Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Olivia and I have long had a tradition at Christmas time of making Christmas baskets to give away to friends, co-workers and family members.  In years past they have included cookies, candies, breads, and homemade soaps, candles, etc.  If I remember correctly, one year we did over thirty baskets.  It was quite the feat putting them together.  Nowadays they aren't quite as big or as many, but we still make the effort to share favorite holiday recipes with others--especially people whom we know do not do holiday baking themselves because perhaps they can't or they are alone, or they have small children, etc.  In previous year we have made a mix of old and new recipes. 

This year Olivia's holiday baking included these delightful snickerdoodles.  The snickerdoodle is a favorite.  It is not a fancy cookie but good for its basic wholesome consistency and cinnamon goodness.  We quite frankly adore them.  It is a good bet that if you make them and give them away, the people you give them to will love them also.  Take the time to make and enjoy these.  This time of year can be busy and stressful but taking time to make something homemade and sharing it with others can be a gift to you and others as well.  Enjoy!



1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter Crackers

Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter Crackers

Like many people, Olivia and I make Christmas goodies to share with friends and family.  Aside from the usual cookies and fudge, this is a beautiful and delicious variation on a cookie.  The recipe comes from  It is pretty, sturdy for packaging, and very yummy.  It makes a nice addition to your treat plate because it can be decorated with the sprinkles of your choice or you could even embellish with colored candy coating drizzled over the top.  Be creative and make it fun.  You will love the taste, the crunch, and the fun.  Enjoy that holiday treat making!


3/4 cup peanut butter
2 pounds vanilla flavored confectioner's coating
80 buttery round crackers such as Ritz
2 1/4 ounces of colored candy sprinkles
Add a notePrint 

  1. Melt chocolate-flavored almond bark OR vanilla candy coating in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water. Reduce heat and keep chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water.Place 1 teaspoon peanut butter on each of half of the crackers. Top with remaining crackers to make peanut butter "sandwiches".
  2. Dip each cracker "sandwich" in chocolate, allowing excess to drain back into pot.
  3. Place coated crackers on wax paper to cool. Sprinkle with multi-colored sprinkles or other holiday decoration. Allow coating to completely set, placing in refrigerator for 15 minutes, if necessary. Store between layers of wax paper in cool, dry place, or refrigerate. These also freeze well.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Beef Bologna with New Potatoes and Peas

When Olivia was a child, I used to make this recipe occasionally and I haven't made it for quite a while.  The recipe is a basic one for creamed potatoes and peas.  You can find it at  I have always made mine with chunks of ring bologna added.  This may seem like an odd way to use bologna, but it is really good.  Try it some cool, autumn night.  I think you will find it soothing, filling, and just plain good.

1 lb new potatoes or red potatoes cut into chunks
1 cup of frozen peas
1 pound of beef ring bologna cut into one inch chunks
1 T of flour
1 T of butter
1 cup
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in water for 15-20 minutes.  Drop in peas and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.  Drain
Set vegetables aside in a bowl.  Use the same saucepan to melt the butter and whisk the flour into it .  Stir in the milk and cook until thickened.  Stir the bologna chunks in to warm them.  Stir in the cooked peas and potatoes.  Salt and pepper.  Eat and enjoy!

Sunday, November 12, 2017


The holiday season is coming soon and if you are like Olivia and I that means carry-ins, entertaining, family get-togethers, and countless other opportunities to come up with new and innovative recipes.  This one came from 

This decadent dip can be used as a snack, an appetizer, or even a easy and casual dessert.  It is rich and creamy and sure to not disappoint.  If you don't have large sizes of the liquor it calls for, check the local liquor store for small sample sized bottles or try one of the non-alcohol versions listed below.  You may like it so much you have a hard time remembering it is a dip and you might just attack it with a spoon!  Enjoy!

Mudslide Cheesecake Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups dip

  • 1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Irish Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua
  • 1 Tablespoon Rum
  • (optional ideas to make this without alcohol at the bottom)
  • 1 cup Cool Whip, thawed
  • chocolate syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon mini chocolate chips
  1. Beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth again.
  2. Pour in the Irish Cream, Kahlua, and Rum. Beat until creamy.
  3. Add the Cool Whip and beat again until creamy.
  4. Drizzle chocolate syrup on the inside of a clear glass dish. Spoon the dip into the dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Serve with cookies or fruit.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Crockpot Pinto Beans with Ham

This yummy soup recipe came from a site called  I have never made ham and beans using pinto beans.  The ham and beans I traditionally made for the family when Olivia was growing up included a ham hock and navy beans.  I happened to run across a ziplock bag of frozen honey ham pieces in the freezer about the same time I found a bag of pinto beans in my cupboard.  That's when I started looking for a recipe using both.

I like this recipe for a couple of reasons.  The recipe calls for green pepper.  I was a little nervous about using that because I was afraid it might overpower the soup.  It didn't.  It was perfect.  The oregano and cumin also gave it a rich, full bodied flavor.  This weekend was cold and rainy where Olivia and I live.  This bean soup was the perfect meal to chase away the chill.

Image result for pinto beans with ham

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted and washed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 to 8 ounces cooked ham, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

How to Make It

  1. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover them with water to a depth of about 2 inches above the beans. Let stand overnight; drain. Put beans in a large Dutch oven or stockpot; cover with fresh water, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.
  2. Place the beans in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with the water and remaining ingredients, except salt.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours, or until beans are soft. Stir a couple of times during cooking and add more water if necessary. Add salt, to taste.
    Serve the beans with cornbread, rice, a green salad or slaw.
    Serves 8 to 10.
    Tips and Variations
    • Instead of diced ham, cook the peas with a large meaty ham hock or two small ham hocks.
    • Replace the diced ham with about 12 ounces of diced browned smoked sausage. Add it near the end of the cooking time.
    • Add a few teaspoons of minced jalapeno pepper or about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.
    • Add 2 medium dried bay leaves to the beans.

    Sunday, October 29, 2017


    Olivia and I attended a hog roast hosted by a dear friend of her's who is a retired teacher.  It is a lovely gathering of friends, family, and church friends who all bring a dish to share and the hosts provide a delicious roasted hog that melts in your mouth. 

    One of the people brought a version of Chex mix that was a big hit.  The best part about it was that it was both sweet and salty and provided lots of room for improvising with your own additions to the basic Chex cereal.  Try this and you won't be disappointed, especially if you load it up with lots of variety and personal favorite ingredients. 


    Bring the following to a boil:

    2 and 1/2 sticks butter
    1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
    1/4 cup corn syrup

    Remove from heat and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

    Pour over 1 box corn Chex cereal.

    Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring every minute.

    Cool and add in any goodies you would like!  Here we used M & M's, dried cranberries, and pretzels.  So yummy!!!

    Sunday, October 22, 2017


    This time of years there are apples and apple cider everywhere.  Cooking with apple cider is an excellent way to get the awesome flavor of the beverage without going overboard drinking it every day until the big jug you purchased is gone.  It only remains at its peak for a short time so it is worth using every drop as soon as possible. 

    Olivia found this great Taste of Home recipe that combines two all time favorites--apple cider and pork chops.  The recipe is easy and flavorful.  The broth, butter, and whipping cream give the gravy a delightfully rich, full taste.  Add this recipe to your fall line up and you'll get rave reviews.



    • 4 bone-in center-cut pork loin chops (6 ounces each)
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 3 tablespoons dried sage leaves
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup apple cider or juice
    • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • Minced fresh parsley


    Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper; rub with sage. Dip in flour to coat lightly.
    In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat; brown chops on both sides. Remove from pan.
    Add broth and cider to skillet; bring to a boil, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Add cream; cook and stir until thickened. Reduce heat to medium. Add chops; cook, covered, until a thermometer inserted in pork reads 145°, 5-7 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 4 servings.