Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Tree Fruit and Cheese Tray

Christmas Tree Fruit and Cheese Tray
The office Christmas carry in was looming large on the horizon and I was grappling with what to take.  I was aiming for something quasi healthy since I have health issues that prohibit me from eating much sugary sweet stuff (although I love it).  I saw something similar to this online and decided to make my version of a fruit and cheese tray using cut up cubes of colby, cheddar, and pepper jack cheese plus green and red seedless grapes.  I decided to outline mine with cut strips of string cheese so the whole thing wouldn't be dismantled by the time I got it to the office.  I also decided to make my "star" from clementine segments.  The version I saw online decorated the tree with sprigs of rosemary, but I substituted sprigs of thyme.  All I have to do is supply some toothpicks for serving and I'm done.  Simple, easy, fun, and pretty....all the basic criteria met.

Olivia and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May the coming days be filled with hope, laughter, and joy.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


As much as I like poultry, and I really do like poultry, I get caught in a rut of fixing it the same old way time and time again.  This recipe has the right combination of zesty flavors to make boring old chicken something new and excitingly different.  The sauce provides a pleasing creamy texture and the tortilla chips add a nice crunch.  Olivia says she has even combined ranch dressing and salsa as a substitute for the sauce recipe below and she has had great success. 

If you have never tried the lime flavored tortilla chips, give them a whirl in this recipe.  You wont be disappointed.  They have a nice zing.  It you like foods with a Mexican flare, this dish will make a nice addition to your menu.




  1. Prepare marinade: Mix together in bowl; water, teriyaki sauce, juice from 1/2 of lime, garlic, tequila (if desired), liquid smoke, salt and ginger.
  2. Marinate chicken breasts at least an hour in mixture.
  3. Prepare sauce: Mix together in bowl; mayonnaise, sour cream, salsa, milk, cajun spice, parsley and hot sauce.
  4. Cover and place in refrigerator until needed.
  5. Broil or grill chicken chicken until cooked through.
  6. Brush tops of chicken breasts with sauce, sprinkle on cheese and broil until cheese is melted.
  7. Cut remaining lime into 4ths.
  8. Serve chicken on tortilla chips with lime garnish.
  9. Great with rice!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

turkey relish tray

Turkey Relish Tray
When I was a kid, we always had the obligatory relish tray at every holiday gathering.  It was pretty unexciting;  just your usual crudité lined up on a plate.  I saw this "turkey" version online and decided I wanted to give it a try and take it to our Thanksgiving carry-in at work.  It consists of a bed of kale, cucumbers, green, red, and orange peppers, plus mini carrots and black olives.  I made the "face" by cutting the end of a green pepper then cutting pieces of pepper and olive to attach with toothpicks.  I plan to accompany it with some ranch dip and...Voila!!

Olivia and I want to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We have so much to be thankful for and so many good people who enrich our lives.  We hope you savor every moment you have with those you love most. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


It is that time of year again when we search to maintain that delicate balance between serving the traditional holiday favorites and trying something new that will delight friends and family alike.  Olivia's outstanding chocolate peanut butter pie creation is not only delicious but you can make it even easier to prepare by purchasing a pre-made chocolate pie crust.

The pie is light and fluffy but full of sweet smooth goodness.  The great thing about this pie is that you don't have to worry about who will like it and who won't.  After all, who DOESN'T like peanut butter and chocolate???



25 whole chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos
4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup creamy peanut butter
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
One 8-ounce package whipped topping, such as Cool Whip, thawed

Watch how to make this recipe.
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Crush the cookies until they're fine crumbs. Pour the melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into a pie pan and bake until set, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the filling: Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the thawed whipped topping and beat until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.

Pour the filling into the crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


There is unfortunately something negative to say about this caramel puff is terribly addictive!  Once you take a bite of the delicious, sweet, sticky goodness,  you won't want to stop.  If you need a quick snack for company or perhaps a little batch of something to take to an upcoming holiday gathering, this could be just the thing.  It is easy and requires very few ingredients...and did I mention it is addictive?

If you would like to bag up a sweet treat to give out to company or friends during the holidays consider giving this tasty snack.  Olivia made some for a recent gathering at her house and it was a big hit.  Give it a try!




  1. Place puff corn in a large roaster pan.
  2. In 2 quart sauce pan bring the butter, sugar & corn syrup to bring to boil, then cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the baking soda- this will cause the caramel mixture to foam up.
  4. Stir well and remove from heat.
  5. Pour over puff corn in roaster and bake in 250* oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, spread out onto wax paper to cool.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ugly Bean Dip

If you've never tried ugly bean dip, you really should.  It is addictive.  Olivia sometimes makes her's with Ken's Sweet Onion Dressing instead of using ranch as the recipe calls for and she reports it is quite delicious.  Since tailgating season is upon us, this would make a great addition to you lineup.

I think it is even good on top of a burrito or a taco.  If you like it as much as I do, you could even just eat it in a soft tortilla or wrapped in a lettuce leaf.  Yes, it is really that good.  I've found it keeps well for a few days also.  I think it gets a little better after it sits and the flavors have had a chance to "swap howdies." If you have a carry-in to attend this fall, this makes a great thing to take because it doesn't dry out or get "tired" looking.  Hope you like it!


1 can Shoe Peg corn, drained
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 can jalapeño, chopped fine
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
3/4 c. ranch dressing
3/4 c. Italian dressing
1 tsp. pepper
2 Table. cilantro, finely chopped
Clean, drain and chop specified ingredients and mix with dressing. Cover well!  Let chill at least 6 hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I marvel sometimes at how Olivia can put in a full day's work at her chosen profession and then come home and make, what some would consider "Sunday dinner," on any day of the week.  Part of the answer lies simply in her unabashed passion for cooking, but the other comes from some savvy planning and making multiples of certain dishes so they can be frozen and enjoyed in the future.

This zesty lemon greek yogurt chicken is an example of what  I'm talking about. Olivia used preserved lemons (if you haven't tried making them, you should).  You could just as easily use lemon zest for this recipe.  Olivia makes a triple batch, marinates one in the refrigerator overnight for use the next day then puts the other two in the freezer for future use.  I haven't tried this recipe, but she says the marinade forms a bit of a crust that is really delicious.  Hope you like it!




  1. Mix the yogurt with the seasonings place in a plastic bag with the chicken. Marinate overnight.
  2. Grill, sauté, or bake until lightly browned and cooked through.
  3. Serve with rice or pasta and salad and enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2015


In the fall when people are harvesting the last of the garden, you can usually find an abundance of cabbages.  This recipe is a variation Olivia came up with of a favorite side dish of ours at a local Italian restaurant.  It is subtle yet flavorful.  It makes a great accompaniment to just about anything--not just Italian food!  Give it a try!


1 small head of cabbage, core removed and sliced
1 red onion, sliced
garlic, chopped
red pepper flake
feta cheese

1)  Saute onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic over medium heat for just a few minutes.
2)  Add in the cabbage, and cover the pan with a lid.  Cook until the cabbage is wilted.
3)  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon up the servings of hash.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


This fabulous apple cake recipe came from the September 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine and it is a winner!  I made it this week to take to a friend's house as a dinner dessert.  I must admit I did not have apple brandy to use in the sauce so I substituted apple juice and it worked just fine.  My husband and I are particularly fond of Gala apples.  Olivia recently purchased some for me at the Wakarusa Produce Auction (if you live in Northern Indiana and have never attended, you really should--it is awesome).  The apples did well sauteing them with butter.  They held up and really were tender yet crisp.  If you are looking for a delicious autumn dessert that is really pretty too, try this cake recipe.



1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened    
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk

2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 6 apples, 6 to 7 oz. each)
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
2 tablespoons butter
Apple Brandy-Caramel Sauce


1. Prepare Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 2 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition; stir in vanilla.
2. Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until blended after each addition. Spread batter in a greased (with shortening) and floured 9- x 2-inch round cake pan.
3. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 35 to 40 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
4. Meanwhile, prepare Apples. Cut apples into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss together apples, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and next 3 ingredients. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp-tender and golden. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).
5. Arrange sautéed apples over cooled cake, and drizzle with desired amount of warm Apple Brandy-Caramel Sauce; serve with remaining sauce.



1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of table salt
1 tablespoon apple brandy
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


Bring brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir apple brandy. Whisk in powdered sugar; cool 15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


This recipe is older than I am and that is OLD!  It is a favorite in our family and one Olivia used recently when she held an open house.  They are pictured to the left in the picture below.  Next time you need something easy for sandwiches or an easy dish for a tailgate party, try some of these.  You won't be able to tell there is grape jelly or chili sauce, but the combination is a delicious sweet and savory combination.  Make your own meatballs if this recipe doesn't seem quite "homemade" enough for you.  Enjoy!


1 - 16 oz. jar of grape jelly
1 - 12 oz. jar of chili sauce
1 - bag of precooked, frozen meatballs, thawed in the fridge overnight

Mix all ingredients in a crockpot lined with a crockpot liner.  Turn on low and heat until meatballs are warmed through and the sauce is incorporated.  Stir to combine well and serve!  These are delicious as an appetizer, on a crusty roll with a bit of crunchy Asian slaw, or served over rice.

Sunday, August 16, 2015



Who doesn't like homemade waffles and who doesn't like bacon?  If you like both you are going to enjoy making bacon waffles.  It is a simple concept that makes the great taste of bacon permeate the entire waffle.  The addition of the bacon's crispy texture makes this a special treat.

If you like the idea of homemade waffles but rarely take the time to make them, make these ahead and freeze them for individual use later.  Just pop them in the toaster when you are ready to use them as you would any frozen waffle.  Enjoy!


1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
waffle mix of your choice (Olivia used Bisquick.)
ingredients your waffle mix requires
REAL maple syrup
softened butter

1)  Mix up a batch of your favorite waffle mix.
2)  Ladle the batter into a preheated waffle maker and sprinkle with the bacon.
3)  Cook as directed on your waffle mix.
4)  Top with a pat of butter and REAL maple syrup.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


This time of year everyone is looking for a inventive ways to use garden vegetables that are coming on strong.  This delightful potato hash combines some new flavor combinations that cut down on the carb loaded potatoes and incorporate healthier alternatives.  The hash is colorful and tasty.  It will be a great accompaniment to any of your grilled favorites.  You can really enjoy the addition of creamy feta and spicy jalapeno peppers!


4 small red potatoes, diced
2 kohlrabi heads, peeled and diced
5 radishes, peeled and diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 sweet peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño, ribs/seeds removed and chopped
garlic, chopped
Italian parsley, chopped
feta cheese

1)  Saute onion, both kinds of peppers, and garlic over medium heat for just a few minutes.
2)  Add in the red potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes, and pepper and sauté until the potatoes and kohlrabi are tender.  Add the salt and Italian parsley.
3)  Spoon up the servings of hash.  Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.

Sunday, July 26, 2015



If you follow the Pioneer Woman on Food Network on television or online, you may already be familiar with this recipe.  Not many people don't enjoy a good steak on the grill in the summer.  Trying to create something new and different isn't always easy.  This recipe does just that.  Olivia made it and says it is delicious and flavorful.  If you like pepper, you will enjoy this.  The savory bite of the pepper adds just the right amount of punch to the meat.  You will love this rich, tasty steak.



8 whole beef fillets or other good steaks
Lemon pepper
Seasoned salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Melted butter

4 to 6 tablespoons tri-color peppercorns, crushed
4 tablespoons butter
1 beef bouillon cube
4 to 6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup brandy

1 1/2 to 2 cups heavy cream (can substitute half-and-half for some of the cream)


For the steaks: Sprinkle both sides of the steak with lemon pepper, seasoned salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side over high heat, and then a further 3 to 5 minutes over lower heat. Brush with melted butter as they cook.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Start by crushing the peppercorns with a rolling pin in a zip-top bag and set them aside.

Next, heat a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Crumble in the beef bouillon cube. Whisk to combine. Then add the Dijon mustard to the skillet and whisk it around a bit. Pour in the brandy. Whisk the Dijon and brandy together until combined, and then let it bubble for about 45 seconds or so. Then pour in the heavy cream and the crushed peppercorns. Whisk it all together, allowing it to bubble for a few minutes to thicken. Spoon it over the grilled steaks.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Olivia got this recipe from Taste of Home and she swears by it.  Nothing is better in the summer than to take fresh produce of any kind and use your imagination to make some delectable vegetable packet for grilling.  The most important things to remember when cooking in foil are to spray the foil surface with vegetable oil before assembly and to turn them frequently until soft to the touch with tongs.  If you follow these simple rules you won't go wrong.  Try mixing various ingredients and seasonings to find out what you like.  The best part about cooking with foil it the easy clean up. We hope you enjoy these.


  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Transfer to a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Dot with butter.
  2. Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Carefully open foil. Sprinkle the bacon cheeses over potato mixture. Grill 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Olivia has never been a fan of mayonnaise so potato salad has never been one of her favorite dishes.  German potato salad, as she was growing up, was the only exception because it was warm and did not include mayo.  This creamy dill concoction was a creation of hers that satisfies the desire for potato salad without including the mayo.  It seems to me a brighter, more refreshing potato salad that may help you break the monotony of the usual fare.  Give it a try.  I think if you like potatoes and you like dill, you will indeed like this potato salad.  Add it to your summer line up!


For the potatoes:
5 medium new potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
freshly ground pepper

For the dilly onion sauce:
1/2 cup light Ken's sweet onion dressing
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped dill

1)  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2)  Toss the ingredients for the potatoes and spread on a foil lined cookie sheet.
3)  Roast the potatoes for 20-30 minutes, tossing midway through, until the potatoes are roasted, but still semi-firm.  Remove the potatoes from the oven and allow the potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes.
4)  While the potatoes are cooling, mix the sauce ingredients together.
5)  Toss the sauce with the potatoes in a large mixing bowl after potatoes are cooled, but still slightly warm.  The warmth from the potatoes will help the potatoes to absorb the sauce, but you don't want the potatoes piping hot, or it will severely melt the sauce.
5)  Serve!  This potato salad is good cold the day after as well.  Or, if you prefer, slightly warm the potato salad for a few seconds in the microwave.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cherry Cheesecake in a Jar!


You are probably looking at the picture and saying to yourself--looks like strawberries to me!  You would be right.  When Olivia made this for a recent event at her house, she used strawberry pie filling she had canned.  It was a big hit.  You can use cherries if you like, or if you are looking for a handy and beautiful red, white, and blue dessert for July 4th, try putting a layer of blueberries on the crust and then the white layer and then the cherry pie filling or strawberry filling.  You won't be sorry you did this quick, easy, and eye catching dessert.  Serving it in canning jars makes it fast and fun!

We hope you and your family and friends have a safe and happy Fourth of July!  Get out there and celebrate the freedom we enjoy!

Cherry Cheesecake In A Jar
Serves: 6
  • 6, 8 oz Mason Jars
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 8 oz Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ tsp Vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp Lemon juice
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 cups crushed Graham Crackers
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cherry topping
  1. Beat cream cheese, lemon juice, vanilla and sugar until creamy.
  2. In a large bowl whip the heavy cream until peaks form with a mixer.
  3. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
  4. Transfer to the corner a large zippered bag and cut off corner for piping into jars.
  5. Melt butter and add to crushed graham crackers.
  6. Place a layer of crushed graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each jar and press down to form crust.
  7. Fill cheese cake mixture into each jar.
  8. Gently tap jar to get mixture to settle and level.
  9. Wipe down any streaks above the level of the mixture with damp paper towel.
  10. Add a layer of cherries to each jar.