Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gator Eyes! (Good for potlucks!)

In my home state of FLORIDA, there are lots of gators!  For fun, we actually like to go out and shine headlights or spotlights on the water to see if we can see some GATOR EYES (the eyes shine in the lights!  It's way cool.)   (Yes, this is true!  And you definitely don't want to get too close, right?)

But even more fun than spying gator eyes, is eating some gator eyes... except we ONLY eat the ones made out of pickles, cream cheese, and lunchmeat ham!

My sister-in-law is SUPREMO at making these.  Her gator eyes far surpass mine.  But, luckily she shared the recipe with me and I gave 'er a whirl this weekend.  They were delicious!  Not as beautiful as my sister-in-law's gator eyes, but delicious!

These are great for potlucks, packing for lunch, pretty much any holiday or picnic.

This is how we make Gator Eyes, AT HOME MY WAY:

Gator Eyes
  • 1 jar of large whole pickles (We prefer kosher dills from Vlasic but sweet pickles are also really, really good!)
  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese (I use low fat)
  • 1 package of lunch meat ham (the packages that are rectangles and it should be "cooked ham" not honey ham or boiled ham (I don't know why this makes a difference, but it does.)
(I bought this kind and it worked great):
Bring the cream cheese to room temp or so that it is spreadable.  Dry off each slice of ham that you use (1 ham=1 pickle), dry both sides very well.
Dry off each pickle that you use very well.
Spread cream cheese on each slice of ham, then wrap the cream cheese/ham (cream cheese side to the pickle) and wrap up.
Place all the wrapped pickles on a plate, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Right before serving, slice the pickles.
The Plus:  The maker of these pickles gets to eat all of the ends!  Woo-hoo!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Monday morning!

I decided to go ahead and start the week off on the right foot with a menu plan.  This week, I am trying to plan meals using what I have on hand, and to try NOT to waste food by eating and re-serving leftovers.  I have a pretty well stocked pantry and freezer though, so I should be good to go for most of these meals.

Here's my meal plan for December 10, 2012 through December 16, 2012.

Meal Plan (12/10/12 through 12/16/12)


  • Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal using overripe bananas, sliced, and stashed in my freezer.  (I baked these this morning in a super sized muffin tin, no papers - just sprayed the tin with cooking spray.  This way I can freeze leftovers if I get tired of having this, for eating another day.)
  • Chocolate Granola - I am trying a recipe this week from one of my favorite blogs - Lynn's Kitchen Adventures.  (I'm thinking this may remind me a little of chocolate krispie cereal, so I plan on eating it with milk and also with yogurt/fruit.)
  • Toast with HM peach preserves (My daughter made this for me this summer YUM!)

  • HM Cinnamon Rolls (My daughter is coming home from college for the holidays!  Gotta make a special treat!)
  • PB&J - using more of those HM peach preserves
  • Freezer burritos using leftover chili/cheese & rice I keep in the freezer)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread

I shared yesterday that in the last couple of weeks I've been in a cooking funk.  Well... really I guess it was a non-cooking funk ha.. since I haven't been doing much cooking.

My pantry was slim pickings last week and yet I was in the mood to cook something.  I also needed something for my breakfasts and remembered this recipe for Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread.

This is a frugal, pantry cooking recipe.  It uses ingredients I normally keep in my pantry.  It does call for buttermilk which I almost NEVER buy unless I'm making ranch dressing.  But, that's no problem.  Just measure the milk and add a spoonful of lemon juice or vinegar.  Let it sit a few minutes and it works fine in this recipe.  I don't actually measure the lemon juice.  

My husband also loves this recipe.  He's not much of a sweet eater but if we have a loaf of Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread on the counter, then he will be slicing into it.  It reminds me of zucchini bread, but without the zucchini.  Its not a yeast bread.  Its a quick bread, more like a muffin. 

Here's how I make Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread AT HOME MY WAY:

Cinnamon Sugar Quick Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk/sour milk (1 T. vinegar/lemon juice, then add enough milk to equal 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten)

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon butter/margarine 

In a large bowl, combine all of the bread ingredients.  Beat for 2 minutes.  It will be very thick.  Pour the batter into a sprayed/prepared pan.  In a separate, small bowl, combine all streusel ingredients until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the batter and swirl slightly to marble.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a toothpick/knife inserted into the center comes clean (my loaf took a little longer).  Cool 10 minutes and then loosen with a knife and remove from the pan.  Makes 1 loaf.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Brownies Without a Box

Sorry I haven't posted in so LONG... I've been in a cooking funk lately and nothing new or wonderful has been coming out of my kitchen.  Just a little of the same old - same old.  Even frozen pizza - eeeek!!!!  

This evening I had the oven on while I was baking oven fries and I decided to stick something yummy and ooey gooey in the oven while I had it all heated up.  I'm not exactly sure why I decided to heat up my oven on one of the only December evenings that I ever remember in Missouri with the temperature outside at over 75 degrees, but I did.  It was SO worth it!

I made a favorite brownie recipe.  I love really good, chewy and dense brownies.  Yes the Black Bean Brownie was an option, but I wanted to make a more traditional brownie.  

Several months ago I tried a recipe I found for brownies that taste just like the box kind.  You know... with the little shiny, paper thin top that almost lifts off the brownie.  Yep!  Those are the ones!  And I have discovered the way to make them at home - without the box!  They do use chocolate chips instead of cocoa but I usually have some stuffed in the depths of the pantry. 

This recipe is the closest recipe I have ever come to those brownies in the red box that we all grew up eating.  

This is how I make Brownies Without the Box AT HOME MY WAY:

Brownies Without The Box

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used margarine)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Heat the butter/margarine in a small pot until melting.  Add the sugar.  Cook just until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips.  Stir until they are melted into the margarine/butter & sugar.  Let cool to room temp.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until blenDed. Add a spoonful of the egg to the melted chocolate to temper the eggs.  Then add all of the eggs into the pot with the melted chocolate.  Stir in the baking soda, then vanilla, then flour.  Stir well.  Add nuts if you want (we like chopped pecans).  Pour into greased/sprayed 9 x 13 pan.  

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 18 to 20 minutes.  Try to let them cool before slicing.  And remember, slicing brownies with a plastic knife will leave a smoother slice for cutting the brownies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin-Praline Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin-Praline Baked Oatmeal
This morning was SO cool and crisp and the sun was shining brightly!  It was so hard to dig myself out of my comfy covers, that's for sure. 
The cool morning sparked a craving for anything pumpkin, so I mixed this up before getting in the shower.  It was ready to come out of the oven after I was freshly showered, hair straightened and dressed for work.  How perfect was that!  I cannot convey to you how wonderful this smelled! 
I love anything pumpkin! I decided to put a praline topping on my pumpkin baked oatmeal, similar to the praline topping you sometimes put on sweet potato casserole and it was scrumptious.  I know that your family is going to love this! It is also special enough for company or taking to a goody day at work.  The spicy pumpkin and sweet and crunchy pecans make for a perfect October breakfast!
Here's how I made Pumpkin-Praline Baked Oatmeal AT HOME MY WAY:
  • 3 cups quick or old fashioned oats (I use a combination) 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten) (just whites works fine or egg beaters)
  • ½ cup melted margarine/butter or oil (I used olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 can pumpkin 
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. In separate dish, mix together milk, egg(s), oil ,pumpkin, and and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients.  Pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 pan or large casserole dish.
Praline Topping:
4 Tablespoons margarine/butter
6 heaping Tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 to 1 cup of chopped pecans
Blend together with a fork and sprinkle over the unbaked oatmeal.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until browning at the edges. 
Serve warm. Also terrific leftover.

NOTE:  You could simply stir pecans into the pumpkin oatmeal and that would be delicious and not make the praline topping.

Another note:  I only made half of this recipe for me this morning (pictured in the round cake pan) since I'm the only one at home who eats breakfast.  I also halved the topping recipe.


I had to take a close up picture!  This is so yummy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

We haven't had many snacks in our house since both of our girls are never there.  It seems like when I have something, it lasts forever so the assortment of things to eat at my house are limited.  Sunday I wanted to make something sweet.  I had apples but was too lazy to make a crust or peel apples.  Pitiful, I know.  I also didn't want to buy any ingredients. 

I remembered I had a delicious recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake in a little cookbook called Comfort Foods - Beta Sigma Phi.  It has wonderful recipes in it!  And a book called "Comfort Foods" would be MY kind of cookbook, that's for sure.

This cake is heavy - more like a zucchini cake or carrot cake.  It's also moist and lightly chocolatey.  I love it!  You all know how much I love Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal and this cake has similar flavors but with more of a dessert feel to it.  Its also something you can make with ingredients from your pantry. 

You certainly don't taste the oatmeal.  The oatmeal just gives it a dense, moist texture that I love!  And a little oatmeal is never a bad thing, right?

Here's how I made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake AT HOME MY WAY:

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake
  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened margarine/butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa
  • 3/4 cup nuts (optional)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
Pour boiling water over oats in a large bowl.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir a little. Add to the oats/water, the white sugar, margarine, brown sugar and eggs.  Mix well.  Add in flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa and mix well.  Add nuts and half the chocolate chips.  Mix well.  Pour into greased/floured or sprayed 10 x 15 inch cake pan.  sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top.  Bake at 350 degrees (preheated) for 30-40 minutes or until cake tests done.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Perfect Pancakes -Sunday cooking

Sunday mornings usually start with something special for breakfast at our house.  It was cool and crisp Sunday morning and I managed to drag myself out of bed BEFORE my husband so I actually had the kitchen to myself ha-ha.  I started some bacon knowing that would probably bring him stumbling into the kitchen pretty quickly.

I also discovered I didn't have any flour, so that meant no biscuits, pancakes, muffins...  Hmmm... we couldn't have just bacon and bread...  no way! 

BUT then..... I remembered that I had made some homemade pancake mix the last time I made pancakes. Boing!  Boy, was I glad I did that!  (I had just mixed up the dry ingredients and added them to a canning jar. I wrote the additional wet ingredients I needed for the recipe on a piece of paper and stuck it with some tape on the jar.)  Hurray, we were having pancakes after all! 

Making homemade pancake mix saved lots of steps.  It saved me having to FIND the recipe, which sometimes can be a huge endeavor if our internet service is slow and I don't want to dig through my ever growing recipe file.  It saved me having to measure the dry ingredients (as well as those dishes), and it saved ME - when I THOUGHT I was out of flour.  And you don't have to make a bunch of batches.  Just make one extra batch when you're mixing up some pancakes.  There ya go... now you have yourself some homemade pancake mix.

I made these pancakes with farm fresh eggs which I bought at the farmer's market.  They give pancakes a beautiful golden color.  I've discovered that I actually prefer mine slathered in butter, with just a side of a little peanut butter and no syrup.  But Doug had his with maple syrup that we got for Christmas last year. 

I have posted this recipe before, but it is SO WORTH posting again.  Especially if you want to mix up the dry ingredients, place that in a jar, and have your very own delicious pancake mix!  (Super gift idea also!)  Frugal and lots better for you because you know exactly what's in there.

Here's how I made PERFECT PANCAKES on Sunday AT HOME MY WAY:

• 1 1/4 cup milk
• 1 large egg
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 1/2 cups flour

Get out a medium sized bowl. Measure in the milk, egg, oil and sugar. Beat well with a fork or wire whisk. Add the salt, baking powder and flour. Stir again, mixing until the batter is smooth.  (I usually mix my dry ingredients separately so that I can mix up some homemade pancake mix.)

Cook on a hot, well oiled griddle (I use margarine or butter on my griddle) or skillet. I use about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake.   Flip when there's lots of little bubbling action going on.  Just like your old home economics teacher instructed!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Our office has been super crazy these days.  Crazy busy and super understaffed.  Who says the economy isn't booming??  At least in my neck of the woods.
Since we have all been working so hard and yet staying "nice" to each other LOL, I decided to treat everyone with a couple of pans of homemade cinnamon rolls.  This picture is the little pan I made for us at home.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture of the finished big pans!
They're yummy and not nearly as much work as these directions appear.  I usually make the dough in the bread machine so the only "work" is rolling them out, cutting them, and putting them in the pan.
Here's how I make Homemade Cinnamon Rolls AT HOME MY WAY:
Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
(Bread Machine instructions for making the dough)
1 1/3 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt)
1 packet of yeast (or 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 egg (slightly beaten before adding to the other ingredients)

Instructions: Measure the water in a 2- cup measuring cup, add the sugar and yeast.  Stir very gently and set a timer for 10 minutes. Let this get all foamy for 10 minutes.  Then, add 1/4 cup of oil (vegetable, canola or olive) and the slightly beaten egg to this mixture. Dump into your bread machine pan (liquids go first).

Next add 4 cups all purpose flour to your bread machine pan
1 teaspoon salt.

Set your bread machine to the dough setting. (Mine takes 2 hours.)
When the dough setting is complete, proceed as below by forming rolls, etc.

1 1/3 cup very warm water (hot but no hurt)
2 teaspoons yeast (or 1 packet)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 slightly beaten egg (slightly beaten before adding to the other ingredients)
Measure the water in a 2- cup measuring cup, add the sugar and yeast. Stir very gently and set a timer for 10 minutes. Let this get all foamy for 10 minutes. Then, add 1/4 cup of oil (vegetable, canola or olive) and the slightly beaten egg to this mixture.

Mix well but gently.

In a large bowl, measure your flour. Add 1 teaspoon salt and mix very well.

Dump the liquids (proofed yeast/water/sugar, oil & egg) on top of the flour/salt in the bowl. Stir well (I use a wooden spoon). When its too stiff to stir, start kneading in the bowl, twisting and pushing until the dough forms a ball.  You may have to keep dusting your hands with flour to the dough doesn't stick to you too much.

You need to knead it for 7 minutes (set a timer).  The dough will become noticably more "smooth."

After 7 minutes, you can put the dough in a sprayed bowl, spray the dough with cooking spray and let rise for about an hour.  (Sometimes I skip this rise and you can't tell a bit of difference!) 
Instructions for forming into cinnamon rolls:
Additional ingredients:
1/2 stick butter/margarine (melted)
brown sugar
Roll the dough into a large rectangle - a little more than 1/4 inch thick (thicker than a pie crust would be). 
Spread with melted butter/margarine (nothing exact here but brush on - but not all the way to the edge of the dough.  Leave about 1/2 inch without these toppings.
Sprinkle and then spread a light layer of brown sugar - not all the way to the edge.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Roll up making a long roll.
I cut my rolls thick - like just under two inches thick.  Place in sprayed pan(s) - not touching.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Let rise approximately 30-45 minutes while the oven is preheating.
Bake in preheated 350 oven 25-30 minutes.
Let cool 10-15 minutes before drizzling with icing.
Glaza/Icing/Frosting Recipe for cinnamon rolls
2 Tablespoons room temp margarine/butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 Tablespoons milk (or a little more if too thick).
Stir until smooth.  You can add a little more powdered sugar or milk to get the right drizzling consistency.
Drizzle on rolls.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Remaking Leftovers into Something Wonderful! - Barbequed Ham

Barbequed Ham
"Monday, Monday..." (singing)!

I would have to say that it was a crazy Monday yesterday.  I don't think it was just me though.  Maybe that full harvest moon is still affecting us all!  I knew the day was full of unexpected surprises when I dropped my phone as I got out of my car in our work parking lot first thing Monday morning.  The pieces went all underneath my car.  I thought about backing up my car to retrieve the pieces but the pieces were placed so that I was afraid I would turn and back over some of them... So, even though I was all dressed up for the office, I had to crawl UNDER my car with my whole body like a mechanic but on my stomach to get the pieces to my phone.  AND.. as I was crawling out, OF COURSE, a lady pulled into the spot behind me and witnessed all the Monday fun!  She was nice.. just said, "Its Monday already, isn't it?"  The only good thing was that I had on mostly black yesterday ha-ha.

I put a ham in my crockpot on Friday.  I love to cook bone-in hams in my crockpot.  It's a great way to have something to eat over the weekend.  We eat it the first time as regular ham, or as ham sandwiches with soup.  Then, we usually eat some for breakfast like we did this past weekend when we had fried ham and Perfect Pancakes.  Monday we still had some ham leftovers so I made one of our favorite meals.  Outside of it being a way to use Leftovers to Make Something Wonderful, Barbequed Ham is one of my favorite things to make for supper.  Some people think this sounds like a weird combination but its really so delicious!  The ham and BBQ sauce get all carmelized and the ham slices become super tender.  I usually serve it with mac and cheese or a potato of some sort.  We used to get tired of ham before we ran out of ham leftovers, but this is a new taste for ham and turns it into a whole different supper.  We have discovered that by making barbequed ham, we rarely have any leftovers after making it into this meal.  I love to make this in my iron skillet.  The picture truly doesn't do it justice.  I hope you'll give it a try!

Here's how I make Barbequed Ham AT HOME MY WAY:

Barbequed Ham

  • Leftover ham slices or a ham steak cut into small pork chop sized portions
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce - we like sweet BBQ sauce like hickory -brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (this is a relative measurement - after it cooks down, I sometimes add more to juice it up a bit)
Instructions:  Place ham slices/pieces in a skillet.  Turn the burner on med/high until the ham starts to sizzle.  Add 1/2 cup water and the BBQ sauce.  Stir and flip the meat, blending the water/BBQ sauce some.  Cook/simmer on medium low until the BBQ sauce starts to cook down and caramelize, occasionally flipping each piece of ham.  If the BBQ cooks completely down, you can add a little more water, like 1/4 cup, to juice it up a bit.  Cook a few more minutes and serve.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?

Last week my niece sent me a facebook message asking if I could make her baby son a football beanie (crochet)?  "Uh.... YEA....!". I'm always looking for someone who actually WANTS some of the busywork that keeps me occupied.  I whipped this up in only about 20 minutes and its so adorable!

From the picture that my niece found on Pinterest, I searched for a basic double crochet baby beanie pattern and found a terrific blog that actually had beanie patterns for different sizes.  Perfect!

This is what I came up with.  Turned out cute and fit her baby's little head perfectly!  And we think he liked it.  He didn't even jerk it off his head like my babies would have done.

Here's the blog I found with the instructions for the beanie.  Easy peasy!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Banana Nut Bread Baked Oatmeal

Update to this picture made 5/9/17.  Also - Love making this in my big muffin cups now!  Perfect service size and easy to eat on the run.

I made another one of Lynn (from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures) wonderful Baked Oatmeal recipes this morning.  Lynn calls hers Banana Baked Oatmeal. This is truly delicious!   She is such an inspiration! 

I made mine with bananas, chopped walnuts and cinnamon and it tasted just like a piece of banana bread. (Lynn bakes hers with chocolate chips, which would be equally as delicious!) 

I keep overripe, thick chunks of banana in my freezer for making smoothies and I just thawed some banana chunks in my microwave, drained off the water, and mashed them for using in this recipe.  My kitchen smelled delicious this morning and breakfast was a definite treat!  So easy and so inexpensive.  Mmmmmm!  It reminded me of my Tin Can Banana Bread

If you want a truly "fall" smell to waft through your kitchen along with that cool breeze, make some Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal.  You will be so happy you did!  And I would say that if you have picky eaters at home who don't eat oatmeal, but they do eat banana nut bread, this would be the way to sneak in some oatmeal.  Wow!  That's all I can say about this recipe - WOW!

Here's how I made Banana Nut Bread Baked Oatmeal AT HOME MY WAY:

  • 3 cups quick oats (old fashioned works fine too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (this really perfected the banana nut bread flavor)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs (slightly beaten)
  • ½ cup oil (I used canola) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana (approximately 3) 

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, chopped walnuts  brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt (I did this step the night before to ward off the morning rush). In separate dish, mix together milk, egg(s), oil and vanilla and mashed banana. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spread into a casserole dish (sprayed or lightly oiled) (or even two loaf pans). Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until browning at the edges.
**I halved this recipe this morning since I'm the only one home to eat it.  It certainly won't go to waste because I'll probably eat it leftover until its completely gone!  Very, very yummy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lemon Glaze Cake

Lemon Glaze Cake
This past weekend my daughter and her boyfriend were in from college.  We didn't do a whole lot, but it was SURE good to see them!  I always like to feed college kids.  I think it is in college when kids most appreciate the person who cooks in their family.  They eat enough cafeteria and restaurant food or their own cooking to really be grateful for a plate homemade family favorites!  

I had a smoked pork loin in the freezer so Friday night I mixed up some Homemade Tangy Barbeque sauce and made pulled pork sandwiches with cheese fries.  Definitely cannot go wrong there and since I already had the meat cooked and in the freezer, it was simple enough.

I made homemade biscuits Saturday morning which we ate with the homemade peach jam that my daughter herself made from the few peaches we got from the little tree in our backyard.  There's really nothing like a pan of hot biscuits slathered in butter and homemade jam! 

I knew my daughter's boyfriend likes the Chicken & Dumplings at Cracker Barrell and so I decide to cook up my Homemade Chicken & Dumplings (that taste just LIKE Cracker Barrell's) for Sunday dinner.  Not everyone at my house likes chicken & dumplings (crazy, I know!) so my husband also fried a few chicken strips (we used the gas grill burner and an iron skillet to keep the heat, the grease, and the mess outside for that little adventure).  Of course, we had seasoned green beans and mashed potatoes (for the child who doesn't like Chicken & Dumplings) and because here in the Midwest, everyone loves mashed potatoes with just about everything!

For dessert, I made a Lemon Glaze Cake.  My daughter's boyfriend just loves lemon and since we just love him, I decided to make it especially for him.  This cake is light and beautiful.  I usually make this cake in a bundt pan but I wanted to send some home with Rachel and Kyle so I baked it in two loaf pans, one for me, and one for them to take home.  That worked out perfectly!  My Mom made this recipe alot when I was growing up.  It's glazed, not frosted and I remember being really excited to see it on the counter!


Lemon Glaze Cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (not the "butter recipe" - use a regular yellow cake mix)
  • 1 box (small) lemon jello
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 eggs

Combine all ingredients and beat 4 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes in a well sprayed bundt pan.  (If baking in two loafpans, the baking time will only be about 30 minutes).

Let cool about 5 minutes before removing from the pan(s).

Pour the glaze on the still warm/hot cake:


1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled or fresh) or use orange juice/pineapple juice

Mix until smooth and drizzle around on the cake.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Super Simple Vanilla Icecream

Super Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
I have been craving ice cream all week!  Really longer than that.  This week I decided to mix up a batch of vanilla ice cream.  My mother-in-law has a fabulous recipe that uses sweetened condensed milk, half & half, whole milk, and vanilla, and she uses one of those big ice cream makers which uses lots of ice and rock salt.  I happen to have one of those big ice cream makers (several actually since we have the electric version, the hand crank version, and a new one with a plastic tub).  But I also have a smaller countertop ice cream maker, which my mom got me for Christmas one year (thinking I would never use it) but I use it all the time!  It makes a perfect small batch of ice cream.
This is my ice cream maker:
I found some on Amazon here.
I also remembered seeing a recipe similar to the one my mother-in-law uses on one of my most favorite blogs, Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  SnoWhite always has delicious, easy recipes and I knew I could depend on this recipe. 
I had a can of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry and some 2% milk in my refrigerator (even though SnoWhite lists whole milk or half & half in her recipe).  I changed the recipe just a teeny bit to use what I had in the pantry and my craving for icecream was over!
This is how I made Super Simple Vanilla Ice Cream AT HOME MY WAY:
Super Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups milk (I used 3 cups of 2% milk plus 1 cup milk prepared using powdered milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Mix well and refrigerate until cold.  Add to ice cream maker and churn away until its ready.
  • I prefer my homemade vanilla ice cream to be the texture of melty soft serve.  But I do freeze the remaining ice cream in a lidded container and it hardens nicely, although it won't be as creamy as if you used cream in the recipe.  It turns out after its frozen more like ice milk.  This was a super easy, super cheap and super delicious way to use what I had in my pantry to make wonderful treat!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Easy Lunch - Corndog Muffins

Last night I made one of our favorite crockpot meals, Chicken -n- Biscuits.  While I had the oven cranked up, I decided to pop in one of my favorite things to have for lunch.  Corndog Muffins!  My husband thought this was a hoot.  He thought I was making cornbread muffins for supper and so when he saw hotdogs peaking out of the muffins, he just about cracked up!  (He doesn't know what he's missing!)  These little jewels are so tasty.  The combination of sweet cornbread and salty hotdogs really is yummy.  I especially love that in the morning, when I'm tired and can't dream up a thing to take with me to the office for lunch, I can grab these out of the freezer, stick them in a little container, and out the door I go.  At lunchtime, I just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to warm them.

I use my favorite homemade cornbread muffin recipe to make these Corndog Muffins.  This recipe is one that I got from the Hillbilly Housewife site.  The main recipe is for plain muffins which you can add fruit or chocolate chips to, and she has a variation in the fine print for corbread muffins.  These are outstanding!  My family really loves sweet cornbread like Jiffy cornmuffins and this recipe is a close replica.  Whenever I make cornmuffins, I just usually put hotdogs in half of the muffins (because it seems like we never eat them all without some of them getting stale), bake them, bag up and freeze the corndog muffins and I'm all set!

I think these would work great for kids lunches or even for taking to potlucks (for some reason my kids never could find anything simple enough for them at potlucks since they weren't crazy about casseroles) and these would be big kid pleasers!  If you are packing them in a kids lunchbox, maybe take them out of the freezer the night before, warm a little in the microwave, wrap in foil or pack in a thermos and they would lunchroom ready!

Here's how I made Corndog Muffins AT HOME MY WAY:

Corndog Muffins
  •  1 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached is best)
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (not self-rising)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (white, granulated)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used canola)
  • hotdogs - uncooked
In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.
In a 2-cup measuring cup, add 1 cup milk.  Add 1/4 cup oil to the milk.  Plop in the egg.  (I find its easiest to measure liquid ingredients as I go - all in the same measuring cup.)
Blend really well to fully mix in the egg  (I use a fork or a whisk). 
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until moist.
Spray a muffin tin.
Fill the muffin tins half full with the muffin batter, top with about four little hotdog chunks (you can also just cut the hotdogs into thirds and put a one-third section in each muffin but I found it easier to eat the muffin if I didn't have to bite off the hotdog - it made less mess!).
Top each with the remaining muffin batter. 
Place in preheated oven (350 ° for about 20 minutes or until browning).
I remove them to a cooling rack before bagging them up.

This shows topping with batter, ready for the oven!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Apple Crisp

We've been having a terrible drought here in Missouri.  Just awful.  And yesterday we got the smallest bit of rain, but we did get some good mist and clouds (just a break in the baking heat is enough to be thankful for).  And what does a little bit of "cozy weather" do to me?  Makes me want to cook something, of course!  It wasn't cool outside but inside I was lazy, laying around watching TV, crocheting.  Just looking outside at the mist made me crave fall food.  But, in my laziness I definitely didn't want to go to the store.  I was out of eggs so baking cookies or a cake was out of the question (although I actually could have made my eggless, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake).  What could I make? 

I always have lots of oats on hand (for making my favorite Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal), and I had three apples in my fruit bowl starting to look a little puny, so Apple Crisp was on the menu!  I love finding ways to use what I have in my pantry.

I drug out my old trusty BETTY CROCKER'S COOKBOOK and found an easy recipe for making Apple Crisp.  It turned out great.  Chewy and sweet with yummy cinnamon.  Easy, and perfect for using the three apples I had in my fruit bowl.

Here's how I made Apple Crisp AT HOME MY WAY:

Apple Crisp
  •  4 cups sliced, peeled tart apples (3 large or 4 medium apples)
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cups brown sugar (I used closer to 3/4 but could have used less)
  • 1/2 cup flour (all purpose, unbleached is best)
  • 1/2 cup oats (quick or old fashioned would work here)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (original recipe called for 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
Instructions:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange apples in sprayed square pan or pie plate (8 inch).  Mix remaining ingredients, adding margarine/butter last.  Cut in the margarine/butter with a fork until all crumbly.  Pour topping evenly over the apples. 
Bake 30 minutes.  Serve warm (with ice cream if you have it).
One of the things my mom taught me in all things frugal is never to waste a hot oven.  So... while the oven was hot, I also baked a loaf of homemade White Sandwich Bread.  Oh man!  It was delicious.  I have to confess that I usually save this loaf to cool and slice for sandwiches but my husband just had this puppy dog look on his face when he realized we weren't going to eat any.  Pitiful!  What is wrong with me?  You should never, ever, let a loaf of hot, fresh bread cool without sharing a couple of slices slathered in melted butter with the one you love! 
Here's what it looked like BEFORE we sliced it.  And it WAS delicious!  Job security, that's what I tell my husband.  He could never find another woman who would bake him fresh loaves of bread, right?  LOL!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet Pickle Relish - canning recipe

I have been completely astounded at the number of pins and comments on my Best Dill Pickles Ever - Just like Clausen post.  That is such a wonderful recipe, plus its easy and so impressive to share.   And it makes me especially happy that this recipe has been so well received.

I love canning.  I had forgotten the wealth of filled jars in my cabinets and recipes to go with (for posting on my blog).  I'll try to do better about posting some of those canning recipes!

One of my recent commenters asked for me to post my recipe for Sweet Pickle Relish.  Hey!  I can do that because I actually have a jar in my canning cabinet begging to be opened for this picture.  And hot dogs just don't taste as good without that little taste of summer.  (I'll try to get a pic posted soon of the relish itself slathered over a big ole' hot dog!)

This is the very best relish recipe!  I even make it with all of those sunburned cucumbers that you forgot were hiding on the vine.  The cucumbers get grated up so they don't have to be perfect little cucumbers.  A good friend shared this recipe with me when I first started canning.  She is well known for her pickles.  She makes everything from bread and butter pickles, garlic dills, cinnamon pickles, and of course this delicious sweet pickle relish.  Once you try this homemade version of sweet relish, you won't be going back to store bought.  (This recipe does have to be "canned" in a water bath canner and put in sterlized jars. 

Here's how I make Sweet Pickle Relish AT HOME MY WAY:

Sweet Pickle Relish

  • 4-6 large unpeeled cucumbers - grated (The seeds don't bother me but scoop out the seeds before grating if you wish.)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated carrots (I don't even peel them, just wash good)
  • 2 medium sized onions, grated
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
(A food precessor helps or the onion will kill your eyes LOL.)

Combine this mixture, stir, and let sit 3 hours. 


In a medium saucepan, combine and bring to boil:
  • 1 1/2 cup vinegar (white or cider)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (white, granulated)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • the cucumber mixture, drained, above
(no substitutions on this recipe - use the spices as listed.)

Stir well and occasionally while cooking -Simmer 20 minutes. 

Put in hot, sterilized jars.  Add lids and rings. 

Water bath for 10 minutes.

NOTE-If you want the relish to look a little more green, add a few drops of green food color.  I'm pretty sure I did that when I made this batch of relish.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Microwave Brownie in a Mug - single serving size

Microwave Brownie in a Mug

Last night my older daughter came over for supper.  I made homemade spaghetti for us (cooked on top of the stove but similar to this recipe).  It was great!  We were browsing Pinterest and dreaming up more things to cook.  But also having a serious "hankering" for something sweet!  What to have?  My daughter mentioned that she wished we had some brownies and knowing like I do that she and her Iphone are best buds, I told her to search for a recipe for "brownie in a mug" to see what she could find. 

Boing!  There it was!  So we tried this recipe and it was delicious, warm, gooey, chocolate?  Need I say more?

Here's how we made Microwavae Brownies in a Mug AT HOME MY WAY:

Microwave Brownie in a Mug

·         2 Tablespoons Oil (I used canola)

·         2 Tablespoons Water

·         ¼ teaspoon Vanilla

·         Dash Salt

·         4 Tablespoons Sugar (white, granulated)

·         2 Tablespoons Cocoa powder (unsweetened)

·         4 Tablespoons Flour (all purpose)

Instructions:  Add the ingredients to a 12 ounce microwave proof mug (I swirled the oil around the sides a little bit) in the order listed, stirring well after each addition.  Microwave on high 60-90 seconds (Ours took 70 seconds.)  It should look slightly molten in the middle when finished.  We just stuck in a spoon to see that it was just right!  (It didn't swell much so you don't have to allow a lot of room for it to rise when cooking.) Be careful!  Very hot and so delicious you will want to drive right in.

This is how much we liked our dessert!


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