Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Wish.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I hope this weekend is full of love, laughs, and great food for all of you. I kicked off Christmas Eve with brunch with my Dad and 3 girls. We had the best time too. I don't know how we got off on this, but Dad ended up taking the heights of all the girls. Guess what? My oldest is now officially one inch taller than me. That thoroughly depressed me and I ended up going back for one more biscuit.....Tonight we will celebrate with K's family. My MIL will cook her fanny off all day in preparation for it too. I'm planning on taking oven roasted potato wedges sprinkled with sea salt, cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, and of course crumbled bacon. I'll serve them with a sour cream dipping sauce. I've also got my favorite hot jalapeno popper dip (recipe here) that I'll be bringing. Tomorrow will start off with my kids seeing what Santa left them under the tree and we will have our family gift exchange. I'm making a breakfast sausage casserole (recipe to come) for breakfast then. My parent's will stop by to see the kids' gifts and then dash home to prepare for my Mom's side of the family who will join us for lunch at my Parents' house. My Aunt P brings an icebox fruitcake that is to die for and her famous cheese ball.  My sis-in-law, J, will bring Chex Mix that I will eat on for the rest of the day. I'm making green beans cooked with caramelized onions and bacon in a sweet vinegar sauce for our lunch buffet. We'll play a spirited game of Dirty Santa with that crew and they'll be off. Then, my Parents and siblings along with all of our kids will have our family Christmas. My Dad will kick it off with reading Luke's account of Jesus' birth. We will talk about the wonderful gift that God gave us when He sent His Son to earth on that blessed day. We will talk about all the things that we have to be thankful for and give God thanks for all His blessings. Next, we'll open our presents. Finally, we'll end the night eating leftovers from lunch and popping in a funny movie for the whole family to enjoy. I'm painting a really pretty picture here, but we are an ordinary family who doesn't always feel the love towards each other on a 365 day a year basis. We get into scuffs. We sometimes "exchange words", especially me and my sisters. However, we love each other and we always get over it. Whatever "it" was. *Just keeping it real.* It's wonderful to spend Christmas with our loved ones. It's also wonderful to share that love with others who may not have family to spend it with. Christmas is about Christ. It's about giving of ourselves. Serving others. Spreading God's love. Praying for people that we know are hurting. Asking God to show us what He would have us to do to glorify His name. Being willing to do what He commands us to do. To God be the Glory forever and ever! And believe me, He will get the glory He deserves whether we believe in Him or not. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him Lord and day. Merry Christmas Y'all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Cookie Recipe.

I've been on a Barefoot Contessa kick lately. I have a lot of her shows recorded and one afternoon last week all I did was watch Ina work her magic in the kitchen. One of the shows was right up my alley. She was entertaining a large group and gave ideas for a fairly simple menu. She served a huge pot of Lobster Corn Chowder, a fruit & cheese tray, a big Marmalade Glazed Ham, a simple green salad, and Dried Fruit Cookies. I thought to myself, "I can totally do that!". I don't have the funds to go around throwing lobster into my soup, but I can certainly handle a simple chicken corn chowder. I'm planning a little get together at my house after Christmas for a small group of friends and this is going to be my menu (provided all the recipes turn out as good as they look on tv).

 Of course, I tested the dessert recipe first. Winner! These Dried Fruit Cookies (recipe here) are really good. I had to make a few adjustments, like leaving out the nuts because I have a child with a nut allergy and I also left out the raisins (simply because I've just never liked them). Other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe as outlined. I like these because they are not overly sweet and a have a spice quality to them (because of the ground cloves, which I only used 1/2 of what the recipe called for). I can't wait to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and eat these. My kids weren't too crazy about them because they were under the impression that they had chocolate chips in them (a good guess considering I was the one baking them). They remind me so much of Christmas partly because they resemble little fruitcakes. I hope you get a chance to try these soon. I think you will find that you will reach for them every time the cookie jar is opened. Which reminds me...I've got to get rid of that thing before I begin the new year with an extra twenty pounds. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Christmas Tour of Homes.

This morning I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs. I haven't got to do that in a while and I've really missed some good recipes and decorating tips along the way. One site I like is She has my kind of taste and often has good tips along the way. She had a recent post here and it was called a link party for a tour of Christmas homes. Anyone who has a blog could submit a photo of a decorated space in their home. I really enjoyed clicking on all the different pictures and it took me straight to the person's blog who submitted it. I found so many good ideas on there. The above picture is from one of the links, it was taken from the lettered cottage. She has a beautiful home and I really thought this was a simple, yet elegant and inviting way to decorate this space. I hope you can find time to take the tour of homes and see all the beautiful things for yourself. In the meantime, I'm busy getting Christmas cards ready to be mailed and still have some gifts to wrap. However, I'm so thankful to the One who truly deserves the glory and praise. Thank you Jesus for giving us this special season to remind us of the awesome gift you gave us when you came to Earth as a precious baby boy to ultimately give yourself up on a cross to pardon our sins. HE is the best gift...ever. Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Chocolate Christmas Treat.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I've had the best time surfing the web and finding wonderful treats to compliment this Christmas season. I used to get a candy cane in my stocking every year when I was growing up. I wonder if that's why my favorite shower gel fragrance for this time of the year is candy cane? Okay, let's get down to business. How do you like the looks of the little treat pictured above? I bet it's cold (like straight of the fridge cold) and slightly hard on the top, but as your teeth sink in it becomes a silky, creamy, chocolatey party in your mouth. I'm sort of an expert on this subject. Okay? Let's just say, it took years of practice. I found this recipe on the food network website and it had a 5 star rating from all who had made it. You can find a printable recipe for this chocolate peppermint cheesecake here. I will tell you that I haven't personally tried it yet, but it's on my "to do" list before the month is out. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Little Break.

     Can it really be that I haven't posted in two whole weeks? Umm....yes. Do I have an excuse for my laziness? Well, other than the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed my Thanksgiving hiatus with family and friends. I also shopped till I dropped. I also ate like there was no tomorrow. Now that I'm done destroying my financial future and adding about ten points to my total cholesterol, I believe it's time to get back to business. Okay, I'm just kidding. I do have most of my shopping done and I am sticking to my budget as planned. As far as overeating goes, there wasn't too much of that either. My family had a really strange stomach bug hit us last week. It wasn't severe and lasted only a few hours, but it left most of us with hardly any appetite for the rest of the week. Let's face it, sometimes blessings come in disguise.
      I am excited as I can be about this next month. There will be many special things to see and do. I am most grateful for the ultimate Christmas gift that was given to us in the form a sweet baby boy so many years ago. He was and is and will always be the most perfect gift from above. Last Sunday, my pastor brought up the idea of how ridiculous it would be to show up to someone else's birthday party and expect all the presents to be given to you. He pointed out that we so often do that to Jesus on His birthday. One of our precious children replied, "Well Brother Alex, that's just how Christmas works.".  Out of the mouths of babes.... I, too, like the special traditions of Christmas such as gift giving, family gatherings, and beautiful decorations. I just want to be sure that all the glory goes to the One who truly deserves it. I want to be sure that I am living out the directions that He gave me in His Word. I want to give up the selfish desires that I have and look for ways to give to others, especially those in need. I want my children to get to experience that for themselves as well. We are currently thinking about a family project that we can do to raise money for a mission program. How about you? We've all been given talents and abilities, let's use what God gave us to glorify Him.
     I am so looking forward to sharing some fun and interesting things that I have found to help make this season a little merrier and bright. I hope that you won't do like me and just kind of take a break from life over the next few weeks. Yes, I hope your holiday is relaxing and rejuvenating for you. I hope you get to enjoy the blessings that will be sure to abound. I just want us all to remember the true reason for the season and pray about what God would have us to do to minister to others and spread His love around.  Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice Dish.

It's the most wonderful time of the year. I mean it too. I adore the time immediately before Thanksgiving. Just knowing that I'm going to spend time with my family and that my kitchen is going to be full of wonderful scents makes me happy. This year I'm getting my kids involved in the process. I want each of them to have a contribution to the Thanksgiving meal. I've also decided that I don't want to spend ALL my time in the kitchen. So, I've got a plan to help myself enjoy the festivities. I've bought up hot chocolate and apple cider mixes that can prepared in a jiffy. I'm keeping bars of cream cheese and boxes of Wheat Thins on hand. I like to throw pepper jelly on top of the cream cheese and serve it with the Wheat crackers. Really good.....really, really easy. I've also got myself stocked up on brownie mixes. And finally, I'm utilizing my slow cooker as much as I ever have. It's so nice to get things going early in the day, be able to clean up the mess, leave, and walk back in to delicious smells and a ready to serve meal. I always have a lettuce mix in the fridge with an assortment of dressings and some kind of bread that can be served alongside this sort of meal. It's a no brainer (for those of us who really need to not to have to think). Cheesy chicken and rice is a family favorite. It really couldn't be simpler either. Let me give you the recipe for this Comfort 101 dish: 4 boneless skinless chicken breast, 1 large onion (chopped), 1 (8 oz) box Zatarain's Yellow Rice mix (cooked according to the directions), 1 cup cheddar cheese, 1 (10.5 oz) can cream of chicken soup, and 1 (15 oz) can whole kernal corn (drained). Begin by placing chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Scatter chopped onions on top. Spread cream soup over that.  Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. A few minutes before serving, add in cooked rice, corn, and cheese. Stir to combine and serve hot. Now just for something a little different, I use a can of Mexicorn because I like the bright red and green colors that it adds to the dish. I got this recipe & photo from Christy at Christy was recently feature in Southern Living magazine. She's got many, many, many wonderful southern style recipes on her site. There is a printable version of the above recipe on there too. I hope you will let your slow cooker do some of your cooking for you over the next few weeks. I like to think of it as my own personal in the kind I can actually afford. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Jewelry Party.

Jewelry. *sigh* I don't know very many women who aren't content to look at and try on jewelry. A good pair of earrings can make your face look thinner. A necklace can totally change the look of an outfit. And a blingy ring hardly ever goes unnoticed. We women love our jewelry. Today I'm giving you the link to one of my faves, I've been wearing her jewelry for quite sometime now. It's good quality and it gets noticed. She's got silver, wood, acrylic, shell, etc... One of my favorite pairs of earrings (of all time) are her creation. They are large silver hoops that have a round, monogrammed disc that hang from them. People always ask me about them. I also have some of her wood jewelry pieces that people notice too. Ok...I've got pretty much one of everything she sells. Even the personalized picture frame. It's all good. The pieces are unique, affordable, and really pretty. Her Christmas event is going on today and tomorrow and you can save 10% by using the code save10 at the checkout, plus check out other items that have already been marked down. Go on over to her site and start working on that Christmas list of yours. Happy shopping!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Caramel Apple Salad.

I don't often give salad recipes. Why is that? Hmm...don't try to analyze me because I can tell you it won't do you any good. I'm complicated. Aren't we all? I am going to make an honest effort to put healthier fare on this blog, if it kills me....Haha! Today's recipe is kind of a poke at that because it's Caramel Apple Salad and it's got Snickers in it. And it's really good and really easy. Snickers + Good + Easy = Winning Recipe! I got the recipe and photo from Bridget at This is a darling baking website. Be sure and check it out. So without delay, I will give the short list of ingredients (only 5) that you will need to make this: 12 Fun Size or 6 Large Snicker Bars, 1 (3.4 oz.) Pkg. Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix, 1 Cup Milk, 1 (8 oz) Cool Whip, and 6-8 Granny Smith Apples. Begin by cutting Snickers into bite size pieces. Set aside. Next, in a large bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Cut apples into chunks and stir into the pudding mixture. Fold in the chopped up Snicker Bars. Top the salad with thinly sliced Snicker pieces so everyone knows that it's a dessert salad. Watch everyone's faces light up with delight when they discover the "salad" option. I like this salad because it's both sweet and tart and there is a good balance of both tastes. I hope you can try it soon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Bisquick Cornbread.

So, wow...I can't believe I'm giving you a recipe for cornbread that involves bisquick. You see, me and cornbread, well we go way back. It was kind of a staple in my house growing up. My Dad liked vegetables and cornbread for supper and so that's what we had. My Grandparents liked to crumble cornbread in a glass and pour buttermilk over it and eat it that way. In fact, that's what they had for supper a lot of nights. Now my Dad likes "milk and bread" too. We all eventually turn into our parents. You know that right?  Another reason this cornbread is not something I would normally like is because it's not cooked in a black, cast iron skillet. Any Southern girl worth her weight owns at least one cast iron skillet. Now, I tell you this cornbread is moist, slightly sweet, and mouth-watering good. It's easy too. I think you will be very happy with the result if you try this. I got the photo and recipe from a really cute blog called Lisa is the lady behind the website and she named this Scott's Bisquick Cornbread because her husband, Scott, cooked it for her. Sweet. If Mr. K would cook for me, I would name all my dishes after him too. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure he would not find that an appealing enough offer to actually do it. Anyway, back to the cornbread....make it soon. Serve it alongside a big bowl of piping hot soup. Here's the recipe: 2 Cups Bisquick, 6 T. cornmeal, 1/2 Cup Sugar, 2 Eggs, 1/2 Cup Butter (Melted), and 1 Cup Milk. Preheat oven to 350˚. Mix Bisquick and cornmeal together. Set aside. Add milk and eggs to melted butter (make sure it's slightly cooled) and stir together. Pour milk mixture into Bisquick mixture and stir together. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 baking dish. Bake at 350˚ for 35 minutes or until golden brown. If you want a variation, then you can substitute buttermilk in the place of regular milk. If you want more of a Mexican cornbread, then throw in 1 jalapeno (diced), 1/3 cup cheddar cheese, and 3 green onions (thinly sliced). Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Different Green Bean Casserole

  I was catching up on a few of my favorite blogs this morning and came across some good recipes. Today's Green Bean Casserole is one of them. I am already a fan of the traditional one, but was getting a little bored with it after all these years. The Pioneer Woman solved that dilemma. Her updated version is spot on in the flavor department and I love the difference the Panko bread crumb topping makes. Even my local Wal-Mart carries Panko bread crumbs now. Yay! Now if you couldn't possibly imagine the casserole with any other topping than the crispy onion rings, then go for it. No big deal. This recipe and photo is courtesy of You can go there today and scroll down and see a step by step guide to preparing this and get a printable form of the recipe. *One day I'm going to figure out how to make printable versions myself. * Here's the recipe: 2 lbs. Fresh Green Beans (ends cut off). 4 slices Bacon (cut into 1/4 inch pieces), 3 Garlic Cloves (minced), 1/2 Large Onion (chopped), 4 T. Butter, 4 T. All-Purpose Flour, 2 1/2 Cups Milk, 1/2 Cup Half-and-Half, 1 1/2 t. Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper (to taste), 1/8 t. Cayenne Pepper, 1 Cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 1 (4 ounce) jar Sliced Pimentoes (drained), Extra Milk for thinning if Necessary, and 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs. Begin by cutting green beans in half. Blanch the green beans by dropping them into lightly salted boiling water and allow them to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they're cool and set aside. Next, add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for two minutes, then add diced onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown . Remove from heat and set aside. Next, In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half-and-half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat. Finally, add pimentos to pan, then add bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into baking dish and top with panko crumbs. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden. This should serve approximately 8 people. Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Home Project: Next On My List

I have mixed feelings about the internet. I think it can be, and often is, used as a tool to do great things. I have been so blessed by so many people that I'm friends with on facebook, for example. I also enjoy learning all manner of recipes and craft ideas through it and find myself inspired in ways that I don't believe I could be without this technology. We can all agree that it can be used in many destructive ways as well. And I don't think I have to spell them out. As a lesser evil,  I have to fight the urge to not let it consume my time and energies as I am checking out many wonderful sites and getting lots of fantastic ideas that can apply to all areas of my life. Don't get me wrong, I believe the internet will spread the Good News of Christ's love for us in an unprecedented way.. That I love. I just felt the need to write that today as I'm getting ready to show you a little project that I found on a website the other day. I have really enjoyed getting decorating tips from Melissa on her site, She is so talented in this area and I think her house is beautiful. She had a guest post the other day from Holly of and it was the numbered stairs pictured above (photo courtesy of Holly Mathis). Now the numbers can be purchased from Melissa at I believe this idea may have been featured in the Pottery Barn catalog at some point too. I have stairs in my home and I have been thinking that they could really use a little something to give them a pop. I think this idea is adorable and adds just the right amount of interest to the total look. I'm planning on doing this soon. Hopefully, before the end of the month (providing the Hubby won't mind). I would definitely encourage you to check out the above websites mentioned too. They are jam packed with all sorts of great ideas and tips. I thought this was the perfect post to leave you with on this gorgeous Friday. I hope you all have a great weekend. Go out and support your local football team tonight. The end of the regular season is coming to a close and I know the boys would love to have you cheering them on. In the meantime, Happy Fall Y'all!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Frequent Request: Oven Ham Sammies.

Do you have a recipe that people seem to request a lot? For me, it's usually the simple ones that I get the most requests for. Oh wait, I only make simple recipes...maybe that's why. Anyway, this oven ham sandwich is one that we've been making in our family for a long time. My Mom introduced these to me years ago and I've not looked back since. I take these to all sorts of occasions and I tell you, I could count on one hand the number of times I've had leftovers. They disappear quick. This recipe is slightly different than the one I've been making for so long, but it's got all the same components just assembled differently. I got the recipe and photo from You really must make these for the loved ones in your life. It's getting close to Christmas you know. People are soon going to be shopping for gifts for you. Leave a good impression on them. Haha. I'm just joking. I would never use food to persuade people to do me favors. Never. Well...never is a strong word. Here's the recipe for these fabulous sandwiches: 1 (12 count) package Kings Hawaiian Rolls, 1/2 cup Butter (melted), 1/2 t. Ground Mustard, 1 t. Poppy Seeds, 2 t. Onion Flakes, 1 t. Worcheshire Sauce, 1 Package Sliced Swiss Cheese, and 12 -16 ounces Thin Sliced Ham.  Put ham and cheese on sliced rolls. Mix all other ingredients together and spoon over sammies. Bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. Sooo good. I'm not kidding. The way I have always prepared them is to slather the melted ingredients on the inside of the roll with the ham and cheese and bake them wrapped tightly in tin foil. I really like the looks of these and have decided to make mine like this from now on. The only thing to make sure of, is that you have a good friend close by to tell you if you have poppy seeds stuck in your teeth. You know your husband won't notice. Funny story, we were at a family reunion on my husband's side a few years back. I had been eating some chicken casserole and was just visiting away with his relatives. My husband was sitting right across from me the whole time. My 10 year old nephew (at the time) runs by and then turns back around and says "Aunt Tracie, you got a big piece of chicken stuck in your teeth.". I thanked him and then cut my eyes over at my husband and shot him the "I can't believe you didn't notice that!" look.  He gives me the "Am I supposed to notice EVERY little detail?" look and shrugs his shoulders.* Don't you love it when husbands and wives have conversations with their eyes?*  No, Honey, of course not. A piece of chicken dangling out of my mouth is, however, on the list of must notice details. Haha! Thank goodness I was already established in the family or else they might have thought twice about letting me in. Forgive me for digressing.  This is an excellent recipe and super easy. I hope you enjoy it! 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Side Dish for Thanksgiving.

November is in full swing and the time has come to begin thinking about our Thanksgiving menus. As for me, my family does something a little different on the fourth Thursday of every November. We have a family reunion. There's no traditional formal, sit down meal for us that day. It's been this way my whole life. And....I wouldn't have it any other way. I look forward to seeing my big family that day. I enjoy catching up with cousins that live hours away. I love eating the wonderful food that everyone brings. Let me tell you, cooking is one thing my family is known for. The buffet goes on and on and on. I always feel so bad at how full my plate looks when I finally get through the line. It's just that there's so much that I want to taste. Spoonfuls add up quick in that kind of environment. So that brings me back to the recipe for this post. I finished up a Bible study recently and our women's group met yesterday for a potluck lunch. I was browsing through some of my favorite food sites to get an idea of what to take and came across Scalloped Sweet Potatoes from This site is also where the above photo came from.  And I thought that nothing screams Thanksgiving any more than sweet potatoes (well..except turkey). What I liked about this one was that it was more on the savory side. I really "dig" a sweet potato casserole topped with brown sugar, butter, and pecans as well as anybody, but sometimes it's nice to change things up. Here's the recipe: 2 lbs. Sweet Potatoes, 4 Strips Bacon, 1 Whole Onion (chopped), 2 1/2 T. All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 t. Salt, 1/4 t. Black Pepper, 2 Cups Reduced Fat Milk, and 1 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese ( I used an italian blend). Preheat oven to 325˚ F. Peel potatoes; cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and set aside. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel, crumble, and set aside. Add chopped onion to bacon drippings and cook until tender. Stir in flour over low heat and cook to a paste. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in milk and cook until mixture thickens slightly. Arrange half of the sweet potatoes in the bottom of a greased 11x7 inch baking dish (I also took the opportunity to throw a dash of salt and pepper over the potatoes at this point too).  Sprinkle on half of the crumbled bacon. Pour on half of the milk mixture. Arrange remaining potatoes, sprinkle with remaining bacon, and pour the rest of the milk mixture on top. Cover with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. If desired, brown cheese for 1-2 minutes under the broiler. This turned out to be a really delicious side dish. You can get a printable version of this recipe from if you'd like. Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Hot Jalapeno Popper Dip.

Last Saturday, one of my sisters hosted a get together for the kids in the family and some close friends as well. She had it set up really cute and there was apple bobbing, a football toss, a pumpkin pinata, etc... We had hotdogs and chips, orange Kool-Aid, and Halloween cupcakes. It was around 4 in the afternoon and the weather was perfect. I tell you this because later that night when the hubs and I made a little trip to Wal-Mart we were both a little hungry (this was like 5 hours later). We thought it was too late to eat anything heavy so we decided to drive thru Sonic and get a little snack. He got a hamburger (I didn't call that a snack) and I got jalapeno poppers. They hit the spot too. Mine were filled with cheddar cheese, but my favorite have cream cheese on the inside. This morning I was searching for an appetizer to take to another tailgate and came across this one for Hot Jalapeno Dip. It was just what I was looking for and now I can't wait to make this Friday night. I got it off of as well as the above photo. This is an excellent site to find a variety of recipes and you can join it and submit your own. This recipe was rated 5 oven mitts which is the highest rating a recipe can get on that site. Isn't that cute? Oven mitts....I bought all the ingredients today. Here's the list so you can get yours too. Ingredients: 2 (8 oz.) Pkgs. Cream Cheese softened, 1/2 cups sour cream, 1/2 cups mayo, 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles drained, 5 whole jalapenos (seeded and diced), 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I bough an italian blend because sometimes parmesan is a little too pungent), and 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs. Begin by heating the oven to 400˚ F. Stir together cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapenos. Pour mixture into an oven safe serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and panko crumbs. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, then put under broiler for 1-3 minutes to lightly brown on the top. Serve warm with tortilla chips, crackers, or crusty bread. This should easily serve 8 people. Doesn't it look fabulous? I may have to test it tonight just to make sure it's going to be ok to serve to the general public this weekend. I always want to do my part. Haha! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Lighter Loaded Potato Soup.

Today is Halloween which means tomorrow kicks off the start of the Thanksgiving season. This is absolutely one of my favorite times of the year. The anticipation of seeing family members that live far away, decorating the house, cooking (& eating) wonderful food, hearing the fireplace crackle, filling my home with the scents of the season, and pulling warm sweaters and boots out of storage to wear....not to mention the sounds of Christmas music that will soon penetrate the house. I love it! A few years ago, I invited some friends and family over the day before Thanksgiving. I fixed a huge pot of potato soup, mini mexican corn muffins, and my favorite salad (recipe in September archives). It was really very simple to put together. We did it at lunch so the kids were free to run and play outside and the adults stayed inside and visited. I had a chocolate pound cake for dessert, but hardly anyone wanted it because the soup was so hearty and filling. It was just a wonderful time and really kicked the Holiday season off for me. I hope to do something very similar this year. The fact is, you can't go wrong with potato soup. It's a proven crowd pleaser. Today I'm giving you a recipe for a lower fat version of the soup I made. It is just as good and filling with the added health benefit.  I recently read a book called The Reluctant Entertainer (I bought off of Sandy, the author, gives some great ideas to take the fear out of entertaining. Plus, she's got a wonderful website called I hope you can plan to do something like this over the course of this month, even if it is just inviting your next door neighbor over. Practice hospitality. It's a dying art in our culture today. Make your company feel wanted and welcomed. That's all that really counts. Your house doesn't have to be perfect. You don't have to have a culinary degree. Just be yourself and let your guests know they are important to you. Isn't that the purpose of having people over? Okay, enough of that. Here's the recipe for Lighter Potato Soup adapted from Cooking Light October 2010. I got the photo and adapted recipe from Tessa at This recipe serves four. However, it can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled to accommodate your group, but cook the potatoes as outlined in batches of 4 so that they will be properly done. You will need 4 (6 ounce) red potatoes, 2 t. olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 1/4 cups chicken broth, 3 T. all-purpose flour, 2 cups 1% low-fat milk (divided), 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. black pepper, 3 bacon slices (fried & crumbled), 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and 4 t. thinly sliced green onions. Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on high for 13 mins. or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly. While potatoes cook, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute′ 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cups milk and add to broth and onion mixture. Then add in remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often, being careful to not let the milk boil over. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper. Scoop potato in soup and discard skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup using a potato masher. It's important to taste it at this point. It may need more salt. Under seasoning is probably one of the biggest mistakes made when cooking. Potatoes are about as bland as you can get. They need salt. Make sure it's seasoned to your liking, but don't go overboard. Remember your toppings (like the bacon and cheese) will add a little salt too.  Ladle soup into four bowls and top with cheese, green onions, and bacon. You can even put various toppings out in bowls and let your guests decide how they want to garnish their soup. This is a good one to serve on a cold day. After all, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Right? Let's start acting like it and spread some of our blessings around.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Peak at What I'm Giving as Christmas Gifts.

It's that time of year again. Halloween is approaching at the speed of light and then you know the rest of the story. Christmas will be here... like... tomorrow. Seriously, there's less than 2 months to go till the big day. I, for one, am asking myself "Where did 2010 go?". Wasn't I just cooking black eyed peas for our New Year's Day meal? Yes, time is rocking on by. This year I'm going to make a conscious effort to get all the hustle and bustle out of the way in November so that I can concentrate on the true meaning of Christmas during the month of December. You want to hear something sick? My sister gets all of her Christmas shopping done in January. She hits all the after Christmas sales with list in hand and wipes everyone off her list. And yes, she has already purchased my 2011 and 2012 birthday presents. No kidding. So, enough of that silly talk. Let me tell you what I've decided a few ladies on my list will be getting from me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A "Smart" Lunch.

Today I am going to share with you what I have for lunch like 4 days out of the week. My beloved Smart Ones mini pepperoni pizzas. Smart Ones is a trademark company for Weight Watchers. All of the Smart Ones products list WW points on them.  Here's a few reasons why I like this particular product. First of all, I am a big advocate of Weight Watchers. I think it is one of the most sensible approaches out there to losing weight and promoting healthier lifestyles. I am an online member right now and am enjoying some success through that venue. Second, I don't normally like frozen meals like this, especially those prepared in the microwave. They are usually not very appealing to me and what the microwave does to the texture of pizza is...well...a crime. I had not found a frozen pizza that I really cared for until now. I bake these in my oven and they come out perfect. Crispy, yet slightly chewy. I have a pan that kind of looks like a pizza pan except that it's square. It's got little holes in the bottom and allows for these pizzas to really crisp up (also chicken nuggets and french fries bake up wonderfully in this way). Finally, this is very affordable. A box costs $2.50 at Wal-Mart and you get 2 servings per box. I'm no math expert, but that comes out to $1.25 per meal. There are four mini pizzas per serving and it's really enough for me for lunch. Occasionally, I'll add a salad or green beans, but usually I just enjoy my four little pizzas. My little sidekick, EC, loves these as well. It's just simple, good, and healthy. Now don't go out to Wal-Mart and buy every last one of them. What would I do for lunch? Haha! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Rice Casserole.

Today's recipe and photos come from Can I get that on a bumper sticker please? Yes, mennonite girls can cook. If you've ever been fortunate enough to happen upon a mennonite bakery then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I found this recipe on there for rice casserole and it rocks! I mean it. It makes a wonderful side dish for chicken especially. Of course it does, right? Chicken & Rice....Anyway, it meets my criteria for being simple, having accessible ingredients, and tasting delicious. Here's the recipe from Annaliese's kitchen for Rice Casserole: 2 cups Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, 4 cups Water, 1 Red Pepper (chopped), 1 Pkg. Onion Soup Mix, 1 can Mushrooms with water, 3 T. Soy Sauce, 1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup, and 2 T. oil. Begin by mixing all ingredients (except water) in a 9x13 Pyrex pan or large (3 Qt.) casserole dish. Stir in the water. Bake @ 350˚ for 1 hour. Sometimes I cover it and sometimes I don't. If the dish has a lid I put it on and uncover it once it's cooking good. If it doesn't, I cover it with tin foil once it looks like it might dry out. And really, I don't know too many people who don't like rice. This one should appeal to a wide variety of people so don't be afraid to make it for potlucks, company, etc....I am planning on making this for my church potluck this coming Sunday. What do you think? I would love to hear your comments. Lol! I'm the only one who ever comments. What does that say about me?.....You know, probably better just to leave that one unanswered.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Fancy Looking Chicken Dish.

I suppose I've become a blog troller or stalker or whatever you want to call it. I love reading other people's blogs and getting ideas off of them. I guess that's the purpose of blogging. At least it is for me. I would never take credit for someone else's picture that I use or post they've written. It's not how I roll. You will find very few "original" posts from me because I am...umm...not very creative. The chicken recipe I'm giving you tonight is a prime example. I was trolling along and came across it and thought it sounded relatively easy and soooo good. I can't speak from personal experience about how it tastes because I've not made it yet. However.... How could it not be good? It's got chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, and crescent rolls in it. I'm not going out on a limb here. I feel I can say with confidence that this one is going to be Mmm. Mmm. Good. So here's the recipe for Chicken Packets: 4 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded), 4 tubes of crescent rolls, 6 green onions (chopped), 2 (8 oz.) bars of cream cheese softened, 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup milk, and bread crumbs. Begin by preheating oven to 350˚. In a bowl, combine chicken, onions, and cream cheese. Roll out crescent rolls and spread a spoonful of mixture on top. Then roll up each roll & dip into bread crumbs. Bake on cookie sheet for 13 minutes or whatever the crescent roll package recommends. For the Sauce, heat up soup, milk, and cheese over low heat on stovetop. Drizzle cheese sauce over the top of the cooked crescent rolls. This recipe is courtesy of Kasey Trimble and the photo and recipe post was taken from Lots of good ideas on her site so you will want to check her blog out soon. I thought this looked like something that would be perfect to serve to company with a beautiful salad, dressed up green beans, and crusty french bread. What do you think? Sounds like a winner to me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Trick or a Treat?

Tonight I ate too much meatloaf (thanks Tonya) and so...hmmm....I don't know what that has to do with this post. Maybe it just points to the fact that sometimes I don't feel like cooking or really even using my limited brain cells to think about food. Sometimes I just want to buy a bakery cake at Wal-Mart and throw it on my cake stand and just act like I baked it. Raise your hand if you've been there. I love the old Rice Krispy commercial where the woman is reading a magazine and gets up and throws a little flour on her face as she grabs the pan of Rice Krispy Treats and walks out to her awaiting family looking as if she slaved over dessert. Haha! Classic. I found the cutest idea on another blog that I recently discovered and want to share it with you. Best part, it requires minimal effort and the result is soooo cute.
Remember the $5 wire baskets that I told you all about a few weeks ago? I found them at Wal-Mart. Well came up with the cutest idea for them. She ran ribbon through the perimeter of the basket and tied it in a beautiful bow. Next, she found bags of pre-made popcorn balls (see below).

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Hot Crawfish Dip.

Yay! Friday is finally here. I'm happy about that on many, many levels. And I am also super excited that our tailgating event is tonight. I'm hearing that there's going to be lots of wonderful food there. Can't wait to check it all out. I'm ending my game day recipe series with none other than a chip and dip post. How could I not? I wouldn't even think of having people over to watch a game and not have something to dunk a chip in. I've decided to go with a hot crawfish dip for tonight. The temps will be dipping down and we will all be wearing our sweaters and designer jeans (totally kidding about the designer part). This will be perfect. It's got a bar of cream cheese in it and as far as I'm concerned that already makes it a winner, but to toss in crawfish, green onions, and mayonnaise.....well sublime is the word that comes to mind. Here's what I'll be throwing together in just a little while: 2 bunches of green onions (chopped), 1 T. butter, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 T. dried parsley, 16 oz. frozen crawfish tail (juice and all, thawed), 1 T. chopped garlic, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 (8 oz) cream cheese, 1/8 t. black pepper, 1/4 t. crushed red pepper, and 1/2 t. salt. Now you can also throw in mushrooms, black olives, etc...whatever you like to make it your own. Begin by cooking onion in butter, until nice and brown. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well. Simmer until completely warm. Serve with corn or tortilla chips. I love using pita chips for this too. Soooo good. Sooo easy. Sooo me. Enjoy!------Photo credit: *this is actually a picture of her hot artichoke dip* I couldn't find a decent picture of my recipe. Deal with it. Haha!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Tailgate Treat: Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

You knew it was coming didn't you? I couldn't post a tailgating series and not include my number one food category. I got this recipe and photo from one of my favorite sites, This is the best chocolate batter I've found. It's moist, chocolatey, and hits all the right notes. As if that wasn't enough, to then dunk them into silky, creamy chocolate ganache is just.....walking on the edge between oh so right and oh so wrong. Don't you love how shiny the ganache makes them too? If anything can bring me back around from my little romp with the stomach virus, it's these little babies. So, here's the recipe for the cupcakes: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 t. salt, 1/2 cups buttermilk, 2 whole eggs, 1 t. baking soda, 1 t. vanilla, 2 sticks butter, 4 heaping T. cocoa powder, 1 cup boiling water, and 18 whole Hershey's Kisses (unwrapped). Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray 18 muffin cups with baking spray. To make the cake batter, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and stir to combine. Add boiling water, allow to bubble for a few seconds, then turn off heat. Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture. Stir a few times to cool the chocolate. Pour buttermilk mixture over the top and stir to combine. Pour 1/4 cup cake batter into each muffin cup. Lightly set one kiss in the middle of each cupcake; do not press down. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes and allow to cool on a baking rack. Now for the Ganache: 8 ounces, weight bittersweet chocolate, 1 cup heavy cream, 6 T. corn syrup, and 2 t. vanilla extract. To make the ganache, heat cream and corn syrup over medium heat. Chop chocolate and put in a separate bowl.  Add vanilla to cream mixture, then pour cream mixture over the top of chopped chocolate. Whisk together until melted, smooth, and glossy. Dunk the tops of the cupcakes in the ganache. Allow to cool before serving..... Friday cannot get here quick enough for me to make these. If you're at the tailgate, stop by and say "Hi" and you might just score one for yourself. Haha! Get it? Score one? Ok...don't worry I cook better than I make jokes. Well, most of the time anyway.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Game Day Recipe: BLT Wrap.

So...I had a little stomach bug yesterday. And food is still not so much appealing to me today.  However, I owe it to all 10 of my followers to continue with the game day series. Haha! I thought I would bring a wrap into the mix today. Wraps have become very popular in the past few years and the possibilities are endless as to what you can use for the filling. I'm choosing to go more traditional with a BLT filling, but I've seen so many flavor combinations that it would literally make your head spin. My sister brought roast beef wraps to our last tailgate and they were a hit too. Plus, flour tortillas come in a variety of flavors these days and there are even lots of tasty low-carb choices as well. I better go ahead and post the recipe while I'm still able to sip on a little bit of Ginger Ale (my new bff). I'm sure I'll be back 100% tomorrow and will feel like really getting into the series...until then, here's the recipe for BLT Wraps: 1 cup Mayo, 1/2 cup dried tomatoes in oil (drained & chopped), 8 (10 inch) flour tortillas, 1 large head iceberg lettuce (chopped), 1 medium onion thinly sliced (optional), 16 bacon slices (cooked and crumbled), 1 t. salt, and 1 t. pepper.
Combine mayo and tomatoes in a small bowl. Spread evenly over 1 side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Then layer lettuce, onions, and bacon evenly over tortillas and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Finally, roll up tortillas; cut in half diagonally, and secure with wooden pick. Quick and easy. Couldn't be better. Enjoy!--------Recipe and Photo Credit:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Game Day Plan.

This Friday night is Homecoming at our local high school. My beloved Panthers will hopefully score their little hearts out and give us a victory. We are having a community tailgating event in honor of the homecoming festivities. I've decided to devote my posts this week to recipes that would make good tailgating grub. Why? Well, because my oldest niece is captain of the cheerleading squad & my little cousin is co-captain (and both seniors). Because I used to babysit one of the girls up for homecoming queen. Because her boyfriend, whom I've known his whole life, is a senior and plays on the offensive & defensive line. Because my nephew, who used to call me Tae Tae, is now playing in the wide receiver and punter positions. Because we get to hang on to our current quarterback for three more years. And, finally, because in 1991, I was elected homecoming queen. *sigh* I guess all those reasons really only point to one basic conclusion.....Miss T is getting old. Really old. I better get this recipe posted before my  fingers get too arthritic to type. So, here's the first finger licking recipe. Honey Glazed Chicken and Bacon Bites: 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, 20 thin bacon slices, 3 T. honey, 2 t. coarse mustard, and fresh lemon juice. Begin by preheating the oven to 425˚ F. Then, cut the chicken in thin strips and lightly salt. Grab a bowl and combine honey and mustard. Squeeze in about a T. of lemon juice. Wrap the bacon around the chicken strips and place them in a roasting pan or a foil-lined cookie sheet. Brush the chicken bites with half of the honey mixture. As soon as one side is done (approx. 10-13 mins. later), take the tray out of the oven, flip them over, and brush with the other half of the honey mixture. Put them back in the oven for another 10-13 minutes, until the other side is crispy as well. Keep an eye on them as the bacon can easily burn. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. These are super easy bites to take with you and will travel well. I hope you make them in support of your favorite hometown football team soon. Go Big Blue!-------Recipe and Photo Credit:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Saturday Craft Idea.

I found this cute project on the other day. You can go to her site and click on the home section and scroll down just a little and see a step by step account of how she did it. It's so cute and is pretty easy to make (even for someone like me who is...uh..challenged in the crafting department). I'm pretty sure that if I can manage it, then anyone can. It's called a shabby chic earring holder. Amanda spent under $10 to make it too. Don't we all have some cute dangly earrings to display? I love the idea of displaying them in this way too. Here's a rundown of what she did: Go to Walmart and buy a $3 black 8x10 picure frame, 12' of picture hanging wire, some vintage white acrylic paint, and a sponge paintbrush. You will also need a staple gun. The frame did not require sanding or any kind of pre-painting treatment. Just paint on the white in a very, non-perfect, kind of way. You will have little bits of black kind of peeping through and it will end up looking antiqued. There's really no sense in painting the back of the frame because it won't be seen. She measured 1/4" from the top of the opening and marked it on the back, then came down 2.25"and marked it as well, until she had 4 rows to hang the earrings from.
She then measured the wire across the opening and folded it over twice (which made it thicker) and cut it. Next, twist the wire loosely and staple it to each side on the back of the frame. Repeat to make the other three rows. The above picture is what it looks like after it's been stapled to the back. Then take whatever bit of remaining wire that is sticking out and wrap it around the end, as she did, to avoid having any sharp pieces sticking out. She also took a small hammer after she did that and flattened it even more. I think this is such a cute project and would look fabulous sitting on your dresser or on your vanity space in the bathroom. Amanda has so many other cute ideas too. Don't forget to check out her blog, I got the pictures of the project from her site as well. Yes, I believe this is one craft that I can make and actually be proud of. How about you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Lemon Chicken Meal.

My favorite cooking show is Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten is so cool. She's rich, she's chic, she's got a gorgeous home, she drives a convertible, her husband adores her....and I love her recipes! Of course, none of that means anything if you don't have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. She might, I don't know, but I had to clarify that. Ina and I are different in many, many ways. She makes some of her food using caviar and imported olive oil and french sea salt. I can't do that. I can't even afford to buy one ounce of caviar and I don't think I would even want to. However, lots of her recipes are really easy and call for basic ingredients. Simply put, I just love her style. She will always be the Hostess with Mostest to me. Did I mention I have all of her cookbooks too? They are beautiful and I display them in my kitchen on a baker's rack. Her newest cookbook, How Easy is That?, is due to be released at the end of this month (I'm already on the waiting list for it). This recipe for lemon chicken breasts is in it and I got it off of her website. It's such a perfect chicken recipe. I love how the lemon flavor brightens the whole dish. This one is too simple to pass up and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Do you and your family a favor and serve this soon. Lemon Chicken Breasts (Serves 4): 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 T. minced garlic (approx. 9 cloves), 1/3 cup dry white wine (I substitute chicken broth), 1 T. grated lemon zest (2 lemons), 2 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 1/2 t. dried oregano, 1/2 t. dried thyme leaves ( or 1 t. fresh if you have it), Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 boneless chicken breasts (skin on, 6 to 8 ounces each), and 1 lemon. Preheat the oven to 400˙ F. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute, but don't allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the chicken stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 t. salt and pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Next, pat the chicken breasts dry and them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with pan juices. Enjoy!-----Recipe and Photo Credit:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another Chocolate Treat.

So...I've still got chocolate on my mind. Actually, that's not unusual for me. I must say, however, that I really wasn't trying to find a chocolate recipe when I came across this. I was simply trying to catch up on one of my favorite blogs, She has lots of very interesting posts on food, fashion, photography, home & garden....just good stuff. I was in the recipe section seeing what new things she had on there when I came across Chocolate Almond Frozen Mousse. And yes, I was intrigued because one of my all time favorite pairings with chocolate is almonds. And this particular recipe calls for a Hershey Bar with favorite candy bar. Bar none. Haha! Get it? Bar none. Okay, moving on. Unfortunantely, this love story has a cruel twist to it. One of my daughters has a tree nut allergy (almonds included) and I absolutely cannot keep them in the house. Because if she can't eat it, then I'm not going to make it. That would just be plain mean of me. There are, however, occasions when she's not here, like for a sleepover or summer camp or something like that. That's when I would make this recipe. Hey, you don't have any valid reason to keep you from making this so I won't make you wait any's the recipe: 1 (12 ounce) Cool Whip, 2 T. strong brewed coffee that is completely cooled, and 1 Hershey Bar with Almonds. Seriously? Yes, only 3 ingredients. *big sigh* Now you need to allow the Cool Whip to thaw on the counter for about ten to fifteen minutes. Next, gently stir in coffee until combined. Then, melt Hershey Bar in microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then stir into the Cool Whip mixture. Since the Cool Whip is cold, it will solidify the candy bar in tiny particles. You can serve this soft or refreeze it and serve as an ice-cream type treat. I mean, really, does it even matter? Soft or's got the word "Delicious" stamped all over it. -----------Recipe and Photo Credit:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Chocolate Fix.

Last week my two oldest came home from school lugging two boxes full of chocolate candy bars. Their latest Beta Club fundraiser. The boxes are full of peanut butter, almond, crispy, and caramel filled chocolate bars. My first instinct was to take the chocolate and run far away to a place where I could enjoy some "alone time" with the bars. Then I came to my senses and gave the girls $1 a piece and put my two bars of chocolate in a safe place to be enjoyed a little each day for the next two weeks. Well, long story short, both bars were gone before bedtime that very night. In a sheer act of desperation, I looked for a healthier alternative that I could enjoy without guilt. That's when I discovered and I haven't looked back. If you are familiar with the Weight Watchers program, then you will appreciate this site. It gives healthier alternatives to favorite recipes and includes the nutritional and Weight Watchers points value of each recipe, in addition to providing a beautiful photo of the recipe. I found many things on there that I want to try, but first I had to find a way to combat the chocolate cravings that were getting the best of me. And thus, Chocolate Chips Clouds were discovered and seriously, they are just what I needed to help me through this recent influx of chocolate in my house. Basically, they are baked meringues. Not hard at all. I hope you will try them soon. I'm thinking a nice cup of coffee and a few of these would make an excellent chocolate "fix". Here's the recipe: 9 T. egg whites, 1/8 t. cream of tartar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 t. vanilla, 2 T. cocoa, and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat oven to 300˙F and line a cookie sheet with a silpat or nonstick silicone pad. Using a mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar together in a large bowl at a high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar a little at a time, then vanilla, beating well after each addition until you get stiff peaks, the sugar is dissolved, & the mixture is glossy. Sift cocoa onto egg white mixture and fold in until combine. Next, carefully fold in chocolate chips. Drop mixture by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. You should have approximately 30 cookies.  Bake 35-45 minutes or until just dry. Cool slightly, Remove to cool completely on a wire rack. You can store, covered, at room temperature. Each cookie has only 46 calories and is worth 1 Weight Watcher point. Maybe now my waistline can survive this chocolate fundraiser ordeal. A girl can hope. Can't she?-------Recipe and Photo Credit:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Pancake Supper.

I am so happy right now, I could literally cry. The Lord sent a wonderful rain to my neck of the woods and everything outside looks so refreshed. We are actually in a moderate drought right now and that rain was very needed. In addition to the shower, we also have cooler temps that blew in with our little storm. I love how it feels and looks outside right now. It's still cloudy and the gorgeous fall colors are everywhere I look. It makes me feel....cozy. This calls for breakfast for supper. I love to cook pancakes, biscuits, bacon, breakfast casseroles, night. It just feels like the right thing to do sometimes. I am sharing a recipe I found on (have I mentioned lately how much I love her site?). It's called pancake squares. Squares? Yes, you read right. This is made in an 8x8 casserole dish and baked in the oven. That was the first thing that caught my attention. I love pancakes, but trying to feed them to a crowd can be a little tricky. Usually, my family has to wait their turn in the line to get nice, hot ones. This recipe eliminates that and everyone can eat at the same time. It feeds 4-6, but you can double it and bake it in a 9x13 if need be. All you need is some good bacon or sausage and you've got a crowd pleasing meal. Heres the recipe: Pancake Squares- 3/4 cup milk, 2 T. melted butter, 1 large egg, 1 T. sugar, 1 cup flour, 2 t. baking powder, and 1/4 t. salt. Preheat oven to 350˙ F and lightly grease an 8x8 dish. In a mixing bowl, beat together the milk, butter, and eggs. Add in sugar, then gradually beat the flour in. Carefully stir in the baking powder & salt. Pour in prepared dish and bake for 20-25 mins until brown. Cut into squares, put on a little pat of butter, and drizzle with syrup. Oh kind of meal. A variation could be to throw in blueberries, chocolate chips, etc..into the batter and bake in. Yummy. Yummy. Yummy. That's all I'm going to say about that.------Photo Credit:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Family Favorite: Chicken Enchiladas.

I used to watch a cooking show that highlighted home cooks and their signature dishes. One episode showcased this woman's green chile chicken enchiladas. Guess where she said she got the recipe for it? Off the back of a can of Old El Paso green chile enchilada sauce. I'm serious. They did a whole show about how fabulous they were too. I, of course, dashed to my nearest grocery store to see if I could find a can for myself. And the rest is history. I keep the ingredients on hand to throw these enchiladas together in a moment's notice. I take them to church potlucks, I fix them for my bunko group, I bring them to women who have just had babies, etc....It's my "go to" recipe. I have tweaked it just a bit from the original recipe, but it's still as easy as ever. Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas: 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken meat (rotisserie is super or even 2 large cans of all white chicken will work in a pinch), 1 large yellow onion chopped, 8 ounce block of cream cheese ( I use reduced fat & I also cut it into 8 piece chunks), 1 can of diced green chiles, 1 Tbsp. chile powder, salt & pepper to taste,  a 10- count package of flour toritillas, 2 cans green enchilada sausce,  and 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Begin by cooking onion in a small amount of oil until nice and brown (almost caramel in color). Lower heat, and add in chicken, cream cheese, and diced green chiles. Let this mixture cook over low heat until cream cheese is melted. Add in chile powder and salt & pepper to taste, then remove from stovetop and set aside. Divide the mixture among 10 tortillas and roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 9x13 dish. Pour green enchilada sauce over the top and cover with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for approx. 20 mins or until cheese is melted and bubbly. It's really that simple. I like to serve this with microwave spanish rice and a green salad. Sometimes I make salsa and put a bowl out with some tortilla chips and we feel like we are in a Mexican restaurant. My kids request this often and I would say it's among my top five recipes in popularity. Now it can be one of yours too. -------Photo credit:

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Cozy Cup of Hot Chocolate.

I'm loving this weather we're having around here lately. The scorching temps have subsided and cooler conditions are so very refreshing. Tonight, I went to cheer on my Panthers wearing my favorite short-sleeve black turtleneck sweater, jeans, and boots. The short-sleeve was a mistake. There was a slight nip in the air and my arms were begging for a light cover on them. Thank goodness my Mother-in-Law brought an extra jacket. It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord takes care of me.  Anyway, I got home from the football game and thought how nice a mug of hot chocolate would be. I keep the boxed mixes because they are super simple and the kids can easily help themselves when they so desire. However, when I have the ingredients on hand, I much prefer to make it myself. This recipe is the perfect balance of chocolate and cream. Not too sweet, but sweet enough and extra creamy with swirls of chocolate goodness floating through it. Mmmm.....Here's the recipe: 1 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 3 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp vanilla, & 1/4 tsp salt. Heat milk, cream, and sugar over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Be careful not to bring to a boil. Next, melt chocolate chips into milk, still over low heat, by whisking it until it is melted. After chocolate melts, stir in vanilla and salt. Transfer to two mugs, top with delicious whipped cream or marshmallows, and enjoy. I usually triple the recipe for my family of six. It's very easy to make and blows those mixes right out of the water in the taste department. Serve a little chocolate love up to your favorite people the next time the temps drop. They will profess their undying love for you and maybe you can talk them into washing the dishes. Usually works for me. Enjoy!--------Credit: this recipe and picture is from

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Whirley Pop.

If you go into my house on any given day, you are likely to see my whirley pop sitting on the stovetop. "What's a whirley pop?", you might ask. It's the best thing I've found to pop popcorn none. It is a deep pan that has this crank attached to the top. Put the popcorn kernels in the pot and start turning the crank, which is attached to a "stirrer" (for lack of a better word) that keeps the kernels moving while they  are over the heat. The top also has two vents in it so that the steam can escape. In order to get tender popcorn, two things must occur, the kernels have to be able to move around and the steam has to be able to escape. I pop 1/3 cup of kernels in 1 tsp. of canola oil. That's practically fat-free, when you consider it makes a large bowl of popcorn. It takes hardly any time to make it either. It may take 3 minutes from start to finish to pop a big bowl. I love the smell too. Don't think you will be able to enjoy this snack by yourself if there is anyone else home. It's impossible. The smell of fresh popped popcorn penetrates the house and people can't help but follow their noses right into the kitchen. The whirley pop comes with a neat recipe book that will give you instructions for making several different flavors of popcorn too. I love making kettle corn, and it couldn't be easier. I googled the whirley pop and found it available for purchase on lots of different sites. It makes an excellent gift too. I gave one to my Dad about five years ago, and he still uses it (practically every week). The kids really get into to it as well because they can turn the crank as the kernels are popping, and I haven't met a kid that didn't like that. Now that Fall is here, popcorn balls make wonderful after school treats and can be used for Trick or Treat favors as well. I would much rather get a popcorn ball in my bag than jolly ranchers or suckers or starburst candies. *Notice I didn't include chocolate in that list.* At any rate, I think you'll find that the whirley pop would make an excellent addition to your kitchen. So "pop" on over to the computer and order one online today. I don't think you will regret it.-------- Credit: the above picture came off a website that absolutely I'm making one of her recipes tonight for supper tonight. Bar-B Cups....oh my. I'm sure you'll be reading about them very soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Treat For The Fair.

It's that time of year again. The State Fair will be starting very soon and we are all getting excited. That taffy is something that dreams are made of. Thank goodness my sweet Aunt Nae always sends me a box. My dentist thanks her too. I was thinking of all the wonderful foods that are available at the fair and decided to post a recipe for blueberry beignets. Oh good. The lady that I got the recipe & picture from ( says that her little boy told her these were like "little pillows you could eat". I can't understand why that makes me want to eat these even more, but it does. This recipe is a little on the long side and sounds slightly complicated, but it really isn't. Don't be afraid to try it (unless you're a diabetic, then should you be very afraid). Here's the recipe: 1/4 cup granulated sugar (divided), 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg (beaten), 2 Tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp table salt, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup fresh blueberries, vegetable oil for frying, and powdered sugar for dusting.  In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tsp sugar in 3/4 cup warm water. Sprinkle on yeast and let stand for 10 mins. or until yeast is bubbly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the remaining sugar, evaporated milk, lemon zest, vanilla, egg, shortening, and salt. Add yeast and beat until smooth. Beat in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft, sticky dough forms. Stir in blueberries until just combined. Spray a clean bowl with non-stick spray and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Next, on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to form a rectangle about 20 x 16 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 2 1/2 inch squares. Then, heat the oil in a deep pot until a candy thermometer registers 360 degrees F or use a deep fat fryer. Fry the beignets, a few at a time to avoid overcrowding, for about 2 minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cooling rack lined with paper towels and set over a baking sheet to cool. Finally, dust generously with powdered sugar. Mmmm......add a cup of mocha and well, words just leave me at this point. Make these soon. You'll be so very glad you did.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Aussie Apple.

Here lately, I've been on the hunt for healthier school snacks and lunches that I can send with the kids. I like the same old things and tend to get in a rut. A peanut butter & jelly sandwich will work most any day, but who wants to eat that EVERY day? I'm sure my son wouldn't mind, but that's beside the point. I need to mix it up and I found a neat trick for apples in my search process. It's called an Aussie Apple. Quite simple really, but I've never thought about preparing one quite like this. In the past, I always felt that pre-slicing the apples was the way to go. Problem is they turn brown and appear unappetizing to children. I usually cut a lemon and squeeze juice over my slices to prevent this, but sometimes I don't have lemons lying around. This might be a good time to point out that I live approx. 10 miles away from the nearest grocery store too. I guess people have the same problem in parts of Australia too because this is where the idea for this apple originated (or so I'm told). Take your apple and slice off the four "cheeks" into four parts. You'll be left with the core intact and kind of square shaped. Next, put the apple back together, like a puzzle, and take a clean rubber band and secure around the apple. Your child can remove the rubber band at snack time and the apple will already be sliced. Keeping it together like that also prevents it from turning brown. Isn't that a neat idea? And the core can be easily discarded into the trash. No seeds! I can't believe I haven't heard of this before now. I got this idea off of It's a neat site that is dedicated to kids lunch menus. If you know of more sites like that, then leave me a comment and give me the address. Have a great night!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Winter Hat.

Oh dear. Me oh my. This baby has got me wrapped around her chubby little fingers and I don't even know her.  That's the effect babies have on me. That's the reason my husband hightailed it to the urologist shortly after I gave birth to EC, our fourth. He knew that I would see a picture like this and convince myself that I needed one.  He knows me well. Dang it. Anyway,  I found this shop on called Knotty Tots. They sell the cutest handmade beanies and get leg warmers. Be still my heart. I can't wait to put baby leg warmers on my niece (or maybe nephew) that's due in 2011. Fun! I hope P and J won't mind. Back to the cute little hat, I just felt with cooler temps approaching that this might be just the perfect accessory for the sweet little one in your life. Just think of the adorable pictures that can be made sporting one of these. Don't forget the baby leg warmers. You've got at least a good thirteen years before they will come back and question why in the world you put that on them when they were a baby. In the meantime, enjoy playing dress up with them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Scarf Tutorial.

It really is funny that my post is on scarves today. Hilarious actually. I am the least fashion forward person I know. This is not a news flash to the people who personally know me.*sigh* And yet, even I know that scarves will continue to be a trend this season. What I like about them is their versatility. They come in every color imaginable, any pattern you could dream of, and any size that you need. You don't have to be a certain height or weight for them to look appropriate either. Just so long as you choose one that is in correct proportion to you. I saw the best scarf tutorial the other day on another blog I follow, She posted a short video showcasing 5 different ways to wear scarves, and I learned so much from it. Unfortunately, I am lacking just as much in my technical abilities as I am in my fashion know how. I tried to find a link to the video, but couldn't come up with one. You can go to her site and type the word "scarf" in her search box and it will bring you to the tutorial. If you like to wear scarves, then you really need to check it out for yourself. The above picture came off of Amanda's site as well. My scarf collection is rather....pitiful. Hopefully, this will help me get on the right track. Happy learning!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Stovetop Potpourri.

I really enjoy going into other people's homes and taking in their sense of style. In fact, it's almost fascinating to me. I like to observe the decor, the personalization, and.....the smell. It's true. Sometimes it may be the wonderful smell of what's cooking in the oven that instantly makes you feel at home. Or sometimes it's that big candle burning on the coffee table that draws you in. My sister-in-law bought some great Febreeze wall plug-ins that greet you with a wonderful fragrance when you walk in her place. Whatever it is that defines the scent in your home, it should be pleasant and welcoming. Which brings me to today's post. Is it too early in the season to start simmering potpourri on the stovetop? I hope not, because I'm so ready to let the simmering begin. A few years ago, I gave this potpourri mix to my kids' support staff at school for Christmas.  I wrapped them up in cellophane bags and finished them with red ribbons and cinnamon sticks tied in the bow. A printed instruction card with my kid's Christmas greetings to the staff completed the look. Here's the recipe: 1 whole orange (or you can just use the orange peel if you like), 1/2 cup cranberries (frozen will work fine), 1 Tbsp. whole cloves, 3 sticks of cinnamon, and a bit of grated nutmeg (optional). Quarter the orange. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and fill with water. Place on the smallest burner on stovetop on low. Refill water as needed. This will keep for several days, just burn it everyday and keep the water in it. I got this particular version of stovetop potpourri and the picture from Now go on out and get the stuff to make this. Let's enjoy this time of year and the wonderful scents that accompany it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Role Model.

September 2010

Last night my daughter, KK, represented her class in the Jr. High Homecoming festivities.  She was absolutely gorgeous too. I mean it. I'm not letting the fact that she's my daughter cloud my judgement either. *hehe* I can appreciate the fact that she has outward beauty, but it's her inward beauty that fills me to the brim with thankfulness. She was given an information sheet to fill out for the announcer at homecoming. It wanted all the basic stats and then she could pick a question, from a list, that she would like to answer and have announced as well. She chose the question, "Who is your role model? And Why?". She immediately knew her answer. Which brings me to the other pretty lady in the above picture. Let me tell you about her.
K.A. and my KK are really good friends. They started going to the same school together two years ago, and immediately hit it off.  K.A. also happens to be the daughter of my best friend from high school, so it was meant to be that our daughters would be good friends as well. Last year, K.A. was involved in a four-wheeler accident. She wasn't particularly driving recklessly, she was just riding on unfamiliar territory in tall grass and didn't realize that she was heading straight for a 10 foot drop off. *gulp* It's a miracle that she's still hanging around with us after that kind of tumble, but God has a plan, and she is. She suffered some major injuries, like multiple fractures of her hips and various other bones. She also has nerve damage in one of her legs that has been extremely painful for her. In fact, let's not mince words, this whole ordeal has caused her much physical pain. There's been hours after hours of physical therapy and even electrical stimulation for her damaged nerves. There's been numerous surgeries, trips across the country to see specialists, and several months confined to a wheelchair. Pretty tough stuff. After all that, you would tend to think that a person might be a little bitter about their circumstances. Right? Well, that smile she's sporting in this picture is the same one that I've been watching her flash since her ordeal began. Does that mean she doesn't struggle with questions that we all would have in that same situation? No, I'm sure she has her moments, BUT what is amazing is her positive attitude, courage, and sheer determination in the face of it. That's what my KK has witnessed in this past year that made her automatically think of her as a role model. K.A. is a Christian and she knows that as Romans 8:28 tells us, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.". She gives God the glory for her incredible healing she has experienced and she gives God the glory when she doesn't get the news from her doctors that she's been praying for. God will use this in her life and He has a plan. She trusts Him and is anxious to see what will happen next.  It's all about living your life in such a way that points others to Christ. Thank you, K.A., for being a positive role model for KK (and me).  You are welcome in our home anytime, and feel free to join us for Hamburger Helper on any given night!