Sunday, August 20, 2017


Olivia makes makes a large quantity of this bean dip at a time so she can freeze it for easy use the next time.  She just spoons it into a plastic zip bag, lets it cool, and then forces the air out before storing them flat in the freezer.

It takes a little time to make this bean dip but the addition of jalapeno peppers, onions, garlic and cumin with a healthy dose of chili powder give it a zesty homemade flavor that can't be beat.  Next time you are feeling a little Mexican and crave bean dip, give this a try.  It is creamy and full of flavor.

*2 pounds pinto beans
*2 - 32oz. containers beef broth
*2 large jalapeños, chopped
*3 large onions, chopped
*8 tablespoons chopped garlic
*3 tablespoons cumin
*1 tablespoon chili powder
*black pepper and salt to taste
*11+ cups water for cooking (more water for soaking the night before)

1)  The night before you want to make the beans, put your dried pinto beans into a large bowl (twice as big as the volume of beans you have) and sort through to pick out any bad beans.  Fill the container with water and soak overnight.

2)  Drain your beans.  Add beans, 11 cups water, and all other ingredients to a large stock pot.  If you cannot add all 11 cups of water, because your stockpot isn't large enough, no worries.  Just add more water as the water cooks down.  Add the remaining ingredients to cook with the beans.  

3)  Bring your beans to a boil, and turn it down to a simmer.  You want the beans to bubble here and there, so they cook, but you don't want a hard boil, or you'll need to watch more closely.

4)  Cook your beans for 3-4 hours in this fashion.  Stir them every hour and check to make sure you don't need to add more water.

5)  Test your beans to see if they are soft enough to eat.  When they are, put an immersion blender in the pot and puree them.  

The beans are so tasty this way and much healthier than what you buy in the store.  They also have more flavor. :)

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Olivia found this great recipe on  She was having an event at her home and wanted to be able to keep the dip warm for a while after she made it.  She decided to bake the dip in the oven and then put it in the crock pot topped with cheese and green onions.  It was a great idea.  The dip turned out smooth and and it stayed nice and creamy during the entire event.  The only real problem in making this dip is that it is very addictive and you will find yourself going back for more and more and more.  The sriracha combined with the soy sauce and garlic powder give it a delightful flavor you are going to love.  Make a batch for your next get together and stand back to wait for the compliments.   Enjoy!



  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 c. Shredded Monterey Jack
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sriracha
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 6 oz. lump crab
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Pita chips, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, Monterey Jack, soy sauce, Sriracha and garlic powder. Beat until evenly combined. Fold in crab and green onions. Transfer to small baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the dip is bubbly and beginning to turn golden.
  3. Garnish with more green onions and drizzle with Sriracha, if desired. Serve warm with pita chips.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


When I first saw this recipe I thought it looked heavenly.  It features smoked provolone cheese sauce.  Being a person who enjoys just about every kind of cheese ever made, I found this to be very appealing.  The sauce is creamy and flavorful and just the perfect complement to the burger and vegetables.  You can use whatever type of bun you enjoy most, but the results will be the same--a savory, creamy and delicious sandwich.

I have not made these myself, but I think if I had cheese sauce left over, I might be tempted to use it as dipping sauce or a sauce for grilled or steamed vegetables.  Olivia found this recipe at the Slow Roasted Italian web site and it is definitely one to try and probably make many times over in the future.  We hope you enjoy the burgers!

Cheesy Philly Cheesesteak Burgers
serves 4

2 pounds ground sirloin or chuck
1 tablespoon Montreal grill seasoning
1 tablespoon A-1 Steak Sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion
2 bell peppers (I used ½ each: red, orange, yellow and green)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns
1 recipe Smoked Provolone Sauce (recipe below)

Combine burger ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with hands to combine.  Do not over mix.

Form beef into 4 patties, slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the center of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the center. (The indentation will rise as your burger cooks).  Set aside while you prepare the toppings.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, add onions.  Toss to coat, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Meanwhile in a large skillet over high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter.  Add sliced peppers, toss to coat.  Cook until peppers are soft.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Preheat grill to high.

Grill until golden brown and slightly charred (about 3 minutes), turning once (cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium). Close grill cover.  Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger!

Toast buns on low or indirect heat.

To dress burger:  Place burger on toasted bottom bun, top with ¼ of the sautéed peppers, ¼ of the caramelized onions and a heaping spoon of smoked provolone cheese sauce, top with toasted top bun.  Serve and enjoy!

Smoked Provolone Cheese Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
8 ounces smoked provolone cheese, shredded or torn
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter.  Add flour and whisk; allow flour to cook for 2-3 minutes to cook out the ‘floury’ taste.  Add milk, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.    Add cheese and stir constantly until you have a smooth mixture.

Reduce heat to low, until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Sunday, July 23, 2017



The summer entertaining season is in full swing and who isn't looking for a delightfully delicious dessert to wow their guests?  Olivia found this great recipe at WWW.THESALTYMARSHMALLOW.COM and it is a winner.  It is sweet and light and just the thing to end a summer meal.  Olivia was serving this at a function she was hosting so she decided to make the serving easy  by putting it in canning jars.  You can put them in half pint jars or smaller depending upon how much dessert you want to serve.  Your guests can grab them and go.  It is a beautiful dessert that is just the right amount of sweet and it is fun to eat.  Try it soon!

  • 1 11 Ounce Box Vanilla Wafers, Crushed
  • 1/3 Cup Butter, Melted
  • 1 8 Ounce Package Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 8 Ounces Cool Whip, Thawed
  • 2 Cups Twix Candy Bars, Chopped
  • Chocolate & Caramel Sundae Sauce, For Drizzling

  1. Spray a pie pan with non stick cooking spray.  Pour the crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter into the pie pan and mix until well combined.  Firmly press the wafers onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese with the vanilla extract until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).  Fold in the whipped cream.  Fold in 1 cup of the chopped Twix candy.
  3. Spread filling into prepared crust, smoothing out the top.  Chill for at least 3 hours, until pie has set.
  4. Before serving, top pie with remaining Twix and drizzle with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Saturday, July 15, 2017


The peppers are coming on strong in the garden. We have had lots of rain in our area and a healthy amount of heat and sunshine. This recipe for stuffed peppers is sure to please the backyard barbecue fan who loves blue cheese and bacon. If you don't like blue cheese, try substituting a cheese you particularly enjoy. Follow her pictures, notes, and recipe and you are sure to enter a whole new realm of grilling pleasure.  Enjoy!

I used the small sweet peppers that come in a bag in the grocery store.  I cut the tops off, cleaned them out, and cooked them a bit over the grill.  I wanted to make stuffed peppers instead of the slices of pepper as the original recipe states.

I mixed the filling up and spooned it into a gallon sized plastic bag.  Seal the top of it, cut the tip off, and use the filled bag to fill each of the peppers.

I used a grill basket to place the peppers in so they would stand up and could go back on the grill.  The peppers didn't take up all of the space in the basket, so I wadded up a piece of foil and placed it in the basket so the peppers stand up.

I placed the grill basket back on the grill until the cheese mixture was hot and bubbling.

TA DA!  These are so delicious!!!



  • 3 medium sweet yellow, orange or red peppers
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced


Cut peppers into quarters. Remove and discard stems and seeds. In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, blue cheese, bacon and green onion until blended.
Grill peppers, covered, over medium-high heat or broil 4 in. from heat 2-3 minutes on each side or until slightly charred.
Remove peppers from grill; fill each with about 1 tablespoon cheese mixture. Grill 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sugar Free Cucumber Salad

Sugar Free Cucumber Salad
When I was a kid, our summer food menu often consisted of sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob and anything fresh from the garden or produce stand.  Sliced cucumber salad was a staple, but my mother always made it with sugar.  Dietary restrictions require I not use sugar if possible, so I substituted stevia for this recipe and it worked beautifully.  Olivia has an abundance of cucumbers this year so she gave me some to make this salad.  My mother didn't use herbs in hers but I like herbs so I added them to mine.  You can use any seasonings you like. Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.  We hope you like it.

1.  Peel and slice cucumbers and one onion (the milder the better).

2.  Salt and pepper to taste.
 3.  Add herbs you enjoy.  This time I used fresh dill and some fennel plus a little minced garlic.
 4.  Microwave on high for at least one minute equal amounts of white vinegar and powdered stevia (or sugar if you prefer).  Stir until the stevia or sugar is dissolved.
 5.  Pour over the cucumbers, onions, and herbs.  Mix well.  Refrigerate overnight.

Another tip:  Once you have the dressing made, you can keep adding cucumbers to it for a few days and enjoy the salad all week!

Monday, June 26, 2017


Most people like hash browns.  The thing a lot of people don't like about hash browns is that they aren't always crispy.  In fact, sometimes they are down right limp and a little on the soggy side.  Olivia made this delicious oven baked version that is probably a little healthier than the standard fried version (depending upon the kind of oil you use).  They are made really flavorful by adding garlic powder, paprika, cheese, and chives.  If you are making breakfast at home this upcoming holiday weekend, you might give these a try.  Happy Fourth of July!


  • 1 16-oz. bag refrigerated hash browns
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped chives


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss hash browns with olive oil, garlic powder and paprika. Season with salt and pepper, then add egg and cheese and gently mix until evenly combined.
  3. Spread the hash browns into an even layer. Bake until crispy, about 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Fresh vegetables are plentiful this time of year.  You can either grow your own or find plentiful options at local farm stands and produce auctions.  Olivia found a large quantity of cauliflower at a good price at a nearby produce auction this week. 

In addition to keeping some for eating raw and roasting, we are both freezing some for future use.  If you have never preserved summer's bounty by freezing vegetables, it is an easy process. 

We are sharing how to do cauliflower.  You can process  it when it is in season or even when you see it on sale in the grocery.  The first step is to remove the outer leaves and inner core.

 Next you can cut the head into smaller pieces and wash them thoroughly.

Start a pot of boiling water with some salt in it on the stove.  When it reaches a rolling boil, place one batch at a time in the water and blanch the cauliflower for three minutes.

With a slotted spoon, place the cauliflower on towels to drain.  Draining the vegetables aids in keeping the vegetables from getting icy and deteriorating faster when frozen.

When the cauliflower has drained, place it in a quart sized freezer bag and label it.  After it has cooled down, place it in the freezer.  Most packages will keep for at least a year.  Take it out of the freezer when you are ready to eat and heat it from a frozen state for 8-9 minutes or steam it on top of the stove.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

BBQ Chicken

Barbecue Chicken
Summer isn't officially hear yet, but it sure feels like it around here.  The temperatures have been in the 80s and the smell of grills cooking wafts through the neighborhood.  Whether it is steaks, burgers, fish, pork or chicken, who can resist the grilled goodness of meat?  Olivia came up with this yummy combination of salad dressing and barbecue sauce to create a delightfully simple marinade for chicken.  The ingredients are few, everything goes in a ziplock bag, and the combination of zesty and tangy is outstanding.  Try this if you are looking for something different.  Happy grilling!


1 cup bottled zesty Italian salad dressing
1 cup bottled medium - spicy BBQ sauce
4 chicken breasts
1 gallon sized storage bag

1)  Mix the Italian salad dressing and BBQ sauce in the gallon sized storage bag.
2)  Place chicken in bag and seal.  Rub the sauce around on the chicken inside the bag.
3)  Marinate overnight in the fridge.
4)  Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Olivia and I are blessed to have good friends.  They are the kind who invite you to join them for holiday meals and feed you the yummiest of food.  This happened at Easter.  A couple we know from church invited us to join them for the Easter meal.  It included this delightful massaged kale salad.  When I first heard the name I found it somewhat humorous.  After all, who gives their greens a "massage" as part of the recipe?

In this case the massaging of the kale gives it a great texture and breaks down the greens so they absorb the other flavors in the recipe and the kale, which can be bitter sometimes, takes on a pleasing texture and taste.  The mango, nuts, cheese, and honey give this salad a terrific appeal that you will love.

If you are tired of eating the same old salads all the time, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.  The Memorial Day weekend is coming up and this would make a super accompaniment to your barbecue.  Give it a try!


Monday, May 15, 2017


Olivia found this great recipe on the Food Network site.  It is a super way to jazz up the same old same old taco shells.  If your taco night gets a little repetitive, this could be a great way to step outside the box and create a tasty alternative to the plain hard shelled taco.

The recipe is simple and straight forward.  Just brush your standard hard shelled taco shells with a little vegetable oil then sprinkle with the seasoning mixture.  The combination of the cumin, coriander, and chili powder gives this recipe just the right amount of kick to make your taste buds wake up and say, "Fiesta time!"  Enjoy!

Seasoned Taco Shells:

Sunday, May 7, 2017


This time of year is very busy for us.  Olivia and I both garden so there is a lot of outdoor clean up, soil preparation, and planting to be done.  This means meal preparation has to be quick and easy.

Olivia found this fantastic pork loin recipe that can be made in the crock pot.  The recipe comes from  It is moist, flavorful, and best of all the leftovers can be morphed into a second meal that is equally great.  When Olivia discovered she had left over teriyaki pork, she chopped some up, browned it slightly in olive oil and stirred in some steamed vegetables for a delightful stir fry.  The leftover "sauce" from the crock pot made an excellent topping to drizzle over the stir fry and rice.

Who doesn't like a meal that is just as delicious and creative the second day as it was the first?


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (about 3 pounds), halved
  • 7-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Directions
  1. In a greased 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the first seven ingredients. Add roast and turn to coat. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. 
  2. Remove pork to a serving platter; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking juices; transfer to a small saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with meat.Yield: 8 servings.

Nutritional Facts

4 ounces cooked pork: 247 calories, 8g fat (3g saturated fat), 85mg cholesterol, 194mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 0 fiber), 33g protein.  Diabetic Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1/2 starch.

Sunday, April 23, 2017



Olivia and I hope you and your family and friends had a great Easter holiday.  We certainly did.  We were invited to the home of friends for dinner and had a super fun time and lots of delicious food.  Olivia took the yummy desserts of cake and lemon tarts.  I offered to bring the bread.  I haven't made yeast bread from scratch for quite some time so I was a little worried that it would be edible.  I did a test run the week before Easter and the bread turned out great.  The loaf pictured here is the one I took to our friends' home.  It turned out great as well.  The leftover bread from the first loaf was still in the refrigerator today so I made french toast out of it and it was very good and held together well.  I like this recipe because it it fairly easy and seems to be foolproof.
I got it from the Taste of Home website.  I learned the hard way years ago that one of the easiest ways to ruin yeast bread is to not use fresh yeast.  The other way is to get the liquid too hot and kill the yeast.  If you remember those two tips, you are on your way to successful bread making.  Another handy tip is to use the dough hook on your mixer if you have one.  It says lots of elbow grease and makes for a lovely dough.  Enjoy!


  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds


  1. In a large bowl, combine 2-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat water and oil to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients along with eggs. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
  2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
  3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Set a third of the dough aside. Divide remaining dough into three pieces. Shape each into a 13-in. rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under.
  4. Divide reserved dough into three equal pieces; shape each into a 14-in. rope. Braid ropes. Center 14-in. braid on top of the shorter braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, beat egg and water; brush over dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cover with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking. Remove from the oven and cool.

    Nutritional Facts

    1 slice: 134 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 40mg cholesterol, 123mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Tacos seem to be a favorite of just about everyone.  Some people like them simple and some like them loaded with all the fixings.  The basis though of any good taco is moist, flavorful meat filling.  Olivia developed this recipe for a taco bar carry-in she had at work and she reported that it was a big hit.  I think what makes this meat special is that it has more than just the standard taco seasoning packet.  It is loaded with flavor from the tomatoes, chiles, cumin, garlic, onion, and cilantro.  When you make this, Olivia suggests using a crock pot liner, especially if you are making it for a crowd and want easy clean up.  Whether you like your tacos soft or crunchy, I think you will find this meat filling a crowd pleaser.



3 lbs. ground beef
2 Tbsp. dehydrated chopped onion
1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
1 tsp. dehydrated minced garlic
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
2 envelopes taco seasoning
1 cup warm water
2 cans Original Rotel
1 small can chopped green chiles
1/2 jar taco sauce

1)  Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until meat is cooked through.  Drain the meat thoroughly and leave it in the skillet.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, cumin, cilantro, and taco seasoning to the warm water in a small cup.  Add the spice and water mixture to the skillet and stir just until thickened and all of the spices are mixed in with the meat.

2)  Transfer the meat and spice mixture to a crock pot.  Stir in the Rotel, chiles, and taco sauce into the meat mixture.

-If you're going to serve the tacos the same day, keep the crock pot on "keep warm" until ready to serve the tacos.
-If you want to make the meat ahead, put the crockpot crock in the fridge overnight.  The next day, heat the mixture in the crock pot on low, stirring frequently, and once heated through, move the temperature to "keep warm".

Sunday, April 9, 2017


I really like Easter.  It is just as big if not bigger to me than Christmas.  It has deep religious meaning for us but even despite the Easter Bunny, it lacks much of the superficiality of Christmas.  Everything about it, including fresh Spring salads, screams of rebirth, renewal, and fresh starts.  If you like to have a lovely salad with your Easter feast, or you are just looking for a new dressing idea, you might want to try this recipe soon.  Olivia made it and it is delicious.  It is creamy, tangy, and full of flavor.  Make enough to keep for a few days in the refrigerator.  Believe me, you will want more.  From our family to yours, we hope you have a blessed Easter holiday.

  1. 1/4 cup white vinegar
  2. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  3. 2 teaspoons sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (This really doesn’t add much heat; it’s better with it!)
  7. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 4 cloves garlic
  9. 1 cup neutral oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (either fresh or from a can)
  11. 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning (add more if needed)
  1. Place vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic in the jar of a blender and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, add the oil in a steady stream. Remove the blender jar from the blender and mix in the cheese and Italian seasoning by hand. Transfer to a storage or serving container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.