Sunday, December 29, 2013


If you are looking for a non-alcoholic way to toast in the new year, this drink is a winner.  The recipe comes for the Apple Barn Restaurant cookbook.  The Apple Barn Restaurant is a favorite of ours when we visit the Great Smoky Mountains.  Each meal there begins with a glass of this yummy  beverage.  It is a sweet yet slightly tart way to prepare your palette for a delicious meal ahead.  You can also use it as a breakfast juice if you like.  It is slightly different and really good.  We hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for sharing the year 2013 with us in our little corner of the world.  Olivia and I look forward to sharing more recipes and memories with you in 2014.  Feel free to contact us with recipes you think are worth sharing.  We love trying out new things and paying homage to tried and true favorites.  We wish you and yours a very happy new year!


1 quart unsweetened apple juice, chilled
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice, chilled
1 cup orange juice, chilled
1/4 cup lemon juice, chilled

Combine all four ingredients with ice cubes; mix well.  Serve immediately.

Yield:  6 1/4 cups

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Divinity

Several people have asked Olivia about  posting the divinity recipe.  We whipped up a batch to add to our candy and cookie trays we give away each year.  We received lots of positive feedback about the divinity.  I am convinced it is one of those holiday confections that is somewhat tied  to one's age.  Younger people tend to often not know what it is and older people, when they find it on the tray, smile and reminisce about eating it as a child.  Being on that older end of the spectrum, I have fond memories of making divinity when I was a child.

It is a simple recipe but one that requires close attention to detail.  You need to get it to the right temperature (hard ball stage), be sure to beat it long enough, and then work quickly and with another person if possible to spoon the delightful little clouds onto wax paper. I remember making it as a child.  Olivia remembers making it as a child.  Holiday memories taste oh so sweet!  Make a batch and make a memory!

Olivia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.  Although we speak often of our holiday traditions and memories tied to food, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We hope you will join us in celebrating God's greatest gift.

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water.  Cook to a hard ball stage (260 degrees) stirring only till sugar dissolves.  Meanwhile, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.  Gradually pour syrup over egg whites, beating at high speed on your electric mixer.  Add vanilla and beat till candy holds its shape--about 4-5 minutes.  Act quickly dropping from a teaspoon onto waxed paper.  It works best to scoop with one spoon and push off the divinity with another.  Makes about 40 pieces.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Olivia made these outstanding biscuits for Thanksgiving instead of rolls.  They were not only delightful the first time around but made magnificent mini sandwiches or "sliders" days after.  I even used one as a breakfast sandwich one morning with a scrambled egg.  If you have ever had the cheddar biscuits served at a Red Lobster restaurant, these are very similar.  They have a wonderful depth of flavor and are very versatile.  I had one left when I used the last of the turkey to make turkey tetrazinni so I crumbled it on top for bread crumbs.  It was the crowning glory!  If you are looking for a dinner roll or biscuit alternative, you will want to give them a try.  They are scrumptious!


For the Biscuits:
4 cups baking mix
3 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
dash of Old Bay Seasoning

For the Buttery Topping:
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
1/8 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.In a mixing bowl, combine all of the six first ingredients. Mix until dough is firm. Using a small scoop, place dough on the prepared pan.
3.Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
4.Combine the melted butter, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, Old Bay Seasoning, and parsley. Brush over baked biscuits immediately upon removing from oven.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Olivia's friend Deb is a fabulous cook and shares the greatest recipes.  This one was really a hit and comes to you just in time for your holiday baking.  While it is nice to use the traditional recipes your friends and families love, it is also great to mix it up a little with something new.

We hope all of you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as much as we did.  Olivia and I made our annual shopping excursion to the mall and beyond on Black Friday.  I must say since stores have started their sales on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday is not as crowded as it used to be.  I'm happy for the people who found bargains on Thanksgiving Day, but I am a purist.  Olivia and I still do our Black Friday thing.  This year we did something I have wanted to do for years. We had our picture taken with Santa and it turned out really well.  We laughed hard, shopped until we dropped, and had a jolly time.  We have fun but we never forget the reason for the season and the greatest gift of all!  We hope your holiday season is off to a great start!

VANILLA CHIP MAPLE COOKIES                                            
1 cup shortening  
2 t baking soda
1/2 c butter, softened           
3 c flour
2 eggs                  
1t maple flavor
2c brown sugar      
2 c vanilla chips
1 t vanilla              
1/2 c pecan pieces

Cream together shortening, butter, and brown sugar.  Mix in the eggs, vanilla, and maple flavoring.  Add baking soda and salt, mix well.  One cup at a time, add the flour, until all is incorporated.  Fold in pecan pieces and vanilla chips.

Drop them by spoonful and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


It has long been our Christmas morning tradition to put a breakfast casserole in the oven while we open our Christmas stockings.  The smell creates that heavenly Christmas scent of something wonderful baking in the oven.  This is not the usual casserole recipe we have used in the past, but Olivia has tried this and says it is great.  No doubt with busy days ahead, you might be looking for something easy and good for breakfast.  This is great for feeding a hungry family.  We hope you enjoy it!


1 can of buttermilk biscuits (8 count)
1 pound of any breakfast sausage roll (browned, drained, and cooled)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
7 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 425 °F. Crumble and cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat.  Add red bell pepper and onion flake.  Cook until browned. Drain.

Line bottom of greased 12 x 9 inch baking dish with biscuit dough, firmly pressing firmly to seal.

Sprinkle with sausage and cheese.

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until blended; pour over sausage and cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until set.  Let stand for five minutes before serving while warm.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Butternut Squash Pie


Thanksgiving is on the horizon and we are getting ready.  The flavors of fall are all around us. Squash is one of our favorites.  My husband remembers fondly when he was a kid and his mother used to make Bird's Eye frozen squash in a double boiler.  She would heat that frozen block of deliciousness and serve it with a little butter.  Yum!  While reminiscing about that squash recently, he asked me if I could make a butternut squash pie.  I said sure!  I've made pumpkin pies and butternut is very similar so I knew I could do it.  Below is the resulting pie and the recipe.

Olivia and I went over our Thanksgiving lists today to review who is making what.  I can't wait to make the dishes I'm responsible for making.  We will be having turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetable casserole, broccoli casserole, green bean casserole, cheese biscuits, pie, etc.  I know it sounds like a lot of food, but the leftovers are wonderful and last for days.  If we come up with some new variations on our old themes we will share them with you.  If you have a simply wonderful holiday recipe you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.  Half the fun of the holidays is finding new foods, flavors, and ideas to share!

1 chilled unbaked 9 inch pie shell
1 medium to large butternut squash
1 cup brown sugar firmly packed
3 large eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. flour
1 T. butter melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cook the squash either in the oven the microwave, or peel and steam.  When it is soft, scoop out 1 1/2 cups of squash. Discard peel.   Place squash in large bowl and let it cool slightly.  Add milk, eggs, salt, flour, butter, spices, and vanilla.  Beat until it is smooth.  Pour the filling in the pie shell.  If you have too much filling, but the leftover filling in a ramekin and bake with the pie.  It is yummy even out the pie shell.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees and then pull it out and check it.  If a knife inserts and comes out clean, it is done.  If not, put some foil around the edges of the crust to keep it from burning and put the pie back in for about 10 minutes until it is done.  Serve warm or cold and with whipped cream if you like.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cheesy Bratwurst Stew

Cheesy Bratwurst Stew
This time of year there is always lots of outdoor work to do to get ready for the inevitable cold, winter weather.  It is always nice on a cool, fall day to have a warm and comforting hearty meal in the crock pot so when the day is over you have something good for dinner that requires nothing of you but to eat it.  Cheesy Bratwurst Stew is just such a dish.  Put the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and about six hours later dinner is ready.  I originally saw this recipe a few years ago in Midwest Living magazine and it has since become a staple at our house.  We hope you enjoy it!

1 pkg. of 5 to 6 bratwursts (use any kind you like or you may even substitute smoked sausage if you prefer)
1 medium onion
4 medium potatoes
one can of green beans with liquid
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt, pepper and garlic salt
Slice meat and place in bottom of the crock pot.  Rough chop a medium onion and place it on top of the meat.  You may or may not peel your potatoes before cutting them into chunks and placing them on top of the onions.  Layer on the can of green beans and then place the condensed soup in dollops on top.  You may sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and garlic salt if you like. Cook on low for six hours or until the potatoes are tender.  Just before serving, stir in the cheese.  Mix well and serve.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


November is here!  The holidays are squarely in front of us.  About this time, Olivia and I begin vague discussions about what we plan to make for the holidays.  Each of us has people we usually give plates of holiday goodies to and we begin our calculations on how many plates we plan to make.  The fun part is making the final list of what we plan to make on the day we set aside to get together and make our sweet and savory treats together.  We put our heads together and decide who is providing what ingredients and then gather on that day.  Our husbands often stand by ready to go to the grocery for something we may have forgotten or to provide that necessary task of taste testing in the name of "quality control." It is great fun and a tradition we look forward to each year.

This year may just have to include this tasty treat.  The recipe came from a friend of Olivia's who is always giving her new and yummy recipes.  Those are some of the best friends of all.  We are passing it along to you with the hope you will enjoy it and share it with those you love.



    • 8 cups Quaker Oatmeal Squares Cereal ( 1 whole box)
    • 2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 4 tablespoons butter ( margarine ok)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 250ºF. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine cereal and pecans in pan; mix well.
  2. In large microwaveable bowl, combine sugar, corn syrup and margarine.
  3. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute 30 seconds; stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds or until boiling.
  4. Stir vanilla and baking soda and optional salt into sugar mixture. Pour over cereal mixture; stir to coat evenly.
  5. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading mixture in even layer. Cool completely; break into pieces. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creamy Chicken Tomato Soup

Sometimes the autumn season brings a little sadness in our neck of the woods.  It is a time when we anticipate coming snow and ice, going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, and after the holidays it gets harder and harder to face winter with a happy face.  To help put a positive spin on all that, we started "Soup Day" last year at the place where I work.  From October through April we have one day a month that is designated "Soup Day."  Two people volunteer to bring in a crock pot full of soup.  If other people want to bring in something to go with it they can.  The smell permeates the office and the warmth of the delicious soups helps ward off the winter chill.
Olivia and I are always looking for new and yummy soup recipes.  I stumbled upon this one on a web site called "Everyday Paleo." (devoted the to the Paleo diet).  I was looking for a new and different soup recipe for "Soup Day."  This one fit the bill and was popular with my coworkers.  I am giving you the recipe as it was printed, but below that I am telling you what I did that was slightly different.  I hope you like it as much as I did.  
"Creamy” Chicken Tomato Soup
4 frozen skinless boneless chicken breast
Garlic salt to taste
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 clove garlic
1 14 oz. can of coconut milk (full fat)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes and juice
1 cup of chicken broth (I used homemade chicken broth but you can use store bought)
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
Put all the above ingredients into the crock-pot, cook for 9 hours on low. After 9 hours take two forks and shred the chicken, set the crock-pot on warm till ready to serve (making sure to taste it before serving to make sure there is enough salt and pepper)
Here is what I did that deviated from the web site recipe:  I used three one pint jars of home canned chicken.  I used two tablespoons of fresh basil instead of dried.  I had a very hard time finding coconut milk so I used one can of cream of coconut (which is very very sweet) and I cut the sweetness by using three cups of chicken broth instead of two.  The results were rich and hearty.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tomato Jam

Looking for a delicious way to use those last few tomatoes of the season?  Once you have tried this delicious tomato jam recipe and substituted using it instead of ketchup on everything you eat, you will probably not want to use ketchup again.  This jam has a bright fresh taste with overtones of rich spices and just the tiniest bit of heat to give it a certain zing!  After Olivia made it and gave me some to try, I couldn't resist making a batch myself.  It is super easy and oh so very good.

As the canning and gardening season come to an end, we take to the road to sample our favorite festival foods and enjoy the beautiful fall weather we are currently experiencing.  Below we are sharing a few highlights from one of our recent adventures.

Tomato Jam
Yield: Varies depending on the kind of tomato used, pan width and the finished thickness*
  • 5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, simmer** the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.
  2. When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
  3. When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
Highlights of Mississinewa 1812
This weekend we attended one of our favorite fall events, the re-enactment of the War of 1812 period.  It is held not too far away and takes place in a wooded area on the Missinewa River.  It is a sight to behold.  There are re-enactors from all over the United States and Canada who attend this wonderful three day long event.  You not only get to see battles played out before you, but you get to see how people, including Indians who sometimes have the scariest of war paint, lived during this historic period.

The whole thing is a feast for the eyes and the food purveyors make sure you don't go away hungry.
This shows one of the "fanciest" kitchen set ups in the 1812 camp.  The "stove" is built on a bed of sod and has handy places to hang your teapot and keep your utensils nearby.
I don't think this beautiful rooster got eaten during the weekend, but he certainly made a striking image with the sunlight shining on his handsome red comb.
This sign advertises just a few of the delectable offerings available to eat.  There were  also sweet potato pies, beignets, pork chops cooked over a fire pit, chicken and noodles, baked potatoes, and more.

The sights, the sounds, the smells, the weather, all made for a wonderful fall experience.  We hope you get an opportunity to enjoy similar events in your area.  The memories will keep you warm throughout the winter.
- Nanette

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Pumpkin pie, apple cider, apple butter, squash, soup, and smoky pork sandwiches have all made it to our tables and palates in recent days.  Fall is here.  Up and down temperatures combined with rainy days, falling leaves, and waning gardens have brought us to the need for comfort food.  The warm rays of the sun have given way to the warmth of our food and the comforts indoors.  Enjoy the best Fall has to offer including these delicious muffins Olivia discovered and made.  Brew a cup of hot tea or pour a nice glass of cider and enjoy these tasty morsels.


Pumpkin, cinnamon and sugar make a delicious combo in these cute mini muffins.
(Recipe originally from Glorious Treats)
Yield: 24 mini muffins


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup oil (vegetable, olive, etc)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
For the coating-
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350*F.
Spray a mini muffin pan generously with cooking spray.
Pull out two large bowls.
In one bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In another bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Mix until smooth and well combined.
Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined (do not over mix).
Divide the batter evenly among the 24 muffin cups (using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop).
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
While the muffins bake, prepare the final coating.
Melt butter in one bowl and combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.
Remove muffins from oven and cool for 2 minutes, or until just cool enough to handle. Dip each muffin in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar to coat. You will likely not use all of the butter, or cinnamon/sugar but this amount makes them easy to dip.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Easy Sticky Buns
Before you know it the holidays will be here and you will be frantically looking for that something "special" to serve on Christmas morning or to serve for a brunch or carry-in at work.  Look no further.  Olivia prepared this wonderful sticky bun recipe she got from Ina Garten.  They are light and sweet and just plain good.  You will enjoy this great recipe no matter what the occasion.

Easy Sticky Buns
Recipe from Ina Garten

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
For the filling:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful - they're hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.

Place the "stick bun" mixture in the bottom of each muffin cup.

Evenly spread the raisins and brown sugar over the puff pastry.
Once you've rolled up the pastry and cut it into pieces, place one "swirl" in each muffin cup.

Only allow these to cool five minutes so they will easily come out of the pan. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Today we enjoyed the most beautiful first day of Fall I can remember in a long time.  Beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures and all the plants and trees looking like they have passed their summer peak.  There are even a few hints of changing leaves here and there. Olivia and I were discussing this weekend around a cozy campfire how this change in weather makes us want to cook nourishing soups and stews that take the edge off the cold temperatures.

This soup is a beautiful creation Olivia came up with recently.  It combines the rich salty taste of pancetta with tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, spices, and more.  It is not only a pretty soup but one that marries a wide variety of flavors and textures.  Pair it with a piece of crusty bread and you will have a satisfying fall meal.

Italian Soup

Created by:  Olivia Coons
Servings:  6-8 total or 3-4 each use

3 oz. pancetta, sliced
½ of an 8.5 oz. jar of julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes in a jar, drained
2 leeks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. celery seed
4 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of water
black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. salt
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
19 oz. package of cheese tortellini, divided in half
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

1)   In a stockpot over medium heat, sauté the pancetta until it begins to crisp, stirring frequently.
2)   As the pancetta cooks, prepare the leeks.  Cut the greens off of the leeks just above where the white begins to turn green.  Discard the tops.  Slice the leeks length wise in half.  Chop each half of the leek into ¼ inch half moon shapes.  Transfer the leeks to a colander and separate the rings as you wash the leeks.  Leeks tend to have a lot of dirt built up between the layers, so cleaning them in this manor will help remove the dirt.
3)   After the pancetta is crisp, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towel to dry.  Add the leaks to the pan with the pancetta drippings, and turn the heat a bit past medium. 
4)   Stir in the garlic, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, thyme, celery seed, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes.  Cook until the leeks begin to soften.
5)   Add the water, chicken broth, peas, and pancetta to the pot and stir.
6)   Remove about half of the soup to a glass or plastic container and freeze for a later time.
7)   Bring the remainder of the soup in the pot to a boil.  Add half of the frozen tortellini to the boiling soup and cook according to package directions, about two minutes until the tortellini begin to float.  Return the other half of the tortellini to the freezer for later use.
8)   Spoon soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

***To prepare frozen soup, thaw the soup completely overnight in the refrigerator.   Bring the soup to a boil in a stockpot, and add the remainder of the frozen tortellini to the soup, cooking as stated in above restaurant.