Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Garden

Last year I was a little discouraged with my garden.  Well... not just my garden.  I was SO EXCITED about the garden and then my work day increased.  I was leaving the house 30 minutes earlier than normal and getting home an hour later than normal (my husband and I started carpooling together) and that really cut into my day.  I was just exhausted trying to keep the bare minimums done at home and the garden suffered.  Plus, we got completely taken over by squash bugs.  Our favorite garden vege of all times is yellow squash and we didn't get a single one.  Squash vine borers!  Need I say more? 

I have lots of stuff crammed into my garden.  I planted two rows of greenbeans (bush) from 3 packets of seeds and only 1 packet of seeds grew so I've replanted.  I use a cattle panel to make an arbor and I have cucumbers growing on there.  They are so much easier to pick that way.  I love growing pinto beans and I have them growing on all available fences around the garden.  I have tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, delicata (first time to get them to grow and keeping my fingers crossed), sunflowers, marigolds, a few beets, radishes, a pumpkin vine, and I actually have some cantelope growing on a trellis that is doing pretty good.  Here are some pictures.  Kind of dark, but I love looking at other people's gardens and so I'm posting mine.   Happy gardening! 

This is the whole garden.  Not very big and cramming it full!

Green beans - only two half rows came up (my luck!).

Cucumbers growing on the cattle panel.  Easier to pick that way.

Lots of pinto beans!

Smoked Pork and Homemade Honey-Mustard BBQ Sauce

We like to smoke meat when we are having very many people over.  This way the meat cooks itself and you aren't slaving to the hot grill while trying to visit with your company.  Leftovers freeze beautifully and you can cook up a bunch of meat, wrap each hunk in foil, put in freezer bags and have some for later.  We use our smoker even on the coldest winter days (in Missouri Brrr!).  Most always, I whip up this easy rub and it seems to really season the meat nicely.  I use this rub on turkey, chicken, pork, and even briskit.  People will think you are a pro when they taste smoked pork loin with this wonderful rub.  Often, I make this homemade honey-mustard bbq sauce.  I found these two recipes in SOUTHERN LIVING magazine.  Enough said, huh?  I always find great recipes in that magazine.  I have modified the original recipe to suit my tastes.  The original recipe had cinnamon (of all things) in the rub, and I'm just not ready to go there...



  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground red pepper (I don't always use this.)
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard (ground)
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper.
Mix all ingredients.  I use a whisk to fully incorporate and store in a covered container or zip loc bag.

Rub meat with a good amount of this rub and let it sit for an hour or so before putting your meat on the smoker.  We just put our loins on a big cookie sheet, rub with the rub, cover and let sit while we are getting the fire ready in the smoker.

(If I'm doing a lot of meat, I double or triple this recipe.)

Honey - Mustard BBQ Sauce

  • 1 bacon slice, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup prepared mustard (plain yellow mustard)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper.
Cook bacon in a medium saucepan until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in the saucepan.  Saute onion in the drippings about 3 minutes or until tender.  Stir in the bacon, vinegar, and remaining ingrediens.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and immer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  I store it in a quart canning jar with a lid.

This Honey-Mustard BBQ Sauce is also EXCELLENT served with chicken!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Easy Butterscotch Bars "Blondies" - ONLY 5 INGREDIENTS

The other night our friends were coming over for a little after-work relaxation and I wanted to make something yummy to snack on.  This recipe is great to make in a pinch because it uses ingredients you most always have in your pantry and since it only uses 5 ingredients, its super fast to stir together!  When  first looked at this recipe, I could not believe it had no baking powder - leavening ingredient, but it doesn't and it works great!  These are terrific leftover.  They get more moist and dense the next day.  Definitely a good recipe to take to pot lucks!  I usually sprinkle some powdered sugar over mine once they are cool for a better presentation!

Easy Butterscotch Bars or "Blondies" - 5 INGREDIENTS

1 cup melted butter (I used margarine - that's 2 sticks)
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups AP flour (whole wheat works great)

Stir melted butter and brown sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in flour and mix until well combined. Pour batter into a sprayed 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bridal Party Breakfast

My daughter was in a wedding over the weekend.  She was a bridesmaid!  They were going to get ready at the bride's house - doing hair, makeup, etc. and my daughter wanted to take some breakfast over to the wedding party.  She had to be at the reception hall decorating until 1AM and so I got up early to give her a good start on breakfast.  (I never sleep much anyway).  She was going to make muffins (two kinds) and make a fruit tray.  She had wanted a breakfast casserole but we didn't have quite the ingredients to make the breakfast casserole and she would have had to have gone to the store after decorating (at the all-night supercenter) and then made it (we had no bread), but that morning I discovered I did have enough ingredients to make a little pie crust and a simple quiche.  I made the muffins (chocolate chip and blueberry) using the Plain Muffin recipe from , the quiche from a favorite cookbook in my cabinet.  Once my daughter got up she got the fruit tray ready.  They had a feast and instead of eating at a drive-thru these girls had a terrific start to their day!  They even took the leftover muffins to the church for the flower girls to have as a snack.  It was an awesome day!

Here are the recipes for the BRIDAL PARTY BREAKFAST


1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
2 cups all purpose flour (unbleached is best!)
1 to 1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl combine the oil, egg, milk, sugar and salt. Mix it very well with a fork so that the egg is completely incorporated. Add in the baking powder and the flour. Mix again until all of the dough particles are moistened. Do not over mix. Add in 1 to 1 ½ cup chocolate chips or blueberries. The whole thing should take about 20 to 30 strokes total. Spoon the batter into a dozen well oiled or sprayed muffin cups (just about full) (I do not use cupcake papers). Bake in a preheated 400° oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing from the pan.

(This is a very versatile recipe. I sometimes substitute 1 cup of the flour with 1 cup oats, and have added 1 grated apple and some cinnamon which makes a terrific muffin!)


1 pie crust placed in pie pan, edges crimped - or 1 unbaked pie shell
3 slices sandwich ham, cut into 1" squares
1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon onion powder (optional)

Sprinkle ham and cheese in pie crust. In separate dish, combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, & onion powder. Whip well to fully incorporate eggs / milk, etc. Pour into pie shell (over ham & cheese). Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 40 minutes or until top is browning a little bit. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

* You could also add some veges, such as mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, etc. OR even pepperoni, etc. to the cheese and ham layered in the crust before you dump on the egg mixture. I just wasn’t sure how picky the girls were so I used basic ham & cheese.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MENU PLAN MONDAY - June 20, 2011

I have decided to participate in Menu Plan Monday found at and you will find me linked up there.  Definitely, knowing ahead of time what you are eating for the week will avoid a little of the crazies I find at my house from time to time and possibly save me a little cashola.

This is my menu for the week starting Monday, June 20, 2011:


B  Wheat toast with HM raspberry beet jelly

L  Peanut butter sandwich on WW bread, banana, and some leftover strawberry cottage cheese jello salad

S  Hamburger Helper (not a good choice, I know, but its my older daughter's favorite and we had a big Father's Day meal yesterday so Dad can eat leftovers).


B  Cinnamon swirl Bread - toasted

L  Peanut butter sandwich

S  Two Crockpot Night - Baked whole chicken in the crockpot, baked potatoes in another crockpot, schoolhouse dinner rolls (make the dough Monday night and stick in the fridge), vege or salad


B  Cinnamon Swirl bread made into toast or smoothie

L  Large limas from the freezer, quesadillas, or PB&J

S  Creamy Chicken Penne (made with leftover chicken from Two Crockpot Night), salad, and leftover Schoolhouse rolls


B  Oatmeal with apples or banana - strawberry smoothie

L  Beans or chicken quesadilla

Baked "Fried" Fish, baked shoestring fries and onions, Homemade cornbread


B  Oatmeal, cereal, toast or monkey bread muffins

L  Leftover fish as fish tacos (make some Super Easy Slaw)

Pizza Night (Pizza on the grill poolside!)


B  Smoothies, muffins, or toast

L Tacos or BBQ

S  Leftovers or "On your Own"


B  HM french toast (made with any leftover cinn-swirl bread),  sausage or bacon

L  On your own (usually big breakfast holds us over)

S  Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing or stewed squash, blackberry pie (blackberries in the freezer)

Father's Day - Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Sunday was Father's Day!  We had a BBQ for my Dad, my husband, and my brother.  My husband's favorite dessert is mayonnaise cake.  I know this sounds gross, but its wonderful.  Mayonnaise is made with eggs and oil and the mayo in this cake replaces the eggs and oil in the recipe, so that makes it easy, and simple to make.  I frost this cake with a homemade cocoa frosting, but sometimes I also frost it with buttercream.  Its delicious and gets better the day after you make it.  Its heavy, dense, chocolatey, and roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head delicious!

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

2 cups flour, all-purpose
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa (not Nestle's brand - its not very dark)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup water or cold coffee (coffee will make a darker chocolate cake but I just used water)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, tossing lightly with a spoon to mix. Combine the mayonnaise, water (or coffee), and vanilla in a smaller bowl; add to the dry ingredients, beating with the mixer on medium for three minutes.

Pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minute or until springy and a knife comes out clean.

Frost when slightly warm with cocoa frosting.

Cocoa Frosting

5 Tablespoons room temp / softened margarine
4-5 Tablespoons cocoa  (Hershey's is best - NOT Nestle's)
5 Tablespoons cold milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well.  If too runny, add a little more powdered sugar.  If too stiff, add a little more milk.  I just make this by guess usually.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Corn Bread or Muffins

I made HM cornbread to go with my roast dinner last Saturday night.  I prefer to bake mine in an iron skillet because I love the crispiness that you get around the edges when you bake it in an iron skillet.  I do sometimes bake corn muffins if we are going to someone's house and that just works better for carry-in dinners and potlucks.

This recipe came from  It is the recipe for Plain Muffins using the variation for cornbread.  We think this is as good as Jiffy cornbread.  Not quite as sweet but I'm sure you could increase the sugar a little bit and make it your own way.  I like to make cornbread At Home My Way (OF COURSE!  lol).

Homemade Cornbread or Corn Muffins

■1/4 cup oil
■1 egg (I only used the egg white and did not use the yolk.)
■1 cup milk
■1/3 cup sugar
■1/2 teaspoon salt
■1 tablespoon baking powder
■1 cup flour
■1 cup yellow cornmeal (not self rising)

In a large bowl combine the oil, egg, milk, sugar and salt. Mix it very well with a fork or wire whisk. Measure in the baking powder, flour and cornmeal. Mix again until all of the dough particles are moistened. Do not over mix. The whole thing should take about 20 to 30 strokes. Spoon the batter into a sprayed iron skillet or sprayed muffin cups (12). Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing from the pan or slice in the skillet for a "rustic" presentation.  ha-ha!

This cornbread goes great with a bit pot of pinto beans!  Talk about good southern food!  MMmmmm - Mmmmmm!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Roast with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, and DUMPLINGS!

My family moved to rural Missouri from a suburban area in Florida when I was in the eighth grade.  Let's just say it was a culture shock!  I remember the first year here around Christmas, possibly Christmas Eve we went to a very small town to visit some of my parents' friends.  This little town is located on the Missouri River and had a population of something like 25.  Their claim to fame was that one of the residents of the town had built come kind of solar porta pot!  Crazy... the things you remember.  Anyway, back to my story.  I remember that in our town's newspaper was a small section highlighting the news from the very small town we visited and we thought it was hysterical that our visit made the actual newspaper!

The lady made us a very delicious meal and one of the things we loved that she served was dumplings in the roast gravy.  She took the gravy from her roast and put it in a little pot, brought it to a boil,and dropped in some small pinches of canned biscuit dough.  These dumplings were so yummy and easy!  My mom started making these dumplings with her roast and so when my husband and I got married, this soon became one of those things he just could not live without.  He CANNOT have roast without those little dumplings.

I made roast / potatoes/ carrots/ and onions on Saturday (it was cool & rainy here in mid-Missouri) and of course, I had to make some dumplings.  In my quest to avoid processed foods, I suggested that I use the recipe I use for rolled / square dumplings in my chicken & dumplings) instead of the canned biscuits in this dish.  My husband likes the chewiness of the dumplings in my chicken & dumplings, so he was "okay" with this substitution.  Definitely it was a good decision.  We both agreed that they were perfect!

This is how I make my roast and my dumpling recipe & instructions will follow.  But, if you don't want to go to all this work (really its not that bad), but you can pour off your gravy (my husband helps with his chore because its hard to hold the pot, hold the lid cracked, and dump the gravy in the pot without making a huge mess), just use canned biscuits.  Either works fine and tastes very yummy!


  • One roast of your choice.  My husband prefers rump roast
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or use HM cream of mushroom soup)
  • 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet (this is a key ingredient to us)
  • Potatoes, peeled and sliced in thirds lengthwise
  • Carrots (no need to peel), just cut in short lengths or use baby carrots, or canned carrots (I used some I canned last summer)
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • Salt & Pepper

Place the roast in a large baking pan.  I like to use my heavy enamel dutch ovens but it is a bit heavy!  Place the peeled / sliced potatoes (thick slices) and carrots around the roast.  Place the onion quarters on top of the meat.  Dump the cream of mushroom soup on the roast (just plop it on top; it will dissolve as it bakes).  Fill up the soup can with water and add the teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet - stir to dissolve).  Add another can of water. (total=2 cans water)  Dump the water/Kitchen Bouquet mixture on top.  Cover tightly with foil or the lid to your dutch ven.  Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 3 hours.

When your roast is fork tender.  Drain the gravy into a medium sized sauce pan.

DUMPLING RECIPE (or use 2 cans of cheapo canned biscuits)

In a bowl stir well:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Next add:

1 Tablespoon margarine  or butter

Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter/margarine into the flour mixture til small crumbs. 


2/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons milk

Stir well and then using hands keep kneading and folding all of the flour in the bowl into the ball of dough.  No need to knead a lot, just knead until most of the flour is incorporated into the dough.  Form into a disc.  Let rest, at least for approximately 10 minutes.  (I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge because I made my dumpling dough up when I put the roast in the oven).

When the roast is done and the gravy is poured off.  Remove dough from the fridge.  Place on floured surface.  Cut dough in half.  Using a floured rolling pin on a floured surface, roll each strip (half of the dough) a little thicker than you would a pie crust.  Using a pizza cutter wheel, cut into small squares. 

Back to the gravy in the pot!

Add 1 cup of water to the gravy you have in your pot.  Bring thi gravy & water to a boil and once it is boiling good, drop the dumpling squares in.  Stir only a little bit so as not to break up the dough squares.  Place a lid on and reduce to simmer about 10 minutes.  Gently stir occasionally.  Salt & pepper if you like.

All of this warms up great!

I will post the recipe to chicken & dumplings soon since I now have the dumpling recipe already posted and it tastes very much like Cracker Barrel chicken & dumplings.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Homemade Italian Dressing for salads or marinade

My family LOVES chicken cooked on the grill that has first been marinated in Italian Dressing.  I am never one who wants to go to the store to buy ONE INGREDIENT!  So, I pulled out my trusty laptop and searched for a homemade Italian Dressing recipe.  I found one that I love.  It makes a great dressing for salads, lettuce or pasta, and I also use it for marinating chicken, either for cooking on the stovetop or on the grill.  Its so much cheaper than buying a bottle of salad dressing and uses ingredients you probably already have in your house:

Homemade Italian Dressing (Zesty)

½ cup olive or canola oil
½  cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Italian spices (I used oregano)
1 teaspoon salt
pepper (just a shake)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise (I did not use the mayo for my marinade)

Mix well and store in a jar in the fridge.  Shake well before using.  Sometimes I add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar if I'm after a less sour dressing.  (IT SMELLS DIVINE!)

June, 2011 meal log

Trying to get my meal ideas all in one place again.  Its JUNE, 2011, and this is our meal log.

June 4, 2011 (Saturday):  Poolside, hotdogs and polish sausage on the grill, chips and Dean's Dip, cream cheese covered with red pepper jelly w/ crackers
June 5, 2011 (Sunday):  grilled chicken marinated in this Homemade Italian Salad Dressing, cheesy potatoes (hashbrown casserole), seasoned green beans, canned corn, HM french bread;
Snacks:  Salted yellow popcorn and Peanut Butter Popcorn (the popcorn was a huge success!)
June 6, 2011: (Monday):  Leftovers & Grandma's Homemade Vanilla Icecream and Homemade Strawberry Icecream
June 7, 2011: (Tuesday): McDonalds with Granny and Poppy
June 8, 2011:  (Wednesday)  HAPPY 26 ANNIVERSARY!  We had Outback and loved it!
June 9, 2011:  (Thursday)  Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with pasta, salad and garlic toast made with leftover HM french bread.
June 10, 2011:  (Friday)  Leftovers, frozen pizza
June 11, 2011:  (Saturday)  HM waffles for breakfast with crushed/sweetened strawberries from the Gentry garden along with Gerke's Osage local sausage and also sausage gravy over toast (for hubby).  Supper was Roast/Potatoes/Carrots, Onions, HM dumplings, last year's homecanned green beans, corn, HM cornbread
June 12, 2011:  (Sunday)  Leftover waffles w/ strawberries, Dinner at my brother and his wife's house, we took brownies made with a mix.  We had smoked ribs & chicken, hashbrown casserole, asparagus, Mom's baked beans, garlic bread!  It was yummy!
June 13, 2011 (Monday)  Leftover waffles w/ strawberries, pinto beans in the crockpot with some round steak and baked oven fries.
June 14, 2011 (Tuesday) Hamburgers and tator tots in the oven
June 15, 2011 (Wednesday) Leftovers from the freezer (spaghetti)
June 16, 2011 (Thursday) Leftovers from the freezer
June 17, 2011 (Friday)  Our friends bought us pizza and came over to swim.  I made these blondies!
June 18, 2011 (Saturday) Wedding of a friend.  We made a Bridesmaid Breakfast of quiche, chocolate chip muffins, blueberry muffins, and a fruit tray.  No lunch, but had supper at the wedding and it was scrumptious!
June 19, 2011  (Sunday)  Breakfast at the Bobber restaurant.  $2 subs at Subwy for lunch, and supper was hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats on the grill with Mom's potato salad, baked beans, slaw for the dogs, Orange Pretzel dessert, Nana's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.
June 20, 2011 (Monday) Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger macaroni (cheater)
June 21, 2011 (Tuesday) Baked Chicken in the crockpot, oven fries, garlic toast made with going stale hamburger buns.  IT WAS A FEAST!  (notes-half a chicken is left!)
June 22, 2011 (Wednesday) Chicken Alfredo, using chicken marinated in HM Italian Dressing, jarred alfredo from the pantry (although I do have easy recipes for this), salad


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