Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Cheer

I hope that all of my readers had a wonderful Christmas day, remembering the reason for the season - the glorious gift of salvation given to us by our blessed Savior.

We had a great day, quiet and peaceful. We made phone calls to loved ones and had a wonderful dinner with my parents.

Our menu was:

Peach Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham - this ham is from Burger's Smokehouse in California, MO, a City Ham. They do great hams and bacon.

For the peach glaze, I combined a can of Delmonte Harvest Spice peaches, drained, approximately 1/4 cup country Dijon mustard, about 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar. Pop that in the blender and then spoon over the ham while baking. (sorry for the pic, I forgot to take pictures until AFTER we ate - duh me!)

Winter Salad Supreme - just a nice green salad - I used mixed spring greens. Then top with Ranch salad dressing, some dried cranberries, tiny dice of swiss cheese and some caramelized almonds.

To make the caramelized almonds in a saucepan melt 2 Tablespoons butter. Then add 3/4 cup of sliced almonds. Stir and toast for about 4 minutes. Then add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Dump onto foil to cool and break apart into little clumps.

No picture here as I used all the lettuce! Mandarin oranges are nice with this, instead of the cranberries - or use a vinagrette dressing.

Delmonico potatoes - I was looking for an Au Gratin recipe and stumbled across this. Very nice, we all loved these. From the Taste of Home Recipe book.

Makes an 8 x 8 pan.

5 medium potatoes

Scrub potatoes well. Place in pan, cover with water and cook 30-40 minutes or until fairly tender. Do not peel, do not cut. Drain potatoes and cool overnight in refrigerator. Take potatoes out, peel and shred coarsely. Grease an 8 x 8 pan. Place potatoes in pan.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Place milk, cream, salt and spices in sauce pan and heat gently. When bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, stir in cheese. Stir in until good and melty. Pour sauce over potatoes and stir a bit.

Bake at 325F for approximately 50 minutes. I topped it with french fried onions for the last 10 minutes or so. Very moreish!

I believe next time I will stir in just a bit of lemon zest, spark it up a bit.

Brioche rolls - this is the recipe I posted earlier, please see the side bar under breads. Light and fluffy, smeared with real butter, a gourmet's delight! Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of these.

English Trifle - this is just my regular trifle, if you will scroll down in my side bar, I did a couple of posts on trifle earlier in the year. Homemade almond pound cake, sandwiched with seedless strawberry jam, sprinkled with Amaretto syrup. Then sliced strawberries (frozen) with sugar poured over top. Homemade trifle custard, flavored with a bit of rum extract on top of that. Then topped with homemade chantilly cream, some of my caramelized almonds and chocolate flakes. Can we say to die for?

All in all, a simple, yet quite tasty meal. As most of the prep work can be done the day before, very easy to execute also! I made the rolls, cake and trifle custard the day before. Also cooked my potatoes. The ham is as easy as taking out of the packaging, putting in a pan and baking, then glazing. The trifle just needed to be assembled. The salad was washed and put in a bowl, then toppings passed, as they were optional. That gave me plenty of time to enjoy the day with my family.

I hope each and every one of you had as good of a day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all of my readers the very Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years! I really do love and appreciate each and every one of you. I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to read my rambling, sometimes incoherent thoughts. Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration. Even though we have never met face-to-face, I feel a special bond towards y'all!

The recipe I am going to give you today may sound complicated, but it really is not. Again, this is one of those things I don't make often, and I usually make it at Easter instead of Christmas. No, I am not Greek, but I do love Greek food. Around here, you can buy pre-packaged baklava at Christmas time, but I think mine is much tastier and probably better for ya!(Not that baklava is a healthy choice but hey, this is my blog)

I got this recipe (which I have slightly modified) from the Joy of Cooking.


1 pound of phyllo sheets, thawed

Stir together in a bowl:
3 cups coarsely chopped nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts, pecans and almonds)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used more)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Important: Stack phyllo between sheets of waxed paper and then cover the waxed paper with a damp kitchen towel.

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Preheat oven to 325F. Place 2 sheets of phyllo in pan and brush top sheet with melted butter. Repeat twice, for a total of 6 sheets. Sprinkle with half the nut mixture. Stack another 6 sheets, 2 sheets at a time, brushing with butter each time. Sprinkle with the other half of the nut mixture. Cover with all remaining phyllo sheets, 2 sheets at a time, brushing with butter.

So basically - 2 phyllo sheets then butter, another 2 sheets then butter again, 2 more sheets and butter, nut mixture and then repeat with dough.

If there is any remaining butter, pour it over the top.

Using a sharp serrated knife, cut through all layers into 2 inch diamonds or squares. This is very important, because you cannot cut it after it is baked, it will shatter.

Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 300F. Bake another 45-60 minutes.

During last 30 minutes of baking, combine in a saucepan:
1-1/3 cups sugar
1-1/3 cups water
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest of one orange, removed in large strips (I omitted this)

Bring above mixture to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Strain the hot syrup and pour over baklava right after you pull it out of the oven. Let cool completely, at least 4 hours at room temperature before serving.

Now, the modification I made was . . . . Way back in the summer, I posted a Rose Petal Jam recipe I had made. Well, you can use rosewater (I was out) in the syrup, so I thought hmmmmmm . . . why not. So after the syrup was done simmering, I stirred in 3 good spoonfuls of rose petal jam. This made the prettiest rose-pink syrup ever! It is not a really pronounced taste, but just a little, almost indefinable perfume. I also halved the recipe and used a smaller, 11 x 7 pan.

(The pink things on top are the rose petals from my jam)

I am going to try some next time with orange blossom water. Then I will definitely use the orange zest and lemon zest.

I had to laugh, I had the dough covered and my son was watching me - he said "so, the dough is light sensitive or what?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family Traditions

We may not have a lot of real family-oriented traditions (we like to try lots of new things) but one of my traditions has been to make kolaches at Christmas time and share them.

Kolaches are a Czech or Slovak pastry - a kind of sweet roll - similar I guess to a Danish. They are so good, kind of flaky and buttery, with fruit filling. Sometimes I put on popsika - another name for struesel. Sometimes powdered sugar icing. Any which way I fix them, they are good. The reason I only make them once a year is they are rather labor intensive!

Where my Mom and Dad were born, there are a lot of people who are of Czech ancestry. My Dad's mother made THE best kolaches. Mine still are not as good as I remember hers tasting. After we had moved to Missouri, she would make some and freeze them for when we came to visit.

You can fill kolaches with many different fruit fillings. I usually do blueberry, cherry and apple. The traditional ones are prune, apricot and poppyseed (an acquired taste). Poppyseed is probably my favorite.

I usually make them right before Christmas and then take some to people at church. This year I sent a dozen with Honey to work.

Makes 3 dozen

This dough is definitely not traditional, but it is oh, so good. I really think Grandma would have approved!

1 package (4 oz, the big box) vanilla cook-n-serve pudding mix
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
5-5 1/2 cups flour

Make pudding as directed on box, but use only 1-1/2 cups milk. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and stir into pudding mixture. Beat in the eggs and salt and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto floured board and knead 10 minutes. The place in greased bowl and set in warm place until dough doubles in size. Pinch off balls of dough about the size of an egg and place on flat baking sheet, 1 dozen to a sheet. Take your fingers and gently pull the dough from the middle outwards to make a depression in the middle. Put in filling - not too much, about a scant tablespoon, maybe 2 teaspoons per roll. Let rise again until double. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool on rack.

For popsika:
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup flour
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons of melted butter

Combine all ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Sprinkle popsika over before putting in oven, if using.

If icing, let rolls cool, then drizzle with a simple powdered sugar icing. Solo sells the poppy seed filling - but it is an acquired taste apparently! Any good canned pie filling will do - but I make my own - these are a labor of love after all! I like to do a cheesecake one - about 2 oz. cream cheese, an egg yolk, little sugar and then some orange rind or mini chocolate chips.

Yes, I got my cherry filling a bit thin. But they are edible! For the brownish looking ones, I used Solo Almond filling, not almond paste, but a similar taste, just goopier! Very nice!

I love you Grandma!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Go to The Simple Woman's Daybook to read the rest!

FOR TODAY December 22, 2008...

Outside my window... pale morning sunshine and Jack Frost visited during the night and painted some beautiful frost flowers on my storm window.

I am thinking... of how I wish that I did not have to work today.

I am thankful for... a warm house, good food to eat, Jesus in my life.

From the kitchen... Nice hot potato soup, John Wayne Specials, lemon curd, Berry shortbread dreams and Nutcracker Sweets.

I am wearing... my new fleece nightie and some long underwear bottoms, housieslippers.

I am creating... pomanders. I just love the smell of a pomander.

I am going... to go shopping early tomorrow morning. Stamps at the post office, go to the library, Aldi's, Country Mart and Wal-Mart.

I am reading...Not much, but I have some new Janette Oke books set aside for later this week.

I am hoping...that it will not be as cold today as it has been.

I am hearing... the space heater blowing from under my desk - blissful warmth.

Around the house... Not a lot, but the kitchen needs a good scrubbing.

One of my favorite giving someone something - especially when they are not expecting it!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Today - work, bake cookies. Tomorrow - shopping, cleaning, baking. Wednesday - make roll dough, thaw ham, fix potatoes and refrigerate, make trifle custard. Thursday: Fix salad and bake ham and rolls. Assemble trifle. Relax! Friday: Last day of work for the company I work for now. YAY!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce
Serves 12

2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 glass pan. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Combine butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until well-blended. Add eggs. Add milk alternating with dry ingredients, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in cranberries. Transfer to baking pan. Bake 30 minutes.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup cream or half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla

To make sauce, combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium-low heat and cook 10 minutes or until sugar is melted, stirring frequently. Pour hot sauce over cake.(Best to pour sauce over individual pieces of cake)

Could substitute blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or even cherries!

This is the cake I served at my Christmas Tea and everyone loved it. A very pretty presentation and I could eat the sauce with a spoon!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Joy

Christmas should be a time of joy, of celebration, of love, of laughter. Not a time of hurry-scurry, of worry, of fret, of woe.

Why worry about keeping up with the Joneses? The Joneses may have lots of things, but they may not have the love that you share with your family. It is my observation that the more things a person has, the less happy they become.

In our house, we live by the KISS creedo - Keep It Simple, Stupid! We have learned to say no. We have learned that it feels great doing things for other folks - without expecting something in return. That takes the joy out of giving.

My home may not win any decorating contests, but it is decorated with love, laughter and joy. With peace and contentment. I may not have a huge tree with gifts spilling every-which way underneath - but I have hope that I will not live in this world forever.

I do like to make good things for the holidays and I usually bake up a storm.

These "cookies" are one of the most simple ones I have ever made! They are a copycat of the Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies.

Copycat Thin Mint Cookies

1 package (12 oz) mint chocolate chips
2 sleeves Ritz crackers

Melt chocolate over low heat. Dip crackers in melted chocolate on a fork, tapping to get excess off. Put on waxed paper (or foil) and pop in the fridge to harden up.

As you can see above, they are a favorite around here!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Soup - Again??

Yes, I love soup. I am officially the soup Nazi! Mess with me and you will not get any soup at all! We have been having cold and snow here, so once I again I shifted into soup mode!

However, I had to go grocery shopping with Honey, so DS took over and he did quite a nice job, too! We ended up having to add some chicken broth as I forgot to tell him to only add 1/2 the bag of tortellini, but it was delicious, especially after slogging through the slush and snow and cold!

This is a super easy soup for a busy night!

Tortellini Meatball Soup
Serves 4-6

1 regular-sized jar marinara sauce
1 jar water
Frozen meatballs - as few or as many as you like
1/2 bag Barilla 3-cheese tortellini (or whatever kind you like) I used dried, but can use fresh also

Pour sauce in largish pan. Fill jar to same level with water, put lid on and shake well. Pour into pan and stir. Heat to almost bubbling, toss in meatballs and tortellini and cook until done - ours had to cook about 14 minutes or so. I thinned mine down with a can of chicken broth as we used the whole bag of tortellini.

He also made breadsticks with some frozen bread dough, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic powder, parmesan cheese and italian seasoning. Mmmmmmm!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 15, 2008...

Outside my window... There is slush and sleet. Yich!

I am thinking... that I can't wait for Honey to get home so we can go to the pharmacy and get something for my ear - it is stopped up horribly.

I am thankful for... a God that provides for and even anticipates my every need.

From the kitchen... Tortellini Meatball Soup, Garlic Breadsticks, Pizzelle cookies and fudge!

I am wearing... Navy skirt, socks and tennis shoes, white T- shirt and gray pullover sweatshirt - it is cold here today!

I am creating... cookies and candies for our trays that we are giving to loved ones and friends this year.

I am going... to be starting a new job soon!!!! Actually my old job that I quit 2 years ago. But the company that I am with now has cut our wages for the second time in as many years and not only can I not afford the pay cut, but it is the principle of the thing - if someone is a skilled worker - I have 15 years experience - then do you keep cutting their wages and expect the same amount of work from them? In other words, if my years of experience and expertise mean nothing, then get Joe Blow in off the street and let him do it and see how you get by. Sorry for the rant!

I am reading... Doomwyte by Brian Jacques.

I am hoping... that my ear problem will be taken care of tonite.

I am hearing... not much, pretty quiet around here.

Around the house... not a lot, we did a good clean Friday and Saturday.

One of my favorite things... is hot tea. I just love a cuppa on a cold afternoon!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Today: Make cookies and fudge. Tomorrow: More cookies. Mail Christmas cards. Wednesday: Laundry. Thursday: More cookies and candy.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Black Bottom Cupcakes

1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Combine next 5 ingredients in small bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well. Fill paper-lined muffin tins approximately 3/4 full - I got 18 cupcakes with this.

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Combine these ingredients until slightly lumpy. Spoon into center of chocolate batter in cups.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan 2 minutes and then remove.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday This-n-That

Not sure what all I will put on here today . . . Just random things I guess.

We got SNOW last night! Only about 1/4 of an inch, but it was still snow. I was excited, if no one else was! It was so pretty coming down, big fluffy flakes.

This is taken on our back deck.

Dad just called and I guess we are going to cook our spiral-cut ham for Christmas. I was planning on a beef roast. That is ok, I can do the roast for New Year's. The sides I had planned for the roast will go well with the ham. So ham for Christmas and beef roast and chicken (ds does not eat beef) for New Year's.

I cannot find my Christmas cards! I put them somewhere and now I can't remember where! So frustrating. I hope I find them this next week or I will have to go and buy some - Ugh.

I have decided that whoever wallpapered this house was an idiot. I am talking overlap of 4-5 inches. And then wonder why the glue does not hold - DUH! I did manage to get one part of the loose border re-stuck down, working on the other part.

My poor husband doesn't know what to think. I cook all manner of things he is not used to eating. He does not care for squash unless it is summer squash. I love squash of all sorts. He does not like beans - I love them. It is funny, I can always tell when he doesn't care for something - he will eat it in big mouthfuls and eats it all, first thing. He will eat it, tho, brave boy. Last night I fixed this dish that I loved and Honey - well, he ate it in big mouthfuls first thing. I tried telling him how good dark orange veggies are for you but he said it was like having cowboys and indians in his stomach. I settled him down with a rhubarb cookie (recipe tomorrow).

Butternut Squash with Leeks and Bacon

1/2 of a small butternut squash, peeled and sliced fairly thin
a knob of butter
a handful of sliced leek
2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
cajun seasoning or whatever you like
a bit of chicken broth

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Fry squash, turning once. Season well. Toss leeks in towards the end and give everything a good stir. Pour a bit of chicken broth, maybe 1/3 cup or so over all and let it cook until almost totally gone. Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


There is just something about soup that is comforting. Hot, steaming in the bowl, it is just friendly. To slurp or not to slurp, that is the question! We eat a lot of soup when it is cold outside.

Today turned off quite cold, after being warmish yesterday. We are supposed to get some snow tonight, I can't wait!

We received a blessing this past weekend: Apparently one of the potato chip companies had refused some potatoes - not the right size or something, so they were giving them away. My Dad called and procured 350 pounds for the church. We have some widows, so that is great for them. We ended up with 20 pounds. I felt that potato soup was in order.

Country Style Leek and Potato Soup
Serves 2 hungry people or 3-4 not so hungry

2 nice leeks, washed and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 teaspoons flour
1-1/2 cans chicken broth
3-4 medium potatoes, diced
6 ounces kielbasa or smoked sausage, sliced or diced
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in heavy pan - saute leeks approximately 15 minutes. Sprinkle over flour and stir and cook about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high, whisk in chicken broth gradually. Add potatoes, reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered until potatotes are tender. Stir in kielbasa. Turn heat off and let pot stand 10 minutes. Season with salt (lightly) and pepper. Can add 1/2 cup of milk or so, I did. I served with rolls and butter. Would be good with some shredded cabbage tossed in, too.

This is great for people who are lactose-intolerant. I think it would be good for gluten intolerant, too, just leave the flour out or use rice flour.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 08, 2008...

Outside my window... it is gray and gloomy-looking. But there are several juncos and sparrows hopping around in my driveway.

I am thinking... that I would like to fast-forward to January. Not that I don't love Christmas, but it is discouraging to see how commercial it has all become.

I am thankful for... A God that loved me so much he made the ultimate choice and sacrifice for me.

From the kitchen... Leek and potato soup with sausage, black bottom cupcakes, lemon curd, double chocolate espresso cookies.

I am wearing... khacki skirt, flowered turtleneck, princess kitty socks and pink housieslippers.

I am creating... decorations for next Sunday's church Christmas dinner.

I am going... nowhere today if I can at all help it!

I am reading... not a lot, need to make a library run.

I am hoping... that I hear from the hospital this week.

I am hearing... silence - blissful silence.

Around the house... not a lot, we had a very productive day Saturday. I do need to go over the bathroom and sweep and mop the kitchen.

One of my favorite things... is popcorn. I just love to eat popcorn, no matter what the weather.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Today: clean bathroom. Finish thank you cards. Get devotional together. Tomorrow: Make venison burgers or meatloaf. Clean the bedrooms. Dig out Christmas cards and get sent! Wednesday: Clean my office. Straighten up basement. Thursday: Deep clean the kitchen. Friday: Clean the living room and do a little baking. Saturday: Christmas Tea at my house for the ladies of the church. Decorate church basement for Sunday. Sunday: Christmas dinner at the church.

Here is picture thought I am sharing . . .

Ain't they cute?

Peggy hosts this every week and it has really grown. Hop on over to The Simple Woman and take a look at everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


For Today...

Dear Lord,

I bring you my shortcomings... that I need to learn patience, even though it seems so very hard for me. I know that your time is not our time and for that I am thankful. I need to be more forgiving, not as critical and judgmental.

I bring you my worship and praise... I want to thank you for coming to this world to save me. You did not have to do that . . . yet you chose to. I praise you for knowing my thoughts before I form them.

I bring you my prayer... I thank you for answering prayer for me concerning my job - you are so AWESOME! I pray that your truth will spread throughout this nation, this world.

You spoke to me... in the pages of a book I read - The Happening - about the Nickel Mines School

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tee Hee

I am a bit of a jokester . . . my top song is now Do You Hear What I Hear?

I am a transcriptionist. I make my living by hearing! And in the office we were always asking each other - are you hearing what I am hearing?

Just a lame joke from me!

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 01, 2008...

Outside my window... We have SNOW! not much, actually just a skiff but snow nonetheless! I am excited.

I am thinking... of how blessed I am to have a warm home, good food to eat, shoes on my feet and that I know who God is.

I am thankful for... the love of God that I feel in my heart.

From the kitchen... Frosted Rhubarb Cookies, Cetak's hot dogs, tator tots. We have venison chili to go over the hot dogs.

I am wearing... a pink-flowered nightie, pink robe, purple striped socks and pink housieslippers.

I am creating... my cookie list for Christmas and the Christmas tree.

I am going... not much of anywhere.

I am reading...The Happening - a book about the killing at the Amish School, written by one of the survivors.

I am hoping... that I will hear something on a new job today.

I am hearing... the heater blowing out warm air.

Around the house... not a lot, I do need to organize the closets.

One of my favorite things... is SNOW! I loved it yesterday, so pretty with the snow coming down. Snow can make the ugliest things beautiful, it softens the lines and covers the bad parts!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Get closets organized. Begin cookie baking. Mail the rest of my Christmas cards.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is from my uncle's house - my great uncles were quite the inventors. This was basically a homemade switchboard to run the electricity. One part of it is made from an old baking soda can, the gauge is from an old Ford car.

Our gracious host, Peggy, does this every week! Come and read all the rest at The Simple Woman's Daybook. It's great fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Every family has traditions. In our family, we have quite a few. Whenever we have Thanksgiving dinner, my brother always has to tell the story of my first Thanksgiving turkey. When he is done, then I do the explaining.

You see, my first Thanksgiving turkey was cooked by me - all by myself - at the ripe old age of 18. I was scared to death that the turkey would not be done - so I overcooked it a bit. It came out beautiful, deep golden brown - but it was very dry. However, no one got food poisoning from underdone turkey!

To hear him tell the story, as soon as we punctured the skin with a knife, the whole turkey deflated and turned to dust. And every slice of turkey soaked up a cup of gravy. How we had slices when the turkey had already turned to dust, I have no idea!

I have cooked many turkeys since then and have it perfected now!

Another tradition is going around the table, one-by-one and telling what we are thankful for.

One of my favorite traditional foods for Thanksgiving is sweet potatoes. My mom usually fixes some savory and I fix them sweet. This year she did them with leeks and bacon - ummy yummy! As soon as I get the recipe from her, I will pass it on to you! Today, though, I am going to give you my "recipe" for sweet potatoes. Sorry, no picture as they got left at Mom's!

Sweet Potatoes Raquel

3-4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and the ends cut off

Bake them in a 350F oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy cleanup) for about an hour, until good and done.

Take out of oven and let them cool. Slit them open and scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Mash it up good.

To the potatoes add:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup orange juice
Grated rind of one smallish orange
1/3 cup butter, diced

Mix that all up good. Place in a greased 11x7 pan. Cover with mini marshmallows and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until marshmallows are good and brown.

This makes a goodly amount (we ended up with 13 at dinner yesterday) so decrease amounts to suit your taste. Also amounts are approximate as I do not measure - so to your taste! This can be made ahead to the point of adding the marshmallows and refrigerated. Just remember to take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you bake it.

The orange juice and orange rind were new this year and I quite like it!

So what are some of your traditions?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

More Pie, please

Well, you just never know. Last night, I was making my pecan pie when I happened to think - I've got peach pie filling in the freezer. I wonder . . . . and I had about 2 ounces of almond paste left-over from making my cookies. So, since I was in for a penny, in for a pound with the pie crust anyway, I went ahead and made two. You know, I took my time and they did not turn out half bad!

Anyway, thought I would share this peach pie "recipe" with you - more of a technique.

Peach Streusal Pie

Filling: (Enought for 4 pies)
9 pounds fresh peaches
2 teaspoons Fruit Fresh, (fruit preservative)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

Stir all together and freeze in 1-1/2 pint jars. Alternatively, freeze in pie tins lined with foil 4-5 cups per pan. (I am assuming here that you know how to scald the peaches, etc.)

Anyway . . . on the day you are making your pie, pull out your filling and let it thaw a bit. I stirred in about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.

Then make a single crust of your favorite pie dough and line a 9-inch pan with it.
Dump your filling in.

2 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces (give or take) almond paste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup flour

These are approximate measurements! Mix your cinnamon, sugar and flour in a bowl. Cut in the butter and almond paste with a pastry cutter. Sprinkle over top of the pie filling. Bake around 40-45 minutes at 350F. Viola!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Memories

I love Thanksgiving. Oh, not just for the turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie. But for the camraderie of family, the hustle and bustle of getting everything ready and the joy - yes, joy - of preparing food for loved ones.

You see, to me it is an act of love to create a special dish for someone. I make homemade molasses spice cookies for my pastor - they are his favorite. I have not made yet - but will - chicken fried steak for my Honey - it is his favorite. I like to find out what someone likes and make it. It gives me joy in the making, knowing that they will really like it and appreciate it - because it is their favorite.

I love our tradition of going around the table and telling what we are thankful for, one-by-one.

I love the idea that people all over this vast country are doing the same thing we are - giving thanks - on this day.

I love left-over turkey for sandwiches, ho yes!

I love not having to work, being able to relax and enjoy the day - well, mostly, I do have to work this year.

I love having traditional foods - turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, homemade rolls with real butter, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie. We usually throw in something a little different, too. This year we are doing 7-layer salad, cherry pie, apple pie and pecan pie. Sometimes we have corn and oysters - gack! - or maybe a relish tray, some green goop.

My mom usually does the pumpkin pie and this year she volunteered to do cherry - my Honey's favorite - and apple as well. Dad's favorite, however, is pecan. I love it too, so I volunteered to do it. I got some very nice pecans this weekend when we were visiting in St. Louis. I really do not know why most people fear making pecan pie, it is EASY! Except for the pie crust - you all know how I am with pie crust! I am also making the sweet potatoes, so I will share those with you later. Thus, without further ado . . .

(mind you, pictures will come later)

Pecan Pie

1 cup Karo Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crust

Stir first 5 ingredients together in bowl. Stir in pecans, being sure to coat each one. Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 350F for 55-60 minutes. Cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

It is that easy. Serve with pride to those you love.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 24, 2008...

Outside my window...Beautiful sunshine and a blue cloudless sky.

I am thinking... that I am glad that I have a humble home where happiness dwells!

I am thankful for... Parents that came to the rescue. No sooner had we started out to St. Louis Friday evening - a 4 hour drive- than the car started making a funny noise. Honey looked at it and said - I think I can fix it when we get to your Mom and Dad's - a 10 minute drive. Come to find out, it was much more extensive than he thought - so Mom and Dad let us borrow their car. Whew!

From the kitchen... cheesy double-decker tacos tonight, venison tenderloin tomorrow, teriyaki chicken for Wednesday.

I am wearing... Purple turtleneck, cream sweater, pink poodle socks, pink housieslippers, navy skirt.

I am creating... Christmas cards!

I am going... to go to Aldi's tonight when Honey gets home.

I am reading... not much right now.

I am hoping... that Honey's new boots will help his feet.

I am hearing... not much, very quiet around here.

Around the house... laundry and vacuuming.

One of my favorite things... is Steak and Shake - I know, my bad!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Put new comforter set on bed today, finish up christmas cards and mail, rake leaves.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is just me!

If you like reading these, hop on over to The Simple Woman and make your own!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 17, 2008...

Outside my window... Bright sunshine, blue sky with a few horse-tail clouds

I am thinking... of what to wear this weekend (we are going to visit the in-laws)

I am thankful for... a warm home to live in.

From the kitchen... Pancakes and sausage, potato patties

I am wearing... black skirt, cream turtle-neck, pink socks, blue housieshoes

I am creating... cookies to take to St. Louis this weekend

I am going... to enjoy having a couple of days off to relax and be with family

I am reading... I Kings - Solomon and Elijah

I am hoping... that I can find a nice comforter set for our bed this weekend - fairly cheap!

I am hearing... the washing machine whirring

Around the house... kitchen floors to be swept and mopped, bathroom to be cleaned

One of my favorite things... is baking cookies - just something about shaping the dough, baking it and then sharing them with someone - bliss!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Today: Call house insurance, vacuum, do dark laundry. Tuesday: Mail package to Marie, laundry, bake molasses cookies. Wednesday: Make vegetable soup for church dinner, also make cheesecake bars for same. Thursday: Dusting, clean out car. Bake bread and cookies. Friday: Vacuum, pack.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...



Honey said I would never be able to fit it all in there! I did have to do a bit of fancy shuffling, some of the books you see in the case in the first picture have now moved to my office. These are my cookbooks - most of them!

This daybook is hosted by Peggy at The Simple Woman. There are around 200 women who participate. Join in!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Settling In

There are a lot of things to do in a new house. Not to mention all of the cleaning, but there are just things that have to be done. Furniture has to be arranged. Curtains have to be hung. Drawers have to be organized, as do cabinets. Windows may have to be fixed - we had 4 (storm windows)!

Then, when all the flurry is over, you can pause - Ahhhh! that is more like it! Got a nice, comfy home. Very quiet (except for the muffled "Poom, Poom" of the hunter's guns in the wetland). The cat has finally settled and decided he LIKES being the only cat in the house (he can have his pick of the laps now). The kitchen is finally organized so you feel like cooking something other than frozen pizza and fish sticks. It has been nippy, so the furnace is on, making the house nice and warm.

A routine has been established - I get up first and put coffee on, make Honey's lunch and fix him breakfast. He gets up a little later, but he makes the bed. Then I do my Bible reading while he eats and we discuss it afterwards and pray for our day. Our weekends have been busy, so we have yet to have a good Saturday breakfast, but that is coming, too.

We have things I would like - a dishwasher for one - but that can wait. For now, we are settled in!

I did manage to make these muffins one Saturday. Ummy, ummy good.

Cranberry Sour Cream Muffins

Makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, Slightly Beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk (I had to add at least another 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups raw cranberries, Chopped
1/2 cup sugar

Sift together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking soda and salt into bowl. Combine egg, sour cream, milk and oil in small bowl; blend well. Add all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just enough to moisten. Combine cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar; stir into batter. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups, filling equally. Bake in 375°F oven 20 minutes or until golden brown.

These reheat well in the microwave. These were perfect with scrambled eggs and bacon, served with coffee and orange juice!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

I promised some pictures of my new home so . . . .

Kitchen counter with my canisters

Dining room wall - we were shopping at a Mennonite store and saw this sign - we both said "Oh, I like that" - so we bought it - we are truly blessed

My messy, messy desk

One of the walls in my office

Bittersweet on the front door

I will be posting more pictures later on . . . .

Just wanted all of my readers to know that I really appreciate them! We have been rushed for dinners some nights around here, so I wanted to share one of the better ones we have had lately.

Sweet-n-Spicy Sausage and Rice

Serves 4

1 lb Little Smokies - or sliced smoked sausage
1 jar sweet-n-sour sauce - I used La Choy
A handful of chopped green and red peppers
1 small onion, sliced (optional)
1 (8 oz) can tidbit pineapple, drained
1/4 teaspoon (or more if you like it spicier) crushed red pepper flakes
Cooked rice

Bung all of the above in a small crockpot - I used my 1-1/2 quart - and turn it on high for 2 hours or so. Serve hot over rice.

Easy peasy and even my picky DS liked it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY November 10, 2008...

Outside my window... Gray skies, nothing but gray skies . . . The leaves have almost all dropped and I think it wants to rain

I am thinking... of how great and awesome our God is!

I am thankful for... a beautiful home.

From the kitchen... Homemade potato-sausage soup, molasses spice cookies

I am wearing... Navy skirt, gray t-shirt, blue sweater, purple and white socks and blue housieshoes

I am creating... a very fun package for my 'Zaar Christmas Swap partner!

I am going... to the bank and the postoffice at noon.

I am reading... Heidi - I love that book.

I am hoping... for a good week at work.

I am hearing... not much, very quiet around here.

Around the house... Laundry and finishing sorting out kitchen utensils.

One of my favorite things... is roses - I like pictures of roses, I like the smell of roses, I like roses!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Today - laundry and kitchen. Tue - finish putting up pics. Wed - church. Thu - Do some baking. Fri - Make soups and home-made rolls.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

My tired Honey with our kitty!

This is such fun to do every Monday - hop on over to The Simple Woman and take a look at everyone else's daybook!

Friday, November 7, 2008

In Love

I know, I know - how boring, eh?

Well, let me tell you. When I married my Honey, I cannot say that I was madly, crazy in love with him. Not the knock you down, can't live without them for one second, jealous type of love. Not at all. But my love has grown. And I think that is the best way to go - constantly discovering new things about each other - and delighting in one another. I am happier now than I think I have ever been in my life. Because I put God in the center. If we focus on Him, everything else just falls in place. Like that last piece in a jigsaw puzzle, he makes the picture complete. I now have a comfortable, fulfilling love.

This is a poem I came by on the Internet a while back - it pretty much says how I feel. No idea who wrote it, so if you did - thank you a million times - from the bottom of my heart.


When I created the heavens and the earth, I spoke them into being.
When I created man, I formed him and breathed into his nostrils.
But you, Woman, I fashioned after I breathed the breath of life into man because your nostrils are too delicate.

I allowed a deep sleep to come over him so I could patiently and perfectly fashion you.
Man was put to sleep so he could not interfere with the creativity.

From one bone I fashioned you.
I chose the rib, which protects his heart and lungs and supports him, as you are meant to do.
Around this bone I shaped you.
I molded you.
I created you perfectly.
Your characteristics are as the rib, strong yet delicate and fragile.
You provide protection for the most delicate organ in a man... his heart.
His heart is the center of his belonging; his lungs hold the breath of life.
The rib cage will allow itself to be broken before it will allow damage to the heart.
Support the man as the rib cage supports the body.

You were not taken from his feet to be under him, nor were you taken from his head to be above him.
You were taken from his side, to stand beside him and be held close to his side.

Your lips, how lovely when they part in prayer.
Your nose, so perfect in form; your hand so gentle to touch.
I've caressed your face in your deepest sleep; I've held your heart close to mine.

Adam walked with me in the cool of the day, and yet he was lonely.
He could not see me or touch me.
He could only feel me.

So everything I wanted Adam to experience with me, I fashioned in you: my holiness, my strength, my purity, my love; my protection and support.

You are special because you are an extension of me.

Man represents My image...
...Woman, my emotions.

Together you represent the totality of Me.

So man, treat woman well.
Love her and respect her, for she is fragile.
In hurting her, you hurt Me.
What you do to her, you do to Me.
In crushing her, you only damage your own heart, the heart of your Father, and the heart of her Father.

Woman, support man.
In humility, show him the power of emotion I have given you.
In gentle quietness, show your strength.
In love, show him you are the rib that protects his inner self.

That poem just speaks volumes, don't you think?

You know, those we love will not always be with us. These earthly vessels fail - all part of God's plan - some fail sooner than others. So while you still have your loved ones - LOVE them. Always. No matter what. TELL them you love them. SHOW them you love them. Because one day, you won't be able to.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

I have always liked Linus. You know, the little character from the Peanuts comic strip, who believes in the Great Pumpkin. I guess I kinda feel sorry for Linus, what with Snoopy always stealing his blankie and Lucy being so mean to him.

Anyway, Linus believes in the Great Pumpkin. Kind of a substitute for Santa, just earlier. Even though the Great Pumpkin never appears, he keeps waiting every year. How faithful! He even convinces (or bribes) Snoopy into waiting for the Great Pumpkin with him. Just as we should take our faith and never let it go, always sharing it with others.

The comics are my favorite part of the newspaper. There is so much sorrow and strife in the real news that sometimes I like a little bit of escape.

Hmmmm . . . kinda like this dessert. It is ever-so-easy and gets gobbled up in no time. Much easier than making pumpkin pie (no crust)!

The Great Pumpkin Crunch

1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (18 oz) yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, cubed into small bits

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix first 6 ingredients in bowl until smooth. Pour into pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over top and then scatter butter evenly over that. DO NOT STIR! You can add chopped pecans if you wish. Bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown. Best served warm with real whipped cream or Cool Whip.

Very fallish!

If this post is a bit rambling, please excuse - I worked as an election judge yesterday - 14 hours of sitting in a chair. I about went stir crazy!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

This is my daybook, I am sure you would love to read the others. They can be found at The Simple Woman. Go on over and take a look!

FOR TODAY November 03, 2008...

Outside My Window... there is gorgeous fall color - bronze oaks, red maples, yellow maples, orange, burgundy. The trees here have finally gotten pretty. There is even a bit of green left!

I am thinking... of how blessed I am. God has been truly good to me, I have such an abundance of love in my life!

I am thankful for... a husband who irons. I absolutely hate to iron anything - so he does the ironing for me!

From the kitchen... Roast chicken, boiled potatoes with butter, broccoli and cheese, mocha-chip coffee cake.

I am wearing... my big fuzzy fleece teddybear robe. I practically live in this thing during the winter. And, of course, my housieslippers!

I am creating... fleece tie blankets for the grandsons. "Cars" movie characters for Dillon and Spiderman for Austin.

I am going... to be an election judge tomorrow! I had applied in August and now tomorrow I will find out what it is all about.

I am reading... The Heretic Queen. All about Nefertari.

I am hoping... that tomorrow will not be too busy.

I am hearing... the fan running in DS's room.

Around the house... don't get me started! However, my project for today (besides working 8 hours and fixing dinner) is to get the bathroom cabinet sorted. And the curtains put up in my office.

One of my favorite things... is kitty kisses. When your cat looks at you kinda sleepy like and they blink their eyes - that is a kitty kiss. My kitty kisses me a lot!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Tomorrow - at the polls. Wednesday - hook up my printer and finish sorting my office. Thursday - get paperwork at bank taken care of, change driver's license, laundry. Friday - finish sorting out kitchen cabinets.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is the baby blanket I made for my niece. We had her baby shower Saturday evening. She is expecting a girl - finally. She has 2 boys already. I thought this would be a little girlie - but not too much. So soft and warm.

I would like to thank everyone for being patient with me during my absence. I have been around, just so *ahem* busy. Things are getting back to normal now, we finally have the living room curtains up!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm back - finally

Well, the wedding went off without a hitch. Well, actually Keith flubbed a few of his lines and my throat was so dry I squeaked. Gorgeous day, everything in place, God really blessed. I aplogize, but I do not have the pictures of the actual wedding yet, they are not back from the photographer. All I have are pictures of the reception and the food! Here are some of them . . .

The food was old-fashioned fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans fixed with onion and tomato and mushrooms, rolls and peach cobbler that just melted in your mouth! We had coffee, ice water and iced tea to drink. Instead of nuts and mints, we had mix - salted peanuts, candy corn, M&Ms and rasins.

OUr table

The blushing bride? This is an absolutely horrible picture of me, I am very un-photogenic!

DS- in dress clothes!

The tables - I thought they turned out really cute

The punch bowl

The cake - oh so good and very pretty!

Keith's family - on left from front to back - His mom, his brother and SIL On right - his uncle, aunt and his sister

My aunt Naomi, uncle Charlie, niece Bobbi Jo and neice Stacy

I would like to thank everyone so much for your patience and for all of your good wishes. They were much appreciated. I wish everyone could have been there to help me celebrate!