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.

    Sunday, October 15, 2017


    When Olivia showed me this recipe, her comment was, "It doesn't look like much, but the two groups of people we served it to loved it."  I laughed at that because I know the old adage about how you eat with your eyes first, but in this case beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I personally think the golden brown look of this dip is a beautiful thing.  The combination of cheeses and spices paired with chorizo is a medley that can't be beat.  With fall gatherings coming up and football games to watch (which automatically means snacks to eat while watching) this delicious dip could become a crowd favorite.  Give it a try!



    • 1 pound bulk chorizo
    • 16 ounces sour cream with chives
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 8 ounces Velveeta, cut into small cubes
    • 16 ounces mixture of cheddar and colby cheeses, grated
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • ½ teaspoon dried ground sage
    • garlic powder to taste


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9×9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
    2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the chorizo, crumbling it as it cooks, until browned and cooked through. Remove the chorizo from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
    3. Add the sausage and all remaining ingredients to a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, spreading it into an even layer.
    4. Bake for 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

    Sunday, October 8, 2017


    This scrumptious recipe is from  Olivia made it and found it is a big hit.  Not only is this recipe good, made with very few ingredients, and super easy, but it could be used as a snack, an appetizer, or a side dish.  The zucchini are long gone from the garden here, but they are still plentiful in  the store.  Zucchini often gets a bad rap because when they grow they are super abundant and people run out of ways to fix them.  Add this great recipe to your zucchini line up and you will have people coming back for more. 


    • 2 medium-sized zucchini
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • Garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper, optional
    1. Place oven rack in center position of oven. Preheat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (lightly misted with cooking spray) OR parchment paper.
    2. Wash and dry zucchini, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange zucchini rounds on prepared pan, with little to no space between them. If desired, lightly sprinkle zucchini with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of zucchini. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until Parmesan turns a light golden brown. (Watch these closely the first time you make them and pull them out of the oven early if the Parmesan is golden before 15 minutes!) Serve immediately.

    Monday, October 2, 2017


    It's that time of year again...PUMPKIN TIME!  Olivia found this delicious recipe at a site called  It is a winner and sure to delight all the pumpkin lovers you know.  The recipe bills itself as a coffee cake but this wonder is decadent enough to pass as a dessert for your fall get togethers, as a game time treat, or something really nice for a carry in.  The smell alone of this cake is enough to draw attention from a crowd.  Olivia and I hope you are enjoying this beautiful season and everything it has to offer.  We rarely met a season we didn't like to enjoy outdoors, decorate for, and of course, cook the appropriate seasonal fare. Dig in!

    Before it goes into the oven...

    When it comes out of the oven...

    With the icing....

    Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Streusel


    For the streusel: 
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
    • 1 cup butter, melted
    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    For the cake:
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup brown cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree
    For the glaze: 
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon milk


    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
    2. To prepare the streusel, stir together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl until well combined.
    3. Stir in the flour. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.
    4. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
    5. Add the sugars and butter to a medium mixing bowl and beat with a mixer until light and fluffy.
    6. Beat in the eggs and pumpkin until just combined.
    7. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
    8. Spread cake batter into prepared pan.
    9. Take the streusel topping in your hands and press together to form large crumbs. Top the cake with the streusel. It will seem like too much, but use it all for the best streusel experience.
    10. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
    11. Cool completely.
    12. Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk to make the glaze. Drizzle over the top before serving.

    Sunday, September 24, 2017


    This beautiful and colorful dish is great for every day but it is also a lovely way to treat your guests to a vegetable that is not only delicious but pretty as well.  This recipe came from  It called for plum tomatoes but Olivia used cherry tomatoes instead.  This time of year you may have a variety of tomatoes still ripening on your vines so use any kind of tomatoes you like or mix them up for an even more interesting look.  The recipe calls for basil but Olivia used rosemary.  Again, use the herbs you like and experiment with various tastes.  Olivia made this for friends who came to her home for dinner and they requested she make it again!  That is without a doubt the ultimate compliment.  Try this wonderful tart and you'll add it to your vegetable recipe favorites.




    • 7 sheets phyllo dough (14 inches x 9 inches)
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 7 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
    • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
    • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
    • 4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
    • 2 tablespoons minced chives
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


    Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon goat cheese. (Keep remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.) Repeat layers, brushing oil all the way to edges.
    Sprinkle onion over top to within 1 in. of edges; sprinkle with fontina cheese. Arrange tomato slices in a slightly overlapping pattern over fontina cheese. Sprinkle with chives, basil, salt and pepper. Bring up edges of tart over filling.
    Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Yield: 12 servings.

    Sunday, September 17, 2017


    Hot cross buns are traditionally an Easter season treat that reminds us of the holy nature of the season by making a cross shape on top of the buns, but Olivia thought outside the Easter season and outside the box by making this delicious treat in her bread machine.  You can still add icing if you like and it would be a delicious breakfast bread or just about anytime bread.  The combination of lemon rind and raisins or candied fruit is what gives this bread its delightful flavor.  If you have a bread machine and perhaps you haven't used it for a while, give this a try.  We think you will really like it.


  1. Put all ingredients except fruit into bread machine.
  2. Regular bread and light crust.
  3. Add fruit at signal.  
  4. After you've cooled the bread and removed it from the pan, make glaze adding sugar or milk to make consistency to drizzle but not run.
  5. Drizzle icing on bread.
  6. Sunday, September 10, 2017


    Fall is moving in where we live and the temperatures are starting to edge downward.  This usually means more people start making fall dishes.  Dishes featuring carrots, pumpkins, and various root vegetables and squash seem to take center stage.  If you like gooey and moist desserts, this one is for you.  If you like desserts that are one the sweet side and you want a recipe that is fairly easy but still very impressive, this cake is for you.  Olivia found this delicious recipe and made this beautiful creation.  Add this to your fall recipe collection.  We hope you enjoy this season as much as we do!

    • The 9x13 Carrot Cake recipe of your choice, baked and cooled (I used a box mix)
    • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
    • 8 oz Cool Whip
    • 10.6 oz Cool Whip Vanilla Frosting (Cream Cheese flavor if your store carries it, mine doesn't)
    • 6 oz (half a tub) of whipped cream cheese (must be whipped)
    • Approx. 1/2 cup caramel sundae sauce (just pour on as much or as little as you'd like)
    • Approx. 1 cup chopped pecans (sprinkle on as much or as little as you'd like)
    1. Leave the cake in the dish it was baked in-- this is not a free standing cake.
    2. Poke approximately 20-25 holes, spread evenly, over the top of the cake with the bottom of a wooden spoon. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over top, trying to fill the holes as much as possible.
    3. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the cool whip, the cool whip frosting, and the whipped cream cheese until smooth. Spread over top of the cake.
    4. Pour the caramel sauce over top of the cake, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
    5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, really overnight is best.
    6. Cut into 12 squares to serve (you can cut more, 1/12 is a pretty large piece!).

    Sunday, September 3, 2017


    Olivia found this great recipe on a website called Hey Grill Hey.  This quirky recipe can be made in either a smoker or an oven and makes this delicious beef jerky.  The spicy sweetness of it makes a great jerky combination.

    I don't know if you have ever tried to make your own jerky but it can be great fun.  My father used to make a teriyaki jerky using a food dryer when I was a kid.  Boy was it good.  Beef jerky seems to be all the rage these days, at least it is around where we live.  It is a great protein snack, but you may have noticed it can be kind of pricey as well.

    The biggest complaint I have about store bought jerky is the consistency.  Sometimes it can be melt in your mouth tender and other times it is so tough it can rip out your dental work.  Making your own can help you control the amount of dryness, the texture, and the amount of spice or salt you use  If you have never tried making your own beef jerky, I would recommend you try it and experiment until you get something you really like.  .  Don't worry if you don't have a smoker.  Try the oven and enjoy!

    • 1 2-3 pound beef eye of round roast thin sliced against the grain
    For the marinade:
    • 2 cups Dr. Pepper
    • 2 jalapenos sliced
    • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder

    1. In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half. You should have just over a cup of marinade. Chill the marinade completely.
    2. Transfer the sliced beef to a gallon sized zip top bag and pour in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, or overnight.
    3. Preheat your smoker or oven to approximately 170 degrees. 
    4. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry each strip thoroughly by laying on paper towels. Transfer the strips to the grill grate, jerky rack, or cooling rack and smoke/cook for 2-3 hours (depending on the thickness of your slices, some thicker pieces can take 4-5 hours). Check often after the first hour to be sure your jerky is drying evenly. You are looking for jerky that is firm and still slightly pliable, but not soft. If you bend your jerky and it breaks, you've cooked it a little too long.
    5. Place the finished jerky in a gallon zip top bag while it is still warm. Don't seal closed all the way. The jerky will steam in the bag slightly and this step will make the jerky moist. The jerky will last 3-4 days on the counter or 2 weeks in the fridge.