Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy 2011!

Enjoy a safe and fun holiday weekend! 

We'll be in touch in the new year!!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Cookies, Candies and Memories....

I have hosted a cookie baking/candy making night with both daughter-in-loves and our precious granddaughters for several years now. Wanted to share some pictures and recipes from our fun times together this last week.

From left to right:
Lyn (the mom - we always get comments about how young she looks in her mid-30's!), (oops - sorry Lyn!=) Chloe, Nana & Charlie

(The big tray of dipped peanut butter balls was cooling by the stove when this picture
was taken and they missed getting in the picture!)

These are two favorites that we always make for the holidays...


(I am still not sure why they have a different name in my cookbook, but it's still the same delicious recipe..and it's easy peasy!)

48 - 50 mini pretzels
48 - 50 rolos or chocolate kisses
1 small bag peanut M & M's

Preheat oven to 275. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Lay pretzels over top; place a rolo or kiss in the center of each one. Bake 4 - 5 minute until chocolate is softened.  Remove from oven; place an M & M on each, pressing down slighty to adhere the chocolate to the pretzel.  Cool a few minutes; refrigerate (or set in a cold garage) until chocolate is firm.  Store at room temperature.  (We've done as many as 90 at once by covering a big cookie sheet)

This is such an awesome recipe because you can make as many, or as few, as you want.  Make just enough to fill a plate to give away or several platesful. I love it because it's an easy recipe for kids to help with.

(this recipe can be cut in half or even in fourths)

1 lb. margarine, melted
5 c. smooth peanut butter
2-1/2 - 3 lb. powdered sugar
1 Tb. vanilla extract
1-1/2 - 2 (12 ozs) pkgs. semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
2 (heaping) Tb. Crisco

In large pot, stir peanut butter into melted margarine; when blended, add vanilla and enough powdered sugar until slightly crumbly.  Make balls the size of large marbles while mixture is slightly warm.  Place on waxed paper lined cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and Crisco together in double boiler; keep warm.  Dip chilled balls in chocolate, placing back onto waxed paper to chill and set up.

Beings I live in Ohio and am a 'buckeye'.....folks around here dip these delicious treats part way into the chocolate, making them look like buckeyes. 

I've been making these for over 40 years, and have always dipped them all the way, but feel free to do as you please...

Here's our little guy Caden enjoying a cookie while we were busy in the kitchen.  He watched tv with his Papa and stayed out of our way while we were busy. 

Then last Saturday, daughter-in-love, Kym, and granddaughter, Ashtyn, came over and spent several hours in the kitchen with me.  Ashtyn is 16 and involved in sports and last year was the first time she had missed our cookie baking night, so it felt extra special for her to be here this year.  She's our firstborn grandchild - oh how quickly they grow! Guess that makes me old(er) huh?  (I always credit becoming a Nana with allowing my gray hair to show thru...I colored it before then, but after I became a Nana, it didn't matter so much anymore that I had a head of gray hair (in my mid 40's)  Grandchildren are our reward!

Can you tell we were busy!!!???

This is a picture of one of the platesful I gave away after we had fun stirrin' up lots of goodies...

Clockwise from left front:
Mixed Nut Bars - Chocolate peanut butter cookie cups -
Fudgy mint cookies - Saltine toffee - Pecan pie bars -
caramel truffles in the middle

(Just so you know....some of those things were made BEFORE our time together!)

Just in case you're just about 'cookied out' I will share just one of these recipes.  It takes 2 ingredients and is easy peasy!! In fact, I think it's so easy, I put it in the "Kid's Corner" of my cookbook...


1 - 15 oz. roll refrigerated ready-to-slice peanut butter
(or choco chip) cookie dough

48 miniature peanut butter cup candies

Preheat oven to 350. Slice cookie dough into 3/4-inch slices.  Cut each slice into quarters.  Place each quarter into ungreased mini muffin pans.  Bake 8 - 10 minutes (dough will rise during baking). Remove from oven and immediately press an unwrapped peanut butter cup gently and evenly into cookie.  Cool before removing from pan.  Refrigerate until firm. 
Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

(We ran out of peanut butter cups, so we used 2 peanut M & M's in the rest of them.  They turned out adorable too.)

We have 2 long distance granddaughters who I don't get to bake cookies with very often, but wanted to include a picture of them taken this week. We went there (nearly 3 hrs. one way) to see Claira in her school program, and then went back to their house for them to open gifts.  In this picture, Kaity and Claira are wearing the new princess nightgowns (complete with 'magic wands')
we got for them.

Whether you're stirring things up, or gobbling them down, enjoy a great time with family this holy holiday season!

It's a busy time of year - I've decided to take time off from blogging for about 10 days.  I have much sorting/organizing/pitching/cleaning (even defrosting!) to get done in my house, so I will catch you once again in the new year.

Season's Eatings & Merry CHRISTmas to all!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Amazing Ritz Cracker Candies

If you're not going 'full bore' in the kitchen this time of the year, maybe you're getting to do some 'winding down' like I hope to this coming week.

Things have been a-buzzing in my kitchen and I've already given away many plates of goodies, and still have just a few more things left to make.  Gotta
use up those ingredients before the new year flies in and I need to make a committment to eat healthier.

Until me, I am REALLY enjoying the goodies this time of year!

I plan to share some pictures from my recent 'memory making' times with family and pictures of some of our creations in an upcoming post.  It's been great fun and worth the effort to make memories together.

I've made a similar recipe to the first one below for many years - so yummy.  We always put peanut butter between two crackers and dip them in chocolate, but don't add the peppermint. Amazing how good something that simple tastes. 

Adding the candy cane sprinkles & extract would give it some holiday pizazz.

Try ''ll like 'em...

Mint Thins

1 pkg. (8 squares) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted, slightly cooled
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract,optional
1 sleeve RITZ Crackers (36 crackers)
1 candy cane (6 inch), crushed, optional

MIX chocolate and extract.

DIP crackers in chocolate, turning to completely coat each cracker. Carefully scrape off excess chocolate. Place crackers in single layer on waxed paper-covered baking sheets; sprinkle with crushed candy.

REFRIGERATE 30 min. or until chocolate is firm.

These are a few ritz 'sandwiches' we made at our cookie baking/candy making time together last Sat.  Granddaughter Ashtyn got to add the sprinkles...MMM!


OK - I already had this post typed up and scheduled, and then I read this
lovely post by my blogger friend Libby.  She's a military wife, so I'm pretty
partial to her :-} and I get such a kick out of knowing more about the cooking classes she's sharing with other military gals.  I would have loved that -
all of us being away from our families for the holidays, and having someone sharing her ideas to help us make our own memories in the kitchen.  Awesome!

Anyway - she has the recipe and her picture for the 'ritz cookies' as we've called them, so I want to include this post from "Cooking with Libby"....

Check her on the link below...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

She's got some great ideas and I do hope you'll give them a try!

Stay tuned for more ideas to make gifts from your kitchen.  Christmas is only 4 days away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Delicious & Easy Pumpkin Cake Roll

This is a recipe I've made for almost 40 years!  It really isn't as difficult as it may seem - hope it's something your family will enjoy this holiday season too.  It's definitely one of our family favorites!

Give it a try!  It's an impressive dish and I'm guessing you'll want to make it
for Christmas. 

pumpkin roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375. Grease jelly roll pan - 10" X 15" X 1". (I like to line the bottom with waxed paper - after greasing pan -  to ensure the bottom of the cake comes out in one piece)  Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar; stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together. Fold into the pumpkin mixture. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake 15 minutes. Turn upside down onto a towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. ( I loosen the edges first) Remove waxed paper, roll up the cake and towel together, while still warm. Let cool to room temperature.  Unroll and spread with cream cheese frosting.


8 ozs. cream cheese, softened
4 Tb. butter or margarine, softened
1-1/4  cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and margarine until smooth - mix in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Frost cake - roll up and chill until serving.  Can be made a few days ahead.

Linked to Melt in your Mouth Monday

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Very Special Gift

I just had to share the picture of a very special Christmas gift given to me by my dear friend Margie.  She has a knack for 'special touches' and is the ultimate 'party planner'.
(A big reason why I invited her to go to St. Kitts with me earlier this year - she knows how to have F.U.N!)

How I appreciate her thoughtfulness in giving me this one-of-a-kind gift this year!

She had this spiffy and sparkly chef's hat ornament personalized with "The Better Baker...Published 2010".  How sweet sweet sweet!!!


Friday, December 10, 2010

THE BETTER BAKER hits the road! *-*


Lookie!  Lookie!  What my darlin' hubby did for me!  We just got it done yesterday and I couldn't be more pleased! 

 How fun is this?

AND...the man who did the lettering bought 2 cookbooks from me - a woman who works in the same building bought 3!  Yesterday was a very very good day.

I also won a "Cook Once a Month" cookbook from my friend Jane Doiron's blog.  Yippee!!!

God continues to blow my socks off in all these special blessings! TO HIM BE THE GLORY!

Christmas Recipes, Tips & Tricks - Oh My!

First of all, I want to wish my dear daughter Deb a very happy birthday today.  How grateful I am that she made me a mommy.  She's such an inspiration in my life and I continue to learn much about life and faith from her. 


A couple of years ago,  Deb - The Queen Mommy - interviewed me and shared the questions/answers on her blog.  I think this may have some ideas worthy of passing along to you - especially this time of the year.  Hope you find something to help you sllliiide through this very busy month. 

(We did this interview 2 years ago - before I had my cookbook published.  Now I have 300 of my most favorite recipes under one cover.  What a huge favor I did for myself without even realizing it!)

Q: How do you prepare for your holiday activities (calendar, lists, etc.)?

I make notes on a desk calendar for any activities going on from day to day, including cookie baking, cookie exchanges, Christmas concerts, etc.

I keep a pocket file folder in my recipe drawer – I have many – but one I have marked “Holidays”. I keep my favorite recipes there so I don’t have to dig through all my recipes to try to find a holiday favorite. I also use small photo albums (you know – the inexpensive ones from my local dollar store or walmart) and place recipes from newspaper/magazines in them, and mark each of them with the kind of recipes they contain. I have one marked “Cookies” that I refer to often. Others are ‘desserts’ ’9″ X 13″ pan desserts’ ‘snacks and appetizers’, etc. etc. I stand these little albums on end so I can easily see the one I’m looking for.

I keep a Christmas Card record book from year to year – that way I can make changes in addresses when needed (I include the year of change also), and I keep track of whom I send to and receive from. Most record books are good for 5-8 years. I keep a list of gifts I give to friends and customers from year to year so I will vary the kitchen ‘goodies’ I share with them and don’t repeat – unless it’s one of their favorites, which I record, also.

Q: What shortcuts and time savers do you rely on during your holiday preparations?

As I mentioned previously, I keep a list of recipes written out for review & reference. I try to make every minute count – get up and do something while a commercial comes on TV, and I always make myself lists so I don't have to remember what I need to do next.

One thing I do to keep things moving along in the kitchen, is to keep hot sudsy water in the sink all the time I’m working there, and wash dishes when I have a minute in between things. It helps keep the counter cleared and dishes can dry (use HOT water to rinse) and you can put them away when you have another few minutes.

Sometimes, we just have to prioritize. I do that often during this very busy month. And I have to consider what REALLY needs to be done first – usually, according to the day of the week it needs to be ready. We gotta ‘keep the main thing, the main thing’….I always record comments on new recipes – ‘excellent’….’rubbery’ (just did that today with a sugar free cookie I tried =) If the recipe isn’t in a book, and I’m not wild about it, I usually throw it away and keep trying other new ones.

Q: What homemade gifts do you like to give? How do you package them?

I believe gifts from the heart are the very best kind - when we give part of ourselves....our time, the work of our hands and our thoughtfulness away.

(While a newspaper photographer was here earlier this week taking pictures to go along with my monthly newspaper food column, being published next week, I took a few pictures of my fun to get my cookbook in this picture!)

Chocolate Pretzel Rings (page 152 in my cookbook)  are fun to make with kids, and make a LOT so giving them away by themselves or along with other goodies is nice. If you can keep from eating them all…

(My living room decorations this year - I love snowmen & penguins)

Fruited Oatmeal Mix (page 148) is a nice gift to give – it’s warm and filling and is a healthier option, too! It can be bagged and tucked into a pretty tin or given in a pretty gift jar.

Q: How do you prepare for last minute party invitations or gift ideas?

I buy things (on sale) throughout the year – candles, books, calendars, Avon, and have two file drawers in my desk with gifts in them, so I can look through and see if I can find anything ‘fitting’ for the person I desire it for. And I always have something edible made up – even if it’s in the freezer.

Let’s not forget to organize our heart and minds so that we keep the focus on the true meaning of each holiday.  Enjoy this special time with your family and friends because spending meaningful & quality time with your loved ones will mean so much more than any gift you give them.

1 lb. white chocolate (or vanilla almond bark)

Melt in double boiler or microwave according to directions

Mix together:

3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Corn Chex (or combined – 6 cups crispix cereal)
3 cups Cheerios
2 cups mini pretzels
2 cups peanuts
1 lg. bag of M & M’s – plain or peanut (optional) (We love using the holiday mix)
Pour white chocolate over everything and mix well. Let dry and place into gift containers.


13 oz bag Rolos (or about 7 single rolls)
1 bag tiny twists pretzels
1 bag peanut M & M’s – (again, those holiday ones add a special touch)

Line cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay out pretzels, place one unwrapped rolo on top of Pretzel. Bake at 300 for 5 -6 minutes or until chocolate becomes shiny.

Take out of oven, place M&M on each one, pushing down on rolo so it adheres to pretzel.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then place entire sheet in fridge or cold room to set for at least 1 hour. This is so great because you can make few or many at a time. A cookie sheet full will make 70-90 treats. May also top with pecan halves instead of M & M’s.


6 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apples or dried banana chips or any dried diced fruit
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tsps. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
(Yield: 7 cups of mix/two batches – each makes 7 servings of oatmeal)

Directions to include with gift:
For each serving:

1/2 cup fruited oatmeal mix
3/4 cup water

In a deep microwave-safe bowl, combine mix and water. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 45 seconds; stir. Cook 20-30 seconds longer or until bubbly. let stand for 1 – 2 minutes.

A healthy gift – I used splenda, splenda brown sugar, and reduced sodium salt….Delicious!

White Christmas Mix (Page 150 in my cookbook=) is a very yummy, easy & pretty holiday gift to give. Giving it in the holiday printed zipper-seal bags is nice because you can see how pretty the mix is. Even plain ziploc bags, decorated with curly ribbons is ‘fun.’

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate-Cream Cheese-Peanut Butter Bars

Oh yeh!  With all those things in a bar, you know this has gotta be a winner!

I do love The Life of a Foodie and Her Family blog and find myself printing many of her recipes.

I tried her recipe for these delicious bars over Thanksgiving - and since I didn't have my
camera to take a picture (Canon just mailed me another one - hurrah) I am going to
share her post, recipe and picture! 

Thanks Lynn!

Chocolate-Cream Cheese-Peanut Butter Bars

These are great - oh how I love peanut butter and chocolate.  This definitely satisfies any craving for either.  Try 'em - you're sure to like 'em!

Cookie Base & Topping:

1 pouch (1 lb. 1.5 ozs) peanut butter cookie mix
3 Tb. oil
1 Tb. water
1 egg


1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie base and topping ingredients until soft dough forms. Shape 6 (1-inch) balls of dough. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls 2 inches apart; flatten in crisscross pattern with fork.

Press remaining dough in pan. Bake cookies and base 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Reserve cookies for topping.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and stirred smooth. Spread evenly over bars. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and whipping cream with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Spread over chocolate layer.

Crush reserved cookies; sprinkle over cream cheese layer. Press in lightly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Babies, Lemons & Laughs

As we say goodbye to November, I thought it would be fun to share some giggles.

Trust ya'll enjoyed a great Thanksgiving.  Maybe you're all 'reciped-out' so I thought I'd
share this adorable video...just for fun.

These hilarious faces as the babes in this video taste a lemon cracked me up....and I found myself making faces right along with them!

credit: nadia phaneuf

Monday, November 29, 2010

Homemade Turkey Soup

I just had to share this recipe I came across as I've made soup just like this for years.  This year we only had a turkey breast, so I cut the leftovers up and will make Turkey Pot Pie later this week.

But this recipe reminded me of the many times I've made turkey rice soup using the carcass.  MMM good!  Hope you'll use up some of your leftover bird to enjoy this tasty dish.

Feel free to use frozen mixed vegetables if you don't want to take the time to chop the veggies.

You don't have to add the canned soup, but it does make for a creamier dish.

Add some crackers, a roll, or a sandwich and enjoy a great meal.

Maybe you can do some Christmas decorating while the carcass is simmering?


8-10 Servings Prep: 30 min. Cook: 2 hours 35 min.


1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 10- to 12-pound turkey)

2 quarts water

1 medium onion, halved

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, undiluted


Place the turkey carcass in a stockpot; add the water, onion, salt and bay leaves. Slowly bring to a boil over low heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Remove carcass; cool. Strain broth and skim off fat. Discard onion and bay leaves. Return broth to the pan. Add the carrots, rice, celery and chopped onion; cover and simmer until rice and vegetables are tender.

Remove turkey from bones; discard bones and cut turkey into bite-size pieces. Add turkey and cream soup to broth; heat through. Yield: 8-10 servings (about 2 quarts).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer

(please click on the link below)
O Give Thanks Unto the Lord

credit: whitneyinchicago

Thanksgiving Blessings

Lord, as we bow our heads to pray,
We celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Help us have the right attitude,
As we turn to you in gratitude.
Thank you for our festive mood;
Thank you, Lord, for this good food;
Thanks for blessings great and small;
Thank you, thank you for it all.

By Joanna Fuchs

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's "Bake Cookies Day!" & Brownie Crackles Cookie Recipe

I delight in baking many kinds of cookies during the month of December. (After all - I am a BAKER=) I have cookie baking nights with both daughter-in-loves and my granddaughters too.  It's a fun thing to do together and makes for great memories...and makes great gifts for sharing too.  Last year we were all on the front page of the little newspaper that I write a monthly food column..donned in our aprons baking up a storm.

Here we are - these pictures were taken a couple of years ago as we view the works of our hands. GREAT bonding time together!

 L to R: Lyn, Charlie, Chloe, Nana

L to R: Nana, Kym, Ashtyn

Stay tuned in December for some yummy cookie recipes to help you get ready for the holidays.

I hope to post a couple of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes next week. Enjoy a day and fill your home with the delightful smells of cookies today!

(Click on link below)




1-19 oz box fudge brownie mix (9" X 13" size)
1 c. all purpose flour
1 egg
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil                                      
1- 6 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease baking sheet.  In large mixing bowl, combine brownie mix, flour, egg, water and oil; mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Place powdered sugar in shallow dish; drop dough by tablespoonsful into sugar; roll to coat.  Place 2" apart and bake 8 - 10 minutes or until set.  Remove to rack to cool.  Yield: 4-1/2 dozen

Friday, November 12, 2010

Easy Taco Dip

With the holidays fast approaching, it's great to have something easy and delicious like these recipes to whip up quickly! Even if you just have a busy weekend ahead, (I have a cookbook signing on Sat!!  Yippee!) this is one that's easy to throw together and the family can help themselves whenever....

OH HOW I LOVE THIS TACO DIP!!!  So much that it's in my cookbook! *-*

I've made it for many parties and grandkids birthdays.

Easy Taco Dip
1-16 oz. can refried beans
1/2 c. mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 c. sour cream
1 env. taco seasoning (I don't use the whole thing)
grated cheese
sliced green onions, optional
sliced olives, optional
tomatoes, diced, optional
1 bag tortilla chips

Spread beans in bottom of 9" X 9" dish or on large plate or pie plate.  Mix mayo, sour cream and taco seasoning; spread over beans. Sprinkle with cheese, onions, olives and tomatoes, if desired. Cover and chill a few hours for best flavor. Serve with tortilla chips. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Leader Enterprise - November 2010 - Attitude of Gratitude

Here we are almost to the end of the year already!November always brings thoughts of Thanksgiving.I want to challenge you to exercise your attitude of gratitude.When life hands you lemons,you can choose to become bitter...or better.Learning to be thankful for our troubles makes sense of our past and creates a vision for tomorrow.
About a year ago in a conversation with a casual acquaintance I mentioned that my 60th birthday was upcoming.Their response rather took me aback.I suppose this person considered my head of gray hair and then responded with "OOhh-life has not been kind to you.I thought you were older than that". 
I've pondered that many times since and this month I want to share with you many ways that life has been kind to me!I desire to display that grateful attitude no matter what comes my way.It has been said that a wise person doesn't grieve over what they don't have but rejoices in what they do.I wholeheartedly believe that!
How thankful I am that I've lived long enough for my hair to turn gray!After having been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 1987,I had 2 surgeries totaling 23 hrs and received many sweet blessings during my month's stay in a military hospital in another state,far from my 3 children.I'm thankful to only have some paralysis on the left side of my face and am totally deaf in that ear.I use to complain that I cried too much,but now only one eye tears when I cry,so I can proudly say I cry half as much as I use to.Trust me-there are times that not hearing everything is a good thing too.It's all about perspective.
I'm very thankful for a hubby who continues to live a productive life, even after having a heart attack at 49,and being 100% disabled because of Agent Orange.He is a true blessing in my life and I'm thankful for every day we get to share life together.
We often share a chuckle whenever I proclaim how blessed we are that he's disabled because we get to park close to the grocery store or restaurant door.
Even though we lived away from our families for 16 years,how thankful I am that he was able to give those years to military service,and our children got to experience and see things many never do.
Since our young grandson Caden was diagnosed with leukemia over 2 years ago,we are so thankful his health is stabilized much of the time now though he continues monthly treatments until January 2012. We are grateful for wise doctors, nurses and modern technology.Our family has received many rainbows in spite of the storm.What a joy when he dressed up as Woody from Toy Story for Halloween and greeted us with a"Howdy Pardner".The little things in life truly are the big things.
Cold and flu season is here,so if you've avoided getting sick thus far,good work! Here are some easy ways that you can continue sickness prevention(or get healthy sooner if you've already caught a bug):
  • Take Your Vitamins:vitamins can help fill those nutritional gaps created by stress and lack of sleep when you're sick.You don't have to spend a fortune on vitamins either.According to Consumer Reports, store brand multi-vitamins are on equal footing as their name brand equivalents.
  • Change Out Your Toothbrush Regularly:bacteria can build up on your toothbrush while you're sick and decrease your immune system's effectiveness.Either get a new one after you've been sick or boil yours in some water and vinegar(without melting it!)
  • Drink plenty of fluids:When you're sick,take extra effort to stay hydrated.It helps keep mucus thinner.Every time you sneeze or blow your nose,you're losing moisture.Drinking warm tea or broth helps loosen up the mucus,making it easier to cough out.Stay away from caffeinated or alcoholic drinks,which will dehydrate you.
  • Disinfect household surfaces regularly:Door handles,remote controls,light switches,computer keyboards & telephones are storehouses for germs.Swiping them down with a disinfectant wipe helps eradicate  germs.
  • Wash your hands,Wash your hands,Wash your hands:this one thing cannot be emphasized too much.
It seems that pies are often considered for our Thanksgiving menus.This delicious recipe from my cookbook tastes much like pumpkin pie and serves 15-18.It can be made ahead also.Whatever you enjoy for your Thanksgiving meal,I hope you gobble til you wobble.
1-3/4 c.white sugar,divided
1-1/2 c.all purpose flour
1/2 c.cold butter or margarine
4 eggs,lightly beaten
1(29-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp.ground ginger
1/2 tsp.ground cloves
2(12-oz) cans evaporated milk
whipped cream and additional cinnamon,optional
Preheat oven to 425.In large bowl,combine 1/4 c.sugar and flour;cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.Press into an ungreased 9"x 13"x 2"baking dish.In same bowl,combine remaining 1-1/2 c.sugar,eggs,pumpkin,salt and spices.Stir in milk and blend.Pour over crust;bake 15 minutes.Reduce heat to 350;bake 45-55 minutes longer or until filling is set.Cool;cover and refrigerate overnight.Cut into squares;top with whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.
Be watching for my December column that will be chocked full of holiday recipes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

MMM! Pumpkin Dip

I've been making this yummy dip for years and often share the recipe.  It's a little different than many dishes, easy to make and nice to have on hand.  It lasts a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, so get ready to enjoy!

Hope it is a hit at your place too!!


1 - 8 ozs. pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 - 15 ozs. can solid pack pumpkin

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 c. Cool Whip, optional

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.  Gradually mix in the pumpkin.  Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and orange juice until smooth and well blended.  Stir in cool Whip, if using. Chill until serving. Let stand at least 2 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend.

This is great for dipping graham crackers, gingersnaps or apples.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HAPPY DESSERT DAY! (& a Favorite Dessert Recipe too)

Desserts are my favorite!!!!!  So I wanted to make sure you knew today was "Dessert Day" and share one of my most favorite dessert recipes with you too!  Enjoy a sweet day!

photo: Taste of Home


1-1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. peeled, chopped apples
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/2 c. butterscotch chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-inch sq. baking dish.  In large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Blend sugar, oil and eggs until smooth; stir wet mixture into dry and mix just until combined.  Stir in the apples, pecans and 1/4 c. butterscotch chips.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with remaining butterscotch chips. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  Yield: 4 - 6 good sized servings
(because you'll definitely want MORE)

A very moist cake and even those who claim to not like butterscotch, seem to
love this cake.

This recipe is linked to Sweets for a Saturday

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade Ghosts from Making Memories Blog

Are these adorable or what?  A fun (& free!) decorating idea as Halloween quickly approaches! Enjoy some family fun.

Print this idea to use next year too...but you can certainly leave these out until after Halloween...

I love the frugal and family-friendly ideas shared at this blog - she
has some darling holiday crafting ideas.  Enjoy!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Life really is Sa-Weeeet!

My dear hubby and I just got home from spending a week in the Ozarks. It was a glorious time away!!

Here we are standing on the dock in front of the 'cabin' on the Lake of the Ozarks
where we stayed!

We were truly blessed to stay in a gorgeous 'second' home of some local friends and couldn't have been more pleased.  We had plenty of room and even a washer/dryer.  I think we only ate out 3 times during the week.  I did some cooking but nothing demanding.

We had NO tv....internet...not even a radio!  I know I had years added to my life because of the restful and relaxing time we enjoyed - away from my usual fast-paced life! I can't believe
I actually had time to read a 252-page book while gone!

The best part was spending time with precious TX friends that we hadn't seen in over 5 years. This was kind of a mid-way place for us to meet.  We always laugh ourselves silly when we're together and that's SUCH good medicine for the soul!
This is Bill & Jerri Sparks - our TX pastor and wife when we were stationed in Austin, TX, in the early 80's.  These folks truly light up our lives.  (After all - they ARE Sparks!=)

We all enjoyed sitting on the deck watching the fish come to the surface to catch bugs, or jump out of the water. We played card games and dominoes and relaxed to the max.  I even took 2 naps one afternoon!

Sunset from the second floor deck


It was tough to come home, but we were missing family and are ever so grateful for the break.
It was an 11 hr. drive one direction.

A beautiful place we hope to return to again one day.  Til then, we will cherish the precious memories we made during this very special getaway.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Don't these look yummy?  Look at that cream cheese & chocolate chips! MMM!

I recently made this recipe and shared with my son and family.  It wasn't long afterwards, my daughter-in-love called to find out where the recipe was
in my cookbook.  (SMILE!)

Again I say....MMM!  Enjoy!

Cupcake part:
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. water
1 TB. vinegar
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. In medium mixing bowl, beat all
ingredients together until blended.  Line cupcake pans
with papers - fill 1/3 full with batter.  Top with a tablespoonful
of the cream cheese mixture.  Bake 15 - 18 minutes.  They are
done baking when the cake part tests finished. 
Yield: about 2 dozen

Cream Cheese Filling:
1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 c. white sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate (mini) chips

In small bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth.