Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This is the time of year that gardeners get the itch to dig in the dirt. This mild winter is really fooling us into thinking Spring is just around the corner. Today is overcast and blustery like March normally is in Arkansas. Even though I'd love to plant something, I'll just be satisfied with thumbing through my seed catalogs. One of the most unique catalogs I receive is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Located in South Central Missouri near Mansfield, Baker Creek is not your ordinary type of farming business. The Gettle family started the company in 1997 and devoted themselves to preservation of old-time heirloom varieties that have practically disappeared. The unusual seeds are gathered from around the world. The Baker Seed Store is part of a dream that the Gettle's have brought to fruition.
The Gettle's own and operate "Bakersville" at Mansfield, Missouri. An Old Time Mercantile Store, Herbal Apothecary, Bakery, Garden Museum, Blacksmith Shop, Music Halls and Western Jail are there for customers to enjoy while they shop for plants and seeds. They supply free seeds to many of the world's poorest countries, as well as locally in school gardens and other educational projects. An American company with a conscience, I like that!

This video shows some great pictures of the fruits and vegetables in the catalog... if you are a gardener, it will make your heart beat a little faster when you watch it!
*Visit Baker Creek Seeds at their website HERE

Monday, January 30, 2012

Old Dog, New Trick #47

I'm guessing at the exact number of new things I've learned since I started blogging, but I'd say one good idea a month is pretty close. Next week I'll be celebrating 4 years of sharing my life, cleansing my soul, spilling my beans. There are days I don't have a clue what to write, but I read a few blogs and I see something new to share. That's what happened yesterday when I went for a visit up to Glenda's Living and Gardening in the Ozarks. She's a Missouri blogger, we speak Missourah to each other! She and her husband are retired dairy farmers so I love living vicariously through her, she still milks nearly everyday but just one instead of dozens. She has learned a thing or two since she's been around the block more than once, and there's hardly a visit I don't pick up some tip that saves us money or betters my life. Yesterday when I was leaving my comment I saw she had a neat little option where she could reply to the comments. Now I am slow to notice new things, but I think it was new and I wanted it! So I went to Blogger Help and entered reply to comments and there it was... New Trick #47! You just go into Settings then Comments, change from Full Page to Embedded and POOF you can talk to each other! The full instructions are HERE... If I could just figure out how to add about 2 more hours to each day that would be perfect!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Do you PIN?

Go for a peek at  Pinterest but beware, it's addicting!

Hot Party Ham Sliders with Poppyseed Butter  from Plain Chicken
Pepperoni Pizza Puffs from Lick the Bowl Good

Clementine Candle from Apartment Therapy

Birthday party ideas...

Nacho Cheese Fountain~ now we know what to do with those mini fountains we got for Christmas!

Margarita cupcakes!

Stuff to Make you Smile...

Words to Inspire...

Cleaning Tips...

Must haves...

And my favorites... places to visit someday!

The Round Road in Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

Gaiola Bridge Naples, Italy
Happy Pinning everyone!

I spent the day yesterday with my Mother in law, we had a care meeting at the nursing home first for my Father in law and then onto another appointment and then a bite of lunch. We finished up the day at Wal-mart, we're shopping and I look down at her shoes. She has on some of those Nike wild color ones with the weird soles, the ones that I always wonder..."Who buys these?" Well, people like her who are comfortable in their own skin and like purple and green together! She doesn't have a clue she's 2 years away from the BIG 9.0. You're never going to see her in her pj's at Wal-mart but you just might in a pair of hip hugger jeans she got on sale at Kohl's! She told me at lunch she can't manage putting on her little stud earrings anymore. I told her they were out of fashion anyway and to wear the french hook ones that dangle. Two old ladies exchanging fashion tips over lunch! I'm headed her direction and she's on the other side going backwards. No one ever asks her age because it doesn't matter. She 10, going on 11!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

True Love

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised, and asked him, “And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?” He smiled as he patted my hand and said, “She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."

True love is neither physical, nor romantic.
True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

*Thanks Aunt B. for sharing this great email!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leftover Love...

Arkansas' mild winter has put a kink in my repertoire of cold weather meals. This time of year we are usually in the mood for a pot of stew, ham and beans or a hearty casserole. I'm a little mixed up whether I should make potato salad or potato soup. I hope I haven't JINXED this mild weather by talking about it! No matter what's for dinner, leftovers are a fact of life. If they're good leftovers, no one complains!

Leftover French Bread? Something special to go with tonight's spaghetti~

Farmhouse Cheddar Bread
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, chopped fine
1 cup ham or bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons hot sauce, optional
½ pound (8 ounces) cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup green onions, sliced
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, ham or bacon and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onions are soft. Remove from heat. Combine the mayonnaise, dry mustard and hot sauce with the slightly cooled skillet mixture. Fold in the cheese and green onions.
Leftover French or Italian Bread – sliced in half lengthwise.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray the pan lightly with Pam. Place the bread, cut side up onto the baking sheet. Spread a thick layer of the topping mixture over the bread. Bake until the bread has toasted and the topping has melted, about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into slices and serve warm or room temperature.

Irish Comfort Food at it's finest!

Shepherd's Pie
leftover mashed potatoes
ground beef, browned and drained (or leftover beef or pork roast, cut in bite size pieces)
half an onion, chopped
celery, corn, even leftover green beans, or just a handful of frozen peas and carrots
salt and pepper
beef broth
Cheddar, Pepper Jack or even a mixture of cheeses that are leftover
In a medium skillet, cook the onion and other uncooked veggies until they get soft. Add the beef, cooked veggies, and enough to broth to moisten everything and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a casserole dish and cover with leftover mashed potatoes. Put a good amount of cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are golden brown.

OK, you need a snowy day for this one!

Hashbrown Soup
2 pounds frozen hash brown potatoes
4 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced celery
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cans (10 3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
4 cups milk
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
In a large saucepan combine the first seven ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Mash vegetables with cooking liquid. Add soup, cheese, and milk, stir until smooth. Add ham, parsley, salt, and garlic salt then simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with bacon. Makes a lot 12-16 servings (4 quarts).

A hearty dish that pleases everyone, kids to adults!

Amish Church Noodles
12 oz homestyle noodles
10 oz cream of chicken soup
5 tbsp butter
3 tsp chicken base
2 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
In medium saucepan, combine 2 cups chicken broth and 4 cups water, bring to a boil. In a separate pan, over medium heat, melt butter and cook until brown in color. Add 10 oz cream of chicken soup and stir well. Add chicken base, stir until dissolved. Add mixture to broth and water. Stir until combined. Add 12 oz noodles, gently stir and bring to a boil again. Cover saucepan with lid and turn heat off. Let noodles set. Do not remove lid for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Serves: 8 to 10

One of my favorites~ easy, quick and GOOD!

P.F. Chang's Dan-Dan Noodles
Adapted from Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes
2 chicken breast fillets, cooked and minced, about 2 cups (I use leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 6-oz. package  thin linguine, cooked
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (I like Delallo brand, near the Italian foods or condiments)
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup waterPrepare the chicken fillets first by sauteing them in a skillet with a little oil for 10-12 minutes. Remove from skillet and cool, then mince into little bits. I take a shortcut and use leftover rotisserie chicken, cut up fine. Prepare noodles following the directions on the package. Make sauce by heating oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add garlic, green onion and saute for just a few seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and chili garlic sauce. Combine the cornstarch with 1/2 cup water and stir into the sauce. Simmer sauce until it thickens. When the sauce is thick, add the chicken and simmer until heated through.
Place drained, cooked noodles onto a serving plate. Spoon chicken and sauce over the top of the noodles, garnish with julienned cucumber on one side and bean sprouts on the other. Serves 4

If you happen to have some leftover Oreos and some leftover peanut butter, this would be a very good way to use them up... just sayin'

Peanut Butter Pie for a Crowd
20 Oreo Cookies
1 8- ounce package of Cream Cheese, Softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 12- ounce tub of Cool Whip
Press crushed cookies into the bottom of a 9 x13 inch pan. Reserve a few crumbs for topping. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Then, fold in whipped topping. Spread over the Oreo cookie base and sprinkle reserved crumbs on top. Freeze 1-2 hours. Thaw 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pioneer Woman Speaks

When Pioneer Woman speaks, we listen. She holds clout on many subjects now in my book so when she recommended a trip to the local Wal Marts to buy a certain kind of dish rag, I was all ears. I don't know why, but my microfiber dishcloths all leave a film on the countertops and the glass top range. Greasy... it smears instead of cleaning. I do make a mess cooking, there's almost always something that's sauteed or FRIED as Mama would call it! Bacon grease is saved and used in my household so there's a good reason for the dishwater to get a little greasy. I pull out the big guns and use Dawn's Power Scrubber Liquid so there's NO reason for the schmeary mess, I won't stand for it!

Ree had said the Basic ones, no frills at $4.99 a package worked great cleaning up all kinds of messes so I grabbed a package but as so often happens at Wal-mart, my eye was drawn to attractive packaging just next to the bargain ones. It was Clorox's new antibacterial dishcloths. They are activated once you give them a swim in Clorox water and then the antimicrobial magic continues wash to wash. Not sure how they do that trick, but I could barely contain my enthusiasm as I tore into the package as soon as I got home! A few clips and I had one of them free, dipped it in bleach water and then into a sudsy sink and went to cleaning.
Sparkly, squeaky clean countertops.
Then I went over the stovetop and the range hood and the tile backsplash and the cabinet fronts and the refrigerator shelves and the top of the mixer and the coffeepot and the toaster and you know what? It worked, there's not a smeary mark anywhere.
That Ree Drummond is one smart cookie, and she can make them too! What's Ree taught you how to do?
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Insurance

This winter has been a lot different than last year when we had snow after snow and temperatures in the deep freeze. Grandson Gavin was feeling a little blue last weekend saying he didn't think he was going to have any snow days off this winter. We still have February and March to get through so I'm not getting too confident that we'll escape bad weather. Last night's tornadoes that spread across Tennessee and Arkansas were very unusual for this time of year.

I have the pantry stocked for whatever Mother Nature throws at us. I keep extra everything and rarely run out of food. It's an unfounded fear of going hungry,I've never done that a day in my life! I do the buy one, get one method for winter keeping two ahead on staples like flour, sugar and coffee. Coffee would be the most important if we get snowed in. I can do without a biscuit but not coffee!

Friday night we went to Lucy's Diner. We both ordered the scattered smothered hash browns, embarrassingly big even though it's the small order. Now we're on a scattered hash brown kick, thanks a lot Lucy's! This picture was taken last winter after NWA had the worst blizzard in 100 years. The only place open in town was Lucy's Diner and every table was taken!

My husband has a new snowblower in the garage just waiting. He shoveled enough snow last winter to convince him we don't live far enough South that it's" silly to have a snowblower."He likens it to insurance, you buy it hoping you'll never have to use it! So far so good...

Friday, January 20, 2012

Internet Roulette

I'm a little Irish and a little English and a little Cherokee, but I don't have an ounce of Italian in me. Yesterday I was feeling in an Italian mood, so I looked thorough several cookbooks for a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore. Years ago, I had clipped one from a magazine but it's long gone, disintegrated with time! I can remember using stewed tomatoes and boneless skinless chicken breasts- evidently that's breaking Rule #3 in the Italian Cooking Book. I didn't know!

I looked awhile and then I thought, GOOGLE for a good recipe! By the spin of the Internet Roulette Wheel, this one came up. Not only was it delicious, the directions for the pasta are KEY. Secret directions that are passed down, Mother to daughter and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place- at the right time! Sharing...

Chicken Cacciatore~serves 4-6 PRINT
Dana Bunjon-Dining Dish
3 tablespoons pure olive oil or canola oil
1 large onion diced
½ cup diced celery
1 medium green pepper diced
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic crushed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed dried chili flakes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed with liquid
1 12 oz can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons pure olive oil or canola oil
4 to 6 pounds chicken thighs, skin and bone in (no boneless, skinless chicken breast permitted)
¼ to ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

*Heat 3 tablespoon of pure olive oil in 6 quart saucepan/dutch oven over a medium high heat.
*Add onions, celery, green peppers and salt and stir. After about 3 minutes add the crushed garlic, stir and let it cook until onions are translucent and green peppers have become soft.
*Add the sliced mushrooms, stir and let them get soft and give off their liquid. Add the dried basil, oregano and crushed chili flakes. Stir and cook about 2 minutes.
*Add the chicken stock, white wine, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and sugar. Stir and turn the heat to low or medium low. You want the sauce to be simmering not rapidly boiling. Cover and let simmer. Stir from time to time. Let cook for approximately 1 hour. After the hour, start to prep your chicken.
*In a large bowl stir the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, black pepper and mix well. Coat enough pieces of chicken in the flour mixture that will comfortably fit in your sauté pan. Be sure to shake off excess flour.
*Heat sauté pan on medium high heat and add oil. As soon as the oil is hot add the chicken pieces skin side down and let them sear. You want them to get a nice golden color and then turn the piece over to sear a couple of minutes. Put the chicken on a plate and repeat the process until all the chicken has been seared.
*Place the seared chicken in the saucepan with the sauce, making sure the chicken pieces are submerged in the sauce. Add any juices to the sauce that have accumulated on the plate from the chicken. Let it all simmer for about 1 ½ hours. Do not put the lid on the pot. Stir from time-to-time and add additional liquid if it seems to be getting too thick (i.e. chicken stock, wine or water).

How to cook Pasta the RIGHT Way
Dana's instructions here are important, Italian secrets! 

Always cook your pasta in plenty of well salted boiling water.

Cook your pasta for ½ the time written on the box directions.

Reserve one cup of the of the pasta boiling water for each pound you make.

Use heated plates. If you put hot pasta and sauce on a cold plate the sauce will break, become watery. TIP: Put the colander on top of your dinner plates, and strain the pasta over them.

Put the pasta back in the pot with the reserved pasta boiling water and equal amount of pasta sauce.

Stir the pasta and reserved water over the heat. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes so the pasta is al dente (to tooth) and the liquid has been absorbed and coating the pasta..you want it to be chewy not soft or mushy. 

Take it off the heat and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

Plate the pasta and top each portion with about ¼ cup of sauce. 

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shopping Cart Rules

Last week was my 6 month dental appointment. The hygienist that does my cleaning is a talker so the time always goes pretty fast. When Dr. Weir came in to do the final check he always makes chit-chat, he said he and his wife were coming back from Tulsa last Saturday when they decided to stop at the Wal-mart SuperCenter at Siloam Springs, a small town just a few miles out. Less people = quick grocery store trip…in and out and home. Wrong! For one thing, in a small town Wal-mart is the main attraction. Even if you don’t need anything, you go to Wal-mart and walk around to see if you do need something. I always tell Hubby that the big wigs at Wal-mart set around tables deciding what we can’t live without. You may have noticed that there are many different kinds of shoppers and each one presents a different mode of shopping.
There are the Working Moms With Kids: They pretty much go down the aisles fast because their main goal is to get OUT of the store as quickly as possible before the kids need a nap and have a meltdown.
Then there’s Moms Without Kids: They have the option to stop, look and read the labels. This person can really put a kink in things on a busy Saturday at Wal-mart.
Senior Couples, "Men Pushing The Cart" Category: They lean on the cart waiting patiently for the wife to look and load. Some of these women let their husbands roam a distance from the cart, but that can lead to trouble. They need watching for needless purchases, i.e. meat sticks, cookies loaded with calories and the full fat potato chips. They slip stuff in the cart when you are not looking. Check your cart frequently if you shop with one of these men!
Then you have the Male Shoppers Sent By Wives: They are clutching the list. These men have a "deer in the headlights" look on their face! They are more often than not, on the telephone asking directions with each cart addition. Stay a wide distance from these men, they are huge violators of cart etiquette and will criss-cross and change directions with no warning. These are some of the biggest problem shoppers.
Finally, there are Single Men who are there to get what they want and will run you over to pass by you in a crowded aisle. They zigzag and stop their cart sideways in the middle while they go from side to side grabbing items randomly. These men never have a list. They buy what sounds good at that moment. YOU know the kind!
So here's the rules:
1. Stay to the right.
2. When you park your cart, shop to the right first and to the left second. Only one left side purchase is allowed while parked to the right, this is called "darting." You may dart across for one item only, then you must immediately return to your cart.
3. If you need more than one item on the left, park to the left side as far as possible. Select all needed items from the left and then merge back to the right side when traffic is clear.
4. When turning corners, ongoing passing traffic has the right of way. Wait your turn.
5. At no time is it acceptable to park your cart in the middle of the aisle, nor may you park sideways with the nose of the cart pointing at the shelves. This is "taking your half out of the middle" and is not allowed.
6. You may pass other shoppers, but oncoming traffic goes first. After completing your pass, merge back to the right. Pulling close in front of another shopper after passing and then stopping is bad manners.
7. It is highly recommended that you avoid any shopper who is talking on their cell phone while they shop, as these people have no idea what they are doing or where they are at the moment.
Good luck with the grocery shopping this week...

Please, Observe All Rules!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dinner's ready... Avo's Meatloaf

That's right, I'm talking about mac and cheese, meatloaf, scalloped potatoes... they transport you back to that kitchen table where you set with your feet dangling and your napkin tucked in! I can remember the chrome table and vinyl chairs on Summit Street so well that I can even picture the window all steamed up from winter's cold breath. It was 1959 and dinner was on the table when Daddy walked in...

Avo's Meatloaf PRINT
Avo was Daddy's cousin, possibly the best cook in the family. I may be drummed out of the family after saying this...

3/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground chuck
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 cup milk

Combine ingredients together. Form into a loaf and place in a baking dish. Place in a larger casserole and pour water into the bottom (this keeps the meatloaf moist). Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
* If desired you can top with 1 tsp. mustard, 2 T. brown sugar and 1/4 cup ketchup. Combine and pour on top of meat before baking.

Marcie's Mom's Macaroni and Cheese PRINT
Too simple to be considered special? Just make it and you will have a following!

10 ounces elbow macaroni
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups half and half
1 lb. grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Cook and drain the macaroni. In a large bowl lightly beat the eggs with dry mustard, salt and pepper and stir in the half and half. Add the cheese and the cooked drained macaroni. Pour into buttered 2 qt. casserole and bake 25 minutes. Put under the broiler 1 minute to brown and make a little crust on top. Another way to top is by dotting with butter and crumbled Ritz crackers at the end, watch carefully when you put it under the broiler or they will burn!

Scalloped Potatoes with Sausages PRINT
1/2 lb. breakfast link sausages
4 cups peeled baking potatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups hot milk

Brown sausages well, drain on paper towels. Preheat oven to 350. Slice the potatoes very thin and separate the onion slices into rings. Sprinkle each layer with slath and pepper. In a large saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour, cook briefly.  Slowly whisk in hot milk, then pour over potatoes. Cover tightly with foil and bake one hour. Remove foil and place breakfast links on top. Bake uncovered 15 minutes or more until potatoes are tender.

Mom's Beef Stew PRINT
2 lb. stew meat, in 1" chunks
flour for dredging
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
4 cups beef broth
8 red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
8 carrots, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 whole onion, large dice
tomato juice
parsley, chopped

Dredge meat in flour, Melt butter and oil in large pot, cook beef just to lightly brown then add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the broth and simmer covered for one hour on low heat. Add potato, onion, carrots and celery, simmer for another 30 minutes. Add tomato juice, just enough to make a nice gravy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Potato Heaven PRINT
Feeling blue, do you need a hug? This will cure what ails you, from a cold to a heartache.
Take about 1 1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes and form them into firm little pancakes. Dip in flour, melt butter in a small skillet and put the potato pancakes in. Cover and cook slowly until browned on both sides, adding more butter if needed. Salt and pepper and enjoy!

Betty's Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies PRINT
Pretty enough for company!

1 box of brownie mix for a 13×9 inch pan
(Make brownies according to the directions on the box)
Cheesecake batter
8 ounces package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg

1/3 cup Raspberry Jam, warm slightly in the microwave to soften
1/2 Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Pour brownie batter into a greased 13×9 inch pan. Pour cheesecake batter on the top of the batter. Melt jam a little in the microwave and pour on top of that. Swirl jam and cheesecake batter through the brownie batter with a butter knife. Sprinkle the top with chocolate chips. Bake for around 25-30 minutes at 350. Be careful not to over bake. Cool to room temperature, cut into 15 brownies. 
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spic and Span

Reader's Digest, when was the last time you picked one up? Honestly, it's been years for me but there was a time when I was growing up that it came into our house monthly and was read cover to cover. Lots of information in there- health articles, in depth interviews on current events, funny jokes and even a few recipes. Mom took Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies Home Journal, I can remember her sitting reading a magazine in the afternoon... her version of a coffee break. She was a typical 50's housewife who got up before everyone else, made breakfast and then woke us up, fed us and got us off to school. The rest of the day revolved around household chores, cleaning, laundry and cooking. Her chosen career was family, she never worked outside the home. That's not to say she didn't work hard, her days were long and unglamorous, but she took great pride in her home and making our lives content. I can never remember a time when the bathroom didn't sparkle or the kitchen sink was full.

When I got married she gave me some very good advice... she said you only need a few products to clean your house. Her favorites were ammonia, bleach and Ajax. With those in her cupboard and rags to clean with, she could tackle anything! She wasn't one to use paper towels, the very idea of throwing something away was against her religion!

I asked a Facebook friend the other day for some advice on cleaning our wood floors. She owns a cleaning company and I couldn't resist picking her brain for the best products. She highly recommended Glitsa floor cleaner over the Murphy's Oil Soap that I've been using. Also she said a steam mop will make quick work of hardwood floors, but spring for the professional quality one instead of the cheaper model. She knows her stuff, I had bought the low end Shark and didn't like it. I love my Don Aslett microfiber mop that I ordered from QVC. It takes all of 10 minutes start to finish to mop my wood floors. When I'm done they shine like glass until Ben drools or we track in something on our shoes! I like it clean though, so I mop often.

Twitter feed had these 'Housekeepeeper's Little Known Cleaning Tips" from the current issue of Reader's Digest. It's still pumping out the articles we love to read!

"The best way to dust blinds: Close them, then wipe up and down with an old dryer sheet. It'll create an antistatic barrier that helps prevent dust from building up again.
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is your friend. It will cut your cleaning time in half for bathtubs, sinks, countertops, and dirty walls.
To clean glass and mirrors, use coffee filters, not paper towels. They leave no streaks or lint — and they're cheap.
Vinegar and water is a great deodorizer for a musty bathroom. Spray your shower down as you're getting out. It really absorbs the odors, and the smell of vinegar goes away in an hour.
A wet pumice stone will clean a dirty oven faster than any spray-on product.
Vacuuming bathroom mats is a nightmare. Toss them in the wash every week or two instead.
To damp-mop wood floors, use plain water or a water-based floor cleaner like Bona. Don't use vinegar. The acid in it will pit your polyurethane finish, can void your warranty, and may reduce shine over time.
Seventh Generation dish liquid diluted with water is a great nontoxic all-purpose cleanser. Just put two squirts in a spray bottle and fill it with water.
Our biggest secret weapon? A powdered product called Bar Keepers Friend (amazon.com). We use it on everything. Its active ingredient is rhubarb powder, which really cuts through grit and grime. It cleans glass-top stoves, counters, toilets, porcelain and more. Your sink will never be shinier.
To clean your microwave oven, microwave a cup of water with some baking soda in it until it's boiling. That eliminates odors and makes it super easy to wipe away all that stuck-on stuff.
Clean cobwebs with a yardstick covered by a tube sock. That also works for cleaning under stoves and refrigerators.
Shine your bathroom tiles with lemon oil. It also helps prevent mold and mildew.
To eliminate that ring in your toilet, drop in a bubbling denture tablet, and leave it for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The stain will come off with just a few swishes of the brush."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Homemaker Betty White turns 90!

More good tv tonight... how can that be? Usually it's the sameoldstuff, not worth even turning on to scroll through the guide. Tonight at 8pm EST on NBC we're invited to celebrate Betty White's 90th birthday with some of Hollywood's biggest stars. It should really be funny with the "greats," Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, Tina Fey and Ellen DeGeneres.

Betty celebrates with a cake flown by private plane from Minneapolis to Los Angeles by baking giant Betty Crocker, which is also celebrating it's 90th birthday! The three-tiered triple chocolate cake was layered with chocolate mousse and a chocolate ganache, decorated with red, orange and magenta roses, edible pearls and Golden Girl candles! 
I loved her as Sue Ann Nivens, "The Happy Homemaker" on the old Mary Tyler Moore show back in the 70's. "Dear, sweet, naive Mary,"she'd say to put Mary in her place! She was more than a tad bit jealous of Mary, who was younger, more attractive and easily drew the attention of men. She could be sweet as sugar on air, but the real Sue Ann was sarcastic, man crazy and  lived to zing Mary and Murray! 

Later on in the mid 80's she played the snobbish Ellen Mae Harper on the Carol Burnett Show. Ellen was Eunice's well-to-do sister, clearly Mama's favorite. The rivalry between the two of them was hilarious!

If you have to pick a favorite character that Betty White has played, it probably would be Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls. Kind hearted Rose was naïve and simple, best known for her rambling stories about her hometown St. Olaf, Minneota. The girls would endure her lengthy stories with exasperated silence!

We can't even begin to count the number of smiles that Betty White has brought to our faces. She portrayed the best and the worst of human traits so realistically that we couldn't help but laugh out loud. Don't forget... 8pm EST (7pm Central) on NBC!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Night after night we search, hoping to find something worth watching on tv. Yesterday as my husband was reading the morning paper his eyes lit up, he got a silly look on his face and he said, "There's a good show on tv tonight!" I said, "Really?" I didn't think he was serious, but he was. Last night at 7:30 we were glued to the tv as Turtleman, Ernie Brown dived in Kentucky ponds in search of snapping turtles. We have snapping turtles in our lake, I took this picture last May less than a mile from our house. I just happened to have my camera with me and I hopped out quickly to get a picture. It gave me the heebie jeebies to be that close to the prehistoric looking snapper that was high tailing it across Old Prairie Creek Road!

Turtleman would dive down in these murky ponds and "feel" for these giant turtles. They have a HUGE head with giant jaws and I can't imagine anyone doing this for a living but he's a legend in Kentucky. Ernie's father and uncle taught him the risky technique. He has the honor of catching the biggest turtle to date, aptly named the "Loch Ness Turtle," a monster snapper weighing close to 55 pounds. You have to watch it to believe it... oh yes, they have subtitles to help us understand the dialect. I'm not kidding! Now I'm not poking fun, if they ever do a show about us we will need subtitles too... I hope this doesn't give you nightmares!

Call of the Wildman comes on Animal Planet on Thursdays. Check your local listing for times, this is almost as good as Candid Camera!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

iPad Instructions

I want to apologize to any of you out there that has tried to print some of the many recipes I've posted over the last month. It seems I had left them all set as PRIVATE at Google Docs, that wasn't such a good idea was it? I went back and changed the links to all the recipes that I've posted so hopefully, I won't do that again. I changed to Google Docs since their posting is a piece of cake compared to Scribd's "do this-then do this-go back and do this!" It's challenging these days for me to remember what I've done yesterday. so learning a new trick takes some effort on my part! 

I don't ever want to repeat the Cyberspace Train Wreck, it was painful. I was a new blogger and just feeling like I knew what I was doing when I erased all my pictures on posts with one click of a mouse. Poof... gone into that vast wasteland they call the Internet!

We bought an iPad last weekend and I'm pushing my luck changing from desktop to laptop and now tackling a tablet! To make matters worse it didn't come with an instruction book, you have to log onto Apple.com and navigate their site for answers to "How do I erase bookmarks?" ... "What do you mean there's no way to load Norton Anti Virus?" ... " Why doesn't autofill work?" ... "How do I log out of Twitter?"

Why is it that things that are supposed to make our lives more enjoyable add stress? I am enjoying the camera though, but I can't figure out how to load the film...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grandma Food

Somewhere along the way I've lost a recipe. It was one I clipped from the pages of Woman's Day that first year of marriage, 1970. Every week when I'd check out at Safeway, I'd reach for a Woman's Day or a Family Circle. They were our saving grace from a steady diet of spaghetti or tuna casserole! I picked up a Family Circle the other day and was surprised how thin it's got... and it costs $1.99 now. They were 20 cents when I was a newlywed... good thing too, because our budget for the week was $10.

In my neck of the woods, Chicken and Dumplings are one of those old-fashioned favorites that stirs up a lot of controversy-- the fluffy "dropped" versus the flat "rolled" variety. I grew up with the flat kind and never had a love affair with them until I found the recipe for the FLUFFY ones in Woman's Day. I was so enamored that I couldn't wait for my husband to taste them. He was a wise man even when he was young. He bragged about them, ate two bowlfuls and for the next two years I made them often. Then one day as we were finishing dinner, he said he loved his Grandmothers FLAT dumplings. My hackles went up, just for a second, but I definitely took umbrage to the fact that he loved her dumplings. After I got over that bump, I immediately started searching for a good recipe for the flat ones! Count yourself lucky if you've had a recipe passed down to you. Grandmas make the best ones so I went to a pro... my Sister-in-law's Mom!

Southern Chicken Dumplings~PRINT
Pauline Wallace~ she knows a thing or two about dumplings!
Chicken Broth:
1 whole chicken, pick one that's on the smaller side and it will be more tender
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 chopped onion
2 stalks celery, sliced
In a large soup pot cover the hen in water seasoned with salt and pepper.Add the celery and onion and stew the chicken covered until the meat is tender, about an hour. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Strain broth through a colander to remove vegetables, discard veges. Pour broth back into pot and reheat to boiling while you make the dumplings.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons Crisco
1/2 cup milk
Sift flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening, then add milk and mix. Allow dough to set about 15 minutes to let the baking powder do it's thing, namely a rise that will make the dumplings tender as a Mother's/Grandmother's Love!  Roll dough onto heavily floured surface to 1/8" thick. Cut into inch wide strips and cut into 2" lengths. Drop [floured] strips into boiling chicken broth and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Serves 6.
*Two secrets here, make sure you roll them thin, they will cook faster and you have less chance of them being "doughy." The second one is to dredge the strips again as you place them in the broth, the flour helps to thicken the broth. See why Grandma had the best dumplings???

There are cookbooks out there that are full of "Grandma Food."
One that I love, Being Dead is No Excuse by Gayden Metcalf and Charlotte Hays has  been called the official Southern Ladies guide to hosting the perfect funeral! Inside the covers are the tried and the trues, the dishes that comfort and heal.

Methodist Party Dish~Print
If you refuse to cook with corn flakes, skip this recipe. 
1 2-pound package hash browns
10 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 pint sour cream
1 can (10 3/4-ounces) cheddar cheese soup, not diluted
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 cups corn flakes
1 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare the hash browns according to the package directions. Combine the cooked hash browns with the other ingredients and place in a buttered 13 x 9-inch casserole dish. Top the casserole with corn flakes and dot with butter. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden, crisp, and bubbly. After you've eaten your fill, ask your doctor to write a prescrition for Lipitor!

Virginia's Butter Beans~PRINT
This recipe comes from the late Virginia Owens, a St. James' parishioner - and the recipe is a Mississippi Delta funeral favorite.
2 (10 oz) boxes frozen butter beans, cooked and drained
6 slices bacon, crumbled
1/4 to 3/4 cup minced green onions
1/3 cup minced celery
1/3 cup bell pepper, minced
2 tbsp flour
2 cups drained canned tomatoes
2 tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fry the bacon and then saute the minced vegetables in the bacon grease. Add the flour, tomatoes, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Add the cooked and drained butter beans. Adjust the seasonings, pour into casserole and top with crumbled bacon. Bake until bubbly. Serves eight to ten and freezes well.

Methodist Fried Chicken~PRINT
1 chicken, cut up.a nice, medium-size yard bird
2 eggs
2 cups whole milk
2 cups flour salt black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
fat for frying (Crisco, vegetable oil, or a combination. Crisco is a nice way of saying "lard.")
Lightly beat the eggs and blend with the milk. Combine the flour, salt, pepper (a generous amount), and baking powder in a doubled brown grocery bag.shake to mix. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg/milk mixture. Shake chicken, one piece at a time, in the bag of flour until well coated (at this point, some cooks prefer the double-dip method where they repeat the egg-wash-and-flour procedure).
Using a preseasoned black-iron skillet, heat enough oil to almost cover the chicken. When you drop the chicken in, the fat sizzles! Frying is an art. The real art involves the grease, which must not burn but cook at an even, medium-hot level. Cooking time will vary according to the size of the piece of chicken. Approximately 20 minutes. Serves three to four.
GRANDMA SECRETS: Do not crowd the chicken when frying. Turn only once, when golden brown on one side. Remove pieces from the skillet and drain them on a brown grocery bag that has been covered with a layer of paper towels.soaks up extra grease better than anything!

The Methodist Ladies' Chicken Lasagna Florentine~PRINT
6 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, thawed
2 cups cooked, chopped chicken, about 3 medium breasts
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1/3 cup homemade mayonnaise
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste
Butter pecan topping (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside. Drain the spinach well, pressing between layers of paper towels. Combine the spinach, chicken, cheddar cheese, onion, nutmeg, salt, pepper, soy sauce, soup, sour cream and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Stir well to blend. Arrange half the noodles in a lightly greased 11-by-7-by-1 1/2-inch baking dish. Spread half the chicken mixture over the noodles. Repeat this procedure with the remaining chicken mixture and noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and Butter Pecan Topping. Bake, covered, for 55 to 60 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting. Serves eight.
Butter Pecan Topping:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the pecans and cook for 3 minutes. Cool completely.

Martha Jane Howell's Pineapple Casserole~PRINT
2 cans (20 ounces) crushed pineapple
5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated sharp cheese
Ritz crackers
1 stick real butter
Drain the pineapple. Grease a 2-quart oblong casserole dish and put the pineapple in the bottom. Sift the flour and sugar together, blend it with the cheese and then sprinkle on top of the pineapple. Cover with crushed Ritz crackers, a tube or a tube and a half will do nicely. Melt the butter and pour over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serves eight.

"Think of these teas as Methodist chardonnay. Methodists rarely drown their grief in anything stronger than flavored tea. Mint tea and almond tea are refreshing in the Delta summer and won't cause you to say things you regret later. The mint tea is a legacy of a long-gone minister."

Almond Tea~PRINT
4 cups strongly brewed tea
3/4 cup water
1 can (60 ounces) frozen lemonade, thawed
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract, a little goes a long way
Combine all ingredients. Stir it until the sugar is dissolved, and serve over ice. Makes about twelve cups.

Mint Tea~PRINT
16 cups water (1 gallon)
7 tea bags
7 sprigs fresh mint
Rind of 3 lemons
Juice of 7 lemons
2 cups sugar
Bring half the water to a boil. Add the tea bags, mint and lemon rinds. Steep for 12 minutes. Add the lemon juice and sugar to the remaining 8 cups of water. Mix with the tea and serve over ice. For funeral purposes, I wouldn't garnish each glass with mint, though that's a nice touch for less-somber occasions. Serve it from a glass pitcher.

Bing Cherry Salad with Coca-Cola~PRINT
You knew there was going to be a Jello salad in here, didn't you?
2 (3-ounce) boxes cherry gelatin
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (15-ounce) can black cherries, drained
2 cups juice, reserved from pineapple and cherries, heated
2 (8-ounce) bottles Coca-Cola
1 cup pecans
Dissolve the gelatin in the hot juice, then add the Coca-Cola and pour into a dish. When gelatin starts to congeal, stir in the pineapple, quartered cherries, and pecans. Chill until firm. Serves sixteen.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pizza Delivery

How do you get pizza if you don't have pizza delivery? Digorno? No silly, you make one! Busy day yesterday and when it occurred to me it was nearly 4pm and there was nothing planned for dinner, I looked for a pizza crust recipe on AllRecipes.com. There are lots of choices, I'm glad I chose this one... it's a keeper. Crispy thin crust, the recipe takes only an hour rise time and 20 minutes to bake. The other two balls of dough went in the freezer for another busy day!
Pizza Dough II
Rated: rating
Prep Time: 20 MinutesReady In: 2 Hours
Submitted By: Stephen CarrollCook Time: 30 MinutesServings: 16
"A little whole-wheat flour makes this pizza crust chewy and flavorful. The three-crust yield means you can freeze some for later use."
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water (110
degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups bread flour
1.In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit until creamy; about 10 minutes.
2.Stir the olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt and 4 cups of the bread flour into the yeast mixture. Mix in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.
3.Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and form into rounds. Cover the rounds and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
4.Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into the desired shape, cover it with your favorite toppings and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for about 20 minutes or until the crust and cheese are golden brown.
*I used leftover spaghetti sauce, a half pound of Italian sausage sauteed with a half onion chopped and a minced clove of garlic, black olives, mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan for toppings. I used all bread flour since I didn't have any whole wheat flour in the pantry. Putting that on my list right now!

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