Saturday, December 29, 2007

Corn Chowder

A month ago or so I gave out a recipe for Parmesan Corn Chowder. I was scanning through my recipes yesterday and decided to make this. It tasted great, until I added the cheese. Word to the wise, don't add the cheese just make it a corn chowder instead. It tastes great without the cheese. So here is the revised recipe.

(Vegetarians-you can use veggie stock instead of chicken stock)

Corn Chowder

2 cups chicken stock
1 onion, diced (about a cup)
1/2 cup celery, diced small
2 potatoes, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups milk
2 TBS corn starch
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can corn, drained
1 can creamed corn

In a 4 quart pot heat chicken stock, onion, celery, carrot, and potatoes to boiling. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the creamed corn, corn and black pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes until warmed. Add the milk except 2 TBS. Use the 2TBS milk to mix with the corn starch and then add to the soup. Stir until hot and thick. Serve with warm bisquets or rolls.

(At the end of the cooking process I mashed it all slightly with a potato masher to make the potatoes and the carrots smaller.)

2008 Charity

So I have been surfing the net and reading blogs and I came across one that asked people to commit to 25 charity projects a year. That is two a month. I think I am going to do that too. So here is my new years resolution:

I commit to making 25 items for charity this year. I will find a great place to donate and will donate them.

Anyone want to join me?

Maw's Shawl

We gave Maw her shawl on Thursday evening. She seemed to like it but didn't put it on or wear it like I had hoped. I didn't get any pictures of her in it then either. Oh well. It was pretty though.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Halfway House Green Beans

With the holidays, I am sure everyone is cooking up a storm. When we got back from Disney on the 23rd, I began baking. I baked 6 dozen cookies. 2 dozen sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles, 2 dozen mini chocolate chip cookies, and 2 dozen "Mickey Magic" chocolate chip cookies. I used the store-bought refrigerated dough and 'doctored' it up with sprinkles and jimmies.

I baked 4 cheesecakes. I used my uncle's recipe and poured the mixtures in to store-bought graham cracker crusts. I made two plain cheesecakes, one chocolate cheesecake, and one chocolate chip cheesecake.

For Christmas eve dinner with my mother and father, I made the mashed potatoes. The best potatoes I have made was when I used half and half to cream the potatoes. It made them so rich and yummy.

We had Christmas dinner at our house and we had a pre-cooked ham that I heated up, sweet potatoes, green beans (recipe at the bottom) stuffing, and rolls. In the stuffing I saute onions, celery and then added the water and when it boils I pour it into the bread crumbs.

Halfway House Green Beans
4 slices bacon
1 small onion (about a cup)
2 cans french style green beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with juices
1 TBS sugar

Fry bacon and remove to a paper towel lined plate. In the bacon fat cook the onions until soft. Add sugar and the tomatoes and the juice in the the can to the onions. Cook on medium low for about 10 minutes. Add the green beans and cook covered until heated through. Remove from heat and place in serving dish. Crumple up the bacon and sprinkle on top. Serve imediately.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Gifts

Today I got two new knitting books and I am so excited. I am a huge fan of Debbie Macomber and about a month ago I got one of her knitting along with Debbie books "A good Yarn" and I love the patterns in it. I have already made two scarves from it and want to make a baby blanket next. So a few weeks ago I was on line and found two more that I would like, so I ordered them and when the box came I gave the box unopened to my husband and told him to wrap it up just like that and give it to me for Christmas. I opened it today and while I knew what was in it, I was so excited to get them finally and look through them. I got the Back on Blossom Street and Cedar Cove Series, Knitting with Debbie. I have now found three more patterns I am dying to begin.

I gave two gifts that I made this year and my mother loved her scarf I made. I haven't given the prayer shawl yet to my husband's grandmother but we will get it to her soon. It was such an easy pattern and worked up so quickly that I am tempted to make another one and keep it.

While we were traveling on our trip to Disney World and back (14 hours each way) I did a lot of handwork. I finished the prayer shawl and made a scarf for me (a first project in over a year for me only!!) and I began a matching hat.

Now with the sales beginning tomorrow I am looking forward to sneaking out of the house for a little time in a yarn shop preparing for my next project, a baby blanket. My sister and brother in law are having a baby in July. I think I am going to make one in a bright green and yellow yarn, by Bernat called Tropics.

I will post some pictures soon!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

One down, One to go. A Prayer Shawl.

I have one gift done and now only one to go. The first one turned out GREAT. So great that I really want to do one for me now. My husband and I were out last night shopping for last minute people and we were working on an idea for his grandmother. We always get her a gift certificate to a supermarket and she really appreciates it because she is on a tight budget and she usually spends her food money on gifts this time of year. But I also wanted to get something else for her. So we are sitting there and I came up with the idea of making her a shawl to wrap around her. We happen to be in a restaurant next to Michaels Craft Store and so we went straight from the restaurant to the store and my husband helped me pick out the yarn. I am making the shawl that is featured on the front of the Prayer Shawl Ministry booklet. It is a popular pattern made in Lionbrand Homespun yarn. In fact the Lionbrand website gives it away as a free pattern online. So we came home and after the kids went to bed I sat down to work on it. Wow does it work up easily and quickly. In about an hour I had done about 10 inches on it. I should have it done in no time. Now I understand why they use this as a common pattern. It is crocheted in a V-stitch pattern.

51 chains to start and then starting with the 6th chain (dc, ch2, dc) in the same chain. Skip two chains and (dc, ch2, dc) in the next chain. Do this to the last chain and dc in that one. Ch3, turn and *(dc,ch2,dc) in each 2 chain space to the end and dc in ch after last dc. Ch3, turn and do follow from * until it reaches 36 inches in length. Then start again on the original starting chain and do the same for another 36 inches.

I will post a picture of the shawl when it is done. We chose to do it in Homespun Prairie color. I can't post a picture of the first gift because it will be given to someone who reads this blog and I don't want to give it away.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Baby Blanket

This is the baby blanket I made for charity. I am delivering it tomorrow. It will be going to a 7 month old little girl. I hope to make a hat to match for her tonight.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Danger Danger

I scanned the Sunday ads today after breakfast and found that Michaels was having a 25 -50% off sale on most all their yarns!! Uh oh! I just HAD to go. But today I went with a purpose. I chose two things that I had been wanting to make for me. The first one is a red, white, and blue wrap that has pockets in it. Too too fun! I found the pattern on the LionBrand website. There was only one problem. The yarn they say to use has been discontinued so I had to find another yarn that would work well. So I bought Bernat Soft Boucle at $2.79 a skein. The project will cost me a total of $16.74!

Then I chose a cute but warm -looking hat/scarf combo pattern. Again the yarn they suggested (Lion Brand Wool-ease Sport weight) was discontinued also. So I went with the Wool-ease worsted weight instead. I got it in a red with little specks of different colors. This project will come to $8.36!! Love a sale!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Whitney's Beefaroni

1 lb ground beef
1 small to medium onion, diced
1 can (14 1/2 oz) peeled tomatoes, diced
1/2 jar plain spaghetti sauce (I use Prego, traditional)
1 TBS Italian Seasoning
3/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 lb box of elbow macaroni pasta, cooked

Brown ground beef and cook onion at the same time in a skillet. Drain juices and return to skillet. Add Italian Seasoning, tomatoes, and spaghetti sauce. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until all is hot and bubbly. In a 9x13x2 casserole dish mix the macaroni and meat sauce together and spread out evenly in the dish. Mix the two cheeses and sprinkle all over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted, about 5-10 minutes. Serve with green beans, a salad and warm bread.

Still Working

Still working on the baby blanket! It is about 2/3 the way done. It is coming along well and I love the pattern. I sure hope they like it and use it!! I am crocheting it for a family that work adopted for the holidays. They have a 7 month baby girl.

I am using Vanna White's new yarn from Lion Brand. If you go out to the website there is a wonderful pattern for a large granny's square afgan that is very pretty. The yarn is nice but it is acrylic and with that it can seem a bit scratchy. Overall it is nice for afgans but I am not sure I would make a sweater from it. The colors though are beautiful! I hope they make a softer yarn in the same colors.

Crab Bisque

Crab Bisque

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of asparagus soup
2 cups milk
1 cup half & half
1 6oz can crabmeat
1/3 cup sherry

Combine first 4 ingredients in saucepan. Heat thoroughly, stirring often. Add crabmeat and wine. Heat through.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Comfort Foods: Mac and Cheese and Meat Loaf

It is a rainy day here in Richmond and I thought I would pull out some comfort foods to post from Dad's files. Dad was famous for his meatloaf!

Em's Mac n' Cheese(Emeril Lagasse, 2002)
6 TBS unsalted butter
½ lb elbow macaroni
6 TBS all-purpose flour
3 cups whole mile
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
2 ½ cups grated cheddar (about 6 oz)
½ cup fine bread crumbs
1 tsp Essence (Can be bought in the spice aisle at the grocery store)

1.Preheat oven to 350o. Butter a 2 QT baking dish with 1 TBS of the butter and set aside.
2.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
3. Melt the remaining 5 TBS butter in a heavy 3 QT saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Meat Loaf
11/2 lbs ground beef
½ cup cracker crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 8oz can tomato sauce
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 TBS chopped green pepper
Dash- thyme, crushed
Dash- marjoram crushed

Combine all ingredients and 1 tsp salt; mix well. Put into 12x71/2x2 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350oF for 1 ¼ hours.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Potato Casseroles and Slow Cooker Recipes

It is getting chilly outside and I thought I would post a recipe from Dad's stash.

Three Potato Gratin

1 TBS Butter
2 Heads of Garlic, split in half
1 Qt Cream
1 lb peeled white potato slices
1 lb peeled sweet potato slices
1 lb peeled red potato slices
2 cups grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
salt and white pepper
Old Bay Seasoning (secret ingredient)
2 TBS Chopped chives

1. pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Grease souffle dish with butter
3. In a small sauce pot bring garlic and cream up to a simmer, add salt and pepper and Old Bay and simmer 15 minutes until 1/4 reduction.
4. Layer potatoes in souffle dish with cheese-six layers.
5. Remove Garlic from cream and pour over potatoes
6. Cover dish and bake 30-35 minutes.
7. Remove foil and cook 10 minutes till golden brown.
8. Garnish with seasoning and chives.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

World Famous Spaghetti

My dad used to spend all day Sunday making a big batch of spaghetti sauce. We would come in from playing outside to this wonderful aroma infiltrating every nook and cranny in our house. I remember asking as I grew older if he would let me help. He would say, "No, it is a secret recipe". I then began asking for the recipe when I moved out and got my own home. He would say, "when you get married I will give it to you." So, I got married and asked again. He then said, "You really don't need the recipe. Just get a jar of spaghetti sauce and doctor it up a bit by adding fresh onions, peppers, and other vegetables. The jars are just as good." I was so disappointed. I really wanted that recipe. I had watched him from afar many times growing up and he didn't use a jar of sauce. My dad died a few years back and I immediately went after his cookbooks and his other files of recipes. No spaghetti sauce. We finally found it later on. He had written it on a file card and titled it "Herb's 'World Famous' Meat Sauce". He had filed it under MEATS. Here it is...

1 cup onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. 14oz canned tomatoes
1 lb. canned tomatoes
1 6oz tomato paste
1/4 cup snipped parsley
1 TBS brown sugar (secret ingredient)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp MSG
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf

1. Saute onion and garlic
2. Add meats and cook until brown
3. Skim off excess fat
4. Add remaining ingredients and 2 cups of water.
5. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours or until sauce is thick
6. Serve over spaghetti, shells or other pasta.
7. Top with parmesian cheese

(Remove the bay leaf before serving)

Dad always had a "secret ingredient" that he would put in that would make it all that much better and a bit different from the normal.

You can leave out the MSG and I am not sure but from reading this recipe it may be 2 cans of 1lb 14oz canned tomatoes instead of one big and one little can. You may have to play with the amount of tomatoes a bit. The recipe is unclear.

A new group of recipes

Over the course of the next couple of weeks or until I start to get bored with it, I am going to post some of my dad's great recipes. He was a wonderful cook and he had a wide range of recipes. My dad would take some recipes and "doctor" them up to his liking or he would add a "secret ingredient" that would make it just a little better. You will see these as I post the recipes. Some of his recipes he made up and others he got out of cookbooks. The ones he liked he would add to his file box of recipes, but wouldn't add the source of the recipe. So I am not always sure if it was an original or one from another book. But they were always yummy. I hope you enjoy them. Post a comment if you try it and let me know how it turns out.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What I am doing now...

Right now I am working on a baby blanket for the family that my work has adopted for the holiday season. There is a Mom and three kids. The youngest is a baby of 7 months. I am working on a new pattern for the blanket. It is a zig-zag crochet pattern, "ripple". Let me tell you, I thought it would be easy and thought I could adapt an adult afgan pattern for the baby one. No way! I screwed it up twice and finally went in search of an appropriate ripple pattern for a baby blanket size. It still is a bit bigger than I anticipated but I used a chunkier yarn and a bigger hook. I found the pattern on Bev's Country Cottage site and you can find it if you click on "Bev's Journeys" on the sidebar. I will post a picture later this evening of it so far. If I have time I would love to make hats for the family as well.

I am about a fourth done so I expect it to be done in another week. I still have Nicholas' sweater to finish and I am only still on the back in knitting it. The blanket is more pressing right now.

I have a funny for you. Remember the pirate doll I made for my son for Halloween? He said yesterday that it looked like Tigger in a Halloween costume! It really does!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pork Loin

We keep a pork loin in the freezer all the time. I cut them in half and that feeds my family for the evening.

One Pork Tenderloin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Put tenderloin in a baking dish. Sprinkle extra virgin olive oil on the top (about a TBS). Sprinkle salt, garlic, and black pepper on top. Bake in 350 degree oven until thermometer reads 155 degrees. Take from oven and let sit for about 5-7 minutes, then carve.

You can also put teriaki sauce on the top instead of the above. You can put Italian salad dressing on it too. (not with the teriaki sauce!)

My Pirate!

Here is my pirate that I finished last night for Nicholas. I got the pattern for this one and pumpkin off the Lion Brand Website. I adapted the pumpkin face to fit my liking. I made the ghost on my own with no pattern.

I gave them to the kids this morning and they LOVED them!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Experiment

I was talking with some co-workers and we were talking about how to make "Apple Betty". The conversation moved to an easy way to make a fruit cake. The men explained that you take a can of fruit in juice, put it in a baking dish. Then take a box of cake mix and pour it on top. (Yes the dry cake mix). Then put it in the oven and bake. The other gentleman said that he does it all the time with his boy scout troop in a dutch oven while camping. He said it works. The third gentleman then chimed in and asked me if I was going to make one. I said, "I'm game. Will you eat it if I bring it in tomorrow?". He agreed as he loves anything that I bring in to share.

It is in the oven now. I will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Ghost

I started the purple fuzzy monster (picture at the bottom of page), and I didn't like it so I decided to do a ghost. I got some white yarn and started on what I thought would look like a ghost. I finished the first side and it turned out to be a triangle. It didn't look like a ghost at all. I then got on line and started looking for bell patterns. I found one and started to work it up and it didn't look like a ghost at all. Then I started playing around and voila, I got my ghost. I added eyes and a smile and there he was. A few arms and we had our ghost.

Now I am off to work on the pirate and I will have all three done before Halloween.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When all else fails...

use Italian Salad Dressing. Or if you like a good Ken's Caesar does well too. No, I am not talking about eating salad. I AM talking about marinades. Italian salad dressing is great on fish, chicken, tuna, pork and turkey. It is also great on shrimp! You can also marinade most kinds of vegetables if you are going to grill them. I am talking about zucchini, squash, onions, eggplant, and even fresh green beans. What a versitile item!!

Update on the Pumpkin

I decided that I don't like the pumpkin the way he was. I looked and looked at him. He had an eye that was lopsided and his mouth just didn't look right. So I fixed him. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Because we went apple picking two weeks ago, it seems that all I am cooking right now is applesauce. I have made a ton of applesauce in the past two weeks. It should keep my family happy until next summer.

Here is my recipe:

I take about 10 cups of apples peeled, chunked and cored, about 3-4 cups of water. Put all in a big pot and cook on medium high heat until the apples are soft. Stir often! Once the apples are soft mash them with a potato masher. If you like smoother applesauce then put in a food processor and mix until smoothness desired is achieved. Add about 1 to 1/2 cups of sugar and about a 1/2 TBS of cinnamon and stir. Taste. You may want to add a bit more water if it is too thick, you may want to go light on the cinnamon until you taste it and then add some more.

Fill canning jars and process in a water bath for about 10-15 minutes.

The chunky style is great served warm with pork chops or ham. The smoother, cold stuff is great, well, anytime!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Beach Project

On our way the the beach last weekend, I opened up my project bag to find that I had forgotten the pattern for the sweater I am knitting for Nicholas. So with nothing to do, I searched my bag and came up with some leftover LionBrand Cotton-Ease in off white and blue. I had been meaning to make myself a glasses case for my purse and this was as good a time as any to get that project done. So I used both the off-white and blue, crocheting together with a J hook. I made a big square of single crochets and then folded it and single crocheted both sides together. I left the top open, to slide the glasses in and out and attached a chain loop for a toggle button. I think it turned out quite nifty. On Tuesday I ran into a fabric shop and picked up a toggle button in wood and attached it that night.

One Project Complete

I have completed the pumpkin. I finished it last night. It was quite easy, however I changed the teeth a bit. The pattern says to make four little squares for teeth and then to attach them on the pumpkin. I decided to attach all the teeth together by a chain. This gave me one complete piece to sew. This was fine but in the late hour it got twisted a bit and they don't look exactly like the the one on the pattern picture. But it is a cute little guy all together. I also put a little stem on the top. He seemed to need a bit of a "hat" of sorts.

This one will be Alexandra's.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Idle Hands

I have been a crafty person since I can remember. Some of my first memories of my grandmother is where I am watching her knit or crochet. My mother is crafty also, though not as much anymore. And I have been interested in handwork since a small child. It just amazed me that my grandmother could take a ball of yarn and make something useful out of it. We always enjoyed her Christmas gifts to the family. One year we all received Christmas stockings, another was sweaters, and then there was the "bootie" year. That year she made us all slipper like booties. We each had a different color. Then there was the doilies she made. As she grew older and I began to have children she made baby sweaters and hats and blankets. My daughters still love the white sweater she made and they wear it often. It still has no buttons but they don't seem to care.

With that said, I have found myself over my lifetime picking up a project for a while and then leaving it and picking it back up later. After my grandmother passed away, I got the urge to pick up knitting needles again. I had long since forgotten how to knit but I thought with a "how to" book and some motivation I would figure it out again. And so I did. However, I am left-handed and I actually taught myself how to knit "backwards". I made beautiful scarves and they served as Christmas gifts. Then I thought I would try my hand again at crocheting. Again with a book in hand and some yarn I figured it out again. One good thing about crocheting is that if you are left handed you can crochet left handed. I have made some great afgans and blankets that my children love. I have made hats for everyone, including donation hats for newborns. I returned to knitting and decided to attempt some more difficult patterns. At that point I realized that I needed to reteach myself to knit right handed. Where was my grandmother when I needed her most? Why didn't I think to pick up the needles while she was still alive? She would have loved to work with me on my projects and I remember she was a great teacher.

Well two years later and many projects complete, I have just finished my first knitted sweater. I will post a picture of it for you all to see. I am currently working on two projects. One is a sweater for my son. I am knitting it with Lion Brand Homespun yarn in Colonial Blue and Off white, which I believe is flax. The second project is crocheted stuffed critters for Halloween. I have three patterns that I got from the Lion Brand website and are featured in this past week's newsletter. One is a pumpkin, one is a fuzzy friend, and the other is a pirate thing. I am using Red Heart Soft yarn in orange, brown, black and two different greens, along with Lion Brand Fuzzy Fur in purple.

(Photos from the Lionbrand website.)

Welcome to my new blog. I hope you find it interesting and informative. Please feel free to comment and share your projects with me. You are welcome to email me your project pictures and I will post them along with mine. Please give me advice on how to improve my skills and handwork as I really have no one to turn to in my circle of friends and family. I am a lone soldier in this craft.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How to cut a fresh pineapple

Many people are afraid to buy a fresh pineapple because they don't know how to properly cut it. It is quite simple if you follow these steps.

1. Cut the bottom off about 1/2 inch from the bottom, then cut the top off. Now you are left with the spiny outside and a very flat bottom so it doesn't roll around.

2. Next start cutting off the spiny outside from top to bottom about 1/4 inch in. This way you get most of the seeds out too. Just go around the outside cutting in small strips the outer skin and spines.

3. Then, look at it from the top and you will see the round core in the middle. For chunks begin by cutting large strips one the sides from top to bottom cutting away from the core. You will cut 1/4 of it first then turn it 1/4 turn and cut again straight down, then turn and cut and turn and cut the last bit. This will leave you with a square core if you did it right.

4. Take the large chunks that you just cut and slice them as small as you like. Trim off any outer spines that you didn't get when you "deskined" it.

5. If you want circles then cut the pineapple sideways and then use a small knife to core out the inner core. If you have a small round cookie cutter that will work too but they are very hard to find.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vegetable Soup!

So I am trying to lose a little weight and I made a big batch of Vegetable soup to take with me to work for lunch for the week.

Here's the recipe!

1 onion chopped
1 bunch of celery, chopped
1 large can or two small cans of stewed tomatoes (fresh if in season but you have to cook it longer)
1 can of green beans (or frozen)
1 can of corn (or frozen)
1 lb carrots chopped in slices or chunks
1 to 1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 tsp pepper (or more to taste)

In a large stew pot, heat the vegetable oil and saute the onions, celery, and carrots until the onions start to turn translucent. Then add all the other vegetables, broth, and seasonings. The broth should cover all the vegetables and it should look like soup. If you want more liquid you can add more broth or just add water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are as soft as you like them. Taste the broth and season until satisfied.

If you want a brunswick stew like soup add leftover chicken and potatoes and omit the green beans. Cook until all vegies are soft and then take a potato masher and mash the soup until it is thick. Serve with homemade biscuits or bread!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


While my family was all in town for my grandfather's funeral my uncle made some cheesecakes. There is no better comfort food than a good cheesecake. Now there are many kinds of cheesecakes and most of them pretty good. I will tell you the one I DON'T like is the one out of the tub that you get from the grocery store. The Philli cream cheese cake in a tub. All you have to do it pour this into a cracker crust and viola you have cheese cake. Well, it isn't very good and it is a waste of money if you ask me.

So I was able to get my uncle's cheesecake recipe out of him in a weak moment. Here it is:

Basic Cheesecake Recipe:

3 packages of cream cheese (1/2 lb packages)
3 eggs
1 14oz. can of Condensed Milk

Blend and pour into a graham cracker crust.

To make the graham cracker crust take about 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs and mix with 3 tbs melted butter. Press into a pie dish or a springform pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. When you take it out run a knife around the outer edge and let cool for 1 hour on the counter and then 3 hours in the refridgerator.

For variations:

Chocolate chip cheese cake: use chocolate chip cookies and put in a food processor to make them crumbs and use for the crust (with 3tbs butter). Mix into the cheesecake mixture about 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips(cover with a bit of flour before putting in to the mixture. This will help them not all sink to the bottom).

Chocolate cheesecake: Use oreo cookies for the crust. Blend in cocoa powder and or baking chocolate and a bit of sugar.

Oreo cookie cheese cake: Use oreo cookies for the crust and blend in broken oreo cookies into the mixture. It works best when you use the double stuffed oreo cookies for the mix.

Lemon Cheesecake: Use graham cracker crumbs for the crust and blend in a bit of lemon zest into the mix.

The possibilities are endless. ... Thanks Uncle John!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Apple Season

Apple season is upon us. We, the whole family, will be heading up the hills to go apple picking. We love Carter Mountain Orchard, located literally just above Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson). We will be heading up on Sunday and will be picking Golden and Red Delicious apples. Now I know they say that the apples aren't good for cooking but I use them and they are just fine. Be looking for an apple sauce recipe, apple pie recipe, and other great apple recipes in the coming week.

More on Waffles

Thought I would update my recipe on waffles. Whenever the kids want waffles I now don't really even need to go to the recipe book to make them. It has become a very easy recipe to follow and hopefully you will memorize it too and be able to make great homemade waffles anytime.

For every cup of all purpose flour add:
1 egg
1 TBS baking Powder
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (more or less depending on how dense you like it. I veer on the more side as I like the waffles lighter)

See how easy that is. I usually double the batch and that gives us about 6 big Belgian waffles.

Next I want to purchase a smaller wafflemaker for freezing for the weekdays.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Taco Trick

When making tacos from a box or mix, when you cook the ground beef throw in diced onion. It adds a little something extra to your tacos!! If you like green peppers add those too. Drain the meat, onion and pepper and add the sauce mixture and continue to prepare the way the directions on the back say.

Also, throw in a can of Rotel Chiles and Tomatoes.  It increases the amount of food and spreads out the meat a bit further.  I don't even bother to drain the can. I use the liquid in the can as part of the mixture for the taco seasoning.  Kicks it up a notch! (as Emeril Lagasse would say!)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fried Chicken

We are having fried chicken tonight. I will put the entire recipe up later. I took two whole chickens and cut them up in pieces and they are soaking in buttermilk right now. They will soak for about 5 hours. The longer the soak the better they are. It is best when they soak overnight. We will coat them in egg wash and then a seasoning mix which I will post. Then they will fry in a cast iron skillet for 12 minutes on each side, flipping only once. Yum!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

My New Toy and Zucchini Relish

With my Coke rewards points I bought this hot dog cooker. It is so cool. It cooks hotdogs, sausages, etc, by rolling it on rollers like the hot dog stands and 7-11 does. The hotdogs taste just the same as those in the stores and restaurants. My kids love them!

So we have been having hotdogs a bit more often this past week. I think we have used it three times in a week. It is so easy and so yummy.

Tonight we had hotdogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, and cole slaw. We used my homemade relish on the dogs too. It is super yum.
Here is the recipe for the relish. I adapted it from a friend of mine.

Zucchini Relish
8 cups of sliced zucchini
2 cups diced onions
2 cups diced bell peppers
1 40z jar pimentos, drained
4 cups of vinegar
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 TB mustard seed and celery seed

Put the zucchini, onions, bell pepper, pimentos into a bowl. Pour 1/4 cup salt on them and cover with ice water.

Let sit for 2 hours, then drain.

Put vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed and let come to boil. Add squash mixture and return to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes.

Put in a food processor and mince until little chunks but not mush.

Pour into hot jars and flip the jars upside down for at least 10 minutes. Then return to the upright position. If after a few minutes the tops have not sealed then you will need to process them in boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes.

The relish is delish on crackers, hot dogs or with pork.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Whitney's Not Cooking Right Now.

Whitney isn't cooking right now. We had tacos out tonight. Last night we were at my grandfather's house and we got KFC. Saturday night I went out with two friends from college. (Bertucci's). Friday night, we had hot dogs at home.

I do have a funny story though. Tonight I was cleaning patty pan and my husband and I were cutting them up to freeze. He said the skins were a little tough and at first we thought it was because they were a couple days old from picking. But then I realized that they had crossed with the pumpkins in the garden and we had "pumpkin squash". This has happened before a year ago. My husband likes to grow pumpkins and he plants them near the squash. Last year it was the summer squash (yellow crookneck). They were yellow orange in color, big seeds inside, and a pumpkin smell to them. Some were bumpy. These patty pan squash had no outward appearance that would clue you in but the skins were very tough and the seeds were large and some had that trademark pumpkin smell. We tossed them all in the trash!

Note to self, next year don't plant pumpkins with the squash at all. We will buy our pumpkins from the local berry farm!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It's a "Backwards Night" tonight

It's a Backwards Night tonight. That means we are having breakfast food for dinner. I have spoiled my kids early on and added chocolate chips to pancake mix for chocolate chip pancakes. They don't like plain pancakes anymore and there are times when they ask for M&M pancakes too. The mini M&Ms work best!!

Whitney's Pancake Mix - with chocolate chips!!

1 cup all purpose flour
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 TBS vegetable oil
chocolate chips

Mix all dry ingredients together in medium mixing bowl, except for chocolate chips. Then add the wet ingredients and mix until batter is mixed but still lumpy. Let sit for 5 minutes and ladle about 2 tablespoons of batter onto a preheated cast iron skillet, greased, and medium heat. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of each pancake while they are cooking on the first side. Wait until they bubble on top and a few bubbles pop, then flip and cook for about 2-3 minutes on second side. You should see little puffs of steam coming out from the sides when the second side is done.

Top with butter and syrup and serve with love!

Sometimes we play "restaurant" in our house with the kids. I am the cook, my husband is the waiter, and the kids are the diners. My husband takes their order, pancakes, bacon, and their drinks and they are served when the food is done. It is great for practicing ordering and manners!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Easy Dessert - Brownies a la Mode

One of my family's favorite desserts is Brownies a la Mode.

Just as dinner is coming together I preheat the oven and make a quick batch of brownies (yes from the box). I throw it in the oven and it bakes while we eat. If I time it right the brownies come out of the oven just as we are finishing dinner and they cool while we clean up the dishes. When the dishes are in the dishwasher the brownies are still warm but not hot. We slice them with a plastic knife (because they don't stick to plastic) and I place a brownie in the bowl and scoop ice cream on top. Because the brownies are still warm the ice cream begins to melt and get all gooie! We eat them right away.

These taste like the brownie desserts you get from a restaurant and they are quite a treat! For left overs, put the brownie in a bowl and microwave it for 20-30 seconds and then top with ice cream. You can get the same effect all over again!!!

It is easy to plan for a great dessert if you have a few things handy all the time. I always have on hand a brownie mix, a yellow cake mix, ice cream (of any flavor), and a can of fruit. When fixing dinner just take an extra minute to think about dessert and your family will feel special.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chicken Kiev

I am thinking about this delectable dish for tonight's dinner.

This is how I will make it.

3 boneless chicken breasts
3 TBS butter softened
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp parsley
Italian Bread Crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
3-4 TBS vegetable oil

Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap.
mix the butter, garlic powder, parsley, and salt and pepper together and place in freezer to harden. When the butter has hardened, place a TBS in the center of the pounded chicken breast and roll it up. Stick a toothpick in the chicken to keep it rolled up.
Coat in eggs and cover in bread crumbs.
Fry in a pan on medium high heat in vegetable oil until done (about 5-7 minutes) turning once or twice.

I will serve this with fresh squash and onions, sauted, corn on the cob and rice. Yum.

What are you cooking? Share a recipe with me!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rice Krispies Treats

Today, we made Rice Krispies Treats, Caroline and I did. This is something that is easy and my 5 year old help.

Rice Krispies Treats (recipe from the box)

3 TBS butter or margarine
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies

1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan on low heat.

2. Add the marshmallows and and continue to melt until the marshmallows and the butter are smooth.

3. Add the Rice Krispies and mix until all are coated.

4. Dump into a 9x13x2 greased casserole dish (grease with Pam Cooking Spray). Press with a spatula or wax paper until the mixture is flat.

5. Let cool completely and cut with a plastic knife (it doesn't stick).

Sometimes we press chocolate chips, m+m's, or sprinkles on top. For other variation, add a few drops of food coloring to the melted marshmallows and they become festive for Christmas, Halloween, or Easter.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Waffle Sandwich

I don't really remember when this food luxury was created or by whom, but in our family we have what we call a "waffle sandwich". It consists of two store-bought frozen waffles, toasted, butter and powdered sugar. You toast the waffles and then when the come out of the toaster oven piping hot you spread butter on both waffles then put powdered sugar on one and put the other waffle on top (butter side in). Voila! A waffle sandwich. folded in a paper towel you can take these treasures on the go. I start out many a morning with the waffle sandwich and my cup of coffee on the way to work. It is not at all healthy but it does give you a bit of a sugar rush and along with the coffee you are well on your way to a drug induced buzz by the time you hit the office, or in my case the classroom.

No wonder my first period students think I am a bit of a nut...

Try it sometime!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fresh Vegetables

There is nothing better than fresh, just picked vegetables when eating. I love the fact that I have tomatoes, green beans and peas right at my doorstep! Last night I picked a huge, ripe tomato and sliced it up and served it for dinner. Along with the squash casserole and tomatoes we had fresh green beans. Quickly picked and cooked! Nothing tastes as good as that.

This is a picture of my dinner plate last night!

A Family Favorite...Waffles!

On Saturday and Sunday mornings I make a big breakfast for the family. It usually consists of bacon or sausage, pancakes or waffles, and eggs if anyone is interested.

About a year ago I only made waffles from a mix out of a box. Everyone was happy with it except it was expensive and we rarely had any mix in the house. So I went searching for a good waffle recipe. I found one and I have modified it slightly so here it is.

Oh, if you love waffles and pancakes, it is a good idea to start making Buttermilk a staple in the house if it already isn't. Since I started making these from scratch we aren't without buttermilk in the house.

Whitney's Waffles (like the way that flows off the tongue?)


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 TBS baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBS sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (more or less as desired)

1. Mix all dry ingredients together.

2. Add eggs, oil, and buttermilk.

3. Stir until all dry ingredients are wet but do not overstir. The batter will be lumpy. If it seems too thick to you add just a bit more buttermilk to thin it out. It should be like pancake batter.

4. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. This lets it rise some. Do not stir it down.

5. Pour into a waffle iron and cook to your specifications.

For variation you can add fresh fruit and a bit of whipped cream and call it dessert!!

I always double the recipe and make extra. If I don't have neighborhood kids around to eat some then I freeze them in ziploc bags for later in the week. If I know I am going to freeze them I don't cook them as dark and I do when serving them fresh. My husband fixes the kids breakfast during the weekdays before school and they love having Mom's homemade frozen waffles over the store bought kind. He pops them in the micro to just thaw for 30 seconds and then toasts them in the toaster oven. Hot syrup and they taste just as fresh!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Grilled Pork, Squash Casserole

I opened the freezer and the first thing I saw were boneless pork chops. So that is what we are having for dinner. After they have thawed I will marinate them in a Ken's Caesar Salad Dressing. It gives them a bit of garlic and Parmesan cheese coating. We will grill them about 6 minutes on each side.

I will make a squash casserole with patty pan squash from our garden. You can use summer crookneck (yellow) or zucchini for this recipe as well. The recipe is below. I am thinking about having some fresh green beans from our garden too. A salad would be fun and some sliced tomatoes. I am going to forgo the salad, as I don't have any lettuce right now.

Squash Casserole:

4 cups sliced patty pan squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
35 buttery round crackers, crushed (I use Ritz)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions.
4. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Corn Salad

I have decided to begin a second blog. I have had many people comment on my cooking. Yes, people other than my husband who raves about it often! So here on this blog I will post new recipes, tried and true recipes, and those that I have concocted myself.

I enjoy cooking, baking, and canning. We have a rather large garden where we grow lots of vegetables which I can or freeze for later.

I had added a Google Ads bar just in case you want to check out other places of interest pertaining to my entries. Click on any link.

So here is my first recipe. It is not an original and honestly, I haven't made it yet. My mother made it Saturday night as a side dish for dinner. We went to her house for dinner and my step-sister and her family were visiting too. There were 12 of us for dinner which included 6 children all under the age of 12. Most of the kids ate this and loved it also. We had tacos, fajitas, Mexican rice, corn bread, and this corn salad.

Here is the corn salad that I was talking about. It is soooo easy and super yummy!! Serve it cold!


8 ears fresh corn (mom used left over corn on the cob)
1 tomato, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Italian-style salad dressing


Husk the corn and slice the kernels from the cob. In a large bowl, mix together the corn, tomato, zucchini, cucumber, onion and red bell pepper. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. If it tastes too "salad dressing-y" add a couple teaspoons of sugar to cut the acid.