Welcome to my kitchen! Sit right down and join me for something yummy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

Ritz Crackers
Smooth peanut butter
chocolate bark (or chocolate chips)

Make peanut butter sandwiches with crackers and peanut butter (pictured at right in picture)

Melt chocolate and dip peanut butter Ritz in chocolate. Place on waxed paper to harden. Enjoy!

(The chocolate cookies above are still wet. When they harden they are not as shiny. These are also good dipped in white chocolate.)

Saltine Toffee

Saltine Toffee
(this is SO yummy!)
1 1/2 sleeve saltine crackers
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips (I mixed semi sweet and milk chocolate)
chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place a single layer of saltine crackers on top of foil.

Melt butter and brown sugar in a small pan on top of stove (medium high heat) stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Pour butter/brown sugar mixture over crackers. (I spread it out as best I can so that it covers the crackers.) Place crackers in oven for 5 minutes or until slightly bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for one minute. Pour chocolate chips over top of hot crackers. Let sit until softened (you may need to put them in the warm oven for a minute to help soften). Spread chocolate until it completely covers crackers.

Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Place in refrigerator to harden. When completely cool, break off pieces. This does not have to be refrigerated after it cools. Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner this year is going to be very traditional. I want to enjoy Christmas day and not spend the entire day in the kitchen! So, Mom and I planned a simple menu and we're going to split the food preparation. I think I got the easy job!

Here's what we'll be having and I'll put the name next to who is making it:

Ham (Mom)
Turkey Breast (Mom - she's going to make it in the crockpot)
Mashed Potatoes (Me)
Gravy (Me - but I'm cheating and I bought mix -- Ssshhhhh!!!)
Green Beans (Me)
Lima Beans (Me)
Corn (Me)
Sweet Potatoes (Mom)
Deviled Eggs (Mom)
Potato Salad -- per Neal and Beth's request -- (Me)
Macaroni and Cheese (My Mother-in-law)
Dinner Rolls (Me)

I think I'll make a cheese pie with strawberries for dessert. There'll probably be another dessert, but I'm not sure what. I'm trying not to make a bunch of dessert, so that there's none left over after Christmas!

What are you making for Christmas or Christmas Eve dinner?

Do You Need a New Breakfast Dish for Christmas?

This is my all time favorite breakfast dish for Christmas morning! It's pretty easy to make and tastes wonderful! I received this recipe many years ago from my friend, Colleen, and it has become a favorite for my Mom and I! (Neal doesn't like Cinnamon, so he doesn't partake!) First I'll give you the original recipe:

Baked Cinnamon French Toast Custard

12 slices cinnamon bread (I like the kind without raisins)
soft margarine
9 eggs
1 qt milk
2 cups half & half
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line bottom of 9 x 13 pan with half of bread. Butter remaining bread. Place with buttered side up over bread. Beat eggs and add other ingredients. Mix well. Pour over bread. Let stand 15 minutes. Set pan in larger pan and pour boiling water about half way up the dish. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

This dish melts in your mouth!

Since there are only 3 of us that eat this dish, I cut the recipe in half. I have also been known to substitute some of the ingredients for lower fat/calorie ingredients. It has never turned out bad!

(recipe for 7" x 11" pan)

6 slices of cinnamon bread

4 or 5 eggs (I've also used an egg beater/real egg mixture and it worked fine)

2 cups milk (I use skim)

1 cup half and half (I use fat free 1/2 and 1/2) I've also just used 3 cups milk and omitted the half and half.

1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda)

2 1/4 tsp vanilla

Follow instructions above. I hope I didn't confuse you with the second recipe, but it's actually really easy. I don't think you can mess it up!

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Hot Chocolate

I have a new favorite hot chocolate to drink this time of year. Once Christmas is past though, I will not be drinking it! It sure tastes good this cold morning!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

8 oz milk
1 Hershey's Peppermint Kiss
2-3 Tbsp Hot Chocolate mix
Whipped Cream in the can (definitely an indulgence around here!)
Your Favorite Mug!

Pour the milk into your favorite mug and place in microwave for two minutes. Carefully remove (those handles get hot!) and drop in Hershey's Peppermint Kiss. Then spoon in hot chocolate and mix well -- until you can no longer feel the Kiss. Top with whipped topping and enjoy!

This is SO good! I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Swirled Snowball Cookies

Swirled Snowball Cookies
(recipe by Nestle Toll House)
3 sticks butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
10-oz pkg Nestle Swirled Holiday Morsels
1 Tbsp vanille extract
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 tsp salt
Extra powdered sugar

PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees. BEAT butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets (I did this on the cooling rack). Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired. Store in airtight containers. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

They are very, very yummy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leftover Soup -- Thanksgiving Edition

Or at least that's what Ben is calling it!

So how many of you are making something with leftover turkey today? We've been eating leftovers all weekend. I did cook on Friday though, because it was my daughter's 14th birthday. I made chicken enchiladas, refried beans, onion shortcake and Southwest Cheesecake. I'll have to post some of those recipes later.

Beth thought I should write down how I made this soup today, since *I* made it up. Of course we haven't eaten it yet, so who knows if it tastes good or not! lol It does smell divine though!

I do not have the exact measurements on any of this, but this is what I threw into the pot:

Leftover Turkey Broth (Neal made the turkey and used all kinds of spices and herbs. I drained the broth and put it in the pot. I probably had about 2 quarts of broth)
5 small potatoes, diced
Onion, about 1 cup diced
Celery, about 2/3 cup diced (all I had left)
Carrots, about 1 1/2 cups diced

Let the above ingredients come to a boil and then turn down to medium heat. Cook about 45 minutes and then add:

frozen corn, about 1 cup
frozen lima beans, about 1 cup
green beans (about 1 cup -- I used what was left in fridge)
Northern Beans, 1 can (do not drain)
Turkey, about 2 or 3 cups diced

I think that's it. It is simmering on the stove right now and is making us all hungry!

What did you do with your leftover turkey?

(**Note** The soup was a success! I didn't have any because I had a stomach bug, but the family liked it a lot!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mom's Deviled Eggs

Here's another of my Mom's recipes that I want to save. Again, this one is not very exact, but I can figure it out....I hope you can!

Hard Boiled Eggs (6 eggs would make one dozen)
sweet pickle relish
vinegar (optional)
paprika (optional)

Slice eggs in half length-wise. Scoop out yolk and put yolk in bowl. Set aside hollowed out egg whites. Mash egg yolks and mix with a bit of sweet pickle relish, salt and pepper to taste, enough mayonnaise to hold egg mixture together, and vinegar if you wish to add it. Using a spoon or a pastry bag, add egg yolk mixture to hollowed out egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.

Cornbread Stuffing

I absolutely LOVE my mom's cornbread stuffing. This recipe is not exact -- or even close to it. I want to write this down so I have it on my blog, but it may be difficult to follow. This is how my mom gave it to me though!

Mom's Cornbread Stuffing

3/4ths pan of cornbread (Mom's cornbread is not sweet, and she makes it in a 10 inch cast iron skillet)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
8 slices of toasted white bread, broken into bite-size pieces
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
sage, to taste
Turkey Broth, enough to saturate the cornbread mixture

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes in a sprayed casserole dish, covered.

(I called Mom while typing this and she helped me be more exact with the recipe...you should have seen it before that!)

Fat Ladies

I got this recipe from Linda's blog. I made these last week and took them to our homeschool moms night out. I saved the rest for company yesterday. They are a big hit! I cut them small since they're so fattening, and they go a long way!

1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
16 oz. package chocolate chips
32 caramels, unwrapped
¼ c. half & half
1 c. chopped pecans (or your choice of nut)

Cut dough into ¼ inch thick slices and press into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Melt caramels in half & half and spread over top. Sprinkle with pecans. Refrigerate. Indulge!

Carrot Casseroles

I'm not a big fan of cooked carrots, however I have had a couple of recipes that I think are really good. These are good dishes to take to family or church gatherings.

They are not healthy...except for the carrots! ;o)

Sweet Carrot Casserole

2 lbs carrots
1 stick butter
1 lb Velveeta
Frosted Flakes

Peel and slice carrots. Cook until barely tender. Drain and place in casserole dish. Cut up cheese and butter -- melt together. Pour mixture over carrots. Top with a layer of Frosted Flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Carrot Casserole (given to me by brother's wife, Jan)

1 medium onion, diced
4 to 5 cups diced carrots
3 stalks celery, diced
1 stick butter
1 cup Velveeta
1 sleeve Ritz type crackers

Boil carrots, celery, and onion for 5 minutes. Drain veggies. While vegetables are cooking, combine and melt butter and Velveeta. Add veggies to butter/cheese mixture. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed Ritz crackers on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Christmas Present

I have wanted a stand mixer for probably the past 10 to 15 years, at least. A good stand mixer. My mom gave me her old Sunbeam stand mixer a long time ago, and it was okay for light stuff, but it didn't cut it for heavy-duty mixing. There have been several times when Neal has wanted to get me one, but for one reason or another we didn't get it. Usually because I couldn't stand the thought of spending that much money on a mixer! Well, it has finally happened. We made the leap and Neal purchased this mixer for me! I am so excited. I haven't gotten it yet, but it has been ordered and will be delivered to my home in less than two weeks! WooHoo!!

I always thought I'd get a Kitchen-Aid, but after doing some research on-line I decided to go with this one. Just like the Kitchen-Aid it has all kinds of attachments I can purchase separately. Right now I'll be happy with the three attachments it comes with! The two things that persuaded me to get the Cuisinart were the stronger motor (800 watts for the 5 1/2 qt mixer), and the timer. I think that will come in quite handy!

Neal, if you're reading this: Thank you so much! I can't wait to make my bread dough in this instead of my bread machine!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nourishing Holiday Food Carnival

The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a healthy holiday food carnival! Although this recipe is not one we eat regularly at our house, we do eat it at least once over the holidays....usually at our Thanksgiving meal. So, although I make it a bit healthier than I used to, it still has a lot of calories! Oh, but it is good!
So, without further ado, here is my favorite side dish at Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Casserole
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar (I use either Demerara or Sucanat with Honey)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
dash of nutmeg
Combine all the above ingredients and mix well. Place in greased 2-quart baking dish.
Then mix together the following for the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar (I use dark brown)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 T flour
1 1/2 T melted butter
Sprinkle the topping on top of the sweet potato mixture. Cover and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Tip for making sweet potatoes: the easiest way is to bake your sweet potatoes and then scoop out the middle. You can also peel and boil, but it takes longer.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall into Flavor -- No Bake Cookies

Linda over at 2nd Cup of Coffee (one of my favorite blog reads) is hosting Fall Into Flavor. It's been going on a while now, but this is my first time (and apparently last time, since this is the last one) participating. This is one of my favorite comfort foods. It must be Ben's too, because he asked me to make them for his birthday and I still haven't made them. Maybe today...

No Bake Cookies
(or if you live in the south, they're called Preacher Cookies)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa

Combine in pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add:

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups rolled oats

Drop by teaspoonful onto waxed paper. Cool. Eat. Enjoy. Stop eating or you'll get sick. Okay...one more! Now STOP!

Favorite Kitchen Gadget #1

I'm not saying that this is my #1 favorite gadget, I'm saying that out of all of my favorite kitchen gadgets, this is the 1st one I'm going to talk about here. :o) I know there are many different brands of rice cookers out there, and I'm sure there are many good ones. This is the only rice cooker/steamer I've ever had, so my knowledge on these appliances is very limited. That said...I love my rice cooker!

Neal bought this for me a couple of years ago when we started growing our own asparagus. There is a steamer basket that fits in the top of the cooker (it's in the dishwasher right now, or I would have taken a picture of it). This year I only used it with the asparagus a time or two because our new favorite way of fixing asparagus is to grill it; however, I do use this a lot for cooking rice.

My favorite rice is Brown Basmati. As Rachel Ray would surely say "it has a nutty flavor." Does she say everything has a nutty flavor, or is it just me? Well, this does have a nutty flavor, and the aroma is to die for! I'm cooking some for breakfast right now, and I wish I could make this an "aromatic post" so that you could appreciate how wonderful it smells!

Speaking of having it for breakfast, I want to share how we make our "Breakfast Rice Pudding."

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 Tbsp butter
real maple syrup

After my rice has finished cooking, I add the butter right away. Stir until the butter is melted, and then add maple syrup to taste. Spoon into individual bowls, and add a bit of milk. I like to add a dash of cinnamon to mine, as well.

I've tried this with pancake syrup, but real maple syrup has a much better taste. I buy a bottle to keep on hand just for this breakfast.

What is your favorite rice to cook? Any favorite recipes?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Broccoli Casserole

I will be making this dish for our Thanksgiving meal. This is one of my favorite holiday dishes from my childhood. I'll add a picture when I make it on the 27th!

1 cup cooked rice (I use brown basmati rice)
1/2 stick butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I used reduced fat)
1 small can fat free evaporated milk
1/2 lb Velveeta, diced (it's not healthy, but it tastes good!)
2 pkg (10 oz each) frozen, chopped broccoli
Ritz (type) crackers, crushed (approximately half a sleeve)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook broccoli until thawed and broken apart. Drain. In large skillet or pan, brown onion in butter. Add soup, milk, and cheese to onion, and cook until cheese melts. Add broccoli and cooked rice to onion mixture. Transfer to greased casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. Take out and sprinkle cracker crumbs on top. Bake another 15 minutes or until edges are bubbly.

Nutty Barley Bake

(Picture taken from Taste of Home website)

I found this recipe a couple of years ago in a Taste of Home magazine, and fell in love with it. This is a wonderful recipe to make for big gatherings during the holidays. I think I first made it for Easter a couple of years ago. It was a big hit!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup medium pearl barley
1/2 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (I omit this)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (I use fresh chives)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) beef broth (I use low sodium)
In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, barley and nuts in butter until barley is lightly browned. Stir in parsley, green onions, salt and pepper. Transfer to a greased 2 qt baking dish. Stir in broth. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the barley is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fridays Fave 5

For those of you who came here from my visit to your blog for Fridays Fave 5, I'm sorry! I put the wrong blog address on my comment. You can check out my Fave 5 at my regular blog: http://vaqueenbee.blogspot.com


Dinner Rolls

I make just about all of our bread, and have been doing so for about a year and a half. I make sandwich rolls that we use in place of sliced bread for sandwiches, I make muffins for breakfast, and I make pizza dough. I make other things from time to time, but these three things are what I make most often. Every once in a while I make dinner rolls. I made them this week, but decided to play around with the recipe. So, I took two of my recipes and combined them to make a new recipe. They turned out yummy! Here's how I made them:

3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup cold milk
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups freshly milled flour (I used hard white wheat)
1 T yeast

Right now I use a bread machine to mix it and go through the first rising (is that how you say that?). So I put my ingredients in the machine in the order listed above. It takes my bread machine an hour and a half to go through the dough cycle. Then I take out the dough and make my rolls. This time I did two different shapes. One is where I roll a small amount of dough into a log and then tie in a "knot." Those are the ones that kind of look like the shape of a cinnamon roll. The other shape I made was a clover shape. I took three small balls of dough and put them in a mini muffin cup. Then I heat my oven up to the lowest setting (170 degrees). I put the rolls in the oven and turn it off. I let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes. I remove them from the oven, and set the temperature to 400. When the oven is preheated I bake the rolls for 15 minutes.

The clover shaped rolls were a big hit, and I plan on making them again for Thanksgiving.

Sausage Balls

Although these are not the most healthy breakfast food in the world, Ben loves them and always requests them for his birthday breakfast! His 11th birthday was yesterday, so I made them up on Wednesday night and baked them Thursday morning. They were a huge hit -- as always -- and he finished them off by noon! :o)

1 lb sausage (I used Jimmy Dean's Regular Sausage)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Bisquik (I use the low-fat Bisquik)

Combine all three ingredients. This is a very stiff consistency and you will most likely have to use your hands to get it mixed well. Roll sausage mixture into 1-inch balls. On a greased cookie sheet, place sausage balls side by side (I was able to get all of these sausage balls onto one large cookie sheet). Bake for 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sausage Potato Casserole (again)

I posted this recipe earlier, but I made it on Tuesday and took pictures...actually, my daughter, Beth, took the pictures. So "thank you, Beth!"

Here is the recipe from my cookbook. This is a recipe that my Mom used to make when I was growing up. I now use either turkey kielbasa or lite beef kielbasa.

Saute the onions and peppers. I also sauteed some mushrooms this time and threw them in.

I used Yukon Gold potatoes. I like these potatoes because they have such a thin skin. I was able to scrub them quickly, and then they're really easy to slice, as well. Boil them and then drain them. I usually save some of the potato water and add to the potatoes so that they don't get dry, but I forgot this time.

Spray your baking dish and put your potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Then layer your onions and peppers.

Next put your layer of cheese on top of the potato mixture.

Cut up your sausage and lay on top. I added some chicken broth since I forgot to save the potato water. It didn't really change the flavor, but it added some extra moistness. Then cover with foil and bake about 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

And there you have it! This was enjoyed by my entire family. I made some homemade rolls and green beans to go with it. I hope you enjoy this family dish sometime soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

This may not be very healthy, but it is very good!

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (10 oz) pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 (8 oz) pkg sour cream
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided (I like Pepper Jack)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. hot sauce

Melt butter in a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, 3/4 cup Monteray Jack cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce. Stir until well blended and heated through. Pour mixture into a 1/2 quart casserole dish and top with remaining cheeses. Bake in a 350 degree oven until cheese starts to brown and bubble, about 10 minutes.

Serve with favorite dipping chips...bagel crisps, tortilla chips, etc.

Makes 4 cups.

(Thanks Janet!!!)

Rice Pudding

This recipe is not what I think of when I think of rice pudding. However, my kids and I love it...and it's so easy! We eat this for breakfast and it's nice and warm and satisfying!

1 cup brown rice
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup maple syrup (I've used pancake syrup and real maple syrup and the real stuff tasted much better!)

Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. (You can make the rice ahead of time and warm it up in the morning. I use my rice cooker and make a double batch.) Stir in butter and syrup. Put in bowls and pour a little milk into each bowl. Serve warm.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Does anyone here use a Vita-Mix? If so, what are your favorite things to make in it? A friend of mine was telling me about hers and I remembered that Neal's Grandpa owns one. I asked my MIL if he uses it, and she said he wasn't using it now. Neal called and asked him if we could borrow it, so I could see if I would actually use it. We picked it up last night, and I've used it twice so far. This morning I made Blueberry/Strawberry Smoothies, and tonight I made Cappuccino's. The smoothies were really good and enjoyed by the entire family. I took a cup over to Grandpa's, but he wasn't home. Then I took it to my Mom and she enjoyed it. Tonight I made the coffees for Neal, Beth and I. Let me tell you...they were DE-LISH! They had a nice foam on top and everything. Wow! I can't wait to try some soups and peanutbutter in it.

I hope someone else out there is using one, so you can tell me all about it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kielbasa Potato Casserole

If I like a recipe, it doesn't matter what time of year it is, I'll make it. We often have Chili in the middle of summer. It's easy to fix and put in the crockpot, and then when we get back from the pool it's all ready to eat! We can sit in our air conditioned house and pretend it's cold outside!

But there are many recipes that one tends to think of as "Fall Recipes." That's what this food carnival is about...Fall Recipes. I have several recipes, but I'm going to talk about one from my childhood. I grew up in Ohio, and I've met other people from Ohio and Pennsylvania who make dishes similar to this one. Just add a vegetable on the side, and you've got a complete meal!

Kielbasa Potato Casserole

Polska Kielbasa Sausage (I use turkey kielbasa)
about 4 medium potatoes, cooked and sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 green pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

Using a small skillet, saute onions and green pepper in butter until tender. In casserole dish layer potatoes, pepper & onions, cheese and sausage (I cut my sausage link into 2 to 3 inch pieces). Cover with lid and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

Serve with a vegetable and bread. Enjoy

For more Fall Recipes head over to The Nourishing Gourmet.


Neal and I started making our own salsa about 15 years ago. We usually make at least two big batches and can them. We like to can about 80+ pints a year so that we can share with family and friends. We always set aside most of a Saturday to do our canning...and we keep plenty of tortilla chips on hand to try out our salsa! (Our tortilla chip brand of choice is Utz white corn tortilla chips!)

Here it is in the pot. This year we added corn and black beans for extra yumminess!

I put these lids until I was ready to put them in the canner. That way they did prematurely seal.

Here's our basic recipe. We change it and play around with the ingredients until we get the flavor we like.

Neal and Teresa's Salsa

Half of a 20 qt stock pot filled with tomatoes -- peeled and quartered (sorry I can't be more accurate here, but this is a lot of tomatoes)

Cook tomatoes in stock pot about 2 to 3 hours or until desired consistency for salsa (I usually use my electric hand mixer to break up the tomatoes).

Add remaining ingredients and simmer 2 to 3 more hours:
6 medium green peppers, chopped
2 hot banana peppers, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, chopped
3 six oz cans tomato paste
1 cup vinegar
4 T garlic powder
1 T black pepper
1/4 cup hot sauce
3 medium onions, chopped (I like a sweet onion)
2 T sugar
1 1/2 T salt
4 T oregano
3 T cilantro

Sometimes I make a small batch without cooking it, and we eat it fresh!


"Quinoa plants grow at high altitudes and produce round, highly nutritious kernels that can be boiled into pilafs, turned into soups, stirred into breakfast porridge or ground into flour." (Kitchen Window)

About a month or two ago I purchased some Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). I wanted to try it as a side dish, but kept putting it off due to lack of a recipe. Monday I started looking for a recipe, and ended up doing my own thing. The results were tasty!

Now I know this picture doesn't look appetizing since there is a lack of color, but the food tasted good! The quinoa is at 1:00 on the plate. The other foods on this dish are tilapia and lima beans.

Basil Quinoa

1 tbsp butter
1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse thoroughly)
1 small onion, chopped
5 button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups chicken broth
4 or 5 basil leaves, diced

Melt butter in large non-stick wok or skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions, mushrooms and rinsed quinoa. Saute until quinoa is somewhat toasted, and onions and mushrooms are softened.

Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until quinoa has absorbed the broth -- about 15 minutes.

Stir in diced basil leaves, and place in serving bowl.

The consensus in my family was favorable overall. My daughter said she likes couscous better, but she liked it. She said it kind of reminded her of wild grain rice due to the texture being chewy. My husband and I thought it was very good, and I will make it again. Maybe as a breakfast food next time!

Homemade Crackers

This was my first attempt at making homemade crackers. My family loved them! I found the recipe online, but unfortunately I forget where I found it! I changed it a little bit to suit my tastes, and was pleased with the results. The crackers that were thinnest were the crispiest...the ones that weren't as thick were a little softer, but still tasted good.

I do grind my own wheat, so my crackers would taste different than if you purchased a whole wheat flour in the store. I think they would still taste good though!

Homemade Crackers

3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used soft white wheat or pastry flour)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Gently mix together all five ingredients until combined and dough forms a ball. Roll out dough until it is about 1/8th of an inch thick (I separated my dough into smaller portions and worked with a little bit at a time.) When your dough is the right thickness, take a knife and cut into the dough into the size crackers you want and place on greased cookie sheet. Prick holes into dough and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, if desired.

Bake for about 10 minutes (you might want to check around 8 minutes). When the edges are brown, your crackers should be done. Place on cooling racks.