Sunday, January 25, 2015


Olivia is an expert at taking a recipe and making it her own.  This recipe came from the Food Network Magazine.  She substituted bacon for Canadian bacon and she added some cooked shredded chicken (She keeps home canned jars of it in her pantry.  It is a very convenient thing to have around and makes it possible for her to take advantage of chicken when it is on sale).  She also had some garden blend rotini pasta in the pantry so that is the pasta she used.  You can use whatever you like or what you have on hand.  Olivia is not one to make the same recipes repeatedly, but this one had her husband asking for a repeat performance.  This recipe is tasty and includes just about everything you need for dinner.  The recipe printed here is the original recipe, but the picture shows Olivia's variation.  Give it some thought and maybe you will come up with your own variations.
- Nanette


Kosher salt
8 ounces cavatappi or other corkscrew pasta
4 cups broccoli florets (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices Canadian bacon (about 4 ounces), chopped
4 scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs, adding the broccoli during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the Canadian bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon; reserve the drippings in the pan.

Add the scallion whites, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper to the saucepan. Cook until slightly softened, 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and mustard; cook, whisking, until the flour is lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and reserved pasta water. Cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the cheeses; cook, whisking, until creamy, about 2 more minutes.

Stir the pasta, broccoli and Canadian bacon into the cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the scallion greens.

Photograph by Charles Masters

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Sunday, January 11, 2015



This recipe is a repeat of one Olivia shared before but we are sharing it again with a very special purpose in mind.  As many of you know, our family loves the Great Smoky Mountains.  We have been travelling there and enjoying that beautiful region and its people for decades.  As beautiful as the mountains, cascades, streams and wildlife are (and they are extraordinarily beautiful) the people who live there are even more beautiful and special.  Many of the families who live there have been there for generations.  Their roots and love for the area run deep.

This is why our hearts were breaking during recent days as we learned of the wildfires that devastated the community of Gatlinburg and the surrounding area.  Many people lost their homes and some even lost their lives.  Because this is an area heavily dependent upon tourism, many people were  not only impacted by losing loved ones and homes, but their livelihood has been affected as well.  They  have coined a phrase there, "Smokies Strong," that speaks to the strength, courage, and resiliency of these special people.  

If you have ever visited there and have been touched by the beauty of this special place and its people, we are asking you to consider donating to help in the relief efforts.  Dolly Parton and her Dollywood  Foundation have set up a fund to help in the ongoing efforts to get these people back up on their feet.  You can donate by going to .  During this holiday season the need is even more keenly felt.  Please give generously.

Cat Head BiscuitsRecipe from America’s Test Kitchen Best Ever Recipes
3 cups White Lily All-Purpose Flour (it MUST be White Lily, not regular all-purpose flour; if White Lily is unavailable, use 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour and 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened and cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9″ round cake pan with shortening and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingers, mix the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until combined.
Use a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop or measuring cup to measure out 6 heaping portions of dough and place them each in the prepared pan, one in the middle and 5 surrounding it. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Carefully break apart the biscuits with two forks (or leave them in the pan until you’re ready to serve them). Makes 6 ginormous, cat head-sized biscuits.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


This is a great meal and one that gives you a great option when you really don't feel like cooking.  Olivia made this and while she was at it, made some for us also.  It freezes very well and will keep in the freezer for 3-6 months if you double bag it in freezer bags.  You can serve it over whatever type of pasta you have on hand.  As the temperatures plummet, this is a delicious, hot, comfort food to enjoy.  Make some for today and any day in the future you want.  Enjoy!


  • For the freezer meal portion:
  • 2-3 pounds stew meat (or a 3-pound chuck roast, cubed)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

  • On the day you wish to prepare:
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 6-7 tablespoons water
  • 4-8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup light or regular sour cream
  • pasta of your choice
  1. Place the stew meat, mushrooms, salt, pepper and onion in a LABELED freezer bag. Stir to distribute the seasonings and onion. In a small bowl, combine the garlic salt, Worcestershrie sauce, beef broth and ketchup. Pour over the meat.  At this point, force all of the air out of the freezer bag and lay flat in the freezer for a quick prep meal later on.  (Write the remaining directions, ingredients, etc. on the freezer meal so you have them easily available on the day you wish to prepare it.)
  2. On the day you wish to prepare the meal, cook for 7-9 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
  3. About 30 minutes before serving, combine the flour and water in a small bowl, whisking vigorously to combine well. The roux should be thick but still pourable so add a tablespoon of  water at a time to thin, if needed. Pour the flour mixture into the slow cooker, stiring quickly to mix in the roux with the stew meat and juices and to avoid lumps. 
  4. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir in ½ cup sour cream right before serving. Serve over pasta, rice or baked potatoes.cooked pasta.