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.

Sunday, April 2, 2017



Easter is coming soon and you may have company coming for the traditional fare.  If you want a nice appetizer to keep the crowd happy while you get dinner on the table, try this amazing cheeseball Olivia developed herself taking a cue from some of her favorites over the years.  I must warn you this spread can be addictive.  It is creamy, full of flavor, yet has just a hint of crunchy texture from the  green onions and bacon--that's right--I said bacon.  I like to eat it on multi grain Ritz crackers, but you can spread it on any cracker you like or even a piece of celery.  Once you and your guests have tried it, everyone is certain  to want more so be sure to make plenty!  If you and yours celebrate Easter, we wish you a beautiful day filled with promise and hope.  Enjoy!



1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
2 (8 oz) softened cream cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 slices crispy bacon, chopped finally
1 small can of crushed pineapple, drained
4 chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
In a skillet over medium heat, toast the pecans for a few minutes.  Make sure you stir the pecans often so they don't burn.  Your nose knows when they are finished!
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together: softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and salt until well mixed.  Add the chopped bacon, chopped green onions, and pineapple to the cheese mixture then whip it in just until blended, to avoid pureeing all of the ingredients.
Lastly, mix in the shredded cheddar cheese by hand using a large spoon.  Shape into a ball.  Roll the chilled cheeseball in the toasted chopped pecans.  Wrap the cheese ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Serve with assorted crackers