Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Long over due...

No one parks in my driveway. I do, my parents will, but my other guests all park out in the street. If they happen to be exiting their vehicle on the passenger side, they're stepping out into a pile of leaves. I forget about that pile of leaves until someone comes over and has to step into those leaves. I recently got out there on a nice afternoon with little wind and got rid of most of them.





Five bags of leaves raked, bagged and carried from the street in front of the house to the alley behind my house. 


Maybe I'll get this done in the fall this year, not wait till late winter! 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sonoma Chicken Salad

I invited friends over recently for lunch and decided the main course should be chicken salad sandwiches. I found the recipe through a Google search. Actually I found three options, but I went with the recipe that had cranberries as it reminded me a chicken salad you can purchase at Sam's Club. I had that salad a couple years ago at a dinner for the Topeka Police Department's Citizens Academy. It was really good and I'm happy to report this recipe is just as good if not better!  

Sonoma Chicken Salad

For the dressing: 

1 c mayonnaise
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 c honey
Sea salt to taste (I omitted)
Freshly ground pepper to taste (I omitted)

For the salad:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and diced*
1 c pecans, chopped and toasted (I didn't toast)
1 c dried cranberries, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, stir together all dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, for up to two days. 

To the bowl of dressing, add diced chicken, toasted pecans and cranberries. Refrigerate for at least an hour to chill and to allow the flavors to meld. 

*I used rotisserie chicken I purchased at Sam's Club.  

Here are the dishes I prepared for lunch; 


Chicken salad (served on rolls, not pictured) and peach salad. The peach salad was really good, but not the consistency I was expecting. I might experiment further with the recipe. 


Pasta salad and peanut butter stuffed celery. Not the healthiest of lunches, but it was mighty delicious! 

Sonoma Chicken Salad recipe source; 
Five Heart Home

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A birthday celebration

February 20th was my mother's birthday and I had my parents over for dinner. My mother's favorite dessert is a chocolate cream pie and I decided to try and make one. 


I have in this picture the Cookies and Cups cookbook I borrowed from the library, a Fannie Farmer Baking cookbook and my late grandma's Joy of Cooking cookbook. I decided to go with the recipe in the Cookies and Cups cookbook. 

Chopping chocolate was harder than I expected! 

I nailed the egg yolks! 

I loved this chocolate! It was so good, but it was not something I thought my mother would like. It had a true chocolate flavor and my mother prefers milk chocolate. So, I made another pie.  

Pie number two was made in a store bought graham cracker crust (pie number one in a store bought baked crust). It was made with cocoa powder and sweetened condensed milk. It was sweeter and milder. 


I topped the first pie with cream made from heavy cream and powdered sugar. It was okay, but I didn't know if my mother would like it. I topped the second pie with cool whip, which I knew she'd like. My father and I like the chocolate best in the first pie, my mother likes the second pie better, but neither as much as the chocolate cream pie for sale at Cooks American Grill. Theirs is good and if chocolate isn't your thing, I'd recommend their banana cream or pumpkin pie! 


Dinner was a bowl of chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. 


Yum! It had been a while since any of us had had chicken (or turkey) and noodles. They hit the spot! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

King Ranch Mac & Cheese

My friend Jenna is the greatest. She can do just about anything. Take for example her contribution to Cookbook Club this month; 


Wheat thins and egg salad. She made her own wheat thins and they were good! 

Jenna is also the greatest in that she arrived early and helped me make my dish. 


King Ranch Mac & Cheese! It was really good, but should have been as it had half & half, sour cream, velveeta and shredded cheese!   The recipe came from a cookbook I borrowed from the library; the Cookies &Cups Cookbook. 

King Ranch Mac and Cheese

8 oz cavatappi pasta (I used 16 oz rotini and 8 oz didn't seem to be enough)
2 Tbsp salted butter (I used unsalted as that's what I had on hand)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 10 oz can rotel
1 lb velveeta, cubed
1/2 c sour cream
2/3 c half and half
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted)
4 c cooked and shredded chicken
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. 

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Melt the butter in the skillet and sauté the onion and bell peppers until soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. 

Add the rotel and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cubed cheese and stir constantly until the cheese is melted. 

With the skillet still over medium heat, stir in the sour cream and half and half. Season with cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir in the chicken. 

In a 3 qt Dutch oven or baking dish, combine the chicken/cheese mixture and the cooked pasta evenly. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Serve hot. 

There were only three of us this month and the third dish was a delicious chocolate pistachio cake. I love that it was just dusted with powdered sugar. I think I might do that more with my cakes and not frost them. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Smore Friends

I didn't get around to making my Valentines until Valentine's Day. 


I had seen the labels on Pinterest and printed off a few sheets. 

Then filled a snack size ziplock bag with 2 Graham crack squares, a miniature chocolate bar and 2 heart shaped marshmallows (picture only shows one, but I put 2 in all the other bags). I found the heart shaped marshmallows at Aldi. 


I taped the labels on. 


Easy and quick Valentines. 



Monday, February 20, 2017


So far, February has brought with it;

-3 more gas leaks and repairs (total of 5 since I purchased the house). 

-A floor drain unclogging and plugging. 


I am now the proud owner of a new bladder! 

Which I didn't get to use. My job was to stand outside and turn the water on and off when instructed. 

-A backed up dishwasher. 


Lyncoln is the best helper. 


-And roof repairs both on the house and the garage. 

And the month isn't over yet! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mopping in the great outdoors!

There should be a law that prohibits you from having to mop outdoors. It's bad enough having to mop an entire house. Sadly there's no such law and I bought a house with a big front porch and it's dry and dusty here in Kansas, so I mopped the front porch this weekend. Twice! It was so dusty it needed it twice. Crazy beautiful weather we're having. Doubt I'll be mopping this early every year. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mexican Grits Casserole

It's almost time for the February Cookbook Club and I haven't posted about January's. We didn't have Cookbook Club in December. One person was out sick, another visiting out of town relatives and the weather forecast was iffy. I decided last minute to cancel it. 


For January we had a theme; Church Cookbook. I only had two church cookbooks. The one on the left was probably one I picked up at a garage sale. The one on the right is my grandmothers cookbook from the church she attend most of her life; Byers Avenue United Methodist Church, Joplin, MO. In it are three recipes from my grandmother Alberta "Bert" Flaxbeard. One for Caramel Dumplings (Rich). I never knew her to make these. The second recipe is for Sugar Cookies (The Best) and they are! King refiners include sour cream and nutmeg and are so soft! They never harden. The third recipe is for Mexican Grits Casserole. I knew grandma to make this, but never had it myself. It wasn't something my mother would eat, therefor grandma wouldn't have made it when we visited.  I decided to make this recipe in memory of grandma. 

I had never before bought, made or eaten grits. 

Mexican Grits Casserole

3/4 c white grits
3 c water
1 small can cream corn (I just used 2/3 of a large can)
1 chopped onion (I omitted) 
1 lb ground beef
1 can chili beef soup (I couldn't find this, so sub a can of chili w/out beans)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp whole cumin (I just added extra ground)
1 tsp ground cumin 
Garlic salt
Grated cheese

Cook grits according to package instructions. As soon as thick, add cream style corn. (I removed from heat and then added corn.) Sauté one chopped onion until limp. Add one lb ground beef and brown. Remove all fat possible. Add one can chill beef soup, chili powder, both cumins and a shake or two of garlic salt. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Place half the grits into a buttered casserole. Cover with meat mixture and top with remaining grits mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese over casserole and bake until cheese melts. 

Grandma added; This is a great dish to serve with a salad, crusty bread, fruit and steaming coffee. 


I wasn't impressed. It was sloppy. Might have been better to serve in a bowl than on a plate. Everyone else said it was good and Jenna, who took it home, said it had a better, thicker consistency the next day. Her family enjoyed it. 

Other contributions to cookbook club were;


Delicious Rice Dish. It had both sausage and chicken and was really good!


Cranberry Salad Supreme!


Lemon Meringue Pie! This was bought by a new member and I think after this dessert, her place in the group is secure! It was SO good! 


Lyncoln had to have a chair. He sat there all evening and kindly didn't ask to get up on the table. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ah, Happy Valentine’s Day.  I am excited for you who are excited for this day and am praying for us that aren’t.  I took the day off.  While some of my coworkers marriages, while still in them, have soured and they don’t expect or give gifts for Valentine’s Day, there are still plenty of others who will be decked out in red clothing and receive flowers or stuffed animals and share of their plans to dine out.  I made plans today to go visit friends, shop and walk outdoors, but those plans fell through when my friend became sick.  So, Plan B went into place.  It’s a big project, I think, and I’m hoping it takes up most of my day.  I expect the negative thoughts and self-talk to start, well it technically already has, so I’ve armed myself with some scriptures and I plan to read them every time I start feeling sorry for myself or thinking negatively.  They are;


Romans 8:28

And we know that in all good things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.


Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.


Matthew 8:26

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.


Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 


Psalm 95:2

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!


Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.


Matthew 7:7-11

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!


Matthew 6:25

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Do you have any favorite scriptures you turn to when feeling down? 


I have a couple more Valentine posts to share and hopefully will be able to share my “big” project soon.  Okay, disclaimer, its not that big.  I’ve just given it a lot of though, like 7 months worth of thought and I’m looking forward to tackling it!  No, it isn’t painting.  


Praise God and give thanks if in a relationship and trust on His knowledge of whats best for you if you’re not. 



Monday, February 13, 2017

Soup and Cake, it's what's for dinner!

I had four over for dinner recently. Three were from the church I've been attending and the fourth a friend I've known for sometime. I am a nervous, inexperienced hostess and wanted something easy for dinner.  I went with Six Sister's 7 Can Chicken Tortilla Soup. I've made this before and thought I had already shared it, but I couldn't find the post. The first I made it was when I had a coworker over after work for dinner. I needed something fast as she had a long drive home and wasn't planning on staying late. This was a breeze to throw together and have ready quick. 

I doubleD the recipe for the most recent dinner and was glad I had. I have some left over, but would have run out had I not doubled it. 

In a stock pot combine; 

1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can drained and rinsed pinto beans
1 can drained tomatoes
1 can drained corn
1 large can chicken (may sub other cooked chicken)
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 can chicken broth 


1 pkt taco seasoning
1 tsp each of; cumin, garlic powder and chili seasoning 
1/4 tsp black pepper (I omitted)

I didn't have two cans of green enchilada sauce, so I did one green and one red this time as I doubled the recipe. It was fine.  I thought it too dry and added a third can of chicken broth. 


I served it with freshly shredded cheese (not pictured), sour cream, corn tortilla strips and Fritos. 


These were the chip bowls afterwards. I think most added the Fritos. Several went back for seconds. I plan on having others from church over to dinner again in the near future and I might just make this again. 

For dessert I made Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake. I had wanted something Valentine-ish. 

No, we didn't eat this much! I sent slices home with everyone. This picture is just to show you the inside. 

It was good. I worried it might be too chocolatey for me, but actually you don't taste the chocolate as much as you taste the cherries. 

You can get the Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake recipe 
And the entire soup recipe 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Bundt Pan Sub

Sunday Church Potluck is held every quarter. We're asked to bring a main dish and either side or dessert, but I watched and most every one person or family brought just one dish.

My friend Jenna suggested I bring a bread item as people don't often think to bring a bread. She suggested rolls or cornbread. I decided to make mini muffins from a mix. I thought young and old would enjoy them and I already had mixes on hand. Unfortunately they got moved to the dessert table where they competed with brownies, cakes, cookies and pies. My muffins lost and I brought almost all of them home. I gave them to Jenna who has 2 toddlers under 2. 

I debated and changed my mind frequently about what main dish to bring. I wasn't certain whether I could plug in a crock pot or whether there'd be room in the fridge at church. I had thought I might make spicy chicken roll-ups, which are more an appetizer, but I went with an idea I found on Facebook.


Grease a bundt pan. 

Add 2 cans of French bread, pinching the edges together.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees (mine baked for 30 minutes). 


The seams didn't hold well on the top half, but that's okay.  Slice in half. 


Add ham. 






More salami. 

Realize it's going to be hard cutting in the container, move to a cutting board and add 2 types of cheese. 


Add lettuce and tomato. Mayo was on the bottom slice of bread, Dijon mustard spread on the top half. Add the top half of the bread and slice. 


It was a mess! 



I ran to Dillons on my way to church and picked up extra long tooth picks to insert in each slice. 

I didn't get a slice, it was gone before I made it through the line. It was super easy to make and you could change the ingredients to make it your own. I would recommend cutting larger slices. The smaller the slice, the harder it was to handle. This would be great for a game day or picnic.