Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easy Cheesy Sausage Ball Appetizers!

I made some sausage balls for an office breakfast, and I thought I would share.  I use the basic recipe, but change it up to make the sausage balls a little more savory.  This is a no-fail easy appetizer.  I do like to mix them up the night before.  I find that it's easier to roll into balls once it has chilled overnight.  These would be great for an easy Christmas morning breakfast,too!  Just add some fresh fruit skewers and everyone can help themselves.

Sausage Balls
3 C packaged baking mix
1 lb Jimmy Dean pork sausage
8 oz shredded cheddar
8 oz shredded Swiss
1/2 grated Parmesan 
1/2 C milk
1 1/2 tsp Tones Rosemary/Garlic seasoning
1 1/2 tsp parsley
Mix all together and chill in refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, lightly grease cookie sheets, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and roll mixture into TBSP-sized balls.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown (I turn them over halfway through baking).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Peppermint Crunch

This candy is one of our favorites and it's the easiest Christmas candy you will ever make!  

You'll need:  a box of crisp rice cereal, white chocolate candy melts or vanilla almond bark, and some peppermint candy canes that have been coarsely crushed.

Melt the chocolate in a microwaveable bowl until smooth.  Stir in cups of cereal until coated with the chocolate (you add enough cereal to have it all coated, but not too soaked in chocolate-like Rice Krispie  Treats consistency). Finally, stir in the crushed peppermint.  Spread out on a long piece of waxed paper.  When it sets up, break into pieces.  Store in tins.

Makes great holiday hostess gifts!  Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Easy Cajun Coconut Pecan Cake

Today, I'm posting a previously- written entry because a reader has requested an easy coconut cake recipe...also...I forgot to publish this entry back when I wrote it, it's a great cake recipe...and, well,  I've had an unusually busy week!  There!  Full disclosure!  Hope you enjoy this rich, easy cake.  (I didn't include a picture of the cake, but a picture of my middle son, instead!  I'm a typical mom!). This post was written in November of 2012, so I'm talking about Thanksgiving desserts, but this cake would be beautiful on your sideboard for Christmas, as well.

I've had a great week!  Our middle son, Blake, has been here for a visit!  He's getting ready to move states-away to a new job. Kudos to Blake for accomplishing a couple of his major life-goals, lately.   At the beginning of fall,  he was awarded his Masters degree in Industrial Psychology and will soon begin his  new job (it involves analyzing statistics, which he enjoys).  I'm so proud of his hard work and determination;  There... all done with the Mom-bragging!

IEven with a visitor in town, I had time to look through recipes, and if coconut is one of your favorite dessert ingredients, you're in luck this week!   I dug through some of my old community cookbooks this week and found a very promising recipe for a unique cake.  The little ragged book was a group effort by the Whistling Pines Garden Club of Cypress, Texas in 1977.  This cake sounds moist and delicious.  Both the cake and icing recipes have few ingredients...I love that!  This might be a great cake to set alongside the pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving.  I know it's hard to believe, but some folks would rather have cake than pie!  My husband's in that cake-eating group, bless his heart (More pecan and pumpkin pie for me!)

Cajun Cake and Easy Coconut- Pecan 
(Gaynelle Pucek)
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 lb. can crushed pineapple
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs

Mix at medium speed until combined.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.  Makes a 13x9 inch cake.

Easy Coconut Pecan Icing

1/2 C sugar
1 stick margarine
1/2 C chopped pecans
1/2 C evaporated milk
1 C coconut

Bring sugar, milk and margarine to a boil.  Add coconut and pecans.  Pour over warm Cajun Cake.

We are That Family
Raising Homemakers
Deep Roots at Home
A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Dream

A friend asked for this recipe, and I'm happy to share it with all of my cooking friends.  Happy Thanksgiving, especially you, Kathryn :)Cranberry Dream
1 12 Oz. Fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 C sugar
1 8 Oz. Crushed pineapple and juice
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1 C mini marshmallows
1 8 Oz. Extra Creamy Cool Whip
Toss ingredients together and chill!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Texas Lizzie Cookies vs Traditional Fruitcake

 Years ago, when we lived in West Virginia, a friend gave me this recipe for her fruitcake cookies.  Justin and Blake were in elementary school and Ben was a baby so my Christmas baking time was very limited.  Although my favorite holiday fruit and nut treat was Grandma (Violet) Long's fabulous fruitcake, I just didn't have time for that kind of project.  (It is delicious if you have time to make it!). As I had these little cookies (that Freda brought over) with my morning tea, I realized that this was an easier solution to fruitcake in my rushed holiday existence that year.  And, this recipe makes loads of cookies for gift-giving...'two birds with one stone!'
  If you wonder how you're going to get everything on your list done between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Freda Handley's recipe for moist little Texas Lizzie cookies is much faster than fruitcake.  These cookies have that same nutty, fruity, chewy taste that says,"Christmas is finally here!"  Both of these recipes are keepers.

Grandma Long's Fruitcake
(Violet Long)

1 lb. butter
1lb. sugar
1 lb. flour
12 egg yolks
12 egg whites
1 pint milk
1 C molasses
1/2 C brandy
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp.  cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 lb. seedless raisins
2 lb. currants
1 lb. dates
1 lb. figs
2 lb. orange, citron, lemon, pineapple mix
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. each cinnamon and almonds
1 lb. pecans
Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg yolks, molasses and brandy, baking soda in a little warm water.  Mix all fruits and dredge in flour and add, alternately, with mix (stiff dough).  Use more than 1 lb. of flour, if needed.  Add beaten egg whites with nuts, raisins, etc.  Bake at 250-300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.

Texas Lizzies (Fruitcake Cookies)
(Freda Handley)

1/2 lb. butter
2 C brown sugar
4 eggs
3/4 lb. English walnuts
3/4 lb. pecans
3/4 lb. white raisins
3/4 lb. dark raisins
1/2 lb. candied cherries
1/2 lb. candied pineapple
1 C whiskey (1/2 C in batter, 1/2 C  over fruit and nuts and refrigerate overnight)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 C flour
2 tsp. baking soda
  Cream butter and sugar.  Add well-beaten eggs, then whiskey, slowly.  Add flour, baking soda, spices, fruit and nuts. Mix well.  Drop from teaspoon 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes in 350 degree oven.  Bake as needed, or all at once.  Dough keeps well in refrigerator.  Makes a lot!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holidays: Traditional Way or Easy Way?

  The holidays are upon us!  This can make you joyous or fill you with dread depending on how many balls you already have in the air as you juggle life.  I remember when our boys were little, and then again, when we were at the stage where  we had two school-aged children and a preschooler, that I felt more tension and less joy as Thanksgiving and Christmas came at me...like a train!
  I think when you're a young mom, you put more demands on yourself, too. Somehow you think that it has to be,"perfect" for your children to have the same type of great memories that you have of your own childhood holidays.  But, if you look back more closely at those old photos and really think back to your own childhood Christmases, you realize that Mom and Dad are smiling, but look really tired in those Christmas morning photos.  Everything doesn't match perfectly on the Thanksgiving table, and everyone doesn't have on color-coordinated Target red and white-striped PJs.  Look closely, there  is an array of mis-matched chairs around the extra card table in the dining room to accommodate all of the cousins, aunts and uncles.  But, notice too, in the photos, that everyone is having a good time and smiling!  The food on that card table and the main table looks wonderful!  Mom and Dad are tired, but they are beaming as they carry the turkey into the dining room.  It's time to sit down with family!
  Making room for more people!  Making our stuff and our food stretch to include others!  Being happy and taking time to count our blessings...that's what makes holiday memories.  Yes, when we have small children in the mix, there's usually a crucial toy that needs to be found and wrapped,( we had an all-out manhunt for 2 Power Ranger figures one Christmas shopping season!), but we need to remind ourselves that everything is not crucial!  Everything else about the holidays is up to how much time, money and energy you are willing to invest.  If you have children and need a guide for how to spend your resources and allocate your time wisely, think about what moments you remember most from your holidays as a child.  If it's something as simple as watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  on TV, and  Mom making hot chocolate (with the little marshmallows!), realize  that Mom and Dad were in the same room watching it with you...and they weren't texting!  They were present....that is a "present" for kids! It"s often the "little things"  that become the important things.
  In this spirit of simplifying so we have more time for joy, I present, for the third year, my recipes for the holidays that will include the traditional version and the easy version.  If your kids are grown and you're back to cooking, baking and decorating as a hobby, you have time for the traditional recipe.  If you have a baby on your lap as you read this and it's your only break until you pick up your other kids at school, the easy versions are for you (with my own fond memories of that special kind of chaos).  This feature has been popular in past years.  I hope you enjoy it.  ~Marcia

Pumpkin Bread:  Traditional Version-Easy Version

Pumpkin Bread
From Mary Brooks Harris

1 C vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 C cold water
2 C pumpkin
3 C sugar
3 1/2 C plus 2 TBSP flour
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 C chopped walnuts (optional)
combine all ingredients and mix well.  Pour into greased pans.  You can use 2 loaf pans for 1 hour at 375 degrees or muffin tins for 10-15 minutes.

Super Quick 3 Ingredient Pumpkin Bread

1 box of spice cake mix
1 regular can of packed pumpkin
Pumpkin pie spice-to taste

Mix all ingredients and put in greased loaf pans.  Bake according to directions on the cake mix box.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Fresh Pear-Kiwi-Walnut Salad

  After a busy day, there's nothing better than a fresh salad with bright colors and a little zesty taste.  If you pair it with some crusty bread and an iced tea, it makes for a quick meal.  It's a light but satisfying meal, too, if you  have an evening when dinner is later (this happens at our house!). 
  This is a salad recipe that I put together a few years ago.  It has become one of my favorites.  We had a similar salad at a dinner we attended back when Mary Fallin was running for governor of Oklahoma for the first time-so you see, it has been a few years.  It was a delicious way to begin the meal that night, but since then, I've made it my own by adding kiwi and a raspberry dressing.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Fresh Pear-Kiwi-Walnut Salad
-Layer your favorite salad greens on the plate (Spring mix, spinach, romaine)
-on four corners of greens place thin slices of kiwi
--top with finely-chopped pear (skin on)
-sprinkle with feta cheese
-top with toasted walnuts (I just toast them quickly in a skillet on the stovetop so I don't have to heat up the oven)
-You can drizzle balsamic vinegar on the plate under the salad (this is how the chef did it) or you can drizzle a good bottled raspberry dressing over it (my version). Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Mammam's Peanut Brittle


I enjoyed a local craft fair yesterday with a group of friends.  The weather was just perfect and we had a great time.  Along with the craft booths was the usual array of food vendors with items that smell heavenly, but that you should eat only once-in-a-while!  There were fried potato strings, Indian Tacos, funnel cakes  and fudge!  

  Seeing and smelling all of the fair-type foods made our conversation turn to cooking.  We each had favorite recipes that our moms and grandmas made in the fall or for holidays.  Amongst the goodies mentioned were peanut brittle, fudge, fried pies, popcorn balls...and one I'd never heard of...Popcorn cake (for Christmas)!
  So, I thought I would share my Mammam's recipe for peanut brittle today because it's delicious and I have fond fall memories of it.

Mammam's Peanut Brittle
2 C sugar
1 C white Karol Syrup
1/2 C water
1/2 stick of butter
2 C raw peanuts
1 scant tsp. baking soda
Stir all ingredients together in a heavy pot.  Boil until candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees.  Take off the heat and stir in the baking soda.  Turn out fast onto cookie sheets with edges (fills 1 large and 1 small). Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Holiday Candy Book from 1952

  I've got a great candy-making book to share with you!  Before the days and weekends start getting really busy with holiday activities, let's look through our cookbooks for those candy recipes that we want to make.
  This book from my collection was written in 1952 by Virginia Pasley.  It's full of recipes for brittles, fudge, spiced nuts, taffy...all the goodies that make holidays yummy!

  The inside cover is definitely a throwback to the fifties with pastel-colored candies as a decorative touch.  I think you would find this book useful if you like homemade sweets.  It was published by Little, Brown and Company of Boston.

  (Note the illustration of the old candy thermometer matches the one in my kitchen drawer!)


Friday, October 3, 2014

Blackberry Spice Cake

I've had a busy week!  In the midst of the hustle and bustle, I made a Bundt cake.  I had promised to bring dessert to a luncheon with some neighbors.  I chose to make my Blackberry Spice Cake and took vanilla frozen yogurt to put on the side.  I was asked to share the recipe, so I'm sharing it on here :)

Blackberry Spice Cake

1 box of Spice Cake Mix
3 eggs
1/3 C vegetable oil
1 (21 oz.) can blackberry pie filling
1 C chopped walnuts (or Black Walnuts!)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare Bundt pan.  Combine cake mix, eggs and oil in a large bowl.  Pour in chopped nuts and canned pie filling and cinnamon.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Pour into bake pan.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan a few minutes.  Invert onto cake plate.  Cool completely.  (I put a light vanilla glaze over the top.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Has Arrived!

I'm so glad to say that Fall is here! It's time for pumpkins, college football and mums!   I love this time of year!

Did I mention College football...!!  Love it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Son's Favorite Chocolate Cookie Dessert-No Baking!

Yesterday was our oldest son's birthday, so I thought I would share his favorite birthday dessert.  It is made with creme-filled chocolate cookies and has beautiful layers if you make it in a glass casserole dish or trifle bowl for a party.  This is a great make- ahead dessert, ready to pull out of the fridge when you need it!  I like to put the top layer of whipped topping and dot it with Oreos right before serving.

Here's the first layer:  melt 3/4 stick of margarine (or butter!) and toss with Oreo cookie crumbs (about 2 rows of cookies).  Press down with a fork or back of a spoon to form a crust.  Refrigerate.
2nd layer:  beat 1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, 1/4 c powdered sugar and about 1 1/2 C of Cool Whip in a bowl until smooth.  Spread on top of crumb crust in an even layer.
3rd layer:  make a large box of  chocolate  instant pudding according to the box directions (I use 2 1/2 C milk instead of 3 C).  Spread in an even layer on top of the cream cheese layer.  Cover with clear plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours.  When ready to serve, top with a layer of Cool Whip and stick Oreo cookies halfway down in the top of dessert.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Justin!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Traditional Scots Recipes Book-1922

I treated myself to a,"book dive" at a local thrift store yesterday and was not disappointed!  There in the section of history books was this great old cookbook of traditional recipes from Scotland! Many of the recipes refer to cooking items and methods that are foreign to me (a "knob" of butter), but the way the recipes are written is so enjoyable.  I could almost hear the recipes in the voice of Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper from Downton Abby!  

And, I must share some of the pen and ink bookplates!  

I hope some of you  Downton fans are reading my post this week!  Go look for this book!  It's by Janet Murray and the publisher was Bramhall House.

Friday, August 29, 2014

1910 Soda Fountain Cookbook

Happy Labor Day Weekend to each of you!  In the spirit of Anerican workers and small businesses, I'm sharing a book from 1910 produced and distributed by a company in  Chicago, Illinois.

The first half of their book is an introduction to the carbonation of soda water, it's benefits and a business plan that includes possible profit margin!  The second half of the book is full of recipes for almost every old soda fountain drink you've ever heard of!

For me, this old cookbook brings back memories of one of my favorite musicals, "The Music Man"!  I love the cover of this book and the recipes are simply  a stroll through a gentler time in American history.  Enjoy the photos!

Friday, August 22, 2014

BBQ Sauce Made with Coca-Cola

Around this house, Coke is our drink of 
choice (second only to iced tea)!  Hubby and I love our Coke Zero.  The three sons live a healthier lifestyle overall than we do, but when they have a treat, it's usually Coke in the red can (the,"real thing").
  As far as food goes, the whole family loves BBQ!  We like smoked brisket (which we discovered while living in Oklahoma), smoked chicken (which has been perfected by a family that's a vendor at Oktoberfest in Southlake, Texas every year) and almost any smoked meat at Dickey's or Dink's BBQ here in Arkansas!  But, if you're going to have smoked meat, a good sauce to dip it in is essential!  It's a must!
  Years ago, when talking about our love of BBQ with my friend, Earline, she offered that she had an old recipe for sauce that she believed might have come from a restaurant in Lawton, Oklahoma.  And the best part about this BBQ sauce was it included Coca-Cola!  It would be a win-win for our crew!  (The eatery, that no longer exists, was called, Underwood's BBQ Restaurant.)
   Well, time passed after that conversation.  We both went on with our busy lives and I moved-twice!  Fast forward to this week when I received an email from my Oklahoma buddy, Earline!  She had found the recipe for BBQ sauce mentioned briefly after church service...so long ago!  I was excited to hear from her and impressed that she had found the recipe.  She is more organized and has a better memory than I do...clearly!

Thanks for the BBQ sauce recipe, Earline!  I can't wait to try it!

BBQ Sauce
16 oz. tomato  sauce
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
6 oz. Coca-Cola, regular or diet
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
I/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Most Recent Old Cookbook Find!

I absolutely love digging through old cookbooks!  The thrill of the hunt can only be topped, for me, by finding that copy that is unique and has a little historic tale to tell.  I love a cookbook that looks like it was used every week and sat close-at-hand for frequent consultation.  Unlike, collectors of most rare books, it makes me happy if there is some wear from everyday use, a little fraying and a binding that has some give is a real plus to me!  The best that I can hope for, though, is if the vintage cookbook has the cook's hand-written notes... and I get really excited if there are quickly-jotted must-have recipes tucked inside (often, these have been scribbled on the back of an envelope or cocktail napkin!)
Recently, on a brief trip to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, I found such a well-used book!  It was sitting on a shelf in an antique consignment shop in Fort Worth, just waiting for me!   I say it was fate-Hubby says it was Murphy's Law!  

Today, I'm sharing pictures of my Junior League of Dallas Cookbook from 1935.  From her notes, I'd say the cook made the popover recipe on page 139 very often.  She also was partial to the Molded Caviar Egg Salad (ewww...). There was a menu for the week, her recipe for Orange Sponge Cake and a menu for an upcoming dinner party tucked in-between the pages of the book;  The little  details make me so happy!  Hope you enjoy the pictures.  Look closely!  I've included the page with two recipes for Green Tomato Pickles!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Cheat Version of Olive Garden's Lemon Cake

Hubby loves the lemon cake at Olive Garden!  However, when we eat there the salad(soup for him), breadsticks and pasta are very filling.  We are usually just too full for dessert.  I recently made this cake as a surprise treat one evening.  It's not exactly Olive Garden's but he had seconds and said that it tasted very much like theirs!

Here's how I made my version of the  popular dessert:

Marcia's Lemon Cream Cake
- 1 box  of lemon cake mix
-1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
-1 tub of Cool Whip
-1 fresh lemon
-powdered sugar

Mix cake according to the box directions with the addition of a teaspoon of lemon zest.  Bake in a Bundt pan until done.  In a separate bowl, use electric mixer to blend cream cheese, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 tub of Cool Whip and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.  Invert cake onto a cake plate.  Slice into thin slices.  When cake is cooled, put a dollop of lemon mixture between 2 slices and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Yum!!

Book I'm reading:  Mama Flora's Family by Alex Haley