Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

 After lots of "pumpkin" baking, do you ever have a little pumpkin left over?  DON'T THROW IT OUT!!!  Here is a great dip to have on hand for unexpected guests or last minute parties during these crisp, fall days.  Enjoy!








1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 T.  cane syrup, maple syrup, honey, or vanilla flavoring (your choice!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add syrup and cinnamon, and beat until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes before serving.



  • Serve the dip with peeled apple slices, banana slices, cinnamon & sugar graham crackers, ginger snaps, or cinnamon & sugar pita chips.
Tip:  When you open a can of pumpkin to make Pumpkin Bread, you'll have ~1/4 cup of pumpkin left over.  Simply cut this recipe in half and you'll have a delicious pumpkin spread to serve with your pumpkin bread!  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicken Casserole

3-4 large chicken breasts fully cooked, cut up*
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
salt & pepper to taste
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick melted butter





Spray a medium sized baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix cream of chicken soup and sour cream in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir in cooked, cut chicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Dump into baking dish and pour crushed Ritz crackers over top.  Pour melted butter over Ritz crackers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!  


Tips:  My family enjoys this dish with chicken flavored Rice A Roni, steamed broccoli, and Honey Butter biscuits!  

*Boil chicken breasts in about 6 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of butter and a generous portion of seasoned salt for about 45 minutes or until fully cooked.  This can be done the night before to shorten your cooking process.  I would wait to cut it into pieces just before stirring into soup and sour cream, though, to prevent it from drying out.  Or, you can go ahead and mix it all up and stick it in the fridge and just wait to dump it into your baking dish and top it with the crackers just before cooking.  


Apple Dumplings



2 Granny Smith apples                     
2 cans crescent rolls, 8 count each
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick butter-melted
1 (12-oz.) can Mountain Dew

Peel apples and cut each into 8 slices.  Wrap one piece of apple in one crescent roll.  Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Place each wrapped apple into dish.  Mix sugar and cinnamon with melted butter.  Pour over rolls.  Pour Mountain Dew over this.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Makes 16 dumplings.  Serve warm with ice cream and caramel sauce!  Mmmm...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jesus? In me?

"Look at that guy trying to lift those weights..."
"She is so skinny I think she's gonna blow away..."
"Oh my goodness, that girl has a tattoo!"
"Now you better stay away from her.  She has a reputation."
"Her hair is a mess!  I'd love to take her to my stylist... Bless her heart."
"I don't mean to be ugly, but..."

Now wait a minute.  By prefacing your statement with "I don't mean to be ugly..." I would dare say that you do mean it.  Otherwise, your comments would have been better kept silent.  

Are you guilty of such condemning statements?  If you're honest, you will have to say yes.  I believe at some point in time we all are or have been!  We critique and criticize others all in the name of Christianity.  We just want them to "be better people".  We think by tagging "bless their heart" at the end of our sentences that it makes everything okay.  What we have said is true, right?  At least we say what we think!

Christians can be the most hateful, critical people.  Bitterness takes root and starts to spread like ivy.  What causes this bitterness, which leads to hatred?    I cannot judge your heart, but I do believe that a lot of times it comes from some super spiritual stipulations we place on ourselves that we cannot meet.  We have made up a list of rules of dos and don'ts that we ourselves cannot keep and it frustrates us.  Not a tangible list, but an "understood" list.  We've heard one teacher give us a list of what we're supposed to look like when we leave the house, and a preacher explain to us exactly what music, movies, and TV shows are taboo, and the newest book has given us a 10 step process of  "How to Live ______" (you fill in the blank).  We cannot reach these goals or legalistic rules and sometimes view ourselves as a failure.

Then there's the problem of comparing ourselves to others.  And measuring ourselves up to "some people", we look really good!  We begin to play the comparison game and begin to take on a "holier than thou" attitude that may begin in our mind but ultimately makes its way to our lips.  A dear friend once gave me an example when we were discussing parenting and I have often used it with my children.  A display of physical aggression did not "just happen".  It begins in your mind, then is spoken through your lips, and ultimately is acted out through your hands.  When we begin to believe we are better than another we will speak as though we are.  (Like in the above statements.)  Once spoken, we will then act on them.  How do you treat others you run into at work, school, sporting events, and even your local mall?  With disgust?  With hatred?  With aggression?  Or with love?

Our real problem is ourselves!  We think that we have to change.  We believe we have to do something to make us stop doing the bad and help us do the right.  But the real issue is that all along our focus has on US and not on HIM.  We can't change! There is nothing good in us!  It's like having a glass 3/4 of the way full of water and trying to squeeze milk in with it.  When you begin to pour in the milk, something is going to come out!  If we desire milk, the water must first be emptied so the glass can hold the milk.  Our dependence must be on Jesus Christ and Him alone.

When we see God for who He is, and ourselves for who we are, we will then have a heart that desires to love others and see them come to Him.  Where were you before The Lord revealed your sinfulness to you?  Can you remember?  Where would you be today without His grace and mercy?  God's Word says that a Christian will be know by the love they show to others.  Stop.  Take a few minutes to read John 13.    Do you show love?  Is there really a desire to see others come to Jesus, or only those who look like you, dress like you, and act like you?  It is a sad day when those who need love shown to them the most are shunned because they don't fit our mold.  We want them to pay for their actions!  "Yeah!  They're getting what they deserve!"  Really?  Really?  How hypocritical!  The next time you (I) sit at your (my) vanity, look into the mirror and see if others can see Jesus through your words and actions.

John 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.


James 1:14-15  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:21-26
21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 
 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.




A song to ponder:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole

This recipe was passed to me from a great friend.  It is very kid friendly and most "big kids" enjoy it too!  Especially when served with ketchup.

2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more!)
1 pack frozen tatter tots


Grease 13x9 inch pan.  Place beef, soup, and cheese in pan.  Top with tatter tots.  Bake covered for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer, adding extra cheese here if desired.
 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Peach Muffins

  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 16 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray or line them with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl, mix the flour and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs, and sugar. Stir the oil mixture into the flour mixture just until moist. Fold in the peaches. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.  Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.  Enjoy!




"Olive Garden" Salad Dressing



Place all ingredients in a blender until well mixed. If this is a little too tart for your own personal taste, add a little extra sugar. This salad dressing is good for about 10 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Serve over mixed greens with red onion slices, a can of rinsed and drained black olives, croutons, tomato, Parmesan cheese, and a banana pepper.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blueberry Crunch

  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, in juice
  • 3 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour pineapple into the dish and spread over bottom.  Sprinkle blueberries over pineapple and then the sugar over the blueberries.  Cover blueberries with the box of yellow cake mix (and pecans, if you so choose).  Drizzle with melted butter and bake for 35-40 minutes. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blueberry Pie

Here is a wonderful pie recipe you can use with any type of berry.  Our berry of choice... blueberry!!! 

2 pie shells  (I use the refrigerated pie shells.)
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. berries
1 1/2 T. butter

Carefully press one of the pie shells into the bottom and sides of an ungreased 9 inch glass pie dish.  In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients first, then stir in berries.  Slice butter and put on top of ingredients after it is poured into the pie shell.  Carefully lay the second pie shell over the berry mixture and wrap the edges under the bottom crust edge.  Press edges together to seal; flute.  Cut slits in top crust.  Bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.  After 15 minutes of baking, remove pie and cover the edge of crust with strips of foil to prevent burning.  Return to oven and continue baking. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baked Spaghetti

This recipe is one I have thrown together for our youth and children summer camps.  Instead of slaving over hot noodles in the middle of the afternoon, I prefer to prepare this dish in the cool of the morning, pop it in the fridge, and pull it out to bake at dinnertime.  Here is a cheesy twist to your favorite spaghetti... a summer hit! 

2 pounds lean ground beef  (Or deer meat!)
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (I use garlic mushroom)
1 pound angel hair pasta 
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


1.  In large skillet, cook hamburger until brown. (I always season my meat with pepper, garlic salt, and seasoned salt while browning.)
2.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Mix in pasta and cook according to package directions or until al dente; drain.
3.  Mix together pasta, sauce, meat, and about 3/4 c. of the mozzarella cheese.  Pour into 9x13 pan.
4.  Cover with foil and pop in the fridge until ready to bake.  (Be sure to set it out for about 30-45 minutes before baking to take the chill off.) 
5.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Using a new sheet of foil, cover and bake for 30-40 minutes. 
6.  Uncover, top with remaining cheese, sprinkle a little parsley (for color), and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.  (You could even turn your oven to broil at this point to make the cheese have a brown, crispy look.)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Midnight Delight

Here is a trifle I put together last weekend using pieces of different recipes.  It turned out delicious, but I advise you to only dip small portions.  After pondering a name, "Midnight Delight" seemed suitable.  CAUTION:  This is VERY rich.  Can't say I didn't warn you! 

Brownies:
1 family size (13x9) package of brownie mix  (check the back of the box for additional ingredients)
1 c. miniature size chocolate chips

Mix brownies according to package directions.  Add 1c. chocolate chips and stir.  Bake according to package directions and cool completely.
Hint:  I substitute coffee for the water on the brownie mix.  Coffee always brings out the best in chocolate!

Cream Cheese Fluff:
1 box powdered sugar
1 8oz. package cream cheese (room temperature)
1 10oz. container cool whip (do not use recuced fat or light)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy.  Then add cool whip and vanilla and beat until combined.  Set aside.

Fudge Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients, except the vanilla, in a heavy sauce pan and boil fast for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add the vanilla, and beat until creamy.  Set aside to cool.


Using a trifle dish (or clear glass dish), layer ingredients in this order:  brownies (crumble using hands), cream cheese fluff, fudge sauce; being careful to end with the fudge sauce.  The last layer of fudge sauce should be simply drizzled over the top.  And you can use 1/4 cup of miniature chocolate chips to sprinkle over the top as a garnish as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pimento Cheese

This is a recipe I created while working at a local coffee shop.  Since I do not eat mayo, there were people who would taste these recipes to give me ideas on what to add or take away.  After much tweaking, here is the end result.  Enjoy!

4 c. finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. mayo (I use Kraft)
2 jars pimentos
1/2 T. salt
1/2 T. pepper
1/2 T garlic powder

Using a glove, mix all ingredients well with your hand.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Eat on bread as a sandwich or with crackers as a dip.  Makes 2 lbs.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fiesta in a Pocket (Salsa topped chicken)

Are you ready for a new idea to "jazz up" your chicken breasts?  Here is a great way to accomplish that tonight!  This is a simple, colorful, fun, and yummy way to enjoy dinner.

Fiesta in a Pocket
4-6 chicken breasts
aluminum foil
Corn & Black Bean Salsa
shredded cheddar cheese

Tear aluminum foil in individual sheets for each piece of chicken.  (Almost double for each piece.)  Lay chicken breast on the middle of the foil sheets.  Spoon desired amount of Corn & Black Bean Salsa over each piece of chicken.  Fold aluminum foil up and around chicken.  Place on a cookie sheet (also lined with foil - for easy clean up) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until center juices run clear.  When chicken is fully cooked, carefully open "pockets" and sprinkle cheddar cheese on each one.  Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

Tip:
Beautiful and delicious when served with yellow rice!  (Or arroz con pollo)

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

I've been mixing salsa this way for several years now.  It is an easy way to make your salsa go further, cut the heat, and get in your veggies! 

Corn & Black Bean Salsa
1 jar of salsa (your choice)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)

Mix these three ingredients together and POW... you have a new, exciting salsa!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Syrup Tea Cakes

If you're from the south, you've probably been to a cane grinding a time or two.  I just love the history and sense of family that comes from being a part of these events.  And if you've went to one, you've probably not come home empty handed.  More than likely, you either purchased or were given a bottle of fresh cane syrup.  Cane syrup is delicious on hoecakes, biscuits, pancakes, and waffles.  But it is also delicious when made into a soft, sweet cookie.  This recipe was passed down from a friend of my parents and is a favorite among our family.  My dad bakes these "tea cakes", as we call them, and takes them to shut-ins in our church.  And since this recipe makes more than enough for you to share and eat yourself, my children are never left out in the distribution of these amazing cookies.  So if you're in the mood for some cane syrup, pull that bottle out and get to work.  You will not be disappointed!


1 1/2 c. cooking oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. cane syrup
2 eggs
1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. mace
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
self rising flour  (don't ask how much... I don't measure)

Mix all ingredients (except flour) very well.  Using your hands, work in flour.  Roll about the size of small biscuits and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten.  (The softer the dough you can work with, the softer the cakes.  Grease your hands to roll.)  Bake at 450 degrees until brown around the edges.  (Don't ask how long... it's different for each batch.  Just turn your oven light on and peek in every now and then.)  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sloth

One animal no one should desire to be called is a "sloth".  While strolling through the zoo yesterday, I pointed out the sloth to my daughter and reminded her of why she should never desire the title of "sloth" or wish that title upon anyone else.  Sloths are slow moving mammals that hang upside down on their hooklike claws and feed on leaves, plants, and fruits.  A sloth has long, shaggy fur that harbors its very own ecosystem.  According to mongabay.com, one study found more than 950 beetles on a single sloth, living off the algae growing in its fur.  Are you disgusted yet?  
As vile we as humans may believe this animal to be, our God has been merciful to the sloth by giving him this fur.  The fur on a sloth grows away from his extremities to provide protection from the natural elements he is exposed to.  This fur also houses alge which acts as a camoflauge to protect him from predators.  Doesn't that thrill your soul?
Our Lord is so gracious to provide for each of His creatures on an individual level.  Though this sloth is lazy, eats things that are tough on his digestive system, and does things a bit backwards (hanging upside down), God still takes care of him.  He still provides for his every need.  And if our Lord will look after the sloth, how much more will he provide for you and I? 
In no way am I endorsing sloth like behavior.  Nor am I encouraging you to be lazy and just expect God to lay everything out for you.  But what I want you to see is what He showed me yesterday; that He loves the sloth, He loves you, and He loves me on an individual level.  He will provide His grace to meet us where we are.  Yes, he did provide the sloth protection from the elements.  But it did not come without a price!  Think of the heavy load this animal must carry around in his fur.  God's grace is sufficient, and He may very well shelter you from harsh elements.  But that grace was not free!  God had to sacrifice His only Son to give us the freedom we can have through Him. 
The Bible does have some examples to remind us about not having sloth like behavior.  We should take these verses and heed their warning.  However, next time you have the chance to see a sloth up close, remember where you were before grace was showered upon you and be mindful of how you must show that same grace to others.



The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.  Proverbs 12:27 NIV  

The slothful hideth his hand in [his] bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.  Proverbs 26:15 KJV

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.  Romans 12: 10-13 KJV

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Bread

It's Spring, and time for picnics in the park!  Tired of the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Why not bake this delicious peanut butter bread and pack your favorite jam to spread on when it's time to eat!  This bread takes around an hour to bake, so plan ahead.  You can prepare your picnic basket while it bakes so you'll be ready to leave as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Simply wrap it in tin foil to keep it warm until you reach your destination.  I hope you and your family will enjoy this rich warm bread on your next lunch outing. 

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. milk
3/4 c. peanut butter
(reduced fat or generic brands are NOT reccommended for this recipe)
Your choice of jelly or jam

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add egg, milk, and peanut butter; stir just until combined.  Pour into a greased 8x4x2 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan.  Slice and serve with your favorite jam! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blueberry Dumplings

It's a dreary, chilly, Spring day here in South Georgia; and I thought our family could use some blueberry dumplings to warm us up!  My Nanny Nora made blackberry dumplings when I was a kid, and they are equally delicious!  However, when making blackberry dumplings, you must thoroughly squeeze the berries in a cheesecloth to extract all of the seeds.  That can be quite time consuming, so these blueberry dumplings are a great substitute to the sweet treat I grew up eating. 

Blueberry Dumplings

Berry Juice:
1 quart blueberries (rinsed thoroughly)
1 c. sugar
1-2 c. water


Dumplings:
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter (room temperature)
milk

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  With a fork, cut butter into flour mixture until crumbly.  Add a little milk to make the dumplings doughy.   Set aside.  In a large pot, bring blueberries, sugar, and water to a rolling boil.  Drop dumplings in with a regular size teaspoon.  Shake pot after dropping several dumplings in.  Do not stir!!!  Once all dumplings are in, place lid on pot, reduce heat, and cook for about 20 minutes.  Do not open lid!  Shake the pot several times throughout cookingDo not stir!  Remove lid and let dumplings stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

*Tips:
  1. Freezing blueberries?  Don't wash them!  Simply place them in a Ziplock storage bag and freeze them.  When it's time to use them, measure out what you need and wash them at that time. 
  2. My Nanny Nora used flat dumplings in her origional dish of Blackberry Dumplings.  She may have made them from scratch, or simply bought them from the freezer section in the grocrey store.  Sometimes I make the thick, drop dumplings (above recipe), and sometimes I buy the frozen flat dumplings to use.  It's all up to you!  Try them both!  =)
  3. I do not eat these with icecream, but I'm sure if you're an icecream kind of person it would be delicious with this dessert!  Try it and see!  I do remember Nanny pouring evaporated milk over hers at times. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Raspberry-Lemon Whoopie Pies

This desert is dreamy!  A wonderful way to welcome in Spring...











Lemon Cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup light-brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 1 cup whole milk


  • Raspberry Cream Filling
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar

  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract 

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (4 ounces)



  • Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and ending with flour mixture (scrape bowl as needed). Beat well to combine.

  • Drop batter in 2-tablespoon mounds, about 2 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and pale golden around edges, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cakes cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

  • In a large bowl, whip cream, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and lemon flavoring to soft peaks. In a small bowl, mash raspberries with a fork, then fold into whipped cream. Divide raspberry cream evenly among bottoms of half the cakes, then sandwich with remaining cakes.


  • You can make the cookies for these whoopie pies a day ahead and fill them just before serving.  They are beautiful when dusted with powdered sugar! 

    Tip: 
    After plating these, dust them with powdered sugar and garnish the corner of the plate with lemon slices and fresh raspberries. 

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    How to Make a Latte

    For my 30th birthday, my husband bought me an espresso machine so I could make my very own lattes at home!  I do not make these daily, but it is very nice to have the option when you're craving one!  I wanted to give a sort of "how to" recipe for making a latte since that is the overall title and inspiration for this blog. 

    You will have to convert this according to your own espresso machine, but here is the overall idea...

    Espresso
    3/4 to 1 cup Milk
    Flavor of choice

    Pour 1 to 2 ounces of desired flavoring into a 12-16 oz. cup.



    
    Tamp the ground espresso into the portafilter firmly and lock it into the group head on the espresso machine.  Start the shots.
    
    Pour the shots of espresso into prepared cup.
    (This is a photo of the espresso brewing.  When brewing is complete, you pour the shots over your flavoring.)
    


    Fill the metal pitcher with 1 cup milk, or 3/4 cup if using a flavor.

    Place thermometer securely inside the steel pitcher.
    (As you can see here, I don't normally do this.)

    Steam milk between 155ºF and 165F. It will scorch above 170ºF.


    The steam wand should be inserted diagonally just below the surface of the milk.
    (This will help you get the thick foam you desire.)


    Pour steamed milk over espresso.  Do not let your shots sit very long before pouring steamed milk over them.  The steaming process should be done accuratly, but quickly.  When pouring use a spoon to regulate the flow of the foam. Make sure no foam enters the drink until you are about 1/4 in. from the top, where you can remove your spoon. The result should be a nice brown foamy top with a small white foam center.


     
    For an added touch, drizzle chocolate or caramel on top of the foam.  Or, add whip cream to the top for sweeter sipping.












    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Pistachio Salad

    When I was a little girl, I'd ask my mom to make "green stuff".  This wonderful salad (as they call it), is wonderfully refreshing.  So if you're looking for something green to mix up for St. Patrick's Day, here is a quick, easy, and delicious treat!

    1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
    2 (3 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
    1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed in refrigerator
    1cup miniature marshmallows


    In a large bowl, combine the pineapple and dry pistachio pudding mix. Fold in thawed whipped topping and marshmallows until well mixed. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.

    Lemon Cheesecake Bars

    Spring is in the air, and I am a big lemon fan.  Here is a wonderful way to sweeten up the delicious lemon flavor for your dessert this week!

    Crust
    1 box lemon cake mix
    1 egg
    1 stick butter, melted

    Filling
    1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon lemon extract
    1 (16 oz.) box confections' sugar
    1 stick butter, melted

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well.  Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.  Using the same bowl and electric mixer (no need to wash), beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs, lemon flavoring, confectioners' sugar, and melted butter.  Mix well.  Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly.  Bake for about 40 minutes depending on your oven.  The center should be a little gooey.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. 

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Cola Chicken

    This recipe was a hit the first time we tried it.  I discovered it in the kids section of a Quick Cooking magazine and tried it out with rice, broccoli, and biscuits.  The cola and ketchup turn out tasting like a sweet BBQ sauce.  It is simply wonderful!

    4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
    garlic salt
    pepper
    1/4 - 1/2 c. chopped onion 
    2 T. vegetable oil 
    1 (12oz.) can cola
    1 c. ketchup
    4 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
    3 T. cold water

    In a skillet, saute onion in oil until tender. Add chicken; sprinkle garlic salt and pepper over chicken; brown on all sides. Carefully add cola & ketchup. Cover and simmer for 25-30 min. or until chicken juices run clear. Remove the chicken and keep warm. Combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth; add to the skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 min. or until thickened. Return chicken to the pan and heat through. The can of cola gives a nice barbecue flavor. The gravy is wonderful when served over rice.

    Meal suggestion:
    Cola Chicken
    Rice
    Steamed Broccoli
    Biscuits and Honey Butter

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Iced Coffee

    It's beginning to warm up!  Here is a nice, cool way to prepare your coffee. 










    1 1/2 c. cold water
    1/3 c. ground coffee (medium-course ground is the best)

    In a measuring cup, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours. 

    Strain twice through a coffee filter and a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth.


    In a tall glass, mix sugar, creamer, and room temperature coffee.  (This will help sugar dissolve before chilling.)  If desired, add milk; then add ice.  Let stand for 3-5 minutes to chill completely.

    Seasoned Steak and Potatoes

    Who doesn't love steak and potatoes?  Here is an inexpensive twist on a famous dish! 

    1 package pan steak
    2.5 lbs. red potatoes
    light Italian dressing
    1 tsp. vinegar 
    garlic salt, season salt, pepper

    Wash potatoes, dice into bite size pieces.  Place in a gallon sized Ziplock bag and add 1/4 c. light Italian dressing, vinager, and sprinkle approximatly 1/2 teaspoon each of the garlic salt, season salt, and pepper.  Seal, removing air, and coat potatoes well.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to absorb flavor.  Meanwhile, mix some garlic salt, season salt, and pepper together to rub on the steak. 
    In a frying pan, over medium heat, pan fry the potatoes until golden brown on the outside.  Place them in a 13x9" dish sprayed generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Rub steaks down on both sides with the prepared seasonings.  Sear them on each side (in the same pan you cooked the potatoes in) until brown over high heat.  (About 2 minutes on each side.)  Place them on top of the potatoes; cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Steak may be removed after 15 minutes if you desire a rare center.  Recover potatoes and return them to the oven to complete baking.  When the potatoes are finished baking, slice the steak into small pieces and stir into potatoes.  

    Add a vegetable and you have a cheap, quick, delicious meal to enjoy with your family!


    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

    My sister-in-law passed this recipe along to me several years ago.  It has become one of my favorite cakes as I am a huge chocolate covered cherry fan!  Though this recipe was entitled "Chewy Chocolate Bars", I had to affectionately change it to "Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake".  If you are a fan, you'll understand the reason for the name change.  Enjoy!




    Cake:
    1 chocolate cake mix
    1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
    1 tsp. almond extract
    2 eggs, beaten

    Combine mix, cherry pie filling, almond extract, and eggs.  Stir by hand till well mixed.  (Careful not to mash up the cherries too much.)  Pour into a 9x13 inch pan that has been sprayed generously with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. 

    Frosting:
    1 c. sugar
    1/3 c. milk
    5 T. butter
    1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

    In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and milk.  Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in chips till smooth.  Poke holes in the cake with a fork; pour and spread frosting over warm cake. 

    Best to serve when warm. 

    Tip:  This cake will tend to get soggy if not eaten right away.  I have found that refrigerating the leftover cake will slow down this process. 

    Salmon Patties

    This is a family favorite for sure!  We enjoy this meal served with rice and tomatoes.  Add a vegetable and you're all set! 







    2 cans salmon (reserve 2 T. juice - drain)
    1 cup soft bread crumbs
    1/4 cup milk
    2 eggs
    2 T. minced parsley (or 1 T. dried parsley flakes)
    1 T. lemon juice
    1/4 tsp. salt, pepper, and dill weed

    Once you have removed the bone from the salmon, flake it into a large mixing bowl.  Combine ingredients.  Shape into patties.  Pan-fry on both sides in a mixture of olive oil and butter until golden brown. 

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Cherry Torte

    This recipe came from a cookbook my husband bought me for Christmas.  The cookbook is one from a local restaurant in his hometown, Williston, Fl.  I made this cake for a church fellowship, and it was a HIT!  It did, however, collapse upon cutting.  So... you may want to do this as a trifle instead, or at least prepare yourself for the possibility of it falling.  


    I had to tweak this recipe just a bit, so it is not as originally posted in the cookbook.  ENJOY!

    Cake:
    1 box butter cake mix
    6 eggs
    2/3 c. water
    1 stick butter, softened
    1 box instant vanilla pudding

    Mix well and pour into 4 9" round cake pans sprayed generously with non-stick cooking spray.
    Bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes or until done to touch.  (Do not overcook.)
    Cool layers completely.

    Frosting:
    1 box powdered sugar
    1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (Room temperature)
    1 (8 oz.) container cool whip
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Filling:
    2 cans cherry pie filling

    Beat powdered sugar, and cream cheese until smooth.  Add cool whip and vanilla.  Beat until combined. 
    Spread frosting over first layer and then pour on 1/4 of the pie filling. 
    Continue with each layer, making sure you end with the pie filling on top. 

    Meatballs

    This is a family favorite passed down from my husband's mom.  I'll always cherish this recipe as it was the first meal shared between our two families.  If you love meatloaf and ketchup, this dish is one you'll really want to try!

    Meatballs

    4 1/2 lbs. ground beef
    1 1/2 c. oatmeal
    1 c. milk
    1 small onion (diced)
    season salt, pepper, garlic powder  (Roll desired amount into meat, and use again to sprinkle before broiling.)

    Sauce: 32 oz. ketchup (fill 1/2 with water)
    2 tsp. sugar
    4 TBSP. vinegar

    Roll ingredients into meat. Roll meat into balls about 1 1/2 in. thick. Sprinkle seasonings over meatballs.  Broil in the oven until brown on the outside, turning once. Mix sauce together in a crock pot. Place meatballs into sauce and cook on high for 4-5 hours.

    Meal Suggestion:
    Serve meatballs and sauce over rice
    Acre peas
    Biscuits
     
    This is an excellent meal to prepare for a family during a time of death, sickness, or welcoming a new baby. Also a very easy covered dish!

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Key Lime Cake

    Cake:                                    
    1 3/4 c. oil                                                           
    3/4 c. orange juice
    5 eggs
    1 (3-oz.) pkg. lime Jello
    1 box lemon flavored cake mix
    1/4 c. lime juice
    5-6 T. Confectioner's sugar

    Combine the oil, orange juice, eggs, Jello and cake mix. Beat until smooth. Pour into three 9" cake pans, sprayed with Pam. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Loosen sides and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Carefully take cakes from pans and place on a towel. Pierce the tops of the cakes with a fork. Combine the lime juice and Confectioner's sugar. Stir until smooth. Using a basting brush, carefully paint the tops of the cake with the lime juice mixture. Cool completely.

    Frosting:
    1 (8-oz.) cream cheese
    1 stick butter
    1 box Confectioner's sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 c. chopped pecans (optional)

    Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and mix until creamy. Spread between layers and on the tops and sides of the cake. Sprinkle pecans on top if desired.

    Hint: Our family prefers this cake chilled. So once you put the frosting on it, stick it in the fridge for a better flavor!

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Smokey BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

    Our family loves this delicious sandwich.  This chicken can also be done as an appetizer when cut into small, bite size pieces.  Just cut the bacon into smaller pieces as well and secure with a toothpick before dipping in the savory rub.  What a great sandwich (or appetizer) to serve to your friends this weekend!







    1 package chicken breasts     
    1 package bacon

    Rub:
    3/4 c. dark brown sugar
    2 T. chili powder




    In a medium size mixing bowl, blend together dark brown sugar and chili powder. 


    Slice chicken breasts in half (to fit on a bun).  Wrap chicken in bacon. 









    Dip bacon wrapped chicken in the Rub. 









    Place on a pan lined with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until juices in the center run clear.  



    Place chicken on hamburger bun, garnished as desired, and enjoy!