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!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, everywhere- and even some to drink!

I'm all about comfort, and from now until it warms up again, I'll be looking for ways to warm my bones- from the inside out- mainly scouring websites and cookbooks for comfort food and drinks that warm me up during my favorite season; Autumn.

Last weekend, we took a trip to Bandy's Pumpkin Patch and now I am in the mood (more so than usual) for all things pumpkin! Foods, drinks, decor....

I purchased a cooking pumpkin for homemade goodness and it had me searching for some new recipes to add to my ever growing list of pumpkin favorites.

I want to share this one though, first off, because it is simple and ABSOLUTELY delicious! If you are a Starbuck's fan but feel like paying $4-$5 for a cup of their creations is a bit over the top, you can make this version of their Pumpkin Spice Latte for pennies on the dollar!



--2 cups milk (I used 2%)
--2 T canned pumpkin
--2 T white sugar
--2 T vanilla (not a typo. it asks for tablespoons)
--1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
OR: 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a teeny tiny pinch of ground ginger
--1/2 cup brewed espresso or 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee (I used strong coffee)

--garnish with whipped cream (optional)
I did not the first day, I did the second time. Great either way.

The Directions.

This will make enough for 2 people to have a big mug with a bit leftover. If you are having friends over, adjust the recipe accordingly.

Add the coffee/espresso and milk to the crockpot. Whisk in the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and vanilla.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours if everything is cold. Whisk again.

Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon.

My guys keep bugging me to make this again and again. You must try it for yourself!

Friday, October 16, 2009

FAST AND FURIOUS FRIDAY- Ground Beef Stroganoff

Am I the only one counting my pennies at the grocery store?
It seems that the Almighty Dollar isn't so mighty anymore!
My Dollar is shrinking- I'm trying to find some steroids to inject into my budget, but as of yet, I'm coming up empty handed (in more ways than one).

Recently, I found a recipe that caught my eye in my handy dandy penny pincher cookbook:
365 Quick, Easy and Inexpensive Dinner Menus (Penny E. Stone)

Instead of the classic Beef Stroganoff that calls for a pricier cut of beef, this uses the old "wannabe", hamburger. But honestly, it was very good. And I still had two nickles to rub together upon exiting the Kroger! I made this for my neighbor and her family one evening when she was under the weather. It fed their family of 3 and Big AL and me. Everyone had seconds.

If you'd like to try this dinner, you will need:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 T. Cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried egg noodles
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)

Brown beef and onion in skillet till meat is done and onion is transparent. Drain grease. Dissolve cornstarch in cold water and pour onto meat. Stir in garlic powder, salt & pepper and soups. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to pkg. directions. When done, drain . Remove meat mixture from heat and stir in sour cream and mix well. Add to noodles and mix till well blended.


Before you leave, click here to enter my free giveaway: A one year subscription to SOUTHERN LIVING magazine!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's no trick- just a couple of great treats! A Wonderful Magazine giveaway and A recipe for Mini Pumpkin Cakes

I am pleased to be giving away a one-year subscription (13 issues- a $19.95 value) of my favorite magazine, SOUTHERN LIVING.

Each month I sit back and enjoy their beautiful photos of some of the best recipes and gorgeous home decor that Southern hands can create.

I have yet to try one of their recipes that I didn't love!
So, I decided to share this treat with one lucky reader!

It's easy to enter:

*Leave me a comment telling me about your favorite magazine. (1 chance)
* Follow this blog (1 extra chance)
* Post about this giveaway (1 extra chance)
*Put a link on your sidebar about this giveaway (1 extra chance)
* Tweet this post (1 extra chance)

Now, be sure to tell me if you deserve extra chances and leave a link to your blog so I can find you.

This offer is good in the continental US only.
Contest ends on Sunday, October 25, at midnight (CT)
Winner's name will be announced Monday, October 26 by 9:00 AM (CT)

The winner's name will be drawn by the good old fashioned name in the hat method. SCOUT'S HONOR I will be honest and fair.

Winner will receive their first magazine 4-8 weeks following the announcement date.
*Southern Living is in no way involved in this giveaway- this is from yours truly.

Now, for the recipe.

I chose to share the cover recipe from the current issue.


*Makes 8 pumpkins

* 3/4 cup butter, softened
* 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Caramel-Rum Glaze*
* Or Vanilla Glaze
* Caramel Stems, Leaves, and Vines (optional, instructions below)


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla.

2. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Spoon batter into 2 lightly greased pumpkin-shaped muffin pans, filling three-fourths full.

3. Bake at 350° for 24 to 26 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

4. Cut rounded tops off muffins to make them flat. Invert top muffins onto bottom muffins, forming pumpkins. Drizzle Caramel-Rum Glaze over pumpkins. Decorate with Caramel Stems, Leaves, and Vines, if desired.

*Vanilla Glaze may be substituted.

CARAMEL STEM: Press 1 caramel between fingers, lengthening to 1 1/2 to 2 inches to form a stem. Curl stem gently.

CARAMEL LEAVES: Roll caramels into 2-inch squares on a flat surface, using a rolling pin. Cut into leaves, using a paring knife. Gently press tips of leaves to flatten, if desired. Score leaves, using a paring knife. Pinch bottoms of leaves together.

CARAMEL VINES: Cut 1 caramel into 3 equal pieces. Squeeze each piece gently to flatten, and roll between hands or on a flat surface into a long thin rope. Twist ends to curl.

Note: We tested with Wilton Dimensions Multi-Cavity Mini Pumpkin Pans. Only have one pan? Bake batter in two batches, washing and drying pan between batches.

*Recipe and photo is from their website:


*Be sure to check out more Blog Carnival Giveaways here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Roadtrip Sunday- "FOOD WITH STYLE"

There is a fairly new (July 09) blog site that I have fallen in love with. Today, I would like to send you away for a visit. Pack your bags and I'll give you a free ticket to a wonderful destination.

It is called Food With Style.

YOU MUST click here
and take a visit.

A feast for the eyes!

This is a home base for some of the most beautiful food photos and recipes and tablescapes and is updated daily. You will enjoy many different offerings each day, and you just drag your mouse across each photo to see the blog site home for that particular recipe and click there to go directly to their site.

Really, you MUST go there. I'm offering a money back guarantee if you are not delighted!

Especially those of you who are great food photographers- you need to submit your photos/recipes for consideration.

You can thank me later.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Take a Break and enjoy....Anjo's Pizza

I realize that this is a recipe/cooking blog, but many of you surely are like me and some days even the best chefs need to take a break from their beloved kitchen duties, and enjoy the creations of another set of hands.

Enter Pizza.

I will say that I am not a big fan of store bought or restaurant pizza (around here anyway)- not until recently.

My son is a photographer, and went to photograph the food at Anjo's for the owners, John and Angie Furlow . He asked me to come along for the ride. (i.e. help him unload and load his junk).

The Furlows made some delicious creations for the photos, then offered it to us to taste, and take home.


This food was absolutely the best I've eaten here in SO. Illinois! It all tasted like it came from the home kitchen of a wonderful Italian cook!

Not surprising when John told me of the many fresh ingredients used in creating the dishes. And they use the best cheeses (I'm a cheese snob- except for the occasional Velveeta splurge-and I know good cheeses when I eat them!).

They prepared their pizza with everything for us- and hands down- it is the best I've enjoyed here in these parts! Perfect blend of fresh veges and meat- and the wonderful sauce and crust...I could go on and on.

Another wonderful dish was their Italian beef. Now, you all know I had an Italian beef recipe win first prize in a recipe contest years ago, so I'm rather picky about Italian Beef. I've tasted good ones, but never one to rival my recipe. Until now. Their sandwich is just like one made in a home kitchen and they've mastered the perfect blend of spices! I was shocked. It was better than the sandwiches I've ordered in full-fledged Italian restaurants!

Lastly, we enjoyed their wonderful breadsticks. Mmmmmmmmm....warm, and cheesy and perfect crust. They told me they also make Italian Beef Breadsticks, by topping the sticks with their famous beef and baking them. I didn't get to try them, but that will be on my next trip.

Speaking of which, in you are in or near the Sesser , Illinois area, YOU MUST visit this place. This is not an eat-in restaurant (well, they do have one table for four), and in nice weather there are several picnic tables outside- but it is mainly a pickup or delivery service, so you will have to go to:

804 E. Franklin in Sesser (it's right on the main drive as you enter Sesser from the highway 37) or call for delivery at: 618- 625-2656.

They cater parties in several area towns too! So if you have something special coming up, give them a call. They are open in the evenings, starting at 4 pm.

*Special note: VERY CLEAN kitchen. I saw it all and they are spotless!

For those of you who are too far away to enjoy this, sorry for the temptation.

For those of you who are near enough to take advantage of this wonderful piece of Italy...go there now! And tell 'em Sherri sent ya'!

I was not paid for this review. I enjoyed my food for free, but my opinions were purely from my heart and belly. If I didn't like the food, you wouldn't be reading a review on Anjo's Pizza.

All photos used by permission and created by Jordan Murphy, Squared Vision Photography in West Frankfort.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Very Best From Momma and Me- Italian Pizelle Cookies


I want to introduce you to the best Southern cook I know. This is my mother, Rose.
My son took this photo of us for a Mother's Day Gift last year.

She is a 75-year-old homemaker extraordinaire.

I'm going to be featuring many of her best recipes that she has passed along to me and I'm here to tell you- if I put her name in the title of a need to make it. Her food is ALWAYS delicious! Not necessarily the healthiest dishes, but THE BEST recipes.
This is where moderation is key.

Some are pretty simple, but no matter the time it or technique it takes to put one of her dishes on the table, it's ALWAYS worth it.

My Mom was a stay at home mother while my brother and sister and I were growing up. She cooked 3 times each day- DELICIOUS Homemade breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We rarely ate out.

She loves to cook with lots of real butter, full fat chicken broth and cheesy sauces!

SO, I'm starting off with a traditional Italian pizelle cookie that we made together recently. This recipe was actually passed down from her late mother-in-law, my grandmother Amelia, a wonderful Italian cook.

First, you must have one of these. A Pizelle cookie maker.

But don't dispair if you do not own one. These cookies can also be made on a cookie sheet for the same great flavor, they just won't be as pretty.

You will need:
6 eggs
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 cups flour
5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. anise oil

Beat eggs and sugar well. Add melted cooled butter. Add anise oil, then dry ingredients. Mix well with a mixer on med. speed. till smooth.

With floured hands, roll dogh in ball (2-3 heaping teaspoonfuls). Place dough slightly off center - just a tiny bit back- close lid and cook for about one minute.

*It is okay to open lid to see if they are done- it will not affect the cookie to check a few times.

They should be slightly golden brown.

They lift very easily off the griddle with spatula.

Cool on flat surface, then start stacking them.

These are delicious served just as they are.

They are also great sprinkled with powdered sugar (especially at Christmas time- they'll look like a big snowflake cookie!)

You can also shape them to make a waffle cone for ice cream, but you need the proper form for this. You can form it to the bottom of a cup, let it cool that way, then it will be a perfect cup to fill with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate...yummmmm.

*Remember to take my cookie challenge and share the wealth!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mom's Famous GFIP Crunchy Oatmeal Pecan Cookies


This is a recipe of my mothers that we have been baking for years, and I'm telling you- if you don't bake another cookie this fall, THIS is the cookie that you need to bake!


Well, every time we take them anywhere, we come back with an empty plate and people start hounding us for the recipe. I'm serious. They are an addicting cookie. They are not too sweet, and they are crunchy and light (as in airy-NOT non-fat), it keeps you going back for more, and more and more! These are crispy coffee-dunking type cookies.

Do you need to ask someone's forgiveness?
Bake them a batch of these cookies. I guarantee they will accept your apology after they eat one.

Is your child on the teacher's bad list at school? Send him/her a batch of these babies and your child is sure to become the teacher's pet!

Is your boss on your case too much? Hand them a cookie or two-I think you'll smell a promotion.

Did you wreck the car and afraid to tell your hubby?
Hand him a plate of these and he'll be taking you shopping for a new one!

Not that I have ever lowered myself to manipulating people with a plate of cookies in any of these instances, but I know others who have. (Ahem.)

They are that good.

I have never made them without eating 5 right off the bat. At least five. And really, cookies are not my weakness.

Not convinced yet?

How's this.....the recipe starts with a CAKE MIX! It is a simple secret recipe that I am willing to share. You can thank me later.

If you want to gain friends and influence people...BAKE THESE COOKIES!

Mom's Famous GFAIP (Gain Friends and Influence People) Oatmeal Pecan Cookies


*Most of my ingredients here are off-brands and it makes no difference in this recipe. Go ahead and save yourself some $$$.

1 (18.25 oz. box yellow cake mix (you can use an off brand and it is still delicious)
2 cups quick oats, uncooked
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 lg. eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine first three ingredients in lg. bowl.

Combine oil and eggs; add to dry ingredients, stirring well. Stir in pecans and vanilla.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonful 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet (I used a melon baller for more uniform cookies).

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on wire rack. Yield 5 dozen cookies.

*Because they are a crunchy cookie, they are GREAT dipped in milk (note: Drink almond milk and save some fat.) They are also great dipped in your coffee.

Now, here's the challenge:
EVERYBODY loves homemade cookies. And ususally, we can't (or don't need to) eat all the cookies that we bake anyway, so why not purposefully bake some extras to giveaway to someone you know who could use a smile.

Maybe it's a elderly neighbor who seems a bit lonely- maybe it's your local firefighters or policemen who could use a thank- you plate. Leave a plate in your breakroom at work for your co-workers to enjoy. Maybe a teen needs some lovin' from the oven to cheer them up. There may be a child you know who would enjoy a homemade cookie. Look around. Somebody may be forever touched by your small gesture.