Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Only 29 days until Cinco de Mayo, the day we all eat Mexican food! Yay!

I could happily eat Mexican food every day. Authentic, Tex-Mex, Southwestern flavored, you name it, I like it! I could eat a taco right now!

I usually plan a little soiree for the holiday. Last year we had tacos, burritos, cheese dip, salsa and chips and fruity punch to drink. We had our BFFs, Eddie, Melissa and Cameran to dinner. This year...

I'm not sure yet. I'm doing some research to see what I can come up with that would be good but a little different. I do make a mean fajita, if I do say so myself. Plus, you can do those on the grill for some added yum!

Stay tuned! I'll share menus and recipes soon, and hopefully pictures.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

...and another thing...

I forgot to post about the desserts we had at our Easter barbeque! We had some yummy stuff!

I made a strawberry shortcake with strawberry angelfood cake, strawberries and whipped cream...Mom made a Hershey Pie...basically cool whip and melted Hershey can you go wrong with that? She also made a Mystery Pie...something with lemon and nuts, I think. Melissa made a DingDong cake...tastes just like the foil wrapped treats of my childhood. It was very good! Gail sent a peach cobbler, which of course was a big seller with this bunch!

I used jars of spring colored M&M's and Hershey's candy coated eggs as part of the decorations for the dessert buffet, which also served as another little sweet for those wanting something to snack on.

All in all, it was a sugar laden, high carb, high calorie feast, just as Easter should be!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter lunch

We had a great time yesterday. It was not your traditional Easter lunch, but it was pretty tasty, if I do say so myself! We had barbeque beef, pork and chicken, hash brown casserole (Thanks, Melissa!), baked beans and deviled eggs(Thanks McCarty girls), 3 kinds of coleslaw-one plain, one with carrots and other veggies and one horseradish one-very good! A relish tray (Thanks, Michael for the slaw and the tray), a fresh veggie tray with ranch dip and spinach dip were good starters. I think we all were hungry for some fresh vegetables...even the traditonal non-veggie eaters snacked on carrots, celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli, cucumber wheels and pepper strips!

We have a fairly new produce market in town and I stopped in there for the first time Saturday. I got a whole box of veggies for $20, and they were really good. I can't wait for the fresh homegrown stuff to come in... I will certainly be shopping there often!

I made a strawberry shortcake, but I used a strawberry angelfood cake instead of pound cake. It was ok, but I like the poundcake version better. I'll post pictures as soon as I get my camera charged. Again. Sigh.

I used black and white gingham with yellow accents, and I really liked it. I used fresh white iris from Mom's yard and some yellow flowers from her yard as an accent! Of course the garden bunnies hopped in from the master bathroom to make an appearance as table decor! Love them!

I'm working on a bridal brunch plan for my nephew's bride-elect. Oh, yes, you will be getting details soon! For now, here's the theme for a little sneak peek:

Eat, Drink and be Married! (I borrowed this from Tracey! Thanks, girl!)

Check in often!!

See ya!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Easter Menu

I've been working on the menu for our Easter lunch celebration. Lynn and I both agreed that it might be fun to buck tradition and do something besides ham for our holiday feast, so we are having a barbeque!

I am going to do a few pork loins and make barbeque. This is something that I do every so often, and my kids love it. I like to do it on the grill-that's how I think it tastes best, but the weather is supposed to be horrible this week-heavy, heavy rain for the first part, then rain again this next weekend, so I'm thinking it might be better to do it inside.

I'll put the loins in crockpots Saturday morning and let them cook all day with onions, garlic and a few shakes of Emirl's seasoning mix. Then I'll shred the cooked meat and add homemade barbeque sauce and let that cook for a few hours. We'll serve it on buns with extra sauce for drizzling over the sandwich. So, here's the tentative menu:

Barbequed pork loin on buns
Hash brown casserole
Baked beans
Deviled Eggs
Assorted Desserts
Tea, coffee and cherry lemonade

I'll ask each person attending to bring a side and a dessert, and we'll have plenty!

I'll probably make a strawberry shortcake, because my kids LOVE them! I made one over the weekend, this is it:

It was good and it was gone in about 10 minutes! They loved it...don't tell them it's a Sara Lee poundcake, frozen strawberries and cool whip!! On second thought, they probably don't care how I make it, just how often I make it!

Here's a good dessert that is not too heavy, just right for Easter! I got it from my Bunco Babe friend Debbie! Thanks, sister!

Fruit Delight

1st layer:
1 c. flour
1 tbs. sugar
1/4 c. nuts
1/2 c. oleo, melted
Put into a 9x13 baking dish and bake about 15-20 minutes

2nd layer:
1 c. powedered sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1 c. cool whip
Combine and spread over cooled crust. Top with fruit of your choice (Debbie used strawberries, but said peaches are quite good, also!) Pour cooked glaze over this.

3rd layer-glaze
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
3 tbs. corn starch
Cook until clear, then add 1/2 box of jello to match the fruit you use, and cool. Then pour over the fruit. Top with cool whip.

There you have it-cool, easy and very yummy! I think I'm going to make it peach for Easter, especially if I make a strawberry shortcake.

Have a good day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Big Girl Birthday Party!

I had a big girl birthday party for my friends Melissa and Donna. It was a kind of impromtu affair, and Lynn ended up joining us because he was home that day! It was fun and super casual. We had ranch dip with some fun new chips, the kettle cooked 4 cheese Lays, chicken salad sandwiches on croissants and baby cup cakes in pink and green. I did the table in those colors and we drank iced tea. Here's a picture of the table.

Here's the chicken salad recipe. My friend Jami gave it to me, she uses it as a dip with good sturdy cracker, like a Triscit. Very good!

1 large and 1 small can chicken, drained
8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayo
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, chopped
onion, cucumber or any other veggie you'd like to add
jarred jalapeno slices (I used the juice rather than the peppers themselves)

Mix together the cream cheese and mayo and stir in the ranch dressing mix, the chopped veggies and stir until smooth. Fold in the chicken and mix just until combined, being careful not to break up the chicken too much. Serve with crackers, bread or chips.

We're working on our Easter menu around here. I'm thinking we're going to break with tradition and have barbequed pork instead of the usual ham. I'll get the menu posted and some pictures of the table when I get it done. In the meantime, check out my newest bunny, which will be the star of the Easter lunch table! He came from the flea market!! I love him, don't you?

See you later!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Breakfast report

Yesterday was our monthly family breakfast. It was raining buckets and cold-like 44 degrees or something. Fortunately, we had lots of warm food, hot coffee and conversation to keep us warm! It was a much smaller crowd than usual...only 11 of us, but it was still fun. The steak and eggs turned out well-lots of left overs, so I had a serving for supper, then Lynn and I had them again for lunch today. The boys ate the leftover pancakes. We don't do well with leftovers around here-there's usually not enough for everyone, and I stick them in the fridge "for lunch tomorrow", then someone calls and invites me to lunch or I get busy and don't eat lunch-yes, that really happens, even though you could never tell it by looking at me-and then I find the leftovers and they are GROSS and I chunk them in the trash. So, it was good that we mananged to eat twice off of one meal!

Here's a picture of the "Lodge" centerpiece. As usual, the meal was buffet style so the table was never actually "set" for me to photograph, but you get the general idea! The black and red plaid you see under the Smokey Mountain lodge is a fleece blanket off of Jacob's bed, layered over a black tablecloth. I used my white dishes and red napkins.

And here's a little display I did on the table beside the front door:

You can see our American flag behind the table...remember, it was raining and I had to bring it inside. If you could see under the table, you'd also see a pile of red, white and blue pillows and throws that live on the front porch in good weather.

And, finally, a picture of the Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding. Man, was it good!

I'm making Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner tonight!

Tomorrow or the next day, I'll post another week of menus!

Friday, February 15, 2008


If you haven't tried the homemade Oreos, yet-you need to! They are so good! The cookie part does taste just like an oreo, even before it's baked!! The cream filling, not so much, but boy is it good anyway!! Here's some things I learned while making them yesterday afternoon:

*If you don't have a stand mixer (I don't), don't try to use a hand mixer. I almost burned up mine because the dough is so thick. I finally used a meat fork and got it mostly combined, then used my hands to mush it all together, kind of like you do meatloaf. Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) says clean hands are your best cooking tool anyway!

*I used dark chocolate fudge cake mix instead of devil's food and it worked fine

*It makes a lot, and they are rich, so they go a long way.

*They are totally worth the effort!

I should have mentioned in the original post the source for this recipe. My apologies to Melis for not giving credit where credit is due.

If I can get my camera to work (it's being crazy, for some reason) I'll post pictures of both the oreos and breakfast tomorrow. If not...well...we'll see.

My plan is to decorate my table in a lodge style, using a black and red plaid blanket I snitched from Jacob's bed and my Smokey Mountain Lodge piece from my Dept 56 Snow Village. Again, we'll see!

Hope you have a great day!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Homemade Oreos

I haven't actually made these yet, but I plan to tomorrow. I figure, even if they don't taste JUST like oreos, with dark chocolate and cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter, how can you miss, right? If you try them before me, let me know how they are!


2 Devil's Food cake mixes
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. shortening
Mix cake mixes, eggs, shortening. Roll in prune-size balls. Bake at 350 degrees on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet.

8 oz. cream cheese
3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 stick butter

Mix filling - put between 2 cooled cookies. Makes about 5 dozen.

They sound like a perfect Valentine's Day treat, don't they? Plus, non of that awful rolling out stuff. I hate that.

I'm excited about the Lodge breakfast. I'm making my grocery list today so that I can pick up the things I need for it when I buy groceries Friday.

My brother Michael bought a houseboat last spring. It's been on a lake in Louisana until last week, when he brought it home. Michael has big plans for it-he's basically going to gut it and redo it. I'm sure it will be fabulous. Better start thinking about a nautical menu or two to get everyone in the what do you serve on a boat besides fish?

Anchors away!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Strawberry Tortilla Torte

Here's another dessert that I made Saturday night for our Taco Bar dinner party. I really liked this's a lighter offering than the Margarita Cake, but just as good. I served it with vanilla ice cream...yummy.

Strawberry Tortilla Torte

10 Mission® Soft Taco Size Flour Tortillas
12 oz. low-fat Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 Tbsp. grated Orange Peel
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice Concentrate
1/2 cup Brown Sugar packed
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
2 cups Fresh Strawberries sliced and tossed with 1 Tbsp. sugar

Whip cream cheese, orange peel, juice concentrate, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together.
Place 9 tortillas on a dry surface and spread each evenly with cream cheese mixture. Stack the 9 tortillas on a baking sheet and top with remaining tortilla.
Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle to taste with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until fork inserted into center comes out clean.
Cut torte into wedges and top with strawberry mixture.

Easy, peasy!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A week of menus and dessert!

We had guests over last night for dinner-two families who we are close to, both have a child close to our kids' ages, and we all get along well. I made a "Make your own taco bar", rice and beans, cheese dip, Mexican pizza and a yummy fruity punch!

I also made a Margarita Cake-as I explained to my guests, no actual margaritas were harmed in the making of the cake! It's very simple to make-and very good to eat!

1 white cake mix
eggs and oil as directed on package to prepare
1 can frozen margarita mix, thawed but not diluted
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1 can white frosting
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans by spraying bottom with non stick spray.

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions, but use the thawed undiluted margarita mix instead of liquid on package, and stirring in the lime zest. Pour into the pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and continue cooling until completely cool.

Put the coconut in a small baking pan and toast in the oven until light brown, about 5 minutes (watch closely so it doesn't burn)

Thin the canned icing with about 1/2 T. warm water, stirring well. Ice the cakes on the sides and top, then put the toasted coconut on them, using your hand to pat it onto the sides.

Note: I used a bundt pan because I don't have two round cake pans, and it turned out just fine. It looked very pretty on the pedestal cake plate.

I would imagine that you could use any juice or drink concentrate and make this in a bunch of different ways. I was thinking that pina coloda mix would be good, as would strawberry.

Try it sometime!

Here's a week worth of menus that we may or may not follow this week. I bought the basic items for this menu, but it could be changed around at the last minute, as needed to fit our schedules and whims!

Sunday: grilled cheese and ham sandwiches and vegetable soup
Monday: Swiss chicken, baked potatoes, green beans and tossed salad; hot rolls
Tuesday: Spaghetti, breadsticks and salad
Wednesday: sausage and cheese scramble, pancakes, biscuits
Thursday: roast beef, roasted potatoes and carrots, steamed broccoli and salad
Friday: Take and bake pizzas (from Wal-Mart deli), cinnamon breadsticks, salad
Saturday: Lodge breakfast and burgers and fries for supper


Friday, February 8, 2008

Oh, yeah...

I'll get to the week of menus tomorrow...I need to mull over that a little longer!!

Lodge breakfast

Here's the plans for the February breakfast!

Miller Lodge Breakfast

Steak and egg skillet
Lodge potatoes
Biscuits and Gravy
Fresh Fruit platter
Cinnamon roll bread pudding
Juice, coffee and hot chocolate

Steak and egg skillet is one of my creations. I saute green bell pepper and onion strips in a little oil, until soft. Then I add round steak strips and saute them until they are nearly done, then put in eggs, beaten and seasoned for scrambling (salt, pepper and a little water or cream). Cook until the eggs are done to your liking and serve!

Lodge Potatoes are even simpler-cut red potatoes into chunks, sprinkle with seasoning salt and pan fry. Umm....sometimes I add thin slices of onion, too.

Hope everyone has a great day!!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding

As promised, here's the recipe for Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding. I love bread pudding more than any other dessert, I do believe. It's so soothing, so homey tasting. For Christmas Eve dinner, I made bread pudding from left over donuts (I had to hide them to even HAVE any leftover donuts) and eggnog...then made a rum hard sauce to serve on top. OH, MY, GOODNESS. It was fabulous!

This is part of our Miller Lodge Breakfast for February's family breakfast. You know me and my themes! I will share more of the menu tomorrow!

Cathy's Bread Pudding-basic recipe

1 loaf day old French bread or 8 slices of bread, cubed and left out to dry for about an hour
1/2 cup sugar
4 beaten eggs
4 cups milk, cream or half and half (or a combination)
1 stick melted butter
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Put the bread cubes into a buttered or sprayed large casserole dish or a 13x9x2 baking pan. Mix together the sugar, eggs, milk and butter and spices, pour over bread. Let it set for about 30 minutes. Place the baking pan into a larger baking pan, and carefully pour hot water in the larger pan, until the water reaches about half way up the sides of the smaller pan. Put in a preheated 350 degree oven for one hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

I serve mine with whipped cream or a sauce of melted butter, powdered sugar and a little rum or rum extract, all whisked together and poured over the pudding while it's hot. Oh, so good!!

*Use cinnamon rolls instead of most or all of the bread.
*Use flavored liquid coffee creamer in place of the about half of the milk. Hazelnut is yummy, and so is caramel vanilla.
*Use eggnog instead of about half the milk, and replace the cloves with nutmeg.
*Use croissants or donuts instead of most or all of the bread
*You could add any dried fruit you like-apricots, raisins, cranberries would all be good.

I hope you enjoy one or all of these! Think about me when you eat it!

Tomorrow, in addition to the breakfast menu, I'll share a week of menus!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I love gingerbread. I think it is a classic dessert and always reminds me of my grandmother, Mama Lody, and her sister, Aunt Daisy. They made good gingerbread. I made some the other day for my jewelry party. Since I had low attendance, there was plenty left and I've snacked on it until it's about gone. Here's the recipe I used. It's not Mama Lody's or Aunt Daisy's recipe, but it's good.

1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
]1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. molasses
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. cloves (I actually upped it to 1/4 t. cloves-I like it spicy)
6 T. warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together in a medium sized bowl. Next, add egg and molasses, beat well. Combine flour,baking powder, baking soda and spiced together in a small bowl. Alternating with water, gradually add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve.

You can serve it with whipped cream, ice cream, a dusting of powdered sugar or just a steaming cup of tea or coffee! It's so good on a cold day, and makes the house smell heavenly!

Tomorrow, I'll get to some details about the Lodge breakfast, as well as a cinnamon roll bread pudding recipe that is SO GOOD you won't believe how easy it is!!

Til then!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A good recipe and a brief update!

I haven't posted in a while, because I've been busy tending to sick folks. I think we're on the mend!

I have been thinking about the February family breakfast. I'll be posting the menu and recipes in a future post, and hopefully some pictures! Today, though, just a teaser, but I do have a good and easy recipe for you!

February breakfast will be on February 16. I don't want to get too predictable, so we're NOT doing a Valentine's theme! It's going to be a Miller Lodge Breakfast! As I said, details will follow!!

Here's that recipe I promised. It's from a Pampered Chef cookbook, and my neighbor, Lynne (not to be confused with my husband, Lynn. It's very confusing!) shared it with me. It's good and just the right amount of sweet!

S'Mores Galore

20 whole honey graham crackers, divided
6 bars (1.55 ounces each) milk chocolate candy, coarsely chopped
1 package (16 ounces) minature marshmallows, divided
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange a single layer of graham crackers to completely cover bottom of an 8"x8" pan, breaking crackers to fit. Toast in oven 2 minutes, then remove pan to rack to cool.

Coarsely break remaining crackers into large bowl, set aside. Coarsely chop chocolate bars and set aside.

Combine 3 cups marshmallows, 3 tablespoons of the butter and milk in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Add half of the chopped chocolate; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Using a spatula or spoon, spread marshmallow mixture over graham crackers in pan.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter; toss with broken graham crackers. Add remaining marshmallows and chopped chocolate, tossing lightly. Spoon evenly over mixture in pan. Bake 8-10 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into bars. Serve warm or cool.

Yield: 24 bars

Happy Cooking!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


It means "breakfast for dinner". What did you think it meant?

Breakfast went so well Saturday that we decided to repeat it for dinner tonight. This is one meal that I can be assured that my picky eaters will devour. We had bacon and sausage, eggs, biscuits and pancakes tonight. It was good and the only left overs were a biscuit and one piece of sausage-instant sausage biscuit sandwich! and pancakes. I freeze leftover pancakes and just pop them in the toaster for quick school morning breakfasts. The boys love them, so they never go to waste!

I didn't make the carrot cake Saturday, so I"m thinking about making one this weekend. I have a busy weekend coming up, but I think I can get it done.
Here's Ina's recipe. It looks soooo good!

Pineapple and Carrot Cake

For the cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the decoration:
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.

I also didn't use the white tablecloth on the table. I was going to, but when I got it out, it was badly in need of black seemed like a good substitute. I found some silver glittered bottle brush trees at the dollar store on the Christmas clearance I picked them up, along with some 33 cent each white pillar candles. That's what I made my centerpiece out of. I never got a picture of the set table, because it's always buffet and the table doesn't actually get set! But here's a picture of the centerpiece.

I am so honored! Ginger over at Magical Holiday Home ( has featured Dinner at the Hamlet on the front page of her site! Thanks, Ginger! What an honor! I'm thrilled with the mention, less than thrilled with the picture...I don't let anyone take my picture very often, so it's not surprising that I don't have a good one. Jonah actually took this one!!

Hope over and visit the magic at Ginger's's where Everyday's A Holiday!!

Til tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monthly Family Breakfast, January version!

This Saturday is our monthly family breakfast. I like to have a theme for each month. This month, it's "Snow's a Glistenin" in an attempt to be humorous and not too cutesy...I'll use my white dishes and a white tablecloth, with "snow" and "ice" on the table...I'll post a picture when I get it all done!

My original plan was to have different menu each month, but my family has made it clear that they expect this every month:

bacon and eggs
sausage and pancakes
biscuits and gravy

They don't care what else you have, but you need to have these! It's supposed to be freezing cold, so we're also having:

Overnight Oatmeal
White Hot Chocolate
Regular Hot Chocolate
Lots of hot coffee!

Here's the recipes:

Overnight Oatmeal (from Gooseberry Patch's Autumn in the Country)
2 c. milk
1 c. old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 c. apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 T. butter, melted
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours. Serves 4-6.

White Hot Chocolate
4 1 oz. squares white melting chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Garnish: marshmallows

Combine chocolate, milk and cream in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate is completely melted, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium. Whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth with small bubbles around edges; do not boil. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows. Serves 2.

Clearly, I'll have to multiply this several times for our rowdy bunch, but it's worth it!

I'm thinking about making a carrot cake to go along with it...but I may make muffins, instead. Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa-Food Network) had a wonderful looking carrot cake recipe that I'm tempted to try...depends on my energy level Friday night!

Til tomorrow-

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bbrrr... Baby, it's cold outside!

Ok, not very original I know, but it IS cold here today. It is supposed to get colder tomorrow, with rain/snow coming. Of course, we never seem to get a good snow anymore, so I'm guessing it'll just be a cold, miserable rain. And, of course, it would be tomorrow night when we have to be out and about, getting to church and home again. Sigh. So, here's a great little warmer upper to make and keep on hand. It's from Gooseberry Patch's booklet "Christmas in July". Make it and keep it in a jar on your counter, like I do. Here's the recipe:

Jingle Bell Cocoa Mix

3 1/2 c. powdered milk
2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. unsweetened baking cocoa
1 c. non-dairy creamer
1 c. mini marshmallows
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Place in jars. Makes 9 cups of cocoa mix.

Here's the instructions:
Simply mix up to 1/3 cup of cocoa blend with 3/4 cup of boiling water and stir well for a yummy mug-full on a snowy day!

Or, a rainy night!

Here's a picture of my "hot drink station". I put out this set-up for Christmas Eve, decided I liked the way it looks and makes it easy for the kids to help themselves. The tea kettle is usually on, with hot water. If not, they can zap it in the microwave and have yummy hot cocoa in no time!

Here's another good one, a bit less sweet than the cocoa. It's not really my recipe, but I've called it this for so long and made it for gifts and special occasions for so long that I don't really know what the original name is. It's good in the afternoon when you want just a little something, but cocoa is a bit too heavy. And, you don't have to drink it at Christmas only!

Cathy's Christmas Tea

3 cups sugar
2 packets orange Kool-Aid mix
2 packets lemon Kool-Aid mix
1/2 cup instant tea
1 small box apricot jello (can use sugar free, if you'd like)
1 or 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Get out a large dry bowl. Measure the sugar into the bowl. Open up the kool-aid packets and add them to the sugar, stirring well with a wire whisk. Then mix in the tea, jello, cinnamon and cloves. Stir again to mix well. This makes about 5 cups of mix. Store in a well sealed container.

To prepare:
Combine one tablespoon mix with hot water in a cup or mug. Stir to dissolve, adjust taste as necessary. Serve hot.

Note: the last time I made this, I used peach flavored iced tea mix which was already sweetened, so I cut back to 2 cups sugar. The peach and apricot flavors really blended well with the spices and the lemon and orange. Put it in pint canning jars, attach a hand-made label and instruction tag and you have a nifty little gifty all winter long!

Til tomorrow!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Cups

This is a good breakfast recipe. It comes from the South Beach Diet Cookbook, by Dr. Arthur Agatston. I've made this several times, and it's really good. It makes a good on-the-go breakfast, and is healthy, too! It's a Phase 1 recipe, which means it's low in carbs. You can make them ahead and just warm them in the microwave when you're ready to eat! Hope you like it.

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Cups

4 ounces turkey sausage or crumbled turkey bacon
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
5 large eggs
1 can (12 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded, reduced fat cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 6 cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.

In a medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat, cook the sausage, pepper and onion for 5 minutes or until the sausage is no longer pink. Spoon the mixture into a bowl and cool slightly. Stir in the eggs and mushrooms. Evenly divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the egg is set.

Makes 6 cups
140 calories, 9 g. fat, 12 g. protein, 4 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. dietary fiber, 195 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium

Friday, January 11, 2008

Swiss Chicken

I'm sure there's a fancier name for this, or it's really something else that I'm just calling Swiss Chicken, but anyway, here it is! I call it Swiss Chicken because I make it like I make Swiss Steak, except with chicken.

First, I put some chicken breasts in a baking pan. Then I cover it with diced or crushed tomatoes, bell pepper strips (if I have one) and onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning (basil and oregano, it you're out of Italian Seasoning) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

I like to serve it with a baked potato, green beans and a salad. I made this last week and the boys liked it. I just told them that it was spaghetti sauce chicken and they ate it up!!

I also made triple chocolate brownies for dessert, which is just a regular brownie mix, prepared according to package directions, with chocolate chips stirred in. This time I put white chocolate chips on top, sometimes I use regular chocolate chips, and other times I frost the brownies with chocolate frosting. It's good either way! Here's a picture of the brownies:

I made a new recipe for Bunco last night. It was so easy and so very yummy! It's:

Chocolate Cheese Cake

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 tub chocolate cool whip
Oreo pie shell
chocolate bar for shaving or mini chocolate chips

Mix the softened cream cheese and sugar together with a mixer until well blended:

Stir in the cool whip, pour it into the Oreo crust and sprinkle with chocolate shavings or mini chips. Put it in the fridge to chill until serving time.
Here's the final product:


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bunco Night dinner!

Tonight is Bunco night and it's at my house! For a description of how you play, see my other blog! Here's what we're eating tonight!

Mexican Chicken Stew

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup salsa-I use mild, but you can use any flavor you like
1 can chopped green chilies
1 can whole kernal corn (or a cup of frozen corn kernels)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

I start this soup the same way I start the chicken noodle. I boil my chicken in chicken broth, take it out and cool it slightly, then shred it. Put it back into the pot with the broth and add the remaining ingredients. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, and serve it with baked tortilla chips.

This is soooo good, and the bunco girls usually request it when I host the game in the winter. I usually put out some tortilla chips and salsa as an appetizer, and I like to make a fruit punch to go with it. Here's a good punch recipe:

1 can frozen fruit punch
brewed tea
1 cup sugar
1 can frozen lemonade
1 can apricot nectar (in the juice section)

Put the undiluted fruit punch, lemonade and apricot nectar in a gallon container. Add 3 punch cans of water, the sugar and enough tea to make a gallon. Stir and add more sugar, if necessary. Slice up some oranges, lemons and limes to garnish. Serve over ice in a hurricane glass or other stemmed glass. Good stuff!!

I hope to post some pictures tomorrow along with a recipe for Swiss Chicken. It's good stuff, too!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Heart healthy recipes

Check back for some heart healthy, diet friendly recipes in the days to come! I'll be posting a few every few days.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Country Supper

Tonight we have pictures of our meal! The boys-all 4 of them-looked at me like I was a kook for taking pictures of my meal...little did they know, I'd been taking pictures of the ingredients and the cooking process, as well!

We had what we call Silver Dollar City Mix. At SDC, they make a similar dish in a huge -I'm talking probably 4' across-iron skillet-I just use my regular sized one. They also put lots of stuff in theirs that I may or may not have on hand. The beauty of this meal is that you can put in or leave out anything you like or have on hand-or don't like/have on hand! It all starts like this:

This is smoked turkey sausages, a bell pepper-I had green tonight, but red and yellow are especially good in this, a yellow onion, and some red potatoes. I use turkey sausages because they don't have a casing and are healthier, but you could use kielbasa, Italian sausages, whatever you like.

Put your iron skillet (or any other good sized skillet you like to use) on medium heat and drizzle olive oil in it. Let it heat while you peel and chop, but keep a close eye on it. Peel the onion and slice it and the pepper, and put it in the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and let it do it's thing while you prep the potatoes. It looks kind of like this at this point:

While the peppers and onion sweat, peel and chop the potatoes. I like a course chop, with big pieces of potatoes, but you can slice them thinly, if you prefer. Put the potatoes in the pan with the pepper and onion, which should be nicely caramelized by now. Put a lid on the skillet and let it cook while you mix up the cornbread.

For the cornbread:
2 cups cornmeal MIX
2 eggs
a splash of milk-about 1/4 cup or so
2 T. oil, divided

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Put 1 T. oil in a skillet or other baking pan, making sure to cover the entire surface. Put the pan in the oven and let it get hot while you mix together the remaining ingredients. When the pan is hot, pour the cornbread mixture into the pan and put it into the oven.

I like to use my cast iron biscuit pan:

When you put the cornbread in the oven, cut up the sausages in 1/2 inch or so slices and add to the potatoes, pepper and onion. Let the sausage warm while the cornbread bakes. I like to open a can of navy beans or pintos, drain and rinse them, and then warm them in a pan or in the microwave, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and some beef broth.

I keep salad made up in the fridge most of the time, so it's easy to put it all on the table together, along with tall glasses of sweet tea! Here's my dinner tonight:

Right after I snapped this, I put ketchup on my potatoes, ranch dressing on my salad and butter and honey on my cornbread! Now that's a good country supper! Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cheat night!

I'm cheating tonight! We're having a "Take and Bake" night! I picked up a couple of pizzas at the deli at Wal-Mart, which they call Take and Bakes. They are very good! I cook them in a hot (425 degree) oven, right on the rack of the oven. The crust crisps up nicely, and it's not a bad Friday night supper. I also got some cinnamon breadsticks with cream cheese icing. That's Benjie's favorite! I got the boys pepperoni, while Lynn and I will share a meat lovers. You should try them! Add a tossed Rachel would say, "Yum-O"!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Soup Night

Tonight is soup night at the Hamlet. If I had to choose one category of food to have exclusively for the rest of my life, it would have to be soup. I wear my family out in the fall and winter with soup. I could eat it every day. I even like the canned stuff, right out of the can!! I like to make it early in the day, so that the flavors can marry, but let's face it...that doesn't always happen! So, sometimes I make it and let it cook in the crockpot, and sometimes I make it just before we eat.

My favorite is my chicken soup with chicken pieces, carrots, green beans and mushrooms. Tonight, however, it's homemade chicken noodle. Even the pickiest kid in the world, Benjie, will eat it. It's even better than the school's chicken noodle, according the the boys. High praise, indeed!

So, here's the easy peasy recipe! You should adjust amounts and seasonings to suit your needs. This is how I make it for us.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

2 pounds chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 pound box noodles-egg noodles or spaghetti or any other kind of noodle you have

Put the chicken and the broth in the crockpot and let it simmer all day. Add water if necessary to make a full pot. When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, take it out and let it cool until you can handle it. Use two forks or your fingers and shred the chicken. Pour the liquid into a pot on the stove and add water if necessary to make the amount of soup you need. Bring the water to a boil, then add the butter and stir. Put the noodles in the boiling water. Stir in the shredded chicken and let it simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer until the table is set and the tea is poured into glasses, then call everyone to eat. Have some crackers or homemade bread to serve with it.

You can add celery and carrots at the beginning, while the chicken is cooking, if you want. Benjie won't eat it if it has anything weird in it, and apparently celery and carrots are weird.

Hope you enjoy your soup. I know I will!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cotton Bowl snacks

Since our game is at 10:30 am, I decided to have breakfast snacks for game time today. I'm making breakfast sandwiches of biscuits with ham, bacon or sausage, cheese and eggs. I also have hashbrown patties (like McDonalds serves) and of course, lots of hot coffee, hot chocolate, milk and tea for those who want it.

It's a cold, clear, crisp day. I love New Year's Day. It's a day of new beginnings.

For dinner, we'll have:
Cider based ham
Fried potatoes
Black eyed peas
Iced tea
Sugar cookies and ice cream

That should be sufficient to bring us luck and wealth in 08! Here's hoping!!