Tag Archives: recipes

Monday Moments: Santa Hats

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~ Peg Bracken

Don’t you just love these little guys?

Aren’t they just too cute?

Well, I thought so, anyway.

Last week was the week of holiday parties where my husband and I work. Only one of the several gatherings was a potluck, however, so I only had to cook for one event. Yea! Usually by this time of the holiday season, I’m up to my nose in cookie dough and bakery items, but this was not an ordinary year by any means. (More on that later in the week…….)

After pondering my requirements for this year’s holiday potluck dish, I decided to try something I had squirreled away on my “Christmas Ideas” board on Pinterest. I do so love that site — that I was able to quickly find a recipe I had seen a while ago proves its worth to me!

Any-who…. That picture up there is my handiwork!

I made Santa Hats! Edible ones, at that.

These little guys are the most amazing combination of tastes — a chocolate brownie base, topped with marscarpone buttercream icing, topped with a fresh strawberry. Yum!

Actually, it’s more like


They are fairly easy to make, taste phenomenal (that marscarpone icing got rave reviews!), and were the hit of the party! If you have some last holiday parties to go to, I highly recommend these little cuties!

If you’d like to give it a try, the recipe I used was from a blog called Daisy’s World, except her’s were more dainty and far neater than mine turned out to be…..

Hope your week heading into the holidays will be a good one!


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Monday Moments: Potluck

The term potluck comes from the traditional practice (not that it’s entirely unknown among us moderns) of never throwing anything away. Meal leftovers would be put into a pot and kept warm, and could be used to feed people on short notice. This practice was especially prevalent in taverns and inns in medieval times, so that when you showed up for a meal, you took the “luck of the pot.” ~ Ken at The Straight Dope

It’s that time of year, again.

Potluck season.

Didn’t we just finish with the summer potlucks? No?


*sigh* That’s what a girl gets for losing so much time this year.

I swear I was just fixing summer salads for our end-of-the-summer picnic potluck at work. Now it’s time to bring out the holiday potluck recipes, as between the two of us in our household, I think we could attend about 6 different parties in the next week! Yowza!

So, my perennial quest is for something easy yet stunning, fun and playful but really good. Something memorable, something people will request the recipe for, yet something that I don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making.

*humming the tune for The Impossible Dream*

Yeah, right. There’s got to be something out there, yes?


Pretty please with whipped cream and sugar on top??

I know I squirreled away some holiday recipe finds on Pinterest, so I’ll go check there. Or I could look through one of the bazillion cookbooks on my shelves.

But I’d rather hear from you….. I know you must have some fantastic, amazing recipes that draw “oooh” and “ahhhh” comments.

What’s your favorite thing to take to a potluck dinner?

(Or, for that matter, what do you *not* like to see at a potluck?)

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Favorite Recipes

A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. ~ Thomas Keller

Earlier in the week, I promised to share at least one of my favorite recipes. But it also comes with a story, as all the best recipes always do.

My mother was an excellent cook. As a minister’s wife, and then a farm wife, she collected and tested recipes for nearly all of her adult life. Her kids grew up helping in the kitchen from the time we could sit on the counter and stir without making too large a mess of things. Whether a boy or girl didn’t matter, she prided herself on raising kids who were adept in the kitchen and had a decent repertoire of recipes well in hand by the time they went to college.

But during my freshman year of high school, my mom got sick. Sick enough that the doctor ordered bed rest, which for Mom translated into simply taking it easy around the house and not really full-time in bed. She tried to behave, in her own fashion. And in that attempt, she decided to try to do all the things around the house that she had “been meaning to do when she got the time.” She had it now, she would kid, so the project list came out. Organize the family slides, if not the photos. Collect her writings and see what she could do with them. And write a cookbook, so her kids would have all of her best recipes in one spot.

My mom's cookbook

Except that last project took a bit of work, for she was not about to put a bad recipe in the book. Great idea for all the trusted, tried-and-true recipes. But what of all those clipped ones, cut-out slips, ones from friends, and ones she couldn’t remember if she had tried or not? You guessed it. She tried them. All of them. On us. The family became her taste-tester guinea pigs for all of those recipes that may, or may not, work out. Then, and only then, would the ones she approved of make it into her cookbook. There were some odd colored ones, some less-than-yummy ones, and, honestly, some really, really — can I say REALLY — bad ones.

But there were also a lot of truly excellent ones. Ones where, like the quote above says, the cook brought her soul to the recipe. Ones you can go to time and time again, and they work. Those, not surprisingly, are my favorites. And not just mine. I’ve (occasionally) shared a few of my mom’s best ones with close friends, and they most often come back with it added to their own file of favorite recipes.

So today I’ll share two with you – family favorites from my mom’s cookbook. Ones she made with soul.

No Peek Chicken (One of my mom’s – and my- favorite recipes)

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 ½ cups quick cooking rice
1 chicken (cup up) or 1-2 lbs. chicken breasts or chicken thighs
1 package Lipton Dry onion Soup mix

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray deep 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Mix soups and rice together and put in bottom of baking dish. Place chicken pieces on top and sprinkle onion soup mix over top. Cover securely with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 ½ hours – DO NOT PEEK! [that’s the important part – do not peek!]

Recipe for Apple Cake and Sauce

The second recipe I’ll share via picture from her cookbook, since it shows how she would include little sketches and quotations mixed in with her recipes along the way. This apple cake recipe is fantastic, and a family favorite, although I never understood why it had pudding in the title…. there’s nothing really pudding-y about it! And the sauce is just awesome! It makes enough to have extra, which goes great over ice cream, too.

Let me know if you give them a try! If you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as my family has over the years.

Care to share your favorite recipe?

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Soup Weather

As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again. ~Leslie Newman

Soup weather has arrived! The air is crisp, full of the smell of burning leaves and carrying a hint of cool. The days are warmer, if the sun comes out. But it is the kind of weather that makes me long for a bowl of good homemade soup.

Problem is, I’m not a good soup maker! Cookies and desserts? You bet. Main dishes? I can make some pretty decent choices. Salads? I’ve got some go-to recipes that are good. But soups? Mine never turn out the way I expect. Or want.

Take the other day. I found a recipe online for a soup that sounded absolutely marvelous. Rustic Fall Vegetable Soup, replete with winter squash, sweet potato, and other yummy flavors. It was even in the easy category! I picked up the ingredients I didn’t have on a trip to the grocery store and set out to make this recipe. Did it work? Not really. The squash and sweet potato never softened! I even simmered it an extra 25 minutes, and those two vegetables were still crunchy. It has now sat in the fridge for three days. Guess what? Still crunchy! What the heck?? It said *easy*? I should be able to handle the easy ones, yes? Yes!

But I should say that something like this happens whenever I attempt soups or stews. The consistency is never that of what you find in a restaurant or a friend’s kitchen. My stews are too soupy, and my soups are too…. something. I love cheese soups, but I can’t make one for anything! I’ve tried stovetop and crockpot – still no luck. Something — taste, texture, consistency — is always not quite right. One of my husband’s favorite things to eat is a good soup or stew. Can I make one? Never!

So to all my friends who are soup-masters out there…. what’s your secret? How do you make a good soup or stew?


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When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~ Laiko Bahrs

What’s your favorite recipe? You know, the one that has all the stains, smudges, and fingerprints all over it from all the times you’ve used it? The one that comes out when you need some homemade comfort. Or if company’s coming.

I love recipes. In fact, I think I have collected more recipes than I would ever be able to make even if I did nothing else but cook all day long! Most of them will probably never be tried, experimented with, or cajoled into working out right with most of the ingredients. Yet still I collect them.

I have a particular fondness for cookbooks. The printed kind. The ones full of cooking possibilities that delight the mental senses even before they become reality in the kitchen. I kid you not. This is my cookbook collection….

My cookbooks

The boxes at the bottom are my years of subscriptions to various cooking magazines, thankfully provided by one of my sisters-in-law, who shares my passion for recipes, as a Christmas present each year.

The others are loosely divided by topic – cakes, desserts, cookies. Heck yes, cookies! It’s almost holiday cookie-palooza time. There are themed cookbooks – by product, food type, cooking style, regional specialties and the like. And there are also some historical ones, plucked from garage sales, auctions, and online purchases. I’m far less brave about trying some of the “historical” foods (aspic, anyone?), even though some of the best dishes come from tried-and-true recipes in those books.

In the top corner, the one closest to my kitchen counter, are my go-to cookbooks. The ones I know have all the answers, whether it is the right substitute ingredient, the correct equivalent measurement, or the best “what can I make from these items?” recipe when I have no ideas for dinner. These are the ones with bent pages, torn covers, and all the other signs of being well-loved and often used. These are my cherished ones. Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens general cookbooks are there for everyday answers and suggestions. Personal ones, collections of recipes from co-workers, church congregations, or local women’s organizations are there as well, as there are no finer recipes than those which come from such groups.

And don’t get me started on the online recipe sites! I’ve lost many hours hopping between recipes and sites, and oftentimes I can track down recipes I remember but no longer have on these sites, much to my delight. One of the many reasons I love Pinterest, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, is the ability to anchor specific items, including recipes, and to categorize them by type if I want. No more searching through a bazillion bookmarks or printing out every one I “might” want to try. I pin it to a board, with a visual reminder and a note as to why I want to remember it, and it’s there for me to rediscover easily when I get the urge to try it out.

But my favorite recipes still tend to come from my recipe box or a book on my shelf. Mostly, I’m sure, it’s habit. I go to what I know will be good. That will work every time.

With winter looming, however, I always get the urge to explore a whole new set of recipes to try during the cold weather and long nights over the next few months. So this year, I’m starting early by asking you to share some of your favorites. I promise to share mine later in the week, but until then, I’m curious to hear from you.

What’s your go-to cookbook? Your favorite recipe?


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