginning of the festivities (and has had to inch their way into the crowded subdivision), they can eat before they catch up with the rest of the family.

NOTE: If you looked at my menu, you may notice that I'm breaking with my own tradition this year, that's because we no longer have to rush out the door and Hubby likes my homemade pizza better than chili dogs! It's "scary movie night" for us...and of course, answering the doorbell!

The following recipe for chili is really simple-it had to be, usually I had spent the day, as a Homeroom Mom, serving treats and making crafts/playing games at my boys' Halloween (later called,"Fall Story Character") parties. Here you go:

Marcia's Trick-or-Treat Night Chili

1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 small onion, chopped
1 can Hunt's Manwich Sauce (I like the dry packets of mix, but can't find them any more)
(These ingredients can be doubled or tripled, depending on your crowd!)

Brown ground beef(turkey) and chopped onion. Add sauce and a little bit of water. Simmer for a few minutes. Dump into greased (Pam spray) crock pot and throw in a package of your favorite hotdogs. After ingredients are hot, turn down to Keep Warm setting.

I will be sharing at: