Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Did someone say "Italian Cornbread" ?

A couple of months ago, my BFF made this on her food network show.   It spoke to me, loudly.  So, when Thanksgiving and cooler weather rolled around the corner,  I knew what had to be made.   Soon!

Italian Cornbread
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 T. diced sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 cup + 2 T. shortening

Preheat the oven to 450*.  
Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder & salt.
Measure the milks and add the egg.  Stir together.
Add the baking soda and stir.
Add the parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes & oregano.
Mix it all together.

In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 cup shortening in the microwave and slowly add to the batter.  
Stir this until just combined.

In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons shortening over medium hear.  Pour the batter into the hot skillet and spread.  Cook on the stove top for about a minute.   Transfer to the oven and bake for about  25 minutes or until golden.

Cut and enjoy!

 I served it with a hot bowl of my tomato soup!   That recipe also came from my bestie, Ree.   Any remaining leftovers were combined into my recipe  for crockpot stuffing on Thanksgiving Day!!!    Oh the goodness!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I am so thankful for the cranberry relish!!

 For years, my children have enjoyed the benefits of having a Williams Sonoma around the corner.      I have always thought..... why make it when the store bought is so good!!!    My daughter enjoys using the relish on her Thanksgiving day leftovers panini sandwich.    The gravy is also delicious!!!

Fortunately, this year, I have a jar of the gravy base...  I am good.  My daughter was set on having that relish for her sandwich.   We looked all over EP to find a jar.    Unless, we wanted something with green chili mixed in...   we were out of luck.   Here is the substitute recipe I doctored around with.   We will definitely make this again next year.   Who knows, maybe next week.   Turkey gravy is next on my list to conquer.

Cranberry-Apple Relish

1 bag cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 cup maple syrup
2 oranges, zested and then the juice squeezed into the pan
maybe an 1/8 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Bring to a boil and simmer about 15 minutes.   Try to crush the pomegranates and cranberries as they cook.   However, they will naturally crush and burst as they cook.  Next time, I will also chop the apple in smaller pieces.  

I plan to pour it over a block of cream cheese and use a wheat think as the vessel.    I am now ashamed to say I have bought the jarred stuff previously.   The hardest part was zesting the oranges.   I am still not sure if I did that correctly.   

Until next time friends,  I hope you all find something to be thankful for other than the cranberry relish!!   

Saturday, November 12, 2016


Ok,   I have lived here on the other side of the world for 3 months.  It is obvious that I may have to learn to enjoy white queso.   It is also obvious that I may need to learn how to make it better at home.  Maybe I should do more than melt together velvetta and a can of rotel?   Who am I kidding here......  it is better like that than with the weird white cheese and chunks of green chilis!!!

However, there are some things that I may not get to eat again for quite a long time.   I will have to learn to make them!    Kolache's are on the top of the list!!!!   There is a gas station just south of Hillsboro, Texas on HWY 35.    All us Texan's refer to it as the Czech Stop.    My car just pulls off the interstate on its own and stops.   Half of the station is this cute little bakery with a case of kolaches in every flavor known to man kind.    There are always a dozen or more families lined up for this goodness.   Cream cheese, apple, strawberry, peach, blackberry, sausage, lemon.........  you name it and they have a flavor.

I found this recipe last summer in a regional Texas cookbook.    I think the next time I will substitute some apple pie filling for the cream cheese.  The cream cheese was really tasty...but I think my boys will enjoy apple a bit more.

Cream Cheese Kolaches

2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100*-110*)  honestly, I just used really hot tap water.
1  (8 oz) container sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp salt
3 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Combine yeast & water in a measuring cup... stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir together the rest until blended in a large mixing bowl.  Add the yeast until well blended.

Using the dough hook, add the flour 1 cup at a time and beat at a medium-low speed for about 5 minutes until the dough leaves the side of the bowl and pulls together.   (I used a spatula to get it off the sides a bit during mixing.)

Cover bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Turn dough onto a well floured surface and shape into 16 (2-inch) balls.  Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on buttered baking sheets.  Let it rise in a warm place until about doubled in size.    Maybe an hour to an 1 1/2 hours...  draft free .....

Now  make the cream cheese stuff!!!


8 oz. cream cheese, softened
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk  
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Combine all that until smooth.

Preheat the oven until 350*.   Form an indentation in the top of the roll with a spoon or thumb.  Spoon about a tablespoon into the top.  Brush with egg white and water combination.
Bake about 15 minutes or until golden.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

From Kindergarten to College Graduation

First Grade

We are so excited that she was promoted to first grade.  Even more excited that she has now graduated with her first big degree!!!  And it was a very pretty day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Let's talk about that pasta salad.............

Pasta has never been my comfort food.  I don't crave it.  It does nothing for me.   I don't order it when eating out.  I don't even cook with it.   Please don't ask me my current thoughts about black olives.  Never, in a billion years will I order anything containing olives.  Ever.   At least they were finely chopped!  However, last summer my dear cousin Peggy changed my life.   She brought a pasta salad to the annual family reunion that literally rocked my pathetic little world.   I ate several helpings and then snagged a plate for leftovers that evening.  It was just enough to tide me over and fill my head with crazy ideas and concoctions.

For the past year, I have been thinking of it.  I have tried to add different fresh veggies to some pasta and re-create it.  Now, I have made a pretty decent replica.   It just doesn't compare with what I remembered.   I didn't  realize the salad contained pimentos.  Lemon juice?   Mayonnaise?  No way!

This past weekend I traveled back to the family reunion.    Cousin Peggy was there again.  I had completely forgotten about that salad until I noticed the light shining down from the heavens.  Angels began singing in my head.   My first thought was to snag the bowl and go hide in the corner with a fork.     But, I didn't want the others to notice I had something that good.   My next thought was to hide it on the dessert bar.   Those people would rather go straight for the "death by chocolate" than a veggie pasta salad.   Who wouldn't, right?

Quietly, I loaded the plate with a small amount of other food to sample.  I had no intention of eating the beans and chicken.   I quickly loaded the plate with 2 spoons of the "salad" and walked away.  No one noticed the salad yet.  It sat there non-chalantly near the chocolate.  It looked lonely among the sweets.    I quietly ate my salad and tossed the remaining side items in the trash.  I went back for more.   It was devine.     My next thoughts were.......   "Would she miss this bowl?"   "Could I make a quick run home to empty it and trade containers?"      Then dear Chandra waltzed over and loudly proclaimed.........  "This is amazing".    The nerve of that girl to advertise THE salad.  Thoughts of duck taping her mouth shut quickly came to mind.   Duck tape was no where to be found in the church kitchen.  Could there be a stapler somewhere?

Simply Amazing!!!

An hour or so later..........  I grabbed a clean plate and loaded it with leftovers for dinner.   Cousin Peggy noticed what I was doing and said.........  "You really do like that.  I guess I need to share the recipe now."    Now, please......what took you so long?

"Peggy's Pasta Salad".

1 package Vermicelli Pasta (cooked & drained)
1 small can diced Black Olives (drained)
1 small jar chopped Pimento (drained)
5 Green Onions (chopped)
1/2 Green Bell Pepper (chopped)

Toss all that together & set aside.

1/2 cup EVOO
2 Tbs Cavender's Greek Seasoning
3 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Mayo

Pour half of the pasta and let set overnight.  Pour the remaining dressing over just before serving.

If desired, add cherry tomatoes, diced chicken, mozzarella cheese balls or shrimp.

In case you are worried about dear Chandra,  I promise no harm fell to her that afternoon from me.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cashew Chicken!!!

This book has really been my bible of cooking this year!   I have made many things from it...and enjoyed them all immensely.    Tomato Soup and Cashew Chicken!   Oh my!  I have made them several times and just can't seem to get tired of either.   The cashew chicken reminds me of something I ordered back in college at Madam Wu's.  It is subtle.  It is sublime goodness!  It is even more remarkable the next day!!!

My oldest daughter, CGS loves it when I make them.  She asked me to blog about them so she had somewhere to find the recipes.   Maybe I should buy her this book?  Maybe I should buy myself another one?  Maybe I should just purchase it in digital format so that I can easily take it with me everywhere?  I accidentally packed my book for our big move to EP.    Yikes!!!!!   That was such a bad choice I made.   I should have known better!

That is the link for when I made the tomato soup.  It literally changed my life.   I hated tomato soup until that day.  Add a grilled cheese to the side of that soup bowl and we are still living the dream!

Here is the recipe for Cashew Chicken, CGS!   Enjoy it!

  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce  (it is weird...but don't forget!!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 6 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut Into Small Cubes
  •  Kosher Salt To Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Ginger  
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Canned Water Chestnuts, Coarsley Chopped & drained
  • 1 cup Unsalted Cashews  (be Sure To Use Unsalted)
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
  • cilantro to garnish, optional
  •  Cooked rice,  I prefer Jasmine or Balsami *
In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. Stir & set aside. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat and add the chicken in a single layer. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt, then leave it alone for at least a couple of minutes to give the chicken a chance to brown. When the chicken has turned golden, stir it around so that it can brown on all sides. Toss in the garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Stir in the bell pepper and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

While the pan is still hot, pour in the broth. Stir it around, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the flavorful bits. Turn the heat to medium-low and pour in the sauce mixture, then mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water to make a slurry and pour it in. Stir the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken, then add the water chestnuts and cashews and stir to coat everything with the sauce, adding a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.

Finally, sprinkle on the green onions & cilantro. Serve over the cooked rice.

*Finally,  Stay away from generic plain rice or minute rice!   This dish deserved better than that junk!!!

This picture is bad and just doesn't do it justice.  It is competing with that veggie pasta goodness!   I will tell you about that one later!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Life Happens...and we go on.

This post is  a difficult one to write.   There are so many words to say and most of them sound meaningless and void.   They may sound trivial to the heartless soul.  They may sound empty to the person who has never experienced this kind of loss.    But it stinks.

He didn't ask anything of me.  He didn't want to be groomed...yet he let me do it.  He didn't ask to have his nails trimmed....yet he survived the experience.    He seriously loved chasing bubbles and flashing lights.   A favorite pastime of his was to get in the car and ride anywhere.  Take him to home depot and his world was complete that day.  Who could forget the disco ball that spun in the tree all summer so that he would just play around outside.   Then, there was the year that  he chased bubbles so much that we purchased an electric bubble machine.  Good times!   He loved to pose for pictures.   He always let me take christmas pictures......the price was cheap.  He worked for cheerios.

My favorite Tramp story happened last fall, 2015.  We sent him to the groomer for a trim.  The groomer was new and interpreted that as meaning...  "buzz him bald".  Tramp laid on the couch for a week and acted embarrassed to go outside.  He looked like a spotted beagle.  His glorious ears were gone!  This was pure humiliation for him.  Poor guy!

Would someone please tell me what happened to my ears?

On Monday, February 29, 2016, we laid him to rest.  Tramp was the perfect pet.  The only thing he had to give was his unconditional love and the ability to snuggle up and he did it without hesitation.  

Tramp was only 6 years old.  Rest in peace big guy!  I know that up there in doggy heaven you are pain free and playing with your friend, Tigger.   

December 2009

December 2010

Christmas 2010



His wingspan before the buzz him bald cut occurred.

Christmas 2015

Last one...  

Monday, January 18, 2016

I made pie.

Several years ago, a teacher friend made this for me.  It changed my life.

Hopefully, it will change yours as well.

Friday, January 8, 2016

I made these!!!

I got a little stressed about certain events and  needed a quick outlet to de-junk the brain.   So, I made these for my classroom.........

The only shapes I didn't do were spades, clubs & crescents.   Since I won't be teaching Beginning Poker skills this week.......   I passed on those.

My plans are to process big and cut out the shape.   I added the notebook paper because a background was needed.  Bam.  Done.