Sunday, June 29, 2014


This recipe comes from Taste of Home magazine.  It is absolutely one of the best salad dressings I have ever had.  There is something about the combination of the maple syrup with the mustard, garlic and lemon that gives this sweet flavored dressing a wonderfully subtle kick.  It is good on any mixture of greens.  It is good with chicken meat or bacon and absolutely great with apples or pears.  Experiment with different combinations and find your own special salad to showcase this dressing.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several days so enjoy it again and again.  Olivia and I have both made it and we both love it.  You will too.



  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


  • Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well.
  • Yield: 3/4 cup.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Canning Strawberry Pie Filling


Strawberry season is definitely here in the Midwest and we are enjoying it to the fullest.  Nothing beats the juicy taste explosion in your mouth of a warm, ripe strawberry freshly picked.  Olivia shared with me this fabulous home canned pie filling.  I plan to use it not only in pies but just as a dessert or with a little whipped topping mixed in or on top, or maybe even on a piece of angel food cake.  I haven't tried, but I am thinking it could be made into cobbler as well.  Olivia and I both made a batch of this for the first time this year. I can't wait to open a jar sometime this winter and recall the beautiful summer day when I canned the berries.

P.S.  To give you some idea of how many strawberries it takes to make this recipe, my husband and I cleaned a flat of eight quarts of berries.  This made 14 pints of filling and I had four quart freezer bags of berries I put in the freezer.

Strawberry Pie Filling

6 quarts of fresh or thawed strawberries
6 cups of granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups of Clear Jel
7 cups of cold water
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice

Wash well and drain the fruit in a covered bowl or pot.  Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large kettle.  Stir.  Add water and, if desired, red food coloring.  Cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice, boil one minute while stirring constantly then remove from heat.  Fold in drained berries immediately and fill jars with mixture before the mixture starts to set. Leave one inch head space.  Process in warm water bath for 30 minutes at a full rolling boil.  When you are ready to use, pour in a deep dish pie crust and bake until the crust is golden brown, 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jalapeño Kettle Chip Crusted Chicken with Jalapeño Ranch

There are so many wonderful ways to prepare chicken, but who doesn't like to add a new recipe to their list of ways to prepare it?  Olivia and I both like spicy food or at least foods that make your mouth sit up and take notice.  This crusted chicken recipe is guaranteed to wake up your taste buds.  The dipping sauce is a great addition that mellows and marries the flavors beautifully. She found this great recipe at a site called "my life as a mrs." Give this one a try.  If you like the idea of chicken with a little kick, you'll like this one!

Jalapeno Kettle Chip Crusted Chicken with Jalapeno Ranch

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25-35 minutes
Total Time: 35-45 minutes


For the Jalapeno Ranch Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup lowfat sour cream
1/4 cup (plus 2 tablespoons) lowfat buttermilk
1 tablespoon Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (the powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of cayenne
5-6 hot pickles jalapeno slices, finely chopped
For the Chicken:
4 chicken breasts (about 1 3/4 - 2 pounds total)
1 bag Jalapeno Kettle Chips, crushed
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne


For the Jalapeno Ranch Dipping Sauce:
Mix ingredients together (adding additional buttermilk until desired consistency). Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 375º. Place an oven safe cooling rack in a large jelly roll pan and spray with non-cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together buttermilk, salt, and cayenne. Pound out chicken breasts to roughly 1/2" thickness and add to buttermilk mixture (toss to coat well).
Place crushed Kettle chips in a shallow baking dish. Pull one piece of chicken at a time out of the buttermilk and gently shake to remove some of the excess. Dip into the chips and coat thoroughly on both sides. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken breast are thoroughly coated.
Place into oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, until cooked through (cooking times vary based on chicken thickness and actual oven temperature). Serve hot with jalapeno ranch dipping sauce.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Olivia adapted this recipe from a recipe she found on a Hispanic food web site.  It it the perfect fresh, light summertime fare for you and those you love.  I am a big fan of shrimp and this has just the right amount of seasoning to still let the shrimp shine through.  The pineapple salsa is bright and beautiful both to the eye and the taste.  Enjoy!


For the Shrimp:1 pound uncooked shrimp, cleaned with tails on1/4 cup homemade or store-bought blackening seasoningOlive oilLemon wedges

For the Pineapple Salsa:
1 tablespoon minced garlic1 can crushed pineapple
1 Serano pepper, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1/3 cup diced white onion
7 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


1. Start by prepping the shrimp. Take a couple of paper towels and press down lightly onto shrimp to release excess moisture. Season lightly with salt, then add your dry rub, making sure all shrimp is covered. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. For pineapple salsa,in a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring so it does not burn. Add the peppers and cook for 1 more minute. Add the remaining ingredients, 1 teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper. Lower the heat and let it cook down for a few minutes. Taste for salt. Transfer to a dish and let it cool at room temperature. If not using right away, chill in the refrigerator.

3. To cook the shrimp, I like using a large griddle that covers both the front and back burner on the stove top. But, you could also skewer and grill the shrimp, just make sure you brush it with oil before you grill it. If cooking on the stove top, preheat the griddle to medium heat for a few minutes. Drizzle olive oil to cover evenly. Lay the shrimp, but do not overcrowd or it will steam and not blacken. Cook for just 2 minutes per side or when shrimp turns pink. Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm.

4. Serve as-is with lemon/lime wedges as an appetizer or with warm corn tortillas for tacos. I served it with some shredded cabbage, radishes, green onions, cilantro, jalapeño, that was lightly seasoned in a little rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Olivia had a gathering at her home this weekend that I was fortunate enough to have attended.  At this gathering, she served these "out of this world" homemade snickers bars.  She found the recipe at  Olivia made two large pans of these heavenly confections, and the were consumed with great gusto.  Many inquiries were made about the recipe and Olivia's only negative comment about it was that it takes a long time to do all the layers.  Everyone agreed though that it is definitely worth the effort.  If you are taking these somewhere this summer to share, be sure to keep them refrigerated and cool before serving so you don't end up with an gooey mess.  Enjoy the decadent goodness!


  • Botton Chocolate Layer:
  • 1¼ cups milk chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • Nougat Layer:
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Caramel Layer:
  • 14 ounce bag of caramels
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Top Chocolate Layer:
  • 1¼ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  1. Thoroughly grease a 9×13 pan. I lined it with heavy duty aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. This way they just popped right out.
  2. For the bottom layer: Add chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe dish. Melt them together, stirring after every 30 seconds being careful not to let the chocolate burn. Spread the layer evenly in the bottom of your 9×13 pan. I put each layer in the fridge to let it completely harden. This will help speed up the process because each layer need to be completely cooled and set.
  3. For the nougat layer: Melt the butter over medium high heat in saucepan. Add the milk and sugar and bring mixture to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking together occasionally. Add in marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla stirring until smooth. Take the saucepan off of the heat and fold in the peanuts. Pour over the bottom chocolate layer and spread evenly. Allow to cool completely.
  4. For the caramel layer: Melt caramels and heavy whipping cream in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Pour over the nougat layer and allow to cool completely.
  5. For the top chocolate layer: Melt chocolate and peanut butter in the microwave together stirring 30 seconds at a time until smooth. Pour over and spread evenly over the caramel. Cool bars completely in the fridge. Keep them in fridge until right before serving because the bars will soften. Enjoy!