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A Mardi Gras Feast

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Wow!  Blog posts have been few and far between, but here are a couple of fun recipes for your Mardi Gras celebrations…don’t forget that it’s tomorrow, March 4th!

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.  And what could be richer than Shrimp Etouffee?!  Etouffee literally means “smothered”.  You start this dish with a roux which will create a nice, thick, yummy sauce.  I always serve mine over rice.  Perfection!  And for dessert, nothing speaks New Orleans like a nice fluffy Beignet drowned in powdered sugar.  Oh, my!  Talk about decadent!  Hope you enjoy!

Shrimp Etouffee



6 Tbsp. butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

3 medium stalks celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 tsp. Parsley

Cayenne Pepper, to taste (depends on how hot you want it)

2-3 dashes Tabasco Sauce

One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice

Salt, to taste

1 pound small shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined


1.  Melt butter in large skillet over med-low heat.  Whisk in flour to make a paste.  Continue cooking, whisking frequently, until mix turns caramel color, 10-15 minutes.

2.  Add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly softened.

3.  Add pepper, Cajun seasoning, Parsley, Tabasco, and Cayenne.

4.  Add 1 cup water and stir to blend.  Pour in the tomatoes and their juice, and season with salt to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low for 10-15 minutes.  Add in shrimp to heat the last 5 minutes.

5.  Serve over rice and enjoy!


French Quarter Beignets



1/4 cup sugar

1 envelope active dry yeast

3/4 tsp. salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup evaporated milk

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for deep frying

Powdered sugar, for dusting


1.  In a large bowl, mix sugar and yeast with 3/4 cup lukewarm water.  Let sit for 10 minutes until mix is foamy.

2.  Whisk in salt, egg, and milk.  Add 1 1/2 cup flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the veg. oil and whisk.  Add the rest of the flour (2 cups) 1/2 cup at a time and stir with a spoon.

3.  Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

4.  Rub a small amount of veg. oil on dough ball and return to bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least 2 hours.

5.  Roll dough on a floured surface to form about a 15 by 20 inch rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into enough small rectangles to make 30 beignets.

6.  Pour oil into an electric skillet, or a regular skillet, and heat to 350F.  The oil should be about 3 inches deep.

7.  Drop the rectangles into the hot oil being careful not to overcrowd…they need room to grow…literally.  Brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side.  Lift out with tongs and drain on paper towel lined plate.  Immediately sift the powdered sugar (as much or as little as you want…personally, I like a lot!) on top of the beignets.

8.  Serve immediately.  They are best when they are still nice and warm.  Each bite will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven!





Cherry Scones

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Happy (belated) New Year to all you lovely bloggers out there.  I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with your loved ones. I thoroughly enjoyed our holidays this year…and, yes, I’ll be posting some Christmas pictures soon!  Our family was treated to an extended vacation due to the recent snow storms, and I have enjoyed every minute relaxing and playing with my sweet little kiddos and hubby.  Now, the snow has been replaced by lots of rain, but I’m not complaining…our state could really use the rain today!

So, today is a dark and rainy morning, and I decided to make some warm scones for breakfast.  I love scones for breakfast, my husband swears it’s his very favorite breakfast food, and even my kids devour them.  These scones are really not hard to make, and you can even replace the cherries with other dried fruit or nuts if cherries aren’t your thing.  I hope you and your family enjoy these warm, delicious, flaky scones as much as my family and I do.


Cherry Scones


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

5 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small slices

1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit, or nuts, or both!)

1 egg

3/4 cup heavy cream


1.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mix until it looks like crumbs.  I use two knives to cut in, but if you have a dough blender or pastry cutter, use it!

4.  Add your dried fruit, or nuts, or both, and stir into the mix.

5.  Mix the egg and heavy cream together in a separate bowl, then add to flour mix.  Stir just until combined.

6.  Pour mix onto a cutting board and work the mix into a large round.  Don’t knead the dough!  Use a rolling pin to gently roll the round out to about 10 inches and about 1 inch thick.  I use my hands around the edges to make sure the round keeps its shape and the edges don’t go flaking off.  If you do lose some pieces, just stick them back on there, and keep rolling.

7.  Slice the round into 8 wedges.  Transfer wedges to a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

8.  Bake the scones for about 22 minutes or until they barely start to brown.  You want these guys light and flaky.  Don’t over-bake!

9.  Scoop a hot scone onto a plate and devour…forks are useful, but not mandatory.  And for Pete’s sake, have a cup of hot tea with that scone!


Yellow (Summer) Squash Casserole

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Yes, I realize that summer squash is easier to find and of better quality in the summer, but this recipe is a family favorite for the holidays.  I acquired this recipe several years ago from a very sweet lady who I admired very much.  It was a favorite in her family, too.  When I first made this for my husband’s family, they were a bit skeptical, most of them are not squash lovers, but they were willing to try it, and now they ask me to make it for almost every holiday dinner!  It is so super good!  And who doesn’t love a casserole?  I hope you will enjoy this as much as my family and I do!


Yellow (Summer) Squash Casserole


6 cups very thinly sliced squash

1 small onion, very thinly sliced

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

1 cup grated carrots

1 stick salted butter, melted

1 box chicken flavored Stove Top Stuffing Mix


1.  Cook the squash and onion in salted boiling water for 5 minutes and drain.

2.  In a large bowl, mix the soup, sour cream, and grated carrots together.  Add the squash and onion to the mix.

3.  Mix the butter with the stuffing in a separate bowl.  I usually add a couple of tablespoons of water to make the stuffing a little more moist, but if you want yours crispier, leave it as is…the choice is yours!

4.  Pour the squash mix into a 9×13 casserole dish.  Top with the stuffing mix.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.

5.  Enjoy!  Make sure to share it with your friends and family…they will thank you for it!

Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

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Well, I’ve had an extended vacation from my blog…much, much longer than planned.  I’ve really missed writing, but it seems that life gets busier each year.  I can’t promise steady blog posts, but I will try not to take 6 months off again…haha!

I promised my facebook friends that I would post this recipe, so that’s just what I’ll do.  This soup is so wonderfully perfect for this time of year.  It’s so creamy, and savory, and sweet, and just super yummy!  I hope you’ll like it as much as I do.  Here goes…


Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Sugar Croutons

The Soup…


2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into about 1 inch cubes

1 large onion, diced

1 Tbsp. butter

Big pinch of sugar

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

3 cups chicken broth

1- 1 1/2 cups milk


Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add squash and onion.  Saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, 7-8 minutes.  Add butter, sugar, and garlic.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are a rich caramel color, about 10 minutes longer.

Add spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add broth and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Now, use an immersion blender, if you have one, and puree your soup.  If you don’t have one, and most people don’t, transfer to a blender and puree in batches until very smooth.

Return to pot and add enough milk to thin soup to desired consistency.  Heat through.  Ladle into bowls and top with croutons.  Enjoy!

The Croutons…


1 small loaf sour dough bread

1 stick of butter (more or less)




Cut loaf of bread into cubes.  These can be as big or as small as you like your croutons.  Place in a large bowl.

Melt butter and pour over bread cubes.  Stir to coat evenly.

Now comes the fun part.  Add as little, OR AS MUCH, sugar and cinnamon to your buttery bread as you want!  Stir to make sure each croutons is covered.  Yummy!

Place bread cubes on a large cookie sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.

Put a good handful of these delicious Cinnamon Sugar Croutons on top of your Butternut Squash Soup and dig in!

Beans And Greens…A Country Staple

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I hope all of you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend as much as I did.  It’s wonderful to spend time with family while honoring and remembering the ones who have served our country and died for our right to be free.  We live in such a great nation with so many freedoms we take for granted on a daily basis.  I am proud to be an American and so proud of all those who serve and have served our country, including many of my own family members.

Although the recipe I am going to post has nothing to do with Memorial Day, I needed to take a moment to show thanks for those who have served and the freedoms we enjoy because of them.

Now, on to the delicious country dinner of beans and greens, which I’m quite certain any service man or woman would love!  This dinner is one of my favorites, right up at the top with meatloaf.  There is nothing like good ole country, stick to your ribs, beans and greens.  And no dinner of beans and greens would be complete without corn muffins to sop up the soup at the end of your meal.  I always dice up some onion to put in my beans, and for some reason, I always serve slices of cheddar cheese with beans.  And, for goodness sake, make sure you throw some of the ham hock in your dish of beans.  The whole combination of beans, greens, corn muffins, ham hock, onions, and cheese just seems to be perfect.  Hope you enjoy!

Beans and Greens…A Country Staple


Pinto Beans


1 pound dry pinto beans

1 ham hock

salt and pepper, to taste


1.  Place dry beans in a pot and cover with 6 to 8 cups of water.  (Make sure to check your beans for little rocks before you start cooking.)  Bring beans to a boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.  Allow them to soak for 1 hour.

2.  Now, you can either drain the water from the beans and rinse them, or not.  I know that every recipe I’ve ever read tells you to drain and rinse.  This soak and rinse method is supposed to make the beans cause less “uncomfortableness” after you eat them.  (You all know what I’m talking about!) I’ve never noticed any difference in soaked and rinsed beans and soaked and non-rinsed beans.  So, I just soak my beans to cut down on cook time, but do not rinse.  I think it takes away a lot of the flavor of the beans to rinse them, but the choice is up to you.

3.  Add the ham hock and salt and pepper to the pot.  Cook the beans low and slow, stirring often, for about 4 hours.  Always make sure the beans are covered with water, at least 2 inches above the beans.  Cooking the beans slowly, and on low heat, makes for a richer soup and keeps the beans from busting.

Collard Greens


These greens came straight from our box garden.  There’s nothing like eating fresh greens and knowing what goes in them and where they came from.  Since I garden organically, I know that absolutely no pesticides touched my greens.  And they are so very yummy!


1 bunch of fresh (or frozen) collard greens

2 cups water

4 Tbsp. butter

1 ham hock (from pinto beans)

1 Tbsp. sugar

salt and pepper, to taste


1.  Separate the stems from the leaves and throw the stems away.  Wash leaves in cold water.

2.  In a large skillet, combine water, butter, ham hock (just steal the one in your beans), sugar, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and add the collard greens.  Simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour, or until tender.

Corn Muffins



1 large egg

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups Buttermilk Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix


1.  Heat oven to 450F.  Place 1 small spoonful of shortening (I use Crisco) in the bottom of 12 muffin cups.

2.  Stir eggs, milk, oil, and corn meal in a bowl until smooth.  Batter should be creamy and pourable, so if it’s too thick, just add a little more milk.

3.  Put the muffin pan in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until shortening is hot.  Fill cups about 2/3 full with the batter (I use an ice cream scoop to fill my muffin pans, makes less mess), and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Hamburger Steak and Gravy

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Some days, even though you know you should be eating healthy, you just want some hearty, fattening, stick to your ribs food.  That’s where a good hamburger steak smothered in gravy with a side of mashed potatoes and peas comes into play.  I would definitely put this meal in the “comfort food” category.  I feel like I should be sitting in a 1950s diner ordering a blue plate special every time I eat this dish.  Although, technically, I believe you need 3 sides to make it a true blue plate special.  Does a side of bread used to sop up the gravy count as a third side?  Sure it does!  Maybe, if it were the 1950s, I wouldn’t feel so bad about the amount of butter I put in my side of mashed potatoes…I really love me some butter!

Hope you enjoy!


Hamburger Steak and Gravy


1/4 cup vegetable oil


salt and pepper

1 lb. ground chuck

1/2 cup beef broth

1 package Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix

1- 10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup


1.  Heat an electric skillet to 350F.  Pour vegetable oil in skillet.

2.  Form ground chuck into 6 round, thin patties.  Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Dredge the patties in the flour mix and place them in the skillet.  Fry until each side is browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet.

3.  Pour off most of the oil and fat, leaving just a small amount in the skillet.  Add the beef broth, onion soup mix, and cream of mushroom soup to the skillet.  Stir until combined.  You may need to add a little water if the mix is too thick, it depends on how thick you like your gravy.

4.  Return the patties to the gravy and simmer, covered, until the patties are cooked through.  Serve  with some mashed potatoes and peas, or whatever sides you choose.  Although, mashed potatoes are kind of an important side for smothering in that yummy gravy.  And, your third side should definitely be a slice of bread or a biscuit to sop up the gravy…you won’t want to waste one delicious bite of this!

Here’s my mashed potato recipe:  Chop and boil 4-6 medium sized potatoes.  Drain.  Add 1 stick of butter(yes, 1 whole stick) and cover.  Let the butter melt.  Salt and pepper the potatoes, then pour in a dash of milk.  Mash the potatoes with a handheld electric mixer.  I always start the mashing with the mixer turned off to incorporate everything, then I turn it on low, then finish on high speed to make them nice and creamy.  Add more salt, pepper, and milk until you get the taste and texture you want.  The secret to good mashed potatoes is the butter.  More butter=more better!  (Excuse the poor grammar)

Cheesy Rice

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I have had such a wonderful break with my hubby, and I’m a little sad he has to go back to work tomorrow.  We had a blast at Great Wolf Lodge, and spent the rest of the week hiking and hanging out with family and preparing and planting our spring garden.  Yes!  Spring is finally here!  I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this makes me.  I live for the warmth and running around in my yard barefoot!  I realize nothing I’m telling you now has anything to do with cheesy rice, but I just wanted to give a little update on what’s been going on this busy, yet super fun, week.  Yes, there will be posts on hiking and gardening and ramps in the future…so stay tuned.

Today, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite dishes, Cheesy Rice.  I realize I say this about almost every recipe I post on here, but if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be eating it, and I wouldn’t be posting the recipes on here for you to try.  So, I love this dish.  My husband loves this dish.  My kiddos really love this dish.  It’s a big winner with my family!  How can you go wrong with cheese and rice?  The addition of bacon and corn doesn’t hurt, either.  Trust me, you will love it.

So, here is the extremely yummy, family friendly recipe for Cheesy Rice!


Cheesy Rice


4 Tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz. bacon

1 1/2 cups rice

3 cups water

10 oz. frozen corn

handful of chives, minced (I use fresh chives from the garden…yum!)

2 cups chicken broth

8 oz. gouda cheese, shredded

salt and pepper, to taste


1.  Bring water and rice to boil in pot, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, lay bacon on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined cutting board and chop into 1 inch pieces.  Save 2 Tbsp. of bacon fat.

3.  In a large skillet, heat bacon fat and 2 Tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat.  Add the corn and chives and cook until warmed, about 3 minutes.

4.  Add the cooked rice and chicken broth, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

5.  Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, the cheese, and the bacon.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve in big bowls with spoons…it’s the most yummy way to eat this meal!  Hope you enjoy!!!

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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This is a family recipe that my mom and dad used to make when I was a little girl.  I always loved spaghetti night!  The sauce is so good, you could just eat it in a big bowl by itself!  I know, I’ve done this many times!  When we had spaghetti, it was always served with iceberg lettuce cut in wedges and slices of Heiner’s Old Fashioned Bread, buttered, and folded in half.  I used to bury my spaghetti in “shaker cheese”, but I’ve learned that less is more with the cheese on the spaghetti.  My dad always buttered and folded everyone’s bread, and he also ate everyone’s leftovers.  We called him our “garbage disposal”.  This is one of those comfort food memories!  I find that many of my favorite memories revolve around food.  The tradition continues now with my own family.  I butter the bread for everyone, and my husband is the “garbage disposal”.  And it is now the job of my kids to put too much “shaker cheese” on their spaghetti.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do…maybe you can make your own spaghetti night traditions!


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce


2 lb. ground chuck

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp. parsley

2 tsp. basil

1 heaping tsp. oregano

5 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

3- 15 oz. cans tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. sugar

6 oz. jar sliced mushrooms

1 lb. spaghetti noodles


1.  Brown meat in a large skillet.  Pour off fat.

2.  Add onion, pepper, garlic, herbs, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper.  Cook about 3-5 minutes.

3.  Add tomato sauce, sugar, and mushrooms.

4.  Let simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The longer this sauce simmers, the better it will taste.  Make sure to taste your sauce to see if you need to add anything to it…remember, you are cooking for your taste buds!

5. Serve over spaghetti noodles cooked according to package directions.

Enjoy!  This makes quite a bit of spaghetti, so unless you are serving a large crowd, you will most likely have leftovers.  And like I said, the longer the sauce sits, the better, so leftovers the next day are wonderful!  I love leftovers!!!  Oh, and it’s okay if you sneak a bowl of sauce while it’s simmering…I usually do!  Yummy!

Comfort Food

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I’m in a comfort food kind of mood.  The problem is, most food is comforting to me!  Haha!  Seriously, though, when you’ve had a hard day, or week, and you’ve had worries about housework or sick kids or life in general, nothing sounds better than some good ole comfort food for the soul.

Last night, I made one of my very favorite comfort foods…Tuna Casserole.  I know, strange comfort food.  Well, not really.  Who doesn’t love a good casserole? I’ve been loving Tuna Casserole since my uncle first made it for me a very long time ago.  It always makes me happy…at least until I eat too much of it!


Tonight, we had a more well-known comfort food…Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.  I make my grilled cheese with double the cheese, cut it on the diagonal, and dip it in my piping hot soup…Mmmm…nothing better!  My son liked the cheesiness so much tonight that he kept squeezing his sandwich until the cheese was running out and saying, “Look mom, look how cheesy, I love the cheese, it’s so good!”


So, here I sit.  Sleepy, happy…and comforted from my wonderful, yummiful (yeah, I think I just made up that word) food.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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