Thursday, December 31, 2009

From Me to you...

Today we begin the final countdown... 2009 is almost over .

I plan on enjoying a quiet evening inside with my main squeeze while enjoying delicious food and music and some good movies!

I've been treating the entire month of December like FAT TUESDAY before the Mardi Gras! Eating like there will be no tomorrow, knowing that when January rolls around, I must demonstrate some self-control once again!

For those of you needing some quick party foods to prepare a your New Year's Eve Party, Click on the photos on my side-bar for some last minute recipes that are sure to please.

May your 2010 be your best year yet.
Start it off on the right foot right- you can read TAKING A STEP BACKWARD AFTER TAKING A STEP FORWARD IS NOT A DISASTER, IT'S A CHA_CHA! over at my other blog and then
the best advice I could ever give for making this new year the best yet is....forgive someone. Hug the neck of those you love. See the value of the People that have been placed in your life. Never value things, or position or opinions over precious creations- your family and friends.

GO into this new year with a smile...a hopeful one remembering "In the long run the pessimist may be proved right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip. ~Daniel L. Reardon

Love and hugs to all of you!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cucumber Party Sandwiches

Here's a nice addition to your New Year's Eve buffet....easy to prepare, wonderful to taste. Perfect way to put a finishing touch on 2009 and welcome in the New Year.

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. GOOD SEASON'S Zesty Italian seasoning mix (dry)
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 loaf Party Rye bread
sliced cucumbers
(you may garnish with dill)

Mix together first 3 ingredients. Spread mixture on bread. Place sliced cucumbers on top. Chill.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Peg's Cheesy Potato Soup

My sister-in-law Peggy made a delicious pot of this soup to add to our Christmas feast and it was WONDERFUL! I even added some of my leftover ham to it the next day and that was great too.

You must give it a try. This is comfort food at its best!

3 c. water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
2 1/2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup sliced celery
1 c. minced onion
1 cup diced carrot

Boil all together until veggies are tender.

Then add:

8 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese.

Let melt and remove from heat.

2 cups milk
2 cans cream of chicken soup

Heat through until warm.

*I also added leftover ham, cubed, and some frozen (thawed brocoli) when I served it the second time.

Serve with crusty bread...and loosen your belt buckle. You're gonna' want seconds!

Monday, December 28, 2009

(Leftover) Ham Casserole

I have a large amount of ham leftover for Christmas, and I've done everything with it. Fried in up in an omelet for Breakfast, cut chunks of it for a Chef salad, added it to my sister-in-law's leftover cheesy potato soup (I'll share the recipe later on) and made this casserole I found From Taste of Home.

My guys enjoyed this very simple throw together casserole. Each of them asked for seconds. (Well, they didn't really ASK, they just took an extra heaping helping!)

Makes 8-10 Servings


* 1 package (12 ounces) wide egg noodles
* 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
* 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of broccoli soup, undiluted
* 1-1/2 cups milk
* 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
* 1-1/2 cups frozen California-blend vegetables, thawed
* 1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided


* Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine soups and milk; stir in the noodles, corn, vegetables, ham, parsley, pepper, salt and 3/4 cup of cheese.
* Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until bubbly and cheese is melted.


I'd love to hear your ideas for ham leftovers- I still have A LOT!

Super Moist Meatballs- Tyler Florence Style

I made these meatballs on Christmas Eve and served them with pasta for my family and all of them agreed that these were THE best meatballs I've made. My oldest son, who travels all over the country told me they tasted just like the meatballs served in the Fine Italian Restaurants he has frequented during his travels.

The secret to the moistness? Soaking the bread in milk!
The only thing I changed about this recipe, is Tyler makes 10 large meatballs, and I made many small ones.

You must give them a try.


* Extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, smashed
* 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 1 cup milk
* 4 thick slices firm white bread, crust removed
* 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
* 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 cups heated Pomodoro Sauce, recipe follows, or good quality jarred tomato sauce
* 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks
* Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh basil
* 1 pound spaghetti


Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil for the spaghetti. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling.

Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and Parmigiano and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Divide into equal pieces and shape them into nice looking meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 3-count of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes. Put them into a baking dish and spoon about half of the tomato sauce over. Shower with the mozzarella and drizzle with olive oil. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and put it onto a large serving platter. Pour on the rest of the sauce and mix well. Spoon the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately along with extra cheese.
Pomodoro Sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand, liquid reserved

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (nothing splashes like tomatoes) and about 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring for a few minutes with a wooden spoon to further break up the tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and season again.

Yield: 4 cups


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from my house to yours

May you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Enjoy your family and friends.
Hug em-forgive em- listen to their hearts- encourage them- value these wonderful gifts you have been given.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elsie's Amish Friendship Bread-a wonderful Christmas gift to give your friends

I'm one of the lucky ones. I can actually call my Mother-in-law Elsie, my friend! She is a precious, simple, gentle soul who has been a fantastic MIL and raised a wonderful man who I married 27 years ago.

Elsie is known for her great baking skills, and a staple at her house and at every family gathering is her homemade bread.
We enjoy it fresh from the oven, but if there should happen to be any leftover (which is rare), we will use it for the best ever French Toast, or even grilled cheese sandwiches! YUMMMMMM! We also chunk it up to enjoy with dill dips and cheese fondues.

You can bake loaf for Christmas and share the starter with friends and family members as little gifts. Placing the bread in a beautiful bread basket (like this one from Longaberger) would just be over the top!

The sweet sourdough flavor is unmatched !

You will need:

* 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
* 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
* 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
* 3 cups white sugar, divided
* 3 cups milk


In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.

On days 2 thru 4; stir starter with a spoon.
Day 5; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
Days 6 thru 9; stir only.
Day 10; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 cup to make your first bread, give 2 cups to friends along with this recipe, and your favorite Amish Bread recipe. Store the remaining 1 cup starter in a container in the refrigerator, or begin the 10 day process over again (beginning with day 2).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chery'ls Secret recipe Cheese Soup

My wonderful friend Cheryl served this soup to me awhile back and I was SHOCKED when she gave me the list of ingredients. It tasted wonderful and had a "from scratch" taste that I just had to share.

This is her recipe that she just sent to me- photos are mine from our little luncheon awhile ago.



1 can cheddar cheese soup,
1 can any other kind of cream soup you like (I use cream of mushroom)
2 soup cans filled with beer,
Shredded cheese, any kind as much as you want,
couple of dashes worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke,
pepper to taste.

Heat on top of stove until cheese melts or cook in crock pot on high for a few hours. Add REAL bacon bits and croutons before serving. DELISH and SOOO EASY".

*For this serving, Cheryl cut up day old baked french bread, placed them on top of cooked soup in bowl, sprinkled with cheese and microwaved till cheese melted.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And the winner is....

The winner of my cookbook giveaway who MUST vow to actually give some their creations away is...well, before I announce the name, let me also refer you to my sidebar for many last minute Thanksgiving recipes to add to your dinner table!

And give you a Thanksgiving quote:"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
-- Meister Eckhardt

And a link to my other blog, Matter of Fact where I share a Thanksgiving post on being grateful.

And now, the winner of the cookbook is....

ANN, from Ann's Page. Click on over and give her some congratulations!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Never Fail Dressing Casserole

When I was younger, I had a hard time getting the perfect texture when I made dressing. I tried this recipe at a church dinner that everyone raved over, and later the cook submitted it into our church cookbook. It is simple to prepare and tastes wonderful. Nothing fancy, just a simple dish that can be enjoyed at a main dish any time of year, and would also impress guests around your Thanksgiving table.

So, thank you Mary Darnell for this wonderful recipe.

1 chicken (boiled and deboned, save broth)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 small pkg. Pepperidge Farm Dressing with herbs
2 eggs
1 medium onion
3/4 can milnot 2 stalks celery, diced

Boil chicken, save broth. Place shredded meat on bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Pour soup over meat. Mix dressing, eggs, onion, celery and milnot together until well blended. Spoon over soup. Pour chicken broth over all to 1/2 inch of the dish top. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A giveaway...for you to give away!

Okay this giveaway is a treat for you...but the real treat it is giving away your creations.

Remember awhile back I gave away the Gifts In a Jar "Cookies" cookbook?

Well this month, I'm giving away the GIFTS IN A JAR- BARS AND BROWNIES Cookbook!
Thank my generous Cousin Angie who gave me the cookbooks to be given away.

The cookbook is filled with delicious recipes and comes complete with gift tags and instructions for assembly. All you need to do is assemble and find someone to give them to.

To have a chance to win the cookbook, all you need to do is leave a comment.
For another chance, become a follower (or let me know if you are already one.
For 3 extra chances, TWEET this, Post it on FACEBOOK or your blog. Let me know if you did.

Contest ends Nov. 24, midnight.

Winner will be drawn by the old fashioned name in the hat method. Scouts honor- I WILL BE HONEST!

WInner's name will be announced on NOV. 25 by 9:00 am.

Before you go, I'd like for you to visit this site,

It is a movement of people who are willing to change up their Christmas gift giving traditions. Instead of purchasing SO MUCH for those who don't need it, would you consider buying Less for those people , and spending a portion of your savings on those who are in DESPERATE need?

A needy neighbor? Missionary? Or a worthy charity?

There are so many needs around us. It is time to make a change.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Would you pray?

Monday I will post the giveaway on this site. It doesn't seem appropriate right now.

My heart is heavy today over the tragic accident that took the life of a beautiful 15-year-old Freshman girl last night.

Maddy Darnell was in a car with her mother, one of my co-workers Amy Serena, sadly, Maddy received fatal injuries.
Amy has received injuries as well, but the update is that they are NOT serious. Please pray for this family, Amy's husband and two other children were not in the vehicle. The Serena and Darnell families need lifted up.

Amy and her husband also lost a son several years ago.

PLEASE pray for all of them.

And look around at those you love and hold most dear...tell them you love them. Hug them. Kiss them . Squeeze them. Make them your number one priority! Life is too short.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Em's Easy Chicken and Dumplings

First off- sorry from my unannounced absence here-I just started a new job a week ago, and have yet to figure out how to keep all the dishes spinning in the air- but I'll get it figured out. I'm back, and have a ton of recipes to share, blogs to catch up on and I have a new giveaway for the month of November that I think you'll enjoy. Tune in tomorrow for the giveaway details. I'll post my new recipes in the mornings, but probably will have to check out your sites in the evening to make this work, but I will come visit again. I miss the DELICIOUS recipes you all dish out.

This recipe comes from my friend Cheryl, whose daughter Emily created it for her 5 children! It's a little like a chowder since it's thick and has the addition of other vegetables, unlike the traditional dumplings. Delicious flavors, and simple to prepare.

You Will Need:

2 cups water
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup condensed cream of chicken soup
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 cup onion,chopped
1/2 cup celery,chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
2 chicken breasts
1 can biscuits (the CHEAPER, the better, in this recipe)
Dash cilantro, oregano and parsley

Saute' onions, garlic,celery in a little oil till onions wilt. Add water, meat, broth and carrots. Cover pot on low boil till meat is cooked (15 minutes) . Remove meat and cut up. Return meat to pot; add soup,cilantro,oregano, and parsley. Tear biscuits into 1/4" pieces. Add to pot. Cover and simmer for ten minutes, stirring a few times to cover biscuits.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's a Baby SHower!

One of my best friends became a Grandma yesterday and I must admit- I can't wait to experience this for myself. A new little bundle of joy entered our world and I am once again just blown away by the handiwork of God. I literally stand in awe at His creation!

I love babies-don't they just give you hope?

I always love giving baby showers and thought I'd share of few photos of the latest shower we gave to welcome this new little guy into the world.

There was no particular theme, but blue and brown were the colors chosen and we carried it out throughout the shower.

As guests arrived, this was the entrance table that held a bottle of Raisinettes for guests to guess the amount of candy pieces in the bottle- to win a prize.

On the card for their estimation was also a place for them to write their name and address so the new Momma could send thank you cards to the generous guests. In addition to the baby balloon bouquet,simple brown gift bags with blue tissue paper added to the decor and also housed a couple of the gifts for the winners. A pair of baby socks and booties was added to the table decor as well.

We created a little clothesline of new Onesies and socks to hang above the gift table.

The dessert table included two chocolate fountains. One was white chocolate that was tinted blue for dipping marshmallows and football shaped pretzels. The other was semi-sweet chocolate for dipping strawberries and pineapple.

The cake was beautifully decorated by a local gal who we all love, and one side of the sheetcake was chocolate, the other was white.

Famous JP cookies (these were DELICIOUS) were also on hand. These are a basic sugar cookie with decorater icing that are the most requested cookie in our parts, made by Jaye Palmer, the cake decorator.

The Mom chose raspberry punch which although delicious, did NOT match the color scheme so it drove me crazy, but only for a moment! ;)

The tables were decorated in plain white tablecloths, with the same brown gift bags with blue tissue paper in them, and some curly wired blue ribbon down the center of the table. (I forgot to get a photo).

While the Mom to be opened her gifts, we played a CD of Lullabies and randomly drew names (from the cards the guests had filled out earlier)for the door prizes. We chose to not play games, and surprisingly, the guests were happy about that!

We also passed around a book for the guests to sign to give this first time Momma some tips and advice on raising the new little boy....who is now here!

Welcome to the world little guy! We love you already.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Healing Soup

For Many years, when anyone was sick in the family, my Mom always made a pot of her healing soup. It has become a special request now anytime someone in the family is ill, and also when we are all well, but needing some of her special soup made from her loving hands.

I don't know what it is- maybe the combination of her love and prayers while she's preparing it- but I swear when I enjoy the first warm spoonful, I start feeling better...and very loved.

This is a tradition I want to pass along to all of you, especially now, during this crazy flu season- but don't wait till everyone's sick- give them a warm bowl while they can really enjoy the delicious flavors.

2 beef shanks (with lots of meat on them)

Cover with water then cook on boil low for about one hour.

Add 1 onion, chopped. Add broth (3 cans chicken) and 1 can stewed tomatoes and 2 T. chicken bouillon and cook for at least least 30 minutes. Add 5 or 6 cubed potatoes- and celery chopped and carrots, sliced (2 each) let cook on med. another 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Another wonderful recipe from My Momma and Me!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Halloween Treat: The Black Fortys

If any of you follow my other blog, MATTER OF FACT, you know all about these fine folks, so go ahead and click away.

But for the rest of you, there's a little something about me that you probably don't know.

I am the mother of the frontman for THE BLACK FORTYS. Who are THE BLACK FORTYS you ask?

Well, last year they had a full page photo in Rolling Stone Magazine after being named THE BEST COLLEGE BAND IN THE NATION at the New American Music Union Festival sponsored by American Eagle.

Bob Dylan himself performed at this concert, and he just so happens to be a great influence on the band, so you can only imagine how exciting this was for all of them. They went on to win $10,000 to be used towards recording costs (yeah, I said TOWARD- it's REALLY expensive!) and they played a VIP concert for Rolling Stone Magazine in New York City and they have had portions of several of their songs played on MTV on various shows including the very popular REAL WORLD and THE COLLEGE LIFE. They travel all over the country and I try to catch them when they are close enough as often as I can.

This weekend they will be performing at the Historic Sesser Opera House in the same town as Anjo's Pizza (remember my review of their place awhile back?).

I just so happened to find a video of them performing at the Opera house last year and wanted to share it with the rest of you.

Bet you didn't know that I was a rocker Mom, did you?

Also, I have a son who is a photographer by day and a MMA Cage Fighter by night!
My youngest is still in college (education/coach) but all three are risk takers and very creative. We are very proud of all of them. We support their dreams.


They will be coming to Manhattan, Philadelphia, DC and Gainsville ,Florida soon. I hope if you're near, you can help spread the word.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake- Fast and Furious Friday Style

Although this delicious cake looks very time consuming- it is not. The recipe comes from my good friend Chery's website, Entertaining at Home .

No one will guess this showstopper dessert with a luscious cinnamon frosting starts with a mix! It's a year-round favorite with Linda Murray from Allenstown, New Hampshire.

1 package(18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2-1/2 cups vanilla frosting
1-1/4 cups chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, water, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds; beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour into two well-greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centers comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Combine frosting and remaining cinnamon; spread between layers and over top and

Press walnuts lightly into frosting on sides of cake.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

Check out her newsletter that gives more great entertaining ideas and fabulous specials on top quality entertaining products.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spicy Cheeseburger Soup

I just can't get enough soup! The creamier, the better .

I made a pot of this the other night- only Big AL and I were there to eat it, and I'm ashamed to say, we emptied the pot! Now, it only makes 2 quarts, so you better double the recipe if you're expecting more than two.

This recipe is from my OLD KING COAL festival's cookbook, COAL COUNTRY COOKIN', Volume I. There are no other copies of this one available, but Volume II still has a few for purchase. Kim Taylor submitted this delicious hearty soup for all of us to enjoy.


You will need:

1 1/2 cup water
2 c. cubed peeled potatoes
2 small carrots, grated (or sliced)
1 sm. onion, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
2 1/2 c. milk, divided
3 T. a/p flour
8 oz. Velveeta (I used shredded cheddar this time- it was still delicious!)
1/4-1tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled (I was out of bacon- didn't miss it)

In lg. saucepan, combine water, veggies, garlic, bouillon and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes till veggies are tender. Stir in beef and 2 cups of milk; heat through. Combine flour and remaining milk until smooth; gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted. Add cayenne pepper if desired. Top with bacon just before serving. I sprinkled with a little pepper too.


Monday, October 26, 2009

And the Winner is....

I am pleased to announce the winner of my Southern Living One year Magazine Subscription giveaway and give you a simple candy mix to place around the house this Fall that your guests will love.

My son drew the name of the lucky winner, so you really have Jordan to thank.

Congratulations goes out to THE HEALING TOUCH!

Check out her fabulous blog and be sure to congratulate her.

And here's the mix:

Mix together honey roasted peanuts and candy corn. Looks like Autumn and tastes like a PayDay Candy Bar! Yum!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Perfect Autumn breakfast without all the fuss! My guys loved them and it was SOOOO quick and easy.

These make a heavier pancake, but very tasty!

Serve with maple syrup and butter.


2 cups favorite pancake mix (plus water, or eggs/milk, as indicated on box)
1/2 cup canned or fresh pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger

Substitution Options:
Substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, allspice and ginger


In mixing bowl, combine pancake mix with water or eggs/milk. Whisk. Then whisk in canned pumpkin and water. Finally, whisk in spices.

Pour batter in 1/3 cup portions onto griddle. Let cook until bubbles form. Flip and let cook another 1-2 minutes.

Now how simple is that?

Just another Fast and Furious Friday recipe so you can enjoy your weekend!