Beautiful but chilly day!

Today is bright & sunny, but only 12 degrees F. with a slight breeze which makes you feel colder than you actually are. Been ‘out & about’ all morning (grocery shopping, getting gas and attending another knit group) – don’t remember if I mentioned that I joined another knit group which meets in our local library Weds. mornings 10-12 p.m. Lovely group (and growing) with lots to offer: patterns/ideas/tips, etc. Today another member of my knit group joined us and then ended up teaching all of us there the “Russian Join” which is a method of joining two yarn ends so that you don’t have a big knot in your project – very handy! Two of the library ladies joined my group last night, so I can easily see that this ‘attending two knit groups’ will be beneficial to lots of ladies! Also learned yesterday that our pastor’s wife is expecting a BOY in mid May, so the mint green afghan will go to her (almost done with it – a few more rows then a border & I’m done!)


Caramel Pecan French Toast
(4 hour or overnight recipe)

1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
2 T. light corn syrup
1 C. chopped pecans, divided
12 slices Italian-style (or any
thick) bread
6 eggs
2 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon

Caramel Sauce:
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. (1/4 stick) butter
1 T. light corn syrup

In small saucepan over medium
heat, cook brown sugar, butter &
corn syrup until thickened, stirring
constantly. Pour sauce into a 9 X 13″
baking dish & sprinkle with 1/2 C.
chopped pecans. Place 6 slices
bread in dish & sprinkle with
remaining pecans – cover with
remaining bread slices. In a blender,
combine eggs, milk, vanilla & cinnamon-
pour evenly over bread. Cover &
refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Bake French toast 40-45 minutes
until egg mixture is firm & golden
brown. In a small saucepan combine
Caramel Sauce ingredients; cook over
Low heat until thickened, stirring
constantly. Serve with French toast.
Serves 8


Baked Chicken ChimiChangas

2 1/2 C. cooked, shredded chicken
1 C. salsa
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
6 (10 inch) flour tortillas
3/4 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 C. chicken broth
2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 C. flour
1 C. Half & Half
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with
nonstick cooking spray. In a skillet
simmer chicken, salsa, onion, cumin &
oregano until heated through & most
of liquid has evaporated. Place 1/2
cup mixture down middle of each
tortilla; top with 2 T. cheese. Fold
sides & ends over filling & roll up.
Place, seam sides down, in prepared
dish. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes
until lightly browned. In a saucepan,
heat broth, bouillon & pepper until
bouillon is dissolved. Combine flour
& cream until smooth; stir into broth.
Bring to boil; cook & stir 2 minutes
until thickened. Stir in chilies & heat
To serve:
Cut chimichangas in half; spoon sauce
over top. Serves 6


Crockpot Shepherd’s Pie

1 1/2 – 2 lb. beef chuck roast or
stew meat, cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. frozen peas
1 C. frozen corn
1/3 C. Guinness beer
3 T. tomato paste
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. corn starch
2 tsp. whole grain mustard
1 tsp. beef granules
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
5 C. mashed potatoes (prepared)
1 C. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

In nonstick skillet cook onions 5-6
minutes until soft; place in crockpot.
Add beef & all remaining ingredients
(except mashed potatoes & cheese) in
crockpot – season with salt/pepper &
stir well. Wipe down insides of crockpot
with a paper towel then spread mashed
potatoes over top of beef mixture to the
sides of crockpot to seal ingredients. Place
a long piece of paper towel over opening
of crockpot & cover with lid (to absort
steam). Cook on High 4-5 hours or Low
8-10 hours.
When ready to serve, sprinkle cheese over
top of potatoes & cover with lid 5 minutes
to melt cheese. Serve hot. Serves 8


Winter Rice

2 T. butter or margarine
2 C. chopped onion
1 C. long-grain or whole-grain
rice, uncooked
2 C. chicken broth
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. white pepper

In large skillet over medium heat,
melt butter; saute onion 5 minutes.
Add rice & continue to saute 7-10
minutes until rice begins to brown.
Stir in remaining ingredients & reduce
heat to Low; cover & simmer 20-25
minutes until rice is tender & mixture
is creamy. Serves 8

20-Minute Sesame Chicken &
(underlined items you might
not have on hand)

2 T. vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken
thighs, cut into strips
1 bunch fresh broccoli, cut into
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 T. grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 T. oyster sauce
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 C. water

Cooked white or brown rice
to serve 4

In medium bowl whisk soy sauce,
rice vinegar, sesame oil, oyster
sauce & cornstarch. Add oil to
large wok or skillet over high heat.
Add chicken & cook until golden
brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add
broccoli, green onions, ginger &
garlic – cook 3 minutes, stirring
frequently. Pour Soy Sauce mixture
on top of ingredients in wok/skillet
& stir. Add water & stir until mixture
has thickened, about 1 minute.
Serve over cooked rice. Serves 4


Crockpot Clam Chowder

1/2 lb. bacon, diced
3 (6.5 oz, ea) cans clams, not drained
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled/diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 C. water
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 C. Half & Half
2 tsp. cornstarch

In large skillet on medium-high, cook
bacon until crisp-remove from pan.*
Add to crockpot:half bacon, clams, onion,
potatoes, celery, garlic, water, salt/pepper
& thyme – stir. Cover & cook on Low 7
hours (refrigerate remaining bacon until
ready to serve with soup). In a measuring
cup add Half & Half with cornstarch &
whisk to combine. Add mixture to crockpot
& stir. Cook on High 30 minutes. Serve
with remaining bacon sprinkled over top.**
Serves 8

*Poster sometimes cooks potatoes & onion
in bacon grease before adding to crockpot.

**You might want to heat the bacon slightly
before sprinkling it on top since it will be
cold from fridge.


Lemon Blossoms
(mini cupcakes)

1 (18.5 oz) box yellow cake mix
3 1/2 oz. instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 C. vegetable oil

4 C. powdered sugar
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
3 T. vegetable oil
3 T. water

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray miniature muffin cups with
nonstick cooking spray. In large
bowl combine cake mix, dry pudding
mix, eggs & oil – blend well using
elec. mixer until smooth, about 2
minutes (batter will be thick). Pour a
small amount of batter into tins,
filling half full*. Bake 12 minutes.**
Turn out baked muffins onto a tea
Prepare while cupcakes bake. In large
bowl combine powdered sugar, lemon
juice, zest, oil & 3 T. water – mix with
a spoon until smooth. Using your
fingers, dip each into glaze while
still warm, covering as much of each
cake as possible (OR spoon glaze over
warm cakes, turning to completely
coat). Place on wire rack with
waxed paper underneath to catch
any drips. Let glaze set thoroughly,
about 1 hour, before storing in
containers with tight-fitting lids.

*Poster said a small cookie scoop
works well for making them uniform

**IF you make a large batch, be sure
to reverse muffin tins mid-way through
baking times to insure uniform baking.
Poster notes they come out of tins
better if you cook them a little past the
golden brown stage, making the cakes
more firm.



The past few days have been a bit of a scramble –
babysat yesterday 10:15 – 5:15 (over my usual
time; son got stuck on the expressway in bumper-
to-bumper traffic), then Knit Night. Also – amidst
the many things going on, youngest son moved
back in. He went for a job interview earlier today,
really hoping this works – he needs a good, steady

Tonight is my Special Needs group – first time we’ve
been able to meet since the FIRST week in December!
Our weather has just not been cooperating! I have a
HUGE pile of things to drag with me tonight (the
Christmas presents for the various leaders & lots of
other ‘stuff’) – one good thing: WE don’t have to teach
tonight! Once a month we have a visiting missionary
come & teach our group so we, the leaders, can have
a Business Meeting. (because of all the delayed events,
we’re also cramming our Birthday Night into tonight –
crazy/busy but the kids will love it!).

Hope you are able to stay healthy and warm –
Spring is (eventually) coming! Hang in there!





After much work, frustration, experimentation, etc. my husband FIXED MY SEWING MACHINE! He went back over the video from the other day, took more parts apart and discovered there was a tiny black thread wrapped around behind the bobbin holder (inside) – which is what was locking the entire machine up! Total time (approx.) he spent working on it: around 3 1/2 – 4 hours – cost: FABULOUSLY FREE! I’m happy with my very old machine – it goes forward & backward, making me happy! YAY!


Lemon Sticky Buns w/Cream
Cheese Glaze

1 (3 oz) box Lemon Jell-O
(1 lemon) 1 T. juice & 2 tsp. zest,
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar, divided
2 (8 oz, ea) tubes refrigerated
crescent dinner rolls, divided
1/4 C. butter, melted/divided
2 oz (1/4 of 8 oz pkg) cream cheese,

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with
nonstick spray.
In bowl combine dry Jello, lemon
zest & 1/2 C. powdered sugar.
Unroll 1 tube crescent dough onto
work surface; firmly press perforations
& seams to form 12 X 4″ rectangle. Brush
with half the butter then sprinkle with
half Jello mixture. Roll up, starting at
one short end; cut into 6 slices. Arrange
slices, cut-sides up, in prepared pan –
repeat with remaining dough, butter &
Jello mixture. Bake 30 minutes until
golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.
Mix cream cheese, lemon juice & remaining
powdered sugar until blended. Drizzle
glaze over warm rolls. Serves 12


Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Pasta

salt/black pepper
1 lb. corkscrew or cavatappi pasta
olive oil
1 lb. skinless chicken breast
1 T. unsalted butter
8 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 T. flour
1 1/2 C. Half & Half
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
plus  more for serving
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 C. baby arugula, roughly chopped

Cook pasta accordg. to pkg. directions
until al dente; drain, reserving 1/2 C.
pasta water – return pasta to pot. In
large skillet over medium-high heat, heat
1 tsp. olive oil. Season chicken with
salt/black pepper & sear chicken until
golden & no longer pink, about 8
minutes per side. Transfer to plate &
let rest, then cut into cubes. Return
skillet to medium-high heat & melt
butter. Cook mushrooms until golden,
5 minutes then add garlic & onions &
cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes.
Add Half & Half, broth, Parm., oregano,
1 tsp. salt & 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring to
boil, reduce heat & simmer 5 minutes.
Fold cooked pasta into sauce with chicken &
it’s juices, & arugula. If sauce is too thick,
add pasta water until you reach desired
consistency. Top with more shredded
Parmesan & serve. Serves 4


Crockpot Cinnamon/Sugar Butternut

1 (3-4 lb) butternut squash
1/2 C. butter (1 stick)
3/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
dash salt

Peel squash; cut into squares &
discard seeds. Place squash in crockpot.
Cut butter into slices & place all over
cut squash. In small bowl mix together
brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
& salt – sprinkle mixture over squash &
butter. Cover & cook on High 3 hours
without opening lid during cooking time.
Serves 8


Crispy Fried Onion Casserole

3 C. cooked, shredded chicken
1 (16 oz) container French onion
chip dip
1 (10.5 oz) can mushroom soup
1 C. Cheddar cheese, grated
1 C. sour cream
1 1/2 C. French fried onions, lightly

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Lightly spray 9 X 13″ baking dish with
nonstick spray. Combine Fr. onion dip,
soup & sour cream in large bowl; fold
in shredded chicken & cheese. Pour
mixture into prepared pan. Bake 25
minutes until golden brown & bubbly.
Top with fried onions; return to oven
5-10 minutes. Remove from oven &
let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 6-8

Crockpot Broccoli Beef

2 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced &
cut into 2″ strips
5 C. fresh broccoli cut into florets
1 1/2 C. beef broth
2/3 C. soy sauce
1/3 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. cold water
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. peanut oil
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes,
kosher salt/fresh ground black pepper,
to taste

(I would recommend serving this
over cooked rice)

Spray insides of crockpot with nonstick
spray. Add steak strips, beef broth, soy
sauce, brown sugar, garlic, peanut oil &
red pepper flakes (if using). Cover & cook
on High 2 hours until steak is cooked
through but still tender (or Low 4-5 hours).
After 2 hours cooking, whisk cornstarch &
water in small bowl then stir into beef
mixture. Stir in broccoli & cover. Continue
cooking 20-25 minutes until broccoli is
fork-tender. Spoon beef & broccoli into
bowls – serve hot. Serves 6


Chili Cheese Enchiladas

4 C. your favorite chili, heated to hot
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 1/2 C. whole milk
2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 shakes your favorite hot sauce
6 (8 inch, each) flour tortillas
2 C. shredded PepperJack cheese

Optional Toppings:
diced tomatoes, shredded
lettuce, chopped cilantro,
sliced black olives, minced
red onions, sour cream

Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
In medium sauce pan over medium
heat, melt butter & add flour. Cook
3 minutes, stirring often. Add cold
milk one-third at a time, mixing each
third in before adding next. Mixture
will start out thick then thin down
as you add remaining milk. Add Cheddar,
salt/pepper & hot sauce – stir. Add more
milk if too thick. Ladle a little sauce into
bottom of 9 X 13″ baking dish. Lay out
6 tortillas on your counter; divide
chili between them, filling one at a time.
Fold in each side & place, seam sides down,
in pan – repeat for remaining 5. Pour
remaining sauce over tops of each &
cover with PepperJack cheese. Bake,
uncovered, 30 minutes then finish under
broiler to brown tops. Serve with
optional toppings, if desired. Serves 6


Vegetable Chowder

3 C. diced/peeled potatoes
2 1/2 C. broccoli florets
1 C. chopped onion
1 C. grated carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
4 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
3 C. water
3/4 C. butter, cubed
3/4 C. flour
4 C. milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 C. cubed fully-cooked ham
1 C. shredded Cheddar cheese

In Dutch oven combine potatoes,
broccoli, onion, carrots, celery,
bouillon & water; simmer 20 minutes
until vegetables are tender. In large
saucepan melt butter & stir in flour.
Cook & stir over medium heat 2 minutes.
Whisk in milk, salt/pepper – bring to boil.
Cook & stir 2 minutes until thickened –
add to vegetable mixture with the ham.
Simmer 10 minutes until heated through.
Stir in cheese just until melted.
Serves 12 (3 quarts)


Chicken-fried Steak & Creamy Gravy
(not a ‘diet’ meal)

5 lb. top or bottom round (beef), sliced
1/2 inch thick
3 C. milk
salt/ground black pepper
5 C. flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
2 C. heavy cream

In shallow dish place 2 C. milk &
steak slices for 1 hour. Drain &
dry using paper towels. Season
meat using salt/pepper & sprinkle
lightly with 2 T. flour. Pound meat
to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat
tenderizer or mallet. In a shallow
bowl, combine eggs & remaining 1
C. milk; lightly dip meat into egg
mixture. Dredge meat in remaining
flour, reserving 2 T. – dredge twice
more, shaking away any excess. In
large cast iron skillet, pour 1 inch of
oil. Heat oil until hot & fry steak in
batches until golden brown on each

NOTE: Oil will have to be changed
out at least once for this amount of

Continue frying until all floured
meat is cooked. When cooked, pour
off all but 1 T. oil. Remove skillet
from heat, stir in 2 T. flour & mix
into oil. Return to Low heat; add
cream & bring to a simmer,
stirring constantly & scraping up
the browned bits that cling to bottom
of pan, until cream gravy thickens.
Season to taste with salt/pepper &
serve hot with gravy on top.
Serves 8-10


Peanut Butter Whip Brownies

1 box of your favorite brownie mix &
ingredients to prepare
1 C. peanut butter
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, room temp.
1 C. powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip, thawed
1 C. M & M’s candies

Prepare brownies per pkg. directions – bake
& cool.
Prepare topping:
Beat softened cream cheese in mixer bowl
until light & fluffy. Add peanut butter &
beat until combined. Slowly add powdered
sugar & beat. Once incorporated, fold in
Cool Whip  & beat about 30 seconds.
Spread topping on cooled brownies in
even layer the sprinkle top with M & M’s.


Our weather today is totally CRAZY! It’s
47 degrees, sunny with fluffy little clouds
in the sky and the wind is 53 MPH! Trees
are swaying madly, sounds VERY loud out
there – (if the sky were dark I’d really be
worried/tornado weather) but it’s clear.
I have special needs group tonight &
bad weather does not bode well with
them – wonder how many people will
show up. It’s also Music/Birthday night-
if the power goes out you can pretty
well expect I’m going to be pounding
out songs on the piano for them to
sing to take their minds off the

Hope your weather is being ‘good’
to you today!



and we’re back to WINTER/SNOW! (yay…sigh)


Woke up to about an inch of snow on the ground and the temperatures are in the 20’s – that’s CHILLY! SO GLAD I don’t have anywhere to go or plans for the day – YAY! Am (almost) considering trying a new (to me) baby blanket pattern – depends on how ‘fussy’ it turns out to be after I practice the stitches; I bought 2 skeins of mint green baby yarn yesterday while at Meijers (grocery shopping). Last night was my special needs group’s Music/Birthday night and, like always, it was a very busy/hectic but fun night – I love doing it but it always wears me out when I get home. Didn’t sleep well (heard the dining room clock chime 3:30 a.m. – guessing I slept a little UNTIL middle son woke me up at 5:30 to help him tie his tie! UGH! He was having all sorts of trouble with it – we got it done, me half-bleary eyed – I went back to sleep & woke up at almost 10 a.m.!) SO GLAD my day is open-ended – I could even take a nap later, if needed!

Since our weather is so typical-Michigan goofy, thought I’d feature some soups/stews.


Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 1/4 C. granulated sugar,
1 C. flour
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa,
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. milk
1/3 C. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1 1/4 C. hot water
vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Heat pot of water to very hot
(just under a simmer). In bowl
of stand mixer, combine 3/4 C.
gran. sugar, flour, 1/4 C. cocoa,
baking powder & salt. Stir in
milk, melted butter & vanilla –
mix until smooth. Lightly grease
a 2 qt. ceramic dish or 9″ square
baking pan – spread mixture evenly
into pan. In small bowl stir remaining
1/2 C. gran. sugar, brown sugar,
remaining 1/4 C. cocoa & mix well.
Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter
in pan. Pour hot water on top but
DO NOT STIR. Bake 35-40 minutes
if using a glass dish or 30-35 minutes
if using a metal pan – until center is
almost set. Remove dish from oven
& allow to stand 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, spoon cake into
individual serving dishes, making
sure to spoon the fudgy sauce from
bottom of pan over top of cake.
Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream,
if desired & serve immediately.
Serves 8


Bacon Cauliflower Chowder

4 slices bacon, cut into strips,
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled/chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. flour
2 sprigs thyme, stripped/chopped
1 head cauliflower cut into small
1 qt. vegetable broth
1 C. whole milk

In large pot over medium heat cook
bacon until crispy; transfer to paper
towels. Drain all but 2 T. bacon grease
from pot. Add onion, carrots & celery
to pot, season with salt/pepper & cook
until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic & cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in
flour & cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add
thyme, cauliflower, broth & milk – bring
to boil. Immediately reduce heat to
simmer & cook until cauliflower is fork-
tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with
chopped bacon & serve. Serves 6-8

Sausage & White Bean Soup

1/2 lb. sausage, casing removed
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. diced onion
1/2 C. dry white wine
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 C. marinara sauce
1 (32 oz) can chicken stock
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans,
1/2 C. any small pasta
3 C. fresh baby spinach, washed/

Heat large pot over medium-high heat.
Brown sausage & break up pieces. Add
fennel, garlic & onion, stirring occasionally,
cook 4 minutes. Pour in wine, 1 tsp. salt &
1/2 tsp. black pepper – simmer 2 minutes.
Add marinara & stock; bring to boil &
simmer 3 minutes. Add beans & pasta;
cook accordg. to pkg. directions for
al dente pasta. If soup is too thick,
add a splash of chicken stock or water.
Just before serving add fresh spinach to
pot. Stir until warmed through & spinach
is wilted. Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Crockpot Beef & Barley Soup

1 1/2 lb. beef chuck, cut into
2 inch pieces
kosher salt
ground black pepper
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, cut into half-moons
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cut
into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 C. pearled barley
1 qt. chicken stock
1 T. soy sauce

Pat beef dry using paper towels;
season generously with salt/pepper.
Heat large cast iron skillet over high
heat; drizzle with oil & sear meat
on all sides until brown with a
crust, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer
meat to crockpot. Reduce heat on
stove to medium; add garlic, onions,
carrots, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp.
pepper – scrape pan with a wooden
spoon to loosen all browned meat
bits from bottom of pan & cook
3-4 minutes. If needed, add a splash
of water to fully deglaze pan – transfer
scrapings to crockpot. Add mushrooms,
barley, stock & soy sauce to crockpot.
Cover & cook on Low 8 hours. Meat
should be very tender, serve
immediately. Serves 4

Meatball Sub Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 C. Italian bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
ground black pepper

2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 C. beef broth
1 C. milk
3 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried oregano
kosher salt
ground black pepper

French baguettes, sliced

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parch-
ment paper. In large bowl combine
ground beef, bread crumbs, garlic,
parsley & red pepper flakes – season
with salt/pepper. Mix well & roll into
meatballs – transfer to one baking
sheet; bake until browned & cooked
through, 15 minutes.

Heat broiler

In large pot over medium-high heat,
heat oil. Add onion & cook until soft
& golden, 6 minutes. Add garlic & cook
1 minute more. Add tomato paste; stir
until combined. Add tomatoes, broth
& milk – stir until combined. Add meat-
balls; bring to simmer then add half
mozzarella & all of Parmesan cheese.
Season with oregano, salt/pepper.
Ladle soup into four oven-safe bowls
& top with a baguette slice. Top
slices with remaining mozzarella &
broil until browned & bubbly 2-3
minutes. Serve hot. Serves 4


Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken
breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 C. chopped onion
3 T. butter
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C. hot water
2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
1/2 – 1 tsp. ground cumin
2 C. Half & Half cream
2 C. (8 oz) shredded Monterrey
Jack cheese
1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream-style corn
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles,
1/4 – 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 medium tomato, chopped
minced fresh cilantro – optional

In Dutch oven brown chicken &
onion in butter until chicken is
no longer pink. Add garlic &
cook 1 minute. Add water,
bouillon & cumin; bring to boil.
Reduce heat; cover & simmer
5 minutes. Stir in cream, cheese,
corn, chilies & hot pepper sauce.
Cook & stir over Low heat until
cheese is melted – add tomato.
Sprinkle with cilantro, if using.
Serves 6-8  (2 quarts)


Cherry Spice Cake

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 large eggs
2 C. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. buttermilk*
1 (14.5 oz) can pitted tart
cherries, drained
1/2 C. chopped walnuts or pecans

1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 3/4 C. powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. water
2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)
additional chopped nuts, if desired for

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Line two 9 inch baking pans with waxed
paper. Grease & flour pans.
In large bowl cream butter & sugar until
light & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time,
beating well after each addition. Combine
flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking
powder & salt – add to creamed mixture
alternately with buttermilk, beating well
after each addition. Fold in cherries & nuts.
Pour batter into prepared pans & bake
25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted
near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes
in pans before removing from pans to wire
racks to cool completely.
In large bowl beat cream cheese until
fluffy. Add powdered sugar & enough
water to achieve spreading consistency.
Color with food coloring (if using) &
spread frosting between layers & on top
& sides of cake. Garnish top with additional
chopped nuts, if desired. Makes 16 servings.

If you don’t have buttermilk:

Using a 1-cup measuring cup, pour 1 T.
lemon juice or vinegar in cup & fill rest
of cup with milk. Stir & let stand 5 minutes –
now you have buttermilk!


I noticed that gas prices have dropped
here again to $2.09/9 – WOW! From
almost $2.40 down to that – great!

Stay warm, rest a bit & try to enjoy
a little something you like: 5 minutes
with your favorite book/music, a quick
‘Power Nap’, cup of something hot:
cocoa, coffee, tea – something to relax



PS: Husband is finally feeling
better – not so much coughing;
now he’s catching up on his rest,
since all that coughing isn’t very
condusive to good sleep!



Today is my husband’s 65th birthday – he is not one to want any big deal made of it; cake & a present are fine for him. (don’t even wrap the present, no card – all on the ‘down low’). I gave him 2 new long-sleeved ‘church’ shirts and just finished popping his favorite cake (Banana w/Cream Cheese frosting) in the oven. I’d forgotten just how time-consuming/multi bowls/steps making a cake from scratch can be! I’m Bushed! (and the frosting is still yet to be made!). Earlier I went to Meijer to grab some garlic parmesan Alfredo sauce to go with the stuffed chicken breasts for dinner. His favorite dinner is Meat & Potato Pie (a huge meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes & topped with melted sharp Cheddar Cheese) – we just had meatloaf a few nights ago so I decided to switch it up a bit (he likes this dinner, also).

Our weather is really goofy – it’s been that way now for almost this entire month. It was ‘supposed’ to be in the high 40’s today; when I went to Meijer at around 12:30 p.m. it was 39 degrees F., windy and raining – REALLY chilly! Oh well . . . better than snow I guess, right?


For those of you who MIGHT ENJOY making a cake from scratch, here’s my recipe:

Banana Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 C. mashed ripe bananas
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 C. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C. butter, softened
2 1/8 C. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. buttermilk*


1/2 C. butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven 275 degrees F. **
Grease & flour either: (a) one 9 X 13″
baking dish OR (b) two 9″ round baking
Mix mashed banana with lemon juice in
small bowl. In medium bowl mix flour,
baking soda & salt. In large bowl cream
butter & granulated sugar. Beat in eggs
one-at-a-time then stir in vanilla. Beat
in flour mixture gradually with buttermilk.
Stir in banana mixture & pour into pan(s).
Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted
into center of cake comes out clean.
(this will make the cake very moist)

In large bowl cream butter & cream
cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla &
add powdered sugar gradually. Beat at
LOW speed until fully combined then on
High until smooth. Frost cake.


*If you don’t have buttermilk:
Using a 2-cup measuring cup add 1 T. lemon
juice or vinegar. Pour milk into cup to reach
1 1/2 cup mark. Stir with fork & let stand
5 minutes – now you have buttermilk!

**I baked  mine in two 9″ round pans &
at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes.

NOTE: This makes a VERY dense cake

Brocccoli, Sausage, Pasta Simmer

3 C. uncooked spiral pasta
2 lb. smoked kielbasa or Polish
sausage, cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 medium bunches broccoli, cut
into florets
1 C. sliced red onion
2 (14.5 oz, ea) cans diced tomatoes,
2 T. minced fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried
2 T. minced fresh parsley or 2 tsp.
2 tsp. sugar

Cook pasta accordg. to pkg. directions.
In Dutch oven saute sausage, broccoli
& onion 5-6 minutes until broccoli is
crisp-tender. Add tomatoes, basil,
parsley & sugar. Cover & simmer 10
minutes. Drain pasta & stir into
sausage mixture. Serves 8


Bart’s Black Bean Soup

1 (15 oz) can black beans,
1 1/2 C. chicken broth
3/4 C. chunky salsa
1/2 C. (canned) whole kernel
corn, drained
dash hot pepper sauce
2 tsp. lime juice
1 C. (4 oz) shredded Cheddar
2 T. chopped green onions

In microwave-safe bowl combine
first 5 ingredients. Cover & micro-
wave on High 2 minutes until
heated through. Pour into 4
serving bowl & drizzle each with
lime juice. Sprinkle with cheese &
green onions. Makes 4 servings.


Easy Sticky Chicken

3-5 lb. bone-in chicken,
skin on (legs & thighs)
1 C. ketchup
1 C. honey
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
In sauce pot combine ketchup,
honey, brown sugar, soy sauce &
garlic powder over medium heat;
bring to boil while stirring – remove
from heat. Arrange chicken pieces
in 9 X 13″ baking dish. Pour entire
sauce over chicken, turning pieces
with tongs to fully coat. Bake 45
minutes (uncovered); turn pieces
& continue baking 30 minutes longer.
Fifteen  minutes before serving, turn
pieces one more time & baste with


Crockpot Beef Stew

2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into
1 inch cubes
1/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dried onion flakes
1 1/2 C. beef broth
3 potatoes, peeled/diced
4 carrots, peeled/ sliced

Using gallon-sized ziplock bag,
mix flour, salt/pepper. Pour
meat into bag & shake until
well coated then place meat in
crockpot (discard bag). Stir garlic,
paprika, Worc. sauce, onion, broth,
potatoes & carrots into crockpot;
stir to combine. Cover & cook on
Low 8-10 hours. Serves 4


Egg Rolls in a Bowl!

1 T. sesame oil
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 T. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 C. shredded cabbage (about
1 small head)
2 large carrots, shredded (2 C.)
4 oz. rice noodles
3 green onions, thinly sliced

additional soy sauce, if desired

In large skillet heat oil over
medium-high heat; cook & crumble
pork until browned, 4-6 minutes.
Stir in soy sauce, garlic & seasonings.
Add cabbage & carrots; cook 4-6
minutes until vegetables are tender,
stirring occasionally. Cook rice noodles
accordg. to pkg. directions; drain &
immediately add to pork mixture,
tossing to combine. Sprinkle with
green onions. (serve with additional
soy sauce, if desired. Serves 4


3-ingredient Chili Cheese Dip

1 (15 oz.) can Hormel Turkey
chili (with or without beans)
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, cut
into cubes
2 C. shredded Cheddar cheese

tortilla chips – for dipping

Combine all ingredients in micro-
wave safe bowl. Microwave on
High 2-3 minutes; stir & continue
to microwave in 30-second
intervals until all cheese is melted
& chili is heated through. Serve
warm with tortilla chips.


Meatball-stuffed Biscuits

1 (12 oz) tube Pillsbury Grands
Jr golden layers refrigerated
buttermilk biscuits
10 frozen fully-cooked Italian-style
meatballs, thawed, cut in half
4 sticks string cheese (mozzarella)
about 3 oz, cut each into 5 pieces
1 T. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 C. marinara sauce, warmed

Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
Separate biscuits, cut each in half
(you should have 20 pieces). Gently
roll biscuit piece into a ball & flatten
in palm of your hand. Place 1 piece
string cheese (you may need to
flatten) & one meatball half in
biscuit – wrap remaining dough
around & seal edges. Place, seam-
sides down, in 9 inch round cake
pan – repeat for remaining meatballs.
Lightly spray tops with nonstick
cooking spray or lightly brush with
oil or melted butter. Sprinkle tops
with Parm. cheese, garlic powder &
Italian seasoning. Bake 18-23 minutes
until golden brown. Serve warm
with marinara sauce.


Twisted Strawberry Shortcake
(like a trifle)

2 (3.4 oz, ea) pkgs. vanilla instant
pudding mix
1 qt (4 C.) cold milk
2 C. Cool Whip, thawed
1 (12 oz) prepared angel food
cake, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 C. orange juice
3 C. sliced fresh strawberries
5 oz. white chocolate, grated/

Beat pudding mixes & milk in large
bowl using a whisk for 2 minutes;
gently stir in Cool Whip. Place cake
cubes in large bowl & drizzle orange
juice over cake & toss to coat. Place
half of cake cubes in deep glass
serving bowl; cover with layers of
half each: pudding mixture, straw-
berries & chocolate. Top with layer
of remaining cake cubes, pudding
mixture, strawberries & chocolate.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before
serving. Store leftovers in fridge.
Makes 20 (1/2 C. each) servings


I noticed that gas prices have dropped a little,
again; now we’re down to $2.19/9 for regular
(that’s from $2.39/9 a week ago!) YAY!

Not much else pressing for the moment;
our ‘soon-to-be’ grandson’s baby shower
is this coming Saturday. (I still have to
remember to get a big ‘baby shower’ bag
to put the ‘stuff’ in). It’s hard for me to
grasp that very soon we will have a newborn
in the family – it’s been 10 years since my
first grandson (and the baby’s older brother!).
Not worried about my ‘baby care-giving’ skills;
it might have been 10 years but I think I’ve
got this one covered (that’s 3 adopted sons,
14 foster children, running my own baby/infant
day care for 3 years plus working in the church
baby nursery for years . . . yep, think I got this one)

Hope your day is going well – remember to take
a little break JUST FOR YOU! (Believe me, after
reading through the cake recipe, ‘thinking I had
it OK’ only to discover I didn’t really READ the
bowl sizes – ended up having to transfer the
dry ingredients to another bowl so I would
have enough room to mix ALL the ingredients
together at the end . . . sigh – I TOOK A BREAK!
In fact, am STILL taking a break while the cake