Thursday, December 29, 2011

Court Bouillon Broth

I love fondue, and our New Year's Eve will be filled with bite-sized yumminess.  Tonight, I'm posting recipes for the bouillons and sauces we'll be cooking and dipping in.

2 medium carrots, peeled and chunked
2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry white wine
8 cups water
2 lemon halves
1 bay leaf
3 whole black peppercorns

Combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain broth and then pour into a fondue pot.
Cook chicken, pork, beef and veggies in this broth.

Coq Au Vin Fondue

I've been looking for new fondue recipes for New Year's Eve and I found this one on

1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups red wine
4 cups chicken stock
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup dried shitake mushrooms, coarsely broken with your hands
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

Saute onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until softened and lightly browned.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add water and sugar.
Cook, stirring, until water is almost gone and sugar has caramelized.
Add wine all a once and bring to a boil.
Pour in broth, add mushrooms, garlic and bay leaves.
Stir and allow to boil until reduced by about half.

Pour into a fondue pot and use it to cook shrimp, chicken, beef, and veggies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Orange Sherbet Cups with Blackberries

Are you looking for a unique and light dessert after a big meal?  Try this!

Cut 2 oranges in half.
Scoop out the flesh (reserve for another use).
Fill the orange cups with scoops of orange sherbet and top with four blackberries.
Freeze until set.

This is fresh and light and just the perfect end to a great meal.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Look Who Helped Grammy Make Cookies Today

Christian and I had quite the time making cookies today.  There are no two ways about it, we both will have good memories of today!  We made Pretzel/Rolo Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Oatmeal Scotchies. Then, we were on to lots of kinds of Chex Mix - Traditional, Buffalo, Chili, Snickerdoodle, and Pumpkin Pie.  Oh, they're all so good!  We'll have lots of munchies for the holidays.

Christian went to work helping me unwrap the Rolos.  What a trooper he was.  I think we unwrapped 200 Rolos.  Then, he very diligently set one Rolo on top of each pretzel on the cookie sheets.  What a great helper!

When we moved on to the chocolate chip cookies, I asked him if he'd like to stick his finger in the bowl and have a taste.  Oh, he just beamed with delight and proceeded to stick not just a finger in the bowl, but his whole hand.  GASP!!!  Houston, we had a bit of a mess.  Those cookies will be extra good this year :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Karan's Classic Pot Roast

I'm all about comfort food.  And what makes a more perfect comfort dinner than pot roast.  This is just about as easy and perfect as it gets.  Just make sure you plan ahead, because this needs three hours to cook.

6 Tbsp butter
3 lb pot roast
6 medium potatoes, chunked
1 lb carrots, chunked
1white onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg (1/2 oz) dried Porcini mushrooms
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth
1/4 tsp Thyme
1/4 tsp Rosemary
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.  I prepare this recipe either in my Pampered Chef 12" oven-proof skillet or Deep Covered Baker.  It is always delicious.

Salt and pepper all sides of the pot roast and set aside.  Place butter in a frying pan and saute the garlic and onions.  Salt lightly and cook until lightly browned.  Tear the dried Porcini mushrooms into small pieces and add them to the pan.  When onions have softened, add red wine and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil for at least one minute.  Sprinkle with a mixture of the Thyme, Rosemary and salt.

If using an oven-proof skillet, place add the seasoned roast to the pan and place the carrots and potatoes around the meat.  Place the lid on the frying pan and place in 275 degree oven for 3 hours.

If using the Deep Covered Baker, place the seasoned roast in the center of the baker.  Pour the broth in the the baker and then add the potatoes and carrots.  Place lid on top and put in the 275 degree oven for 3 hours.

Even my 20 year old son said this was the best dinner ever.  If you've ever had a 20 year old at home, you know it's not often you hear a compliment, if ever.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spaghetti Squash

I'm a fan of all things Squash.  Normally I'd say butternut squash is my favorite.  There is so much you can do with it.  But, Spaghetti Squash is not to go unnoticed.  It is so good and so easy to prepare.  To make it even better, other family members who won't even take a bite of butternut squash love the spaghetti squash.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and halve two spaghetti squash.  Remove the seeds.
In a large baking dish, combine 1 Tbsp salt with 3 cups of water and stir to dissolve.
Place the squash halves cut-side down into the water.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and flip squash halves over.  Place a 1 Tbsp pat of butter into each half.
Return to oven and bake for 20 more minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Using a fork, scrape the pulp from each half into a serving bowl.  Be sure to pour the butter from the squash  into your bowl before scraping.
Fluff with a fork and serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Portabellas

I've been looking for the perfect stuffed mushroom recipe, and I may just have found it.

12 - 14 large fresh portabella mushrooms (1 lb)
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp butter
4 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove stems from mushrooms and set aside.
Place mushroom caps rounded side down on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, clean and chop mushroom stems and place them in a small saute pan with 1 Tbsp butter.  Add the garlic and cook until softened.  Set aside to cool.
Mix the cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, bacon and parsley.  Add the cooled mushroom stem mixture and stir to mix well.
Spoon mixture into mushroom caps.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until heated through.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

1 Tbsp pickling spice
2 lbs beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 - 1 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, cut into medium wedges
4 carrots, cut into 1/2" slices
1 tsp Rosemary leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp flour
8 slices day-old Italian bread (toasted)

Place the pickling spice in the center of  a piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter.  Tie tightly with a long piece of string.

Place beef cubes, onion, carrot, crushed rosemary, garlic powder and bouillon cubes to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes and wine.  Add pickling spice bundle; cover.

Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.  Remove pickling spice bundle.

Thicken stew by mixing flour with 1 Tbsp water in medium bowl until smooth.  Stir in several Tbsp hot liquid from stew, then stir flour mixture into stew.  Cook and stir 2 - 3 minutes or until stew thickens slightly.  To serve, place 1 slice of bread in each bowl.  Spoon stew over bread

Friday, December 2, 2011

Two More Chex Mix Recipes

Cranberry-Nut Cinnamon Chex Mix
6 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
1 cup walnut halves (I use cashews)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Combine cereal and nuts in a large baking dish and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, and oil over medium heat.  Stir until well combined.  Drizzle over the cereal and then bake for one hour at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Add cranberries to the cereal mixture after it comes out of the oven.

As usual, I will double the brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, and vegetable oil.

Chocolate Coffee Toffee Chex Mix
4 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
1 cup bite-size pretzel twists
1 cup pecan halves (again, I use cashews)
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 Tbsp instant coffee granules or crystals
1 tsp hot water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
 1 cup powdered sugar

In a large baking dish, combine the Chex cereals, pretzels and nuts.  Sprinkle toffee bits on top of the mixture.

In a small saucepan, stir coffee granules and water until coffee is dissolved.  Add chocolate chips and butter.  Heat over medium heat.  Pour over cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated.   Pour into 2 gallon resealable food storage bags.

Add powdered sugar.  Seal bag; shake gently until well coated.  Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool.  Store in airtight container.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chex Mix - With a New Twist

My family and friends love Chex Mix.  I make the Traditional Chex Mix and Chili Chex Mix every year, and trust me, no matter how much I make, it is always gone before the holidays are over.  General Mills has come out with several new flavors of Chex cereal and some new (and really good) Chex Mixes.  For Thanksgiving munchies, I made Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch and Snickerdoodle Chex Mix.  My son, Luke was really upset with me for not making the Traditional Chex Mix, but he soon got over it.

Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups Honey Nut Chex cereal
8 oz pecans  (I substituted cashews)

Combine brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir until butter is melted and then add vanilla.  Pour cereals and nuts into a large baking dish.  Pour the melted butter and spices over the cereal and nut mixture and stir to coat.

I know the box tells you to prepare this in the microwave, but I'm old-fashioned.  I place my baking dish in a 250 degree oven and back the mix for one hour stirring well every 15 minutes.  It comes out much crispier and flavorful this way.

My guilty pleasures:  double the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, butter and vanilla.  SO GOOD!!!

Snickerdoodle Chex Mix
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
2 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
4 cups popped popcorn (I used one bag of Orville Redenbacher's Movie Butter popcorn)
1/4 cup butter

Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.  Melt butter in the microwave or in a saucepan.

In a large baking dish, combine the cereals and popcorn.  Drizzle the melted butter over the top and then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 hour stirring well every 15 minutes.

My guilty pleasures:  double the butter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glazed Carrots with Thyme

1 lb carrots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chopped thyme
1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled

Place the carrots, orange zest and juice, butter, sugar, and garlic in a small saucepan, and season with salt and pepper.  Add enough cold water to barely cover the carrots.

Bring to a boil, then cover and cook over a medium high heat for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the carrots are just tender.

Remove the cover and boil until all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are glazed and golden at the edges, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.  Just before serving, sprinkle in the thyme leaves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bacon & Thyme Biscuits

I found this recipe on P. Allen Smith's website.  It sounded so good, I just had to give it a try.  This is a good one!

8 oz smoked, thick-sliced bacon (uncooked)
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3/4 lb butter
14 oz buttermilk
1/2 cup all purpose flour (for rolling out biscuits)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the raw bacon into 1/2" pieces and place them on a baking sheet.  Bake in the oven for 18 - 22 minutes.  The bacon should be cooked through, but not crisp.

Turn the oven up to 375 degrees when you remove the bacon so it will be ready for the biscuits.

Combine the dry ingredients and thyme in a mixing bowl.  Whisk thoroughly.

Cut the butter into 1" cubes and add to flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter or a large fork, blend the butter and flour.  The texture will be coarse with pieces of butter still visible.

Add the buttermilk and stir until the flour and butter are evenly moist.  The key to flaky biscuits is to NOT over mix.

Sprinkle flour on a work surface or pastry cloth and then turn the biscuit dough out of the mixing bowl.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 3/4" thick.  Fold the dough in half, bringing the two short ends together, turn it a half turn, and roll it again.

At this point layer half the bacon onto the biscuit dough.

Repeat the fold, turn and roll two times and then add the rest of the bacon and turn and roll two more times, a total of four times.  This may seem like extra work, but it's worth it.  Your biscuits w ill melt in your mouth.

On the fourth and final roll, use the pin to roll the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/2".

Cut the biscuits using a 2 or 3" round biscuit cutter.  The dough should be layered with butter and bacon.

Bake the biscuits at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

This dough freezes well.  Just cut the dough and wrap the unbaked biscuits in two layers of plastic wrap.  Defrost for 15 minutes before baking.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 Thanksgiving Menu

This year it took me a lot longer to decide on my menu.  Although I've already done my shopping, I just finalized the menu tonight.  At least I have one more shopping day in the event I'm missing an ingredient.

We'll be making Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, Jell-o Magic Salad, and Pies.  If you're looking for recipes, you may use the search feature on this blog to find the following posts:

Pecan Pie
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
Turkey Time
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch
Thanksgiving - Pear Apple Chutney
Green Bean Casserole
Turkey Stock - A Healthier Version
Jell-o Magic Mousse

I've not posted recipes for stuffing or mashed potatoes.  We like ours the good ol' fashioned way.  There are just some things that shouldn't change.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope your day is filled with more blessings than you can count.

Jell-O Magic Mousse

This is a recipe I found ages ago on the Kraft Foods website.  It's just fun!  My kids love this because it looks so cool when it's finished.

I like to make this as a molded gelatin salad, so I've taken a few liberties with Kraft's recipe, but it's still pretty close.  Use any flavor Jell-O you'd like.  For Thanksgiving this year, we'll be using orange, lemon, and lime.

Bring one cup of water to a boil and add it to your first flavor Jell-O (3 oz size).  Stir until dissolved.  Add 3/4 cup cold water and stir well.  Pour into bottom of Jell-O mold and refrigerate until set.

Bring three cups of water to a boil and add it to two (3 oz size) packages of Jell-O.  Stir until completely dissolved.  Add Cool Whip (16 oz tub) to the hot gelatin.  Whisk until Cool Whip is completely melted and mixture is well blended.  Allow to cool slightly and then pour over the gelatin that has already set in the mold.

Place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight to allow it to set completely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is one of those recipes I had to make a few times in order to perfect it.  I heard this original recipe on Food Network one day and made it as instructed.  It was a little too gritty for my taste.  Give the following a try if you're a fan of portabella mushrooms.

12 medium baby bella mushrooms (each about 2" wide)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped spinach leaves
1/4 lb pork sausage (crumbled and cooked)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese (softened)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Gently remove the stems from the mushrooms and set the caps and the stems aside.

Lightly spray a small baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Place the mushroom caps on the sheet, rounded side down.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain and set aside.  Chop mushroom stems.  Chop onion and garlic and add them to the skillet used to cook the sausage.  Cook over medium heat.  Saute until softened.  Add spinach and continue to cook and stir until wilted.  Drain, if necessary and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, cream cheese, nutmeg, salt, and mozzarella cheese.  Mix well.  Add the cooked veggie mixture, and stir until blended.

Evenly distribute the cheese-veggie mixture among the mushroom capes.  The will be super-stuffed and the mixture will be piled on top!

Bake the stuffed mushrooms in the oven for 20 minutes until the topping begins to brown.  Let cool slightly and enjoy!!!

Note:  The recipe actually calls for 2 Tbsp Parmesan-style graded topping and 1 tsp garlic powder mixed together and sprinkled over the top before baking.  I didn't care for that.  Feel free to give it a try if you like.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Feature Added

Start the video on the right to listen to Christmas music as you look for recipes.  Scroll down below the blog list and click on the arrow.  Happy listening!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Roast Pork with Pear & Cranberry Sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees,

2 lbs pork loin
2 Tbsp orange zest (minced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (minced)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
3 pears (quartered)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 carrots, cut up into 1" pieces
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a small bowl, combine zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
Set aside.

Remove pork loin from packaging and pat dry with paper towel.

Rub the salt into the pork loin until well coated.

Place the loin into a roasting pan with pears, onions and carrots and roast until internal temp is between  150 - 160 degrees (approximately one hour).

Remove pork loin from pan.  Let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

Put the pan drippings and the vegetables into a blender.  Blend on high until smooth.  (Add more chicken broth to achieve desired consistency.)

Stir in the dried cranberries and spoon sauce over medallion slices of pork.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie is a traditional dessert for our Thanksgiving meal.  This is a recipe that I never change.

5 1/2 cups pecan halves
3 Tbsp flour
12 Tbsp butter (at room temp)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 plus 2 Tbs light corn syrup
4 large eggs (slightly beaten)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pre-baked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread 1/2 cup of the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until lightly browned.  Let cool  (Do not turn off the oven.)  Put the cooled nuts in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and butter.  Scrape the nut paste into a large bowl.  Add the flour and work it in with a fork until completely incorporated.  Set aside.

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it starts to foam and turns a light nutty brown.  Pour into a small bowl.

Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla, and browned butter to the nut paste and stir until well blended. Fold in the remaining 5 cups pecans.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell.  Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed and the crust is golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pineapple Cherry Minis is my hero this week!  I found two recipes that sound perfect for our Thanksgiving meal this year.  If you agree, I hope you'll pirate them for your own meal.  I plan to use this for our salad.

1 can (20 oz) Dole crushed pineapple
2 cans (6 oz) Dole Pineapple Juice (1 1/2 cups)
2 pkg (3 oz each) Jell-O Cherry flavor gelatin
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, quartered and drained

Drain pineapple, reserve juice.  Heat reserved juice plus canned pineapple juice to boiling.  Add gelatin; stir at least 2 minutes to completely dissolve.  Chill until mixture thickens slightly.

Fold in pineapple and cherries.    Spoon into 12 - 14 foil-lined muffin cups, lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Chill until firm.  Store leftover gelatin in refrigerator.

Makes 12 - 14 servings.

Mini Upside Down Pineapple Cakes

I found this recipe (and another one) at  I don't know about you, but I love pineapple.  I think we may end our Thanksgiving meal with these cakes.

1 can (20 oz) Dole Crushed Pineapple
1/3 cup butter (melted)
2/3 cup brown sugar
12 - 13 maraschino cherries (cut in half)
1 pkg yellow cake mix

Drain pineapple, reserve juice.

Stir together melted butter and brown sugar.  Evenly divide sugar mixture into muffin cups sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or use paper inserts).  Evenly divide drained pineapple over sugar mixture.  Place cherries in center, sliced side up.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions, replacing amount of water called for with reserved juice and water.  Evenly pour batter (about 1/4 cup) into muffin cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes.  Loosen edges and invert onto cookie sheets.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving is Approaching

This is by far my favorite time of the year.  The weather is changing and the sweaters are coming out.  I love the cooler weather.  Put me in my jeans and a sweatshirt and I'm a happy camper! :)

There hasn't been much time this year to look for creative new ideas for our family Thanksgiving dinner.  Life has become so busy.  The past two years have been packed full of just way too much to do.  So, tonight I decided it's time to stop and make my list of blessings for the year.

     Luke and Emily graduated from high school - Woo Hoo!  They made it!
     Paul & Katy are expecting a new baby girl, Elisabeth, on January 25th.
     Baby Liam was born on June 24th.
     Liam had the best of care at Cardinal Glennon Hospital and is a healthy little boy.
     Christian learned to say my name.  He calls me "Bammy", and I wear my title
     Luke started school at Jefferson College in August.  He's majoring in Automotive
     Emily started Culinary School at Le'Ecole Culinaire in October and she loves it!
       I want to go!!!
     I have a great job and I work with really terrific people - my daughter-in-law included.
     Eddie watches Christian and Liam during the week, so I get to see my grandchildren
     Paul & Katy bought a new house.  What a great home they have!
     I have wonderful parents and a brother and sister I love dearly, not to mention
       their spouses and children.  We manage to love each other in spite of ourselves :)

Just putting these things in writing makes me feel better.  Sometimes the busyness of life throws us into a tailspin and we don't appreciate the good things around us.  My blessings keep me busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

I sure hope your list of blessings is long and that life is good for you, my friends!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

That's a long title for a really fabulous cookie.  I found this recipe in the January 2011 issue of Taste of Home.

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 6-ounce pkg of Craisins
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.  Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl.  Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apple Quesadillas - A great Fall treat

This makes a great after school treat!

Slice three apples thinly and place in a skillet with 1/2 stick of butter, 1 Tbsp Pampered Chef Caramel Sprinkles, 2 tsp Pampered Chef Cinnamon Sprinkles, and 2 tsp Pampered Chef Vanilla Sprinkles.  Simmer over medium low heat until apples are tender.

Using your quesadilla maker, place one tortilla on the press.  Top with a spoonful of apples on top and then sprinkle with just about 1 ounce of cheddar or another shredded cheese of your choice.  Top with another tortilla and close the quesadilla maker for about 2 minutes or until your quesadilla is slightly browned.

My first reaction to this recipe was - No cheese.   Don't be fooled.  The cheese really adds flavor and holds your quesadilla together.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple/Cranberry/Turkey Salad

Here is a head start for your after Thanksgiving menu ideas to use up that turkey!  This is a light and healthy recipe to change things up just a bit.

1 lb of Romaine lettuce
1/2 head of Iceberg lettuce
2 cups cooked skinless turkey breast (torn)
2 apples (peeled and sliced)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Sweet Italian Dressing

Tear the lettuce(s) into bite-sized pieces in a large serving bowl.  Add all ingredients but the dressing and toss to mix well.

Allow everyone to drizzle dressing over their own salad.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Candy Apple Cupcakes

I found this recipe on  What a great idea for a fall dessert to share!  It's just so much fun!

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

1 pkg (14 oz) caramel candies
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Ice cream sticks

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  You'll need 24 muffin cups lined with paper liners.

Combine flour, banking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat applesauce, sugars, butter, sour cream and eggs in a bowl with mixer on low speed just to combine in flour mixture until well blended.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick insert in cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Glaze:  Heat caramels in a medium saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until melted.  Add heavy cream and stir until combined.  Cool 2 minutes.  Working quickly, while mixture is still warm, spread top of each cupcake with 2 tsp of glaze.  If glaze gets hard to spread, heat on low,,  stirring until more melted.  Insert an ice cream stick into center and top with sprinkles.  Place in freezer for 5 minutes to set.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicken with Chive Dumplings

From last night into this morning we went from incredibly beautiful weather to "Oh, Baby, it's cold outside!"  That makes it time for comfort food again, and this recipe certainly falls into that category.

2 whole chickens cut into 8 pieces - remove skin
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 large stalks celery (cut into 1/4" slices)
1 lb carrots (cut into 1" pieces)
2 3/4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives plus additional for sprinkling
3 cups milk
2 large eggs
32 oz chicken broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 (10 oz) package frozen cut green beans

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss chicken pieces with 2 Tbsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper.  Arrange chicken on jelly-roll pan.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes or until juices run clear when thickest part of chicken is pierced with knife.

In a 6 quart or larger Soup pot, heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil on medium until hot.  Add celery, onion, and carrots, and cook about 18 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the dumplings:  In a medium bowl, with fork, mix 2 1/2 cups of flour with baking powder, 1/4 cup chives, and 3/4 tsp salt.  In small bowl, mix 1 cup mil and eggs.  Stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until blended.

Add broth, water, bay leaf and 1/2 tsp salt to the vegetables.  Heat to boiling on high.  Drop dumpling mixture by rounded Tablespoons into broth to make about 20 dumplings.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.  Remove the dumplings from the broth and set aside.

Debone the chicken once it has cooled.  Add it to the broth and vegetables.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup flour with 2 cups of milk until blended.  Stir into broth mixture.  Heat to boiling on high; boil 1 minute to thicken slightly - stir constantly.  Stir in the frozen green beans and heat through (about 5 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf.  Add the dumplings back into the broth and sprinkle with fresh chives.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Pecan Crunch

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (divided)
2 Tbsp Orange juice
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
3 lbs sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into 1" chunks)
1 cup dried cranberries
6 Tbsp butter (divided
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, 1/2 tsp each of the cinnamon and ginger, and salt in large bowl.  Add sweet potatoes; toss to coat well.  Spoon into 13 x 9" baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with cranberries.  Dot with 2 Tbsp of the butter.  Cover with foil.  Bake 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix flour, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and remaining 1 tsp each cinnamon and ginger in medium bowl.  Cut in remaining 4 Tbsp butter with a fork until coarse crumbs form.  Stir in pecans.  Remove sweet potatoes from oven and stir gently.  Sprinkle evenly with pecan toppings.

Bake, uncovered, 25 - 30 minutes longer or until sweet potatoes are tender and topping is slightly browned.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
6 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 whole pork tenderloin (1 1/4 lbs)
1/2 fresh pineapple (trimmed)
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Prepare a dutch oven on stove top.  Preheat over medium heat with 2 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Place pork in hot oil in dutch oven.  Brown and cook pork 18 - 20 minutes turning 1/4 turn every 5 minutes.  

In a small bowl, combine hoisin, honey, ginger, and sesame oil.

With serrated knife, cut pineapple half into 4 wedges.  Rub cut side of pineapple with brown sugar.

Grill pineapple 10 minutes or until browned on both sides, turning over once.  While pineapple is grilling, brush pork with hoisin-honey glaze and turn frequently until temperature on thermometer is 155 degrees.  Transfer pork to cutting board; let stand 10 minutes.  Transfer pineapple to platter.

Thinly slice pork and serve with pineapple wedges.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch

Chex comes through with yet another really yummy snack!  This is sure to become a favorite at your house.  That's why I always double this recipe.

8 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup white vanilla baking chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Measure Chex into a LARGE bowl.

Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Once it begins to bubble, remove from heat and stir in baking soda until dissolved.  Pour over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Spread mixture on cookie sheets and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes.  Break into bite size pieces.

Place vanilla baking chips in a microwavable bowl.  Microwave on High for about 1 minute, 30 seconds or until chips can be stirred smooth (bowl will be hot).  Drizzle over snack.  Refrigerate until set.  Store in tightly covered container.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Onion Cream Cheese Spread

Looking for something unique to use on bagels the next time you serve them?  Here is a homemade onion cream cheese that is delicious and unlike anything you'll fine in the grocery store.

3 green onions (sliced in 1/8" slices)
1/2 cucumber (seeded and sliced)
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp salt

Using a food processor or hand mixer, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

This is another Philadelphia Cooking Creme recipe.  It sounded good, so tonight we gave it a try.

1 small onion (chopped)
2 tsp oil
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (drained)
1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Creme (divided)
1/2 cup Kraft Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese
8 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook and stir onions in hot oil in large skillet on medium heat 4 - 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Stir in chicken, tomatoes, 3/4 cup cooking creme and shredded cheese.
spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla; roll up.
Place seam-sides down in 13 x 9" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
Top with remaining cooking creme.  Cover.
Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

I only made a couple of changes to this recipe.

I prepared the chicken breasts in my grill pan using the Pampered Chef Southwest Seasoning (DELICIOUS!)
I added an extra tub of Philli Cooking Creme and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese for the top.
I poured one large can of Santa Fe Enchilada Sauce over the rolled up enchiladas before topping with cheese and baking.
I also topped the entire dish with a sprinkling of sliced green onions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Easy Lasagna Skillet

As the weather gets cooler, I find myself craving comfort food.  I especially like a good lasagna, but I'm not a huge fan of all the time and work that go into the preparation.  I found an awesome recipe on the back of the  Philadelphia Tomato & Basil Cooking Creme package for Easy Lasagna Skillet and we tried it for dinner tonight.  The recipe serves six.

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 cup each chopped green and red peppers
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
2 cups water
12 lasagna noodles (broken
1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Tomato & Basil Cooking Creme

Brown the meat with peppers in deep large nonstick skillet; drain.

Stir in sauce and water.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in noodles; cover.  Simmer on medium-low heat 15 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add cooking creme; swirl with spoon.  Remove from heat.  Let stand, covered 3 minutes.

For my crew of big eaters, I made a few changes.  I doubled the ground beef; replaced the peppers with one diced white onion; doubled the spaghetti sauce and water; and used one full 16 oz box of lasagna noodles.  Using just one tub of the cooking creme was still sufficient to create a creamy cheesy yummy texture.

This recipe was a hit with the whole family and definitely one we will serve again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christmas Party Food - Broccoli Tree

I found this recipe in Better Homes & Gardens a few years ago, and I use it every year now when entertaining for the holidays.

On a large platter, arrange broccoli florets in the shape of a tree.  Trim the tree with sweet yellow peppers cut in star shapes, radishes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a snowy base of cauliflower.  A broccoli-stem trunk and star-shaped dish filled with dip complete this edible treat.

I don't own a star-shaped dish, so I use a square bowl turned so a corner touches the top of the platter.  I fill it with my family's favorite Dip Dip.  I play with my veggies to come up with a decorative touch for the dip.

I don't like peppers, so I use carrots and cucumbers to accent the tomatoes on my tree.

Try this one for a party this year and make it your own!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Secrets of a Great Tossed Salad

I like food that not only tastes good, but looks great too.  We eat lots of salads at our house.  My Tossed Salad looks as great as it tastes when it's served in my Pampered Chef Bamboo Bowl.  I season the bowl with olive oil every two - three months.  

Begin your tossed salad by slicing a peeled clove of garlic in half and rubbing the inside of the bowl with it.  Don't miss a spot :)  This will flavor your lettuce and your dressing as your salad is tossed.  Add your torn (not cut) lettuce to your bowl - about 12 cups.  I like to use a combination of Romaine, Iceberg, and Boston red or green leaf lettuce.  Make sure your lettuce is washed well and spun dry.  My kids, even as old as they are, still like to use the salad spinner.  It's a great way to get the kids involved in cooking.

I cut two tomatoes into wedges and slice a small cucumber to add texture and crunch.  Add to your salad and toss. 

To dress the salad, drizzle 3 Tbsp olive oil over your lettuce leaves and toss.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper to 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar and stir to dissolve.  Drizzle over the salad and toss again.  Finish with a squeeze of a fresh lemon.  Toss and serve.

It's not a complicated recipe, but it sure compliments a meal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pineapple and Poppyseed Salad

The weather heated up this weekend and this was part of dinner tonight.  I found this recipe at Fresh Express.  This is a good one.  Be sure to try it the next time you need a hot weather dinner for your family.

2 (6 oz)  bags Fresh Express Baby Spinach
1 pint strawberries (cleaned, hulled, and sliced)
1 cup blueberries (or you may use raspberries)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup fresh pineapple (cut into chunks)
1 cup Poppyseed dressing

Pour washed baby spinach into a large bowl.  Add berries and pineapple.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Toss with desired amount of dressing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Patriotic Layers - Jell-O Salad

This is a very pretty salad, and looks great when prepared and served in the Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl.

4 cup boiling water
1 pkg (8-serving size) Jell-O Berry Blue gelatin
1 pkg (8-serving size) Jell-O Strawberry gelatin
2 cups cold water
1 cup blueberries
1 tub (12 oz) Cool Whip
1 cup strawberries, sliced

Stir 2 cups of the boiling water into each flavor of dry gelatin mix in separate medium bowls and stir for 2 minutes or until gelatin is dissolved.  Stir 1 cup cold water into gelatin in each bowl.  Refrigerate blue gelatin for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression).  Let Strawberry gelatin stand at room temperature.

Add blueberries to thickened blue gelatin; stir.  Pour into 4 - 6 quart glass bowl.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set, but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched.)  Spread with 3 1/2 cups of the whipped topping; refrigerate.  Meanwhile, refrigerate strawberry gelatin 1/12 hours or until thickened.  Stir in strawberries; spoon over whipped topping layer.

Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.  Top with remaining whipped topping.  Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving - Cranberry Pear Apple Chutney

Those of you who know me, know I look for Thanksgiving recipes all year long.  Here is this year's Chutney recipe.

1 large white onion (chopped)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
12 oz (one bag) fresh cranberries
2 medium  Granny Smith apples (chopped)
2 medium Bartlett pears (chopped)
2 peeled and chopped tangerines
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Cook and stir onion in hot oil in large skillet until onion is tender.

Add remaining ingredients; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chill before serving.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

World Series Recipes - Bloody Mary

This is a perfect drink for a Cardinals World Series game . . . it's red and it's good!

1 - 48 oz can or bottle of V8 Vegetable Juice
1/2 cup seafood cocktail sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp grated horseradish
10 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
16 oz Vodka
8 celery stalks for garnish

Mix all ingredients together except ice, vodka, and celery.  Fill each glass with ice, 2 oz vodka, and about 3/4 cup of mix.  Stir to combine.  Garnish with celery.

Note:  This is a good drink even without the vodka.  Sober host = good!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grilled Cheese Croutons

These crunchy croutons go perfectly with the recipe below for Creamy Tomato Soup.  This is another Dierbergs recipe.  Thanks for sharing these great ideas Dierbergs!

2 Tbsp butter (softened)
1/4 tsp dried basil
4 slices artisan bread or French baguette
1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

In small bowl, stir together butter and basil.  Spread over both sides of bread slices; place on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Broil 6" from heat source until lightly toasted, about 1 minute per side..  Sprinkle cheese over top; broil until cheese melts, about 30 seconds.  Cool slightly before cutting into 1" squares.  Sprinkle over Creamy Tomato Soup.  Makes about 36 croutons.

Creamy Tomato Soup - A Classic

The weather is getting cooler and I find myself thinking of soup more often.  One of my favorites for lunch or dinner is a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup.  I found this recipe in Dierbergs Everybody Cooks (Sept 2011) and it's perfect!

1 Tbsp butter
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
1 cup half-and-half
Grilled Cheese Croutons (recipe will follow)

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and hot pepper sauce; cook stirring often until onion wilts, about 2 - 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and tomato sauce; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Use immersion blender to puree mixture or transfer mixture to work bowl of food processor fitted with steel knife blade; process until pureed.  Return to pan; stir in half-and-half; cook until heated through.  Ladle into serving bowls.  Sprinkle with Grilled Cheese Croutons.  (I'll post that recipe next.)

For a perfectly hearty meal, add a grilled cheese sandwich.    Mmm Good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seven Flavor Pound Cake

This is a totally awesome recipe!  If you're trying to diet, don't make this.  It's irresistible!

1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups sugar
5 eggs (beaten)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp butter extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1 tsp almond extract

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp butter extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1 tsp almond extract

In a large bowl cream together the butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Combine flour and baking powder.  Stir flavorings and extracts into milk.  Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk.  Beat after each addition.  Spoon mixture into greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.    Cool for 10 - 15 minutes in pan and then remove to wire rack.

Make seven Flavor Drizzle - In a saucepan combine the sugar, water and extracts.  Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm.  Pour over cooled cake.  Pour slowly so the drizzle can be absorbed by the cake.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Orzo Garden Salad

This is a perfect picnic recipe!  First of all it's quick and easy to make, and nothing in it will spoil easily.

1 cup dry orzo pasta
1 small zucchini (chopped)
1 medium carrot (thinly sliced)
2 medium stalks of celery (chopped)
1 Tbsp shallot (finely chopped)
1/4 cup Roma tomatoes (chopped)
1 tsp fresh basil (chopped)
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese (grated)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Cook the orzo according to the package directions.  I like to replace the water with veggie stock to add extra flavor.  While the orzo cooks, boil about 1" of water in a medium saucepan.  Add in vegetables (except tomato) and cover with a lid.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes or until tender.  Drain and rinse vegetables under cold water.  Do the same with the orzo.  Drain very well.

Combine vegetables, including tomatoes, basil and oregano with orzo in a large bowl.  Mix well.

In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar and Parmesan Cheese.  Pour dressing over mixed salad.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cheese Garlic Biscuits

I can't believe I hadn't posted this ages ago.  I overlooked this recipe, and it's a winner.  I like to serve these when we have chili or potato soup for dinner.

2 cups Bisquick
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheese (I like cheddar or mozzarella)
2/3 cup milk

Mix all ingredients together.  Drop by large spoonful onto baking sheet.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

Simple - but delicious.  These are always a hit in our house.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Orange/Rosemary Chicken Breasts

This recipe features two new Pampered Chef pantry items I recently purchased.  This is so good, and so easy!

1/2 orange, unpeeled and cut into chunks (remove as many seeds as you can)
1 Tbsp honey
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Rosemary leaves (dried)
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp Pampered Chef Orange Infused Canola Oil
3 Tbsp Pampered Chef Rosemary Infused Canola Oil
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 - 6 chicken breasts

Combine orange, garlic, rosemary, vinegar, oils, salt, pepper and pepper flakes in a blender.  Blend until orange is chopped into small pieces and mixture is well combined.  

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Dip each piece in the marinade to coat and place in a large sealable plastic bag.  Pour extra marinade into bag and seal.  Refrigerate, turning the bag occasionally, for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.  

Heat grill pan over medium-high heat.  Remove chicken breasts from marinade and place on grill pan.  Cook six minutes on each side.  Flip one more time and leave grill pan on burner, but turn heat off. Leave for six minutes undisturbed.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grilled Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce

This is another good hot weather recipe.  Give it a try on one of our hot Indian Summer days.

6 cups Mixed greens
1 cup sliced carrots
Thin tortilla strips
2 Grilled chicken breasts sliced in this slices (I use Pampered Chef Chili Lime Rub to season the chicken breasts)

Lime Dressing:
1/2 cup lime juice
4 tsp honey mustard
7 1/2 Tbsp honey
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves (minced fine)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Peanut Sauce:
4 Tbsp Peanut butter
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp hot water
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp ground ginger

Mix ingredients for lime dressing, then mix ingredients for peanut sauce.  Combine the salad ingredients and toss in a large serving bowl.  Drizzle lime dressing over salad ingredients and toss.  Drizzle peanut sauce on top - do not toss.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

AARP Create The Good Event for Feed My People

What a great day! We delivered more than $600 worth of food to Feed My People in High Ridge this morning. This was an event created to honor the tenth anniversary of September 11th. Family, friends, and local businesses contributed money to help feed hungry people in our community. 

Emma and I worked hard to find the best way to spend the money collected.  We watched the sale ads over the course of a month, carefully purchasing non-perishable items such as canned tuna, canned veggies, beans, Chef Boyardee meals, Campbell's soups, spaghetti and jarred meat sauce, baking mixes, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, and so much more.  For two weeks the dining room table was covered with bags and boxes of food.  The couple of days before our planned delivery day, we found fantastic prices on Lunchables, Del Monte fresh fruit cups, and baby carrots.  I wish you could have seen the look on Eddie's face when I asked him to make room in the extra fridge to keep all of those items.  He's much better at figuring out puzzles than I am.  Lo and behold, he made it all fit!  

We were fortunate enough to receive a huge tray of pastries from a local bakery to share too.  

This morning Paul, Katy and Christian arrived to help us pack up the refrigerated items and load everything into their van.  Christian was quite the helper and was absolutely delighted when he saw  all of the balloons attached to the Create the Good bags.  Emma, Kane and Baby Liam were here to help too.  

When we pulled into the delivery bay at Feed My People this morning, the pantry supervisor came out and introduced himself.  When Paul opened the back of the van and he saw the boxes and bags of food and all of the balloons, he said, "Wow, you made a party out of this!"  It really did feel festive.  It felt good to be there.  As the staff unloaded the van, the supervisor (I wish I could remember his name) told us they had been down to just three banana boxes full of canned fruit and canned corn this morning and they didn't know what they were going to do.  He said, "We prayed, and you guys are the answer to our prayer."  He assured me that the food in the bags was a huge blessing.  

I just want to say a huge thank you to all who contributed and made this experience possible.

Loomis Bros. Equipment Company, Dale & Elaine Loomis, Food for Less, David and Marguerite Kruse, Russell's Bakery & Cafe, Vicky Anderson, Paul & Katy Presson, Steven & Misti Kruse.  

This is a day I will remember for years to come, and it has inspired me to look for ways to help in the community every day.  Enjoy the pictures below, and I hope you find yourself inspired too.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zesty Potatoes with Sour Cream & Chives

I just love Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bags!  What a convenience in the kitchen.  Give this recipe a try - it's sure to become a new family favorite.

6 medium potatoes, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in large Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bag and shake to mix.  Place bag in microwave.  Cook on full power for 7 minutes or until tender.  Allow bag to stand 1 minute before handling.  Gently shake the bag to distribute seasonings.  Carefully open bag and remove contents.

Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp chopped chives (I like the Melissa brand fresh chives from Dierbergs).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with sour cream.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Feel Great!

Emma and I began the shopping process for next Saturday's AARP Create The Good Event when friends and family will help load the car(s) with food and we'll deliver it to Feed My People.  We spent just slightly less than half of the funds donated, and my dining room is packed with non-perishable food.  We were able to shop the "Spend $50 and save $10" sale at Food for Less and Shop N Save.  That makes our donations go that much farther.  

We didn't buy anything no-name or generic, and none of it is out of date (of course).  This is all food I would be happy to feed my own family.  I hope it will make the lives of a few hungry families better.  

Thanks to all who have donated!  I'll be sure to take pictures and post them for all to see.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Create The Good Event

We received another donation to our Create the Good Event today!  Hurray!   The weekly grocery ads came in the mail today and two of the store chains have the "Save $10 if you spend $50" savings event this Thursday.  I have my shopping lists ready.  We'll make the most of the savings offered in each ad.

A huge thank you to Project Excel for your support of our event!  You're helping to do something good for our community to commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11th.  You're helping to reduce hunger in our neighborhood.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Berry Trifle

This is a pretty and delicious dessert to take to your next picnic or other gathering.

1 cup boiling water
1 pkg (6 oz) Jell-o Strawberry gelatin
Ice cubes
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups mixed fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, halved strawberries)
1 pkg (8 oz) Cream cheese
1 1/4 cups cold milk, divided
1 pkg (3.4 oz) Jell-o Cheesecake instant pudding
1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip
1 pkg (12 oz) prepared pound cake (cubed)

Add boiling water to gelatin in large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved.  Add enough ice to cold water to measure 1 cup.  Add to gelatin; stir until ice is completely melted.  Let stand 15 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in berries.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with whisk until creamy.  Gradually beat in 1/4 cup of milk.  Add remaining milk and dry pudding mix; beat 2 minutes.  Stir in Cool Whip.

Place half the cake cubes in trifle bowl; top with half the pudding mixture.  Cover with layers of gelatin mixture (all of it), remaining cake cubes and remaining pudding mixture.

Garnish with strawberries.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mini New Potato Bites

15 new potatoes (1 1/2 lbs)
4 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened)
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

Cook potatoes in boiling water in large saucepan 15 minutes or until tender.

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and Parmesan.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Drain potatoes.  Cool slightly.  Cut in half, then cut small piece from rounded bottom of each.  Place, bottom sides down, on platter.  Top with cream cheese mixture, bacon and chives.

My whole family loves these, and they're easy to make.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cool Peachy Dessert - Perfect Summertime Dessert

This is a quick and easy refreshing dessert for a hot summer night.
Give it a try today - it's hot outside!

2 cups vanilla ice cream
4 fresh peaches
4 Tbsp raspberry jam (warmed)
1/2 cups Cool Whip
4 Vanilla wafer cookies (crumbled)

Slice four fresh peaches.
Warm 4 Tbsp raspberry jam in microwave in a small bowl.
Place 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream in four serving dishes.
Top with peaches (about 1 peach per dish)
Drizzle with warm jam (about 1 Tbsp)
Top with a scoop of Cool Whip and a crumbled Vanilla Wafer

Some of the Best Hot Wings

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
30 chicken wing pieces
vegetable oil for frying

Combine the flour, paprika, cayenne powder, and salt in a small bowl.  If the wings are frozen, be sure to defrost and dry them.  Put the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle the flour mixture over them, coating each wing evenly.  Put the wings in the refrigerator 60-90 minutes.  This will help the  breading to stick to the wings when fried.

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees.  You want just enough oil to cover the wings entirely.

Combine the butter, hot sauce, ground pepper, and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat.  Heat until the butter is melted and the ingredients are well-blended.

Put all the wings in the hot oil and fry 10 - 15 minutes (I usually do 8 wings at a time for 13 minutes).  Fry until wings are medium brown.  Remove from the oil to a paper towel to drain.  Don't let them sit too long, because you want to serve them hot.  Quickly put the wings in a large bowl.  Add the hot sauce and stir, coating all of the wings evenly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Karan's AARP Create the Good Event Update

Today was a great day for our "AARP Create the Good" event. Loomis Bros. Equipment Company was officially our first donor. What a great start they've given us! Thanks also to Dale and Elaine Loomis for a personal donation. Food for Less called to tell me they have a donation waiting, and Russell's Cafe & Bakery in Fenton has offered pastries to provide to our volunteers on Saturday, September 10th. I will meet with Mary at Feed My People tomorrow to discuss the logistics of the event. I'm really feeling enthusiastic about the amount of fresh produce we'll be able to provide to the hungry families in our community. Please spread the word to your friends and family who may be interested in participating in this worthwhile event with a donation of time or money.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tomato Salad

I don't know about you, but we've had an abundance of tomatoes this year.  There have been plenty to share with the neighbors.  Give this recipe a try if you have an abundance of tomatoes in your kitchen too.

2 lbs of fresh tomatoes (diced)
1 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese (diced)
1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
2 Tbsp fresh Basil (chopped)
2 Tbsp fresh Parsley (chopped)

Combine all ingredients.  Chill for about 1 hour.  Serve.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ranch Salad Dressing

15 Saltine crackers
2 cups minced parsley flakes
1/2 cup minced onion flakes
2 Tbsp dill weed
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder

Put crackers through blender on high speed until powdered.  Add parley, minced onions and dill weed.  Blend again until powdered.  Dump into bowl.  Stir in onion salt, garlic salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Store in an airtight container.

To make salad dressing:
Combine 1 Tbsp of mix, 1 cup of mayonnaise, and 1 cup of buttermilk.

This will make 42 one Tbsp servings.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I've Been Selected to Host an AARP Create The Good House Party

I'm reaching out to all of my blog friends to ask you to participate in my AARP Create the Good House Party. A couple of months ago I submitted an idea for a "party" to be held the weekend of September 11th.  This "party" isn't really a party, it's a community event.  It's my plan to contact local businesses to solicit donations to purchase fresh produce.  We'll then work with a local food pantry to distribute the produce to families who are in need of food.  The food pantries are a good source of boxed and canned food, but the produce is certainly not fresh.  I'll do the leg work to solicit donations, but I'm asking you to offer your time on Saturday, September 10th beginning at 1:00 pm to help distribute the food - and possibly some other items.  (I had an offer of blankets tonight.  Most donations will not be turned down.)

Please contact me via e-mail if you're able to donate your time, money or items for this event, or if you have a suggestion of who I might contact to request a donation.  I'm hoping for an event that will bring welcome relief to those in need, and a sense of satisfaction to those who participate.  AARP has committed to providing a goody package for the event to help make it a success.  Won't you help too?  It's a great way to give back and make our country a better place.  Let's help make the USA a country that makes sure her citizens don't go hungry.

Contact me at

Monday, August 8, 2011

Oriental Chicken Salad

3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp sesame oil

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half
oil for frying

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup red cabbage
1 cup Napa cabbage
1/2 carrot, julienned or shredded
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp sliced almonds
1/3 cup chow mein noodles

This is a dinner salad and this recipe is for one serving - yes ONE SERVING.

Prepare dressing ingredients by mixing in a small bowl.  Refrigerate while preparing salad.

Cut the chicken breast into strips.  In a bowl, beat egg with milk.  In another bowl, combine flour with corn flake crumbs, salt and pepper.

Preheat oil over medium heat.

Dip individual chicken pieces in egg mixture and then roll in the flour mixture.  Fry chicken until browned, drain and set aside.

Prepare salad by tossing the chopped romaine with the chopped red cabbage, Napa cabbage, and carrots.  Sprinkle sliced green onion on top of the lettuce.  Sprinkle almonds over the salad, then the chow mein noodles.  Cut the chicken into small chunks.  Place the chicken onto the salad forming a pile in the middle.  Serve with salad dressing on the side.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Potato Salad

This is a wonderful recipe is you're looking for a way to change up classic potato salad.  It's colorful AND flavorful.  Try it for your next family get-together.

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes (peeled)
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes (no need to peel, but you may if you like)
1/3 cup sweet  vinegar and oil salad dressing
4 hard-cooked eggs (chopped)
3/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into 3/4" cubes.  Place in large saucepan; add enough water to cover potatoes by 1".  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes.  Drain well.  Place potatoes in large bowl; pour dressing over top and toss until well mixed.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Add eggs, celery, and green onion to potatoes.  In small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.  Add to potato mixture; gently toss until well mixed.  Cover and chill.

Emma Is Officially a L'Ecole Culinaire Student

Wow!  My little girl is going to culinary school.  Hurray!!  We visited the campus of L'Ecole Culinaire months ago and were so impressed by the program.  Emma knew she wanted to go to school there.  Tonight we finalized all of the financial details, and she was measured for her jackets, pants and shoes.  Classes will begin October 10th, and she can't wait!  She literally was doing the "Happy Dance" in the car all the way home.  It was wonderful to see her so excited.  Maybe she'll be able to teach her mom a kitchen trick or two.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Favorite Food - Corn On The Cob!!!

You don't have to ask me twice . . . my favorite food is corn on the cob.  Growing up in a very rural area, we had access to the freshest sweet corn all summer long.  Now, I just have to settle for the best corn that shows up in the grocery store.  Dierbergs had locally grown corn right now and I've been buying lots of it!

Fresh corn contains a healthy dose of B-vitamins.  Look for cobs with bright white and yellow kernels.  My first choice is white corn with small kernels, but that's often hard to find.  Look for corn with bright green husks and light yellow silk.  When you pull back the husk, the kernels should be plump and shiny.  Avoid corn with shriveled husks and dark or slimy silk.   Be sure to use your corn within 2 days of purchase, and store it uncovered in the refrigerator.

I like to put my corn on the cob into a pot of salted boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.  Serve it with butter and salt.  Mmmmm Good!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Italian Dressing - Dry Mix to add to Oil & Vinegar

This is handy to keep on hand for those times when you need salad dressing quickly and there's no time to go to the store.

1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 Tbsp parsley
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 Tbsp salt

For Dressing, combine the following:

1/4 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp dry mix

Combine and shake well.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thyme Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs small red and white new potatoes (halved)
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp shopped garlic
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a baking pan on rack in lower third of oven.

Toss together all ingredients in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Carefully transfer potatoes to a hot pan, shaking pan to spread potatoes into a single layer.

Roast potatoes, stirring occasionally, until tender and crispy, about 35 minutes, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with thyme, if desired.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sangria - The Perfect Party Refreshment

Looking for the perfect beverage for your next get-together?  Give this Sangria a try.  Serve it nice and cold and your guests will LOVE it!

1 bottle of inexpensive red wine  -  your choice -  I like a good Merlot, Cabernet, or Shiraz
1 - 2 liter bottle of Sprite
1 lemon (sliced)
1 lime (sliced)
1 orange (sliced)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir.  Serve well chilled or over ice.

Tip:  I like to almost freeze the Sprite prior to adding it to the chilled wine.  Serving over ice tends to water it down.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pear Crumble - A quick dessert that won't heat up the house

This is a Kraft Food recipe.  It's quick - it's easy - and it's great for dessert when it's hot outside.

1 (16 oz) can of pear slices (drained)
8 NILLA Wafers, crushed
1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Spoon pears into 4 dessert bowls
Sprinkle with wafer crumbs
Combine Cool Whip and cinnamon; spoon over desserts.

Substitution idea:  Replace the NILLA wafers with Honey Maid Graham Crackers.  They're available in Cinnamon flavor too.   :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Heat Wave Food Ideas

Wow, I can't remember the last time it was this hot for so long!  And, unfortunately, there isn't relief in sight.  Following are some of my ideas to keep your family happy and well fed in this hot weather.

Watermelon (cubed)
Cantaloupe (cubed)
Pineapple (cubed)
Cheese cubes (any type of cheese - my favorites are mozzarella and colby-jack)
Deli Meats (ham, turkey, salami, roast beef)
Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwiches - my favorite
Hard boiled eggs - keep in the refrigerator for a few days

Any combination of the above will keep your family well fed on these hot days.  Just remember to make use of these fresh fruits and veggies that don't need to be cooked.  Your kitchen will stay cool and you family will be well- fed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Layered Salad

In keeping with our hot weather theme this week, I'm posting another of my favorite salads for dinner.  This is quick and easy to make and is satisfying as a meal.

I make this in my Pampered Chef Trifle Bowl - it looks really great.  This recipe serves 12.

4 cups mixed salad greens - I actually like a combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Place salad greens in bottom of trifle bowl.  Layer tomatoes, 1 cup of cheese, mushrooms, peas, eggs, ham and onion over greens.

Combine Miracle Whip, sour cream, dill weed, ground mustard, and salt in medium bowl.  Spread evenly over salad.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese just before serving.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mini Lemon Cakes - Perfect Hot Weather Dessert

This is the perfect hot weather dessert.  It's sweet, it's lemony, and it's made in the microwave.  No need to heat up the house to have a sweet treat!

2 Tbsp butter, softened, divided
2 Tbsp sugar
2 small lemons, divided
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 container (8 oz) sour cream

2 Tbsp lemon juice (from lemon used for cakes)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
Lemon knots (optional)

For cakes, brush six one cup microwave safe ramekins or serving bowls with 1 Tbsp of butter; sprinkle evenly with sugar.  Thinly slice one of the lemons.  Remove any seeds from lemon slices and place one slice into the bottom of each bowl; set bowls aside. 

Zest remaining lemon using a grater to measure 1 Tbsp zest; set lemon aside for glaze.  Place remaining Tbsp of butter into a batter bowl; microwave on high 15 - 20 seconds or until melted.  Add lemon zest, cake mix, egg and sour cream; whisk 1 minute or until smooth.  Scoop batter evenly into prepared bowls.  Place bowls in a circle on the microwave turntable.  Microwave on high 4 - 5 mins or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Carefully remove cakes from microwave; cool in bowls 5 mins. 

Meanwhile, for glaze, juice reserved lemon to measure 2 Tbsp juice.  Melt butter in small bowl. Stir in lemon juice and sugar; microwave on High 30 - 60 seconds or until boiling.

To serve, gently tap the sides of the bowls to release the cakes.  Invert cakes onto cutting board.  Transfer cakes to serving plates.  Drizzle glaze over cakes.  Ganish with lemon knots, if desired. 

Did anyone notice it's hot outside?

Oh, I'm tired of this heat and the poor air quality days.  I simply cannot breathe outside of an air conditioned building and I feel sluggish.  This summer our family has not spent any time outdoors.  Eddie and Luke have managed to keep the lawn mowed, but my plants and hanging baskets are anything but stellar this year.  I'm almost embarrassed to have anyone over.  Winter was too cold - Spring was too cold and wet - Summer is too hot!  Is it just me???  Or is the weather this year totally out of control?

We've been eating cold dinners this week.  Monday was Egg Salad Sandwiches with veggies and Ranch Dip and watermelon and cantaloupe cubes.

Tonight we had BLTs with veggies and fruit.

Good stuff, but I need to get a little more creative for the rest of the week.  I think I've sandwiched the family out. Temps are supposed to remain hot for at least five more days.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

This is another hot weather favorite.  I love it, but I have to admit, the picky eaters in my house aren't big fans.  I have one that won't eat tomatoes.

1 lb fresh green beans (trimmed)
1 lb cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tsp dried Basil

Bring a 4 quart saucepan of water to a boil.  Blanch the green beans for 3 minutes, until tender-crisp.  Drain and run under cold water or top with ice to stop cooking.  Drain beans and dry.  Combine all ingredients and toss with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.

I also like to cube 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese into bite-size pieces and add to the salad.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Salad

The weather in St. Louis is to be sunny and 100+ degrees all week this week, so I'm focusing on lunch and dinner ideas that will not heat up the house.  Dinner still needs to be satisfying, but cool.

2 cups cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup diced celery
1 hard boiled egg (minced)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
2/3 cup Miracle Whip

Cook your chicken breasts (about 2 avg size) and cool completely.
Cut chicken into tiny pieces or pull apart to shred with a fork.
Place in a mixing bowl and add all other ingredients.
Serve on toasted bread.  My favorite is buttered bread placed on the hot grill for a few minutes.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake

I found this recipe on the Kraft website.  This is a yummy one!

1 pkg (2 layer size) Devil's Food cake mix
2 pkgs (3.9 oz each) Jell-o Chocolate Instant Pudding
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups cold milk
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup thawed Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare cake batter as directed on package.  Pour into a 13 x 9" baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Beat dry pudding mixes, sugar, milk and water with whisk for 2 minutes.  Pour over cake batter.  Place baking dish on baking sheet.

Bake 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake layer comes out clean.  cool 20 minutes.  (Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools.)  Spoon into serving dishes and top with Cool Whip.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Easy Veggie Salad

1 lb broccoli florets
1 lb cauliflower florets
1/2 lb green beans (ends trimmed)
1/2 lb carrots, sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
1/3 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Bring a 4 quart saucepan of water to a boil.  Add broccoli, cauliflower and green beans and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, just until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Drain.  Immediately rinse with cold water.  Drain well.

Place vegetables in a serving bowl.  Add onion slices.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.

Add dressing and cheese just before serving.  Toss to coat.

This is one of those healthy dinner ideas when the weather is HOT!

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Time To Get Back To Blogging!

Oh my goodness, what a very busy spring we had!  It seemed as though volleyball consumed most days of our week and weekend for the months of March through mid-June.  This was Luke's senior year, so it was his last year to play for the Northwest Lions.  He had an awesome year, and we were so proud of him.  He was co-captain of his team this year AND he had awesome stats!

Luke also played for Missouri Thunder this year, so there were practices and tournaments throughout the year.  We saw so much good volleyball all year, and I certainly am sad to see this chapter of Luke's volleyball career come to an end.  In addition to St. Louis regional tournaments, we traveled to Milwaukee in February (who does that?) and went to Junior Olympic Nationals in Chicago in June.  Luke grew so much as a player from his Missouri Thunder experience.  I have to send a huge shout out to Coach Donna Hall.  She really helped Luke improve his mechanics and his overall game.

Both Luke and Emily were high school seniors this year, so there was lots of prep for graduation day.  They graduated on June 4th - a very proud day for Eddie and me.  Emily asked me on the way to school that morning if I was going to cry.  I told her "No, I'm so excited to see the two of you graduate!"  The moment I saw all of the graduates come out of the school building in their blue gowns and make their way to the football field the tears began.  I was a sobbing mess!  Such a wonderfully proud day!  Luke will be attending Jefferson College to study auto mechanics.  Classes start in late-August.  Emily will begin classes at L'Ecole Culinare in October.  She plans to be a pastry chef.

In November we found out that Emma was expecting a baby, so we've had lots of exciting doctor visits for check ups and ultrasounds.  On June 24th Liam Robert Kirkpatrick was born.  What a sweet baby boy he is.  He weighed 5 lbs, 8 oz and was 19" long.  He was a few weeks early and needed a little extra help to breathe, so he spent a few days at Cardinal Glennon before coming home.  Emma and Kane are doing a fine job of taking care of their son, and what a joy it is to have such a sweet little "peanut" in the house again.  I could just sit and stare at him all day every day.  Every little move he makes is completely adorable!

Between everything else, there has been everyday life, which to my joy includes grandson, Christian.  Papa watches him during the day while Mommy and Daddy are at work.  He gives me a much needed giggle almost every day.

Needless to say, we've had lots going on, but now I think we'll be able to get into a regular routine again.  I'm looking forward to getting back into my "foodie" mode.  Believe it or not, I've already started to think about the holidays - Thanksgiving menu and Christmas shopping.  They'll sneak up on us quicker than we think.

Enjoy a few pictures, my friends, and stop back often for some new and fresh ideas from Karan's Kitchen.