Beautiful day out there!


Time to put out the ‘little houses’

Each year I have to go through my assortment of ‘little houses’ to see how they fared last year’s weather. They are sold at JoAnn’s for $1.00 each, so they’re not expensive AND not meant to be outside in all sorts of weather but most of them usually only need a little touch up paint and they’re good. This year I had to replace three since they kind of fell apart, but I enjoy playing around with painting them so it’s OK.

Our weather today is GORGEOUS! Sunny, light breeze and supposed to get up to around 65 degrees F. Reading ahead, we’re supposed to be getting some 70’s coming up in the next few days – YAY! BRING IT ON!

I sat down yesterday and attempted to start another baby afghan; this one is a pattern I’ve done before. Guess I didn’t really realize that I need a thinner yarn – all I have is two ONE POUND skeins of white yarn that’s worsted weight. That kind of yarn is good for most things but using it with this pattern (and using white), the pattern kind of gets lost. I’d done about 1 1/2 inches of pattern before deciding I have to change yarn weights; that means either ordering on line or going out & buying more (not a big thing except it takes time away from me getting this thing started – YES – I’m impatient to get going!). I’m ‘amusing’ myself by knitting more baby hats – that’s always a good ‘go-to’ project when I feel like knitting but don’t want to do anything big.


 Salted Caramel Sheet Cake

1 C. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 C. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. plain yogurt
2 1/4 C. flour (more for flouring pan)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. whole milk

Salted Caramel Frosting:
1/2 C. unsalted butter
1 C. packed dark brown sugar
6 T. whole milk, divided
3 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
caramel ice cream sauce
‘Heath” Bits ‘o Brickle Toffee bits
sea salt, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Generously grease & flour 12 X 17″
half sheet/jelly roll pan. In large
bowl using elec. mixer, mix butter
1 minute on medium speed. Add
brown sugar & gran. sugar – beat
on medium speed until fluffy. Add
eggs & vanilla; mix until smooth.
Add yogurt; mix on medium-high
speed until combined. In large
bowl whisk together flour, baking
soda & salt; pour half of mixture
into butter mixture & beat at Low
speed 5 seconds. Pour in 1/2 C.
milk; beat on Low 5 seconds –
repeat with remaining flour & milk
until combined & smooth (Do not
overmix). Spread batter into
prepared pan, smooth evenly using
a spatula. Bake 20-24 minutes
until top is lightly browned &
toothpick inserted into center comes
out clean. Remove from oven & let
cool in pan on wire rack.

Melt butter in small saucepan over
medium heat; whisk in brown sugar
until completely combined – bring
to boil, add 2 T. milk & boil 1 minute
more. Remove from heat; pour into
large heat-proof bowl & let cool to
room temp. about 45 minutes. Once
cooled, add remaining milk, powdered
sugar, vanilla & salt. Using elec. mixer,
beat on Low 20 seconds then gradually
increase to High speed. Beat 3 minutes.
If frosting is too thick, add 1 T. milk &
beat again until smooth. Spread on
top of cooled cake then drizzle top
with caramel sauce & sprinkle with
toffee bits & sea salt. Makes 25-30
Store leftovers in covered container
in fridge for up to 5 days.


Shrimp Salad Stuffed Avocados

2 avocados, pitted
2 T. olive oil
1/2 lb. raw de-veined shrimp (fresh
or frozen)
1 C. cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C. corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1/4 C. Greek plain yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
basil, garnish (optional)

Scoop out avocados & dice, leaving a small
‘skin’ border. In skillet over medium-high
heat heat oil; add shrimp & cook until
fully cooked, 5-7 minutes. Let cool then
chop into bite-sized pieces. In large bowl
toss diced avocado with shrimp, tomatoes,
corn, Greek yogurt & lemon juice – season
with salt/pepper. Divide among 4 avocado
halves & garnish with basil. Serves 4


Crockpot Mashed Cauliflower & Garlic

1 1/2 lb. cauliflower florets
4 peeled whole garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 T. olive oil
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
salt/pepper, to taste
chopped chives – for serving

Place cauliflower florets in bottom of
crockpot & fill with water until it covers the
cauliflower; add bay leaf, garlic cloves &
1/2 tsp. salt. Cover & cook on High 4 hours
until cauliflower is very tender (or on Low
6 hours). Remove lid & drain all water,
discard bay leaf. Add olive oil, Parmesan
cheese & 1/2 tsp. kosher salt. Mash, using
potato masher, until desired consistency.
(or you can pour cauliflower into food
processor or blender & puree). Add salt
& pepper, to taste & garnish with chives.
Serves 4-6


Enchilada Pasta Bake

4 1/2 C. uncooked medium pasta
2 tsp. oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (1 oz) pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes,
2 C. (Oscar Mayer Carving Board)
Flame grilled chicken breast strips
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained/
3 green onions, thinly sliced/divided
1/3 C. chopped fresh cilantro,
1 (8 oz) pkg. Mexican style shredded

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Cook pasta accordg. to pkg. directions,
omitting salt. Heat oil in large skillet
on medium heat. Add onions & peppers,
cook 3-5 minutes until crisp-tender,
stirring frequently. Stir in seasoning mix
& tomatoes; cook & stir 3 minutes. Add
chicken, beans & half green onions &
cilantro – mix well. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta; add chicken mixture &
mix lightly. Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish
with nonstick spray & pour mixture
into dish – top with cheese. Bake
20-25 minutes until mixture is heated
through & cheese is melted. Sprinkle
with remaining green onions & cilantro.
Serves 8 (1 1/2 C. each)

(recipe: Kraft recipes)

Mediterranean Bean Salad

1 (15.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed/
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed/drained
1 C. chopped grape tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 C. chopped red onion
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 C. chopped fresh  mint
1 1/2 T. olive oil
juice from 1 medium lemon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

In large bowl combine beans, tomatoes,
garlic, onion, parsley & mint.
In small bowl whisk olive oil & lemon juice
until smooth & emulsified. Pour dressing
over beans & veggies; add 1/2 tsp. salt &
pepper (to taste) & carefully toss with large
metal spoon. Allow to sit at room temp.
30 minutes so flavors combine.
Serves 4


Pepperoni/Sausage Stuffed Pizza

1 (1/4 oz) pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 C. warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
3 1/2 – 4 C. flour

2 1/2 C. (10 oz) shredded mozzarella
cheese, divided
2 1/2 C. (10 oz) shredded white
Cheddar cheese, divided
2 T. flour
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage, cooked/
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (3 1/2 oz) pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 (15 oz) can pizza sauce
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In small bowl dissolve yeast in warm
water. In large bowl combine oil, sugar,
yeast mixture & 1 C. flour; beat on
medium speed until smooth. Stir in
enough remaining flour to form a
stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a
floured surface & knead until smooth
& elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in
a greased bowl, turning once to grease
the top. Cover with plastic wrap & let
rise in a warm place until doubled,
about 1 hour.
Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Spray a 9 X 13″ baking dish with nonstick
spray. Punch down dough; divide into 3
portions. On a lightly floured surface
combine two portions of dough & roll
into a 15 X 11 inch rectangle. Transfer
dough to prepared pan, pressing onto
bottom & up sides of pan. Top with
2 C. mozz. cheese & 2 C. Cheddar cheese.
Sprinkle with flour, seasonings, cooked
sausage, mushrooms & pepperoni. Roll
our remaining dough into a 9 X 13″
rectangle & place over filling in dish,
crimping edges to seal. Prick top with a
fork several times to let out steam.
Sprinkle top with remaining cheeses &
bake on a lower oven rack 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees. Spread
pizza sauce over cheese in dish & bake
30-35 minutes longer until edges are
lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes
before cutting. If desired, sprinkle top
with Parmesan cheese. Serves 12


Iowa Corn Casserole

1/2 lb. bacon, diced
1/4 C. chopped green bell pepper
1/4 C. chopped onion
1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn,
1 (15 oz) can cream-style corn
1 T. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. cornstarch
1/3 C. plus 2 T. plain bread crumbs

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish with
nonstick spray. In large skillet cook
bacon until crisp; remove bacon &
reserve 1 T. bacon drippings. Over
medium heat saute pepper & onion
in skillet until tender, about 5 minutes.
Place in large bowl, combine with whole
kernel & cream-style corns, sugar, eggs,
cornstarch, bacon & 2 T. bread crumbs.
Mix well & pour into prepared dish.
In small bowl combine remaining bread
crumbs & reserved bacon drippings; mix
well & sprinkle over top of casserole.
Bake 45-50 minutes until golden & set.
Serves 6


S’mores Roll-ups!

1 tube crescent roll dough
2 C. mini-chocolate chips
1 C. miniature marshmallows
1 C. graham crackers, broken
into small pieces
flour – for rolling

Preheat oven 325 degrees F.
Sprinkle work surface with flour.
Unroll crescents & separate into
individual triangles. In microwave-
safe bowl, microwave 1 C. choc.
chips in 30-second increments
until fully melted. On each
crescent, spread 1 tsp. melted
chocolate, top with 1 tsp. mini
choc. chips, marshmallows &
graham cracker pieces. Roll into
crescent shape & transfer to a
baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes
then drizzle tops with more melted
chocolate. Serve. Makes 12


Tonight is my special needs group’s Music/Birthday
night so I know I’ll be busy playing piano for their
singing and serving cupcakes – we have 3 ‘kids’ with
birthdays this month. This is the one night of each
month I KNOW we’ll have a big group – they love
singing AND eating cupcakes!

Have a GREAT day!




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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’m sure the birthday people are happy to be recognized also.

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